47

I don't know how to label my economic belief system, and it's frustrating when getting into discussions with other people.

I believe in Capital. I believe that people have a right to earn more than their neighbor. I believe in incentivizing people, and using capitalism in the workforce to do that. I believe in private property, but that rules/regulations should surround how people are able to use that property.

However I also believe in democratizing the production of certain industries (food, water, shelter) - In other words, every basic human need should have a public option, or provided by the state.

Now that doesn't mean that someone can't create a restaurant and be profitable. It just means that if a consumer wants to spend his expendable money on something nice (good food) they can, or they can go down to the state store and get some vegetables for free (paid for by taxes).

Is there a name for this kind of ideology? Because if I say that I'm a socialist capitalist to people - they all seem to tilt their head like a dog responding to a whistle.

  • 3
    Just to clarify - do you insist that public option be produced by state, or merely paid for by state (but could be produced by private companies, as is the case with for example food stamps today)? – user4012 Oct 30 '17 at 18:15
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    honestly haven't thought too much about that. Without doing much research i would probably insist that state do it though. Mainly because for private to get a guaranteed paycheck, even if there are bids, tends to lead to crony-capitalism. (private prison industry is a great example) While there can be corruption by state officials as well, i feel better when public services are non-profit. But it mainly just depends on the quality of gov. officials. Our current US officials i wouldn't trust with either public/private - and vice/versa (the right officials i would trust with either) – Justin Beagley Oct 30 '17 at 18:19
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    Note that "socialist" means something different in the US. In the US, it's almost synonymous to "communist". In Western Europe (I can't speak for other regions), "socialist" generally means "having some form of welfare system". As a European, "I'm a socialist capitalist" makes perfect sense. As a Belgian, it's almost the definition of our financial system. Most people I know here could be considered socialist capitalists. – Flater Oct 31 '17 at 12:26
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    Are you conflating capitalism and free market? Capitalism is getting income from capital as opposed to income from labour. For example, landlords get income from rent; they can use some of that income to employ people to maintain the property, and still make massive profits with minimal work. The abolition of capitalism does not need to imply you can't earn more than your neighbour, or have different restaurants competing and/or serving different market segments. – gerrit Oct 31 '17 at 14:32
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    Be careful of accepting an answer too soon. You may have accepted the currently highest voted answer, but it doesn't actually answer your question, whereas one of your lowest voted answers provides a direct answer along with an excellent explanation of why. – Mark Booth Nov 1 '17 at 9:01
57

What you are describing is a Mixed Economy. Essentially the state takes over certain markets either through direct control or regulation while letting others be more free-market.

Numerous economies ranging from the United States to Cuba fit into that model to varying degrees.

Going further, the concept of a Universal Basic Income combined with state control of food and housing costs also fits.

  • 3
    You forgot China. One should never forget about China :) Good asnwer. – user4012 Oct 30 '17 at 18:07
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    Pretty much every real life governments are Mixed Economy in one way or the other. You really only see purely capitalist or purely socialist economies in text books. – Lie Ryan Oct 31 '17 at 10:35
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    This describes an economic system, not what the OP could call himself. Unless maybe he's going to call himself a "mixed economist"? – Jonathan van Clute Nov 1 '17 at 3:37
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    "Social democrat"? – pjc50 Nov 1 '17 at 9:47
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    @JonathanvanClute: It's hard to figure out what political pigeon hole the OP should be placed in based on his question. Certainly a number of different group labels could apply - most of which are based on his location. What I tried to do was give him the names of the economic concepts so that he could dive further. – NotMe Nov 1 '17 at 14:27
21

As NotMe's answer noted, economically, you are describing a mixed economy. It has some features of socialism and some features of capitalism (which vary by industry).

Politically, what you are describing seems to be a typical system associated with modern social democracies, namely capitalism with a very strong social safety net and certain industries nationalized whole or usually partially (in addition, your question didn't specify whether you want the safety net providers to be socialized or merely have people's use of private providers paid for/subsidized).

