ArturoBandini wrote:As empirical evidence of this I present to you the 20th century in the United States - an unparalleled rise in material wealth brought on in no small part by profit-seeking behaviors.
Nobody is suggesting there's NO place for profit-seeking or that it's inherently a bad thing. It's just not ALWAYS the best thing. In the early 20th century United States, profit-seeking drove electrification, but it was the government that forced electric companies to expand into rural areas and the poorest parts of big cities. I personally believe that every American citizen is entitled
to electricity. The people who owned the power plants certainly didn't think so, however, and they only expanded to many areas where the profit was less-than-desirable because they weren't given a choice. The same is true for phone lines and internet access, two more things I believe every American should have some amount of access to regardless of their financial situation. If we only let profit determine who gets what, a whole lot of people get left behind and I think that is morally unacceptable.
ArturoBandini wrote:Profit... is the best mechanism for allocating scarce resources. If you disagree with this statement, please indicate which alternative resource allocation mechanism you prefer, how it works, and why it is superior.
First of all, the notion that one cannot criticize a position without providing a better alternative is ridiculous. Secondly, you yourself admit that perhaps one solution isn't as good as multiple solutions acting in concert, which means there's plenty of room for profit as well as more humanitarian methods. Finally, I did suggest an alternative: The government collects taxes so that when disaster strikes, they can buy up needed resources at non-disaster-gouging prices and distribute them where needed. There is no shortage of bottled water in the country as a whole, there is only a shortage in places where disaster has struck. In this modern world, it is a relatively simple thing to purchase water in places untouched by disaster and deliver it to those in need, no price-gouging necessary.
ArturoBandini wrote: You are basing your rejection of a market system on feelings about fairness...
Fairness? No. I have no expectation that the world is fair. But yes, I do have feelings. I can empathize with those in need. You should try it sometime.
ArturoBandini wrote: ...but in reality, this system produces the best material results.
That's because the deck is stacked in favor of runaway profit and greed. It doesn't have to be that way, however. I can envision a world where nobody lacks basic necessities because, contrary to your statements, there really aren't very many actual shortages in the world, it's just that people and the stuff they need aren't in the same location. As of right now, there is more than enough food, water, and energy to go around if everyone would just remember what they learned about sharing in kindergarten.