The capitalist system

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK

With the new combines among the power and rich capitalist nationS of the world on the one hand and among the weak and poor countries: ones on the other, the stage is undoubtedly being set now for large-scale and ruinous economic collisions between the two, in the not too distant future.

Because his sole aim is to make profit, the capitalist neglects the development of basic and other infrastructures. He does not touch any business or enterprise which shows no promise of yielding profit, either in the present or in the immediate future. Accordingly, he is completely indifferent to the education and health of actual and potential workers, except in so far as their education and health have every prospect of redounding to his business efforts, and improving his chances of making profits. Whenever he is satisfied that this is certain to be the case, he may undertake the education of a limited number of workers to enable them to acquire such skills as will raise their productivity, and boost his profits.

For this reason, and because the reins of govemment are in the hands of capitalists, the education of the citizens in most capitalist countries is unplanned and distorted, and their health largely neglected. As a result, the masses of the citizens remain enslaved to heredity, develop malignant and injurious sentiments, and give unfettered rein to negative and poisonous emotions such as anger, hate, fear, jealousy, selfishness, and greed. We shall have more to say on these negative emotions in Chapter 9. But at this stage, we would like to assert and emphasize that the capitalist system places too high a premium on man’s negative emotions, especially those of selfishness and greed. Because it recognises and legalises stealing by cunning, and recovery by stealth, strike, or violence; because it promotes and fosters sharp disparities and inequity in the distribution of wealth as between the rich few and the poor masses; and because ofthe inescapable economic insecurity to which it exposes the masses of the people, the capitalist system inevitably produces anger, hate, fear, jealousy, selfishness, and greed among all and sundry .

Several devices have been introduced and adopted by the capitalists with a view to correcting the evils and righting the wrongs of the capitalist system. We will itemise some of these devices, and briefly assess the efficacy of each of them.

 

Taxation: The primary aim of taxation is to make the citizens pay money in lieu of the services which they are in duty bound to render to the State. The taxes thus collected are used to employ a number of peope full-time in the service of the State. In addition, there are quid pro quo taxes or rates which are paid to the State in consideration of direct services rendered to the citizens. As a modern evolution, however, some new, important, and radical principles have been introduced into taxation.

These are designed to achieve three fundamental social ends, namely:

(i) to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor by taking, in tax, much more than proportionately from the income of the former;

(ii) to make the rich contribute, by way of taxation, much more than proportionately to the revenue of the State on the grounds that they can bear the comparatively heavier burden of taxation, and still be able to satisfy their demands for necessaries, comforts, and a fair number of luxuries; and

(iii) to make the rich contribute specifically to the development of basic and other infrastructures, such as the education and health of the poor, and the provision of some elementary amenities for them; the construction of roads; and the maintenance of social services and institutions which do not normally yield profit.

All these are good as far as they go. But the experience of well over a century has demonstrated beyond any doubt that they do not go far enough. In spite of progressive taxation and super-tax, and in spite of the taxation of luxury and other goods usually consumed by the rich, the gap between the rich and the poor remains, and widens, whilst good education and health and the enjoyment of modem amenities remain largely the preserve and privilege of the rich.

 

Incentives to Workers: It would appear that the capitalists themselves recognize and admit the gross and glaring injustice which is being done to workers in the process of distributing the wealth of the nation. In any case, the workers themselves have never, at any time since the nineteenth century, relented in using the weapon of strike and other forms of protest in agitating for improvement in their wages and conditions of work. Consequently, various methods Of remunerating the workers have been adopted by the employers. Apart from the well-known time and piece methods of remuneration, there are a few modern innovations. Some of them are: (i) premium bonus systems, (ii) profit-sharing, (iii) labour co-partnership, (iv) free mid-day meals, and (v) children’s and family allowances. The names of these methods speak for themselves; and it only remains to observe, therefore, that these methods, and others not here mentioned, have all failed to evoke in the workers the sense of grateful and contented response expected from them as a result. On the contrary, the acerbity of the workers towards capitalism grows with the age of the system itself, despite the efforts of the system to advance and improve the lot and interests of the workers.

 

Rent and Price Controls: Again, in order to relieve the burden of the working class, and to prevent the making by capitalists of excessive, unearned, and unjust gains in the face of scarcity, some governments have occasionally instituted rent and price controls by pegging or freezing rents and prices at certain levels.

CONTINUES NEXT WEEK

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