Capitalism

Daily Show segment on the recent Johnson & Johnson prosecution: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-december-4-2013/heavy-settle---admissions-of-non-guilt
Summary: J&J was found guilty of bribing doctors to give a certain med to the elderly, disabled, and babies when they knew full well the drugs didn’t work and lacked scientific evidence that they did. J&J paid the fine but admitted no guilt. The segment shows numerous other corporations that do the same.
So there must be some capitalists on this forum. Please tell us why a profit-centered (capitalism) versus people-centered (socialism) economic system is good. And please do not say: “there are always going to be a few bad apples…”. Also please do not say “well the FDA approved the drug didn’t it”, because the FDA, like much of the government nowadays, has the stink of capitalism on it already, so it’s part of the problem.
Go!

First, capitalism is an economic system while socialism is a social system. The U.S. is both capitalistic and has a huge amount of services to its citizens by the government which makes it also socialistic.
I think capitalism makes sense, but NOT free market capitalism. We need extremely strong laws to prevent corporate unethical behavior. The problem is that conservative administrations go to great lengths to weaken the laws we have. In addition, as soon as a Republican administration gets in they kick out the heads of many of the organizations like the FDA and Public radio/television and replace them with people from industry.
If you download a copy of the Powell Manifesto you’ll see the outline of corporate strategy for the last thirty years. We have just about lost our representative government so there’s not much hope of instituting tougher laws soon.
Occam

Of course Socialism is an economic system. The difference is the economy is controlled by and for society, versus by and for profit-based corporations (capitalism in its current form). That’s not to say there isn’t some intermixing and abuses in both, but the fundamental difference is which comes first, people (socialism) or profit (capitalism). As we’ve seen in spades, when profit comes first, companies will tend away from ethical behavior and towards behavior like J&J. And they’ll even get so sophisticated as to control to regulation makers, which is just business playing out for profit. What we’re seeing is the natural progression of capitalism.

I detect a false assumption: that J&J would somehow not have engaged in unethical advertising in a Socialist system, whereas we find unethical behavior in all socioeconomic systems.

First, capitalism is an economic system while socialism is a social system. The U.S. is both capitalistic and has a huge amount of services to its citizens by the government which makes it also socialistic. I think capitalism makes sense, but NOT free market capitalism. We need extremely strong laws to prevent corporate unethical behavior. The problem is that conservative administrations go to great lengths to weaken the laws we have. In addition, as soon as a Republican administration gets in they kick out the heads of many of the organizations like the FDA and Public radio/television and replace them with people from industry. If you download a copy of the Powell Manifesto you'll see the outline of corporate strategy for the last thirty years. We have just about lost our representative government so there's not much hope of instituting tougher laws soon. Occam
Not quite true. Both are economic systems. Socialism means the government controls the economy and owns the means of production. Capitalism means the people, individually, control the economy. The most successful economies are a mixture of capitalism and government social programs and regulations designed to offset the damaging aspects of pure capitalism. Unfortunately, government regulation and social programs are always several steps behind the capitalists and are always playing catch-up. When there is too little regulation, a crash will occur sooner or later. Then the whole cycle starts over again. History has borne this out, but the capitalists will never learn the lessons taught. Lois

I prefer capitalism over socialism when it comes to drugs. I lived in a socialist country and the only reason we were able to get certain drugs, say, an antibiotic cream, was because we knew the local pharmacist. She sold us the cream (unavailable to most of the population) and we returned the favour in some other way. I thought the fact that socialism doesn’t work has already been shown through the huge scientific study called the 20th century. Why are we still talking about this?
If you wonder why a socialist system would be unable to keep up with the demand of antibiotic creams, I can explain it to you.

