Where does the US's obsession with the free market come from?

By on January 26, 2010 5:24:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

MichaelCook

Join Date 03/2009
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As per the title.

 

Why does the word socialism in the US cause frothing at the mouth? Not comming from the US I don't understand this, I can see socialism and capitalism both have positive points as well as negative ones, but it seems crazy to me that when Obama talked of changing the healthcare system there were all these people protesting saying "Government hands off my health" and such.

 

After watching "Sicko" on TV the other night I think the average US person has little knowledge on socialism. I live in Australia with what would be called a "socialist" healthcare system and I think its great but we are not a socialist country.

 

So, without getting political, why is the culture of the United States of America so fixated on capitalism?

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January 26, 2010 5:31:24 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

My guess is because the culture generating media outlets benefit greatly from the free market.

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January 26, 2010 5:37:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Its because of the cold war. The goverment had this big propaganda campaign agasint the USSR and comunism, and it worked so well that people still hate communism today.

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January 26, 2010 5:44:07 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

People hate communism for good reason.  Look at the mess it made of the USSR.  Russia is on its way to becoming a third-world country.

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January 26, 2010 5:46:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Too much Benjamin Franklin, spirit of capitalism and survival of the fittest? Maybe some added and still not assimilated traces of Cold War? Some people would lose money with a "socialist" healthcare system? People don't want to give money for other people¡s health? (why bother with Haiti or similars then? Maybe because it's somehting puntual in time?)

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January 26, 2010 5:46:25 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

An economy is all about productivity. The most productive economic system is laissez-faire capitalism because it allows for competition between businesses which should lead to lower prices and higher quality products. When the government starts putting too many restrictions on what businesses can do, they don't make a profit and they go out of businesses. I do not support pure laissez-faire capitalism because businesses need some limits on what they can do. (no child labor, no exceedingly dangerous working conditions, no direct attacks on other businesses to stop competition, minimum wages within reason).

Socialism is a very complex economic theory, especially when compared to free market capitalism. Almost no one understand every form of socialism. In some versions, the government owns the means of production, in others the factory workers own the factors (closer to communism). The problem with giving the government too much power in your life is that you can't predict what they will do with it ten years from now, much less fifty years from now. The weak link in communism is selfishness. People will always be selfish, and the system that caters to selfishness is capitalism.

 

inb4 Ayn Rand fanboys and angsty teen anarchists

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January 26, 2010 5:50:26 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Obsession is not the way to characterize it.

But in a word, freedom.

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January 26, 2010 5:56:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cerevox,
Its because of the cold war. The goverment had this big propaganda campaign agasint the USSR and comunism, and it worked so well that people still hate communism today.

 

Governments hated communism before the cold war. Hitler hated communism.

 

I thought the US fixation with free market ideals is also part of its self proclaimed identity, the part of the "land of the free", the place where somebody with nothing can "make it rich" and its the "American dream" for everyone to have equal  opportunity to get rich (but in reality this is clearly not true, but is supported by claims such as "If you work hard in America you will be rewarded and thus we all have equal opportunity").

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January 26, 2010 6:00:16 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

In a very short summary, as a truly in detail answer could only be covered by a thesis paper.

Technically the U.S. opposition to "big government" has far predated the cold war. The American Revolution was in a sense fought over what the colonists thought was excessive government intervention in their affairs. Britian's navigation acts might have been another early factor, and was probably the first interference of the open market in the colonies. Following the rapid expansion of the 19th century under a free enterprise system, American's had very little reason for socialist style social programs until the Great Depression (though a communist party was active well before that). However, any respect for Socialist ideas were burried during the cold war, and considering the inefficiency of that system, it's probably somewhat justified.

 

While the examples you are probably refering to are probably the most extreme and possibly quite hypocritical (what can medicaid be called if not socialism), however I hope that can somewhat answer your question.

 

Edit: I was just trying to give a brief history, your reasons are more of the cultural aspects, which were mostly created out of that history as well as the simple fact America did not have the strict European Class system. Thus, the anyone can "make it rich" attitude.

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January 26, 2010 6:15:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wintersong's kinda correct. You can see part of your answer in the difference between our Declaration of Independence's foundation on "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" and our Constitution's goal of establishing central authority to provide security, encourage interstate commerce, and stave off a public debt crisis. Revolutionary ideals yielded pretty quickly to crass material concerns.

But on particular business of how badly we in the US tend to misuse the English word "socialism," Cold War rhetoric and propaganda are the bigger problem. Because both our dysfunctional parties found it useful to demonize the USSR rather than attempt a constructive engagement based on consistently attacking Stalin's internal human rights violations, most of us need to be nearly finished with a decent college education before we learn that socialism and communism are not two names for the same thing. Even fewer of us know that the world has never seen a proper communist state because every last pig of a leader who's taken up the banner has gone down the path of Stalin and Mao, namely murderous nationalism cloaked in Marxist terminology.

