The Swiss cheese effectPublished 3:37pm Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I dont pretend to know a lot about making cheese, so I looked up the process for making Swiss cheese on the computer. I was interested because as I thought about comparing the prevailing economic strategies of Capitalism and Socialism, the notion struck me that both theories have holes in them.
My quirky mind led me to consider both as falling in the Swiss cheese family.
As it turns out, during the process of making this variety of cheese,
certain bacteria are introduced to the milk solution that cause chemical reactions – some that create the unique flavor of Swiss cheese and others that cause the formation of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide forms the holes in the cheese wheel. These holes are formally known as eyes. Such a cheese wheel that has no eyes is known as a blind Swiss. Well, this was just getting better and better. Imagine! The process for defining the product in question involves gas – much like the hot air that accompanies the theories I set out to consider. And when the process doesnt work out as planned, the result is blindness.&bsp;&bsp;&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;
Another odd coincidence is that if the cheese is allowed to ferment too long, the flavor is enhanced, but practicality suffers as the eyes become too large, the cheese doesnt slice well, and it crumbles. Similarly, when both capitalism and socialism ferment (foment?) too long, a few at the top of the reward pyramids become very comfortable, but the holes are overexposed and the systems crumble.
Avid proponents of capitalism insist that competition for a larger share of rewards is the only reasonable way for an economy to flourish, and that those who outhustle the others deserve the larger share. Unfortunately, the element of greed comes quickly into play in this modality and a class system is created. Trends make a few rich while those working hard in less trendy vocations are penalized. Those making the most money are casual about believing that they are worth more. These are the great holes in capitalism – the rich consume more than their fair share of natures resources and this creates mistrust among the citizenry.
Proponents of socialism on the other hand believe that cooperation is the more reasonable approach to an organized society. They assert that natures resources are owned by everyone, not just the few who will exploit the earth for their own enhancement, and that everyone deserves a fair share of the rewards. Those who have attempted to execute this way of organizing their culture have usually created huge bureaucracies. Few of these attempts have fared well, too often devolving into rule by the few (e.g. Hitlers Social Democrats, the reign of the USSR) and lethargy by the masses (modern day France and/or Greece). Scandinavian countries have seemed to come closest to closing many of the holes in socialism, but the collapse of the Icelandic system last year suggests that this too isnt foolproof. The great holes in socialism are over organization and lethargy.
Each of these two systems is vulnerable to rule by petty tyrants or organizations who usurp the rights of the mass of the population and rule by fear and/or force. Neither offers the perfect long-term approach.
Somewhere between the two disparate systems, hopefully, is a workable solution. Perhaps something along the lines of businesses or industries being jointly owned by management/entrepreneurs and labor will provide an answer. Labor will always believe it is worth more than management wants to pay because, although their efforts actually produce the products, they dont know all the facts of production costs. Management will always believe that it pays too much since the capital that allowed the endeavor to beginwith came from that side of the enterprise.
Currently, the divided house of our economy has lost the art of compromise and so we founder. &bsp;
Don Weathington is a retired psychotherapist and business owner who lives in Gillette Woods at a place called Birdland.