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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/8/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 745 times Debate No: 80717
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




Socialism is an economic impossibility.
The basic problem of economics is scarcity - limited resources and unlimited desires for those resources. Every economy must thus answer these 3 questions: What goods to produce? How to produce them? Whom shall receive them?

Since socialism doesn't have a price system, it is impossible to effectively address these issues. Without a price system, how do you answer the problem of scarcity, and the "3 W's"? By a government survey?

Since capitalism works based on a market based on private property, a price system, and incentive for profit, resources will be used most efficiently since the producers, consumers etc. themselves decide the answer to these questions. It is impossible for the government to know the answers.

Historical experience clearly demonstrates that price-fixing in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, China, Cuba and Venezuela created massive shortages of all goods and services, even essential ones like food and water. And the reason is obvious - because there's high demand but little supply to satisfy all those wants.

Working on a for-profit basis with free market principles is vital in this regard. Every individual person wants to maximize the use of their private property. Once a good or service's price is reduced below market level or is free, there is no longer any incentive to maximize its use - in fact, people will use more of it without regard to its scarcity, or dispose of it altogether.

Accordingly, when governments take this course, lines and lines of people can be found in all stores and so on. If gas is [artificially] only $1.50 (fixed price) down from $3.00 (market price), why not buy as much as gas as possible? An inevitable shortage is the result. The only way to address a shortage is by rationing, further exacerbating the problem.
In the free market, there was never a shortage of anything that consumers wanted and producers were able to sell. It only occurred when the government stepped in, like in the 70's with the oil embargo. Even Germany, more dependent on oil than we are, didn't have massive waiting lines.

Thus, Socialism is an economic impossibility.


Im not against capitalism overall but I do think it can benefit from socialistic elements.

I'm debating against a number of misconceptions that you (and many other proponents of capitalism) have. There will always be differing moral opinions, but it's important that we at least understand what we are arguing against.

First, socialism and communism are not two interchangeable ideas. The idea that communism is just like socialism except a darker shade of red is a misconception (often created by conservative blogs/talkshows and such). They're two different systems.

Socialism is an idea and a principle - not a concrete system in itself. It is a modification of capitalism - not a replacement of it. It emphasizes redistribution of wealth. Aka, people get paid at their jobs and then taxes/programs even out the disparity.

Communism is the sharing of wealth in which all workers own an equal amount of shares in the company. Countries in Europe for example have a lot of socialistic elements but are not communist because (wealth redistribution aside, the workers still do not own part of the company).

Capitalism and socialism arent a mutually exclusive binary. Its not black or white. Its not a matter of capitalist vs socialist countries. Almost all economies in the world right now are mixed. Its not a matter of being a pure capitalist country or else you're communist like the Soviet Union.

Countries like France and Sweden still uses the capitalism system except they have a lot of socialistic elements in them. We can wax poetic about the flaws in every country (whether they lean toward the purer side of capitalism or whether they have socialistic elements), but the European countries arent a dystopia. Its not like most of the people in the country are starving. One's daily life in Scandanavia or the UK isn't too much different than in America.

Its not like the people there are devoid of resources and opportunities. Socialism doesnt by principle have to involve price fixes.

The United States is a mixed economy with socialistic elements too. It was even under the policies of conservative politicians like Reagan, who supported Medicare, Social Security and other Great Society programs.

Maybe you support 10-20% socialism instead of 40% socialism, but unless you are a pure minarchist by principle, you support some degree of socialism. Maybe not as much as I do, but still.

The issue I have is when conservatives use the word socialism to deride any socialistic policies they dont like, but never acknowledge some of their own socialistic policies as socialistic. Its become a buzz word.

Ill end my first argument by mentioning a book by PJ O Rourke called Eat The Rich. Despite what the title sounds like, he's a libertarian.

But the point of the book is that there's good capitalism (Hong Kong), bad capitalism (Albania in the 90s), good socialism (Sweden) and bad socialism (Soviet Union).

