Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's a Wonderful Life: Support a Mom and Pop's this Christmas

Somebody somewhere said that It's a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz were opposites with the former being a pro-capitalist film and the latter being anti-capitalist.

I think that It's a Wonderful Life makes for an anti-capitalist cautionary tale. The way things are with George Bailey never having existed is the world Capitalism creates. Of course, whether you agree with me may depend on your definition of Capitalism.

"All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke

11 comments:

Rodak said...

The problem with capitalism is that it is predicated upon competition. Capitalism has made most of us "winners." But competition also has losers built into its very essence. That's one negative.
Another negative is that an atmosphere of competition gives rise to the idea that some persons are more deserving than others. If we capitalists could shake off this concept of privilege, based on successful competition, and realize that the great wealth--the surplus wealth--generated by capitalism's very effective mechanism, could be used primarily not to buy toys, but to feed and clothe the hungry and to house the homeless, and to cure the afflicted ON THE BASIS OF UNCONDITIONAL NEED ALONE, then capitalism would be a great gift to mankind.
As it is, it's more of a curse.

christina said...

hey fav brother of mine! this is a link i've been meaning to share with you, and fits in well with your 'support small business' motto. I thought it would be fun to try and visit some of these places during road trips...anyhoo here it is:
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurants/
their reviews are really great, and they seem to find the most interesting places. Enjoy!

Civis said...

Rodak,

Good points. My thing is that, although I believe in a free market, it is a simple fact that a market doesn't remain freee if it is left alone. If there are no laws or morals involved, one who has more capital can edge out all others. At the risk of comitting an argumentum ad Wal-Martum, Wal-Mart has historically gone into an area, dropped their prices and taken a loss while making money in other areas, driven out mom and pop, and once they are the only guy left, raise their prices.

For me winners and losers are not a problem so much as the problem of power becoming concentrated into the hands of a few.

Christina, thanks for the link and for stopping by.

Rodak said...

"For me winners and losers are not a problem so much as the problem of power becoming concentrated into the hands of a few."

Sure. But that exactly what unregulated capitalism will do. I'm sure you've read about the Robber Barons of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and know terms such "cornering the market" which come from that era.
The losers are not only the entrepreneurs who lose their market share in a given industry or business; it is also the workers and the consumers who end up powerless.

Civis said...

Rodak,

Gotcha. We agree. Some people (e.g. John Rawls) have a problem with there being any inequality at all. I thought that was what you meant by "losers."

Anonymous said...

Two cents worth.

Capitalism is not predicated on competition. The highest form of capitalism is a monopoly which, by definition, is an absence of competition. Lack of competition guarantees that wealth accumulates in the hands of the few; competition spreads that wealth among the more. Capitalism is not predicated on competition, it's predicated on profit. It is the concentration and retention of that profit that is one of the biggest economic problems today.

The idea that people who "get" do so because they are deserving is unrelated to competition. That ideal is part of the fantasy of the protestant work ethic that god rewards industry and the industrious deserve their reward. This concept has been so bastardized that it now stands for the proposition that the rich are deserving merely because they are rich. An unfortunate side effect of all this is that that the "undeserveds" - the unemployed, disabled, old, young, undereducated, and poor - don't "deserve" any "reward" because they don't meet someone's idea of industrious.

Lastly, the term "free market" is an oxymoron. Markets are always controlled and constrained by something; none are free. "Free market" is the euphemistic battle cry of monopolists and modern corporate robber barons for less and less government regulation. Less regulation ensures that the economic benefit of profit accrues to the few instead of the whole of society.

Lack of competition, concentration of profit, free marketism and twisted ideals of reward have created a society that ignores its undeserveds and worships at the altar of Paris Hilton.

Now - go shop at your local hardware!

Anonymous said...

P. S. ya gotta love Rawls!

Rodak said...

anonymous--
Actually, there is competition in capitalism. It is true that as the strongest competitors put their lesser rivals out of business, one-by-one, eventually there is a monopoly, as I said here:

"Sure. But that exactly what unregulated capitalism will do. I'm sure you've read about the Robber Barons of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and know terms such "cornering the market" which come from that era."

But, it isn't accurate to say that competition is not the mechanism that produces the most profits, eliminates weak competitors, and leads to monopoly, if unregulated.

Civis said...

Anonymous:

You said a mouthful. Rave on!

Rodak:

“No one stepped behind a pulpit without proclaiming a heresy.” –Dorothy Day.

Anonymous said...

Was I ranting?

Rodak:

I challenged the premise "capitalism is predicated on competition". Certainly, competition is part of capitalism and I don't recall claiming otherwise.

It is not accurate to say competition is the mechanism of maximum profits and elimination of rivals. Indeed the opposte is true - lack of competition achieves those ends much more efficiently.

Rodak said...

Anonymous--
I fail to see how "rivals" and "competition" are not describing the same thing here.
You get to monopoly via the mechanism of competition.
In a socialist system, there is no competition; instead you have state-owned and operated monopolies from the git-go.
In capitalism you start with many entrepreneurs in the same business and gradually get down to only one, who out-competed all the rest.