Let us discuss why socialists and socialism are so bad. What is it about socialism and communism that I despise? Let’s level-set and revisit a few definitions.
Socialism: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods (socialism, n.d.).
Socialism: a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism (socialism, n.d.).
Communism: a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) and there is no privately owned property (communism, n.d.).
Now, we should examine socialism or “democratic socialism” as it were. This has become a pretty popular idea as of late. Though the reasons why often escape even those who advocate it and many have no idea what it really equates to.
Senator Bernie Sanders – the man who failed to earn a living until it was a government check and the champion of such ideas as of late – has been asked to explain “democratic socialism” numerous times (IBD, 2016). He has responded just about the same every time. This usually goes something like, “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway.” This does not really explain it the way it should be explained. Think about it; how many Americans are intimately familiar with any of those nations?
First of all, what the American people REALLY need to understand is that Bernie Sanders is deliberately trying to mislead you. What Bernie is advocating is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system. It combines a political democracy with social ownership of the means of production. This does not sound too bad, right?
There are a few problems here. 1) most Americans do not understand what democracy is, 2) the nations provided by Bernie are not actually democratic socialist nations, and 3) a socialist economic system is a cancer.
Try to understand that real democracy is not exactly a good thing and the United States was never intended to be Democracy anyway. Our Founders fought for a Constitutional Republic. You should also know that we have not had a Constitutional Republic since a little before 1913. This is what most Constitutionalists are actually so upset about.
Article 4 Section 4 states clearly that we are guaranteed a Republican form of government. GUARANTEED! What is important to understand here is that a Constitutional Republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people – not leaders. I have often said that in a democracy, you elect leaders to make decisions for you, and in a republic, you elect representatives to exercise your power on your behalf. Which sounds better?
Notice the difference. As already addressed, the government does not seem to care about the Constitution unless it fits their agenda, and the Bill of Rights is all but a memory. So what exactly is wrong with democracy?
Democracy is basically collectivism and ignores the plight of the individual. We have a lot of this going on today. So imagine Democratic Socialism. Socialism is the divide of what is common. In a democracy, few are really 100% happy anyway. So in a democratic socialist society, almost by definition alone, everyone is just equally unhappy, and the government does not care about your problems. I jest a bit, but the truth is much more sinister than you might imagine.
The point I am trying to make here is that the examples provided by Bernie are false. He is selling you on half-truths and contortions. Sure, in a work-less society where robots conduct the vast majority of our labor, we might have a different conversation on our hands, but this is not the case as of yet, and money and labor are still connected at the hip. Nevertheless, that does not really matter in this discussion because the government systems Bernie used as examples to model ourselves off of are not even Democratic Socialist societies, and I caution those who look upon them with an envious eye.
Denmark and Norway are, in fact, “Constitutional Monarchies.” This is basically a system of government where a monarch (King or Queen) is guided (not dictated) by a constitution and the King or Queen’s rights, duties, and responsibilities are more guided by custom. Ultimately, the people are subject to the monarch’s decisions. Are there socialist elements in these nations? Yes, but it is hardly democratic socialism. Are you ready to base your government and/or future on this type of platform?
Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, are actually “Parliamentary Democracies.” In this type of system, it is the politicians that choose their leaders (not citizens) and other high-ranking members (including their cabinet members) and all according to party strength. Are there socialist elements in these nations? Yes, but again, hardly the democratic socialism as being sold. Are you willing to give up even more of your voice for this type of platform?
Be honest; neither of these systems would come anywhere close to working in the United States for a slew of different reasons. Bernie said “I know for Gov. [Bobby] Jindal, it is easy to try to frighten people, but I think if you look at some of the real success stories, there’s in many of these countries, there’s a lot that we can learn,” adding that “there are things we can learn from other governments which have programs that represent working people (Scott, 2016).”
I agree with this statement on both counts. It is easy to frighten people with a word like socialism because it is a scary thought knowing how those nations generally end. Yes, there is a whole bunch we can learn if we simply open our eyes, but before I get into that, let me commend Bernie for being humble enough to admit that the places he used as examples are homogeneous and much smaller than we are. For instance, Norway has a population of only 5 million, and it is going down, whereas the United States has a population of 321 million and is going up – rapidly. Not exactly apples to apples, but let us see what other surprises we can discover.
