Capitalism is an economic system under which private individuals own and control businesses, property, and capital—the “means of production.” The volume of goods and services produced is based on a system of “supply and demand,” which encourages businesses to manufacture quality products as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.
In the purest form of capitalism—a free market or laissez-faire capitalism—individuals are unrestrained in participating in the economy. They decide where to invest their money, as well as what to produce and sell at what prices. True laissez-faire capitalism operates without government controls. In reality, however, most capitalist countries employ some degree of government regulation of business and private investment.
Capitalist systems make little or no effort to prevent income inequality. Theoretically, financial inequality encourages competition and innovation, which drive economic growth. Under capitalism, the government does not employ the general workforce. As a result, unemployment can increase during economic downturns. Under capitalism, individuals contribute to the economy based on the needs of the market and are rewarded by the economy based on their personal wealth.
Socialism describes a variety of economic systems under which the means of production are owned equally by everyone in society. In some socialist economies, the democratically elected government owns and controls major businesses and industries. In other socialist economies, production is controlled by worker cooperatives. In a few others, individual ownership of enterprise and property is allowed, but with high taxes and government control.
The mantra of socialism is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution.” This means that each person in society gets a share of the economy’s collective production—goods and wealth—based on how much they have contributed to generating it. Workers are paid their share of production after a percentage has been deducted to help pay for social programs that serve “the common good.”
In contrast to capitalism, the main concern of socialism is the elimination of “rich” and “poor” socio-economic classes by ensuring an equal distribution of wealth among the people. To accomplish this, the socialist government controls the labor market, sometimes to the extent of being the primary employer. This allows the government to ensure full employment even during economic downturns.
Do you believe the United States will become a socialistic country? Why or why not?