Letters: Article Spurs Energetic Debate

Thanks for the recent article entitled “Capitalism vs Science.” This article has been the focus of a sometimes heated but nonetheless very good and healthy debate for a number of my friends and family since I brought it to their attention. In fact, I think we’ve all learned a little more about where we stand on what I think is unfortunately the most defining characteristic of our current society in the United States… not freedom, liberty, or even individualism: capitalism.

Almost all of my politically active friends who I talk to regarding politics just so happen to be libertarian capitalists (or free-market libertarians). Because of this, they hold the ideas of liberty, private property and freedom from tyranny as some of the most important rights a person can have. This article has allowed us to talk about how those very ideals they hold so dear are defined and affected not only by our relationship with our government, but also more and more by the undemocratic  non-representative organizations that are apart of all our lives.

These non-governmental capitalist organizations have authority over many people, and they can take away rights (not to mention money) from people in one area to better serve the limited interests of their shareholders and consumers in another. These organizations’ only goal is the accumulation of money, and this does not always mean they are representing what is best for society at large. So then the argument is quickly made from my libertarian capitalist friends that “We can vote with our dollar!”

I say that is not a vote that counts for much under the current situation. Yes, we can ‘vote’ with our dollar. But one issue with this idea is that those of us who are neither consumers nor shareholders of a corporation have no such vote, yet we still have to deal with the potentially negative consequences of our relationship with these organizations. It seems odd to me that people in our country can get so fired up over a democratically elected government meagerly trying to solve  the issue of tyranny on the part of non-representative capitalist organizations, yet they still claim to be devoted to libertarian ideas, some of which are listed above.

Another thing mentioned during this article’s discussion was that in spite of our United States government being democratically elected, it is not very representative. In fact, our level of control over the government is pretty bad under our current situation and it is only getting worse. Yes, it may be better than a number of other governments, but that is completely beside the point: the things that are in the way of us having a better level of control over our government are lobbyists, special interest groups, corporations and other type of businesses. In short, capitalism.

If you really want to make government work better for the people, start by removing the ability for these types of organizations to have more say over how our government runs than the average American by taking out all the loopholes they have been able to set up just to accumulate more wealth (for instance in the tax system and elsewhere), and while we’re at it ban corporate lobbyists. There are numerous other ways our government can and should be changed to make it more responsive and representative of the people it governs.

Thanks again for the great article, and our discussion still continues. I look forward to more great articles on this and other subjects.

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