May 12, 09
Students' Confusion About Capitalism
By Ralph R. Reiland
pg 1 0f 3
"Only 53 percent of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism," according to an April survey by Rasmussen.
Age made a large difference in how Americans viewed capitalism and socialism, according to the survey, with capitalism getting the worst grades among adults under 30. Only 37 percent of the under-30s favored capitalism, 33 percent preferred socialism, and 30 percent were undecided. It sounds like they could vote in a Castro if he had a good smile.
The preference for socialism, in contrast, dropped to 26 percent among the 30-somethings in the Rasmussen survey, and dropped to just 13 percent among adults over 40.
By party, Republicans by an 11-to-1 margin said that capitalism was superior to socialism, while Democrats were more pro-socialist and more evenly divided, with only 39 percent preferring capitalism, 30 percent favoring socialism, and 31 percent undecided.
Rasmussen didn't define socialism or capitalism for the respondents during the survey, so we really don't know how many of the aforementioned responses were based on even the slightest knowledge about the two economic systems.
In January, for instance, I surveyed 50 recent high school graduates, now all in college or on their way. To the question, "Define capitalism in 10 to 20 words," here are some of the written responses, not atypical:
"Capitalism is making the most money for the government and having the government control the people."
"Capitalism is the money that is in the government. It is when the government controls all the money."
"Capitalism is based on a money-hungry nation, seeking to establish power through money."
"Capitalism is when an economy is based on the needs of the people."
"Capitalism is when the government takes a bigger role in the economy and controls more things."
"Capitalism is when the government is the only one deciding laws and regulations."
"I have no clue what capitalism is because I've never paid any attention to politics or the world around me until this year."
"Capitalism is everything that makes our government run properly."
"Capitalism is how the government is run. It is the government system."