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Social Choice and Beyond
Monday, February 20, 2006
Social Choice and Capitalism
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Social Choice
In another post we compared a social choice based society or preferensism to socialism. The basic dissimilarity is in the ownership of private property. In socialism most of the property is socially owned. In preferensism there are less restrictions on property ownership. It can be both individually and socially owned. The basic similarity is that individuals are compensated for their work without the need for profit. So the work involved to produce goods and services consumed both individually and collectively redounds to the credit of both workers and property owners with each citizen having an equal say in how the work and compensation for it are distributed. In this way it is similar to socialism in the sense that socialism stands for "to each according to his work." Socialism does not imply equality of compensation since some people are capable of more and better work than others. The same can be said of preferensism. However, in preferensism property owners get a say in the outcome equal to every other citizen's say whereas in socialism there are no property owners, and everyone is a worker. In preferensism some might be strictly workers, some may be worker-property owners and some may be strictly property owners.

The similarity of preferensism with capitalism is the emphasis on innovation, invention and individual initiative. Innovators and inventors should definitely be rewarded. Intellectual property such as patents, music, artwork and literary works should be rewarded. The dissimilarity with capitalism is that owners of property would not have the sole determination of how that property would be priced in the marketplace. Prices are set according to an amalgamation of all citizens' preference lists.

In preferensism corporations would not be privately owned. They would be set up and dismantled according to the demand for their produced items. The realm of private property would include real estate, natural resources, intellectual property and anything else that can be accumulated. However corporations or businesses as entities in themselves would not be considered private property since only individual persons have a right to vote. In capitalism corporations are set up with the rights of individuals. In preferensism only individual persons would have the rights of individuals.

Therefore, there would be no stock market in preferensism since there would be no privately owned companies. In capitalism even publicly traded companies are privately owned in the sense that they are not owned by all of the citizens in general but only by that group of citizens who have bought stock in that company. A business enterprise would be set up in preferensism according to the demand by the citizens for the products which that enterprise would produce. Therefore, supply would equal demand. Several competing enterprises could be set up just to keep everyone honest and to distribute the work geographically. If only one enterprise were set up, there wouldn't be any checks or balances on that one business. Several competing businesses could keep things in check. But they wouldn't be competing price wise only in terms of efficiency and quality.

So relationships among producers, consumers, workers and property owners would all be regulated in preferensism so that no one citizen had any more power over the process than any other. In capitalism lone individuals are no match for large corporations.

In preferensism the law of supply and demand would be operative but would be contained or held in check due to the fact that aggregate consumer demand would be calculated from citizens' preference lists and work assignments and business start-ups and contracts would be such as to satisfy that demand. An excess beyond consumer demand would not be produced while production insofar as is possible would equal demand. Therefore, the aggregate amount of work and consumption of resources would be minimized since nothing in excess would be produced. No one would have an advantage in the economic process in the sense that they would be able to corner a market or dictate prices. Likewise, no business would have to fear bankruptcy since the businesses as entities in themselves would be assembled and disassembled according to societal needs.

The law of supply and demand would be in balance. There would be no unemployment since everyone would have equal access to the job market. The work week would be minimized and tailored to individual wants since work would tend to be spread around among as many people as possible. There would be no gluts in the marketplace since nothing would be produced that wasn't already earmarked for consumption. There would be no overproduction and no shortages. Natural resources would be conserved since there would be no wastage or wastage would be minimized.

Not everyone would have an equal outcome. Some would be richer than others, but the gross inequality that exists in capitalism would tend to be mitigated due to the fact that instant billionaires due to IPOs would not be produced.

Posted by jclawrence at 4:31 PM PST
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2006 8:09 PM PST

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