I've watched this thread grow....and fact is , there have been several highly intelligent and interesting perspectives on this subject and frankly, there ain't much more I can add! However, I do have a couple ideas so, let's see...
I won't attempt to add an 'alternate system' of economic's for examination, but let's look at 'Capitalism' as it is. I've alway's contended that 'Capitalism' is a cancer on on mankind and maybe this has something to do with why:
(from the N.Y. Times)
Rescued by a Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior<address class="byline author vcard">By BEN PROTESS and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED</address>
Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group has been running a nationwide advertising campaign with the tagline “Thank you America.”
Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders.
The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal’s high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer’s Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for “public use, without just compensation.”
'Capitalism' is a system created by and run by men and therefore (IMHO,) subject to the imperfection of men. That said, I also agree with Sis E.R. above that there is no way we can discuss economic's without discussing politic's (another 'man made' system of imperfection.)
But for me, a much more burning question is: why does this society fear the rich? The rich are subect to bout's of stupidity sometimes, even greater than those of society at large. Just consider what kind of mind-set it would take, to consider the action's of those as STUPID as the individuals in the article above.
Now, as a 'taxpayer', for these clowns above to even 'fix their mouth' to consider a lawsuit against the hand that fed it...pizz'es me off. On the other hand, it also exposes the turtle's belly in that these fools are in much more control of what they could ever even handle.
That's MY perspective.
The 'calculus' of Capitalism, not unlike the 'calculus' (or science) of politic's, are purposely complex (even written in legalese,) for the very intent of the throwing of rocks and the hiding of hands, though further exposing (IMHO,) it's susceptibility to destruction.
So, the durability of capitalism? Sure. But the longivity of capitalism hmm...not so much.