Socialism is like Gravity; Capitalism is like Momentum

People often get into spirited debates on whether capitalism or socialism is better.  To me, the concepts behind each system can be described as gravity and momentum.  

Socialism is like gravity, in that it is a force that acts upon all equality, keeps people grounded, shares community resources, and sets a minimum standard for people’s lives.  It also has a tendency to stifle growth and innovation, and encourages people to live at or near a socially acceptable level (at least in appearance).

Whereas capitalism is like momentum, where the limit of one’s speed and achievement is only one’s imagination, ingenuity and resources.  It also comes with the downside that not all people are able to travel at the same speed, some having rockets, some having roller skates, and some weighed down by a 1 ton weight.

The funny thing is, without gravity to ground people, we would just have chaos with objects flying everywhere at random speeds and directions.  Without momentum, we all would be stuck where we are, pulled towards the biggest gravitational force around.

So perhaps, like gravity and momentum, we need some of the concepts behind both socialism and capitalism.  A hybrid.  Or even a dual system.

So maybe instead of pure socialism, with state control of the economy or state control of health care, or pure capitalism, with private control of the economy and private control of health care, perhaps we need something that encompasses both.

So perhaps a dual public/private health care system, where those who can afford health care can pay for it, while those who cannot afford to pay get assistance through the public health care system for free or reduced cost.

Or instead of unregulated and uncontrolled capitalism, we have regulations, guidelines and minimum standards that protect workers, consumers and the environment.

There are already economies that are hybrid.  In fact the more successful countries are hybrid (although most would never admit that).  Some lean more towards capitalism and some more towards socialism, but they are hybrid nonetheless.  In fact, most countries start experiencing problems when they veer too close to one or another.

Some jurisdictions even have a dual health care system setup, such as Australia and Texas, with a vibrant private health care system supplemented by government owned and operated clinics and hospitals.

So maybe instead of fighting over whether capitalism is better or socialism is better, perhaps we need to look at what works for a particular jurisdiction.  

A European Union member state may prefer a more socialist approach, but they still embrace some of the concepts of capitalism.  A U.S. member state may prefer a more capitalistic approach, but still regulate corporations and businesses in their state, forcing them to comply with the state minimum wage, state environmental laws, state child labor laws, etc.

Instead of choosing between gravity or momentum, or choosing between socialism and capitalism, perhaps we need to use concepts from both to create an ideal society, based upon the needs of the people in a particular jurisdiction (which can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction).


Definitions Courtesy of Wikipedia

To make sure we are all on the same page here, I have included some definitions.

Socialism is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system. “Social ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets or planning, how management is to be organised within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism.”

Capitalism is an economic system and a mode of production in which trade, industries, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned. Such private firms and proprietorship are usually operated for profit, but may be operated as private nonprofit organizations. Central characteristics of capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor and, in some situations, fully competitive markets. In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged.”


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Scott M. Stolz

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