Capitalism vs. Socialism

Common understanding of the terms ‘Capitalism’ and ‘Socialism’ puts these ideas at odds. Socialism is an evil scheme to spread the wealth, forcefully giving the fruits of one man’s labor to others less deserving. Capitalism, on the other hand, is social Darwinism – only the strong and most adaptable survive.

Neither system can be found anywhere. These are terms that frame reality in a certain way intended to encourage certain behaviors. In the most optimistic viewpoint, those who use the term ‘socialism’ hope to protect minority rights and believe that certain human activities need to be strongly governed by a central authority. From a similar view, those who use the term ‘capitalism’ hope to protect current wealth and create more wealth through business ventures, unhindered by government intervention. The idea is that everyone gains when the few who directly benefit from capitalism share the wealth by paying presumably decent wages for work performed towards the success of the venture.

I believe that capitalism must necessarily operate within a socialist framework. There are certain human activities that cannot be and should not be ‘for profit’. The activity that tops the list is healthcare. No one should be making a profit from someone else’s suffering. That philosophy alone puts capitalism at a great disadvantage for many activities since the basis of capitalism is akin to a ponzi scheme – the few early birds get the worm, while late comers must work what by comparison are slave wages to break even.

There is no question that nobody knows exactly how to innovate or to be creative. Great discoveries have occurred under the auspices of dictatorships (the New World for instance) and big governments (the Moon landing). But great achievements are also accomplished by people who are the tinkerers and private scientists who build great things in their garage (Bill Gates).

Capitalists, though, need to recognize their limitations. That is the fatal flaw of this system. It does have limits and when not recognized, they lead to mass economic destruction. Anyone can deceive people and if their smart enough get away with it. The trick is to be honest and still make a buck. But there would be less a chance that people would resort to tomfoolery and trickery if basic human needs are taken for granted. Health care needs to be one of those. Leaving health care in the hands of people who have only profits as motivation can only lead to higher profits and not better health outcomes for people. It leads to the more expensive drug being prescribed, the more expensive procedure being recommended, and on and on. Again, the limits of greed know no bounds, which is why a strong government (as flawed as such an entity can be) needs to be attempted to provide this basic need. I see no way that people can pursue life, liberty and happiness if life itself is dependent upon a for-profit system.

That is not to say that doctors and administrators should not be paid handsomely for their hard work and expertise. Compensation should be fairly distributed to the more highly skilled. However, the difference is that instead of five houses and a yacht, the most skilled among us would just have the nicest cars, vacations, and but one very nice house.

That is not to say that all doctors and administrators go into the health care industry to take advantage of other people’s pain and live extravagant lifestyles. But the point remains – somebody makes too much money and only someone in a position of authority can make the determination of how much is too much.

RIP Washington Redskins

Z stands for Zeta, the last letter, the end, the ultimate, bottom of the heap. Z also stands for ‘Zorn’, the last name of the head coach of this year’s incarnation of the professional football team known as the ‘Washington Redskins’. Although, the team, since 1999, should actually be called the ‘Dan Snyder Ego Feast’. Seems money can’t buy a Super Bowl or a team that is actually competitive in the National Football League. Snyder also has an option to open an arena league expansion team. I guess that means that the Washington D.C. area has a chance to have not one, but two mediocre football teams.

After the second coming of Joe Gibbs failed to resurrect the glory day of the Skins, Snyder decided to reach all the way to Washington State to hire first-time head coach Jim Zorn (or maybe he got confused and thought Seattle, Washington was some newly developed suburban area perhaps in Northern Virginia). This too has proven a bust, much like his ill-advised promotion from college to pro of Steve Spurrier.

The excuse for the past few weeks for losing miserably with an offense built around running back / prima donna Clinton Portis, is that gee whiz those other guys were tough – Dallas, Giants, Baltimore, etc. all winning teams this year. Until today, when the Skins trailed the hapless Cincinnatti Bengals (2-11-1) for the entire game. No, the Bengals are not a tough team. They ranked dead last in the NFL in many key stats that would suggest the Redskins had a good shot at practicing their execution a bit and getting down to some serious business of beating a lesser team. That did not happen.

No, the Redskins are not a good team that has failed to live up to expectations by blowing it againt more superior talent. The Redksins are a terrible team that started the season on a lucky streak and then have failed to live up to their own hype. Poor coaching, once again, is compounded by bone-headed hypesters who are legends only in their own mind. Clinton Portis is a good running back. That is, when he’s healthy. But good running backs do not make an offense. Good quarterbacks make an offense. Good receivers make an offense. Good offensive lines make an offense. In other words, good offensive squads make a good offense. You must pass AND run AND block in professional football. The Redskins have proven they do none of this particularly well.

Credit can be given to the Skins defense, which is half-way decent. But their kicking game is abyssmal. Their special teams are just a tad better than their offense, thanks to Rock Cartwright. Otherwise, this team is a sad excuse for a professional sports organization whose traditional fans up and down the 95 corridor these days have ample options to finally give up on Dan Snyder and his terrible management. For those more to the South, the Carolina Panthers (10-3) are a good option. For those to the North of D.C., the Baltimore Ravens also pose an attractive choice.

While you can buy the rights to a brand name and buy a stadium, and hire a bunch of people who suit up in uniforms that look like the Washington Redskins, you can’t buy a team. A team develops from the chemistry of the individuals that are skillfully brought together and coached to work together. So far, since 1999, I have yet to see a squad that resembles something I would describe as more than just a bunch of overpaid football players who win a few games every now and then. A team? No. I have yet to see a Redskins football team in the Dan Snyder era. Just a collection of hired hands who go through the motions.