[What I said here]
I’m curious as to what are those “certain things” capitalism does effectively.
Well, basically, I follow what I understand to be Marx’s thought of capitalism being a necessary precursor to communism. Or, maybe not necessary, but we really haven’t figured out how to get the benefits of industrialization without it. I think that’s what Chavez in Venezuela, and to varying extents the other Latin American governments following similar paths, was trying to work out: getting around the massively exploitative capitalist growth phase and finding a different path to a communist society. It’s still too early to know how effective that is.
More generally, I think Hayek was right, as much as he was a horrible person, in his basic idea that the ability of a market economy to transmit information through price signals is incredibly efficient. Given what we know about market failures and all the reasons that capitalism leads to shitty results, it’s obvious that this works a lot less well in practice than it does on paper. But similar can be said about the various attempts people have made at communist societies.
From what I understand, Soviet mathematician Leonid Kantorovich managed to prove that a centrally controlled economy could theoretically match a market economy at efficiently allocating resources. But it looks like that would take far more computing power than humanity is likely to have available for the task in at least the next 50 years, probably closer to 100. I don’t know how you’d take into account the vast differences between actually existing capitalism and a theoretically efficient market economy to find a reasonable point of comparison.
And now we’re back to actually existing capitalism. Which has done a great job of getting cheap, mass produced consumer goods to people that want them. A bunch of pretty amazing technological innovation. Interestingly, I think the Communist countries have often had problems relative to the capitalist ones with agricultural production, but at the same time US agriculture, which is pretty efficient, is probably more collectivized than Stalin ever got Soviet agriculture. It’s just collectivized under a handful of huge companies and massive government programs. Certainly, it’s a nightmare morally speaking, but it produces a lot of food cheap.
Which gets me back to my original statement about capitalism doing some things effectively. It does, when you compare it to what actually exists as an alternative. I was trying to compare the many things where the US manages to rank high and have a largely capitalist approach with healthcare, where the US ranks vastly worse than much more socialist health programs.
Somehow (probably the beer I’ve had) I’m thinking I totally failed to make myself any clearer.