Speaking to an audience of Argentinian youth at a town hall in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, President Obama presented his view on capitalism versus socialism and communism. Telling the young audience that they shouldn't get so hung up on the terms, but just "choose from what works," the president suggested a little of both approaches is necessary to balance "equality and inclusion" with economic viability.
Dismissing debates about the differences between capitalism, communism and socialism as merely "interesting intellectual arguments," the president told town hall participants not to "worry" about all that, but to just do whatever is "practical."
"So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate," Obama said. "Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical, and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works."
Later in his remarks Obama returned to his "practical" theme, urging the young Argentinians to try to find ways to balance "equality and inclusion" while recognizing that "the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services and innovation and it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative."
"Depending on the problem you are trying to solve, depending on the social issues you are trying to address, what works?" he said. "What you’ll find is the most successful societies and economies are the ones that are rooted in a market-based system but also realize a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis."
The president also spent some time praising the notoriously repressive and economically crushing communist regime in Cuba for its "great progress" in education and healthcare.
"To president Castro, I said you’ve made great progress in educating young people," said Obama. "Every child in Cuba gets a basic education. Medical care, the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States despite it being a very poor country because they have access to health care. That’s a huge achievement. They should be congratulated."
But he also admitted that Cuba's economy under the communist government was suffering. "But, you drive around Havana and you see this economy is not working. It looks like it did in the 1950s," he said.
Obama's trip to Cuba this week was the first time a U.S. president has visited the country in almost 90 years in large part due to the country's communist revolution in the 1950s that has resulted in economic stagnation and widespread political repression.
Partial transcript via TheBlaze.