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I am willing to concede that using demographic data, a government planning commission could come up with a number of general practitioners that better meets society's demands for medical care.

But, then what?

In every population of people some will want to study medicine. But will the supply of people be enough? What will be the incentive to study medicine? Is it a government funded education? Is it a high salary? If so, from where will the money come to fund these endeavors? If the perks of becoming a doctor are enticing enough, you will surely generate a large supply of people willing to study medicine. This is true in both a capitalist system and a socialist system.

A capitalist would caution socialists about relying on government planning commissions.

Are the benefits of meeting societies needs corrected at the cost of creating new problems, new shortages? Are govt planning commissions always going to be able to discern what society needs? Who comprises these commissions? What checks and balances are going to be in place to prevent destructive decisions from being made?

A general practitioner shortage could also be achieved if the force of government is used to coerce people into medicine, literally mandating that some people study medicine. I suspect you would not choose this option. Am I correct? Socialism, much more than capitalism, seems capable of relying on force to achieve desirable policies.

"There will likely be MORE doctors in the socialist system than in a capitalist system because demand for medical care is ongoing--and the greatest demand is for general care, which is most easily met.”

Also, in a socialist system how far does trust in government planning go? What areas of the economy are subject to government planning?

As you point out, capitalism does rely on the ability to pay as a way of determining the allocation of resources. Capitalists will argue that since most of what people want is scarce, choices have to be made. Trade offs need to made. Who gets to make the choices, the individual or those in power?

If there is a shortage of general practitioners, a capitalist must consider if it reasonable to force doctors who might be choosing to specialize in areas of medicine that are deemed (by govt) unnecessary or superficial to NOT practice in these “wasteful” areas and to work as general practitioners.

How, then, does capitalism respond to shortages in areas that are necessary, important?

If the cost/benefit analysis does not justify the career choice of medicine, and if on principle a capitalist system refuses to use coercion to get people into a profession, then some decisions would have to be made that impact the supply and/or demand for medical care, including (these options are not equally attractive to a capitalist)

Are the restrictions currently placed on who can become a doctor reasonable? Shouldn’t the only restriction be competency?
Might nurses be used to meet the needs of patients, without compromising quality of care?
Does our system make the cost of becoming a doctor too high? Might government need to step in and use tuition discounts to entice more people to choose medicine?
Might disincentives be needed to guide people away from choosing medical procedures that are deemed (by whom?) unnecessary or wasteful.

I think an important point to make about capitalism, at least as I am arguing for it, is that market failure happens. When it does happen, a supporter of capitalism FIRST needs to analyze the status quo to see if current policies might be getting in the way of creating an equilibrium of supply and demand.

For example, an analysis of why the financial sector is able to offer such high salaries to our most capable students might be performed? A capitalist would start this analysis assuming that the financial sector must be creating value, satisfying consumer needs. (I understand that a critic might immediately be tempted to attack the idea that the financial sector contains people who are adding value to the system. And, as our system currently exists, it is reasonable to say that this is not true. A capitalist would argue that our system contains many market distortions that have created perverse incentives, which have tended to reward risky behavior. These problems are not due to capitalism. They are corruptions of the political system.

A similar argument could be made about the high costs of college.

Then, if these obstacles are removed, and shortages still occur, necessary market interventions may need to be considered.
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