Capitalism VS Socialism... Battle Royale!

We have two widely different systems of thought and systems of government here, and I think sometimes the common conceptions of what they mean is construed. People right now somehow see capitalism as a swear word, and I have heard a politician the other day say 'what my opponent calls socialism I call opportunity!' based on the fact that in his opinion a socialist idea benefits the poor.
Let's start with the dictionary definitions, just for the heck of it. Straight from Merriam-Webster's website.

Main Entry: so·cial·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\

Function: noun

Date: 1837

1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.


Socialism is an awesome system. Re-read that, because I think some of you were thinking I thought differently. Given the concept of equal treatment of all citizens who are all working towards a common good is very Utopian. Heck, I think they advocated this system in shows like Star Trek, where they'd abandoned the concept of money and simply gave people what they needed because it was understood in their futuristic society that everyone was trying to better themselves and the world around them.
The base concepts behind socialism are hope and trust. It's an ideal to be sought, but in reality is impossible to gain. For it to work, the people running the controlling government have to be completely trustworthy and seek no benefit for themselves above the status quo. Also, the average Joe (all of them) MUST be trusted to work for the common good without being bothered by the fact that doing EVERYTHING and doing NOTHING earn him the same monetary reward. All concepts of personal property are gone. You own nothing; everything belongs to the government. Everything is controlled by the government, and all land, money, and business decisions effecting an area are not yours to do with as you please. They are left up to a local or state or federal government to decide for you.
People generally balk at this concept. We don't trust our government with the control they have now, so why on earth would we desire to increase their range of control to EVERYTHING??? But at the same time people think that the nation would be encouraged by society to work for the common good, despite the equivalent reward. And we would of course be watching the politicians, so what could they possibly get away with?
I have expressed in other posts my ideal lifestyle. Much like the main character in Office Space, I would be very thrilled if life provided me the opportunity to do nothing and get paid for it. I would play video games all day, every day and be perfectly happy. And under extreme socialism, I would be getting the same monetary distribution as my friends who delight in work because socialism increases the welfare state.
But I digress....


Main Entry: cap·i·tal·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌliz-əm, ˈkap-tə-, British also kə-ˈpi-tə-\

Function: noun

Date: 1877

: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market


Capitalism is a human concept. Like in Chronicles of Riddick, you keep what you kill. You work a job and get paid $5,000,000, then after a tax system is implied you get to keep the money YOU EARNED for doing YOUR JOB. Someone else sits on their buttocks and does nothing, they get to wake up the next day with the same nothing they had when they went to bed yesterday. This system is fed strongly by the Protestant or Puritan work ethic that established this great country. Basically, you get what you earn from life.
This system, while working great for those religiously motivated, is also based on our very sin nature. Human beings are, by definition, greedy. We want what we have and more. Our neighbor gets a new boat, and if it weren't illegal we'd hit him in the head with a club and take it. Like I stated above, my desire to work hard is based at least partially in my desire to afford my life. If I did what I wanted and didn't work, I couldn't afford the house, computer, Internet, and video games that I desire to play in my spare time. This is also why many people go to Hollywood to become actors. Sure, they might have a natural gift for it. But you're lying to yourself if those million dollar paychecks aren't a nice perk too.
The problem a lot of people find is they dislike pure capitalism. Sure we complain a little that athletes and movie stars are racking in tons of money, but they usually end up wrecked on drugs or something else that deep down the average person feels good knowing. Then we can say things like "I'd be smarter if I had that much money." Odds are the rich screw-ups said that once upon a time too. But what happens when CEOs run a company into the ground while building 10's of millions of dollars in their own accounts, PLUS that lovely golden parachute at the end of the game? Well that's too far! But our system is built to allow it. Well what about these rich oil tycoons that charge way too much for their product and the average American suffers? Well, they are westernized enough to support capitalism in its truest form. Supply and demand. You demand what I'm supplying, I will increase the prices until the screaming gets too loud, then back off just a little bit. It's the truth of pure capitalism, and the American way.

I'm guessing that on both counts I drifted from the facts into my own opinion here and there. But that's how and where I see these systems falling. They're both a problem, and they both make people uncomfortable or unhappy in different ways. But that's life. How you deal with it is up to you.
Pleasant days surviving modern politics.