“Wealth Equality” is basically the equal distribution of assets among residents. This is something the socialists continue to cry about. This includes the values of homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, and investments. So what this term suggests is that if we established perfect wealth equality, we would have the same size house, the same furniture, the same cars, the same pay at work, the same investments, the same toys, etc. If you wanted something different, too bad. If you did not want something being handed to you, too bad. Don’t like your job, too bad! Want a raise, too bad! Want to go to school and get a different degree to make more money and retire early? Too bad! Thankfully, this is not reality, and ultimately, it is totally unachievable.
It is also important to note that this model includes those who do not work or who cannot work. These folks will be given money that has been taxed via your labor – something the Founders did not want. I know that sounds harsh, but has anyone ever asked what charities are for? Anyway, this is also known as distribution or redistribution of wealth. This sounds great if you have nothing, but if you are the one doing all the work, or if you are the one with the hard job, or if you are the one with a strong work ethic, or if you are the one with all the ideas, “fairness” begins to mean a completely different thing. Not to mention the fact that forcefully taking from one to simply provide to another is morally and ethically wrong. By definition alone, one has to consider it “theft.”
Bernie said that the standard of living is a lot higher in the nations he spoke of. Of course, this comes from the same guy who said that white people have no clue what it is like to be poor, so we must take it for what it is worth; which is not much. This man is delusional, in my opinion. It is true that those nations enjoy a high standard of living, but it is not really true that it is so much higher than the United States. In 2013, the Human Development Index ranked the top six countries for quality of living as: Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, United States and Germany (“Human Development Index in 2013 Report shows major gains since 2000 in most countries of South | Human Development Reports”, 2016). The U.S. is not exactly doing all that bad. Perhaps we should factor in the idea that half of our country is being subsidized for one thing or another already.
Some are quick to argue that subsidies are examples of redistribution. This is true, but then I have one question: is it working? The poor remain poor even with all this redistribution. Why? Are these people getting a job? Are they contributing? Are they opening up businesses? No. They simply collect a check that is just big enough to get them by. Thankfully, some do make it out, and they end up being quite successful and create jobs for others, and we celebrate them. Do you think they want their progress stripped from them?
Maybe the issue really has more to do with the fact that government policies shut down businesses, reduce the value of our money, and continue to inflate prices. That is a debate I am willing to listen to. Understand that the government created the problem and they are making it worse with something known as “fiscal policy,” which is basically just printing money out of thin air with nothing to back it. What makes anyone think the government will be able to “fix” it when they are the ones making it worse?
Keeping in mind that the nations Sanders wants everyone to look at are not Democratic Socialist nations at all, when you examine Socialist or Communist nations from just about any history book, exactly which one can you imagine yourself living in? Chances are that (A) not many come to mind, and/or (B) the ones you can imagine would not let you in any way – because they are small and do not want to or cannot support outsiders. This is important to note because, in order for the United States to EVER become a working socialist nation, you would literally have to shut down immigration altogether, enforce it with an iron fist (both in and out) and then encourage zero or limited procreation.
Sure, there are some that suggest that the U.S. is already a socialist nation, as evidenced by all of the social programs and redistribution programs – but then my argument is to say “these clearly are not working, and so many are miserable, broke, out of work, out of money, in debt, and our nation is failing and on the verge of collapse due in large part to the socialist programs that haven’t been around very long… so that is not a great argument and is actually a horrible selling point.”
And while we are on the topic, let us just take common sense into consideration. When we look at the mass influx of immigrants into the United States, we see a whole bunch of people coming from places like Ecuador, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, not to mention the many other nations where corruption is high, and the government controls the economy; and usually exemplified by a state oil monopoly. All of these are socialist nations. Kind of weird that people would run away from something so great, isn’t it?
In fact, the top ten countries of origin (in regard to immigration to the U.S.) are Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Philippines, India, Korea, China, Ecuador, and Vietnam (Baker & Rytina, 2013). These are all primarily Socialist or Communist countries or have some other contortion of government where the state controls the economy – which is a variation of socialism. The common theme: sad, broke, impoverished, limited information, bad standard of living, limited opportunities, disease, etc. If these systems are so great and so prosperous, why would so many people be fleeing them in droves? Furthermore, if the United States is so bad, why would these people be rushing here by the millions instead of going to some other socialist nation?
In contrast, look at the nations around the world that simply try out free-market ideas. South Korea has boomed under their form of it. Russia and China have started to see the value in it and have prospered accordingly. Even Cuba has recently begun to issue licenses for privately-held businesses, and those businesses are thriving. Odd?
