"Many theorists and policymakers in predominantly capitalist nations have emphasized capitalism's ability to promote economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), capacity utilization or standard of living. This argument was central, for example, to Adam Smith's advocacy of letting a free market control production and price, and allocate resources. Many theorists have noted that this increase in global GDP over time coincides with the emergence of the modern world capitalist system. While the measurements are not identical, proponents argue that increasing GDP (per capita) is empirically shown to bring about improved standards of living, such as better availability of food, housing, clothing, and health care. The decrease in the number of hours worked per week and the decreased participation of children and the elderly in the workforce have been attributed to capitalism. Proponents also believe that a capitalist economy offers far more opportunities for individuals to raise their income through new professions or business ventures than do other economic forms. To their thinking, this potential is much greater than in either traditional feudal or tribal societies or in socialist societies."
Read the full article on capitalism at Wikipedia.
Since a lot of press is going to be generated from Michael Moore's new doc Capitalism (which seems like a somewhat evil attempt to make some cash by making & selling a product that confirms just the fears of some people who do not understand the value of or for some reason do not like capitalism) I think I'll post a few items about the positive side of capitalism.
One big positive is the existence of the American movie industry. Hollywood, indiewood, and even real independent film would not exist to the same comparatively awesome level that it exists in the US were it not for capitalism. Capitalism is basically people who decide to put money together (capital) in order to organize work, achieve a desired end (including gaining profit). So, at many points in time in the US, investors decided that due to the relatively level (relatively well regulated) playing field (monopolies are not left unchecked for long) putting money into making & distributing movies was a good risk. Thus, the film industry - Hollywood was born & also its weird cousin the independent film world was born. This debate on capitalism reminds me what Steven Soderbergh said at the NYC premiere of his film Che - something to the effect that he could not do what he does - make movies about various subjects - including controversial ones, pretty much however he wants to make them - in Cuba (a non-capitalist country). He could have been referring to just freedom of expression issues, but, any filmmaker who spends millions of $s on creating a movie about a guerrilla fighter could just as well point to an environment where individuals & companies feel comfortable risking millions of $s on a movie - environments that exist generally in countries where a capitalist economic system is in place (fully or partially). So, bottom line: No Capitalism = No Hollywood & Indie Film (probably).
Of course it isn't just capitalism that makes good economic things possible in the US - it is the combination of capitalism, checks & balances, good laws, press freedoms that makes the US a good place to start a business, and a good place to invest in businesses. Nevertheless, capitalism is a key ingredient in both what makes the US one of the most desirable (to live, work in, etc.) places in the world & also capitalism is a key ingredient in making the American film industry possible.
I have not seen Mr. Moore's film yet, so, after I do, will have a thorough breakdown of the movie - where he tells the truth & where he lies. In the meantime, I'll quote some interesting & relevant items here (also I probably need to brush up on capitalism, have not thought about all the parts that make it work well here in the US in a while).
Oh, before I go with today's quote re: Moore's movie, here's why I think capitalism will help save the world:
1. This world is mostly poor, due to lack of well developed economic systems where people are able to generate wealth, start businesses, employ other people, pay taxes & assist governments with further development of nations, etc.
2. Capitalism, well regulated (as it generally is in the US, in spite of the current economic crisis) is a cure for poverty of nations.
3. Openly or without much fanfare many previously economically under developed countries are adopting practices that are traditionally a part of capitalism - private investment & ownership, market competition, etc. Integrating useful aspects of capitalism to existing local systems (government, culture, etc.) could help countries pull themselves out of poverty. Along with, of course, financial & trade aid from wealthy countries (who remain relatively wealthy & are able to help out poorer countries due to capitalism).
And here's today's quote re: Moore's film Capitalism, from Illinois Review (they seem as without nuance & off target on some points as Moore, but, there is some truth to their critique of Moore):
"Moore is almost the perfect demagogue who chooses his targets wisely in order to build on popular prejudice against the "big banks" and any other private sector business that actually does create real-long lasting wealth creating jobs for people instead of fake public sector jobs that only steal money from other people and create no wealth at all over time. Let's see if Moore really believes the drivel he sells. I suggest he donate every last dime of profit on his current movie to charities for the poor. But he will not do that because it is ever so much more fun to call bankers evil and get everyone in America taxed to give money to people that socialists always say they are helping even as they bankrupt the country."
Read the rest here.
And, of course, if you are an expert on the positive & negative sides of American capitalism, please enlighten us/share your wisdom through comments.