Capitalism Needs Reform, Not Revolution

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
73,665
63,156
So. Md.
#1
I've said this all along. That capitalism, as the US has been practicing it, doesn't work for all sectors and demographics. As the author of this piece puts it, we need to reform rather than to revolt. If things get so bad for those sectors that have not done well under our system that they revolt, we could end up with a situation somewhat like the French Revolution. I'd rather avoid that, myself.

The really important question, therefore, is not whether capitalism is broken, but what should be done to fix the U.S. economic system. For much of the 20th century, the big idea was to construct an alternative system -- socialism, communism or anarchism -- from the ground up. But that approach largely failed, for any number of reasons. Economic systems are complex constructs that evolve over time -- even a very smart group of people is going to make huge mistakes if they try to engineer something totally different. And the implementation of radical social change is never easy -- revolutions tend to be violent and chaotic, and the people who wind up in power are often those who are most concerned with preserving their dominance rather than providing for the material welfare of the people they rule over.

Instead, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the most successful approach will be to modify the current system -- to reform rather than revolt. Whatever the result, it will be a mixed economy, where government and the private sector’s roles are both altered somewhat to address the most pressing issues.

As for what those modifications should be, I tend to think that there are basically two changes that the U.S. needs to focus on. The first is sustainability: no system, capitalist or otherwise, will last long if climate change make the planet uninhabitable. Switching to a low-carbon economy will require major inputs from both the public and private sectors.

The second major challenge is to make Americans feel less materially insecure. Instead of looking at aggregate economic numbers -- gross domestic product, or the share of wealth held by the 1 percent -- we should look at the basic determinants of material comfort and security.
Bloomberg - Are you a robot?

I know that there are many Americans who feel left behind and forgotten. They tend to vote in radical ways once they feel that way. Many right now insist the economy is doing great, but only for certain sectors. We need an economy that works for all sectors and all demographics. Otherwise we risk radical upheaval.
 
Jan 2016
47,957
43,911
Colorado
#2
I've said this all along. That capitalism, as the US has been practicing it, doesn't work for all sectors and demographics. As the author of this piece puts it, we need to reform rather than to revolt. If things get so bad for those sectors that have not done well under our system that they revolt, we could end up with a situation somewhat like the French Revolution. I'd rather avoid that, myself.



Bloomberg - Are you a robot?

I know that there are many Americans who feel left behind and forgotten. They tend to vote in radical ways once they feel that way. Many right now insist the economy is doing great, but only for certain sectors. We need an economy that works for all sectors and all demographics. Otherwise we risk radical upheaval.
That is a generally excellent and well-reasoned opinion piece by Noah Smith. The following paragraph, however, prompts a comment by me:

The second thing Americans need is cheaper education and child care. With dual incomes having become the norm, most two-parent families are exposed to the soaring cost of child care. And with a college degree having become ever more crucial for upward mobility, rising tuition has become a formidable barrier to higher education. Subsidized child-care services coupled with increased child-tax credits can help parents stay in the workplace, while there are many steps that can be taken to make higher education more affordable for lower- and middle-income Americans.

We don't just need CHEAPER education. We need BETTER education, and especially at the K-12 level, where American schools have become something of an international joke. This paragraph focuses exclusively on the costs of higher education, which is indeed a serious problem; but it ignores the equally pressing and urgent issue of the low quality of all too many of our schools at the K-12 level. Only 20% of incoming college freshmen are even prepared to take introductory level college science classes, for instance. A huge percentage have to take remedial math courses.
 

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