Many Americans may resent the notion that the United States is a socialist country. I’m not saying that it should be or that it shouldnt be. Im saying that it already is. It has been for many many decades now, even over a century. Though many people pridefully if not arrogantly presume otherwise.
First of all, let us look into the past at the first great corporations. I forget some of the pronouns now, so you may not find it easy to look any of this up. But its there, in the history books, for anyone to find.
In the early years of American industry, but in particular the early 20th century and late 19th, there were men of corporate power who took advantage of the American people. They had outrageously priced products and services – products and services that some people required necessarily. They ran monopolies and their capitalist greed was taken to a corrupted extreme.
Over the years, the government has instituted laws that prevent monopolies. No one company is legally permitted to corner the market and undermine fair competition at the cost of the people. There have been companies who attempted act contrary, and they were disband or broken into several smaller companies by order of the government (whichever branch, probably the judicial).
Preventing the monopoly was probably the first case in American history in which the Federal government decided to regulate a component of free capitalism for the interests of the people.
Still, today, some companies though distinct from one another will operate in a cooperative monopoly anyway. Oil industry, for example. And many consumers find it unfair. The government has investigated. And prices are outrageous and inexcusable. Though these companies in question are technically abiding by law, their practices are highly unethical and morally questionable. But that is the nature of unregulated capitalism.
Unregulated capitalism, we are not. And for any American who admits that much has already admitted that we are a socialist country. Because socialism is by definition any economy that is regulated by the government, to one extent of another. Pure capitalism is on one end of the spectrum, pure communism on the other, and everything in between is a certain degree of each and is called socialist.
What else does our government do to interfere with “pure capitalism”? How else is the USA a socialist nation?
For one, the notion of public safety, health, etc. The government steps in and requires that safety precautions be provided by employers. Everything from a stepping latter to protective air purifying mask for painting. An employer cannot hire cheaper labor who accepts the risks of a lack of safety precautions. Sure, some jobs are more hazardous than others, but regulations are in place nonetheless and no employer can deliberately hire employees under the pretence of violating those regulations.
We have the Food and Drug Administration which requires food nutritional values be met and labelled, risks to be labelled. For both food and medication. The surgeon general. They decide whether or not a capitalist-made drug is worthy of the public market… and who is to say what their requirements are. The risk of corruption is that bad drugs will be sold and good drugs not, for reasons of capitalist profit margins.
Im not allowed to build a nuclear power plant in my basement if I wanted to. I couldnt hook it up to the grid and offer my own power.
We have the Better Business Bureau.
We have the ATF. We have the government who puts additional taxes on certain products to help regulate them. The government also enforces certain rules, such as the trade and purchase of deadly weaponry such as guns – we need a permit and we need to be registered.
Taxes in general are a form of price control and manipulation. But its a necessary one, for any government to function.
Many products, if not always then in certain economic conditions, will have caps on prices placed.
Register your weaponry, register your residency, register to vote, register as a citizen, register your vehicle. Get a license to drive, get a license to handle food, to practice law, to practice medicine, to teach or open a school. Pink slips for ownership.
Havent you ever heard of unemployment benefits? Medical benefits and Medicaid? Food stamps? Social security?
Corporate bail outs? Economic stimulus?
There is even prosecutory double standards when it comes to receiving stolen goods. (see my article on Receiving Stolen Goods)
Subsidization of certain products such as milk, which would be far too expensive without the help of the good old government.
We have consumer rights, employee rights, equal opportunity laws, housing laws, home owner rights. Let us not forget the recent changes in the credit card industry, disallowing them to alter interest rates on debts already made, even though a foolish consumer agreed to it in contract.
We have laws giving rights to clubs and labor unions who might go on strike, and protecting their right to do so. Laws protect traders of stocks and bonds. Stock trade also has its regulations. We have federally insured banks and credit unions.
Government funding. Government issued bonds. Government assistance in education, government loans for student, government loans for research. What is the national debt? Is that money the government owes or money the people owe?
We give help to small business in the face of severe big-business competition. Federal employees are the work-force embodiment of a socialized economy. Tax write-off’s offered to individuals for their business expenses, not their personal expenses. Of course, you need a business license.
