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What Are Some Viable Alternatives to Capitalism?
Free market economics or capitalism is based on the idea of maximizing social welfare by letting supply and demand dictate how trade in any good or service happens. To quote Mark A. Zupan, (The Virtues of Free Markets), “Free markets have many virtues. Arguably, the most recognized is the expansion of individual choice—and thus freedom—through mutually beneficial exchange”. When individuals choose to engage in trade, they do so based on their personal preferences and a sound knowledge of their ability to produce a good or pay for it. In other forms of economic systems such as socialism or communism a lot of opportunities to trade with others, based on personal preferences is taken away by the government.
While there are obvious drawbacks to a socialist system, socialist policies are present in every country including the United States. Not only are they present but often times such policies and frameworks are considered desirable. For example in a society without a good law and order system the scope for stable free trade is limited. If people are afraid to go out and buy groceries because of a very high rate of crime, a disruption occurs in economic activity. When the government creates a police force, and a legal system to prevent crime or arbitrate conflicts, it does to fulfill socially desirable goals that are representative of socialism.
In-fact the definition of socialism is a government act that reallocates resources based on socially desirable goals, as opposed to free market principles. Bruce. R Scott, (The Political Economy of Capitalism), describes an evolved capitalist system as one having two hands, “ an invisible hand that is implicit in the pricing mechanism and a visible hand that is explicitly managed by government through a legislature and a bureaucracy”. The visible hand manages the invisible, based on socially desirable outcomes, a guiding principle of socialist thought. The debate then shifts not to the question of if other modes of economic management are viable but how, when and where applying different modes of such systems should be utilized?
Mark A. Zupan. “The Virtues of Free Markets.” The Cato-Institute, Summer 2011, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/2011/5/cj31n2-1.pdf, Accessed 01 March 2017, pp. 171.
Bruce R. Scott. “The Political Economy of Capitalism.” Copyright Bruce R. Scott, 2006. http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/07-037.pdf. Accessed 02 March 2017, pp.1.