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January 26, 2010 6:39:15 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Obama said something I tend to agree with:   he said free market is good, but not all things should be free market.  Antitrust regulation, for example, is not free market, and we have fostered that for quite some time now--ironically because antitrust encourages a free market.  Arms dealing should not be free market.  Human trafficking should not be free market.   Your health care is not something that should be left to the free market.  I am inclined to agree.

Now, I am not necessarily inclined to agree with the proposed solutions to health care, either.  And in the same way, I don't necessarily think socialism is the opposite of free market.  See, the problem with the USSR and the United States both is NOT free market/capitalism vs. socialism.   The problem is corruption, pure and simple.  Where the people are corrupt, the system will fail, no matter what it is.  If the people are not corrupt, they can make any system work.  Mexico is more free market than we are in many ways, and they're screwed up because they are fraught with corruption.  The flaw in the U.S. is, we keep trying to eliminate corruption by fixing the system.   Health care is an absolute shining example of that.

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January 26, 2010 6:47:24 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Not to quibble too much, but a market isn't 'free' if it is coercively monopolized.  'Free market' doesn't necessarily mean 'totally unregulated market'.

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January 26, 2010 7:41:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Not to quibble too much, but a market isn't 'free' if it is coercively monopolized.

I'd agree with that if by coercion you mean use of physical force or corrupted regulatory authorities to suppress or control competitors. But I sense a hint of distaste for cartels like OPEC and De Beers, before they started letting go of their monopoly approach.

If the 'coercion' involved is simply the exertion of superior financial resources and valid contractual relationships, then a given monopoly seems 'free' market kosher to me. That's the whole problem with freedom, whether you're talking about markets or democratic governments. Free people are perfectly capable of organizing groups to screw over other groups. I kinda think that's part of what the framers' generation was considering when they went on about wanting "a government of laws, not men."

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January 26, 2010 8:30:20 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

You are quite confused.  Let me see if I can help you.

One of your problems is the assumption that there is a free market in the USA.  There isn't.  Never has been.  Never will be.

"Free market" is a code phrase for "whatever is good for big business and the super-rich."  It is a managed market - managed by those entities, for the good of those entities.  Period.  Make no mistake - the last thing big business and the super-rich want is an actual "free market."  "Free market" to them means a market managed or manipulated to assure the maximum amount of profits to them.  Often that means an unfree market to YOU, the citizen or consumer, which is exactly what they want.  A free market would have let all the big banks fail, as well as General Motors and the other car companies.  A republican - George Bush (supposedly "anti-socialist pro-free market") - bailed all these big businesses out with trillions of taxpayer dollars, because the big businessses ordered him to do so.  Obama - a democrat - took it a step further when he got into office.

As far as heath care goes, the reason big business (i.e. "the free market") opposes socialized health care is because big business created and profits from the current system.  Big business is the "vested interest" in the equaltion (the health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, etc).  Why would they want to kill their golden goose?

Why do some American people froth at the mouth at socialism?  Because there are two "football teams" in America.  One football team is the democrats, with their fans all screaming and hollering on their side.  The other team is the republicans, with their fans all screaming and hollering on their side.  The republican team is the side that will chant the anti-socialist slogans, because they, just like their counterparts on the other side, will chant whatever their puppet masters want them to chant.  It's one of their empty slogans.  The funny thing is, republican rule is just as "socialist" as democrat rule (George Bush bailed out big Wall Street banks with trillions of dollars - not much of a "free market" as you see, but the big banks were all for it) but they don't complain when republicans engage in socialism, which they always do. Another of their empty slogans is "no nation building!" chanted quite a lot when Bill Clinton was in office.  This empty slogan was quickly forgotten when George Bush entered the Oval Office, as he was the biggest nation builder of all time.  Both sides have lots of empty slogans.  They don't mean anything.

Obama had no intentions of changing the health care system, as you suggest.  Obama is controlled by the same big business and super-rich who control all politicians in the USA.  The goal was to pretend to change something, while changing nothing.  This is why the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies were actually allowed to write the legislation!  That's right - the people who were going to be "regulated" in the "new system" were the people writing the new regulations, which is why you got one new regulation on the American citizen stating that he would be REQUIRED BY LAW to purchase health insurance, and would be fined if he didn't (Yay!  Free new customers for the health insurance industry!  Does this sound like a free market to you?).  Yes, the industry was saying "Please don't throw us in the briar patch!" which is exactly where they wanted to be thrown.  Or, actually, they didn't care either way.  If the current system was kept (which looks likely), they would be happy with that.  If we moved to the new system which they created by writing the legislation, they would be happy with that too.  Heads, they win.  Tails, you lose.

