"That's the Problem with a Capitalist Society" (Rant)


PDA






Blain
February 5, 2004, 02:33 PM
Well, there I was in class again. A very socialist class too, apparently. The teacher (Latin American Politics) was telling us about Brazilian land reform, and the desire for the people to have the Government redistribute the land from the rich to everyone else since 10% of the farmers own (and don't use according to him) 80% of the arable land.

He was asking what our thoughts and opinions were on the Brazilian peasant farmers quest for a land reform since they claim that 80% of the farmland is owned by a few wealthy land owners and not being used. He then brought up how Brazil barely has enough food to feed themselves since they export most of their produce to America for sale, and they need the extra land to feed themselves. He then brought up some BS statistic like "Two out of every three Brazilians goes hungry each day". Now, if such strawmen claims were true than one would expect the entire population to be wiped out by famine within a few years.

Anyway, when he turned it over to the class, I couldn’t believe for the life of me how socialist so many of the kids were. Some rough quotes from them were,

”I know that some economist would argue that capitalism works in the long run, but so many people are hurting from the effects, and the land is not being used. That is the problem with a capitalist society, you do what you can do make the most money that you can. These people need the extra land, blah, blah blah”

Ok, so I don’t remember the exact quotes, but it was something to the effect that capitalism was responsible for this great disparity of wealth and that Government was needed to come in and coercibly redistribute the land to the other farmers so that they would not be stupid enough to sell their produce overseas so that they could eat (does that even make sense?)

About six kids commented on how socialism was the answer and capitalism was the problem, it was just making me sick.

And to top it off, this is the type of question that the teacher asks us to respond to.

”Civil Society, with its social movements and human rights organizations, is said to contribute to making a country a democracy. Why would that be true?”

Of course, the students are confused between the differences and distinctions between freedom and democracy. There is not one country on this planet that is a democracy, and the only state that has come close to my knowledge was ancient Athens.

Ok, rant mode off for now. I may edit this post later to add more rants when I remember more of what disgusted me.

If you enjoyed reading about ""That's the Problem with a Capitalist Society" (Rant)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
dischord
February 5, 2004, 02:40 PM
Brazil has never been capitalist in the true free-market sense of the word, so it doesn't make sense to blame capitalism.

Brazil for much of its history has been an oligarchy with a system in place that overtly excluded a large part of the society from participating in the economy. That runs counter to the definition of free-market capitalism.

Bill Hook
February 5, 2004, 03:05 PM
I assume that the cost of production in Brazil is high (relative to the local economy) and the yield low for staples (poor soil, hence the "slash and burn" agriculture often practiced there), making it a more worthwhile decision to grow high value fruit, sugarcane and coffee for export on the good, fertile land available. This provides jobs for many of the people who'd have none otherwise and an economy of scale not found in small subsistence farming. Those employed by these activities can then buy cheaper staple crops exported from abroad in bulk. Never mind how the distribution of crops from numerous small farms to distribution points would be undertaken successfully, since it would seem likely that most of the impoverished and underfed live in the vast slums and shantytowns around the major cities.

I'd also think that the low yield of the land makes only production of "luxury" agricultural products and livestock feasible without opening up much more land for cultivation, which means chopping down more rainforest. This should be a real bomb to drop on the lefties in class - they'll be screwing up the economy, causing more to go without, and increasing deforestation.

Bill Hook
February 5, 2004, 03:08 PM
I should mention this idea of land redistribution is working soooo well in Zimbabwe. :rolleyes:

Jonesy9
February 5, 2004, 03:16 PM
what dischord said. the socialist response in latin Am has never been to capitalism as there has been very little capitalism down there (or some would say here too). The socialist response is to something very different that would make a good topic of discussion for your class, you should bring it up.

Frohickey
February 5, 2004, 03:34 PM
China Famine of 1958-1961 (http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/health/hunger/famine/chinese_famine.html)

This was after the communists led by Mao Tse-Tung had won against the nationalists and agricultural land was nationalized.

Soviet Famine of 1921 and 1932-33 (http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/health/hunger/famine/soviet_famine.html)

Then, tell your teacher about Robert Mugabe's redistribution of land in Zimbabwe.

Once, its an accident
Twice, its a coincidence
Thrice, its enemy action.

Smoke
February 5, 2004, 03:51 PM
Instead of redistribution of the "unused land" those with the ability and desire to work the land could take it up on a sharecropper deal. Beneficial to both parties. The land owner gets his property improved and put into production as well as gaining income from it. The leasee gets to make a living with little to no cash outlay.

Why hasn't this been done?

1. Land is not in production because it cost too much to develop or is nor arable.
2. The people that would be the leasees would rather press the government for a handout than to go out and work to better themselves.
3. It's Brazil, not the USA. Comparison is pointless.
4. "Hey Teach, how well did socialism work for the ruskies?"

Smoke

Art Eatman
February 5, 2004, 04:12 PM
Equitable "land reform" is difficult, but quite possible.

The Brazilian government allowed certain people to acquire vast tracts of land. So did ours government, in the opening of the west. "Little people" used the same system to achieve a sort of land reform, filing claims on land previously used by ranchers (pardon the drastic oversimplification).

