The Instigator
AlexRich
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
GaryBacon
Con (against)
Winning
31 Points

Capitalism is a failed ideology that makes human life worthless, healthcare proves

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,918 times Debate No: 3070
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (11)

 

AlexRich

Pro

There are many problems with a totally free market economy, and i will admit that "communism" as a political ideology has failed. But many countries, such as the U.S.S.R. and China, the "communist" party was communist in name only. A true communist country would not fail in the way that capitalism has failed.

The main problem of capitalism is that there is no incentive to honor the inherent value of human life. This is because there is no distribution of wealth among the vast majority of workers. The majority of wealth (capital) lies in the hands of a view who become wealthy off of the work of the proletariat. Such an exploitative system should not be advocated by the majority of people. The rich bourgeois are the only ones whom the system benefits, while the middle class and proletariat are taken advantage of.

This basic thesis is bolstered by the example of health care. In places like Sub-Saharan Africa, industrialized China, and other countries driven by capital many people are exploited by capitalists, that contention has been well documented. Sub-Saharan Africa's problems can all be traced to the forces of capitalism. It started during the colonial period where the European powers stole Africa's resources. When the massive amounts of health-related problems began to surface the capitalist powers had no incentive to help out, so not much was done. The only incentive that capitalist powers have to help out the sick and poor is to make sure that they are just well enough to work for them. Thus, health care is used as a tool of the capitalist powers to enslave the people of Africa. This one example can be seen throughout the world in all places where economies are driven by capitalism.

Such a cheapening of human life is what we have to deal with in a capitalist system. So what the alternative? A more regulated economy that respects the environment, human life, and the advancement of civilization through the abandonment of capitalist structures.
GaryBacon

Con

You start by saying that there are many problems with a totally free market economy. But what must be understood is that most of these problems would not be present in a true capitalist system. By allowing each individual to work for his or her own self-interest, production is increased. The problems with larger corporations is that they do not truly adhere to capitalistic principles. When corporations sell products for less than cost or very low profits simply to eliminate smaller businesses, they are not acting under the rules of capitalism. Free enterprise indicates that everyone is free to move up if they work hard enough. By denying smaller businesses this liberty, the larger corporations are going against capitalism.

Similarly, exploitation of workers prevents those same workers from moving up. So once again, this is not capitalism.

You state "A true communist country would not fail in the way that capitalism has failed." And when you give examples of the U.S.S.R. and China, you use quotation marks around the word "communism." But the same thing can be done when speaking of capitalism. In any type of economic policy, the realistic implementation of that policy will differ from its ideals. Furthermore, a communist country is probably bound to fail even in its truest sense. People need incentive to be productive. If someone's work product does not affect salary, promotion or anything similar, then mass social loafing is bound to occur. The people will not bother to work hard for zero reward.

You may think that good will and helping out one's fellow man may be enough incentive. But even if this is initially the case, how long can that possibly last? There will undoubtedly come a point where enough is enough and people get sick of working simply to help out others. So production in a true communist country will be just as lousy as the production was in other "communist" countries.

You say that capitalism has no incentive to honor the inherent value of human life. But this is not true. Capitalism gives everyone an incentive to do the best that they can and to do well for their own lives. What better way to value human life than by giving all of those lives an incentive to distinguish themselves by living up to their full potential?

In your examples you mention Sub-Saharan Africa and China. There is no doubt that things are very bad right now in Sub-Saharan Africa. But look at the things you mention: European powers stealing resources, keeping people at the bare minimum of health needed for work, exploitation of people. This is not capitalism at all. If others label it as such, it is they who are wrong. Adam Smith would never condone such behavior.

China is an example that confuses me. It seems to be doing extremely well right now. Capitalism became the economic policy and since that time China has been doing well both in production and in the lives of its citizens.

Capitalism does not cheapen human life as you claim. A policy such as communism that makes everyone equal is what really cheapens human life. People need the incentive to do the best that they can. This is how progress is achieved. Any other alternatives cannot give such incentive for production.
Debate Round No. 1
AlexRich

Pro

On your first paragraph:
- You say corporations do not adhere to the rules of a truly free market. This doesn't make sense because in a truly free market there are no rules. A truly free market economy is a breeding ground for the theories of social darwinism that leads to the exploitation of the working class.

- If you truly read the philosophy of Adam Smith, the father of economics, he argues that there should be absolutely no state interference with the free market. This is the perfect breeding ground for the corporations to abuse the working class. He does not argue that capitalism is for people to move up in society, but rather it supports competition to get the cheapest product, and the only true way to get the cheapest product is for the exploitation of the working class.

