Capitalism Has A Metaphor — It’s A Cancer
Joe Brewer
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My mother was also killed by cancer. So you and I both truly hate cancer. Does it matter how much we hate cancer? Does it matter how much we love computers?

Personally, I hate cancer a lot more than I love computers. But even though my hatred for cancer is a lot larger than my love for computers… I’ve spent a lot more money on computers than I’ve spent on finding the cure for cancer.

Computers are a private good and the cure for cancer is a public good. We get to decide how much money we spend on computers but we pay taxes and elect representatives to decide how much money gets spent on finding the cure for cancer. Because… the free-rider problem.

I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to argue that representatives should decide how much money is spent on computers. How could representatives possibly know how much we love computers? But if representatives can’t possibly know how much we love computers… then how can they possibly know how much we hate cancer?

Capitalism really isn’t the problem. So what’s the problem?

A. You believe that it doesn’t truly matter how much we hate cancer.

B. You believe that it does matter how much we hate cancer… but voting allows us to adequately communicate the intensity of our hatred for cancer to representatives… who get the message loud and clear and allocate our taxes accordingly.

If you believe A… then if our hatred of cancer doesn’t truly matter… then why should our love of computers truly matter? You should argue for full-blown socialism or a dictatorship.

If you believe B… then if voting allows us to adequately communicate the intensity of our hatred for cancer… then why can’t we use voting to adequately communicate the intensity of our love for computers? You should argue for full-blown democracy.

So which is it? Is it A… or B?

Let’s think about Medium. Over 100 people “voted” for your story. That’s a lot of people. Does it matter how much they love your story? No? Yes? If yes, do you think that their vote adequately communicates the intensity of their love for your story?

Do you think Medium would work better or worse if people could easily spend their money on stories that they loved? From my perspective, spending is a fundamentally important form of communication. Spending is the only way that we can accurately communicate the intensity of our preferences. So if Medium facilitated spending… then it would be facilitating better communication. Medium would certainly work better with better communication.

The same is certainly true of the government. Allowing people to choose where their taxes go (pragmatarianism) would allow us to use our taxes to communicate the intensity of our hatred for cancer. The government would certainly work better with better communication.

All the problems you perceive are the consequences of poor communication. Society’s problems are not the result of having a market in the private sector…. they are the result of not having a market in the public sector. The fact of the matter is that good communication matters just as much for public goods as it does for private goods. The sooner you realize this the sooner we can use our tax dollars to accurately communicate the intensity of our hatred for cancer.