Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taking the 'Me' out of Economy

The following is a list of obscure things I've studied more/ know better than economics (in no particular order):
· Forklift safety
· Sabermetrics
· Frog anatomy
· Quarter tones
· Military marching drill
· Swahili

That's my way of saying I know nothing about what I'm talking about - apart from personal experience - when it comes to the economy. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.

There have been times when I've been asked about my political views and I suggest that socialism could in fact be a better economic system than capitalism. I usually get some raised eyebrows to which I say that Socialism (the way Marx and Engels imagined it) has never been practiced.

On the other side of the capitalist coin some will say that Socialism (the way Marx and Engels imagined it) is impossible. They usually have good arguments, but impossibilities are difficult to prove. The argument may go further: Capitalism is run on every individual’s - and our society’s collective - greed. It wouldn’t work if we weren’t so concerned with looking out for Number One. And we as a fallen human race are very greedy. So capitalism – with an evil as its basis can be used for good.

I haven’t had a good answer for that.

If money is the engine to capitalism; greed is the oil. If we were more concerned about the homeless guy at the end of our street and less concerned with our HDTV, or WIFI, or Wii, or GPS, or DVD player, or MP3 player, or Xbox, or (insert your material obsession here) capitalism wouldn’t function so well.

But today as I pick up my international copy of Time Magazine I see in big letters “The Price of Greed”.

Wait a minute…

Now we have a problem. Apparently greed has gotten in the way of our beloved capitalism. Those Wall Street executives! How dare they mess with my economy! And I can agree.

But are they doing anything differently than the rest of us? Sure, we have our good sides. In fact America is very good at charity. But even if we have respectable jobs - in which many of us give up higher salaries to do something beneficial for others – we work to pay our own bills. We continue taking out loans to pay for our needs and luxuries. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Wall Street isn’t looking out for the common home owner or the common college student. They’re out for themselves. Until now I guess it has worked. But there’s no pot of gold at the end of the capitalist rainbow.

I’m not suggesting that we suddenly change to a socialist economy. That would be disastrous. Even Obama mentioned that it’s more important to come to a bipartisan agreement than to try to push liberal or conservative economic solutions at this point in the game.

But do we patch up the system and go on with business as usual? Is greed the best basis for an economic system? Or is it possible to find a system that incorporates a genuine concern for the widow, the orphan and the foreclosed home owner?

What do I know though? I just have a degree in music.


Laci and Keri Németh said...

degree in music or not, I like reading your post more then your father in law's Glas Slavonije articles... but don't tell him, or he will kick me out of the seminary... :)


Tracy said...

Greed getting in the way of capitalism... imagine that!

Sabermetrics huh? I learn something new all the time! :)