An area of confusion is the two definitions of socialism. Lois’ is describing the old one that, I believe, Marx came up with, sort of a communism-light. However the more modern definition is that of the individual citizens functioning, in general, in a capitalistic economy, but the governent furnishing those services that essentially all the citizens need such as roads, military, police, fire, education, etc.
I think George’s example fits the older definition, and I agree that that’s unworkable over a period of time.
Occam

What is capitalism?
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy.
Forms of capitalism:
These include laissez-faire capitalism, welfare capitalism and state capitalism; each highlighting varying degrees of dependency on markets, public ownership, and inclusion of social policies.
Democracy and capitalism:
While some thinkers argue that capitalist development more-or-less inevitably eventually leads to the emergence of democracy, others dispute this claim.
OTOH:
Some commentators argue that though economic growth under capitalism has led to democratization in the past, it may not do so in the future, as authoritarian regimes have been able to manage economic growth without making concessions to greater political freedom. States that have highly capitalistic economic systems have thrived under authoritarian or oppressive political systems. Singapore, which maintains a highly open market economy and attracts lots of foreign investment, does not protect civil liberties such as freedom of speech and expression. The private (capitalist) sector in the People's Republic of China has grown exponentially and thrived since its inception, despite having an authoritarian government. Augusto Pinochet's rule in Chile led to economic growth by using authoritarian means to create a safe environment for investment and capitalism.
Bold added by me. Criticism of capitalism:
Critics of capitalism associate it with social inequality and unfair distribution of wealth and power; a tendency toward market monopoly or oligopoly (and government by oligarchy); imperialism, counter-revolutionary wars and various forms of economic and cultural exploitation; materialism; repression of workers and trade unionists; social alienation; economic inequality; unemployment; and economic instability. Individual property rights have also been associated with the tragedy of the anticommons.
Can capitalism organize itself?
Following the banking crisis of 2007, even those who strongly held the view that capitalism can organize itself were forced to reconsider. Alan Greenspan told the United States Congress on October 23, 2008, "The whole intellectual edifice collapsed. I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders. ... I was shocked."
And from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Harvey
Harvey explains how capitalism came to dominate the world and why it resulted in the current financial crisis. He describes that the essence of capitalism is its amorality and lawlessness and to talk of a regulated, ethical capitalism is to make a fundamental error.
Bold added by me. Are there alternatives to capitalism? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy.
Can socialism be compatible with democracy? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism
Libertarian socialism (sometimes called social anarchism or left-libertarianism) is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic society without private property in the means of production. Libertarian socialists believe in converting present-day private productive property into common or public goods, while retaining respect for personal property. Libertarian socialism is opposed to coercive forms of social organization. It promotes free association in place of government and opposes the social relations of capitalism, such as wage labor. The term libertarian socialism is used by some socialists to differentiate their philosophy from state socialism, and by some as a synonym for anarchism.
And from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_socialism
Democratic socialism is a name given to trends of socialism that emphasizes democratic principles as inalienable from their political project. Some forms of democratic socialism overlap with social democracy, while other forms reject social democratic reformism in its entirety.
Obviously, any economic system has political philosophies wrt the power structure of a country.
Obviously, any economic system has political philosophies wrt the power structure of a country.
Yes. Is that statement interchangeable? Does it matter if it is interchangeable? I mean..."Obviously any political system has it's own economic philosophies wrt to the power structure..." FWIW, I think it is interchangeable, and I don't think the interchangeability matters. I believe there is nothing more than "Gov-conomy". And that goes for just about any state. USA, ex-Soviet Union, China, Mali, Jamaica, Canada, Lichtenstein etc etc... As is often the case on this forum or anywhere else people get caught up in the taxonomy morass of defining "governments" with pigeonholed terms like socialism, capitalism, democracy, communism, republic, economy, socialism etc.. WRT "political philosophy", I think that is what suits the moment and has as much symbolism as the colors that are printed on a country's flag. It's what suits the moment and the current power brokers who are constantly vying to take the reins of control over resources. As we have seen in numerous countries, that philosophy while remaining the same in text, changes(through interpretation/enforcement) through time to meet the needs of the people as they wend their way through a constantly changing economy. Any "political philosophy" basically boils down to laws. In the case of most nations, "possession is 9/10ths of the law"..so to speak. In other words the vast majority of laws basically boil down to economics. For example: I'm just spit-balling here, I bet if you took the volumes of law regarding incorporation and placed them next to the volumes of law regarding say.. everything from assault through rape up to murder(in any state, county, or Nation), the volumes concerning incorporation would dwarf the laws regarding assault type crimes. One might say, "But yeah, there's far more details to cover in "incorporation"! Maybe. Maybe not. But regardless it still shows that there are far more laws regarding economics than any other type of laws. So much more in fact, that it's ridiculous to consider any nation anything else but a gov-conomy. The USSR utilized capitalism and the US utilizes socialism. And every other nation utilizes those and everything else in between. It's only the current(yet morphing)crop of brokers vying for powers over resources and trying to keep that viability under the same "banner" of the "founding philosophy".
