Capitalism has failed to bring about the well being of most of the people on this planet and the current financial crisis should be a wake-up call for those who complacenly thought that "the fundamentals of the economy are sound."

By Dada Vedaprajinananda

If you did a search on Google, a few years ago, using the words “miserable failure” the first search result you would see would be George Bush’s official presidential site.  This result was due to “Google bombing” a technique in which many people linked to the president’s website using the words “miserable failure.” Google changed its ranking algorithm and you no longer get the presidential site when searching for “miserable failure” but maybe a more relevant result for a miserable-failure search would be to find the Wikipedia page on “Capitalism.” 

Despite all the euphoria of 1990, when communism fell and capitalism was anointed the winner of the cold war, a hard look at the economic and social condition of the world today reveals that capitalism has failed to provide the people of this planet with a good life.

Of the world’s six billion people, half of them live on two dollars a day or less. While people die from diseases related to overeating in the so-called developed countries, children die of malnutrition elsewhere on this small planet.

Apologists for capitalism have always said that it was just a question of the developing countries acquiring democracy, free-market economic systems, and some good elbow grease and they too would enjoy the “good life” like the citizens of Europe and North America. But the long awaited “take-off” for the economies of the poorest countries seems nowhere in sight. In these countries capitalism is a clear failure, but what about in the “developed” world, surely capitalism is successful there!

A few years ago one could have indeed argued that capitalism has succeeded in the industrialized countries of the Northern Hemisphere. But even in the countries with high per capita income there were and still are tremendous disparities. Under capitalism wealth is not evenly distributed and even in the USA, 25% of the people live below the poverty line. Can we really say that we have an ideal or even a well-working economic system when millions of people are struggling just to survive?

The current global financial crisis underscores the inequality, fragility and unpredictable future of the capitalist economic system.  While the US government gets ready to bail out banks and financial institutions that have failed due to their reckless greed, no one is there to save the thousands of ordinary people who are about to lose their homes and life savings.

It’s time to take a stark look at capitalism and shout down the politicians who continue to shamelessly chant that “the fundamentals of the economy are sound.” The fundamental premise of the current economic system, that the unlimited accumulation of wealth by a few individuals will result in the good of everybody, is a clear lie and the sooner that we face up to this, the better off we will be.