Public education, everything from elementary school to high school is socialized. School standards are regulated, curricula are regulated, and they are funded. It functions as well as it does. People complain, of course, but if not for it being publicly offered no one would ever learn. Is capitalist education at the elementary level really what capitalists want?
What are my options in water utility companies? One? What sort of water can I buy from them? Just one type? And if I dont pay my water bill? Will I be forced to die of thirst?
And if your retort is something of the order, “we get out what we put in” or “I bought these privileges with my tax money” then… of course! Socialist or not, all countries tax its people to fund the programs its government endorses. No government can function without funding. Socialist or not, the government could not function and offer these very socialist programs and interferences if not for taxation – your hard earned income.
What of any and every industry the government has endorsed or helped, including coal, oil, iron and steal. There have been wars in our past where the government has stepped in and asked for the industries to get on the ball, and help was offered. The entire military industrial complex. Some would argue that wars have been fought over control of a product – such as the whole middle eastern war controversy.
And of all the governmental influence in our economy, making us socialist in every respect, we are still far too capitalist. The government is far too capitalist. I have a right to justice, but only if I am willing to pay good money to file the necessary paperwork. And only if Im willing to pay good money on a good lawyer who might stand a chance of winning against the army of lawyers owned by the big corporation Im suing in the first place.
What of my Constitutional right to life? Why should I pay for essential medical care? Why should doctors who swear to the Hippocratic Oath turn me away when I need help, or hypocritically slack off or cut corners for profit margin reasons? Why should health insurance companies debate on approving my claims while I sit in wait – are they hoping for me to die first? Why the hell should health insurance be a business in the first place? How unethical a company, and why should any customer buy their services knowing that such a company is gambling that you will die before they have to pay out a dime?
Why should I pay for the basic, essential sustenance to support life? I would be the first to admit that food stamps and socialized food should not buy the indulgences of a gluttonous life, but surely I ought to be able to buy a bag of rice on the governments tab just to stay healthily fed, with no obligation to pay for it myself.
Why should the child services be more inclined to take children away from loving parents who struggle to support them, when the government could just as easily offer financial aid to those families? Is this not a case of preferring capitalism over socialism at the cost of childrens’ happiness and family sanctity?
Have you ever tried to pick up a copy of your Constitutional rights? The country wont give you a copy for free, you have to buy it at the book store. How is that for capitalism getting in the way of people knowing their rights? What about law books in general? You cant know what your rights are, what is legal and what isn’t legal, why they are arresting you and why the are prosecuting you, how to get out of it, how to defend yourself, what stipulations or bureaucratic motions will save you… not unless you want to buy a lawyer or buy law school, or equivalently their books. They give you legal representation for free, which is a violation of free capitalist markets; but you must pay for your own competent, experienced legal representation, which is a violation of your rights to justice.
Why should I get a water bill? Its not like I have a choice about which water utility company I want to use, or the quality of water I want to buy. Are they going to withhold my water and have me die of thirst? Are they?
We are concerned in our country about corrupted laws made by corrupted lawyers and corrupted judges, who are in the pockets of the rich. We are concerned about corrupted police, corrupted politicians, unethical businesses, etc. But that is the nature of capitalism. If youre a capitalist, full and true, quit complaining when someone else rams you in the butt. This is the nature of the society you endorse. Dont you dare turn to law for what you are owed in business.
Whether you realize it or not, whether you want to admit it or not, we are in part a socialist nation. We are because we are not purely capitalist. And I know of no one who would want it to be more purely capitalist, perhaps with the exception of those in financial power – and doesnt that speak more toward the corruption of capitalism than anything else? I do know of plenty who want it less capitalist than it is, however; and you need not be a bum in the gutter looking for a free handout to believe in the virtues of communism.
Many of us argue that communism is corrupted. Or that socialism is. NO. No more so or less so than capitalism. Capitalism is based on greed and self-serving agendas. Its based on ethical corruption. Money and wealth is the deciding factor in any pure capitalism. No one serves their society in a capitalism, they serve themselves. The unfortunate thing about it all is that the system is designed to function like that. We would like to believe ourselves ethical, and yet we design and choose to live in a “serve thyself” society. And its stable as a consequence because all of us have the same greedy mentality. We operate our lives under the design criteria of the system.
