‘In the end we are all dead.’ This quote was written by John Maynard Keynes, in response to the debate over a return to the fixed gold standard. This quote appears to state a fact - that eventually we will be no more, but it creates a more philosophical debate into the objective of an economy. Why should we care about growth rates, inflation, median income, GDP if, as Keynes states, none of it matters when we die? The same could be stated for life in general but that is too large an area to focus, instead we must focus just on the economy. I believe that in this course of questioning a lot of interesting ideas may be formed. Before answering this question, we must understand some aims of the economy. The consensus view is that an economy should aim to provide the whole population with the best goods and services at an affordable price. Though this appears fairly obvious conflict arises almost immediately after this: How should this be achieved? The three main schools of thought are very well known: capitalism, socialism and communism. Capitalism employs free markets, communism employs command economies and socialism uses a mix of the two.

The ferocity of the debate over the three views is immense sometimes even resulting in wars and it is unlikely any headway can be made in this article, but it is important to understand each view. Before continuing into the differences between the views I must point something out. There has never been a truly capitalist or communist country. There has never been a country that has had completely free free markets. And, there has never been a country where the productivity of its citizens has been equally distributed. It could be suggested that every country has hints of capitalism and hints of communism - the NHS in the UK and social security in the US and, on the other hand, stock markets and the marketplace. This is important because it acts as a reminder to viewers that this analysis has different points of view. Returning to the definition of an economy, according to the Index of Economic Freedom, per capita income (the amount of money per person) is much higher in ‘capitalist’ countries than socialist countries or communist countries. This is expected due to the ferocity of the free market resulting in a lot more productivity and the best goods being produced. This is in contrast to the shortages experienced by ‘communist’ countries in the Soviet block, this suggests that capitalist countries are better - this will be discussed later. From the evidence above it suggests that capitalist countries are better economies according to the definition. They are more productive and they produce the best goods and services.

However, there are problems with the capitalist countries that fall through the gaps, the ideas of equality, worker empowerment and share of productivity. These are all areas where socialist countries appear to be ahead, with ample social services and a reduced rate of poverty. Of course there are arguments for and against this analysis, some suggesting that capitalist countries lack productivity and others suggesting that socialist countries lack equality and social services. Without attempting to be crude, I believe there are two choices that can be made: a life with more productivity but a lack of social services and less income inequality or a life where there is less productivity but more social services and less inequality. Those choices appear unfair but they seem to be the only ones. Before attempting to make a decision I believe it is important to return to the initial question: ‘Why should we care about growth rates, inflation, median income, GDP if, as Keynes states, none of it matters when we die?’ the choices we make affect lives: wars have been fought over economic decisions and schools of thought. People have become divided as a result of opinions on this topic, and, as with many other debates, a lack of knowledge rules as king. At least a basic knowledge of some of the topics stated: GDP, inflation etc, can help create civil discourse and further human knowledge. The choice between productivity and equality appears to be binary however with a bit of research and analysis done by us as a population, these do not have to be the only choice. So, to conclude, before making the choice between the two think about them using knowledge and rationality.