Originally Posted By: Greger
Originally Posted By: Jeffery J. Haas
It is up to us, not Karl Marx, to decide how capitalism is allowed to function,

Capitalism is unsustainable. Take a look around you. We're wallowing in our own filth. The oceans are dying, the atmosphere is changing as we release more and more carbon into it. We are killing the very planet that sustains us. We decided long ago how capitalism would be allowed to function.
I agree more with Jeff than Greger on this point, but it is a close race...

Here's my .02: Karl Marx understood a lot of how capitalism was shaping society, but he was wrong that there was only one solution (which failed, btw). FDR was closer to right, which is why I agree with Jeff on that point. Capitalism, on its own, is unsustainable, but so is socialism. There are competing interests in every human: social and individual. The urge to be part of the social whole and care for each other, and the urge to be independent and get ahead. The various economic factions are just blends of both of these in different proportions.

Capitalism, by its very nature, is a socialist activity - it is the pooling of resources to obtain an economic goal (like a lottery pool), but the proceeds of capitalism are corrosive on both an individual and social level because they tend to become concentrated. Those that have, get the benefits, and those that don't, get the slag.

Socialism, by its nature, is altruistic - the greatest good for the greatest number - but can be unrealistic about the nature of humans. Humans are generally willing to participate if they see themselves getting something out of it, but participation drops off when the personal benefit becomes obscured.

The purpose of government, in my view, is to harness the benefits of society for the greatest number, and protect the most from the deprivations of the few, as well as the few from the deprivations of the many. It is a constant balancing act between individual benefit and social benefit. The best programs are well balanced between the two - Medicare, Social Security, the EPA are good examples. Universal Health Care would be another. The individual interest may be the most obvious - availability of medical care, protection from destitution, protection from environmental hazards - but the social benefits are actually larger.

What we need to do, as a country (and economy) is to allow ourselves to focus on the big picture rather than the circumscribed view we are being fed.