Questioning Political and Economic Systems

(This is essentially a continuation of my previous post. It began as response to a comment on that post but I think it deserves its own post. Again, respectful and thoughtful comments are welcome! I really want this to be more of a dialogue. Let’s struggle through these questions together!)

It is definitely true that there is no way that all the people in a certain nation will have the same opinion. And it is also true that if the system were to change there would be people forced to live under a system that they do not believe in. But… isn’t that already the case? Many people are forced to live under Capitalism though they despise the system. In fact, on a global scale, I would say the MAJORITY of people living on this planet do not wish to be living under Capitalism (because for the majority of people on this planet, Capitalism has been detrimental to their lives). And of those who ARE ok with living under Capitalism, how many feel this way merely because it is the only system they know? How many have been brainwashed to believe that this is the best of all systems?

And although there will never be a complete consensus of opinion, shouldn’t we at least be striving to find a better system? If we find a better system (better in terms of overall benefit to humanity and the planet), shouldn’t we then try to explain to people the merits of this system over the one we have? Because although there probably is no “perfect” system, surely there must be one that works better than what we have. Or at least better for our current situation. Maybe Capitalism worked for the past few hundred years to get us to progress technologically, but now Capitalism no longer makes sense. We now have the technology that would allow us to provide a decent living to all human beings. We are now capable of forming a truly global community. Capitalism at this point is actually harming human life, indeed all life on this planet. When our economic model leads governments to pay farmers to NOT grow crops, when it wastes up to 1/3 of its food supply, literally throwing away food it cannot sell, when this is REQUIRED in order to keep the system going, isn’t it time to rethink our economic model?

I also agree that human beings will find a way to corrupt any system. But does that mean we just give up and leave the fate of the world up to those few corrupt individuals? No. We must continue to fight against corruption and continue to develop the best possible system, one that minimizes the potential for corruption and remains vigilant in guarding against it, while also providing the most efficient, fair, and prosperous economy possible. The question then, of course, is: which system provides that? Which political and economic systems can provide the most fair, efficient, and prosperous models for human civilization? It certainly seems that a move away from Capitalism is necessary. But does that mean Socialism?

I guess I don’t have enough information to make that decision yet. I guess right now I’m still learning about history and political theory and economics. I do not yet have a sufficient foundation in those areas of knowledge to make an informed decision. So that is what I’m focusing my efforts on right now, absorbing information and struggling through the thought processes that lead to true knowledge.

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8 thoughts on “Questioning Political and Economic Systems

  1. Would you be in favor of allowing taxpayers to directly allocate their taxes? Meaning…rather than giving your taxes to congress…you would be able to give your taxes directly to the government organizations of your choosing.

    • Hmm… well, no, I don’t think that would work. You have to be able to plan a strategic budget. I do think, however, that citizens could be involved in the budget making process in some way. Citizens should be more involved in all the processes of government. But in a collective sense, uniting to make decisions for the betterment of society as a whole, not just promoting what is best for oneself as an individual.

      • Are non-profits able to plan strategic budgets? Would you use your taxes to promote what is only best for you as an individual? Or…are you saying that I would use my taxes to promote what is only best for me as an individual? If nobody would use their taxes to promote what is best for others…then are you arguing that the only people in society that care about others are the people that don’t pay taxes? If so, then how are they caring for others if they are the ones that benefit?

  2. Yes, non-profits are able to plan strategic budgets. What does that have to do with anything? The point is that the government would not be able to plan a strategic budget if people were allowed to allocate their taxes wherever they wanted.

    I am questioning and struggling with the larger systems at play in our society, and potential systems to replace those that are outdated. Your questions about allocating taxes are moot points. The problems that exist in our society cannot be solved by having people choose where to put their tax dollars. Even if I thought that was a good idea, it is meaningless if we are not discussing the government or agents receiving those dollars and what they do with them.

    • Non-profits are able to plan strategic budgets despite the fact that donors can allocate their donations wherever they want. So why wouldn’t government organizations be able to plan strategic budgets despite the fact that taxpayers would be able to allocate their taxes wherever they wanted?

      If taxpayers were allowed to directly allocate there taxes then…why would we…or why wouldn’t we…discuss what the government organizations were doing with our taxes? If we both value the environment…then perhaps we would discuss whether the EPA was using our taxes wisely. If you value the environment but I value national defense…would the point in our discussion revolve around trying to change each others values? Would I try to convince you that Iran was a bigger threat than global warming? Would you try and convince me otherwise?

  3. couldn’t help but get involved on this topic

    the tax issue aside..

    I admire your honesty about where you stand at the moment and how you are still learning. So am I.

    However, i would use great caution when attempting to rationalize collectivism or communism. Collectivism has historically been used to marginalize people and inevitably leads to division rather than unity. Communism uses the false pretense of being “for the people” when in actuality it develops from the collusion of corporate interest and government interest(fascism) making it a system that is truly only for the few. This fascism turns into socialism/communism. If you look to history and study Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, you will find great examples of this.