It's a matter of how socialism is applied. Not a matter of System A being the the only good one and System B being always bad. The world is always more complicated (beyond just good versus evil) than a one-sided view would suggest.

If you believe that socialism is against your moral beliefs, that is your prerogative, but that doesnt mean its an absolutely bad thing.

1) There are many countries with socialistic doing relatively well.
2) Socialistic policies arent always bad.
3) Most people are for some degree of socialism but won't admit it because the word carries a stigma
4) A country can have a capitalistic system while having socialistic elements.
5) Socialism isn't communism, or the the devil satan himself for that matter.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, socialism and communism are essentially the same. Communism is the more radical version of it.

Secondly, socialism and capitalism aren't compatible in the slightest bit. I am not even .000001 socialist. I have none of those tendencies whatsoever.

I believe that there needs to be limited government intervention in the economy. Just a little. This is not socialism. This intervention's purpose is to be the "umpire" over the economy, to enforce private contracts, to prosecute theft, extortion, and so on. Pure capitalism doesn't mean anarchy - it means that the government plays the umpire role.

Real socialist economies reject the principles of private property, free markets, voluntary contracts and cooperation. But you say that countries like Sweden have good socialism? It must work, no?

The truth of the matter is that Sweden, Finland, Norway and their ilk are successful because they have integrated capitalistic principles into their economy. Consider this:

Ranks higher than the US in business freedom, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property freedom and freedom from corruption.

Ranks higher than the US in business freedom, monetary freedom, investment freedom, fiscal freedom, property freedom and freedom from corruption.

Iceland ranks a little lower than the US in most of these key indicators. It"s close, though. Remember also that Iceland has a smaller total population (320,000) than Wichita, KS.

Ranks higher than the US in trade freedom, property freedom and freedom from corruption.

Ranks higher than the US in business freedom, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property freedom and freedom from corruption.


As you can see, these countries' success stem for the fact that they integrate the free market into their economy, not because of socialism as you have stated.

That said, you still have not yet debunked my refutation of socialism/communism (call it whatever you want), in regards to the price system and economic calculation.


Public school (and even a voucher system for private schools) is socialism - it redistributes wealth.
Social Security is socialism - it redistributes wealth from workers to the living elderly.
Medicare is Social Security. It subsidizes health care costs paid for by other tax payers.

All of these are examples are socialism. To be completely against socialism means to remove all of these things completely.

My position has always been that a mixed economy is best. Both capitalism and socialist programs are good. Both work well together.

For example, if I open a business and make profits, that's a capitalistic element. Then, if some of my profits are sent into a government program to help poor people eat and go to Kindergarten, that is socialistic element. I profit, and some wealth is distributed. I win, society wins.

You further prove my point (with your own sources) by saying that socialist Europe is enjoying more economic freedom than the United States itself.

Your very first sentence was that socialism is impossible, yet you provided examples of successful countries which have socialism.

The countries you mentioned have universal health care. The wealthy people in those countries are taxed for half or more of their income. And they're still successful.

The argument against socialism is that you can't have a successful society with a heavy tax burden. Those countries do have heavy tax burdens, and you said they are successful. So, why not tax the rich then?

Since you're absolutely 0% socialist, I ask that you name me a couple of financially well countries which have absolutely zero socialistic elements.
Debate Round No. 2


I have clearly and lucidly demonstrated that those countries are successful economically because of capitalism not because of socialism, yet you keep on insisting that "I have proved your point". How?! Again, they are successful because of capitalism not socialism. I have brought you evidence and sources to that effect.

Therefore, though they have higher taxes, free education, free healthcare and so on - socialistic policies - they are successful DESPITE those factors, not because of them. And redistribution of wealth doesn't make people richer. It makes everyone poorer. Socialism doesn't have a wealth creating mechanism - it merely redistributes it; capitalism does. Redistribution has never made a society rich - economic growth has. (And there are countries, by the way, that have high taxes and lower economic growth. You have no solid proof for this.