Simple enough, depending on whether particular tracts are actually useful to small landholders: The Brazilian government can buy--or via tax abatement elsewhere--land from the large holders. The government can then work "sweat equity" deals with those ambitious enough to try.

As far as total food production, the export foods bring in hard currencies. This can then be used to buy grain from their next door neighbor...

There are many other possibilities, but I don't know enough about Brazils land/fertility, etc., to offer more.

The larger problem, overall, is that it's much more difficult for a city person to learn about farming and ranching than vice versa. Too much knowledge is accumulated from "following daddy around".

Art

fix
February 5, 2004, 04:17 PM
Capitalism only works when regulated. If it's not regulated, eventually some dude will own everything. There will never be a true capitalist society, just like there will never be a true socialist society.

HankB
February 5, 2004, 04:23 PM
. . . capitalism was responsible for this great disparity of wealth . . . To paraphrase Winston Churchill, if capitalism is responsible for unequal distribution of wealth, socialism is responsible for equal distribution of misery. As your comrades if they would rather live in a socialist worker's paradise such as the old Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea, or, for that matter ANY other socialist nation.

Ask which socialist nations have free elections and allow their people to emigrate freely.

If socialism is so good, why do socialist governments spend 1000x the effort to keep people in than they do to keep people out?

Work in the term "kleptocracy" when they talk about land redistribution. (A kleptocracy is a government of or by thieves.)

And yes, to see what coercive redistribution of land will do to a country, by all means, use Zimbabwe as an example. (Try going here for a start: http://africantears.netfirms.com/preface.htm )

Frohickey
February 5, 2004, 05:22 PM
Capitalism only works when regulated. If it's not regulated, eventually some dude will own everything. There will never be a true capitalist society, just like there will never be a true socialist society.

The only regulation on Capitalism should be regulation against fraud. Every other regulation distorts the market.

bjengs
February 5, 2004, 05:47 PM
Capitalism only works when regulated. If it's not regulated, eventually some dude will own everything. There will never be a true capitalist society, just like there will never be a true socialist society.That's the kind of nonsense they teach in the socialist public schools. Regulation only serves to shift favor from one group to another, while always shifting a little more power to the centralizing agency (government).

harpethriver
February 6, 2004, 02:52 PM
Fix-so do you propose we use to socialism to moderate capitalism?

fix
February 6, 2004, 03:09 PM
so do you propose we use to socialism to moderate capitalism?

:confused:

Not real sure what you mean there. For the same reason that a pure socialist society will fail, a pure capitalist society will fail too. The reason? The general lack of integrity among the human race. It's almost as if you feel that ANY regulation = socialism, and that capitalism = the absence of all regulation.

Joe Demko
February 6, 2004, 03:11 PM
How did those holding said vast tracts o' land get them in the first place?

Art Eatman
February 6, 2004, 04:36 PM
Golgo-13, this is where a reading of some of the western novels is useful. :) Think of some of the early ranchers in the west, who had holdings of up to a half-million acres or more. The cowhand workforce served to a great extent as their own local armed force against outsiders.

The same sorts of situations existed in other countries. Then consider that if they were really Good Buddies with powerful people in government, they would receive title to that which they first held by power. In the U.S., of course, market forces and the Homestead Act finally caused the reduction in ranch sizes.

In the once-Spanish controlled countries, the Spanish throne gave "Grants" of vast tracts to favored people. Even after independence from Spain, the ownership continued within a family. (I guess that in Brazil, the Portuguese throne did the same.) Mexico, the Philippines...Same deal.

Art

Joe Demko
February 6, 2004, 06:49 PM
Thanks, Art.

Glock Glockler
February 6, 2004, 08:19 PM
"...redistribute the land from the rich to everyone else since 10% of the farmers own (and don't use according to him) 80% of the arable land...."

If they weren't using it and people were hungry why wouldn't they just lease the land out to farmers? They could turn an easy buck and the hungry could be fed.

I wouldnt take this joker's word on it, if it were the case it sounds like they need more capitalism.

That is the problem with a capitalist society, you do what you can do make the most money that you can. These people need the extra land, blah, blah blah

See above comment, why arent the greedy landowners leasing out the land and profiting from an unitilizied resource?

I'd ask the class why the US, which is the most capitalist (and therefore evil) country on the planet, has problems not with hunger but with obesity?

You'd probably be best served by getting more ammunition on the issues at hand, which seem to be in short supply in your class. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have a lot of great articles on this stuff at capitalismmagazine.com or I'm sure they'd be open to helping you find the right information if you emailed them directly.

Gordon Fink
February 6, 2004, 08:26 PM
I’d ask the class why the US, which is the most capitalist (and therefore evil) country on the planet, has problems not with hunger but with obesity?

I think we have a winner! :D

In fact, the economies of Brazil and many other “Latin” American states are more akin to feudal mercantilism than they are to free-market capitalism.

~G. Fink

If you enjoyed reading about ""That's the Problem with a Capitalist Society" (Rant)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!