On your third paragraph:

-- Your main argument against a communist/socialist sort of economic philosophy is that people would not have incentive to be productive. That is simply not true. First, there are other incentives other than capital. Second, in a world without capital people would not produce for monetary gain but for the betterment of the human race. It is in peoples nature to, once the corruption of capital is gone, to help out themselves and others. Also, many new ideas and inventions are abandoned because of them being "too risky" and not a guarantee of capital gain. In a world without capital there would be those types of incentives.

On your fourth paragraph:

Your interpretation of human nature is so flawed! People do not get sick of helping other people because they not only would be helping the disenfranchised but also helping themselves. Think about this: We could cure the common cold but there is way to much money in medications that only help, not cure. In a world without capital people would be helping themselves by solving for other people's ills.

On your fifth paragraph:

Exploitation is what capitalism does, in both a pragmatic and philosophical sense. In order for countries economies to grow there is a call for the exploitation of the working class and the rape of the earth's natural resources. This is exactly what Adam Smith calls for. This type of Social Darwinism is the main reason why those problems are so prevalent.

On your sixth paragraph:

Capitalism absolutely cheapens human life. It does not allow growth because people are taken out of their nature and forced to be cogs in the economic wheel.

You also don't say why communism cheapens human life. People working for other people and bettering themselves and the human race could only help human life, not hurt it. Again, people would still have the incentive to invent new solutions to the world's problems because they do not have this sort of mindset.

In conclusion:

Your arguments are severely flawed. The only way to solve for the major problems facing humanity (climate change, disease, resource wars) would be to get away from the capitalist system.
GaryBacon

Con

You state that a truly free market economy would lead to the exploitation of the working class. But what needs to be understood is that a truly free market economy would be truly free for all members of society. In the philosophy of capitalism, a person should work hard and strive to make as much as possible WITHOUT taking that same freedom away from others. Infringing upon someone else's ability to also better himself or herself is inconsistent with the true essence of capitalism.

You state "If you truly read the philosophy of Adam Smith, the father of economics, he argues that there should be absolutely no state interference with the free market. This is the perfect breeding ground for the corporations to abuse the working class."

Adam Smith does not condone the abuse of the working class. The following is a quote from The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 1, Part II:

"The second duty of the sovereign, that of protecting, as far as possible, every member of society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice requires two very different degrees of expense in the different periods of society."

Adam Smith does also speak of competition to get a cheaper product, but not by the means of exploitation and oppression. This is another quote from The Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chapter 9:

"When a landed nation, on the contrary, oppresses either by high duties or by prohibitions of the trade of foreign nations, it necessarily hurts its own interest in two different ways."

One of the ways he states that an oppressor hurts itself is through some complex series of an economic chain that would ultimately lower the oppressor's value of the surplus produce and other such things (it's in the agriculture section, which is why it only mentions things like land and produce).

But the second way is by reducing potential workers and their work product down to barely anything. He states "It would depress productive labour, by encouraging too hastily that labour which is altogether barren and unproductive."

So, despite your claims, capitalism does not signify the exploitation and oppression of others. And as I've stated before, those that do so and label it as capitalism should affix those same quotation marks to the word "capitalism" that you've affixed to the word "communism" in your opening argument.

When I speak of the incentive to work, you say that "there are other incentives other than capital." That may be so, but I can think of no better incentive than one of self-interest. You may wish to believe that people would be happy to work in order to help out others. But this is not the case. That was one of the main points in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. People are not going to put forth extra effort, not going to work any overtime, not going to do any type of outstanding job if all of the rewards are divided between all of the workers.

You state "Second, in a world without capital people would not produce for monetary gain but for the betterment of the human race." I'd love to see how long you can keep someone working by telling him that he is doing it for the betterment of the human race. My guess is not very.

And Adam Smith also speaks of incentive. "The wages of labour are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives."

Then you talk of new ideas and inventions that are abandoned because they may not raise capital. But if any of these ideas and inventions were truly great, not only would they raise capital, but there would be someone willing to invest in it.

You claim that my interpretation of human nature is flawed, but actually the reverse is true. Humans are selfish for the most part. Whether this is a good or bad thing does not matter. What does matter is that selfish people will not work solely on the incentive of helping someone else. Now you do point out that bettering the human race will also benefit the individual. This may be true, but the question of WHEN plays a big role. An individual has to see some immediate reward, or the work product will cease.

In this same vein, capitalism, which encourages individuals to better themselves, will also better the human race. Adam Smith states "Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society." Ayn Rand makes a very similar point in The Fountainhead.

