Any “statistical grudge match” with any kind of intellectual honesty would be forced to conclude that Marxism caused vastly more premature deaths than capitalism ever has. I can only assume that your claim is going to be that capitalist countries cause life expectancies to fall somehow, since a mere body count won’t even get you close."A mere body count"... ah, how we value life in the free world! But no, I wasn't referring to life expectancies. Of course, even that isn't an airtight argument for the free market, not the least because most of the countries with greater life expectancies than the US (Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Canada, etc.) have market regulations that would be decried as draconian on Wall Street. The chief difficulty in comparing body-counts between Capitalism and Marxism is that no one has ever been killed in the name of Capitalism as such. Whereas the enforcers and executioners of Communist regimes dispatched dissidents and undesirables under the flutter of red flags, no tanks or helmets have ever been decorated with dollar-sign decals. So it's a delicate yet arbitrary judgment as to how many deaths are on capital's tab. Those who've died of famine or a toxic environment as a result of exploitive trade practices? The victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre? The 2 million dead of the Korean war? The 6 million of the Vietnam war? The minimum hundred-thousand of the current Iraq war? The 8 million slaves who died en route to the Americas, to say nothing of the untold millions killed during the procurement of the surviving 11 millions slaves shipped west?
I think it is quite appropriate to measure how good a government is by how few people it gratuitously slaughters.Well, it's obviously a handy criterion, but if that becomes the chief consideration of a government's worth, that's bloody pathetic (no pun intended). What about access to healthcare? Education? Low unemployment rolls and CPI? No? I'd think that quality of life would be a greater consolation than a simple shurg, "Well, at least the prime minister ain't no Ismail Enver."
...Experiments [in competing ideologies] were East Germany/West Germany, North Korea/South Korea, and arguably Hong Kong/China. In each one of these experiments, the regimes in question started with similar resources and similar, if not identical, cultures.As "laboratory experiments," these qualify as incredibly sloppy science. Not only had Hong Kong been a British concession for over a century by the time Mao Zedong consolidated power in 1949, but to think a country as expansive & ethnically diverse as China was (or is) even vaguely homogeneous is ignorant. Meanwhile, in Korea, there was violent agitation by left-leaning activists in the south following WWII; had the US not ditched the Moscow Accords and helped install Yi Seungman (a thug who embezzled over $20 million in gov't funds and died in exile) and subsequently reinforced his flagging defenses, Korea very well may have been reunified by Kim Il-Sung. (Kim, of course, was a unimaginative, waffling narcissist responsible for the deaths of 1.6 million of his countrymen.) West and East Germany are the closest to "control" groups by which to compare the success of competing ideologies. Nevertheless, the Soviet "scorched earth" war tactics and its extra-aggressive dismantling of German industry (to compensate for the USSR's desperate economic situation and staggering loss of 26 million lives) bequeathed the GDR a far more tenuous socioeconomic foundation than the West, and a consequent, inherent resentment of its foreign overseer.
Though it goes without saying, I am not an apologist for Mao, Stalin, the Stassi, or Juche. But throughout the Cold War, the single answer to the myriad problems of Communism was: capitalism. And still, the single answer to the myriad problems of Western capitalist hegemony is: more capitalism! As jaded as I may be regarding humans' collective discipline or reason, this as a prescription is, well, insufficient.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Stevens was (again) the sole respondent to my questions regarding whether or not the US is in a recession. I felt compelled to comment not the least because the cited source of "good news" was walking mental laxative Jonah Goldberg, and Tillman seems to take his sources at face-value. A great many people (Tillman included) received the news the 3.3% bump in the US GDP as though it was some ad infinitum forecast of the country's economic health - forgetting about those stimulus cheques and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino's caveat, "No one is doing a victory dance." Mr. Stevens was right to articulate the value of imputed income, though I wasn't so much arguing against its inclusion in the equation as encouraging statistical scrutiny. Take the unemployment rate for example: officially 5.7%, it rises to around 9% once "discouraged" workers, "marginally attached" workers, and involuntary part-timers are included. But then factor in those on Social Security, disability, etc. who've been "bought off the unemployment rolls" and the number crawls closer to 12%. There are other concerning facts to consider: construction continued to hit the brakes at a current rate of almost 16%, and after-tax corporate profits fell by 3.8% after a single-point gain in the first three months of 2008.
The slight skip in GDP is obviously good news, but it'd be foolhardy to dismiss the "doomsayers" so quickly. The benefit of being Chicken Little is that, if you're wrong - hey, no problem! But given that 97% of consensus forecasts in the 1990s failed to predict some sixty different national recessions, perhaps "permabears" like Dr. Nouriel Roubini aren't quite the marketplace miserablists they appear to be.
Owing to Mr. Stevens' relative online anonymity, I initially wondered if I was debating either a veteran business journalist or the star of Body Chemistry 3: Point of Seduction. No such luck: he's a midwestern economist, judging by his extensive font of financial know-how (not to mention haughty asides deriding "non-economists"). As such, that he indulges an autodidact muso in lengthy exchanges seems explicable only because they take place on "his" turf. Nonetheless, I appreciate that he's the only one who deems my ideas worthy of rebutting on Tillman's site, where my minority opinions (however carefully worded) have apparently earned me troll status. No great loss, though, as that site disappears increasingly up its own skyward nose. Tillman's monocular political skepticism and dull predilection towards grammatical fundamentalism make him sound ever more like the idiot who looks at the finger, not the moon at which the finger points. As much as Mr. Stevens and I may differ in our ideological orientation, his readiness to have an concerted discussion is most welcome.