The Necessity of Capitalism and Socialism in a Functional Society
You walk out your front door. You walk to the edge of your lawn. You check your pocket to make sure you have your road-access work card and head to the plant. Along the way your card is periodically scanned by surveillance machinery on the roads and sidewalks, and money is deducted from your weekly check each time you pass a scanner. Kindly, the conglomerate you work for offers a reduced rate on travel activities if they are work related.
On your trip home you notice a fire in a nearby neighborhood. It has been burning for a few days, but nobody has had enough money to get the fire department out to take care of it. You hope the fire gets to houses that have enough money to get it extinguished before it gets to yours. You know you don’t have enough money to get the fire trucks out to your place.
You get back to the home and lawn you own. You go inside and your daughter informs you she is hungry. She wants pizza, but you inform her of her incurred debt and current interest rates, and you are able to convince her cereal is the more economical choice. You pour her a bowl.
You take out a notebook, something you have done since her first breastfeeding at the hospital where she was born, and make a note of the expenditure. She is only 12 now, but she is required by law to start paying this debt back to you by her 16th birthday. If she doesn’t, she will be sent to debtors’ prison like everyone else looking for a handout or a free ride.
The yearly vacation is coming up fast. You know you have enough money to get out to the corporately owned lake this year, but you don’t know if you’ll have enough to get in and swim. You did the year before, for a few minutes, anyway, and it was grand.
By now you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself, “What the heck was that scenario all about? Sounds like some kind of communist nightmare!” I would respond, “Yes it does ‘sound’ that way.” Actually, though, it couldn’t be farther from it. The above scenario is a description of a purely capitalistic society.
“So you’re saying capitalism is bad?” Absolutely not. Capitalism is good if properly regulated. It makes life fun. You see your neighbor has something nice. You want one, too, so you work hard and get it. Capitalism gives us incentive to do things, to learn, to think, to pursue interests.
But because capitalism can be good in the right dosages, some people believe we should have only capitalism. I’m here to show you why that is a very bad idea.
A fun game when everybody starts on an even playing field
Would you prefer having to pay a toll every time you drove on a road or stepped foot on a sidewalk?
Pure socialism is bad. The horrors experienced under pure socialism in societies of the past and present will evidence this. The USSR is a good example. The author Ayn Rand grew up under this oppression. She was so scarred by this experience that she wrote some books about how much better society would be if it were purely capitalistic.
Fred C. Koch, father of the modern day billionaires Charles and David Koch, spent time in the Soviet Union as well, developing and profiting from the various oil refining methods he created. He was so distraught over the emaciated state of the Russian people that he too developed the idea that only pure capitalism can work.
Around the same time that Fred C. Koch was viewing the horrors of Russia, FDR was president in the United States. He would author a program called “The New Deal.” This was a socialist-minded program that would eventually allow the U.S. to pull itself out of The Great Depression.
Socialism in America?
Because of the goings on that we have seen in past and current world history, socialism remains a taboo word, but the truth of the matter is that the United States has always had socialist structures. We more commonly use softer terms like public, subsidized, etc., but all these terms are interchangeable with socialist and socialized.
Some examples of these structures are food stamps, welfare, unemployment, the highway system, public schools, police departments, fire departments, national parks, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Military, and the list goes on and on. Like the scenario given at the beginning of the article, if not for socialism we couldn’t even set foot off our property without being expected to pay a price.
The Man who Righted the Ship
Neither Pure Socialism nor Pure Capitalism Works
“So you’re saying we should all be socialists?” Absolutely not! The main point of this article is that neither system, relied on totally, works, ever has worked, or ever could work. In fact, as evidenced at the beginning of the article, either system in the absolute results in basically the same scenario.
The main difference is that in pure socialism all your freedoms are taken away and you are ordered to do things by a supreme dictator, whereas with pure capitalism one person eventually corners all the money, and the rest of us lose all freedom and are dictated by the person who wound up owning everything.