    Capitalism maybe flawed in its current state (which needs to be looked at very deeply because it isn’t the capitalism that is flawed but the enormous amount of wealth that has been captured by a select few through numerous corrupt avenues), but free markets in capitalism is the true beneficiary to the poorer classes. If we as people were more aware and kept better watch on the people who govern us, capitalism would allow for great prosperity again like it has in the past.

    • Thank you for your comment! I really want more people to challenge my thoughts.

      So regarding your comments on collectivism/communism/socialism… First, to say that it has been used to marginalize and divide people is not really a critique of the system itself. Any system can be manipulated by humans who seek power. Socialism, as a system, IS “for the people.” But how socialism is implemented, well that’s a different story. Clearly, neither Hitler nor Mussolini were “for the people,” regardless of what name they gave to their politics. Similarly, Obama can call himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but the fact remains that he has asserted a dictatorial power to assassinate anyone anywhere on the planet with no type of oversight, against international law, via a highly secretive unmanned killer drone program. Does that mean that the Nobel Peace Prize is a symbol of Terrorism? No. It just means that Obama does not deserve that prize. Similarly, neither Mussolini nor Hitler deserve to be called Socialists. Moreover, it wasn’t Fascism that turned into Socialism, it was Socialism that turned into Fascism. And all systems can turn into Fascism. All systems are susceptible to corruption.

      I would also ask you to rethink your stance on the history of Capitalism. To say that it allowed for “great prosperity” in the past is to gloss over the slavery and exploitation that built the basis of Capitalism and continues to sustain it to this day. There has NEVER been a time in history when our relative prosperity under Capitalism did not involve inhumane exploitation of human labor and destructive exploitation of the environment. In the most recent history, it has largely been exploitation of foreign lands and peoples, thus going unnoticed by most U.S. citizens. Now, I do not use this as an argument against Capitalism itself, because as I mentioned with Socialism, historical examples cannot prove or disprove the validity of a theory. What historical examples CAN do, however, is guide us to a better understanding of how to improve the real-life application of a theoretical system. So it is important to be honest and accurate about how Capitalism developed, especially if I am to accept that Capitalism is in fact worth salvaging.

      So I come right back to the question of: Which political and economic systems can provide the most fair, efficient, and prosperous models for human civilization? In terms of politics, Democracy seems to be the clear winner. And actually, that’s another point about the historical examples of Socialism. Hitler and Mussolini were dictators. Socialism is an economic model. But unless Socialism is combined with Democracy, it does seem doomed to end in fascism. So if society were built around a Democratic political system, with a Socialist economic model, in which the economy was planned to assure a basic standard of living for all human beings and also to assure proper care of the environment/resources… that sounds pretty ideal to me. It certainly sounds better than leaving the fate of humanity and the environment to the whims of the free-market, whose bottom line is profit. It certainly sounds like a better way to assure that a few greedy people wouldn’t end up controlling the whole world.

      Thoughts?

  4. I see your point/emphasis on how the problem is not the system of socialism but how it is implemented. Because the same can be said for capitalism. But in my opinion that really only goes so far when it comes to socialism. Even when left uncorrupted it allows for far too large of a government which encroaches on so many different aspects of our lives. The reasons we are in such a terrible situation in this country today is because we have shifted so much towards socialism in the past 20-30 years i.e.) over taxation and over spending in gov’t which causes terrible inefficiency, bailing out of businesses that made poor decisions and negatively affected citizens of this country, over regulation, overreaching laws, etc. Uncorrupted, it intends to make life more equal for people and thats honorable, but it comes at too great a cost. And that equality ends up being claustrophobic. I would much rather live in a free market where i choose my own destiny than in a socialist model where its decided for me, simply put. (and i’m talking in perfect worlds here)

    Fascism can come before socialism but its not worth arguing because they are almost interchangeable when it comes down to it.

    Hitler and Mussolini were dictators because they used socialism as a vessel to reach that point. Socialism is an economic model in the sense that it levels the playing field for people economically but more than just that is built in to the system.

    I agree with you that all systems can be corrupted.

    Democracy is not the best option of governance because it allows for mob rule. (True democracy like the Greeks had is desirable but it only works in small populations and without the use of politicians. Even that has its downfalls) A Republic (rule of law by limited government) is far more desirable but is just as slippery as democracy to hold on to. Republics usually turn into democracies and democracies transition into socialist dictatorships.

    But then the question can be asked; is the system to blame? or the corruptible nature to blame? In response to that I would ask; Is it possible for there to ever be a complete absence of corruption? Thinking further, is there ever a perfectly fair society where inhumane things never take place? Is a basic standard of living truly possible without some outside influence? I think the only way that would happen is if there was an en masse shift of consciousness and not necessarily can a system of governance be the catalyst for that. We can only rely on the good acts of individuals for a better quality of life for all. Everything else is corruptible.

    With that said, I think there can only be a most efficient and prosperous system . And I believe that a free market coupled with limited government that respects individual liberty, is it. Fairness will always be variable until humanity as a whole gets its shit together.

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