Typewriter

I agree with the Oct. 7 op-ed written by Wayne Moss on one thing: what are we paying professors for if they are teaching that socialism is government take-all. I am more concerned that high school history and civics teachers are not teaching the difference between a system of government and an economic system. Those who opt not to attend college need to be informed when they participate in our democracy by voting.

Capitalism, socialism and communism are economic systems, as are an oligopoly and a monopoly. That is a system of producing, distributing and consuming wealth; who owns natural resources, who owns farms and factories, who owns distribution of products and who benefits by accumulating wealth from all of this.

Throughout Moss' youth, we were fighting not socialism but a communist dictatorship in Russia. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics prior to its breakup was no more a true description of the economy and government than the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is neither democracy nor republic. Likewise, the Nationalist Socialist Workers Party of Adolph Hitler was a capitalist dictatorship. Germany, the government, did not own manufacturing, mining or farming. However, the dictatorship decided what was to be produced and who would benefit. The capitalist owners profited well.

Socialism isn't "free stuff." It is a mixture of private and public ownership of resources, production, distribution and consumption. An example of public ownership is the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides flood control and electricity to the Tennessee River Valley. No private company had the resources or interest in the project. Similarly, in many areas private enterprise hasn't elected to provide low-cost housing for seniors and the disabled. Housing authorities have taken on the task. Socialism at its best.

As for the wealth gap being greater in socialist countries than in the U.S., I agree. One-party rule and corruption are the cause of the disparity more than "socialism." The golden palace of a former Ukrainian president.

Capitalism is not cruel. Capitalism without restraint is cruel. Adam Smith, the father of capitalist theory, understood this. He knew that at some point, capitalism would need restructuring from time to time to keep it healthy, to prevent the accumulation of wealth at the top at the expense of those at the bottom.

Donald Trump's election was constructed as a restructuring of the economy. He promised to bring back manufacturing jobs, revive the middle class, negotiate trade deals favorable to manufacturing, revive the coal industry and create jobs for minorities. 

Unemployment is at a record low; however, job creation has been in the low-wage service sector. Middle-class jobs are being created but not in traditional industries. They are in the energy sector, robotics and medicine. Meanwhile retail is imploding. The economy has not restructured in a meaningful way.

Restructuring our capitalist economy will require more than executive time, tweets and bluster. Let's take the time and make the effort to examine other options without just throwing out misleading labels.

Martha L. McFadden

Washington