Thursday, October 9, 2014

Marx vs. Smith: Helping the Poor

Rock Paper Scissors...with Chocolate.

History class on Friday was very interesting and different. Once we sat down, we were given Hershey Kisses. I received 2, the same amount of the rest of my group. However, there were a couple students that received around 7 or 8 pieces of chocolate. This did not frustrate me, even though I am obsessed with chocolate, but it frustrated a lot of people. We were then given an activity. We were told to play rock paper scissors with other kids in the class. If you lost a game, you gave that person a piece of chocolate. Once you ran out of Kisses, you had to sit down. Everyone was told to play, nobody could just keep their chocolate and stay sat down. This was frustrating because I lost my first two games and lost all my candy after only two games of this. I'm probably really bad at rock paper scissors. Once most people had lost their candy, we got back to the lesson. A lot of people revealed that they thought the game was unfair, and based on luck. We starting learning about Karl Marx's Theory of Communism, which will be described in more detail in the next paragraph. Mrs. Gallagher then collected all the candy back from people that had some left, and redistributed two pieces to every person in the class. This was an example of socialism, because there was economic equality. Mostly everyone in the class was happy because we all had the same amount of "wealth", as in candy. We then were asked if we would play rock paper scissors again, with the risk of losing all our candy without getting it back. A few people wanted to play again, but most didn't. We never ended up playing, to explain communism. The goal of the classless society had been achieved, and no government was necessary. (Mrs. Gallagher, the distributer, represented the government). The class ended and we finally got to eat our delicious chocolates.

Marx and Smith

The Industrial Revolution changed how people looked at "rich vs. poor". Karl Marx, a German philosopher, had to think of a way to help the dramatic difference between the nobility and wealthy people, and everyone else. He wanted to help the poor people and get them to be treated as fairly as the wealthy ones. He came up with his Theory of Communism. It started with capitalism. Private ownership of industry, unequal economic classes, where some win (bourgeoisie) and most lose (the proletariat). Marx didn't like this, and we now move onto the next step. He said, in order to make things more fair, people would create a government system of socialism. The goal of socialism is to bring economic equality. It aims for a classless society. To finish off Marx's theory, he said that the majority of people would not accept the possibility of sharp divisions between rich and poor any longer. By any means necessary, even violence, they would create communism. Communism is when the goal of classless society is achieved, and no government is needed to run a nation. All the parts to the theory are explained in more detail in our class notes. Marx came up with this theory because of the conditions in England during the Industrial Revolution. Poor people were treated with no respect, despite ability or work ethics. Marx was sick of how defining the classes of society were, so he wanted to make a change. Many people would have hated Marx's theories during the Industrial Revolution, including nobility and wealthy citizens. Most likely, wealthier people probably would not want to help the poor. The nobility was happy with the amount of power they had, and did not want a classless society to make them seem less important.

A mini biography on Karl Marx, creator of Marxism.

Economist Adam Smith also wanted to help the poor, but had a very different approach than Karl Marx. He came up with The Invisible Hand. Adam Smith basically told the government to leave people alone to buy and sell freely among themselves. To just leave self-interested traders to compete with one another. People want to pay less for high quality goods. The people of the nation will buy whatever is the cheapest. If two items are the same price, they will buy the higher quality and better product. This system helps the poor because products will be cheaper and more affordable because of the market competition. More things will become affordable, making it possible to live easier in the society.

Video on The Invisible Hand, explaining the system in detail.

Theory vs. Theory

Both theories obviously required a lot of work and creativity. But which one is better? In my opinion, The Invisible Hand theory is better. I also think that Marx's theories would work, and poor people would benefit with Marxism, too. However, I believe that The Invisible Hand is a better approach. It makes more sense to me to let people work things out on their own, and see what happens. I also agree that this would benefit the poor, because products would gradually become cheaper and those in poverty could buy more things for everyday life. I believe that both are good solutions, and don't think a third alternative system is necessary. Either of these systems could work in a society.

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