The number of people filing for unemployment insurance has soared to 26 million over recent weeks—16 percent of our labor force. For some segments of the workforce—restaurant and hotel workers — it is much higher. Still, others have had their hours cut back. For all, this has greatly compounded the anguish of coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
For many who have lost their jobs, their employers have also been facing a struggle for survival. We have seen numerous accounts of employers exploring every means of avoiding letting treasured employees go. Mutual loyalties are strong. Indeed, some employers have described their employees as being like family members. These relationships between workers and employers clearly go well beyond a simple business relationship.
But wouldn’t a socialist system have handled this crisis better? After all, all workers would be able to keep their jobs. More important, though, in such a crisis, the question is whether a socialist system would be able to produce enough of life’s necessities to go around—not to mention whether the elite would make sure that they are taken care of first. In Chapter 3 of Capitalism versus Socialism: What Does the Bible Have to Say? it is explained why socialist systems are incapable of producing as much as market-based systems—the pie is smaller. And they are unable to adapt quickly to changing conditions. Moreover, a socialist system would not respond with the creativity and vigor that we have seen from the private sector of our market-based economy. In recent weeks, the market has ramped up production of advanced-technology ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) and pulled out all the stops to discover life-saving treatments.
Moreover, our large and resilient economy has enabled us to afford the safety net that is providing for those suffering losses—beefed-up unemployment insurance benefits for those out of work, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and relief checks. The tab for such social insurance is massive, and only a market economy has the capacity to afford it and rebound from it.