Capitalism – a defense

Socialism transfers self-responsibility

While watching a YouTube video of a new and upcoming branch of the Democratic Party called the Democratic Socialists, a pattern began to emerge in what was being promoted. What each person being interviewed was proclaiming is the belief that certain things are owed to the individual simply for living within the United States. Among the things owed to the average person living within the nation, these people believed they are owed a guaranteed annual salary, a place to live, food, medical insurance, college education, and a job. This is a totally different mindset than the older generations who hold on to the belief that those things are the responsibility of the individual.

Under capitalism, the individual bears responsibility

Capitalism requires each individual to assume responsibility of their own life. This is the trade-off of Locke’s pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of property[7] If one is going to have the right to pursue personal satisfaction, one must bear the responsibility that the pursuit requires. For this reason, many American high school graduates go to a trade school or a university in hopes they are increasing their value as a potential employee.Within the responsibilities of the citizen are the basics essential for living in a post-industrialized nation. It is the individual who bears the responsibility for securing the basic essentials for life. And because of this, there is no equality in the standard of living. As one’s income increases, so does their standard of living. In a world void of consumer credit, as existed in America until the late 1950s, people are forced to live within their income.

And this is the benefit of the responsibility being upon the individual. Because of this responsibility, many Americans have desired to become their own boss. More Americans are employed by small, local companies than by large corporations. Many will go to college or trade school with the belief that by furthering their education they will be more valuable in the job market. And others, even though they may be established in the corporate environment, strive to improve their skills and corporate value, and often seize on opportunities that other employers may offer. All of these things improve the standard of living of the individual. But granted, there will be those who are either unwilling or unable to adapt to an ever changing job market.

Under socialism, the government is responsible

But socialism requires the guarantee of a minimum living wage based on a standard of living determined by a central authority. During the 1930s, presidential candidate Huey P. Long (D) proposed his program, Every Man a King, which would guarantee a home for every American family of a value of $5,000 and an annual income of $3,000. [8] Higher personal incomes would be limited to $5,000 per year and corporate profits limited through excessive corporate taxation. The ultimate goal, which Long refered to as share the wealth was a threat to the still-stagnant American economy of the 1930s. Long’s plan would create an equal society financially, but only by sacrificing the right to pursue what the government would consider “excessive wealth.”

Long, as most socialists today, argued that the inequality of wealth was not the fault or responsibility of the employee (or worker, as he called them), but the owners of business. The employee has no responsibility to better their skills or to make themselves more valuable in the workplace.  In the views of the Marxist, everyone is expected to maximize their efforts for the common good. In return, the state provides the essentials for living. Often, the image of a national economy operating as a machine is used to explain the model. Each part only gets what is needed to exist and perform. There is little room for personal excess, but this part of the Marxist model is normally excluded from the modern socialist view. In the end, from cradle to grave, the government provides for the welfare of the citizen; the citizen, in exchange, surrenders all liberties and labor in support of what the state provides.

The wonders of socialism

I first began to realize the quiet march of socialism in American society as I began undergraduate study in the spring of 1996. While at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, I came across a student group who called itself the “Socialist Society of America.” At the time, I was a capitalist, but felt the Keynesian version of capitalism was best. As I began studying the Enlightenment thoughts of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, I began to understand more of how the American economy worked until around the early Twentieth Century. I came to the realization the government does not create wealth. It destroys it. Even when government transfers wealth from one class of people to another, part of that wealth is destroyed by the bureaucracy. As the bureaucracy of government increases to redistribute wealth, the less wealth becomes available to redistribute.

Socialism creates an “equal society”…

Alexis de Tocqueville stated, “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” Each generation claims the reason why socialism and communism hasn’t worked is because it’s not yet been properly tried. Yet in each generation that tries it, ultimately it fails.  The reason why a $15.00 minimum wage will ultimately fail is because the value for low-skilled jobs is greatly inflated above what is normally sustainable for an unskilled job. Currently, even California is flirting with the idea of universal health care as a means so that all socioeconomic classes can “benefit” from having a single payer system. But it’s far from being fair or equal. Already there are issues with funding California’s latest flirtation with socialism.

The most popular responses so far are taxing the wealthy even more and nationalizing the technology industry. As one editorial stated, “Apple alone has nearly $300 billion in cash; with the other successful tech giants in the state, [Lieutenant Governor] Newsom could “nationalize” one company each year to pay for his health system.” [9] In other words, socialists and those supporting socialist policies have no problems legalizing the government theft of personal property and wealth as long as it is redistributed for the public good. But the problem that is created is such legalized theft increases the risk of loss to industry innovators. There is no incentive to become the best in any career path if the government is allowed to punish success through outright confiscation or heavy taxation.

