October 29, 2009

Capitalism: The Worst System Except for all the Others

By: Sonny Bunch

Last week I reviewed “The Yes Men Fix the World” for the Times, and was a little put off by both the movie’s sanctimonious tone and the facile belief of the writers that a command economy* run by the government would be preferable to capitalism. The Yes Men, you see, are very concerned about capitalism and the fact that a capitalist entity killed some 7,000 people in Bhopal, India when a chemical plant run by Union Carbide went bad.

And you know what? Each one of those 7,000 deaths is a tragedy. But it’s really kind of silly to say that runaway capitalism is a source of great misery in the world. I’d rather have the occasional accident that takes out a village than the government controlling the markets, because you know what happens when the government takes control of the markets? People starve to death.

50 million people in the Great Leap Forward. Millions more during Stalin and Lenin’s reign. And you don’t have to look into the past to see these effects. Just take a look at North Korea:

Between six hundred thousand and 2.5 million North Koreans died as a result of the famine–up to about ten percent of the population.

The piece is behind the New Yorker pay wall, which is too bad. Everyone should be reminded of the fact that when the government takes control of an industry, that industry is typically decimated.

*They don’t actually call for a command economy, but they do want to see the oil companies nationalized … I don’t see any reason why they’d stop there.