Still, in round #3, you haven't refuted any of my original arguments from round #1. Please respond to my original post.

Look at Ludwig von Mises, "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth", for an excellent analyses of this issue. His book is exactly my point in my opening argument.
(Mises was one of the foremost economic scholars of the 20th century, and has been endorsed and / or supported by other prominent economists, like Fredrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, Leonard Read and others.)



In a system with both capitalistic and socialistic elements, you can't isolate either one of them and say "That's the only one doing the work". If someone takes two different medications, you can't say Medication A is doing all the work and Medication B isn't because you didn't isolate it.

I'm arguing that mixed economies are best.
We've gone over examples of current successful mixed economies.

You're arguing pure capitalism is best.
You've provided zero examples of current successful pure-capitalism economies.

I can wax poetic all day about prices and controls, and how it should theoretically be a problem. You're saying if we raise taxes and re-distribute the wealth, there will be severe shortages. Plenty of countries have done that without consequence.

The reason why socialism doesn't generate wealth is because it's not an economic system. It's purely an add-on to the capitalism system, like I've been saying the whole time. Adding a computer chip to your PC isn't supposed to power it ; it's supposed to change some of its functionalities. You can view it as an helpful upgrade, or a toxic virus. But nonetheless, it's an add-on that most developed countries have adopted.

If a country in the world decides it wants to completely forgo socialism, become totally capitalistic, more power to them. If it's an immense success, I'll change my mind. But as of now, I haven't seen pure communism (on the extreme left) work. I haven't seen pure capitalism (on the extreme right) work either.

And lastly, every source you have posted was purely from conservative/libertarian biased thinktanks. I think you'd have a more balanced comprehensive understanding of the economy and economic systems as a whole if you explore other sources rather than only ones which advocate a particular point of view. But anyway, thanks for the debate and your time. I appreciate the discussion. See you around.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Cart 3 years ago
This is exactly the problem. We weren't debating about communism. We were debating about socialism. While I can't think of any good examples of pure communism (or pure capitalism for that matter), we went over good examples of countries which have socialistic elements.
Posted by YaHey 3 years ago
Wait? You showed communism doesn't work in a debate about... socialism? Is that an admittance that you have the wrong definitions?

Also, the Soviet Union isn't communist just like Korea isn't a republic. You can call yourself things without being that thing.
Posted by reagan76 3 years ago
Yahey seems to love to rewrite history. The Soviet Union was communist, that's widespread knowledge. I have clearly shown that communism cannot work. Yet people in this forum don't understand economics. Its a shame.
Posted by YaHey 3 years ago
Socialism doesn't equal communism though. Like, Karl Marx talked about how socialists didn't go far enough. Communism is a reaction to both capitalism and socialism.

Also, I don't think that the Soviet Union was an actual communist country. A better term for them is State Capitalist.
Posted by Cart 3 years ago
"I am using socialism and communism interchangeably"

But they're not interchangeable ideas.
Posted by reagan76 3 years ago
I am using socialism and communism interchangeably. None of the "real" socialist countries have real price systems.
Posted by YaHey 3 years ago
Did you know that Cuba's life expectancy actually rose under Castro, even higher than it is in the united states? And one reason that Cuba has a shortage of goods is because they were put under sanctions-- the stuff literally could not get there. But I think you are confusing socialism with communism. Socialism is the redistribution of wealth and it still has a price system. Socialism is basically highly regulated capitalism. Communism deals away with private property, the price system, and money in general.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by YaHey 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Con mistook what socialism is and tried to argue against that. Pro used a correct definition of socialism, that it is an add on to capitalism, and their argument for a mixed economy was convincing.
Vote Placed by Dill777 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: I am against socialism, but I vote for Pro because he had better arguments and because Con seems to have a habit of ignoring reality. Though on the other hand Pro said they were in favor of a mixed economy, as I am, so I suppose in actuality we are on the same page, more or less.