Socialism, whatever…Capitalism…(yawn…)…..who cares? It is what it is!
I agree with your surrender of despair. So, I am NOT writing about Cap vs Soc in the usual way. The usual way has a huge degree of philosophy attached and discusses topics dryly at the macro/academic level – a level at which the Fed, banks, governments and large corporations operate. The big lie.
Most of us operate at the gas-pump, loose-change and credit card debt level. BIG difference.
But first….do you think Canada is Socialist and the USA is Capitalist? If you do, you would be wrong. At the macro level, the USA is very elite-socialist. More so than Canada. Canada doesn’t have much macro level and what they have is corporately controlled and so – at that level – we are (eltist) Capitalist-controlled but in a psuedo-socialist environment.
Of course, most people don’t define Socialism and Capitalism as it really is or, rather, as it has morphed to become. They simplistically think that socialism is free health care and a generous ‘safety net’ when you get old. Capitalism is ‘going it alone, taking your chances and maybe getting rich’. Neither is accurate.
The real essence of pure Capitalism is that the business, service, entrepreneur or company sinks or swims based on merit, market acceptance and competition. ‘Let the market decide’. Pure Socialism, on the other hand, proposes that the means of production and distribution be controlled by the state. ‘There is no free market’.
So, in that ‘no-free-market’ system (Socialism), you might see farmers subsidized, petroleum companies and BIG corporations given grants, incentives and tax breaks. Maybe some of the REAL corporate biggies will even be classed as too big to fail (so no risk to them anymore). For them getting BIG is like tenure is to a professor. And the SOCIALIST government can do that because the government owns them. So, if you think about all that, and the tariffs, duties and regulatory efforts of the USA, they are all socialistic in nature and spirit. But only for the BIG guys. And, in the ‘big things’, there is no competition, there is no market and the little guy is a slave to the system.
Bluntly put: the US is very, very socialistic at the BIG money level. The crime: they claim NOT to be socialistic and so ‘tenure’ and the grants and subsidies are given to the companies but they only go as far as the shareholders and CEOs because ‘we are the risk-taking Capitalists’….the big lie.
Are we talking opposites here? Is Canada, then, NOT Socialistic or do we do that, too?
Well, we have a healthcare system but it is not measuring up on the meritocracy scale. We have pensions and welfare but no one is doing well based on that. So, in effect, Canada is socialistic in some categories but not so much on any REAL scale. In fact, much of that which was intended to be part of the socialistic fabric has been ‘re-drafted’ to now act in a theoretically more Capitalistic way. The BC Ferry Corporation, for instance is NOT a subsidized-for-the-people ferry system*. It was reorganized to act as a real corporation and make a profit. Same for BC Hydro. It is even worse when it comes to our railways. They were just sold off will-nilly. As was our forests. So was oil and gas (what Canadian benefits from our oil reserves except as shareholder?)
But therein lies the rub. We go so-called Capitalist only when the industry gets big. Rich people then buy those monopolies. The people don’t own it (CNRail) anymore – Bill Gates does. Jimmy Pattison owns a lot of the fishery. China owns a lot of the oil fields. If the market is controlled and subsidized by the government (socialism), the capitalists then buy it. Why not? Too big to fail. Grants and subsidized when asked. Returns guaranteed. NO risk. NO competition. “Get on the so-called socialism train! We’ll make a fortune!”
(* the NDP have recently ‘given back’ some of what the BC Ferry system was supposed to provide and they have done that keeping fares low or even lowering them. BCF is an exception to some extent. Recently).
If this is too contrarian-thinking for you, think of the marijuana/gambling industries. They were small potatoes and then they got to be medium potatoes and bigger-but-criminal organizations took it over. But then it all got bigger so then the government takes it over, regulates it, controls it and continues to use ‘law enforcement officers’ to limit small-guy competition. And, like every industry before it, it will now be ‘handed over’ to the BIG corporations and stock will be traded and revenue taxed. The biggies don’t mind the entry cost. All that just makes the industry ‘harder-to-enter’. No competition. Cost to produce is irrelevant. Just make it and add profit. The government will control it for the industry’s benefit.
Oooops….unless maybe, by accident or corruption, real market forces interfere BUT then the government steps in to bail out the shareholders a la more fake-socialism. As in TransMountain. The American bank debacle. Or Bombardier. Or GM (before they cheated Canada and broke the agreement). If you are rich enough and can get to be too big to fail, you are protected by government and, as a surprise bonus, you get a bonus even if you test that failure clause.
But what about the little guy? Can he open a restaurant freely? Where he wants to? As he wants? No. Can he log trees and cut ’em into lumber and sell it? No. Can he freely fish and sell fish? No. Can he raise chickens and sell the eggs? No. Milk? No. All those activities are controlled with laws, legislation, permits, zoning, regulations and too-high costs-of-entry. The little guy can rarely get off the ground.
So, to wrap up: socialism is at a ‘token’ fake-level for the people but is HUGE for the corporations. Capitalism doesn’t truly exist anymore – instead it is just the morphed predatory gene in the new corporate socialism. Free markets and meritocracy and competition are myths.
Any hope? Read Regenerative Capitalism by John Fullerton. Read Natural Capitalism by Lovins and Hawken.