Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We can’t end capitalism, but we can change

Catholic Church England and Wales/Flickr
(Catholic Church (England and Wales)/Flickr)

Pope Francis’s visit to the United States has brought forth plenty of discussion, with his views on capitalism especially controversial. His stance has been interpreted as leftist and even Marxist. Just last July, he called unbridled capitalistic endeavor the “dung of the Earth” and described the current global economic system as “intolerable.”

His viewpoint is certainly understandable, given his position as a spiritual leader with a moralist worldview. He sees evil in the world, whether it be communities denied sovereignty or ecological damage, and recognizes capitalism as the root cause.

But even if the current system is morally abhorrent, promoting greed and self-interest at the expense of social responsibility, capitalism’s hegemonic, global dominance makes sudden transition away from the free-market system impossible. The mechanisms of capitalism are too deeply embedded to be ripped up in a sudden revolutionary spirit, no matter how much better a hypothetical socialist system could be.

Even if we cannot destroy the system that brings about so many injustices, however, we have a moral obligation to make the system more fair. Our focus must be on creating at the bare minimum equality of opportunity.

While in theory, anyone in our country is capable of obtaining the “American dream,” capitalism and its wealth-building opportunities combines viciously with historical oppression to make social mobility increasingly difficult. According to a 2013 New York Times blog post by Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, social mobility in the U.S. is lower than “most of Europe and all of Scandinavia” despite the fact that the Pew Research Center says 90 percent of Americans think the government should “do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.”

So if we want a more egalitarian society, let’s create it. Stiglitz lays out a number of fairly obvious progressive policies that would significantly help, including giving more money to poorer school districts and lowering the cost of higher education.

So where should the money to fund these programs come from? I think one obvious source of income would be an increase in the federal estate tax. The current tax only targets estates worth more than $5.43 million, which ends up affecting only .2 percent of estates, and most pay less than one-sixth of their total value.

I understand the argument that the government has no business saying people cannot pass on their wealth to their kids, but a paradigm shift is necessary on a societal scale. A decision made by the electorate in a democratic society to redistribute wealth and create a fairer system is not a case of the big bad government sticking its hand where it does not belong; it is simply a conscious decision made by a sovereign people to make a morally progressive change.

As a capitalist country we’ve long defended our beloved system on the grounds that it provides opportunity to all. People who work hard, we say, deserve the success they rightfully earn. Then let’s put our money where our mouths are and demand a leveling of the playing field so that the brightest really do get to shine.

Benjamin Clabault is a collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 30, 2015 at 9:56 am

  • W

    WingnutSep 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I’d like to thank the admin here… for not deleting my rant. Pretty cool… and pretty rare. I didn’t have to sign into anything or create an account. Kudos to … may you have a long future.


  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    45 minutes of pure brilliance. But Ben and his ilk won’t bother. They already know everything.

    Tell you what, Bennie boy – move to Venezuela. Or Cuba.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 28, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I thought Ben’s column was far better in the original Russian.

    Seriously, after Socialism has failed time after time after time after time after time, not only in the USSR but as an ongoing calamity in Venezuela (as one example), he and others still yearn for the totalitarian impulse to go after what other people make.

    And thus is exposed the reason why the Socialist Left is allied with the Reactionary Right of Islam – they both appeal to the weaker elements of human nature. Lust. Greed and envy of others. The destructive impulse.

    Ben and others lament why there is poverty. No, the real question is “Why is there wealth and prosperity?”

    Here, watch this 5 minute video. You might learn something.

    And that is the difference between Socialism and Capitalism. Socialism relies on FORCE; the free market works on VOLUNTARY TRADE.

  • W

    WingnutSep 28, 2015 at 9:31 am


    We ALL see the pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA one dollar bill. We ALL see the servitude infestation in capitalism. We ALL see the “pay up or lose your wellbeing” Chicago mob-like felony extortion widespread within capitalism. We ALL see the “join or starve” felony extortion done to the 18 year olds… by this ugly competer’s church called capitalism. We ALL see how forcing competer’s religions onto 18 year olds, and/or LURING them into it with bling-dangling and promises of empowerments… kills membership in the cooperator’s church (Christianity/socialism). We ALL understand that AmWay (American Way) (New World Order) got “the exclusive” (legal tender) on the TYPE of survival coupons (money) accepted in supply depots (stores) and leverages 18 year olds into the organization via that felony activity. (It puts AmWay-coupon slaving requirements called price tags… on all the survival goods). We ALL understand how sure-to-collapse farmyard pyramids work… from our childhoods. Upper 1/3 are “heads in the clouds” while the kids on the bottom ALWAYS GET HURT from the weight of the world’s knees in their backs. And, we ALL see how such systems are illegal, immoral, and just plain sick.

    We American Christian socialists are patiently awaiting the natural fall of the pyramid-o-servitude, or the busting of the free marketeers felony… by the USA Dept of Justice. We Christians are VERY CLOSE to issuing a cease and desist order until the servitude and inequality goes away… which means it turns into a commune. Commune is a word we LOVE when used in the word “community”… but its one the caps HATE when used in the word “commune-ism”. Go fig. PROGRAMMED!!

    Do a Google IMAGE SEARCH for ‘pyramid of capitalist’ to see a full color picture made way back in 1911, when capitalism was first discovered to be a con/sham instigated by the Free Masons/Illuminati. Folks sure bought into the thing… hook, line, and sinker just the same. The caps didn’t even check if a string was attached! Now THAT’S easy fishing, eh?

    Time to level the felony pyramid scheme called capitalism. Abolish economies and ownershipism worldwide, and hurry. Economies just cause rat-racing, and rat-racing causes felony pyramiding. BUST IT, America! Look to the USA military supply/survival system… (and the USA public library system) for socialism and morals done right. Equal, owner-less, money-less, bill-less, timecard-less, and concerned with growth of value-criteria OTHER THAN money-value. Quit doing monetary discrimination immediately, and make it illegal. There are MANY measurement criteria of “value”… not just dollars. Try morals, efficiency, discrimination-levels, repairability, etc etc. Economies are cancerous tumors, and to cheer for their growth… is just insane. Profiting causes inflation, so if caps LIKE inflation, and if they LIKE a terrible time in afterlife when they meet the planet’s ORIGINAL OWNER before caps tried to squat it all with ownershipism, then keep it up with the felony pyramiding. I dare you. While us Christians are finally bulldozing that pyramid scheme back to level, lets make servitude and “join or starve” (get a job or die) illegal in the USA, and lets level the architecture seen in USA courtrooms, too. Right now, USA courtrooms are church simulators or “fear chambers”, by special design. Sick.

    Isn’t that back-of-the-dollar pyramid… a Columbian freemason symbol? And WHERE is the USA gov located? District of Columbia? (Not even part of the USA!) How much more blatant can ya get? The “Fed” runs a pyramid scheme called the free marketeers. If you’re using the “federal reserve note” certificates, or using no-other-living-thing-on-the-planet entitles of ownership, you’re bought into a servitude/slavery con/sham… called capitalism. Pyramiding 101.

    Friend, as soon as the caps realize that they’ve been conned into a felony pyramid scheme… capitalism will stop in its tracks, instantly, dead and done.

    Larry “Wingnut” Wendlandt
    MaStars – Mothers Against Stuff That Ain’t Right
    Bessemer MI USA