Nov 22 2009, 03:39 PM
capitalism is NOT here to stay. it's only here until we've had enough. different monetary/economic/governing systems were here before it, and there will be new ones after it. we just suffer from a lack of imagination right now. some country will concoct a system that, i hope will be more about helping us all reach our potential instead of encouraging greed.
Nov 22 2009, 05:45 PM
Yep, and everytime you visit your public library or drive by a public school you can thank our early U.S. socialists. Capitalism, unrestricted, leads to imperialism and serfdom. The ruling powers have a vested interest in making us believe that this is the only way. DOn't buy it (literally AND figuratively).
Nov 22 2009, 06:55 PM
I like you ladies saying these things ...
Dec 4 2009, 08:07 AM
QUOTE(koffeewitch @ Nov 22 2009, 05:45 PM)
Yep, and everytime you visit your public library or drive by a public school you can thank our early U.S. socialists. Capitalism, unrestricted, leads to imperialism and serfdom. The ruling powers have a vested interest in making us believe that this is the only way. DOn't buy it (literally AND figuratively).
Capitalism, through the free enterprise system and the private sector, funds public institutions such as libraries and schools through taxes, not the money fairy. When schools and libraries need more funding, what do they typically do? Go to the voting public and put levies on the ballot.
All those Carnegie Libraries you see around the world? They were started by one of the biggest capitalists in U.S. history, Andrew Carnegie. Huge univeristy endowments ? A lot of that comes from private sector businesses and individuals.
Capitalism is not entirely made up of big, corrupt corporate fat cats. They are also made up of many small businesses (your local coffee shop, salon, grocer, the list is endless). Also small, growing companies like my employer, the enterprises that local communites fight to attract. They create jobs, provide value to thier customers and generate tax dollars for all the public sector things we need and enjoy.
Dec 4 2009, 09:20 AM
It's not "capitalism" that funds the libraries; it's people. There is nothing capitalist about our income tax system, in fact the best capitalists find ways NOT to pay taxes. I would certainly agree that rich people have done great things. Socialism does NOT prevent people from attaining wealth, by the way. You can even have a free rather than a planned market under a socialist economic system. You can have socialism and a democratic government. (It's the only kind of socialism we're talking about. We're not advocating a totalitarian system). You can have socialist businesses. Only the means of production would be owned by workers collectively. In the truer days of capitalism, most children entered the factory by age 4. Factory workers died by the age of 35. Most people could not read, and so they could not teach their children or alter their fate. Labor unions (many of them from the American Communist Party) changed the lives of workers and created our "middle class". Unfettered capitalism always leads to imperialism.
Dec 8 2009, 11:45 AM
Socialism can take on one of two styles; the state ownership of industry/commerce, OR the collective (group of citizens) ownership of same. While the latter is defined as Socialism by some sources (Wikopedia, for one), I don't see it as socialism as such. I mean it's still owned by the people, even if one could argue that there is a difference between a collective of workers owning a company or a board owning a company. But I don't really have a problem with companies owned by the workers. It's worked wonderfully in numerous situations.
But what the Obama administration is advocating, instituting actually, is Social Democracy which is primarily the state's ownership of industry. Look at GM, taking over the company & firing the CEO. Now they want their hands on healthcare. No one can convince me with the silly arguments provided by its proponents that this is only adding an option for the non/underinsured. This is a power grab, pure & simple like they've done with portions of the auto industry, and the private sector cannont compete with unlimited resources. "Were losing our shirts on healthcare, Mr. Obama." "Well then, print another trillion & settle the books." Its whats gonna happen, if you don't see it, it's because you head is buried in the sand...or up Obama's butt.
And labor unions are mostly outdated. With federal regulations in place, most workers are protected beyond their worth to the company. I see it everyday.
And I definately agree with Allison-shines. Most (70%) of the country is employed by small business owners. While they may have salaries that many of us consider extravagant, they WORKED to get their businesses to succeed. Yet we want to demonize them the same as the AT&T Exec that comes in with a $10 million salary & a lifetime "golden parachute". Small business owners have no such guarantees. They thrive or fail based on their sweat & ingenuity. They are the ones supporting the libraries & other community endowments because they live in & hire from those communities. But along comes the Big Brother & the multitude of greedy little weasels & want to suck them dry - or demonize them when they leave because of the government's persecution.
