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Tue, Oct. 22

Letter: Socialism vs. Capitalism


In his May 16 Talk of the Town, C.S. Shoemaker warns us of the evil in voting for socialists, in part, because there are supposedly not examples of successful socialist countries, where he tells us: “Government seizes the means of production, the factories and land. Private enterprise is abolished and everyone works for the state, and the state runs the economy.”

The flaw here is in failing to distinguish between economic and political ideas since one could, for example, refer to democratic versus communist capitalistic states, and democratic versus totalitarian socialistic states. For example, Canada and European countries have socialistic elements and are at least as successful as we are.

But turn-about is fair play. If Mr. Shoemaker is going to point to extremes, then let’s take a look at his favored capitalism. The best outcome for capitalism is perfectly efficient production, and this is achieved with minimal employment since workers are by definition an expense, and expenses must be minimized. So, in Mr. Shoemaker’s utopia, there must be increasing wealth polarization as those who own the means of production get wealthier compared to an ever-increasing mass of unemployed. In fact, jobs are disappearing because technology, robots and computers are displacing workers — coal miners being a recently talked-about example.

I don’t think any single system is perfect and I think all have strengths and weaknesses. I do, however, think a rational society can pick and choose which elements from various systems it wants to use and it is absurd to reduce complex issues to either-or-choices, which only serve to further polarize us.

Padraig Houlahan

Chino Valley

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