The myth that socialism works, because of perhaps places like Scandinavian countries that employ certain degrees of socialism, with a strong capitalist backing, or places like Venezuela or Cuba, seems to vary based on the person you speak to. To people in the USA, who have lived under a similar degree of socialism as many other countries have in the past 80 years, starting with social security back in 1935, and increasingly adding on to it with medicare, medicaid and other related programs. People seem to favor certain levels of socialism. But how much is too much, and how much is enough?
Being raised in a progressive democrat family that mostly consisted of union workers, and many family members who grew up on public assistance, I saw a blatant weakness in being dependent on the government. More so just in arguing with my father, who at one time claimed to have voted for Ronald Reagan, but was let down by high oil prices as well as other economical setbacks that my father resented. Later my father, like my grandfather, would join a union and start voting democrat. But my father had a fierce independent and entrepreneurial strength about him that set him apart from most union democrats. My entire life my father built several businesses doing anything from construction to selling cleaning supplies. He tried everything, in order to gain independence. Independence from a boss, independence from the government, independence from family, and in general just independence. He was semi-successful at some of his endeavors. But he had a total of 9 kids, 5 of which he had from a previous marriage and paid a significant amount of child support for. So just when he would get ahead, he would have to catch up on child support, and starve his business, and then it would end up driving him into a depression that he would often cure with a drinking binge that would then lead him to more catastrophes such as jail and financial turmoil. But, his entrepreneurial spirit never died. The only time that my dad and I had serious disagreements about politics, is when he became a union democrat, and I would try to preach the idea of conservatism to him. There was a duplicity that I didn’t understand. Such as why on one hand be an independent business owner, and at the same time, vote for people who want to make it harder for you to be in business?
What I see is not a stronger society, but a more dependent society. Some people seem to think that dependence is the natural order of things, and others like myself disagree.
After all of these years watching socialism bankrupt this country, I wonder to what end. Will we become like Nazi Germany? Will we become like other Marxist based ideology driven societies like the former Soviet Union, or Cuba? Now we see Venezuela going through the same tragic fallouts of Marxist societies from the past. Empty shelves at the super market, government tyranny, etc.
This just came to a head again just a few days ago, in Venezuela. This isn’t really being reported on main stream media. However there are youtube videos, and smaller news outlets showing the riots and the protests, and the police killing people without good reason in the streets. The super market shelves are empty, the government is broke, and in disarray.
- Riots and gunfire in the streets of Venezuela on February 19th 2016
- Venezuela Is Out Of Food: Here’s What An Economic Collapse Really Looks Like
Socialism killed productivity and tanked the Venezuelan economy. Just like it has done in almost every other socialist experiment in the world. There is those Scandinavian countries that have tried on socialism a little as well. But in reality, they are no more socialist than the USA. We have social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, etc. Over 70 million government assistance checks get cut every month from the Federal government (not including state assistance checks). So the USA has been practicing socialism for a very long time, and the results are 18 trillion dollars in debt and county rapidly. The big difference, is that the Scandinavian countries weed out cronyism, like when Iceland prosecuted the bankers and ran them out of their country.
But that is not to say life is better there. They may spend less on healthcare, but for example if you want a Big Mac meal in Norway, you will be paying $23. If you want to buy a simple compact car, you will be paying more than twice as much. So some things are cheaper, and some things are more expensive. But most of these countries rank much higher in economic freedom and corporate/business freedom than the USA, or are comparable. The USA has the highest corporate tax rate in the world of developed nations, and with much regulation, it is not hard to be better at business in other parts of the world. This is why we see so many jobs going over seas.
Is there a healthy balance? We talk so much about how healthcare costs so much of our GDP in the USA compared to other countries. However, my doctor in Maine does not accept insurance, and therefore is able to opt out of much of the government regulations regarding socialist programs, and filing paperwork and transcripts to meet those regulations. My doctor charges me what use to be what I paid for my co-pay alone. So instead of me paying my copay, and the insurance picking up the rest. I basically just pay what was the price of my co-pay, and the doctors office doesn’t have to deal with insurance at all. In fact, my doctor isn’t the only one. There are other doctors doing this. reference<
Rand Paul who is a doctor at his own private practice sees how government subsidies and fixed pricing drives health care costs up as well;
So when people blame capitalism for driving costs up, the big picture tells a much different story. Just like with how Obama-care (the ACA) has clearly drove premiums and costs way up for patients and doctors. Reference;
Even Cuba is turning back to Capitalism, after almost 50 years of denying private ownership of lands and businesses. Cuba had gotten to the point where Marxists ideologies that it had adopted from the former Soviet Union had created shortages so badly, that Cuba was importing via foreign aid, over 80% of it’s food. Meaning that they were not paying for it, and they were not producing it, foreign aid was being provided for almost all of Cuba’s food. But Cuba in recent years has just started issuing business licenses again, and allowing for land ownership, and thus turning their dire economic system around. We hear people like Michael Moore boast of how well Cuba is doing. However, if it was doing so well, it wouldn’t be getting foreign aid to supplement over 80% of their food for their people. It’s interesting to see how capitalism is benefiting Cuba.
There are lessons to be learned by all of these different economic systems. Certainly the USA doesn’t have it all figured out, since we are so deeply in debt. But the other counties also have their short-comings as well. One thing is for sure, is that dependence can be dangerous, no matter where you live. Im sure there will be a lot of lessons to come out of this time in Venezuelan present/history. Will they do as Cuba and other former Marxists societies are starting to do, or have already done, and merge back into a more capitalist society? Will they learn from Iceland’s success with kicking the bankers out, and rejecting cronyism? Will the USA ever be able to separate the difference between cronyism and capitalism, or shall I say “free markets”? Because I think confusing those two can be dangerous, and it may be what is influencing some people to learn towards socialism? I think the younger generations are so tired of what is going on, that they are willing to try ANYTHING different. But the mistake that I see them making, is tying cronyism, to capitalism, when the two are vastly different ideologies.
The one thing that we can take from history, is that socialism, communism, and fascism all have a lot in common, mostly Marxist ideologies. But they also have totalitarianism, and lack of choice in common as well. In a government operated socialist society, it always requires full compliance, by force. For example, if I do not subscribe to the government’s retirement program (AKA social security), then I will be tried on ‘tax evasion’ charges, and if found guilty, I would face prison time, and if I refused to go to prison, and pay penalties, then men with guns will come to my home, kidnap me, and take me away to lock me in a cage. I mean try not paying social security “taxes” and see what happens. There are many examples out there of other people who have tried.
This isn’t much different from the “democratic socialism” in Nazi Germany.
It is my belief that in a libertarian society, it is perfectly acceptable to CHOOSE socialism. But it is not required. In a socialist society, it is not acceptable to choose liberarianism. That is where this gets dangerous in a socialist society. Force vs. volunteerism is the real topic here in my opinion.