Capitalism or socialism–you make the choice

In 1980, a few Cuban citizens sought refuge in embassies, seeking to leave Cuba. After Fidel Castro announced that anyone who wished was welcome to leave, the number of emigrants swelled to more than 125,000. Cubans living in south Florida arranged boats to transport emigrants to the United States. Many of the migrants had to be housed on military bases in the United States until sponsors were found for them all—many of whom were relatives of the migrants, while others were charitable organizations offering help.

One young man from Cuba was taken in by his uncle and aunt in Miami. After a few days, he startled them at the breakfast table by announcing that he was ready to go pick up his Nikes. Further conversation clarified what he expected. The government of Cuba gave one pair of shoes to each Cuban citizen once a year. Now that he was in the United States, a much more prosperous country, this young man thought that he would receive a pair of expensive sports shoes from the government rather than the less luxurious shoes offered by his former government.

His uncle and aunt explained to him that the United States government does not pass out Nikes, or any other shoes. In the United States one works, saves one’s money, and then buys the shoes one wants and can afford. Those who want to save up for a pair of Nikes can do so; those who want to buy more affordable shoes sooner may do so. People in the United States can buy as many shoes as often as they want, provided they have the income to pay for their shoes. This is part of the difference between capitalism and socialism.

Discussion question: Which do you prefer: one free pair of shoes a year, provided by the government, or the opportunity to buy the shoes you want when you want them, provided you have the money? Explain your answer.

In the movie Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Robin Williams plays a Russian musician who defects to the United States. Shortly after his defection, the musician offers to stand in line to buy coffee for his American host family. He finds himself instead in a grocery store aisle surrounded by dozens of different brands and styles of coffee, which results in an emotional breakdown.

Discussion question: Which do you prefer: one style of coffee, chosen and distributed by the government, or the opportunity to buy the kind of coffee you want when you want it, provided you have the money? Explain your answer.

These two examples are not cherry-picked from an array of comparisons between free market capitalism and socialism. Both of them portray the real differences between life in the American free market economy and life under a socialist government. Once again, which do you prefer? J.

5 thoughts on “Capitalism or socialism–you make the choice

    • That’s a great post, Linda. But it does not address the difference between “what should I do as a Christian?” and “under what kind of government do I want to live?” As someone else pointed out in a comment to an earlier post of mine, if all the Christians were tithing and the money was used to help the poor, we would need no government programs to help the poor. Each of us, as Christians, should love and serve our neighbors for the glory of God. Part of my love for my neighbors includes food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless; another part is advocating the kind of government and economic system that is best both for me and for my neighbor. J.

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      • I pray. I vote. I pray some more. Right now, I am fasting and praying very fervently, because: 1) my daughter has covid-19 and she is not doing well, 2) my son is in a tremendous amount of pain, for which he will have surgery one week from today to remove a large kidney stone, and 3) my almost 72 year old husband, who has COPD and a history of 3 heart attacks, is having surgery on December 18 to biopsy three suspicious areas on his prostate gland. With his documented high exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam, the odds are very high that he has prostate cancer.

        At this time in my life, I feel that I do not have the ability, or the desire, to discuss politics. I pray, I vote, I pray some more. Jesus told Pontius Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world.” Praise God for that!

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      • Absolutely– family comes before philosophical and political issues. I continue to keep you, your husband, your daughter, and your son in my prayers. J.

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