People are so enamured by Obama that they're oblivious to common sense & individual thought. Example: John Mackey of Whole Foods supermarkets runs a successfull organic supermarket chain; the largest in the country. He even provides a healthcare program for his employees which far exceeds most private insurers. But when he suggested in a news brief that he had a better solution than the Govt option, he was immediately ostracized & boycotted by those who's only mindset was Obama's healthcare solution. They didn't even want to hear what he had to offer. All they knew was that it wasn't from the Govt so it wouldn't suit them because it wasn't the govt taking care of them. I'm afraid we have sacrificed freedom & individual success for social comfort.
Dec 8 2009, 12:39 PM
Nobody on this thread has said anything about supporting Obama. And I have made my position as a supporter of small businesses very clear. Once again, (back to the topic of the thread) in a system of unfettered capitalism there would be no small business. There would only be giant corporate monopolies that eventually buy out the white house and control everything. Hence my reason for saying that unfettered capitalism leads to imperialism.
And again, libraries, schools and hospitals are supported by everyone...our income tax system that supports institutions that benefit us all is not a strictly "capitalist" idea. Capitalism and socialism are economic systems only; they are not a type of government. Socialism would not prevent anyone from attaining wealth. If you want to research socialism, I would not use Wiki. It is fine for asking questions like "who played Doctor Bombay in Bewitched" but anything beyond that I'd use a documented source with known researchers, writers and funders.
Dec 8 2009, 09:34 PM
I still stand on my previous post because it is from my actual life experience and environment and it is simply put, reality.
Socialism will prevent most people from attaining wealth, especially by redistributing it. Not all of the largest of companies did not come out of the womb as a rouge, giant corporation, many of them were small businesses that took a risk, had a passion for what they made, sold or serviced and by doing things properly by taking good care of their customers and providing a return to their investors. They evolved into the large companies that they are today. "Big Evil" (hell no its not!) Wal-Mart began as a local variety store, Starbucks was a single coffee shop, Apple was started in a garage.
Of course all the public institutions are supported by everyone and most of the people that support them are part of the capitalist system, whether they are an individual or a company. Capitalism is what helped allow these places to evolve and sustain themselves. Taxes come from revenue generated by businesses and from individuals who pay income taxes to private property owners where they pay taxes on that to support schools, libraries and even local health programs. Control that with socialism will stifle free enterprise and everyone winds up getting less.
Income tax is primarily driven by capitalism, the individual who plies his or her trade or profession is generally open to working for the person who can pay them the most, provide the best work environment, job security, chance for advancement or even the opportunity to stay put (believe me there are many people like that, they may be content with what they do, prefer a better work/life balance and not want any additional responsibility or stress from a higher positions and there is nothing wrong with that). Most of us who work are "on the market", even when we are not actively shopping for the best package by actively seeking employment. Some people are offered a position when they are not even looking for a new job. A true, good capitalist will always try to seek the best talent.
Capitalism and socialism may not be a type of government, but they are forces that influence or even be influenced by government. But capitalism and the tax dollars that it generates contributes more to government than socialism and whatever redistribution plan that it has in mind. Government cannot run without the tax money from businesses and people that engage in enterprise.
Bob4both is right about unions, there are many non-union plants, a good example are the Asian automakers who have non-union factories in the US. They have safe, productive facilities and pay competitively. You rarely see a strike there. The unionized plants build an inferior product, have people doing unskilled labor for $30 and hour, while many educated people with a skilled job get paid less. My 2001 Honda Civic was built in one of these places in my home state and still runs like a top.
Capitalism will never be completely "unfettered". The government and even the will of the people will impose certain regulations on business, whether they are justifiable or not. Any concern or apprehension that they will "rule the world" is kind of far fetched. You may ask, "What about all those banks that got away with murder and ran the economy into the ground?" Well, society on every level from the banks to the government to the people themselves created this mess collectively and made it even worse. This mess transcends both the past and present administrations.
When certain areas of capitalism spin out of control, you can't punish everyone by turning us into a socialist state. If we elected better leaders to deal with the problems, we would have to resort to such desperate thinking. I will take a capitalist society with its warts any day over living a Socialist-driven state.
I didn't have to say the "O" word either
And to think, I started out in this Lounge discussing my breasts, gee how did i get here ?!?!