Majority of the society as you describe is more capitalist(ish) than socialist(ish), though - as I noted in the comment to your original question, socialism and capitalism, despite what Marx said, aren't two mutually exclusive discreet options; but are more along the continuum, often with different areas in same society along different points on the spectrum (e.g. railroads may be almost wholly nationalized, healthcare 50% nationalized, food 10% nationalized, and entertainment 0.06% nationalized). In China, widget production for export is 100% private whereas 95%+ banking is nationalized. Most consumer electronics production seems private yet most military production is nationalized.

And yes, that last paragraph is a long-winded way of answering YES to your title question.

  • 4
    I am curious where Marx said that "socialism and capitalism are two mutually exclusive discreet options". Do you have a quote? – eirikdaude Oct 31 '17 at 14:21
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    Are you sure about that? I mean, it does suggest capitalistic principles governing certain parts of society. To me, it reads as a more important goal in it is abolishing societal classes, than outright banishing capitalism. Again, a quote (or reference to a passage) where Marx claims that capitalism and socialism are two discrete, exclusive systems would be helpful, instead of the very generic claim you make in the previous comment. – eirikdaude Oct 31 '17 at 14:50
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    @JustinBeagley Are you, or Marx, conflating class with earnings? A class system says if you were born to working class parents you shouldn't go to an academic school or get a professional or managerial job, because it's not for you. That's not the same as saying people can compete for jobs, own things, sell things, earn lots, or acquire companies. At least, I should hope it's not! – inappropriateCode Nov 1 '17 at 11:11
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    @JustinBeagley - the concept of "being able to" is directly contradictory to "get a managerial job or go to academic school". You either belong to a "class" and can't change your class, or classes don't exist, only pay bands for specific jobs. If I want to become a capitalist, there are no "class" barriers to entry (there may be more of an effort required due to less networking opportunity, but that's not the same as barrier to entry). Alternately, you're using the definition of "class" that is basically meaningless as people can jump in and out of "class" at will. – user4012 Nov 1 '17 at 17:11
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    @JustinBeagley I think you may want to reframe his writings in the context of European societies of the 1800s. I mean the Communist party of the USA even asked the Comintern for special freedoms given that America has never had a feudal history like Europe. When Marx and anyone during his era, even up to and including George Orwell, talk about class... they don't mean two people who earn different incomes (exactly). They refer to the existence of a system which enforced menial and manual labour upon the working classes, and forbade them from capital and the professions. – inappropriateCode Nov 1 '17 at 17:13
10

Take a look on the various countries in europe. In Germany, after WW2 an economic policy was instated called Social market economy. In (heavily flawed) shortness, this policy meant, that the state sets a framework of rules, an within this rules the market is allowed to act freely.

Basic human needs, such as education or health coverage, are paid for by the tax payer. However, if you fancy to send your children to private schools, or seek treatment in private clinics, you can do so and cover the cost yourself.

I am not sure, whether this model is too little socialist, as some of the other answers lean more into the socialist direction.

10

What you are describing has a name - Capitalism.

Capitalism is not synonymous with 'no government'.

Some of the things Capitalist governments traditionally have provided include public:

Healthcare, education, energy, telecommunications, water, sewage treatment, emergency services, transport (including busses, trains, and airplanes)

Some times these public services are free. Sometimes they cost a small amount but still run at a loss, sometimes they make money for the government, and are described as "a tax by stealth" by people that want the system privatised so they can be the one making the money, sometimes they are free for vulnerable people, and cost something for others.

Many Capitalist countries have moved towards Neoliberalism, which is a specific interpretation of capitalism in which the government has little or no role. This transition has resulted in many services traditionally offered by capitalist governments being privatised or defunded.

Examples of Neoliberals include Ronald Reagan in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in the UK.

What you want to communicate to people is "I am a Capitalist, but I oppose Neoliberalism and support a strong safety net".

Note: food is an interesting example. Generally, Capitalist Governments have chosen to subsidise private food production, and rely on welfare payments to ensure they everyone can access this food. They have not got into food production themselves. I honestly don't know why this is the case. Regardless, even if you were to believe that the Government should produce some food essentials to provide to the poor, that is unlikely to contradict any fundamentals of Capitalism.

