Debate: Capitalism, Equality, and Equity

I recently posted a re-imagined version of a meme that’s been going around for a while. This time, however, the meme showed the joys and successes of Capitalism. A few of my friends chimed in to let me know how incorrect I was. And another discussion ensued.

As usual, names have been changed to protect the semi-innocent. If you were involved in this debate and either object to the way it is presented or would like it removed, just let me know. I’m not happy till you’re happy.

How do YOU think it went? Let me know in the comments!

Devin: That third one is capitalism in Denmark. In American capitalism, that the tall guy has all the boxes but one, the medium guy has the one box but is terrified all the time that he might get sick will have to trade his box for medicine, and the third one is a child from Guatemala who has been detained indefinitely, but the guy with all the boxes is trying to convince the one box guy that the child is actually from ISIS.

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Joseph E Shaw: The meme does just say “Capitalism,” and not “US Capitalism.” I’m all for adopting Denmark’s low tarriff trade policies. Market differentials, Demographic homogenization, and Geographic differences make it near impossible to make a direct comparison between us and them, but Crony Capitalism gets my fur up just the same as over-regulation and government intervention.

And I have a lot of fur. Just ask my wife!

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Le’Veon: I agree this is more about the promise of capitalism than the results, much of the time.

Of course a friend of mine is fond of saying “capitalism is the worst system in the world, except for everything else.” Alas, that’s at least partly true. What we need is to use the power of capitalism but mitigated by wisdom.

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Joseph E Shaw: I believe Winston Churchill said that. Not sure, though.  At any rate, any system unmitigated by wisdom is doomed to fail. My Grandpappy told me that.

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Matt: Capitalism, like Communism, both sound great on paper. As does over or under regulation. It’s the implementation that reveals the moral decrepitude and inevitable human failings. Maybe we need Goldilocksism. Actually, I think we should implement Androidism where all political decisions are made by Commander Data. I’m certain we will find a way to screw that up too.

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Joseph E Shaw: Matt,  the thing I like about Capitalism, is it relies on people’s sense of self-preservation.

“Don’t like black people? Fine. Don’t sell to them, but your competitors will. Eventually, they will run you out of business so, you can be a racist asshole if you wanna, but you’ll be a broke and starving racist asshole if you don’t learn to put aside your differences and at least do business with people.”


“You’re a greedy s.o.b. who wants to screw over his employees to save a buck? Fine. Pay your people what you want and charge what you like. Eventually, a business owner with higher morals will come along, pay people more money (so your good employees will gonwork for them) and charge less for higher quality. They’ll get the business and you will be broke.”

It’s why I am also a huge advocate for a separation of business and state. Businesses should never be too big to fail. Failing is the strongest mostivator for success.

Except for the nun who taught my second grade class. Man. She was mean.

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Devin: Hey Joe … What? You mean the Greensboro lunch counter protesters didn’t need to sit in? They could have just waited for competition to integrate Woolworths? Isn’t the egg on their faces! You mean the United Mine Workers didn’t need to arm themselves to fight battles against the Mining Trust’s Pinkertons? They could have just waited for capitalism to raise their wages and make their working conditions safe? What a dream world you live in.

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Joseph E Shaw: Thats not what Im saying and you know it. Stop being petulant, Devin .

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Le’Veon: Joe, yes, indeed, regarding wisdom. Problem is that none of these systems is immune to hijacking.

What I like about the US’ system is that it allows for varying degrees of socialized programs implemented in a generally capitalistic society. But the weakness of the US system is that a wise populace is necessary to just operation; especially in a society of mass media (which is the perfect tool for the hijackers).

Alas, you mention “someone will come along who will…. [insert corrective action here]” as a mitigating balance in capitalism, but this doesn’t always work as well as theorized, especially when corporations reach a size, saturation or cartel-esque cooperation which stymies competition. If the gov’t is going to exert any influence in the function of capitalism, it should be to facilitate competition, especially the introduction of upstarts, and not to facilitate a more oligarchical/corporatocratic system which protects the largest financial interests not only from upstart competition but from accountability.

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Joseph E Shaw:  Devin, Go back and read the part where Le’Veon said capitalism mitigated by wisdom was what we need, and I said any system unmitigated by wisdom was doomed to fail.

The lunch counters in Greensboro, the monopolies that crushed workers prior to unions … those were examples of economics and society without wisdom. History is full ofnsuch examples. Capitalistic societies tend to overcome those more often than their counterparts. Not always and not without setbacks, but more often nonetheless.

You and I can disagree with each other on policy and still respect each other, but this approach you often take with me – making it as though I am REALLY saying things I never said, implying racism at nearly every turn – you need to stop. You are a better man than that.

I am an open minded person. I’m willing to listen and even change my mind. But you’re not being respectful. You’re just shouting at me.

I used to live in Winston-Salem, NC, whic is about 30 minutes from Greensboro. I’ve been to some of those lunch counters, met some of the people who sat there when the rulers of authorities enforced Jim Crow laws against them. They are remarkable people with beautiful stories to tell. I hope you get to meet them sometime, if you have not already.

The amazing thing about that particular part of the country is it is more welcoming to diverse cultures and ideologies than any place I’ve lived. It’s an exciting place to be

It’s amazing what can happen when wisdom reigns and people listen to each other instead of shouting in their echo chambers.

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Joseph E Shaw: The problem we increasingly face, Le’Veon, is the general wisdom of our populace is decreasing, along with our sense of community and morality. I don’t think there is an economic or political system that has an answer to that.

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Le’Veon: Sadly, I agree. I wrap morality into “wisdom,” and one might consider a sense of community being an offshoot of wisdom. These things are on a decline, as we place information and factual knowledge above training people to think.

No, there is no economic or political system which can make up for, or prevent, a decline in wisdom and other positive values. That has to come from other aspects of the society. And I don’t have an answer for it, nor do I see what looks like a good potential answer. I can envision ways to inspire those who already have a spark, a functional literacy and a modicum of intelligence. But I can’t envision the societal innovation to prevent the ignorant from becoming more ignorant.