Think about this; how did life turn out in Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, Mao’s China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Uganda, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan, Cambodia, Cuba, etc., etc? When most think about these nations, they remember their socialist or communist plight or the genocide of their poverty-stricken or political opponents. This is not a coincidence.
Were Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Marx, Guevara, etc. people we should be looking up to? True, some are quick to say “but some of those are communist.“ Indeed they are. Remember the definitions at the beginning of the article Socialism in any form is cancer that grows into Communism.
It is a transitional phase. Socialism is a government in which the means of planning, producing, and distributing goods is controlled by a central government that seeks but never really finds a just and equitable distribution of property and labor. Remember that socialism is also defined as the theory of community of property. Ironically, communism is sometimes defined as the doctrine of community of property.
Maybe Bernie was talking about learning from these other nations, not necessarily becoming them. Okay, then let’s learn. While we could use almost anything, we should use healthcare as an example since it seems to be on the minds of so many. Remembering for a moment that a “Right” is something that exists in the absence of authority and does not naturally infringe upon the rights of another and does not cost, can we say that Healthcare is really a Right? We do have the right to pursue it, but do any of us have the right to force someone to provide a service or to force someone else to pay for it? What do you call someone that can be forced to perform a task?
Some suggest that health insurance is the same as car insurance. Really? Driving a car is evidently a privilege (not a “Right”) according to the government. This is why the government can force you to buy car insurance. Also, if you do not want to pay for car insurance, you can choose not to drive. So what is the alternative if you do not want to buy health insurance?
Have you ever thought about how this gets paid for? We currently have more takers than makers in this country. Obamacare had turned into a complete disaster, where people are actually paying more than they were before it was forced upon them (Herrick, 2016). How can this be if it is really “free”? Furthermore, if it is so great, then why did those who forced the people to have it (congress), exempt themselves from being a part of it (Howell Jr., 2016)?
The answer to these questions is that the program is not free, and the quality will simply not be there in the long run. Like other social entitlement programs, it is doomed to fail under its own weight. People are going to get tired of being denied choice, not to mention the double-digit annual increases in premiums, and the rationing that is already underway – just as it was warned it would.
Of course, to give it all a fighting chance, and just like we already see, taxes would have to be raised – just like in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, where tax rates hover around 55%. Some nations are even higher. Higher taxes are just the beginning, though, and Bernie knows this. In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Bernie said he could back a 90% top marginal tax rate (Devaney, 2015). This is because “free” isn’t really free. My question is what happens when these wealthy folks leave before their money is robbed from them? Where does that burden fall then? The people – that is the right answer.
It is either that or your benefits and services provided by “free” healthcare would have to be reduced because the cost will simply outweigh what can truly be offered. The costs remain high because nobody fixed the actual problem. The Europeans and Canadians have already figured part of this out and have reduced much of what they used to offer simply because of the rise in healthcare costs and system abuses. This is not exactly new information though. A 1996 front-page story in the New York Times detailed the European cutbacks. According to the article, Britain, France, and Germany were all being forced to limit access to care (Tanner, 1996). Rationing, already extensive, is increasing even to this day.
Cutbacks also mean lowered standards. In October of 2007, a startling report was released that showed what “universal” healthcare really means. Appalling standards of care and an enormous list of failures contributed to the deaths of 331 patients in the worst outbreak of a hospital “superbug” ever recorded in the British National Health Service (Donnelly, 2009). Due to crowded wards and a shortage of nurses as well as numerous financial problems, 1,176 people contracted Clostridium difficile over two and half years at three hospitals in Kent, a county in southeast England.
Health Secretary, Alan Johnson described the failures that led to this outbreak by saying nurses were so rushed they did not have time to wash their hands, and though the “superbug” was widespread in the wards, managers failed to act. Isolation units were not set up, and patients were left in soiled beds. Furthermore, bed-pans were not decontaminated properly and in general, linens were not cleaned as well as they should have been.
This is not rare. It is sad, but I have actually found quite a few examples to further this point. Look, I understand the want and need to better our current medical system. It is corrupt, it is expensive, but it is not the medical system at fault, it is a corrupt government and power-hungry corporations that are at fault; it is due to jacked up monopoly laws, big pharma, health insurance, etc.. If legislators were being held accountable, this could be fixed, but this does not mean we should be socialist; it means we should grow a backbone to hold our representatives accountable. Simply handing more power to the entity that refuses to do anything about our issues is the furthest thing from logical.