As to the question in the title. Yes, there is a spectrum of beliefs. Virtually no-one believes in absolute free markets (at a bare minimum, most people agree that courts should enforce a contract signed between 2 individuals or companies), and virtually no-one believes in complete state control of everything - even the USSR and China had significant amounts of private control over collectivised farms and allowed private farming as well for most of their history. Regardless, from what I have seen, your beliefs fit the standard definition of Capitalism, and have little of socialism in them.

  • I'd add a caveat to the "virtually no one" part. People do believe in those things but few who have experienced them in practice would consider them ideal. – JollyJoker Oct 31 '17 at 8:17
  • If a person believes that a court should enforce contracts signed between two companies, they do not believe in completely free market capitalism. I stand by my quote, having never seen a single person or organisation advocating such a position. I obviously cant prove that no one holds that view. If you can find a single person who contradicts my point, I would be happy to edit it. – Scott Oct 31 '17 at 8:28
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    @JollyJoker - too bad you're a self-proclaimed socialist (from your other comment) who hasn't experienced socialism in practice. Because few (or rather almost none) of those who experienced socialism in practice are among "does NOT believe in those things", as none of them ever thinks government being in charge of anything is a good idea from actual knowledge, instead of theory. The average standard of living for middle class in USSR was far worse materially than all but 0.01% of US poorest - and I experienced both those conditions. – user4012 Oct 31 '17 at 10:51
  • @user4012, some food for thought is net neutrality, Something that to me is so extremely socialist, where the case against it is so obvious, yet many proponents of capitalism will vehemently defend it. I expect a lot of backlash against my comment. – Frank Cedeno Oct 31 '17 at 12:57
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    @FrankCedeno - Net Neutrality is about state capitalism. Namely, two sets of capitalists (and their respective allies among brainwashed masses) trying to use state regulatory power to take advantage of one another. 99.9% of people who scream about net neutrality on both sides woudln't know what the actual state of net neutrality was if it was a black box (in other words, they are not measurably affected either way). – user4012 Oct 31 '17 at 13:26
9

Similar to a Mixed Economy like @NotMe linked, something else you can read about (but tends towards the left of the spectrum) is Market Socialism.

Market socialism differs from non-market socialism in that the market mechanism is utilized for the allocation of capital goods and the means of production.

(BTW I'm being a bit pedantic but chances are you're not a "capitalist", but rather someone who supports capitalism.)

  • Well i guess that depends on what you mean by 'capitalist' - if i have to believe taxation is theft - then no i'm not a capitalist. But as a liberal, I wouldn't mind if we taxed billionaires at 0%. Let them keep their money. But with a caveat - they have to spend 90% of their yearly income, like all the other classes. 1 million dollars in the hands of 1000 people will support more small businesses than 1 million in the hands of 1 person. I'm a consequentialist - i only care about what works. A system where the rich get richer, and poor get poorer is not a system that 'works'. FDR proved that. – Justin Beagley Oct 31 '17 at 22:12
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    The difference I'm pointing out is that a "capitalist" is a wealthy person who uses money to invest in trade and industry for profit in accordance with the principles of capitalism., i.e. an owner of "private property" (in the economic sense) of a business. Most people who call themselves "capitalist" are using this noun, instead of referring to themselves as supporters of the capitalist economic system. Like I said, I'm being a pedant :-) – galois Oct 31 '17 at 22:16
  • ah... i see what you're saying. I could be a capitalist... if i wanted to. But in this sense you are correct, support of capitalism. – Justin Beagley Oct 31 '17 at 22:42
2

I upvoted most of the other answers talking about Mixed Economy, but they used a political approach while mostly ignoring the economics, which I think is really the heart of the issue here (since we are talking about how to organize an economy).

