Capitalism Drives Us Beyond Mediocrity

Samuel Ganten, Editor

With our coming of age, we find ourselves paying for more expenses such as college, discontented about increasing costs and low wages. Considering that, according to CollegeBoard, tuition has been rising faster than inflation and financial aid, this discontent is understandable. But when focusing on personal issues, people tend to forget about the positive good that a system of capitalism has brought the world.

We must look at what the alternatives have created. Obviously feudalism or mercantilism has failed to create a better world, with a majority of the populace enslaved to generate marginal economic activity. The worst excesses of fascism certainly didn’t lead Germany to prosperity. In today’s modern world then, there are only two realistic options: socialism or capitalism.

Socialism is defined as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” by Merriam Webster.

But if a supposedly small group of bourgeois capitalists can be expropriated to further the common good, why stop there? What about collaborators who assisted in a system of economic oppression? What about those who weren’t harmed by the system but chose not to oppose it? What about those who turned their backs in the face of violent opposition? Socialism is a system that is inherently unsustainable because it is a system that destroys itself.

The Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam, China and others are premier examples of the failures of socialism. After the state seized all property, it found itself unable to provide a system of incentives to motivate production and so used violence to achieve production quotas. How can people be compelled to work against their own interests without resorting to threat of violence?

The economic system of socialism has shown itself consistently to be less efficient at producing higher standards of living than capitalism. After the initial increase of living standards, the Soviet economy found itself unable to compete with the capitalist west.

Some may say the USSR is not an example of real socialism. This is foolhardy to say because Karl Marx and Fredric Engels, writers of The Communist Manifesto, created the definition of what socialism is. Socialism is intrinsically tied to the idea that a collective should seize resources for the common good. Asking the obvious, when has socialism been “successfully” implemented in any other fashion than a Marxist-Leninist society?

When people say they want “socialism,” they want “keynesianism,” involving aggressive taxation for wealthy individuals and the massive expansion of social programs. Pointing to examples such as Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism” (a contradiction for the reasons mentioned above) and several European nations such as the Nordic Bloc, Germany and Others.

Whether it is public housing, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or public education, the public benefits always are lower quality and allocated less efficiently than their private counterparts. Students should remember that it is the Moraga Education Foundation, which depends on private donations, that elevates the school above its competition in the Bay Area.

Advocates of government intervention suggest that the solution to this is to, of course, throw more money at programs in order to solve problems. After consistently increasing funding for the aforementioned programs for decades, these programs have only seen marginal improvements. The Washington Times stated that Welfare spending under the previous administration jumped 32%. Has there been a noticeable increase in quality?

But in European countries “democratic socialism” must be effective, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Despite the focus on metrics such as inequality, the OECD notes that inequality is rapidly rising in Europe despite the massive social programs put in place. CNN Money found that inequality in Denmark, a traditional model of socialism, is seeing rapid increases in inequality, declining union membership, and increased rates of poverty.

Many of the flaws of socialism are a result of its focus on income inequality. By pursuing an equality of outcome, it destroys any incentive to improve oneself because of the knowledge that their productivity will be redistributed.  Yet true equality in all forms is impossible because all are driven in different ways and with different levels of ability. Even if everybody became richer, such a situation would be intolerable to socialism because it preserves the inequalities the ideology detests.

Scientific socialism, despite its name, is decidedly unscientific. Capitalism is biology, with competition over a limited amount of resources driving evolutionary change. Humanity was born out of specific individuals being graced with specific genes and traits that made them more competitive than other primates. Socialism is only realistic in a society that has entered a post-scarcity period because the supply of resources does not need efficient allocation.

Capitalism is good for all people and especially young people because it provides an institutional framework to grow and succeed beyond the mediocrity of group-think and collectivism. Individuals such as Bill Gates, Justin Bieber, and Steve Wozniak all were individuals who were able to achieve their maximum potential by using the free market system to their advantage. Even if some people are left behind, many people benefit from their newfound personal wealth and from the progress that they achieve.

By any measure, the world has benefited from the drive of individuals driven by capitalism.

Campolindo and its students benefit from the opportunities that capitalism has given to them. To try to claim that all hardship and strife in the world is prevented by capitalism is ridiculous, but it is more effective than any other system in the world. Winston Churchill once said that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” The same is true of capitalism as an economic model.

To achieve the better world that students seek, we must be ambitious and greedy rather than collectivist and selfless.