One of the better ways Obamacare was described to me, came in an email. It was evidently written by an unnamed engineer from Notre Dame University. This engineer wrote out an easy to follow guide, and I would like to share it with you now.
1. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured.
2. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured.
3. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.
4. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, so it will be ‘free-of-charge’ to them.
This may sound silly to some, but it is exactly what we are dealing with. This is how the law works. Unfortunately, this example does not fully demonstrate the burden this process has created.
The same could be said for things like education. Sure it would be nice if everyone got one, but not everyone wants one. We should be honest with ourselves; not everyone is capable. And why would we want college to be like high school anyway? How many people did you know in high school that took their education seriously and actually tried?
The cost of higher education is an issue. Sure, we could blame lower state funding and rising tuition rates, but that would be entirely too simplistic. College campuses do not have to be vacation resorts and/or profit centers. The government or private banks should not be profiting from those seeking higher education – primarily because they will be profiting from the higher tax revenue after that student lands a better job. Sure, we could do more. College can be provided by the state, and there is still room for private university as well, but what if we took an investment approach or what if we took an approach actually advocated by Thomas Jefferson?
Bernie Sanders talked about “Childhood Poverty.” Again, his data is a little skewed. His information appears to come from UNICEF, which tried to compare only developed countries. When UNICEF does this, it does not include every nation on the planet. And yes, the U.S. scores a little low on this currently but there are some reasons why. First, it is important to note that the criteria of the study are kind of important. For instance; the more typical international definition of “poverty” is a family that lives on less than $1.25 or $2 per day. So to be clear, almost no American qualifies for this definition.
On the other hand, the United States defines the poverty line as a family living on less than about $22,000 per year, which equates to about 15 percent of Americans, and which is still substantially better than many places around the globe (Fisher, 2016). Here is the real truth: World Bank statistics list at least 41 countries with greater income inequality than the U.S. — including Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina (Jackson, 2015). Still, you have to ask yourself why this is happening or why this is an issue in the first place. The truth is that it did not use to be this bad. So what changed?
People are usually shocked to discover that the real unemployment rate (tracked with the same methods as during the Great Depression) is over 22% (Williams, 2017)? Some are quick to blame either the greedy workers and bloated unions demanding more benefits and money or the greedy corporations that moved the work out of the country to people who were just happy to have the opportunity. However, do you notice a little bit of a connection there? I am sorry to say that it is just not that simple.
Could it be that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been permanently shut down since 2001 (Sutton, 2016)? Could it be that thanks to government treaties, those jobs went overseas to “poor countries“ that do not reciprocate or to robots that do not need a paycheck or benefits? Could it be that there are fewer Americans working in manufacturing today than there were in 1950, even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then? Could it be due to the tsunami of retail closures or the downsizing of business in general? Could it be due to the boom in technology? Could it be that in spite of how rough the economy is, the government continues to take in record tax revenue from the middle class while taking less and less from the rich – and then has the guts to tell you that things are fine? Could it be that the cumulative rate of inflation is roughly 2326.58% since 1913 – and rising (UCID, 2016)? Could it be that since the Federal Reserve came into existence in 1913, the dollar has lost over 95% of its value and is literally worth less than a nickel compared to the pre-1913 dollar?
See what I mean? Perhaps it is due to lobby and the blur between Wall Street and government which has allowed big corporations to infect government offices. Of course, some might blame the government’s encouragement of CEO pay increases via stock options and below-average taxation – or capital gains tax rates in general. That is fine… add it to the list. Regardless, the common denominator is clear. It would be easy to point the finger at big-business or even greedy workers but consider their pressure. People need to live, and businesses need to turn a profit, and both sides are simply playing the game via the rules provided. And that is the key. The game is rigged because the rules were made by the home team that does not follow the agreed-upon terms.
So who exactly makes the rules and who enforces them. The responsibility is actually held by two groups: 1) government and 2) the people. The truth is that if the Constitution were being followed, little (if any) of this would be allowed or going on. Furthermore, if more government created this, in what world (especially considering history) would adding more of it equate to success?
