posted on Aug, 18 2012 @ 07:02 PM
.. equal chances for everyone, without such a strong influence of wealthy corporations and individuals. Which of the two, socialism or capitalism, is
more favorable to democracy still remains to be seen.
Personally I also don’t like the word capitalism, because this puts money and growth at the center. But I am very much in favor of a free market
economy, so if you equal capitalism with a free market, then I am a supporter of capitalism. However, in my opinion a market can only be free, if
everybody has a fair chance to participate and if there is not such an imbalance in power, that one group of people can dominate and exploit another
group of people. I do believe that some solidarity between people and some rules are necessary to ensure everybody a fair chance to participate and to
prevent extreme poverty and starvation. And that is what the best spokespersons of socialism aim at. So I consider myself to be a free market
supporter and a socialist as well, if you take both in their positive essence, just as in the original post of the debate. But I consider myself to be
neither when I look at capitalism and Marxism in their ideological extremes. Therefore, a debate which is only about denouncing opponents by calling
them selfish capitalists or dictatorial socialists is in my opinion useless and beside the point.
What we can seriously discuss is how much solidarity is needed to give everybody a fair change and to end extreme poverty and hunger. And how we can
best organize this, what the responsibility of governments is in achieving this, and what part we can best leave to private initiative and free market
I must say that I am a little bit shocked by the contributions of those of you, who immediately denounce any plea for solidarity as communist and
dictatorial, as ‘robbing from the people who work’, without offering any alternative way to end poverty and hunger and save our planet. As if you
simply don’t care. Some even explicitly argue that poverty will always exist and that it is a fact of nature or even ordained by God. By which God?
Certainly not by the God of Jesus that I was told about in church, who always stressed the importance of helping the poor and warned those people who
where only interested in their own wealth, that they would never enter the kingdom of God.
Another post was confusing relative and absolute poverty. Of course, if you define poverty in relative terms, and define it as being a certain
percentage below the average income, then there will always be poverty as long as there will be differences in income. But we are talking about
absolute poverty here, not relative poverty.
To me basic income is a simple and powerful idea that balances solidarity and freedom; it’s a radical but soft method to move our societies in the
right direction. Yes, it will force a little bit of solidarity upon everybody, but the limits it puts on the freedom of one group to amass as much
wealth as possible at the cost of other people and the planet, is insignificant compared to the freedom it gives to a much larger group of people who
now live in poverty and semi-slavery: the people that have to struggle for basic survival and are forced to accept any job, however dirty, unhealthy
and ill paid.
A basic income will only provide everybody with a basic minimum, and it will not rob anybody who wants to work, earn and consume a lot more. In fact,
it will increase the opportunities for billions of people to work and earn a decent wage. It will also free all of us from the forced participation in
the rat race that imprisons us all in a restless effort to achieve a continuous increase in production and consumption. It will enable everybody to
make a conscious choice about the work we want to do, the contribution we want to make to society. And as several of you also wrote already, if this
means that some people will prefer not to do paid work and are satisfied with the basic minimum, that would be perfectly okay. The problem today is
not that there are not enough people who want to work, the problem is, on the contrary, that we work, produce and consume too much.
Of course, if nobody would want to work anymore, that would be a problem. But is that fear justified? Would you stop working? If not, do you think you
are so much better than others? I’ve read very different expectations in this discussion about what would happen if people wouldn’t have to work
anymore. Empirical findings suggest that in rich countries people on average would work a little less in paid jobs, maybe 5% or 10%. Would that be a
problem? I don’t think so. In poorer countries however, people would work much more if they would receive a basic income, because the basic income
would improve their work opportunities: they will partly use it to start their own small businesses, to provide better education and job opportunities
for their children, or to go and look for work (transport costs etc.). In Namibia a pilot project was ..