Socialism always…fails

One of the repeated things I hear on the college campus is how wonderful socialism is and the reason why it fails is because “we” haven’t done it yet. In spite of a long history beginning in the early Twentieth Century, the followers of the economic theory of socialism still press onward, determined to create an American socialist utopia. I’m not going to chronicle those failed nations of that era, but the most recent attempt to create a socialist state in Venezuela. At first, the average American leftist cheered the successful coup of Hugo Chavez. [10][11] There were (and still are) those who are wondering when the “American” Hugo Chavez will appear to overthrow America’s capitalist economy.

The problem is that even with Venezuela’s attempt to create an economically equal society, the results were disastrous. [12] Instead of creating a s0cialist utopia in South America, the exact opposite has happened. The prices for the basic commodities in life are now scarce and expensive when they can be found. The wealthy families, once targeted by the Chavez regime, have left the country for the United States and western Europe. Poverty has dramatically increased, even in the once flourishing oil fields, cities, and factories of the South American nation. [13] Venezuela is just one of the many nations that have failed when socialism has replaced even a slightly open-market economy.

The United States will be no different

The reason the United States has had nearly 230 years under the same Constitution is because of the enshrined principle of a free-market capitalism. Each of the original amendments and articles actually restrain the national government with the concept written of by Jefferson that all are entitled to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The freedoms which the American citizen so richly enjoys cannot transfer into a socialist American society. Under socialism, all forms of public dissent against the government must be silenced, as it has been in every socialist nation. Freedom of religion has to be destroyed because practiced religions create classes of people, of which socialism seeks to eliminate all social classes.

The pursuit of personal wealth also must be limited to a certain amount with any wealth above what is considered essential for sustainable living. Such excess wealth is then redistributed so that all members of society can have a minimal sustaining standard of living. Again, this is anti-capitalism and anti-free market. The American culture, and everything we associate it, will disappear under socialism – if the models of the other failed socialist attempts of the 20th and 21st centuries hold true.

Back to the first page.

[1]“Fascism – Wikipedia.”
[2]Carrie Wong et al., “Anti-Fascist Activists Take on Trump and the Far Right: ‘Resistance Is Our Only Shot.’”
[3]Starr, “Why Democrats Should Beware Sanders’ Socialism.”
[4]“Preamble to the IWW Constitution | Industrial Workers of the World.”
[5]Locke, “Two Treatises of Government.”
[6]“Seattle Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour.”
[7]Locke, “Two Treatises of Government.”
[8]Legacy Project, “Huey Long’s Programs – Share Our Wealth, Share the Wealth.”
[9]Gorgoni, “A Modest Proposal for Funding Single-Payer Healthcare in California: ‘Nationalize’ Tech Companies.”
[10]“Sean Penn and Other Hollywood Elite Worshipped Chavez.”
[11]Urie, “Where Is America’s Hugo Chavez?”
[12]Iacob , “Venezuela’s Failed Socialist Experiment.”
[13]“Venezuela: The Incredible Legacy of an Experiment with Socialism.”

References cited:

Carrie Wong, Julia, Sam Levin, Julia Carrie Wong, and Sam Levin. “Anti-Fascist Activists Take on Trump and the Far Right: ‘Resistance Is Our Only Shot.’” The Guardian, February 2, 2017.
“Fascism – Wikipedia.” Wikipedia. Accessed June 2, 2017.
Gorgoni, Adam . “A Modest Proposal for Funding Single-Payer Healthcare in California: ‘Nationalize’ Tech Companies.” Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2017.
Iacob , Ivona. “Venezuela’s Failed Socialist Experiment.” Forbes, July 24, 2016.
Legacy Project, Long. “Huey Long’s Programs – Share Our Wealth, Share the Wealth.” Huey P. Long: The Man, His Mission, His Legacy. Accessed June 2, 2017.
Locke, John. “Two Treatises of Government.” In Political Writings, 2nd ed., 369–87. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publushing Company, 2003.
“Preamble to the IWW Constitution | Industrial Workers of the World.” Preamble to the IWW Constitution. Accessed June 2, 2017.
“Sean Penn and Other Hollywood Elite Worshipped Chavez.” Newsmax, March 6, 2013.
“Seattle Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour.” USA TODAY, June 2, 2014.
Starr, Paul E. “Why Democrats Should Beware Sanders’ Socialism.” POLITICO Magazine, February 22, 2016.
Urie, Rob. “Where Is America’s Hugo Chavez?”, March 8, 2013.
“Venezuela: The Incredible Legacy of an Experiment with Socialism.” Fox News, May 19, 2017.

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