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50 Years Ago: Misery from Surplus, Profit from Disaster

[. . .] One of America's problems is too many potatoes. The Government pays the farmer the guaranteed price for his potato crop on the farm, then the farmer pays a trifling price to the Government and buys them back again, but only on condition that he does not sell them in the market but uses them as animal feeding stuff. He can if he likes let them rot. Some potatoes are painted with blue dye so that they cannot illicitly be sold to the public for human consumption.

The truth is that capitalism can produce a surplus in terms of the market, the final result of which will be a cutting down of production, but it never has produced enough of all the things human beings need to satisfy their requirements.

The powers of production reached under capitalism could, if fully used and if devoted to human needs instead of being largely wasted on armaments, etc., satisfy all the requirements of the human race. But to allow them to be so used would wreck the complex and delicate marketing and profit-making organisation of the capitalist system.

(From editorial, Socialist Standard, May 1950)