Economics has to do with the production, distribution, and
consumption of wealth; and as such has been of intense
to mankind throughout history. The major economic systems
have been devised are private enterprise, socialism and
communism. For much of man’s history, the system of
enterprise was the norm, with a wide gap between the haves
the have nots, often with class distinctions, and often with the
rich getting richer and the poor poorer. Because of the
that “human wants can never be satisfied,” and the
distribution of wealth, one can readily call economics the
Shortly after the time of Christ, the early church tried a
voluntary form of communism, with people contributing their
to a common treasury, which then supplied all their needs.
Presumably it failed because, other than a brief mention in
we hear no more about it.
With the advent of the industrial revolution in western
countries and the practice of laissez faire free enterprise
resulting in the concentration of economic power in the
a few people, the ideas of communism and socialism were
in the mid-19th century, and have been tried with limited
in the 20th century. Strictly speaking, communism has only
tried in the kibbutzim of Israel and the collectivized forms of
so-called “communist” countries.
As for free enterprise capitalism in the late 19th and 20th
centuries, it has been subjected to anti-monopoly legislation,
fair trade laws and other government efforts to create a
“level playing field,” and to protect the interests of the
workers and consumers.
Generally, this idea of fair competition has been limited to
within a nation’s borders, with tariffs imposed on imports to
equalize foreign competition.
Following World War II, the free world’s leaders decided
that world peace would be better preserved by raising the
standard of living of all countries through freer trade rather
than a protectionist, isolation policy.
This has been successful for a number of third world
countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and to a
extent for countries like Brazil, India, and Mexico.
Unfortunately, most of Africa, Asia, and Central and South
America still suffer (in 1987) from abject poverty conditions
except for a few countries with rich natural resources like
Africa and Saudi Arabia; these conditions being caused by
number of reasons, such as choice of economic system,
policies, over-population, natural disasters, lack of resources,
climate, wars, revolutions.
Europe and North America have generally fared well under
this “freer” trade policy, but the United States in particular
has undergone a major upheaval; from being a creditor nation
becoming a debtor nation, from carrying a relatively small
national debt after two world wars to a doubling of this debt in
7 years of Reaganism; to horrendous inflation rates since
War II of approximately 1000% in 42 years, or 24% a year; of real
wages falling far behind inflation to the point where women
been forced to permanently enter the labor market to help
for the necessities of life, particularly housing; where good-
paying manufacturing and mining jobs have been
overseas, and been somewhat replaced by lower-paying
jobs; where a larger percentage of the population is college-
educated, but the quality of college and high school
has deteriorated, and there is a very high drop-out rate from
high schools in urban areas; where the federal government
the political courage to avoid budget deficits, and continues
lead the United States on a path of national bankrupcy.
Very few governments have repudiated their bonds and other
debt obligations, and even if we started next year with
budgets, our nation will be saddled for years with paying the
interest and principal on our current two trillion dollar debt.
For example, if we paid $100 billion a year to debt reduction, or
an additional $400 per capita in taxes, it would take us 20 years
to retire the national debt.