Economic Systems 101

I will present three different takes on the exact same situation at dinner with your family:

1. Would you please pass the salt?

2. May I borrow your salt shaker?

3. I’ll give you a penny for three shakes of salt.

What we have just examined is the difference between communism, socialism, and capitalism.


In communism no one owns anything and no one buys anything. Everything is provided to each other for the common good. We call this situation “family values.” The mother, Sweet Polly, fills the salt shaker and keeps it clean and on the dining room table. That is her job. Everyone uses it as community property. The salt shaker is used so seldom that it does not make sense for everyone to have their own.

With socialism, salt is filled by Sweet Polly but Floyd the pig owns the shaker. He provides for his family and allows them to use his salt shaker. The difference is subtle but important. Where Floyd as a communist would work and do his job and not get paid but be provided for, in a socialist economy he would be paid the same as everyone else and then go through the artificial motions of choosing which salt shaker to buy or even whether to have one at all. I see this as the middle ground and even if it is inferior to communism then it is the bridge from capitalism to communism.

With capitalism, GoGo owns the salt shaker. He hires Sweet Polly to tend to the upkeep of the salt shaker and Floyd manages Sweet Polly and does the actual monetary transaction with the customer who wishes to have some salt. Is that not the stupidest thing you ever heard? GoGo has cornered much of the global market on salt shakers and is a billionaire. Floyd as management is middle class. Sweet Polly is poor and requires government assistance to make ends meet. Note that if all three were paid the same then everyone would be well off but no one would be filthy rich. To be rich, many other people must be grossly underpaid.

So that is my take on things. The more you use something the more it should be your exclusive possession.  I use my car an average of maybe 15 minutes each day, figuring there are plenty of days I don’t use it at all because I am retired and work for fun from my home. I should not own a car, there should be a pool of cars where I use one of them as needed or there should be better public transport on call for people like me at a tiny fraction of my cost of owning my own vehicle.


One thing that I have noted in socialist and communist countries that I don’t see in our capitalist country is the icon of the common worker. What is needed is the glorification of the common person and the definition of heroic as a job well done. And with this attitude in mind, with this as our value along with doing work that has meaning to you instead of pursuing that which provides the highest income, we are prepared for a more fully social form of government.

I’m for family values. I’m for coming together as a society for the common good. I am against the tyranny of the strong and I am against the tyranny of the clever. We are in this life together as a people and it is time we started acting more like responsible adults and less like selfish children.

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