Scratch Where It Itches

Okay, here’s the problem with the way purely communist/socialist states ran things. They placed emphasis entirely on two things: creating jobs, and producing necessary goods and services. No emphasis was placed on profitability, so there were by and large a lack of cost controls. As everything was owned by the state, it was assumed that costs would be absorbed by other industries that were more profitable.

The issue with purely capitalist states is the all of the emphasis is placed on profits. Providing jobs and ensuring the availability of vital good and services is, at best, a secondary consideration. That’s why there are food deserts, for example; it’s not profitable to run grocery stores in those areas. It’s also why it’s standard practice to keep worker pay scales low, and to lay off workers in order to control costs.

“I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, quoted by Peter Passell in The Best (1974)

One of the reasons I was drawn to Buddhism is that is emphasizes seeking a middle path. In truth, I should call myself a moderationist rather than a minimalist, but it doesn’t roll of the tongue as nicely. Scratch where it itches. Focus on what needs to be focused on, not what ideology dictates. Use some common sense.

Scratch Where It Itches

What the Nordics, and many other European countries, have acknowledged is that there is a middle path. Some things shouldn’t be run on a for-profit basis. Basic food, clothing, and shelter need to be available and affordable. Education and health care are human rights, npt sources of revenue. But costs need to be controlled, so that it doesn’t cost taxpayers too dearly.

People pursue their capitalist dreams — within reason. I know Americans want unfettered everything because freedom, but that’s not moderation. That’s not liberty and justice for all. You’re going to pay taxes to help finance that education you and your employees received. It’s okay, because you won’t need to provide health insurance. Taxes encourage businesses to reinvest their earnings into growing their business. They incentivize paying employees better, and investing in other companies. On the books this keeps their profits down, which mitigates the tax bill. Everyone wins, except for the greedy corporate executive that can’t earn 287 times the average worker pay.

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