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

Capitalism must be fixed, not replaced

(401(K) 2012/Flickr)
(401(K) 2012/Flickr)

There is no question that economic frustration is at levels this country has not seen in a very long time. Though the unemployment rate is below five percent and the stock market is breaking records, the large majority of Americans are not experiencing this prosperity, as wages have been stagnating for decades. Indeed, a recent Marketplace poll found that 62 percent of all citizens think that our economy is rigged in favor of certain groups.

As I have said in my previous articles, economic frustration is what has driven a populist movement in the United States as well as in many other countries. Trump won because, in addition to Clinton’s inability to connect with most voters, he was the only one to offer a message of economic change. Unfortunately for the American voter, Trump’s economic policy is shaping up to be a classic example of trickle-down economics, which is not exactly the change many were looking for.

But the American voter does have a point: we do need a change to our economic system, but not quite as drastically as many liberals are looking for. Starting during the primary season and now especially after the election, there has been a big uptick in the calls for a socialist system. However, I doubt the large majority of these people actually would want a socialist economy, as it just does not fit with the goals and lifestyles of America.

For reference, the World Socialist Movement describes the ideal socialistic system by saying “Production under socialism would be directly and solely for use. With the natural and technical resources of the world held in common and controlled democratically, the sole object of production would be to meet human needs. This would entail an end to buying, selling and money.” I don’t think that you will find many people who are actually looking for a system where there is no more entrepreneurship, monetary compensation for work, and excess production for leisure.

But at least the populist movement on the left is trying to push the economy in the right direction. For years, the right has successfully been able to scare the populace about the disastrous effects of “big government.” Reagan swept into office in the 1980s on the idea that “government in the problem, not the solution,” thus ushering in the age of the “free market.”

This sentiment resulted in almost 30 years of deregulation to almost every industry imaginable, especially the financial industry. The negative side effects of deregulation were not immediately apparent. On the contrary, deregulation can actually improve the economy short term, as bubbles begin to grow. It would not be surprising to see something similar happen in the Trump administration.

But the problem with the “free market” is that it is a very ignorant idea, which assumes that the only result of government regulation is holding back business from reaching its full potential. However, the main purpose of regulation is protection for consumers and of the overall economy. The inflation and eventual popping of bubbles caused by deregulation is bad for the economy in the long term, and they worsen our country’s inequality issue.

A truly free market would be completely unstable for both consumers and businesses, as no activities would be out of bounds. People would be defrauded left and right, and consumer confidence would disappear. With no demand, the economy itself would completely collapse.

The idea of a free market is simply a myth. The market itself does not exist without a set of rules set by the government or another regulator. The argument of free market versus government intervention is purely designed to distract us from the real debate, which is whether the rules of our economy should be in place to protect the consumer, or if they should protect businesses.

That is the real problem we have now. The rules of our system currently favor business and the financial industry, not the average American consumer. Our fight should not be against capitalism, but against the rigged version of capitalism we are currently living in. The lack of regulation that is still entrenched in our economy stifles competition and consumer demand, and encourages unstable growth that disproportionately benefits the already financially well-off.

I still deeply believe that a fair and regulated capitalist system provides the best path to prosperity for our country. It is our job to shift the discussion away from free market versus intervention, and toward how to fix capitalism for the majority of Americans. Let’s make capitalism great again.

Matt Heffler is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Dec 7, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Just FYI, a news update from the “Socialist Paradise” of Venezuela.

  • L

    Larry "Wingnut" WendlandtDec 5, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Hi. Thanks for the piece.
    Lets look at this from a USA perspective, as America is the shining light of the servitude-infested con/sham pyramid scheme called AmWay (American Way) (capitalism) (New World Order). Any half-awake person can see the FreeMason/Illuminati pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA dollar bill. Want to see the BIGGER representation of that symbol? Do a Google IMAGE SEARCH for ‘pyramid of capitalist’. As you can see, the sham was discovered long ago.

    Pretty, eh? SlaveCorp parents (bottom 1/3 of pyramid scheme)… kick their kids into “the great sharktank” when they turn 18 years old (forced to get a job aboard the free marketeers pyramid scheme, OR ELSE)! Conversely, rich parents build their kids a house on family land and start an account for them. tsk tsk. Some NICE equality we have going there, eh? What happened to freeing the slaves? When are we going to finish THAT project?

    Maybe someday the Christian groups will notice the servitude-infestation in capitalism, and maybe someday we’ll ALL remember a childhood farmyard lesson taught by gramma. When failing-at building servitude-infested pyramids, the upper 1/3 is “heads in the clouds” while the children on the bottom ALWAYS GET HURT from having the weight of the world’s knees in their backs. Mighty anti-Christian! WE ALL know better than to condone, promote, and/or join such a thing.

    When is the USA Center for Disease Control going to ANNOUNCE the enjoyment addiction and the shopping addiction? That would help immensely. Then someone else needs to say “Hey, competition ISN’T HEALTHY AT ALL (never was)… and it is the OPPOSITE of a phenomenon called cooperation.” Then the DOJ needs to wake up and BUST this illegal and immoral thing. Forcing 18 year olds to join-or-else (join or die) is forced religion (competer’s church) and totally kills membership in the cooperator’s church (Christianity). Join or die… is felony extortion. Speaking of felony extortion, is anyone seeing the widespread “pay up or lose your wellbeing” Chicago mob-like felony extortion within capitalism? Sure we are. We need to abolish economies worldwide, and right now. Servitude should have been illegal in the USA LONG AGO!! See, AmWay (capitalism) got the exclusive (legal tender) on the TYPE of survival greenstamps (money) allowed/accepted in USA supply depots (stores). That’s pretty illegal, too. Apparently ANY religious cult can print-up money and have it be legal tender, as that’s exactly what AmWay did. I think some religious group should print their own money and hand it out like leafs falling from trees (cooperator’s church-like)… and scream bloody murder if that new money is discriminated against whatsoever, as far as legal tenderness. That’d be the end of capitalism (hooray).

    STOP PYRAMIDING, AMERICA!!! See the pyramids out in the dessert? Symbols, anyone?? PAY ATTENTION!! When you condone, promote, and join capitalism… when you “bought-into” the free marketeers…. you bought into a sham. And now there’s a runaway compete-a-thon and enjoyment addiction going-on. There’s also a distrust-a-thon and an isolation (nation unto selves) festival happening, and a lot of forcing, and indentured servitude. There’s one HELL of a bunch of materialism and self-absorbtion JUNKIES!!! Nice job, America! Real bright! Ever heard of rank-by-intelligence or rank-by-morals… instead of rank-by-gouging-abilities? Capitalism is an atrocious, disgusting system. Bust it, America!

    Capitalism is infested with servitude, and its easy to see with the massive use of the term “order” within capitalism. When someone “orders” a burger, it sends forced-to-be-there slavecorp folks into action, OR ELSE! That’s felony extortion. It is illegal to force folks to join the Free Marketeers church of competing. (So much for FREEDOM for our 18 year olds). Some are born set-for-life, and some are born set-for-servitude. Why, I wonder? Duh… it’s a controlism con. I suggest competer’s take a look at the opposite… cooperating/Christianity/altruism.

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