This is Phil Donahue interviewing Milton Friedman thirty years ago. ...only 2 minutes long. Great watching, especially since he's talking to Phil Donahue. Click here: A 31 year old video clip ABSOLUTELY worth your time!
OWS is driven by an electorate that feels cheated. They have abided by their side of the social contract yet they do not feel they are being treated fairly.
The Euro crisis is also driven by an electorate that feels cheated. They were promised one thing and when the money ran out, it is being taken away.
In both cases, the money that was promised went somewhere else. With the OWS crowd, they feel that their money went to the rich. With the Eurozone crowd, their money went into national debt. I could make an argument for either to be a failure of central planning, and I could make an argument for either to be a failure of capitalism.
The "capitalism vs. communism" trope is one that hides an awful lot of mistruth. Realistically speaking, the past 100 years have been about two ideologies fighting it out and those who hew the closest to either are the ones that suffer the most. The more fervently a country practices communism, the more likely it is to fall to the predations of a people whose efforts do not reward them with upward mobility. The Soviet Union fell because egalitarianism does not extend to people you don't know and never will. Yet the more fervently a country practices capitalism, the more likely it is to fall to the predations of a people whose efforts are inordinately rewarded at the expense of their fellow man. "Wealth concentration" is a problem faced by all despotic nations, no matter their tenure on the G20.
That covers the United States and the USSR, who were locked in a costly and destructive ideological battle from the fall of the Tsar. Most of the world, however, determined that both systems had problems and cherry-picked some blend of the two. To no one's surprise, these are the economies that are growing the fastest as the United States stumbles and the former Soviet nations deal with kleptocracy.
"Is capitalism the villain?" No, but it is an extreme. The capitalism we practice isn't as extreme as it could be, nor is it as mild. "Is communism the villain?" Again, just another extreme.
The villain is anyone who puts ideology ahead of practicality. That's been the truth since the dawn of history.
Mixed Economy, we got it.
And no capitalism isn't the villain.
"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785.
"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings." --Thomas Jefferson to Gen. Kosciusko, 1811
Is that not advocating a progressive tax, even if he may have been talking about property tax and tariffs, since income tax wasn't around at the time?
As to the Marx comparison, there are 10 pillars of communism. Progressive income tax is one, but it does not exist in a vacuum. To say that advocating a progressive income tax is akin to Marxism is very much along the lines of saying that anyone who thinks murder is wrong is Jewish, since Moses forbade it.
Eisenhower of all people believed in a strongly progressive income tax (maybe you are one of those disciples of Skousen who thinks that Eisenhower was a Red). It has nothing whatsoever to do with "fruits of one's labors". It has to do with evening out growth and helping to ensure that the middle class actually has money to support consumerism, of which 70% of the economy depends. Mathematically, a flat tax can only lead to aggregation of wealth, due to the geometric nature of the long-run growth of capital.
And as an aside, why do conservatives insist that the tax code be simple? The economy is complex and dynamic, why shouldn't the way we levy taxes reflect that. There isn't a one size fits all solution. Should airplanes be more simple? Computers? Some things are by their nature complicated.
"Taxes on consumption, like those on capital or income, to be just, must be uniform." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Smith, 1823.
"Excessive taxation... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798.
Of course, your quote above has a curious little statement "...and its surplus....not accumulating more debt to "stimulate" jobs with "shovel ready (Oh did I say that out loud!)". Jefferson believed in retiring the public debt and using the surplus to pay for stuff - we do just the opposite - and the "wealthy" (whatever that is?) will never be taxed enough to satisfy the "blob" called reckless and unchecked indebtedness and spending! Return to fiscal "sanity" just like you do at home! We should DEMAND that our public officials (or elect new ones) live within their means just like the rest of us!
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government....Thomas Jefferson
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not....Thomas Jefferson
And from another post:
To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it....Thomas Jefferson
I don't agree with Eisenhower, and the progressive income tax did not exist in this country before Woodrow Wilson's Administration (it is still a Marxist tenant regardless). Before that, you had monarch's who levied taxes to support all kinds of things: altruistic as well a petty.
Let's keep the larger picture in mind, here: we live on a finite planet with finite resources. Therefore the goal of any economy should be to effectively and efficiently make use of said resources -- to "economize." Embracing an economy which is built on the principle of increasing profits at any cost, especially environmental costs, is suicide on a global scale.
As a side note, the greatest and most creative minds on the planet (Friedman mentioned Einstein) were not inspired or motivated by profit. Curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge and creative expression are more potent motivators than any amount of money could be.
> The misunderstanding of many "command economy" or central planners, is they see the world as a zero sum game: people have to take at the expense of others to gain any type of success.
This is only true when the total population exceeds the amount of natural resources available to support said population. I can't comment on whether or not this is the case, but it is very well possible that survival on this planet is a zero-sum game.
> This is Marxism at its core. You can believe in its concepts, but history teaches us that they have been abismal failures and end up robbing individuals of their dreams, aspirations, motivations and the incentive to reach beyond their "own little sphere".
History has taught us that no one likes living in a harsh dictatorship ruled by incompetent leaders. And I wouldn't be so sure that capitalism and free market systems haven't "robbed people of their dreams, aspirations, motivations or incentive," etc., in a world of extremely concentrated wealth, gaping wealth disparities, copyrighted food products, massive poverty, failing social programs, crippling debt, wage slaves, etc etc etc.
> A free market system has provided, historically, the most efficient way of dealing with both unlimited and limited resources.
Define "efficient." Every natural environment has been on the decline for the past 30 years. The atmosphere is becoming saturated by greenhouse gases. One fourth of the food wasted in the first world could feed every starving person in the third world. Modern society is completely dependent upon rapidly depleting fossil fuels with comparatively little investment in alternative energy.
(P.S., wryme is my old account. You are talking to the same person here, just to be clear.)
When banks can use deposit dollars to speculate on the possible behavior of markets, it's going to cause problems no matter what you call it. The US taxpayer was fleeced. That's the problem, not capitalism. Deposit dollars were funneled into a speculation bubble, and when it popped, the taxpayer footed the bill. I think having 6 banks is close to Central planning. This travesty coupled with tax rates that go down with income has left us at a place where 400 people have as much as 150,000,000 others in this country. That's not the sign of democracy. No one (well except for the 400, maybe) would vote for that eventuality. Capitalism without adequate rule of law can get you there, but it's not capitalism's fault.
(got to watch the video. Too sleepy. Will tomorrow!)
I'm not necessarily trying to promote a newspaper or book, but the comments are adroit and relevant.
The keys to capitalism are 1) vibrant opportunities for entrepreneurship 2) regulations that are not odious, but reign in negative externalities and promote positive externalities 3) careful, non political management of central banking facilities 4) social mobility which is encouraged by education 5) social safety net to help citizens manage risk 6) wide participation in the economy
These keys tend to exist in tension of each other and involve trade-offs. It feels like to me that we're really failing on 2, 5, 6.