Dec 9 2009, 09:59 AM
Under our fettered capitalist system 1% of the population owns and controls 90% of the resources. How is that helping "most people" attain wealth? As said earlier, the only group who is getting resources redistributed to them are wall street and failing giant corporations. Socialism has NOTHING against small business. I'll say it again just to reiterate. Socialism has nothing against small business. But monopolies are another matter. And can you imagine what would happen without anti-trust laws.
Unions are the best thing that ever happened to American workers. They are not out-dated; if anything we need to go back to the purity of the 1930s. Asian auto-makers are not a good example of non-union. What happens in the auto industry is that new companies start out here as non-union and (atleast in the auto industry) are always unionized. It's just a matter of time for the car manufacturers.
While there may be a few good, honest companies, I don't want to depend on them to do the right thing...I want workers to have power on their own. A union is nothing more than a bunch of workers standing together to safeguard their rights. It works to help victims of sexual harassment as much as it helps victims of unlivable wages. For every kind corporation, there are 50 with no scruples. Remember when GM pulled out of Flint, Michigan to go to Mexico? At that time, GM was the richest company in the entire world with the largest profit-margin ever heard of. SO why did they screw their workers...families who had worked for GM multiple generations?
I don't need to fear capitalism "ruling the world" because it has already happened. Corporations control the white house and the world bank. Corporations have fledging democratic leaders in other nations executed to put in dictators who would work with foreign capitalists in exporting all the nations resources. A small percentage of people, LITERALLY control the resources of the entire world. What safe guards, what few safe guards that common people have to protect themselves, we are losing.
Where I agree with you, A.S. is that the people are responsible for letting this happen. In a democratic society, people get the government that they deserve. We need to learn, read, research, educate ourselves and vote.
Dec 9 2009, 11:33 AM
Unions WERE the best thing to happen to American workers...back in the 20's! Now they are predominately nothing more than a safehaven for the lazy & shiftless. You're concerned about the greed of the capitalists; it pales in comparison to the corruption & double-dealings of the current union thugs. Why else would they vehemently oppose secret ballots for union membership (card-check bill). It's because union officials would not be able to strongarm their constituents into membership; much the same way they strongarm companies into profit loss & bankruptcy. Unions cover for the inept & incompetent at the expense of the company. They also compromise company & worker safety by keeping those same inepts working alongside the masses when they should be fired.
Socialism & communism won't and can't ever work for the long haul...and ironically it's for the same problems associated with Capitalism; greed. People get tired of working for the glory of others, and there are those who will inevitably want more than their neighbor. Can't get that in communism without bucking the system.
"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of someone else's money."
Dec 9 2009, 12:11 PM
Agreed about current union problems; hence the need to go back to what I called "the purity of the 1930s". In some way workers and working families MUST stand together.
Socialism is not working for someone else's glory (again you are relating it to totalitarianism). Think of a small business that uses profit sharing or even a non-profit system with the collective voting democratically on what they feel their own salaries should be. Socialism is the workers owning the means of production...if their business fails, they fail. Karl Marx said "not to work is not to eat". The system is run by hard work and even a free market. Capitalists have done such a good job painting pictures of"the evils of socialism" people have no clue what the word means. And people pay into things that benefit us all collectively. This is in no way "someone else's money. Capitalist and right-wing pundits like to use snarky platitudes like that, but they are over-simplifications and not based on fact.
What do you guys like about Walmart? the slave-labor, the cheap, crappy merchandice, the way small businesses are bank-rupted, the "dead peasant" policies Wal-mart participated in until journalists exposed them, the burden on the environment from transporting their crap all over the world instead of using local resources, the non-American made products, the beautiful urban sprawl? Just curious.
Dec 9 2009, 12:12 PM
Damn double post...is anyone else having trouble with the Bust server today or is it just my computer?
Dec 9 2009, 10:04 PM
may I delurk and add this:
Socialism/communism has never ever been tried the way it was meant to by its theorists, in an already developed economy with surplus and accumulated wealth, where the common people had a clue on how to run a life in a financially and politically responsible way.
The countries it was "applied to" were still in feudalism, in bondage to the Ottoman Empire or the Tzar, or barely waking out of many feudal micro-kingdoms into a "state". Those peoples had grown used, and in Lamarckian terms, genetically evolved, for centuries, to undermine the enterprize they're engaged in because they're working for The Man, in most cases, a malevolent Lord, a pissy Baron, a Vezir, a Sultans' minion, a nice guy NOT, who could have their wife or daughter any time he liked.
