Friday, November 26, 2010

Communism and Capitalism

Backpost 7 Nov 2010

A conversation I had with Sean while Brian was away on a school trip. Do correct me if what I said isn't true, I never did Political Science :P

Sean comes to the room and asks, "Why don't people share?"
Me: Huh? People do share.
Sean: No, I mean, why don't people share money and food and all that.
Me: Ohhhh...

Then I tried to explain as best as I could about Communism (Communal sharing/Community) and gave him a simple example:
"In communism, the government takes your money and distributes it to everyone. So whether you work hard or not, you get the same amount."
Sean: Okay.
Me: So let's say Korkor works very very hard, and what he produces/earns is enough to buy himself a big beautiful house, a fancy car, and lots of goodies for his family. And let's say you decide, hmmm, I think I'll take it easy and not work. But the government takes korkor's money and distributes it equally, so both of you get a small house, a bicycle and basic food for the kids, no Yakult or chocolates or oranges. Now, after a while, do you think korkor will continue to work hard or not?
Sean: um, no.
Me: So you see, it won't work cos everyone will get lazy and no one will do anything and the country will not prosper.

Then I asked him, so since Communism doesn't work, think about it and tell me what would be a better way of running a country.

He thought for a while and said, "I think the government should give the poor people just enough to survive properly and the people who work hard get the rest of the money so the people who work hard get more than the people who don't work hard."

Me: And yes, that is what Capitalism is about! This is what happens in the US, that's why it's so prosperous. They have a welfare system where if you are disabled, or you can't find work; you have to prove that you've been looking for work, or if you are really poor, the government will give you some money to get by, but not so much that you can have all the luxury items.

Sean: Oh, then what's Singapore?

Me: Oh, in Singapore, you have to work very hard, no one will take care of you. If you're poor, you can earn money by collecting coke cans and cardboard boxes to sell. (I know I made it sound extreme but I was trying to make a point)

Sean: Is that why I have to do my Math?

Me: Yes, that's why you have to work harder than your friends in school. Daddy doesn't have money to leave behind for you to start your own business or anything. So you have to depend on yourself.

Sean: ...

Me: Anyway, isn't it good to earn your own money? You'll appreciate it more.

Sean: But what about later, when the rest of your family get to live in luxury and you still have to work.

Me: What do you mean?

Sean: Like many years later, when you have a wife and family, they get to live in what you earn in your earlier days and you still have to work.

Me: er...don't you want to provide for your family?

Sean: Yes, but I mean if you work so hard, and you leave a lot of money for your children, then they won't have to work hard.

Me: mmm...I think you should just keep the money for yourself then.

After some time, he comes over and asks, "Why doesn't Singapore have Capitalism and help the poor?"

Me: Oh, actually Singapore is all about Capitalism. And Singapore does help the poor, but only the very poor.


monlim said...

Great dialogue! Sean is so mature for his age to be able to follow such reasoning. Do you think this will spur him to work hard (get money) or NOT work hard (get money for his wife and children to spend)? :P

Lilian said...

haha, I asked him and he said he hasn't decided. But based on what I'm seeing, for now he's definitely on the NOT work hard camp :P

elan said...

In P5 both my sons did George Orwell's "Animal Farm" for English. I think it was supposed to show them that Communism is bad.
However, I think it did the opposite and it produced a bunch of little Commies in C's class (D's class is more childish and Math-nerdy and less poltical). Up to now they are still quoting Trotsky and Stalin!


Lilian said...

I know, I've seen these little commies' posts (on Brian's FB) on Communist Manifesto, Marxism and dunno what else. It's just those few boys with very good language skills, I've noticed, C being one of them.