When I studied Econ back in the 80's, your mixed economy position was pretty much orthodoxy in Macroeconomics1. The idea is that certain things are Natural Monopolies, and for those, since you are going to have a monopoly anyway, you should just accept that, and make it as accountable to the people forced to use it as possible. These are usually things with ridiculous start up costs and/or where it would be silly to have more than one. For example, it would be crazy expensive and wasteful for 6 competing electrical companies to all run their own separate wiring systems from their power plants to everyone's houses. You wouldn't even want that many wires running into your house.

Monopolies have the power relationship with customers reversed, which means the only way to keep them from becoming abusive is some kind of government control. This can range from regulation all the way up to flat out direct government ownership.

Some other things should be run by the government because we view them as a right, and the profit motive does not allow for fair universal access to rights. The typical example here is police and fire protection2. From this economic standpoint, the debate (in the US) over universal medical coverage can be boiled down to a question of whether basic healthcare is a right or a privilege. If its a right, then as a matter of basic Macroeconomics it needs to be government-run.

On the other hand, monopolies like this are inherently inefficient. They are going to cost you more for the same thing, and they are going to be less responsive to users, no matter what you do. So in markets where the above doesn't apply, which is most markets (eg: Ice Cream makers), you want as free a market as possible. This generally means Capitalism3. If your ice cream vendor does something horrible (like charge way too much, or put listeria in their product), then you will just buy someone else's ice cream, and the crappy company will wither or go out of business. Free market capitalism is inherently Darwinian.

The only thing the government should be doing here is making sure someone doesn't artificially make themselves a monopoly anyway. And yes, this does take regulation and government action sometimes. Adam Smith himself argued this.

Politically world-wide this kind of economic position is most associated with centrist party ideologies like Christian Democracy and Social Democracy. In the US the two major "parties" are more like coalitions than traditional parliamentary system parties, but the Democratic coalition tends to strongly support the mixed economy system, and parts of the Republican coalition do as well. So this position is possible within either US party structure, but perhaps more secure within the Democratic one.

1 - My instructor was a Libertarian, but he was careful to teach the orthodoxy (as per the book), and then openly discuss where he personally disagreed with it. It wasn't by a lot either.

2 - There was a time when professional firefighers were paid by insurance companies, and would sometimes refuse to put out fires and/or rescue residents on uninsured properties.

3 - There's nothing stopping a healthy competing company in a capitalist system from being employee-owned, which is really what Marx was arguing as his main goal in the first place. "Labor owning the means of production" and whatnot.

  • great response, Thanks. Although i would disagree that monopolies are inherently inefficient. The only thing that makes something inefficient is lack of accountability. There are many more things in a society to hold a monopoly or market accountable, than just consumers. – Justin Beagley Nov 1 '17 at 16:50
  • @JustinBeagley - Yes, that is true, and we have nothing better to fall back on if we have to have a monopoly. But regulatory/electoral methods aren't nearly as effective at it. Not even in the same ballpark. The feedback is far slower, and much more indirect and forgiving. If nothing else, a monopoly that somehow grows to be fundamentally dysfunctional cannot be allowed to die, as we'd be quite pleased to see happen with such a free market company. – T.E.D. Nov 1 '17 at 17:12
  • Objections: (1) Wholly invalid use of "Darwinian". In absence of heritability, nothing can be "Darwinian"; and companies don't propagate sexually (unless I missed a very interesting class in Economics). (2) Natural monopolies for most part aren't "natural", merely result of government interference (including mis-pricing scarce resources such as low price for public areas to lay down infrastructure). (3) There is no inaliable "right" to a service by firefighters. It's considered a good idea due to fire contagion risk; but you asseting that it's a "right" without proof – user4012 Nov 1 '17 at 17:19
  • @user4012 - 1 is perfectly valid as a nit. I'm wondering what other term you'd suggest for this "survival of the fittest" kind of situation (the basic concept being that competing companies aren't somehow inherently better, they just live in an echosphere where the crappy ones tend to die). – T.E.D. Nov 1 '17 at 17:37
  • @user4012 - 2 I think we're just going to have to disagree on, because the discussion about it would be way OT. 3) Its a right because we collectively decided it is. You might not agree it should be, but I'm not the person to argue with about it. (and I didn't use the word "inaliable". Please don't put words in my mouth) – T.E.D. Nov 1 '17 at 17:39
1

From a purely terminology standpoint, I believe you are in the social liberalism domain (which when implemented is usually referred to as a social market economy).

