Question: 1 Billionaire investor George Soros in his book Open Society

1. Billionaire investor George Soros, in his book Open Society, sees “market fundamentalism as a greater threat to open society today than communism.” Soros fears contemporary capitalism’s extreme commitment to self- interest, which results, he says, in our greatest challenge today: “to establish a set of fundamental values.”
a. What does Soros mean?
2. Americans feel a great deal of faith in the free market. Explain some of the weaknesses in the market. That is, where is the free market likely to fail?
3. Writing in Dissent, Joanne Barkan says, “[A]lmost all Swedes view poverty, extreme inequalities of wealth, and the degradation that comes with unemployment as unacceptable.”
a. Why are Americans more tolerant of those conditions than are the Swedes?
4. Scholars Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson, and Thierry Verdier have argued that the United States would hurt world growth if it adopted the “cuddly capitalism” of Scandinavia. For the United States to maintain its vital role of chief global innovator, Acemoglu and Verdier say that America must maintain an economic system that generously rewards successful innovators which “implies greater inequality and greater poverty (and a weaker safety net) for a society encouraging innovation.” Do you agree? Explain.
5. a. Would economic justice require that we treat “being rich” as a social wrong? Explain.
6. In questioning Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, The Wall Street Journal described professional football as “socialist” and baseball as “capitalist”:
The NFL (National Football League) has been successful as a socialist league, equally divvying up the league’s revenue among all the teams. Major league baseball, on the other hand, is a capitalist league, with a clear divide between big- market and small-market teams.
a. Do you think some of major league baseball’s financial rules have to be changed to better balance the playing field?
b. Is “socialism” or “capitalism” the better system for professional sports? Explain.
7. In 2011, Denmark sought to improve citizen health by imposing a “fat tax” based on the amount of saturated fat in foods. The tax raised the price of a hamburger, for example, by about 40 cents. The tax failed and was soon repealed. Explain why the fat tax failed.

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