> Mmm. I'm not sure that capitalism in its "pure" form> can be blamed for all those things It might not be the sole cause of all instances of those things in the world, but it does inevitably exhibit them.> political policy has a large part in them as well of > course. Political policy is largely shaped by capitalist economic imperatives. Note the pipeline project currently underway in Afghanistan...> In theory capitalism, or rather a free market economy, > should actually bring about maximum efficiency. Debatable. A capitalist economy exists purely to make the owners of the capital richer, and the needs and desires of the people are met only partially, as a side effect of the real motivations. That doesn't sound very efficient, even with the theoretical "perfect information". And capitalism is dependent upon perpetual growth, which is essentially unstable and in the long run unsustainable.> Unfortunately the model also requires everyone to be > perfectly informed about their options - which of course> they aren't. Yes, and that's an _extremely_ big problem. People's actual informedness is a tiny fraction of perfect, and consequently real world capitalism is only a fraction as efficient as it should be. And capitalists waste vast quantities of resources on advertising which makes this situation even worse, since their motive is to maximise sales of their own products, not to help consumers make informed decisions.Under capitalism, what proportion of the work that you do actually provides a net benefit to society, instead of just helping the some people get richer at the expense of others? I know I'm mostly wasting my efforts in that way, but I have little choice since I need the money and most of the available jobs are similarly intended to make the employer richer above all else.> Interesting that you mention the USSR as well. It's commonly presented as an indication of the superiority of capitalism.> In theory, the idea was that only what the people> needed would be produced. The reality was that> there was no way to determine what the people > wanted in such a rigid structure, hence continual> shortages of luxury items. I don't believe it wasn't possible; the big problem was the lack of democracy, restriction on personal freedoms, etc. The government didn't think providing luxuries was a high priority. A proper socialist state would be thoroughly democratic, with manufacturing priorities set by the people, not a privileged elite who thought they knew was best for the people.> I do wonder whether modern technology might actually> be able to make a system like that work - for example, > I imagine that a lot of web sites like Amazon base how> much they actually order on the number of pre-orders> they get. Exactly. I see no reason why such a system shouldn't be implemented on a much larger scale. I think most people would be willing to put up with delivery delays on non-consumable items if it meant cheaper prices, better quality, and more choice.