Yes. Is that statement interchangeable? Does it matter if it is interchangeable? I mean..."Obviously any political system has it's own economic philosophies wrt to the power structure..." FWIW, I think it is interchangeable, and I don't think the interchangeability matters.
Not quite so. What has "economic philosophies" got to do with "power structure"? We must differentiate between a political or economic system and political or economic philosophy. What is political philosophy? From http://www.iep.utm.edu/polphil/#SH3c
Political philosophy begins with the question: what ought to be a person’s relationship to society? The subject seeks the application of ethical concepts to the social sphere and thus deals with the variety of forms of government and social existence that people could live in – and in so doing, it also provides a standard by which to analyze and judge existing institutions and relationships.
What is a political system? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the views: who should have authority, how religious questions should be handled, and what the government's influence on its people and economy should be.
Bold added by me. What is an economic system? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_system
An economic system is the system of producing and distributing of goods and services and allocating resources in a society. It includes the combination of the various institutions, agencies, entities (or even sectors as described by some authors) and consumers that comprise the economic structure of a given community. A related concept is the mode of production.
What is economic philosophy or the philosophy of economics? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_and_economics
Philosophy and economics (also philosophy of economics) may refer to the branch of philosophy that studies issues relating to economics or, alternatively, to the branch of economics that studies its own foundations and status as a moral science.
OTOH, as they are all interrelated there is philosophy, politics and economics. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy,_Politics_and_Economics
Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is a popular interdisciplinary undergraduate/graduate degree which combines study from the three disciplines.
Notable politicians who are PPE graduates:
The first institution to offer degrees in PPE was the University of Oxford and this particular course has produced a significant number of notable graduates such as Tony Abbott, the current Prime Minister of Australia, David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Ed Miliband, the current Leader of the Opposition.
So, in a political system, the government can decide which political/economic system to practice and to follow which political/economic philosophy, for better or for worse.
Not quite so. What has "economic philosophies" got to do with "power structure"? We must differentiate between a political or economic system and political or economic philosophy.
Gee, I don't know kkwan. Obviously anyone can differentiate between systems and philosophies on a number of levels. But I thought by responding to your post there I could engage you in a discussion on a topic which is one of my favorites. Instead I'm responded to by the same robotlike recitations of wikipedia quotes.
So, in a political system, the government can decide which political/economic system to practice and to follow which political/economic philosophy, for better or for worse.
Yeah...that's basically what I said. I just defined government more accurately in my opinion.
An area of confusion is the two definitions of socialism. Lois' is describing the old one that, I believe, Marx came up with, sort of a communism-light. However the more modern definition is that of the individual citizens functioning, in general, in a capitalistic economy, but the governent furnishing those services that essentially all the citizens need such as roads, military, police, fire, education, etc. I think George's example fits the older definition, and I agree that that's unworkable over a period of time. Occam
"Socialism light" is not socialism, it is socialistic. True socialism is where the government owns and controls the economy and all or nearly all means of production. That's not an old or worn out definition. It is what socialism is. What we have in most of the West is socialistic programs within a capitalistic economy. I wish there were another word for socialistic programs besides socialist because it causes confusion. Having a capitalist society with socialistic programs is the best of a bad lot, in my opinion. Neither pure socialism nor pure capitalism can succeed, and has never succeeded. An economic system needs a fine balance where the means of production is free enough to create and sustain a strong economy but where socialistic programs make up for the damage to most human life that capitalism inevitably causes. It is also the only system that can also be a democracy. When a government dictates an extreme economic system, whether socialst or capitalist, it cannot also be a democracy because the broader population has no or too little control, and, in my view, both are doomed to fail. Lois