That sorry state was what socialism was downloaded on top of.
So socialism or communism (the former, btw, is only a stage, a stepping stone to true communism, the latter has never been remotely achieved and no one ever claimed it was) were attempted over a mind-set that was in need of serious rape survivor therapy.
I have been trying not to post here because I can't help bristling up when I hear people talk about "being punished" with socialism. Really. As if the highest privilege humans can have on this earth is to work their asses off, never see their kids and basically, be slaves to their own higher standard. As if. I'd say 90 percent of the people in the very, very flawed socialism that was attempted in the wrong place at the wrong time were still living content lives, reading voraciously, studying whatever subject their geekdom demanded of them in their free time (which was plenty), playing piano and the violin, being amateur chess champions, building boat models, you name it. They were not in any danger of loosing their job, their health was taken care of (oh yes, it was! way better than what I've had to go through here) and their kid's college was paid for... So no, it didn't work out, and we'll agree to disagree about the many reasons, but don't tell me this isn't the life a lot of us dream of, instead of climbing an Escher-like career ladder just so one day you can tell other sad people to do the boring job you're now asking Santa to bring you a monkey for.
And Koffeewitch - may i buy you a shot?
(of wheat grass, I'm guessing;)
Dec 9 2009, 11:02 PM
Well, that was impulsive.
In the name of objectivity, and since the edit function won't let me fix it, I must add to the 90 (okay, perhaps 85;) percent of "content people's" activities:
Drinking, fighting loudly only to forget about it in 10 minutes, having sex, drinking, laying under the car with a beer within reach (actually a very social activity as people pass by, ask what's wrong, crawl under there to look, then drive theirs over to ask if you know why it's making that noise, and bring you more beer). (It's not like there weren't rednecks. But there were way more self-professed, self-nourishing intellectuals. )
Also, having house parties (every possible occasion) with dancing to american music or yelling over Visotski which later deteriorates into sad singing of Russian gypsy romances. But house parties - every weekend, the whole project aglow into the wee hours.
And, fixing your own house appliances(!) that was big - every weekend people had their electrical/ electronic gadgets spilled on the table and squinting mad professor/ curious kid style, learning how to fix it. Of course, everyone knew how electricity works, you actually study that in 6th grade there.
And talent was sought out and nurtured and fed in all spheres. They had scouts in schools to enroll you in free programs when they saw you were good at something. If you wanted, of course.
But all I'm saying with this post is, people were themselves first, their private artistic handy geeky self first, and then identified with the job they were employed for. I find that important. I miss it here.
Ok, nostalgic moment over ...
I'll try to think of some really bad things as well.
Dec 10 2009, 08:37 AM
As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I like the idea of "socialism" in the context of the workers owning their business/company, as Koffe mentioned. It has worked well in numerous businesses that were going belly up. However, Marx's quote that was used, ""not to work is not to eat", is certainly not relevent today even in the broadest of interpretations; because of the same people that want to implement that socialist system! Out of compassion, we don't let people "not eat" because they don't work. In fact (and I know this will draw significant ire) we reward not working to an extent.
Example: a previous gfriend of mine, mother of 3 & divorced. Through a state program, she recieved schooling as a Physical Therapist, while the state provided daycare & food stamps/welfare as long as she was in school. They also provided a summer job for her to work at the college during the slower summer months. The program was to last for 3 years; then she was supposed to be on her own. She got her AS degree & an excellent job in a very satisfying field. Worked well in her case. And, as I believe, worked as these programs are intended.
But...out of the 8 people in her group, only 3 (her included) completed the program in the time alloted. The rest partied their time & money away, & pissed away their educational opportunity. And you know what happened? They were kicked out the program...AND WENT BACK ON ON THE REGULAR WELFARE SYSTEM! This was Massachusetts, the heart of social(ized) America. So you see, the "philosophers" that want to create a socialist state are the same ones that destroy the intent of a true socialist state. And that's why it won't work. Look at the inner cities & New Orleans. The amount of money we pump into "programs" should have everyone living like Bill Gates. But they're really not designed to "work and eat"; they're designed to continue a pattern of need.
