Does Capitalism Work?
Lets unpack the idea that “Capitalism works”. In the US, the most developed Capitalist country, the richest country in the history of the world:
- 1 out of every 7 US citizens needs to visit food banks to survive, despite having enough food to feed 10 billion people. Half of all food produced is thrown away by retailers. Food waste in 2018 enough to feed world’s hungry 4 times over. An analysis by the Brookings Institution conducted the summer of 2021 found that, 27.5% of households with children were food insecure — meaning some 13.9 million children lived in a household characterized by child food insecurity. A separate analysis by researchers at Northwestern found insecurity has more than tripled among households with children to 29.5% in late 2020.
- UNICEF, RESULTS, and Bread for the World estimate that 15 million people worldwide die each year from preventable poverty, of whom 11 million are children under the age of five. 2.
- In the US alone, 20-40k deaths every year because of lack of health insurance / care. On average, that’s 300k over the last decade.
- Empty homes outnumber the homeless by 6 to 1. Bank foreclosures and housing speculators have left 18.9 million empty homes. 2.5 million homeless children, or ~1 / 30. In the UK, there are 10x more empty houses than homeless families. In Christmas, 2019, more than half a million homeless people across the US. In 2019 in Los Angeles, ~60k people are homeless on any given night.
- Rising Housing prices from real estate speculation have skyrocketed to the point that an epidemic of hidden homeless has arisen: families who live in their cars, or on the street, but who still work. In most US cities, such as LA, it’s illegal to sleep in your car overnight. 1/3rd of all renters pay half their income towards landlords. Even mid-size cities like Boise Idaho are experiencing a surge of homelessness as of 2019.
- 80% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck, 40% cannot cover a $400 emergency.
- Low-income renters can’t afford rent in nearly 45% of America’s largest metro areas
- The bottom half of US citizens have a combined negative net worth. Average US household carries ~$140k in debt. Median household income only $60k.
- 52% of young adults live with their parents, for the first time since the great depression., 1 Younger generations, with dwindling opportunities, feeling disposable and unwanted under late capitalism, suffer from a burnout epidemic. Many have stopped pursuing romantic relationships, and having children. Deaths of despair have skyrocketed, especially among those who never went to college. 2,
- ~ 1/4th of US workers are trapped in the gig economy as of 2019. Update: 1 / 3 as of 2021.
- 70% of US citizens say they are struggling financially. In the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic, Unemployment claims went to 6.6M in one week, compared to ~700k at the peak of the great depression. Food banks are running out of food in places like New York and Pittsburgh, and hospitals are short on ventilators needed to keep people alive. Lines outside an NY soup kitchen, May 2020. Americans turn to shoplifting food as 1 in 8 are food insecure as of late 2020.
- 8 men control as much wealth as half the worlds population.. Anyone wanna take a guess at how this game of monopoly ends?
- Capitalist monopolies in media, food, energy, and transportation, mostly controlled by ~200 powerful shareholders.
- Billionaires made enough money in 2017 to end poverty 7 times over.
- A reduction in US military spending of just 3% per year could end world hunger.
- US Life expectancy peaked in 2014, is on the decline, and is now lower than in China., 2
- Suicide rates have leaped more than 33% in the last 20 years. 2, 3 Teen suicides are on the rise and outpacing all other age groups.
- A Drug overdose epidemic, and suicides are fueling a decrease in life expectancy.
- Committed countless atrocities, killing millions directly and indirectly across the globe. Currently maintains an imperialist network of over 800 military bases in 70 countries. (For comparison, all the other countries combined have only 30 bases)
- The US has always been in a state of perpetual war; as of 2021, it has been at war 225 / 243 years of its existence.
- Most prisoners per capita AND by total. Makes sense, since prison is Capitalism’s boarding house.
- Runs at least 54 agricultural slave labor camps..
- 34,000 undesirables imprisoned in over 500 immigrant prison camps.
- US collapse scenarios by 2030.
- Despite the corona-virus killing over 30k people as of May 2020, Far right protesters in several US states demanded that their states end lockdowns.
- An outline of the US’s biggest human rights failings.
- More here.
- In 2022, the US supreme court overturned Roe V Wade, ending a constitutional guarantee to the right to have an abortion, in place for over 50 years. In response, 26 US states are expected to ban abortion in their state. Women who become pregnant in red states, will now have to drive an increased average of over 200 miles to an abortion clinic. Protests erupted in hundreds of US cities, decrying the decision.
