Larry Rankin is among the millions of hardworking denizens of the world disillusioned by the abuses of the ultra-wealthy.
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.
Why Socialism Has a Bad Rep
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.
Is There 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.
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.
My 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.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on October 03, 2017:
Linda: thanks so much for the kind words.
Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on September 28, 2017:
Good Morning Larry Loved this hub so interesting and so much incredible information on an excellent topic. I look forward to reading more of your hubs and to following you. Linda
Neil Sperling from Port Dover Ontario Canada on June 09, 2016:
Goodbye Socialism. Goodbye Capitalism. Goodbye Communism. Hello and Welcome "Thrivalism."
Huang on December 25, 2014:
It should be like this I earn my money I deicde how to spend it Including how and who I want to give help to There are always exceptions to the rule but I'm sure there are fewer people who truly need help and socialism hurts those who truly need the help because money is spread far too thin and often go to *help* the freeloaders, yes tax in Europe is high and often usage based.I remember in Italy how expensive Gas was (taxes) and of how much the tax rate was comparing it to how *nice* things were (socially) speak clearly that social programs just don't work!
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on December 20, 2014:
First I'd like to point out that this article is not about free healthcare. It is about the necessity of some public services.
As to free or low cost healthcare, I'm for it. Everybody always speaks passionately about how it won't work, but if you look at the rest of the world, most developed countries have it and it has worked.
As to the stagnation of procedure and medicinal development, it is a valid concern. I haven't poured over all the data, but it sure seems like when I read articles about medical development, more often than not this development is occurring in countries that have some manner of socialized healthcare.
Miranda on December 20, 2014:
doesn't free healthcare sfefur in quality? I despise economics and typically abstain from such discussions, and maybe I'll pay for that later, but I like the competitve nature of private medicine. I think it moves the medical world standards forward as a whole with scientists and doctors trying to be the best. Sure I might pay for a better doctor, but I like that option of choosing something better. Are brittish doctors working to be better than the next guy? to develop groundbreaking procedures? Why should they? it's not going to allow them to charge more than that next guy. Seems there would be some stagnation in medical progress.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 28, 2014:
Mrs. Obvious: Thank you so much for the positive response:)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 28, 2014:
I'll never understand why so many people insist on getting hung up on absolutes: absolute socialism, absolute capitalism. Between the two are a million miles of more fertile ground.
JG, under your way of thinking we have been a socialist society since 1920. That just isn't true. What infrastructure? Look our your front door, man. Schools, post offices, roads, police, fire departments, etc. Now get a time machine and go back to the early U.S. Look outside and you'll just see a bunch of shacks, starvation, disease, and trees, lots and lots of trees.
Goods are the things that are produced. By no means do they have to be tangible. The product of a school is an educated population. The product of the police force is safety. The products of a law firm is representation. The product of a job service is aid in finding employment. The point is, there are thousands upon thousands of professions both in the private and public sector that produce goods you can't hold in your hand.
The military has nothing to do with education? Above all else, the military is a system of vocational education. Like most vocational systems of education, it requires students come in with general skills. If you suffocate the public education system, it makes the military's job much harder, if not impossible, as it would for our vocational programs, as it would for our university systems.
Private schools are better than public ones? People realize that there are some really lousy public schools out there, but they don't realize there are some really good ones. In comparison, people realize there are some really wonderful private schools out there, but they don't realize that there are also some epically lousy ones. If you factor in that public schools take all eligible students and private schools handpick, I have a hard time believing private schools are all that much better. I don't doubt that in a given scenario a private school may be our best choice, (i.e. your local public school is lousy and the private one isn't) but the opposite is also often true. Even if private school is your best route in a given scenario, what is the first thing you're going to try to do? Probably secure public aid for tuition.
Social clubs are not socialist structures? Please show me where in the general definition of socialism that it indicates it doesn't make it socialist if you have the option to opt out or not be a part of the program. Socialism indicates "collective or government ownership," so whether it is our welfare systems or you and your buddies paying dues for a garden club, it is a socialist structure.
Willow Mattox from Northern California on July 26, 2014:
Thank you for this well-written, balanced, and intelligent hub. I loved it. Please keep writing on these topics. Your style is easy to read, personable, and digests some very complex concepts into manageable information. I wholeheartedly agree with your position and views. Great hub!
jgshorebird on July 26, 2014:
No. Ron Paul is a religious fellow. Not me. Ron Paul is against abortion, not me. But a lot of the stuff he says, especially about the FED is right on the mark.