Dec 10 2009, 09:23 AM
B4b: in a socialist system people can CHOOSE how to alot the resources, it is the ability to decide DEMOCRATICALLY what to do with resources...if you thought people were abusing resources (like in your example) you would have the power to discuss/change this under a true socialist system. (7 is exactly right and braver than I am...socialism is a step toward communism ie instead of money being the important driving force like capitalism, people and communities are the true standard of wealth and importance). The word communism is like the word "aryan" ...it is too loaded and far distant from it's original meaning.
For an interesting comparison I invite you all to go into "Pardon me, I"m Canadian" where we discuss the truth about Canada's socialized medicine system. Read about it and tell me you're not jealous and that their system is not much, much better than anything we will see in the U.S.
7: you are a fascinating and brilliant woman; i'll take ya up on that shot anytime.
Dec 10 2009, 10:32 AM
Just by the way, I am thrilled at the action this thread is getting. I see both this thread and "Bustie Goes to Washington" get very little play around here and that makes me sad. I love the Lounge dearly but sometimes I wish it were a more politically-aware place. I think all of you are kick-ass cool for sharing your point of view in this thread (whether your view resembles mine or not). So thank you all for making this a great discussion.
Dec 10 2009, 05:33 PM
I think "ism's" are meaningless today and I think when we use them in political or economic discussions, they are so freighted with emotion that they shut down any further discussion. As soon you start talking "capitalism", "socialism", "communism" or "collectivism", the discussion devolves into polemics.
Here's what I believe: I believe we live in the "Life after Capitalism". For the most part, all of us live and work in market economies that are bound by regulations. The only difference between jurisdictions is, generally speaking, the degree to which the "market" is regulated.
My two cents.
Dec 11 2009, 03:11 AM
I'll play the mean teacher, as I am morally compromised anyway;)
No, isms aren't meaningless today, or any day (except for undies Friday, of course). Do you know what this board is about? Femin-what? What about the title of this thread?
But yes, I understand, women talking like that can be scary.
Koffeewitch, it's obvious why she is scary (pssst ... look at her name).
Me, I tend to make right palms sweat for many reasons, but not to devolve this into polemics, I'll keep it real: I am the child of a system the very name of which is freighted with emotions for you.
On us living in Life After Capitalism, what a poetic thought.
Koffeewitch was giving exciting information about other, potentially successful ways to run a country, if not a civilization, and she was doing it in an articulate and comprehensive manner (to put it mildly), so I hope your emotions don't prevent you from hearing it and discussing it on her level. I doubt the majority of this board find her very practical arguments remotely verging on polemics. Now I was giving anecdotal evidence, which is always sketchy, so you can go ahead and ignore me. But not the Koffeewitch.
The degree to which the market is regulated is the side effect of what we're talking about.
So I'd say, risk the moral weight of devolving this discussion and run with it.
Dec 11 2009, 03:41 AM
Oops, it's technically Friday, I see. Now I have to take it all back.
And ChenghusKhan, I shouldn't have called market regulation a side effect, (I'm sorry, market regulation!) but it's definitely not the steering mechanism .
It's like saying that your legs will run the Boston marathon. Do you see what I'm saying?
Yes, they run it. But.
Dec 11 2009, 08:58 AM
QUOTE(sevenseconds @ Dec 11 2009, 05:11 AM)
I'll keep it real: I am the child of a system the very name of which is freighted with emotions for you.
. Now I was giving anecdotal evidence, which is always sketchy, so you can go ahead and ignore me. But not the Koffeewitch.
Actually 7, I'm thinking your real life experience trumps my theoretics and daydreaming. You were supposed to say "I came from a communist country and I was oppressed and brutalized by this false messiah." You were supposed to come running into the embracing arms of capitalism. You were expected to tell one and all how wonderful you found this new freedom to be.
Not quite working for you?
(Just in case anybody is coming late to this discussion, this is in no way a celebration of a totalitarian system. Please read through all the posts before stoning me).
Dec 11 2009, 09:47 AM
If you haven't seen "The Story of Stuff" yet, it is a must. Basically, it's the story of how our compulsive need to consume was created and the impact of all our stuff on the environment. Did you know that 99% of the stuff we buy is thrown out within 6 months?
Dec 11 2009, 12:20 PM
Not much scares me... Just sayin'.
7Seconds, I'm betting you've read Sholzhenitsyn. (Here's a wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn)
. A magnificent writer and an incredible thinker. Exiled from the Soviet Union in the '70's, after writing books and essays like "The Gulag Archipelago". (I've been to Magadan. A damming indictment of political system and an awful place.)