In our society why does it always have to be one way or the other? Capitalism is bad so let’s do away with it, or socialism is bad, so let’s do away with it. It’s like being asked the question what is your favorite ingredient in cake: eggs or sugar? And then being forced to either eat only eggs or sugar when you know full well that a good cake takes eggs and sugar and any number of other ingredients.
Who Chooses the Ingredients?
The people are supposed to be allowed to select the ingredients of our cake. In fairness, though our government is supposed to work this way, it never really has. Groups of people have always been marginalized and the majority of progress, good or bad, has always been primarily instigated by the wealthy, but in times past the rest of us had more of a say than now.
With the lobby system as it is and the distribution of wealth going to so few, this small group just buys most the laws. In times past, when there were more people of influence, at least it was a larger group buying most the laws and at least the voice of the rest of us got through sometimes.
These people that control things have convinced most of us of two absolutes: taxes are bad and socialism is bad, when the reality is that neither of these things are bad in the appropriate amounts. I’m going to let you in on a secret: taxes can be a good thing.
If the ultra-wealthy would just pay their share, instead of using the government to put the majority of costs on the people who have the lowest percentage of the money, it would be more evident to the rest of us how good a thing taxes can be.
What do Taxes do?
Taxes do lots of things, but primarily they should fund the nation’s socialist programs. What has happened to our socialist programs in recent years? They have deteriorated and failed. Time for another analogy.
You want to mow your lawn, but your lawnmower is broke. Well, why is it broke? It doesn’t have any gas in it. Well, then it isn’t broke, is it?! The socialist systems in this country haven’t malfunctioned as much as they just don’t have any gas. Yet those with influence in this country want to deprive our socialist systems of the fuel they need to run in order to convince us that they don’t work.
I don’t want to make this article about what socialist and capitalistic programs should be in place. I just want people to understand that despite books by Ayn Rand and the efforts of the Koch brothers with their seemingly endless financial resources used to support the cause of pure capitalism, this country can’t function without some socialist programs.
When you starve the few socialist programs we do have, nobody wins in the end but the wealthy-elite. Socialist programs are there to help upward mobility. They level the playing field.
For example, our society as a whole pays for all our youths to go to school for 13 years. In a capitalist system this wouldn’t happen. Only the rich would be able to send their rich children to school, thus greatly disabling any chance a child from a non-wealthy background has of improving his or her station in life.
Take away any of our other socialist programs and the result is similar: less opportunity for those who are not yet successful to become successful.
Would you prefer to not have National Parks?
Proposal for Change
I talked earlier about FDR pulling the U.S. out of The Great Depression with an unprecedented number of socialist programs. What did we do in our most recent financial crisis? Cut socialist programs so we could give the wealthy back all their money, which ironically is a socialist gesture in its own right, save that it only benefitted the few rather than the many.
Despite that the main focus of this article is not about what specific forms of socialist and capitalistic systems we need in place, but simply to increase awareness that both systems in the proper proportion are necessary for our society to be healthy, and that too much of either results in the same slow death, I will go ahead and propose one more socialist program.
End all the pandering to private money by destroying the lobby system. Use taxes to fund the election process. Use this money for things like having dedicated state television channels for state candidates to get their word out and a local channel for local candidates to get their word out. Make politicians talk to all of us instead of just them. Make politicians answer to the will of all of us instead of just them.
In this article I have put a lot on the reader by using vilified words. Both socialism and capitalism are seen as ugly terms in our society. Instead we use words like public, government subsidized, privately funded, etc. Can we just quit and call things what they are? There are socialist and capitalist methodologies. Neither methodology is bad in the right amount. They’re actually both necessary.
No purely socialist society has ever existed and functioned properly, but no purely capitalistic society has ever existed and functioned properly either.
I leave you with one more analogy. Iodine is poisonous to humans, yet they put it in salt. Why? Because though too much of it can kill us, if we don’t have any, we get sick and eventually die. Enough iron will kill a person, yet if we don’t get enough iron we also get sick and die.
Let socialism be our iodine. Yes, too much can be bad, but we have to have it to live. Let iron be our capitalism. Humans need more iron than they need iodine, but too much brings the same result: death.