Your example of a cure for the common cold is flawed. First off, there is not only one viral strain that can cause a cold. There are tens of thousands. A cure would require something that is effective against every single strain. That in itself is highly improbable. But even supposing that it were well and truly possible, a scientist that developed such a cure would surely reap a lot of capital gain. Why would he care about the loss of profits of the other medication companies? He would simply rise to the top as the best competitor in that market.

Adam Smith does not call for the exploitation of the working class and the rape of the earth's natural resources. I've already given quotes to show that he was against exploitation of the working class. He also spoke of a balance between consumption and production. "At no moment of time, therefore, does he add any thing to the value of the whole annual amount of the rude produce of the land: the portion of that produce which he is continually consuming, being always equal to the value which he is continually producing."

Communism definitely cheapens human life more than capitalism. By making everyone equal, all of the greatness that an individual possesses is washed away. Everyone being on an equal footing is not a good thing for anyone excepting those which are so worthless that they would actually be elevated by this action. People working for other people and the "betterment of the human race" would definitely hurt human life. I can assure you that productivity would plummet. No one works for such a vague incentive for very long.

Your final conclusion sounds similar to one of those miracle cure-all scams. Stating that a movement away from capitalism (and I'm supposing towards communism or socialism in your view) will suddenly stop resource wars, cure disease, and end climate change is absolutely absurd.

No matter what type of economic system a country adopts, the natural resources are not going to change location. To get a resources to a country that has none costs money. The country with resources, even if it did switch to a communist or socialist system, would not constantly pay to send its resources to all of the countries that need it.

I have absolutely no idea how diseases are supposed to be cured by getting away from capitalism.

Climate change is something that we still are unsure of. Whatever the causes of it may be, will another economic system alleviate that? People would still rely on the same things that they do today. Only the funds would be distributed differently.

Capitalism is the way to go. Only a real and immediate reward such as legal tender can motivate people to work. Vague notions of bettering the human race would get real old real fast. People simply will not put their full effort into work for such incentives.
Debate Round No. 2
AlexRich

Pro

AlexRich forfeited this round.
GaryBacon

Con

It is a shame that my opponent was unable to provide a final argument. Unexpected circumstances can often occur in life, and I cannot condemn him for being unable to post the argument within the allotted time.

Due to the lack of anything to truly rebut, this final argument will be short.

When it comes to communism (or socialism) it is easy to see why this was a good idea to Karl Marx. A brief look back at history can show that Marx actually became a parasite feeding on the funds provided by Friedrich Engels. This is actually the sole reason why Engels' name appears as co-author of The Communist Manifesto. Marx added it on to thank him for his generosity.

The nature of people being as it is, this is something that is always bound to happen somehow in a communist system. When a person's work product means nothing and everyone is provided for equally, there are going to be all too many people that will simply sponge off of the others. In fact, we can even see a situation similar to this in the U.S. Civil service is an area in which the pay is not rewarded by work product and the chances of unemployment are very slim. As a result of this, there is a constant complaint about the inefficiency of civil servants. I see this first hand. I am not saying that civil service is communist, but I am saying that it is about as close as you can get to it in the U.S.

Capitalism in its truest sense is a far better ideal than communism. People that have true talent and greatness should not be reduced to the same level as everyone else. This would be unfair. In the capitalist philosophy, everyone has, at the very least, the chance to move up the social ranks. It is extremely tough to do, and you have to work like crazy to get there, but it is possible.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Shorack 9 years ago
Shorack
Thanks for the advance warning. :)

i'll maybe postpone it till a moment with lots of times on my hand. ;)

but i can't make it never to read it, i've read a few books from Friedman and he really refers on regular basis to the wealth of nations.
Posted by GaryBacon 9 years ago
GaryBacon
I appreciate the comment Shorack. However, I must admit that The Wealth of Nations is actually extremely tedious. It is approximately 1200 pages, and although there are some excellent points made, a lot of boring pages must be read to get to the meat.

Just figured I'd give you some fair warning. But if you still feel the need to read it that by all means, go for it. The edition I own is published by Bantam Classics and is only $7.95.
Posted by Shorack 9 years ago
Shorack
Pro's second round only consisted of assumptions and severely lacked any funding/examples/reasoning to support those.

Con makes me want to go search for the wealth of nations in the library (fingers crossed to find it, Friedman is already hard to get :()
Posted by 08tsuchiyar 9 years ago
08tsuchiyar
What a debate! Too bad I'm not as informed as these two guys!
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