Just a preface...American line of thought on 'Liberal' to the degree where it's almost a curse word in the population does not align with what liberalism is. Liberalism in an economy sense is an individual promoting view and fully resists government involvement. I do assume this creates some hesitation in labeling yourself liberal anything with the US.

Though there are many strains of Social Liberalism, I believe from your comments that you'd fit into OrdoLiberalism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordoliberalism which can to some degree be referred to as liberal conservatism. Ordoliberals tend to distinguish themselves as liberalism with a key focus on social justice and social security.

Just a quick edit: I believe the case can be made that when speaking of economics, liberalism and socialism are opposite (at least to some degree). I get a ironic laugh that the hard-core "Government out of everything" American populace is promoting Liberal Capitalism at it's core, but somehow views the word 'Liberals' to represent the people with far more socialist economic viewpoints. Might be a question worthy of language.se ;)

0

Many answers here describe what its called a 'Mixed Economy' or, more precisely Interventionism.

Interventionism is an economic policy perspective favoring government intervention in the market process aiming to correct supposed market failures and promote the 'general welfare' of the people. An economic intervention is an action taken by a government or international institution in a market economy in an effort to impact the economy beyond the basic regulation of fraud and enforcement of contracts and provision of public goods.

The real answer here is if we can indeed take the 'good side' of each economic system (free market capitalism in one side and government run socialism on the other) and if the resulting arrangement can be archived and mantained.

One can raise an argument that whenever government do some kind of intervention on the free market in order to address some supposed marked deficiency it may yield some unintended consequences which in turn will be blamed as another marked deficiency and require another intervention. This process can lead a circle in which each new intervention reduces the freedom of the market bring the economy one step closer to socialism.

The excerpt below is taken from 3rd Lecture of Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow and describes this process using as example the price controls:

Now let us analyze the reasons for this. The government hears people complain that the price of milk has gone up. And milk is certainly very important, especially for the rising generation, for children. Consequently, the government declares a maximum price for milk, a maximum price that is lower than the potential market price would be. Now the government says: “Certainly we have done everything needed in order to make it possible for poor parents to buy as much milk as they need to feed their children.”

But what happens? On the one hand, the lower price of milk increases the demand for milk; people who could not afford to buy milk at a higher price are now able to buy it at the lower price which the government has decreed. And on the other hand some of the producers, those producers of milk who are producing at the highest cost (the marginal producers) are now suffering losses, because the price which the government has decreed is lower than their costs. This is the important point in the market economy. The private entrepreneur, the private producer, cannot take losses in the long run. And as he cannot take losses in milk, he restricts the production of milk for the market. He may sell some of his cows for the slaughter house, or instead of milk he may sell some products made out of milk, for instance sour cream, butter or cheese.

Thus the government’s interference with the price of milk will result in less milk than there was before, and at the same time there will be a greater demand. Some people who are prepared to pay the government-decreed price cannot buy it. Another result will be that anxious people will hurry to be first at the shops. They have to wait outside. The long lines of people waiting at shops always appear as a familiar phenomenon in a city in which the government has decreed maximum prices for commodities that the government considers as important. This has happened everywhere when the price of milk was controlled.

But what is the result of the government’s price control? The government is disappointed. It wanted to increase the satisfaction of the milk drinkers. But actually it has dissatisfied them. Before the government interfered, milk was expensive, but people could buy it. Now there is only an insufficient quantity of milk available. Therefore, the total consumption of milk drops. The children are getting less milk, not more. The next measure to which the government now resorts, is rationing. But rationing only means that certain people are privileged and are getting milk while other people are not getting any at all. Who gets milk and who does not, of course, is always very arbitrarily determined.