But, yes my dear detractors, that is always the essence of this fight: slavery. Do you think we should enslave ourselves to ourselves? I'd say we should seek mutual cooperation, respect, and voluntarily servitude. Name it what you will.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 26, 2014:
jg: Now we are getting to the essence of your fear. You must be a disciple of Ron Paul's doctrine. The 13th amendment prohibits Involuntary Servitude except under specific conditions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_servitude...
jgshorebird on July 25, 2014:
PP73 I just responded to the drone. The drum you guys beat - the mix is good you say. No, it is not. Socialism is the idea that, in addition to supporting those organs of government which protect the basic freedoms, it wants to absolve itself of the ominous label which is a known. That label is: Involuntary Servitude. Short enough?
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 25, 2014:
You like to hear yourself talk don't you? If I had never heard of communism, I would still think that in order for a society to function properly it still needs a balance between socialism and capitalism. Not the extremes,but in moderation on both sides. But you see, that requires judgement to be able to run a society like that. This does not mean that LR and I are communist, we are just able to see the good in both systems. Didn't anybody teach you about verbose language? You are hung up in the cold ware of the Soviet Union.
jgshorebird on July 24, 2014:
...and the beat goes on.
Sorry, guys, I'll continue to adhere to real stuff, ever so pugnaciously - to defined terms. But I also enjoy the rants you guys provide. And back to the front lines...
poeplepower73 simply refuses to define terms. Okay. I will take another tack then. Woodcarving Clubs, Political Parties, Clubs run by people for whatever reason, not supported by taxpayer funds, are 'social' organs, sure. They are not 'socialist' organs, however. Private voluntary clubs, not enforced membership organs, are not capitalistic, but socialistic, in the very sense – that the membership is mandatory, rather than voluntary. You guys do not want to touch that third rail. This is why, in the past, I have given you folks the 'no guts' award. If you believe in slavery, even partial slavery, then own up to it. No? Why Not?
I still want PP73 to learn a bit. He seems to love to lump crud in. No matter. People are free to join these 'clubs' PP73. Not so within the confines of Socialistic mandates. Within these confines are requirements, rules and laws (moral or not) which enforce such 'joinings'. Darned big difference. That is the key here. Involuntary Servitude. When will you and LR (our great blog maker) admit that? Must we always live in servitude? Have you ever even conceived that mankind - the average person - will do the right thing? No. We must be told. Regulated. Orchestrated and placated. 5-Year planned to the grave. Why? It is best for the common good? Really?
And LR - I support socialist constructs? No. I'm for any method (and I don't have all the solutions like you guys) to support constructs which simply protect rights (as I have mentioned) monetarily supported in such a fashion as to encumber as few as possible people to fiscally support - until such a time where voluntarily payments (such as lotteries, bonds etc.) can support the entire game. No Utopia. The idea is more freedom, not creating an army of 'citizens' for the greater good - be it based on minute increments of socialism or not.
Label me as you will, but be at ready for such colorful comparisons as I would offer. I do not think either of you (LR or PP73) are Neo-Nazi Nymphs or Leninist Leftovers, only that both of you think just a smidgen, that their plans - just a dab of their philosophy – just the bleak bloody reminder of such failed governments, can somehow inject our 'great society' with proverbial mirth. How? Are we to enter the Great Greek Economy? They like socialism - and some even like Nazism. They are broke. Wakey wakey. The dollars are falling as are the Great Greeks. Oh, you say, just speed up the digital printing presses – take a vote. End the the bleed man.
And PP73, political parties, in the sense they simply influence votes or edicts, produce nothing. Production, in the economic sense, means an actual tangible or non-tangible thing, not supported or purchased with taxpayer dollars. Pure production, in other words. If political parties produce, then so do fleas, lice, and any manner of animal which suckles at the breast of the tax. Political parties simply influence the powers that be. They are consumers, after they consume the tax, after the producer produces. Elementary my dear PP73. Open thine eye – singular. Try one at first. The light of honesty often blinds. Two eyes wide open would surely engorge the frontal lobes with something which has apparently not been forthcoming in this lifetime: rational thought.
