This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
Is this not precisely what has happened over the past thirty years of 'trickle-down economics'? But genius though he certainly was, Einstein was not infallible, for I suspect every reader here on BC can see the errors inherent in his proposed solution:
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child.
Indeed, Einstein himself sees the danger inherent in his proposal:
A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?
Is this 'enslavement of the individual' not the same danger of socialism rightly warned against by conservatives? Yes, it is.
So what's the solution? How can we achieve the profitability demanded by the immutable laws of the marketplace, of supply and demand, while still preserving the social justice and the social safety net that enables a high standard of living even by those in low income brackets? I presented the solution a few days after the last presidential election: Goldilocks freedom. Not too much freedom and deregulation, nor too little. Moderation in all things...even with individual freedoms. We need to ensure proper and pragmatic governance and regulation. We must resist depending upon the old saw that the government that governs least, governs best...the error of which should be evident in the everyday function of any region that has no functioning government.
As Einstein so eloquently illustrated, pure capitalism will unerringly lead to an oligarchy that is disastrous for the populace...but he was wrong about the necessity of the wholehearted embrace of socialism. We need to accept the most beneficial tenets of capitalism and combine these with those facets of social democracy that ensure the rights of the people are protected. I strongly feel that the resulting combination - Social Capitalism based on the framework of a small-d democracy - is the most realistic and most effective form of human governance. This is what most of the British Commonwealth and Western Europe have now...and this is why, despite the overwhelming size of our economy – our GDP is greater than China, Japan, and Germany combined – America does not have the best standard of living in the world today.