This is a long post. That's because I'm tired of trying to express myself in sound bites. UB Dan – You've got the gist of my raving, but it's hard to convey a full picture in a few reader's digest styled posts.
I believe that we have enough resources on this planet to provide for the basic needs of all the people – even those who live in the stinking deserts – as long as people can control their greed. I also believe that NO ONE, in any part of this world, has more of a right to their equal share in things that anyone else; and, conversely, that NO ONE is excused from contributing what they can (in physical labor, intellect, talent, skill or whatever) to the common wealth.
In short, I believe in that an idealized state is possible and that we are kept from achieving the ideal because of our bad habits, shabby thinking, outmoded ideas, raw fear and a bunch of other unavoidable human traits. The problem is to figure out a way to get from where we are to the idealized state that we would all like to be in – the state where we are all fulfilled, developed, loved & loving, challenged, rewarded and able to live WITHOUT FEAR.
I don't know of any system ever developed that has done a better job of putting us on the road to the good life than the one we have devised in the US. Maybe it's parochialism on my part., but that's how I feel. I also think that within our system there are serious defects that not only keep us from getting to Heaven on earth, but also threaten to bring the whole damn thing down.
So what do I think is wrong and how do I think we should fix it? That is the tough question, isn't it? At the most basic level, I think you must implement policy that encourages our best tendencies as human beings and minimizes our worst. This means that the part of capitalism that encourages hard work and new ideas is good, while the part that encourages greed, envy and the other deadly sins is bad.
To address your comments on my comments:
Yes. IMO food, shelter, clothing, education at a basic level should be provided for everyone. Certain services should also be provided at a nominal charge – electricity, clean water, highway systems, libraries (with computers), mail delivery. By nominal charge, I mean that the services are self-supporting without the need to show profitability.
If someone wishes to provide a higher level of service (like FEDEX) at a higher price, that's fine. But the private sector cannot be allowed to eliminate public services. The tendency in this country is toward privatization as a cure to perceived bureaucratic inefficiency. I don't see any reason why public companies can't be run as well as private. I believe it's corruption that's the problem and I believe that accountability is the cure.
Regarding socialism and capitalism. Socialism is only possible within a capitalist state; it is a form of capitalism. Communism – common ownership – can only work on a local and limited basis. As I see it, without FDR's experiments in socialism this system smashes on the rocks in the 30's.
Look at Hitler's Germany – "National Socialism" was a form of state managed and supported capitalism; it was their answer to a ravaged economy. The New Deal was ours. All of the people who are trying to dismantle the social safety net have forgotten that it was put into place for a reason and that the fundamentals haven't changed. We are riding high on technical advances and developing markets; an extended run of bad luck and we're back to selling apples on the street corners (or PC's for the IBM crowd).
Bottled water. What better symbol of how Capitalism works is there? We pollute the one resource that we can't live without, by spilling our personal and business waste into our commonly held water supply. Then entrepeneurs figure out a way to filter out the waste and sell this resource back to us a bottle at a time. Our insane drug policies are a personal sticking point. My point in bringing it up at all is that as long as criminalization of various substances helps businesses, the profit motive will keep us from finding realistic approaches to dealing with these issues.
One last point – There are too many people in this world who are simply not willing to generate money for those who don't have it. The ultimate example of how capitalism works is the game Monopoly. If you play it right, one person ends up with everything and everyone else is out of the game. Whether you believe the world is going to hell in a hand basket or not, this system is. And emphasizing the worst aspects of it won't fix it.