There is no doubt that our standard of living is going down, but we are the ones allowing it. A big culprit is our desire for entitlements, keeping up with the Jones’, wanting “stacks of cash for nothing,” and the desire for the newest foreign products. We also have an instant gratification problem alongside an ignorance problem. Yet, people are advocating for complete control by the entity that helped create and encourages all of these problems?
We have accepted lower wages, put our spouses to work, decimated our savings and borrowed more money than we could ever repay for the sake of keeping up perceptions – usually by buying products created with “planned obsolescence” in mind. Now even this rope is running out. Can anyone really be shocked?
There is also no doubt that people are out of work, on the verge of being out of work and/or living in poverty. Understand that acknowledging the many elements of this problem is a solid first start. Now, can you guess what fixes this?
The rich, big business and even government all NEED a thriving middle class. When I say thriving; I mean prosperous. They know this, but some have no idea how to make that happen. Well, it starts by simply reversing how we got here. Yes, that is easier said than done, but something has got to give. If it is not the current structure that goes, it will be our entire economy.
I think it is important to note that historically speaking, socialism, in general, destroys the middle class under the premise of “shared equality.” However, job creation fixes this. Manufacturing fixes this. Having a currency that is actually backed by something fixes this. Better (or at least more affordable) education and correlating wages fixes this. Exporting more goods and reducing imports fixes this. Of course, this requires creating an environment that encourages business to come home instead of one that continues to push them out.
Legislative oversight fixes this. Putting an end to lobby fixes this. Getting rid of the IRS and the Federal Reserve fixes this (Paul, 2009). Equalizing taxation or simply replacing it with something like the “Fairtax” fixes this. Buying from ourselves fixes this. Getting the middle class out of debt fixes this. Actually following the Constitution fixes this. It is really quite simple. If you get more money into the hands of the middle class, they will spend it.
Our Keynesian economic model is failing, and our fractional banking system is partly to blame. Of course, I also blame the ignorant people who perpetuate the problems just as much as the out of control corporate rule that goes unchecked. I can promise you this: switching to a model that millions have tried to escape from will actually exacerbate all of these problems we currently face. Socialism never ends well.
In actuality, the vast majority of socialist governments have ended up being no more than dictatorships over impoverished workers by the ruling elite. This is a historical fact. Furthermore, financial collapse is more often than not, the natural, unavoidable, and eventual consequence of socialism and communism everywhere it has been tried. The United States is not and will not be an exception.
Thomas Jefferson tells us “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it, has earned – this is the sum of good government.” So let me point out that when the government started to ignore this basic premise, our poverty began to rise, our standard of living began to lower, prices began to increase, jobs were lost, and our quality of life began to fall. This is NOT a coincidence.
Yes: our system is currently messed up, but understand that it is simply not going the way it was intended. Not because of a failure of an idea, but because of corrupt leaders and an illegal entitlement system which is failing. I have heard it said that in socialism, people wait in bread lines, but in a free market, bread lines wait on the people. Socialism is not our answer. Socialism is a horrible trap, as evidenced by the repeated failures and the millions upon millions of deaths that usually follow such a transition. Do not be fooled.
It is true that the underlying premise of socialism is about sharing, but as has been said many times before, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money to share. Then, of course, there is the whole “human factor” to contend with.
I must say that I find humor in those who advocate socialism but denounce the horrible atrocities that come from it. If you celebrate socialism, you celebrate Nazism and Communist China or Russia. Winston Churchill once said, “socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the sharing of misery.”
Modern American Economic Irony:
– America is capitalist and greedy, yet half of the population is subsidized.
– Half of the population is subsidized, yet they think they are victims.
– They think they are victims, yet their representatives run the government.
– Their representatives run the government, yet the poor keep getting poorer.
– The poor keep getting poorer, yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
– They have things that people in other countries only dream about, yet they want America to be more like those other countries.
As with anything I write, there will be a level opposition at first. People are not comfortable with some of the things that I say, so they take my words and challenge the position. No doubt that if one brings a point up, others are thinking the same thing.
Of course, there is always more than one position to look at, and as you can see, it is not always as simple as ____________(put summary here). Still, it seems odd to me that not long ago, the people who now rally behind “what is my country going to do for me?” were once rallying behind “ask not what your country can do for you.” Yet I cannot help but sympathize with their anger. They present a very good argument about the fallout of blind nationalism, but that does not explain or justify their desire for socialism or globalization. I promise you, neither is the answer we seek.
You might also like my article titled “Redistribution and Socialism“