However we define them, I agree that what we need is 1) a very knowledgeable and involved electorate; 2) A wide set of laws to block predators and parasites, e.g., anti-gerrymandering, anti-bribery, anti-excess profits, minimum wages for work; ___; 3) Government provided services, e.g., public education, transportation, public safety including police, fire, food, flying, health, support against negative occurrences, ___; 4) etc.
Occam

CuthbertJ,
I think what you have here is “Greed".
Greed is not only found in Capitalism, but in all forms of government and big business.
Just look at our congress if you want to see Greed.
Or look at the management of the Socialist country of China.

I don’t believe we need to worry about becoming a socialist country just yet.
Just look at this little tidbit about the distribution of wealth in the US
http://www.upworthy.com/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind-blowing-fact-2?c=reccon1

I prefer capitalism over socialism when it comes to drugs. I lived in a socialist country and the only reason we were able to get certain drugs, say, an antibiotic cream, was because we knew the local pharmacist. She sold us the cream (unavailable to most of the population) and we returned the favour in some other way. I thought the fact that socialism doesn't work has already been shown through the huge scientific study called the 20th century. Why are we still talking about this? If you wonder why a socialist system would be unable to keep up with the demand of antibiotic creams, I can explain it to you.
Have you ever thought about how many people in our capitalist system can't get that same tube of antibiotic cream? Everything depends on whose ox is being gored, doesn't it? I don't know which socialist country you lived in but I have been in many countries with socialized medicine and have never been denied any medical care or medication I or a family member has needed. But I see many people in the US either denied care or medications because they can't afford them or they are forced to spend hours in an overcrowded emergency room in the hopes of getting minimal care--and often not getting even that. Not everyone has the wherewithal to do an end run around the system as you were able to do. Lois

Countries with socialized medicine can still be capitalist. What exactly, then, are you trying to criticize here? I now live in a capitalist country, Canada, where getting the cream is much easier than it was in a socialist country, the Czech Republic. The reason why more people in Canada might have access to medicine than in the US has nothing to do with capitalism per se, since they are both capitalist countries. Don’t change the subject.

History has shown that no economic system is prepared for catastrophe events like meteors and major earth movements.
Some of the older Gneiss stories refer to over population that was changed by plagues, and natural events that would decrease the population and bring peace and harmony back to earth.
So history is telling us either system seems to work in low population periods.
Looking at one of the best systems of the past was the Egyptian system that operated for several thousand years.
Egypt used the system from India that had a Pharaoh (king) and the Priests (socialist) who controlled the laws.
I think that was most likely the system that inspired the Roman, French and then our system.
The king (Pharaoh) ruled and kept the economy moving and balanced the powers between the temples. The Priests made sure the king ruled within the laws of the kingdom.
Was this longest lasting government system known to mankind a monarchy, democratic or socialist system?
History is showing that it was not a monarchy as we think of as in Europe. The agriculture based economy was capitalist driven. The canals, pyramids and temple building were socialism driven programs to deal with unemployment and alcoholism.
Priests (socialist) became very wealthy and it was the Pharaoh’s job to keep the world in harmony and balance. The world would become out of balance because of greed. So every 20 to 30 years the Pharaoh would redistribute the wealth of the temples (socialists) to the people (capitalists).
Now one has to ask, “How can the Priests be wealthy and this be called a socialist system?" History has showed us that is how socialism really works in big populated governments.
[ CuthbertJ - Please tell us why a profit-centered (capitalism) versus people-centered (socialism) economic system is good.]
The Egyptians showed us that a combination of the two systems works the best for larger populations. But they were able to recognize the human factor of “Greed" was a demise of either system and it required the Pharaoh to have a system to control and balance the greed in the other two systems.

Another thing we can learn from the Gneiss stories is that Egypt also had an internet. They used papyrus instead of computers, but other than that it was pretty much the same thing.