Capitalism, socialism clash in FOX Business town hall

A national debate is raging between capitalism vs. socialism and it’s becoming a defining issue in the 2020 presidential race.

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Capitalism, a free market economy where the individual creates his or her own wealth, is on one side of the debate, while socialism, where a government is in control of enterprise is on the other and supported by some prominent Democrats.

“Here in the United States we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” President Trump said during the State of the Union address in February.

According to a new Gallup poll, 47 percent of Americans say they would vote for a qualified socialist presidential candidate.

In a FOX Business Capitalism vs. Socialism town hall event town, the national discussion heated up when an audience member, Alex, questioned America’s greatness when people lack basic human rights such as housing, health care, and food.

Former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain rejected the audience member’s hypothesis that only a few people are able to attain the American dream.

“I am an example [of the American dream],” Cain said. I started poor and because I was willing to take risks, I was willing to invest sweat equity, I was willing to change jobs multiple times. I was able to climb the corporate ladder.”

New York City Democratic Socialists of America spokesperson Bianca Cunningham said the only way to right the wrongs she believes capitalism causes is through a socialistic society.

“As socialists, we believe in putting the power back in the hands of everyday Americans, taking away from the few at the top that have means to control the agenda for the rest of us in this country,” she told “Making Money” host Charles Payne.

In 2014, Cunningham was a retail worker at a Verizon Wireless store in Brooklyn, New York. She organized her coworkers to form the first-ever union for the telecom company’s workers.

Marxian economist Richard Wolff said China is a prime example of a thriving socialist society after going from the poorest country 40 years ago to the second most important economy in the world.

“[China] used a very powerful socialist economic model to do one thing, to grow quickly, to stop being poor and to become wealthy,” he said.

Wolff has taught economics since 1967 at universities around the world including Yale and the University of Paris.

FOX Business’ Stuart Varney challenged Wolff’s premise saying China’s economy started to bloom when it adopted some of capitalism’s principles. Stuart, host of “Varrney & Co.,” also shared his view on the income inequality debate.

“I think it’s a good thing that you allow some people, by their own brains, drive, talent and ability to become rich,” he said. “The more rich people you allow, the more growth in your economy, the more innovation and more efficiency and the greater prosperity.”

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Stuart said he is a prime example of a capitalist system that provided him with the opportunity to invest in the stock market at an early age and reinvest his profits in a small business that provides jobs for people in a depressed area.

“And now with my wealth that I made by myself, I am looking after six kids and nine grandchildren and I am not looking for anything of you,” he told the audience member, Alex.