Anyway, what was cool about Sholzhenitsyn was that he would not and did not become the poster boy of "capitalism". He settled in New England somewhere and wrote essays damming the greed and gluttony he saw in the West. I think he gave a commencement speech an Ivy League school that ripped everyone in the West. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he returned to Russia and died there this past year. He absolutely rejected both communism and capitalism. He wanted a return to "Mother Russia", guided by the principles of Orthodox Church. Incredibly interesting guy.
A rambling pre-amble there, and I apologize. Listen, I do think "ism's" have some relevance today. My initial statement was a bit of a poke in the eye to spur discussion. Guess it did.
My point is this: "Ism's" are fun and interesting to talk about but I do think they constrain us when we start talking about how to actually run things. The economic and moral collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe exposed, for all to see, the failures of the centrally planned economy. The economic and - I think - moral collapse we've seen this past year has shown the failures of an un-regulated market.
I think, when it gets down to it, we need to find a way to govern our behavior that recognizes that we need - at a basic, human level - the freedom that free will and free markets provide while, at the same time, we need to recognize that markets can fail, in the economic sense. We can not wholly reject the market nor can we commit the sin of "idolatry of the market". (A great quote by Pope John Paul II and Alan Greenspan's great sin.)
Dec 11 2009, 01:15 PM
Chingus, if you haven't checked out The Story of Stuff yet (it's only 20 minutes) I really hope you get a chance. I'm less afraid of markets collapsing than I am of going on as we have for the last 50 years.
I do know what you mean about "isms". As soon as I toss out an ism into conversation, suddenly nobody can hear what I'm saying for fear of what my "ism" means in their minds. Then everybody talks talking in political cliche and we have a reactionary, meaningless discussion.
Dec 13 2009, 01:32 PM
(this will be rushed and rambling: going dark for a week or so, but would like to quickly wave at all of you here
ChingusKhan, yes, I've read Solzhenitsyn (a quirky and brilliant guy, fascinating, and I agree on the first two counts of his verdict but stop short of the Mother Russia and God the Father. We'll talk about point 3 later.)
And, absolutely, camps are among the worst human inventions. Unfortunately, that's a very old human invention. There were some other not so horrible but simply crappy things about that system, too (gotta stay tuned.)
But I would ask you to go see the movie Precious
and agree with me that *this system here* has created a giant Gulag in its very own urban heart. The movie is a girl's true story, and there are thousands and thousands like it, for real, in these very cities we strut around our Donna Karan boots in. (I know the principal of a continuation school and the stories he tells me, Holy Child, your blood will curdle.)
One doesn't need to be locked up to be a prisoner. Ignorance and poverty are very cruel guards.
Just saying: such deprivation was unthinkable in the system I grew up in. Excellent quality education was free and in fact, very, very hard to evade. There was a responsibility to the health and employable, skilled future of all children. Every new human had full access to the gifts of civilization, and that right was not a question of how rich, educated or responsible the parents were. It was just theirs, part of the civil contract: they were members of humanity.
I find it hard to swallow that the advanced world doesn't think so.
don't care who owns the wealth if that one thing (and health care) can be given freely. Can it, under *this sytem*?
I will tell you why I think not.
I'll post more when I return, and I have lots of crazy stuff to say, so please all of you smart people, keep the fire burning.
As Koffeewitch said: Thank you to both sides for going at this discussion with all you've got.
Koffeewitch, I'm gonna go get you a Koffee now.
Dec 14 2009, 02:05 AM
7Seconsds, your point about access to health care was brought home to me when I went to Cuba: Nobody has bad teeth in Cuba. Go to other Latin American countries and you'll see the poor - or even the middle class - with bad teeth. Makes you think.
You're right, too, that there indictments of the political systems of the West anywhere, should you choose to look.
There was something so stunningly sinister about Magadan, though, and I think it was the fact that it was intentional and it was state sponsored. Yes, there are ghettos and yes there are stories like "Precious" - and many far, far worse - in the West but, there is also a concerted effort on behalf of the state to make those situations better. You can argue endlessly about effectiveness of those programmes and whether or not they work but you can't argue that the State is trying.
I don't want to be an apologist for the Western Market Economy / Political System. It is, though, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the second worst political and economic system history has ever seen. The problem, to my mind, is that the only thing worse is everything else.