Capitalist hegemony has short-circuited people into buying wildly illogical and ridiculous propaganda like: “Lift yourselves up by the bootstraps” (which shows the almost religious power of capitalist propaganda, that the impossible can become possible), or “Communism doesn’t work”, when in fact Communism did work extremely well.
Examples from this post by /u/bayarea415, Stephen Gowans - Do publicly owned, planned economies work, Ian Goodrum - Socialism vs Capitalism and quality of life, and yogthos’s USSR acheivements post about the USSR specifically:
- USSR had a more nutritious diet than the US, according to the CIA. Calories consumed surpassed the US. source. Ended famines.
- Productive forces were not organized for capital gain and private enrichment; public ownership of the means of production supplanted private ownership. It was illegal to hire others and accumulate personal wealth from their labor.
- Had the 2nd fastest growing economy of the 20th century after Japan. The USSR started out at the same level of economic development and population as Brazil in 1920, which makes comparisons to the US, an already industrialized country by the 1920s, even more spectacular.
- Free Universal Health care, and most doctors per capita in the world. 42 doctors per 10k population, vs 24 in Denmark and Sweden, 19 in US.
- Had near zero unemployment, continuous economic growth for 70 straight years. The “continuous” part should make sense – the USSR was a planned, non-market economy, so market crashes á la capitalism were pretty much impossible.
- USSR moved from 58.5-hour workweeks to 41.6 hour workweeks (-0.36 h/yr) between 1913 and 1960
- USSR averaged 22 days of paid leave in 1986 while USA averaged 7.6 in 1996., 2
- In 1987, people in the USSR could retire with pension at 55 (female) and 60 (male) while receiving 50% of their wages at a at minimum. Meanwhile, in USA the average retirement age was 62-67.
- All education, including university level, free. 2
- 99% literacy.
- Saved the world from Fascism, Taking on the majority of Nazi divisions, and killing 90% of Nazi soldiers. Bore the enormous cost of blood and pain in WW2 (25M dead), with the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare.. An estimated 70% of Soviet housing was destroyed by Nazi invasion. Nazis were in retreat after the battle of Stalingrad in 1942, a full 2 years before the US landed troops in normandy.
- Doubled life expectancy. Eliminated poverty.
- Combatted sex inequality. Equal wages for men and women mandated by law, but sex inequality, although not as pronounced as under capitalism, was perpetuated in social roles. Very important lesson to learn.
- Combatted Racial inequality.
- Feudalism to space travel in 40 years. First satellite, rocket, space walk, woman, man, animal, space station, moon and mars probes.
- Soviet power production per capita in 1990 was more than the EU, Great Britain, or China’s in 2014.
- Housing was socialized by localized community organizations, and there was virtually no homelessness. Houses were often shared by two families throughout the 20s and 30s – so unlike capitalism, there were no empty houses, but the houses were very full. In the 40s there was the war, and in the 50s there were a number of orphans from the war. The mass housing projects began in the 60s, they were completed in the 70s, and by the 70s, there were homeless people, but they often had genuine issues with mental health.
- 66% of Russians polled in 2015 want the USSR back. The story is the same for all the former eastern-bloc countries: 72% of Hungarians say their country is worse off now than under communism, 57% of East Germans, 63% of Romanians, 77% of Czechs, 81% of Serbs (for Yugoslavia), 70% of Ukrainians, 60% of Bulgarians.
When it is claimed that a system works, we should ask, who it works for. Capitalism benefits a tiny number of rapacious capitalists, to the detriment of the rest of us, while Socialism works for the masses.
Now let’s take a look at what happens after the USSR collapsed, and what came with capitalist privatization:
- Life expectancy decreases by 10 years. 2. 7.7 million excess deaths in the first year. 2
- 40% of population drops into poverty.
- GDP instantly halves.
- One in ten children now live on the streets. Infant mortality increases. Was 29.3 in 2003 which is around (current) Syria and Micronesia, 7.9 in 2013. Infant mortality in USSR was 1.92, literally the lowest in the world.
- 1996 election rigged by the US, Yeltsin sends in tanks to disperse the supreme soviet.
Bonus vid about cyber-communism: Paul Cockshott - Going beyond money.