That concludes the lesson for today.  I hope you learned something.

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January 26, 2010 8:51:45 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

"Free market" is a code phrase for "whatever is good for big business and the super-rich."

Oh, please.  What trite BS.

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January 26, 2010 9:04:03 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Funny, I just read this article AFTER writing what I wrote above.  He says what I said, but he says it better.  This guy knows what's up.

http://www.counterpunch.com/roberts01222010.html

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January 26, 2010 9:06:38 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Daiwa,

Oh, please.  What trite BS.

Agreed. Any truth that *might* have been put in there has been hidden by the extremely thick bias.

Besides, I don't think the OP wanted this to deteriorate into current politics Karma.

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January 26, 2010 9:11:59 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

The thing is america's market isn't a free market like most americans think it is. It is a mixed, but most people view it as free because many simply only know what the government tells them about other styles of marketing.

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January 26, 2010 9:22:11 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Agreed. Any truth that *might* have been put in there has been hidden by the extremely thick bias.

Really?  What's my bias?

Besides, I don't think the OP wanted this to deteriorate into current politics Karma.

Not sure if you are qualified to speak for what the OP wanted, or to police his intentions, and either way my diatribe was not about "current politics."  It was directly related to his questions.

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January 26, 2010 9:33:22 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Agent of Kharma,

Not sure if you are qualified to speak for what the OP wanted, or to police his intentions, and either way my diatribe was not about "current politics."  It was directly related to his questions.

 

No, I am not qualified, hence why I said I think. You are not qualified to speak of Obama's intentions either, yet you state that he has no intention of changing the health care system, without any further qualification.

 

You may have indeed "answered" his question, but he requested an explanation "without getting political". Your entire last paragraph has next to nothing to do with free market or socialism directly. Further, you are the first one to mention political parties, and this rarely moves conversation in a good direction.

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January 26, 2010 9:46:12 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

You may have indeed "answered" his question, but he requested an explanation "without getting political". Your entire last paragraph has next to nothing to do with free market or socialism directly. Further, you are the first one to mention political parties, and this rarely moves conversation in a good direction.

You are wasting your breath.  I won't stop writing what I want to write just because you don't like what I write.  Furthermore, I won't be policed in what I write just because you envision yourself as some sort of forum post policeman.  My advice is stop wasting your time.

 

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January 26, 2010 9:47:09 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

The thing is america's market isn't a free market like most americans think it is. It is a mixed, but most people view it as free because many simply only know what the government tells them about other styles of marketing.

what do you know that other people haven't told you?

Also, from what i think  i know, America allows for innovation and better products to overcome larger companies

i.e. Google, there used to be three almost equally divided search engines, now not nearly so much

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January 26, 2010 10:06:22 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Maccilia,

The thing is america's market isn't a free market like most americans think it is. It is a mixed, but most people view it as free because many simply only know what the government tells them about other styles of marketing.
what do you know that other people haven't told you?

Also, from what i think  i know, America allows for innovation and better products to overcome larger companies

i.e. Google, there used to be three almost equally divided search engines, now not nearly so much

A free market is a theoretical term that economists use to describe a market which is free from government intervention (i.e. no regulation, no subsidization, no single monetary system and no governmental monopolies)

A mixed economy is an economic system that incorporates a mixture of private and government ownership or control, or a mixture of capitalism and socialism.

 

The government regulates and controls natural resources such as water, and electricity so people want swarm and wate it trying to sell it themselves. Thus breaking the phrase that america is a free market

The government set the price floor and price ceiling that companies and corperations can charge; in a free market this is also none existant thus not making america a free market.. I can go one with this but I have made my point. Just because the government isn't telling you where you can and can't work doesn't make your market a free market, its a mix market.

 

America's market is basically survival of the fittest to the last letter, and follows the invisible hand. Ran by self interested and controlled by competition.

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January 26, 2010 10:10:24 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

America's market is basically survival of the fittest to the last letter, and follows the invisible hand. Ran by self interested and controlled by competition.

ya, I never said otherwise. I was just pointing out that well most of our knowledge comes from what other's have told us... I mean how do you know your abc's?

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January 26, 2010 10:15:07 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Maccilia,

America's market is basically survival of the fittest to the last letter, and follows the invisible hand. Ran by self interested and controlled by competition.
ya, I never said otherwise. I was just pointing out that well most of our knowledge comes from what other's have told us... I mean how do you know your abc's?

No what mean was during the cold war the government pushed communism off as this big bad monster where the people were at the mercy of the government; and America had this savoir government whhich was all a piece of shit. Communism has more pros then cons to it where a Free market has more cons then pros to it which is why we have a mixed economy to this day.

 

What are SBC's

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January 26, 2010 10:21:21 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

What are ABC's

Characters used in the english language to form words.

Edit: usually learned as abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz in that order in a song

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