Mary Marvel and Capitalism versus Communism

Mary Marvel was your original classic "good girl," She was sweet, demure and modest. The character was developed in 1942.

w/ supergirl
In 2002, Supergirl was having a lot of problems and was getting angry and snarky. She and Marvel made a good contrast with each other.

A year later, she joined up with the Justice League of America for a short spell. She maintained her innocence and naïveté.

evil mary
In the series Countdown (2007) which saw the elimination of Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters (Darkseid, seen several pictures down, is the chief bad guy in that series), Marvel gets a new look and a new attitude.

talking with Klarion
Marvel talks with Klarion. For the purposes of this essay, note that Marvel's skirt in this picture is a good deal longer and looser, less flared, than in the picture above.

good again
Marvel goes through further changes and becomes sort-of good again (Note that the lightning bolt on the front of her outfit is no longer golden).

gets harder
Marvel finds that the strain of being good is getting to be a real problem for her. My problem with the writing here is that, as Andrew Delbanco points out in The Death of Satan, evil is not the opposite of good, it's the absence of good. Evil is not a status that someone can strive for, being evil is just a means to other ends. One can be evil in order to obtain material goods, or to gain acceptance into a particular group, but it's not a goal in and of itself.

bad again
Marvel goes bad again and here confronts Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen, accompanied by Darkseid. Note that her skirt has a bit shorter and higher up, but is still loose.

And in her final appearance in the series, her skirt has gotten really short and flared out again. Now, suppose we were to try and sell consumers copies of the black outfit that Mary Marvel wears. Personally, I prefer the outfit she's wearing while talking with Klarion, the one with the relatively long and loose skirt, but obviously, there's no consensus among the various artists as to exactly how the bottom part of her outfit is supposed to be configured.
How would a capitalist enterprise deal with that problem? That's simple. They'd make several copies with differeing skirt lengths and put them on sale at one or a few locations (Depending on whether they were a national company or a smaller one). Whatever sells well would set the length of the outfit and they'd then go into full-scale production based on that expressed consumer preference.
How would a communist enterprise do it? Again, simple. Assign a committee or an individual to make the decision.
There's a scene in the movie The Devil Wears Prada where an investor talks to Meryl Streep (The aforementioned "devil") about a large investment he made on one of her fashion designs. He made that investment trusting in her advice and her advice turned out to be bad, costing him what, to us, would be a really large sum of money. She shrugs and mumbles and makes it clear that she tries hard to read the public attitude and she's good at it, but she can't guarantee results. There is simply no objective way to decide what skirt length is proper in our copy of Mary Marvel's outfit. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is not scientifically discernable.

When I was first looking at laptop computers for purchase, I saw two models, a "clamshell" model where the top was the same size as the bottom and another model where the bottom was twice as long as the top (pictured). I thought the clamshell model looked much better than the other type and sure enough, the other type quickly died out and all models today are the clamshell type. The owner of the shop was completely baffled as to why I preferred the clamshell model and himself preferred the model shown above.
I read sometime during that period that the Soviet Union sold shirts, but because "good fashion" is not scientically or objectively determinable and because the Soviets made decisions on the fashions that the shirts were configured in by having comittees make the decisions, Soviet shirts were, after a few decades, considered to be so ugly that the raw cotton from which they were made was considered to be more valuable than the shirts themselves were.

Now, I fully agree that capitalism does a poor job with health care (As the customer does not desire health care because he or she has saved up for it or because they've decided they'd really like a certain sickness, the bartering model that is appropriate for shirts or skirts is irrelevant here) and education (A very labor-intensive occupation where capital investments make very little difference), dealing with natural disasters (Where the affected area needs a really quickly scaled-up, large intervention in a way that a private company simply produce) and for national defense (Whereas a national army will fight to the last bullet, a mercernary army will depart when victory no longer appears certain). But when a decision to purchase something involves aesthetics, when the appearance of a product makes a difference, capitalism is the better system.

Do products have to be priced? Well, in the 1980s, several x-rated film companies were making films with high production values, they were using involved plots, substantial clothing budgets and fancy sets. After a few years of producing such films, several film-makers looked at how such films sold compared to the more straightforward low-production value all-sex films and found that the two types of films sold about the same number of tickets. Film-makers saved a great deal of money by not spending on items that the customers didn't care about. Had seeing such films been free of charge, that change would never have taken place as people didn't object to x-rated films with lots of production values, they just didn't care whether such films had decent production values or not. So yes, the pricing mechanism used in capitalism is of great value as time and effort and money are saved. Producers are then not wasting efforts on items that customers don't care about.

Update: Heard from a Communist friend of mine that perhaps I was thinking of this Wendy's commercial when I talked abou Soviet fashions:

Heh! But no, not at all. I think if I had any sort of stereotypical view of Soviet fashions, it was based on Steve Martin's "Czechoslovakian brothers" in Saturday Night Live, those two "Wild and crazy guys":

Truth be told, my buddy supplied me with a link that shows, yes, they had some decent fashions there:

ussr fashion

ussr fashion
But what really interested me were these statements way down on that piece:

As the Iron Cur­tain was lift­ing, the West­ern ways of dress­ing were get­ting more expo­sure through the movies and tourists. As you can see the envi­ous faces on the back­ground, for­eign­ers did stand out.

The fun­ni­est thing is that the Soviet fash­ion is very hard to break into time peri­ods. Apart from sep­a­rat­ing the pre-war era fash­ion from the post war (the later one being non-existent), the bulk of it stretches for over 40 years right up to the 90s.

In other words, the Soviets were, in general and most of the time, intelligently self-aware and realized that, as their system lacked a market mechanism to guide their fashions, it was smarter for them to not innovate and to suffer some drab fashion choices than it would have been to have gone out on a limb and to have produced awful choices.