[saymaListserv] capitalism and population decline
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Sun Aug 22 19:52:23 JEST 2004
As I have been following the discussions about capitalism,
investment, and the possible impact of population decline, I am
struck by what seems to be the elephant in the middle of the room
to my perception, but maybe not to others. I thought I would test it
by articulating my thoughts and listening to what others might
respond from a position of greater understanding about economics.
It seems to me that since the fall of the USSR, it has become
increasingly difficult to remember how much wisdom, ingenuity,
advocacy, sacrifice, and suffering were required to reign in the
capitalist behemoth from the practices of unsafe and squalid
working conditions and rapacious appropriation of natural resources
that reigned for hundreds of years before the great labor and
environmental movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. These
movements may have been caused by capitalism, but in my view
that does not recommend capitalism.
My interpretation of the "value" of a practice or philosophy is not
based on the extent to which it "works" or is "successful", and I
recognize that that puts me somewhere on the loony side of
mainstream. However "successful" it has been, I perceive the
prevailing practices of capitalism to be dependent upon exploitation
of growth, rather than promotion of equilibrium. Despite their
success, these practices do not resonate with me.
The health care industry is a prime example of capitalism at its
"best" - or at its worst, depending upon one's point of view. Because
we Americans value our own lives so greatly, we are willing to
invest our children's inheritance and our solvency in prolonging
them. Perhaps if I were more well-to-do, I would share that
philosophy, but I have made other choices in my life that have
resulted in my being less "successful".
At the same time, the industry keeps coming up with new "products"
to sell to its "market", at whatever price the market will bear -
generally much higher than your typical citizen of, say, Angola, can
afford. Is that because the Angolan's life is worth less than the
American's? The answer to that may seem simple to an economist,
but it is a tough question for this Friend.
I wonder if there are other Friends out there who think about these
things in similar terms, or if I am just caught up in the wrong
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