And why do you, dear sirs of the 'deaded' past, where rank bodies ripened in the forests of Socialism, fear the label of such? Every Socialistic society of recent memory, be it Arabic Princes, German Fascists, the USSR, Elder Chinese Folk, North Korea, Pol Pot, Gaza, etc., all decried the desperate equation of Socialism. Why on earth can I not label you, however stagnant your deceptive ideas are just that: bankrupt and devoid of essence? These are not absurd propositions, but sacred fact – something which your kind chooses to bury in the graves – not unlike the ideas which you spout. No different. Millions of Poles, Jews, Russians, Chinese, etc., died not in the name of freedom, but Socialism. Yes – I hold your backward philosophies to the fires of integrity. And that is where they become ash. Why some continue to play in ashes is not so confusing. It is no different than the rioters after the football game. It is, for the team – not what is moral – but for the team – the group – a herd. A stampede. No intellect, just brute force, after the scared beasts are frightened of the thunder. Go with the flow.
Taxation is involuntary now. Prior to the 1920s there was no income tax, but yes, there were many different taxes. The wealthy, prior to the formation of the union of states (which many hated the label of 'nation') gave funds in order to secure their cause(s). We are not a perfect union. This is a known. We are an experiment. But we have (the US has) split the difference. We broke the power base into parts. You know the parts. It was an effort to eliminate Socialism, Nationalism (arguable), Kings, Despots, and the bane of the past: Centralized Power. It was an effort to release us from the serfdom of England, but alas, the spawn was stillborn. This does not negate that some of us are radical freedom lovers, bent on the birth of a cause yet to be; and continue to build the walls against despotism, be they despots of the majority, Philo-Kings (Socialism), or just plain old Dictators (all are of the same breed). We, the individuals, not 'the people' relegate the rubbish of thought to trash bins of crime. In other words, involuntary taxes are criminal. Oh banish such a future, where can such a non-Utopian society break bread?
And taxation again. There appears to be max tax. If you peruse the government-eco news – and I'm certain you don't – many studies appear to exhibit a tax max. Meaning, no matter the rate – 4% to 24% the take is about the same – as a percentage of GDP (PP73 will understand GDP stuff).
And LR I am ashamed of your wordage. Your short stories are far superior, than your ability to conceptualize – or is that wordage better stated this way: obfuscate. "But the infrastructure of society does require we pay taxes and it is all interrelated." (Out of context.) What is the the infrastructure of society? And how does "it" require us to pay taxes" – blank out. There is no duty to pay, no requirement, only a desire to support that which one feels is desirable to ensure one's basic freedoms. Infrastructure must be delineated. Obfuscation has no merit. It is the game of tyrants. State particulars, don't shy away. Lofty amorphous statements evaporate under scrutiny. To claim that the military requires me to pay for public schools is very silly. Have you ever been to a Marine Barracks? Some will answer the question: "What is your blood type?" with "RED." I'm not knocking the military. Just saying that many would learn more on the farm. Those who wish to learn more or whose parents pushed – will. Private Schools are far superior.
Lastly, LR, there is no Country. No Nation. I apologize if in your barricaded life, where you have failed to examine your actual premises, it did not engender such thinking. There is only a 'cause'. A cause to live free, live the life of a serf, or attempt, at your self-defined price, to live as free as you can. Socialism is, at its core: Involuntary Servitude. Have the guts to admit it. A piece of dirt – a nation of people - has no real meaning. Dirt is dirt. Nations are like Nazis – a call to poop down the drain. Once they have convinced you that nations exist, the the good of many is paramount - that 'servant leadership' is in vogue – you are well on you way Socialistic-Capitalistic Modern Day America. Welcome to 'Your World'.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 23, 2014:
Very well said. I think you have gotten to the essence of the issue.Your comments have met the objectives of the title of your article.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 23, 2014:
To JGShorebird and Peoplepower73, I have enjoyed this last back and forth immensely.
In my last comment I called Peoplepower73 out for calling JG an extremist, because though JG is very far to the right, he supports some socialist constructs, thus, in my opinion, this makes him not an extremist. In contradiction, JG defines himself as an extremist because he refuses to believe the socialist constructs he supports are socialist. Go figure?
