I’ve written a lot lately about scarcityism (aka protectionism, “fair trade,” and about a million other monikers). It is a rather strange doctrine, that in scarcity, not abundance, lies wealth. What’s more, the problems the scarcityists claim exist for capitalism has a rather strong silver lining.
The argument for scarcityism is that prices are too low for some purpose. If prices are low, that necessarily means there is a relative abundance of that good. Indeed, this is the common issue scarcityists have: China is flooding our markets, immigrants are flooding our labor market, Germany is flooding our market, etc etc. What we have is, essentially, an overabundance of goods/services.
It’s not just scarcityists who make this argument. Other critics of capitalism do: obesity is a problem in America because we have an overabundance of food; we’re a nation that finds it cheaper to throw stuff out rather than repair (we have an overabundance of stuff); end of life medical care and diseases are rising (we have an overabundance of life). The list goes on.
In short, the major criticism of capitalism is that it provides too many things! What a criticism to have! It’s like saying “my job is a problem. It pays me too well and I have too many cars!” Talk about First World Problems.
Compare the outcome of capitalism (overabundance) to that of socialism and other forms of economic planning: scarcity and poverty. In Venezuela, shortages of even the most basic items occur every day. In the Soviet Union and China, millions and millions died from lack of food, health care, and the like. In Africa today, poverty and starvation and lack of medical care, issues virtually unknown in the Western World, are all too common.
In short, socialism gets criticized because it doesn’t do its job. Capitalism gets criticized because it does its job too well.