Sure, communisms might become corrupted. But only because the hearts of men and women are corruptible, not because the system itself is inherently flawed.
Imagine a communist society where the government leadership is financially regulated. Where they cannot affect their own pay. Where they cannot profit beyond the basic needs, as any other comrade would. Those leaderships cannot possibly be financial corrupted or pocketed by a corporation.
If communism fails it fails only because money still exists in some fashion, even if in the form of barter and trade of goods. Communisms fail because the people never give it a fair chance. The people are corrupted, not the leadership. The people are capitalist at heart. The people want power and wealth, they want the promise of selfishly beating out their neighbors at a better life. The people horde if they can, and act slovenly if they see no profit in serving. The people are capitalist at heart, they function against the grain of the economy, and its no wonder the economy ultimately fails.
Capitalism is far more corruptable. Far more unethical. The only difference is stability. Stability is brought about by compliance with the system. And that is a second difference – the wide, near unanimous acceptance.
Many Americans dont recognize the difference between socialism and communism, they dont recognize a difference between communism as an economic system and dictatorship as a political system. In part this is ignorance of the individual, but propaganda and media play a role in the Americans persistent hatred toward systems of economy they never even lived under.
No one likes being at the shitty end of the economic stick, but they all have the delusion of one day making it at the top. And so they appreciate the system. They are hypocrites. They complain about being at the bottom and wish to undermine the system, asking for special help from the government (and they have won that battle many times)… but when they are at the top, with the power and the influence over our corrupted elected leadership, they no longer complain about the system.
Americans are in part victims of their own propaganda. For no other reason is socialism and communism frowned on in these United States. Unless youre an immigrant, you havent lived with socialism or communism. And whereas many people move to the US due to a failed or failing economy elsewhere, there are still plenty of people who move out of our predominantly capitalist nation in favor of socialism.
Many Americans will cite particular nations, such as Russia, as an example of failed communism. And yet they forget that Russia is already an inhospitable region with difficult times. Not unlike Eastern Europe, they suffered the destruction caused by European wars without reaping the benefits of the economic stimulus it caused. Americans also forget that this age of technology makes instituting a functional socialism or communism far more feasible, and that it may simply not have been practical when Russia first began it. Then again, their failure might just have been bad luck and bad timing, but would have succeeded. Maybe they were the victims of a corrupted leadership. Who knows? Bare in mind, also, that Russia had an entirely different socio-political system to begin with, absent of the democratic element to begin with, and the economic system may have been doomed from its inception for no fault of the economic system itself.
So much propaganda throughout the cold war era has forced Americans into holding a hardened anti-socialist fear-inducing bigotry from which there is no real escape. Americans know no better and they are too afraid to try for anything better.
In regards to socialism and communism, many Americans love the Straw Man fallacy. Arguments of “doomed to failure” and “corruption” and “political freedom” and “loss of civil rights” and “loss of democracy”, etcetera, abound. Socialism is an economic philosophy, not a political one, and has nothing to do with rights or freedoms… except your right to abuse other people with an agenda of personal gain at the expense of others, but I hardly see that “right” being infringed as a bad thing. I see no reason why a democratic nation cannot democratically choose the socialist policies its elected leadership enforces. Leaders dont become corrupted because of the economic system, they become corrupted because of a flawed political and governmental system which gives politicians a means of serving themselves over their people.
We can surely maintain a democratic republic and have a socialized economy at the same time. The two are distinct matters of state. One is an economic system and the other is a political system. If the people choose socialism then its a democratic choice, one which can just as easily be democratically reverted. Rights are not taken or granted through economy, but through politics. And quite frankly, I would much rather have a government whose leaders werent in big-industries back pockets, but who were incapable of seeing dollar signs in their own wallets when they made their decisions.
Those who snarl at the results of the democratic process – such as political leaders and their policies, laws passed in Congress, laws passed by the people – are actually snarling at democracy on whole. For you cannot disapprove of a democratic decision without advocating a preference for your own ideology to be implemented instead, in spite, contrary to democracy… and thereby the critic is a passive dictator.