This time I am going to call JG out for continuing to call Peoplepower73 and myself socialists in the sense of the USSR and even going as far as to liken us to Hitler. This is the same as and worse than calling us extremists. Again, you have two major factions of moderate in this country: moderate liberal and moderate conservative. Neither of these groups are purely socialist or capitalist.. I'm speaking for Peoplepower73, but I think he would agree that both of us fit firmly in the center of moderate liberals. In my opinion, JG is at the farthest right of moderate conservative, so far that it wouldn't be that big of a misstep to call him an extremist, especially since he continues to define himself as such.
The point is that both pure capitalism and pure socialism lead to a very similar hell on earth. That is what the article is trying to indicate, that both are bad in the extreme and both are good in the proper increments. This has been reinforced by Peoplepower, others, and myself throughout the comments stage. JG, we are not socialists for believing this. We are not Hitlers. We are not rapists of the rich as you have indicated at times (don't even know where to began with why that analogy is wrong). We are moderates trying to steer the ship from the insanities of extremism.
I haven't said as much as I might about your peculiar analogies up to this point and suggestions of extremism, because they are so darn absurd that they are amusing, but now I will ask you a question: When does ignorance become just good old-fashioned stupidity? Those who agree with me can't, by definition, be pure capitalists or pure socialists, yet you continue to refer to us as such. You continue to support certain structures that are for the people and of the people and refuse to define them as socialized structures. The whole thing is so baffling, I can't help but laugh.
Now on to another aspect we covered some earlier, but I don't think has been properly sounded out. The history of taxes in the U.S. When did our founding fathers realize we needed taxes for our little social experiment to work? The answer: pretty much immediately after the Revolution. What did pretty much every tax proposal that our founding fathers tried to put in place have in common. That the wealthy pay a slightly higher level of tax than the less wealthy. It wasn't until recently in our history that we decided to flip things, and it wasn't until very recently that we decided to make the tax % of the wealthy around half of that paid by the rest of us.
It is true that early U.S. citizens paid very little in taxes, but there was very little infrastructure. If the best quality of life at a time in history involves a home with no running water or electricity, very few roads, very little technology, a very small population, and massive resources ripe for the taking, you only need about 3-4% paid in taxes. Peoplepower has indicated several times that this is still true. If you want to build a shack in the middle of nowhere and live off the land with no access to technology, medical care, etc., and pay little to no taxes, you still can.
But the infrastructure of society does require we pay taxes and it is all interrelated. Let me give an example. You are willing to pay taxes for military, but not for public school. Well, with the technology that has been created, the modern soldier must have social skills, be able to read well, write well, understand some aspects of physics, science, and math. Not only is it preferable that the modern soldier be able to do these things, but that he or she is good at these things.
How is the modern soldier to be good at these things without public education? How are we to have a healthy military at all if we let our people die of third-world diseases and starvation? I use the military as an example, because I know it is important to JG, and we need to understand how our infrastructure is interrelated to the strength and smooth function of our country.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 22, 2014:
Let see if your Google definition for socialism fits my use of it. " a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."
That pretty much fits a club. My woodcarving club has a means of production, distribution, and exchange, and is owned and regulated by the club. Therefore by that definition, the NRA is a socialist organization. They have a means of production. They produce training courses, and materials for members. They distribute to their members for the exchange of dues. However, the lobby groups that influence them are capitalist because they are paying them for a service that just benefits the lobby group.
Let's see if this works for political parties. A political party has a means of production. It produces a candidate for a political position. It produces and distributes campaign information in exchange for donations and it is owned and regulated by the party. Now the lobby groups that influence it are capitalist, by the same rational as before. In the final analysis it's really not about you. If you choose to be a hermit and live totally isolated from society and then it is about you. I mentioned the GDP, because companies that caused the financial meltdown walked away with gazillions of dollars that did not contribute to the GDP. Why , because they never produced a product. It was just a numbers game and out the other end came the money.
I told you the insurance company is a capitalist form. But if it's group insurance, it's socialist form. The members of the group are in a club. I'm not going to qualify it again. Mutual funds are also a club. They are producing a service for their members in exchange for the buy into the mutual fund. It is regulated by the fund mangers for the community members.
The original argument was in the title of this hub: “The Necessity of Capitalism and Socialism in a Functional Society” I'm trying to prove to you that it is necessary. If you are going to live in a functional society. Everything that you write about is about you, Not the functional society.