Whatever the government does, the fact remains, there is only a smaller amount of milk available. Thus people are still more dissatisfied than they were before. Now the government asks the milk producers (because the government does not have enough imagination to find out for itself): “Why do you not produce the same amount of milk you produced before?” The government gets the answer: “We cannot do it, since the costs of production are higher than the maximum price which the government has established.” Now the government studies the costs of the various items of production, and it discovers one of the items is fodder.

“Oh,” says the government, “the same control we applied to milk we will now apply to fodder. We will determine a maximum price for fodder, and then you will be able to feed your cows at a lower price, at a lower expenditure. Then everything will be all right; you will be able to produce more milk and you will sell more milk.”

But what happens now? The same story repeats itself with fodder, and as you can understand, for the same reasons. The production of fodder drops and the government is again faced with a dilemma. So the government arranges new hearings, to find out what is wrong with fodder production. And it gets an explanation from the producers of fodder precisely like the one it got from the milk producers. So the government must go a step farther, since it does not want to abandon the principle of price control. It determines maximum prices for producers’ goods which are necessary for the production of fodder. And the same story happens again.

The government at the same time starts controlling not only milk, but also eggs, meat, and other necessities. And every time the government gets the same result, everywhere the consequence is the same. Once the government fixes a maximum price for consumer goods, it has to go farther back to producers’ goods, and limit the prices of the producers’ goods required for the production of the price-controlled consumer goods. And so the government, having started with only a few price controls, goes farther and farther back in the process of production, fixing maximum prices for all kinds of producers’ goods, including of course the price of labor, because without wage control, the government’s “cost control” would be meaningless.

Moreover, the government cannot limit its interference into the market to only those things which it views as vital necessities, like milk, butter, eggs, and meat. It must necessarily include luxury goods, because if it did not limit their prices, capital and labor would abandon the production of vital necessities and would turn to producing those things which the government considers unnecessary luxury goods. Thus, the isolated interference with one or a few prices of consumer goods always brings about effects—and this is important to realize—which are even less satisfactory than the conditions that prevailed before.

Before the government interfered, milk and eggs were expensive; after the government interfered they began to disappear from the market. The government considered those items to be so important that it interfered; it wanted to increase the quantity and improve the supply. The result was the opposite: the isolated interference brought about a condition which—from the point of view of the government—is even more undesirable than the previous state of affairs which the government wanted to alter. And as the government goes farther and farther, it will finally arrive at a point where all prices, all wage rates, all interest rates, in short everything in the whole economic system, is determined by the government. And this, clearly, is socialism.

What I have told you here, this schematic and theoretical explanation, is precisely what happened in those countries which tried to enforce a maximum price control, where governments were stubborn enough to go step by step until they came to the end. This happened in the First World War in Germany and England.

  • This was just... tripe. I'm sorry - but that milk example... i mean it's possible, but it's also possible that the producers of milk didn't actually spend much money on the production, and were selling it much higher. So when the government puts a price cap, they're just limiting the profits, rather than forcing the business to find other ways to cut costs. We live in a time where income inequality has never been higher in american history. CEO's have seen increases in their wages by 300% in the past 40 years, while everyone else has been stagnant. Businesses can absolutely afford regulations – Justin Beagley Nov 2 '17 at 15:32
  • @JustinBeagley - this seems like it's entirely written from the socialism = communism = evil and will never work = yay captialism viewpoint, isn't it? Subsidies is a better method than price cap anyway. – Twelfth Nov 2 '17 at 21:40
  • The salary of CEO's and matters of alleged "good" and "evil" are irrelevant to present discussion. The price cap on milk is just an example (a historical one)... The argument here is: Government can't be 100% sure of the consequences of an intervention X. So it can lead to new problems which, in turn, introduces the "need" of the interventions Y and Z in order to "fix" it.... somewhere down the road, government should choose between a) step back at the interventions, or b) follow on and embrace full socialism – Lucas Oliveira Nov 3 '17 at 17:51

protected by Philipp Oct 31 '17 at 16:42

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