Results of Two Experiments Comparing Capitalism and Socialism Detailed in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz., March 22, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the age of “evidence-based medicine,” why not use the scientific method to compare economic systems, suggests David Legates in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The experiment of destroying a country by war; dividing it into two parts similar in culture, population, climate, and geography; and then rebuilding one part under a capitalist and one part under a socialist system has already been done—twice, Legates writes. He looks at the results in East and West Germany, and North and South Korea.

At the time of the unexpected reunification in 1989 after 45 years, productivity in East Germany was 70 percent of that in the West. Life expectancy was about 3 years shorter, and the price of luxury items and most staples was much higher in the East, Legates reports.

The Korean experiment has been in progress for more than 60 years. The North is mired in abject poverty, while the South thrives as one of the world’s major G-20 economies. Life expectancy is 10 years shorter in the North, Legates notes.

Medical ethics are vastly different in the capitalist and socialist sides, reflecting the roles of the individual versus the state, Legates explains, using examples of the care of the aging, unconsented drug treatment of East German and North Korean athletes, and possibly secret pharmaceutical research on unknowing subjects in East Germany.

Among the most profound differences is the environmental degradation in the socialist systems, Legates states, “In 1990, Greenpeace labeled Bitterfeld, East Germany, as ‘the dirtiest place in the most polluted country in the world.’”

“The key ingredient that separated West from East Germany and still separates South from North Korea is freedom,” Legates concludes.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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