Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
There has been a lot of chatter lately about “socialism”, sometimes referred to as “democratic socialism”. Let’s take a minute and learn a little about what socialism is, and is not.
“Socialism” is a government and economic theory. In a socialist system, the means of production – i.e., industry, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, etc. – as well as the social services – i.e., health care, education, etc. – are centrally, communally owned, generally by the government. The government can be democratically selected, as in Great Britain, or dictatorial, as in Venezuela, despite the trappings of democracy. The central authority (let’s call a spade a spade, the Government) controls the resource allocation as well as determining the types and extent of the means of production, which results in a command economy. Since the scope and direction of the economy (writ large) is dictated from on high, there is no oxygen for innovation. Basically, you work where the government provides work.
Management of the means of production, as well as the providing of social services, is classically done by the workers themselves through elected, or appointed, supervisors, etc. Again, the management controls only the industry allocated to their collective and has only the resources allocated centrally with which to work. In theory, the management can provide raises, promotions, incentives, etc., but only within the guidelines, express or implied, from above. Free-lancing, or working outside the system, is severely frowned upon although prevalent in a socialist society.
Socialism in its purist form has never succeeded on any scale for a significant period of time without harsh repression and dictatorial government powers. The national health system in Great Britain is the best example of a socialist industry (health care) imposed upon the citizens of an otherwise democratic state. The health care provided is generally good to excellent, when you can access it. Because of the central restrictions, physicians have no incentive to work longer and utilize technology because there is no upside to such efforts. So, there are long waits for basic care or even emergency care. Those that can, seek health care outside Great Britain, even though they have to pay for it themselves.
The flip side is North Korea, which tries to be a classic socialist state with the government controlling EVERYTHING. The result – 95+% of the people are starving or severely malnourished. Kim Jung Un spends billions of dollars on nuclear weapons to burnish his image while his people suffer. Unlike many other so-called socialist states, Kim does not permit or tolerate any efforts by the people to earn money outside the system in order to survive.
Could socialism succeed in the United States? Absolutely Not!! First and foremost, our Nation was born out of a struggle against the most powerful nation in the World at that time, a struggle for our RIGHTS and LIBERTIES. We will never surrender our God-given inalienable rights for the opportunity to stand in line for a flu shot or to work at a soul-destroying job because that is what the central authority requires. Secondly, the costs being thrown around are so astronomical as to be totally unrealistic and devastating. I for one do not want to pay 90% of my income in taxes to salve someone’s conscience. There are more AMERICAN ways to address social inequalities in the United States than surrendering to an outdated, unworkable, theory that has never been successful.
In the next two years we will hear a lot of talk about socialism as the snake oil for what ails us – pure socialism, democratic socialism, progressive socialism, liberal socialism, ad nauseum. When you hear that blather, ask the speaker where his or her scheme has ever worked before, what the cost in hard-earned dollars and cents will be, and why they see it as the solution. In other words, have they given up on America?