Friday, August 03, 2007

Einstein on capitalism

From the recent biography "Einstein, his life and his universe," by Walter Isaacson (page 504):

"In [an essay] Einstein argued that unrestrained capitalism produced great disparities of wealth, cycles of boom and depression, and festering levels of unemployment. The system encouraged selfishness instead of cooperation, and acquiring wealth rather than serving others. People were educated for careers rather than for a love of work and creativity. And political parties became corrupted by political contributions from owners of great capital.

These problems could be avoided, Einstein argued in his article, through a socialist economy, if it guarded against tyranny and centralization of power."

Two questions:

How close is the US economy (and, if you would like, the global economy) to "unrestrained capitalism?"

(I recently heard an NPR interview with an ambassador from an African country who was campaigning to reduce US subsidies to our own cotton farmers, as they create a disadvantage for cotton farmers elsewhere in the world; do subsidies interfere with "unrestrained capitalism?")

And can a socialist economy be successfully guarded against tyranny and centralization of power?

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