Archive for July, 2009

Social Capitalism

Dealership Demise © Jim Korpi

Traveling around post-industrial America for my current project has given me a unique perspective of the current financial debacle. First hand accounts by people like Brad Duling, who just lost his Chrysler dealership status after over 60 years in business, are proof to the headlines.
There’s one word floating around conversations and minds peaking my curiosity every time I hear it, socialism. “Our country is turning socialist,” people are claiming as if the word were painted with the Cold War tint of dark red and followed by something like, “Those commies in the White House…”
According to the Merriam/Webster definition socialism is “1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”
By definition it seems true, in part, that this is happening, that, as Marx would claim, we are somewhere in between capitalism and communism.
My curiosity is peaked when I start to think about what our current economy has produced. You see, in a market economy like ours the market (you, me, and the rest of the world) determines the products (Chryslers, Fords…) being produced. If I want a big car, I create a demand and the car manufacturers answer the demand by building such a car. Like someone once said about governments, people get what they deserve.
Now the car manufacturers are troubled. People are no longer demanding, or manufacturers are failing to meet modern demands. Some would say they have failed the market. True capitalists would say, “Let them fail.”
Because our society, economy is intensely car-based this poses a dilemma; let the car companies fail and the economy could flop.
If the car companies have “failed,” can’t it also be said for a market based economy, such as ours, that we too have failed as consumers. We have for the past several decades demanded very little in the way of efficiency and innovation aside for 0-60 MPH in record time.
It seems as though the pioneer spirt of America is being confronted by the civilized world’s never-ending discussion on how best to live side-by-side one another in a free and fair fashion.
I hear they’re giving away land in the North Pole.