Here is Google's definition of society:
The aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community."drugs, crime, and others are dangers to society"
synonyms: the community, the (general) public, the people, the population; More
the community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations.
An organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity.
"the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals"
synonyms: association, club, group, circle, fellowship, guild, lodge, fraternity, brotherhood, sisterhood, sorority, league, union, alliance
I guess that lets you out.
jgshorebird on July 22, 2014:
I did not define Socialism. It was defined long before me and you. And you have re-defined it yet again. Apparently you disagree with a googled version of it: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. Let me repeat: production, distribution and exchange.
Police protect and they can exist in any type of social system. Advocating for law enforcement, the military and a legal system in order to protect my rights to my own personal property, my freedom to breathe air and my desire to eliminate misconceived notions about incorrectly attributed definitions via blog posts (free speech) - is non-socialist. You really need to invest in a dictionary. But I think the purpose of this semantic argument - is just that: to argue for no apparent reason. Maybe to attract readers? Come on - Mutual Funds are Socialist? Wow. Insurance companies???
Mutual Funds are collections of stocks, essentially. Stocks are private property. How is that socialist? Propaganda. You probably even convinced yourself... When you walk by a dozen eggs do you 'see' socialism? I see 12 eggs in a cartoon. If a private insurance company sells life insurance, how on earth is that socialist? Help me out here...
Why are you hung up on GDP? I don't work for the greater good. I work for my family. (Oh I forgot - families are Socialist...there you go again. Families are dual dictatorships actually, if there are two parents.) As do a lot of folks.
Whether I profit by selling hot cakes or derivatives, it's my business. The way to increase GDP is to dismantle socialist programs, such as Social Security, Welfare to Welfare, Medicaid etc. Stop the bleeding. Eliminate the waste. Take the teat from the mouth and grow up - and support yourself. If one cannot even guarantee one's own income, since life has no such guarantees, then why should one subsidize the local bum? By what right is this required? Name it. What moral code orders this redistribution? A bankrupt code, I say. A code which asserts as its premise that men are sacrificial beasts, to be voted out of their wealth, because they have it. Because they earned it. Men should be regulated, any exchange of economic value should be scrutinized by apparatchiks, in case it does not conform some majority whim - according to the Socialist. Nice company you keep. The 'Forced Charity Ethic'. Is it your struggle to bring National Socialism back into vogue, perhaps? Mein Kampf? (Raise you eyebrows just then? I hope so.)
...And privatize, to the extent possible, like Great Britain did in the past and the early US did early on - roads.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 22, 2014:
Does an individuals profit from investing in derivatives, count as part of the GDP? In so many words you are saying that social services are necessary and you have a choice as to use them or not. No one is arguing that you don't have a choice it's your definition of what you think socialism and capitalism are. Whether you realize it or not from your second paragraph on, you are supporting socialism.
Socialism means a group of people are paying for a service or items that serve that group as a whole. Capitalism means a private individual is paying for a service or items that serve that individual. Insurance companies can be both socialist and capitalist. An individual pays a premium to be insured. The insurance company makes a profit. That's capitalism. However if the insurance company offers group insurance. Each individual in the group receives the benefit of reduce rates, that's socialism. Clubs are social organizations. When members pay dues, they are paying for services that serve the group as a whole. The stock market is capitalism. You buy a stock from a broker. That''s a trade. You are trading your money for a piece of the company. Mutual funds are socialism because you are buying into a club that the outcome serves the whole club based on how well the mutual fund performs.
jgshorebird on July 22, 2014:
peoplepower73: Get it right man. I typed "socialist construct" not "social construct". Very different.
Derivatives are sold and produce money. If the value goes up - more money. If down, less. And recall one of the great derivatives producers: Fannie Mae - arguably a quasi-governmental agency.
Capitalism does not mean privatization of everything. Police are not property. Capitalism privatizes business, trade etc. Police cannot be loyal to a company or contracted to Area A. How would that work when criminals operate in Area A and live in Area W? What of jurisdictional matters? What if Private Court W will not prosecute criminals from Area A? Too many problems with 'private police' - on the large scale. I don't see it.
