Capitalism has many good things, mainly motivating people and easy circulation of goods. "Socialistic" European countries (I take the example of Finland because I live there; not that it would be the EU average in any way) have a sort-of capitalism with a twist, which mostly comes from the fact that we believe everyone should have equal possibilities for life.
This means, in the first place, public welfare. Everyone gets medical care free, everyone gets money for living if they need, and most education doesn't cost much (well, I study in a university myself and pay about $80 a year, and that includes student organisations' fees). Certainly, these things aren't free as air but rather costly, and everyone pays the price. Richer people pay a bigger price.
I feel for the education. I also get money for my studies, although I could also get loan for the purpose. The money is not much, but enough for living, eating and transportation. Thus, ANYONE has the chance to become a lawyer or whatever, and nobody really needs rich parents to be successful, although that always helps. I feel this is good for everybody; not having a choice about one's own life (because of financial barriers and otherwise) sucks.
Also, even though distributing money is "ineffective" in that some people buy beer with all the money they can get, and despite all that there still are homeless in Finland (because of beer, for example), we're constantly giving everybody a chance. And, nobody has to rob anyone else for basic staying-alive. This does not eliminate crime, of course, but anyone will steal for living if they have to.
The basic idea is that a country will take care of itself, people taking care of everyone else (to the extent of paying bigger taxes, anyway). Because of science (or, economy, if you please), we can afford that. A thousand years ago pretty much everyone needed to work just to feed the population, nowadays a sorry fraction can feed everyone. And, everyone else is, in a way, doing other things to trade for food. And other things.
This leads to the defects of capitalism. Or, to be specific, the defects of currency. That is, it takes a large flyweel of dead weight just to keep the system running, and people who deal with currency to earn a living are in fact stealing from everybody else, producing nothing. And the system is very unstable. And efficiency gets much more weight than the product itself, not even thinking of the environment, for example. And then there's the problem of ownership.
I think work should be rewarded. I think ownership should not. Owners are a sort of freeriders of the society; they get food because they own things other people need.
And, why do they own things? Because their ancestors did. Or, perhaps they just found the things they now own. Or they were the first ones to claim the land. Or they bought it. Or, they made the thing themselves.
Even the last one is problematic, although it doesn't apply to good many things (that you'd make yourself AND get money from, without giving it away). Imagine someone making a song sometime in the end of 1800s, and someone else getting millions a year by owning the song in the year 2003. Certainly old songs could be free beer, and certainly it would benefit the public.
Don't get me wrong, owning things is a good way to settle "now it's my turn to play with it"-types of quarrels, but it shouldn't be a profession.
Back to the principles of equality. In capitalistic systems, one guy can make $1000 a month and another can make $500 000 in the same time, both working eight hours a day. And capitalism justifies this by "someone is willing to pay him more". Usually this is because big boys can take care of themselves, and their payment. But let me ask this - is the richer guy really so much better? More valuable to the society? Some may say so, especially those who make money. But for the big picture, I don't think such differences are justifiable or should be accepted by the public, that will pay the rich people unwillingly to get the product etc. Sports stars are also getting shitloads of money even though they probably suck at any constructive job you can name. In capitalism the value of your work has nothing to do with your payment. Or then your values are crooked.
Certainly no system is ever perfect, and the capitalistic one has performed well this far. This doesn't mean that capitalism should be the way to go. I picture Man's future with no wars and decent opportunities (and food) for everyone. And this has been possible for ages already.
I was quite shocked when I found this YOYO - You're On Your Own - notice from a home electricity site. Of course, that was an ad, but that's remarkable bullshit! Or should be. A rational society will try to benefit from everybody, and benefit everybody. The first isn't possible without the last.
Off-topic, but here goes another point. In Bowling for Columbine, I saw many people saying that they have a gun for self defence. That's all backwards. For why would anyone, anywhere, ever want to kill you? And here's the catch: they don't. Unless they're very pissed off. But this really has two views.
First, individually. If somebody points at me with a gun and wants my money, I give it to him. Nobody should be killed for money. I live from my work, not from my wallet. And, if I kill the bastard, I go to jail. In Finland, if I hit him in self defence, the burglar can sue me. And I can't prove he tried to rob me but he can prove that I broke his nose. Heck, we don't have the right to defend our property by violence. We have the right to protect ourselves physically, though, but not in a way that would permanently damage the attacker. But - again - no sensible person would want to harm me even if he wanted my money. He might harm me out of fear, or because of not being sensible - the failed-reality-check kind (this goes for jealousy, revenge etc).
And masses. Why are there so many people who'll even kill themselves to get revenge? And, why is the USA the target of the terrorism? I think this has something to do with people being pissed off by the USA, even though the USA is not an "entity" but a group of some hundreds of millions of personal beings. Now, there's Al Qaeda that's supposedly responsible of most terrorist attacks towards the usa, and usa responds by.. Attacking all the countries that might have something to do with Al Qaeda? The common European view is that such action is more likely to piss off more people, to feed terrorism on the psychological level. By trying to kill all your enemies, you make more enemies. And the enemies that will commit suicide bombings aren't necessarily afraid of death penalty. There must be another way out of this.
Make friends, not war. Because people all over the world are human beings and capable of sensible thought.
Well, what a rant. I hope I'll get my thoughts out better some later date =).
There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak