After watching the Michael Moore film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” my view of capitalism definitely changed from what the class influenced me to believe. There’s no doubt in my mind that capitalism is and has been good for our country in terms of becoming the most powerful and the country that everyone wished to live in. But when it comes to fairness and the common good, I think capitalism has its flaws. Also I believe capitalism opens the door for people to be greedy and get richer while the poor just continue to suffer.
The very beginning of capitalism during the Jamestown existence is a perfect example of how capitalism can be good for a colony or nation. We saw the crops fail and people free-ride from others hard work before the idea of private property ownership was born. Once the colonists were given a piece of land to own the crops flourished and the colony prospered because it is believed that people will work harder to maintain something that belongs to them. And when that happens the colony/economy prospers as a whole. Same holds true in America today, with ownership comes responsibility and it allows people to plan for the future. If you own a house or a business, it is possible to borrow against your property so that people can invest in their futures. Without the right to private ownership makes borrowing and investing close to impossible, this holds true for a lot of countries in Africa. Another positive thing that capitalism provides is the motivation to succeed as an individual.
Everyone knows that if you work hard you will succeed. I don’t think we would have people like Steve jobs, Bill gates and other entrepreneurs if the previously stated didn’t hold true. The incentive of an entrepreneur is derived from what capitalism is capable of and the production of an entrepreneur is beneficial to the economy and society that they are a part of. I also believe the idea of a free market is another aspect of capitalism that is great for the economy. The invisible hand that regulates the market will always work how it is supposed to because of supply and demand. People will pay good money for things that they demand and people will supply those things based on the demand. So if there is no demand for a certain product, people won’t buy that product. It’s a very simple concept that works and it keeps people motivated and innovative to come up with new products and that improves the economy.
Even with all of the positive things capitalism does for a society there are a lot of negative aspects to go along with it which are often overlooked. Michael Moore’s film sheds light on the shortcomings of a capitalist society. Like I said previously there are a lot of good things capitalism brings about, but they make room for people to be greedy. Big corporations have the right to fire people for lack of production and similar reasons as they should because if you want to succeed you have to work hard and the possibility of being fired is incentive to work hard. But greedy CEO’s could fire hard workers just to increase profits. According to the film, During the Reagan administration, major corporations laid off tens of thousands of workers while their profits increased. General Motors, AT&T, and General Electric made major job cuts in the 80’s while enjoying profits and rising stock prices.
While the greedy CEO’s buy new cars and airplanes, the blue collar workers who have families to provide for suffer because of the greed of a few people. That’s the side to capitalism that I do not agree with. Another example of the greed capitalism influences is the Juvenile detention scam in Pennsylvania. Children were wrongly convicted just so a privately owned detention center could enjoy the profits of housing these “delinquents.” One can only believe that the entrepreneurs that owned the detention center had one thing in mind when bidding on the government contract..MONEY. In order for them to make money they need to bring business which means convicting these children. The greed of these people caused judges and city officials to be corrupt and the kids to suffer for months at a time.
The downside to private ownership and having entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs is that property and wealth is concentrated into the hands of a relatively small number of well-off people which leaves the majority of working class people with nothing and they are left at the mercy of the wealthy for work. This leads to a inequality, exploitation and misery for “regular people.” The economy isn’t as efficient as it could be because the rich people have less incentive to use their property productively because they already have everything they want.
Socialism supports the redistribution of wealth and ensures that the means of production are for the benefit of the society as a whole. I also don’t think that it is right that a commercial airline pilot can be paid less than a Manager at McDonald’s or a Professional Athlete paid more than a Firefighter or Doctor. I think that is the downside to a free market and as long as people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to go see a football game, professional athletes will continue to make a ridiculous amount of money.
I’m not saying that Socialism is a better alternative to capitalism because the reality of it is socialism has proven that it doesn’t work in a few European countries. I think capitalism has more benefits to society, but I also think it has more downside. If there was a middle point between Capitalism and Socialism, I think it would work.