Economic realities

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I write in response to Irvine Inglis’ letter (23 October) criticising the notion of a “socialist utopia”.

Of course, capitalism has won the day. It stocks our shelves, puts cars in our showrooms and generally supplies plenty of goodies to choose from.

However, it is not unadulterated capitalism (has any exclusively capitalist country ever been resoundingly successful?) that has brought so many benefits to our communities.

Society’s well-being also owes much to the state’s significant input. Education, health, regulatory frameworks, infrastructures, state-funded grants and research, and internal and external security create the conditions under which capitalism may safely prosper and improve the material lot of as many citizens as
possible.

It is also incumbent on government to ensure that no one sector of society reaps all the benefits, through monopolistic or oligarchical power.

Neither can the state allow unfettered capitalism to inflict serious damage on natural environments or its populations, human or otherwise; we need to follow sound, impartial and peer-reviewed scientific evidence on global pollution etc, to preserve the health of the planet for our descendants.

And let us not overlook the protective and stable environment that the state provides for all of us, including private enterprises, to go about our business in relative harmony.

The USA, which is probably the closest example we have of a country practising unbridled capitalism, does not feature amongst the top countries to live in, based on life expectancy, quality of life, GDP per capita, health and social support.

The social market economies of Austria, Denmark, Finland (with its impressive educational system), Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany do better than America on all of these counts.

Stephen McBride

Largs