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Chocolate Chip Cookies, My Hippy Cousin, and Capitalism

by Sean Joyce

The idea that business is driven by profits and not the well being of the employees is very bothersome to a lot of people around the world today. But the fact remains, that is how things are and that is how things have to be. I will offer an example in an attempt to justify this. Letís suppose I graduate from college and being an American citizen I look around and realize that I can spend my time doing what ever I want. Well, I enjoy making chocolate chip cookies, so Iíll make them in my apartment and sell them to my neighbors. My business booms and I canít keep up with the orders. So, I hire two bakers at minimum wage. After a year one of my bakers tells me that he canít afford to heat his apartment on his salary and that I should raise it so heís not cold. But I was going to move into a nicer apartment next year with the profits that I had forecasted. If I raise my bakerís salary I wonít be able to move. Well, I guess I donít have any right to a nicer apartment when my baker canít afford heat. But what if my other baker has the same problem, then Iíll have to move into a smaller apartment to help him. Using this mentality, things will continue until the three of us all have the same lifestyle.

To find an answer this problem I can use one or a combination of two schools of thought Ė capitalism and socialism. In a capitalistic society everyone is free to do as they please. They are only responsible for themselves and everyone will face the outcome of the decisions they make. I worked hard and planned well. Now I live in a nice apartment and own my own business. My baker may have worked hard as well, but he made decisions that, one way or another, put him in his present situation. In a capitalistic system he is free to do what ever he wants. Maybe his living needs require more income than baking provided. If this is the case, he needs to either change his way of living or find more or different work. His well-being is up to him and he is free to pursue it in anyway that he sees fit.

To some this answer is not sufficient. Itís not fair. Iím more capable than my baker. I had more opportunities than my baker. We are both human beings and should have equal standards of living. The government and companies should provide adequate living situations for everyone. If one supports this form of thinking this form thinking and feels that it will create a better place to live in then they are traveling down the dark path of socialism. There was once a great experiment in the study of socialism. A country decided to unite in the name of the worker. There would be no unemployment. Everyone would work for the common good and the benefits would be spread equally to all. Unfortunately when the Soviet Union collapsed in on itself the experiment and great debate were ended. There was no incentive for workers to work hard other than to produce more so it could be given to the person slacking off next to them. Socialism did not create a productive or even functioning society. Compare any two societies throughout history and you will find that the one who has a greater amount of capitalism in their system has been more productive.

Strangely though, socialistic idealism is still alive in the thinking and legislation of the United States. This is a choice between being free and being protected. The U.S. has catered slightly to those in need of protection with creation welfare, unemployment and other similar social programs. Now, I personally donít have too much of a problem with programs like these. I understand that there are people in this country who are underprivileged or face adverse situations and I am willing to help those people. But it is very important to remember exactly what is happening when aid is given by the government. The government is taking money from the people of its country and redistributing in a way that they see fit. When I go to work part of my wages are taken and used to pay for these programs.

This brings up another important point. Aid to foreign countries. In the good hearted nature of Americans these days a lot people want to increase living conditions around the world. This is a similar question to the living conditions of a companyís employees. Which countries should be helped? Help all countries? Help democratic countries? Help countries we trade with? To what standard should their living situations be increased? Everyone should have food? Everyone should have housing? Everyone should be educated? At what point is the inequality acceptable? The United States is not the caretaker of the world. The aid that is given to foreign countries is money that was earned by American taxpayers.

Handouts decrease productivity. When I lend my hippy cousin money to pay his rent because heís going through ďtough timesĒ I discourage him from working harder. He takes the money uses it to get by for a couple of months and finds himself back in the same situation that he was in to begin with. It may not be my place to tell him what to do with his life, but if he is going to continue to come back in need of money then the only way I can end the cycle is by setting conditions in exchange for the money. My condition may be that he gets a different job that will offer him more hours or better pay. This is in his best interest. He may feel that his time would be better spent helping underprivileged kids learn how to read, but he is starving to death because his good intentions didnít leave him enough time to earn a living. He has to be able to sustain his own life before he can give to others. If he canít make these decisions on his own and he wants help from others he will have to accept their ideas about how he spends his time. Countries are given huge loans because their economic plan failed. Now they have to accept the plan handed down to them from the people who were able to make the money being lent in the first place. The social plans (handouts) that lead, in part, to the inefficiency now have to be reduced in order for these countries to survive.

Socialism sounds great, but it doesnít work. Societies have been trying to make use of its ideas for thousands of years. The amount of socialism in a society is inversely proportional to the amount of its productivity. Why is everyone so concerned about productivity anyway? If you donít produce anything, you donít have anything to pass out.

Go to the Forum for Political Discussions in order to discuss your thoughts on what you just read!

An alternative view of Capitalism found on this site:
An Anarchist Critique of the Global Economy Pt:2

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