Roads. In Florida there are a lot of toll roads, but they are run by government. Roads do what, give access to movement, right? Every time a road is built here, there are arguments. Property owners complain, but eventually agreement is reached and sometimes the property owners are even forced to sell. But the property is not stolen from them. They are renumerated. The point is, if I agree to live in a State which uses taxes to pay for roads, uses nicer toll roads, or dirt roads kept up by Jim Bob - it's my choice. The same goes for Fire Departments, which protect my property - like cops.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 21, 2014:
jgshorebird: I like the way you make up definitions on your own. Just because a construct does not produce anything in an economic sense does not in itself make the organization socialist or capitalist. The people who invest in derivatives don't produce anything that adds to the GDP, but they get more money at the end of the process. Are they socialist? The fact that you say police and fire departments are paid by taxes, to keep us secure, is a social construct. You can't have it both ways. You drive on highways that are paid by taxes and used by everyone. That is a social construct. If it wasn't, they would be owned by private companies and you would have to pay for the right to travel on their property. That's capitalism. Social Security is socialism. Do you pay into it or do you draw from it. If you do, you better stop, because it is against your moral values. If your house was on fire and you called the fire department to come out and they said you haven't paid your monthly dues, so we are not coming out. That's capitalism.
jgshorebird on July 21, 2014:
When I ask google, Socialism is defined as: "a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
synonyms: leftism, welfarism"...
How does a "community" regulate as a "whole" ? It cannot. A community regulates via a government, via majority rule or philosopher-king-group rule - and without, necessarily, any concept of right or wrong. More so, if history is a guide, they rule (remember that word "rule" or "regulate" - they are essentially the same) from expediency. They regulate, based upon who or what, is in power. Might is right. If 51% of the people or if 8 of 10 Philosopher Kings, decree that all children shall go to Christian Churches on Sundays, that be comes the law. The Muslims must hide etc. (In a free capitalistic society with a constitutional democratic-republic - these silly edicts can be challenged by one person and that one person can win. The one person simply says "hey dude...ummm...I am an atheist and according to the constitution I have this freedom of religion thing..." The Supreme Court eventually says (maybe) cool. Okay Congressional dudes this 'Sunday children church rule' don't fly. The law is erased. Socialism loses to the 'rule by law' - because of its failure: rule by men (and women). The problem comes in when the rule by socialism overrides the rule by law. When the Supremes are silenced.
The second part of the fallacy is "ownership". The community owns. It does not. The majority or the philo-dictators own. The 49% are stuck, even if they disagree. They must obey. Production, distribution and/or exchange are "State Owned". 51% Majority owned. But really not. The small group of elected or appointed officials, in a Socialist Government, actually (allegedly) run the show for the common good. The alleged 51% of the common good? Who knows. Hey 49er's, take a hike. We, the 51-ers, know what is best. Today, you must buy non-apples, because the price of apples is too low and the farmers are poor. Better yet, let us plow those fields of wheat under - a "New Deal!" is in the works. FDR all the way. He was the great philo-king!
The allegation that a police station is a socialist construct is false. Nor is a fire station or a jail. Police, for example, protect us from criminals. They do not produce, distribute or exchange anything - in an economic sense. They protect. They keep us secure - somewhat. They are paid for by taxes or direct bills or a lottery system. Socialism is relatively narrowly focused. Sure socialist countries have police, but they are controlled by the philo-dictators and answerable only to the majority or the philo-kings. But so must a free 'non-socialist country' have police, but the police are not a socialistic construct. Not by a long shot. But good try. Definitions get Socialist lovers in big trouble. Police are a must, if we want to live in a safer society.
I'll stay away from your gun debate for now.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 21, 2014:
JGShorebird and Peoplepower 73:
1st, I'd like to apologize to both of you for being absent the last few days. I've had schedule conflicts and haven't had access to the internet. 2nd, I've really enjoyed the back and forth between you two over the interim.
The thing regarding your recent conversations that I'd like to address first is simply definitions. Merriam-Webster's simple definition of Socialism is "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." As JGShorebird has pointed out, it is in reference to "the greater good." In the Marxist theory, socialism is the stage between Capitalism and Communism and does not equate to equal distribution for all as some have indicated.
The second term you guys have been throwing around is extremist. Extremist in the political sense is indicated by ideas that are absolute and with no middle ground. To you JGShorebird, I make this observation. MIlitary, law, Police: they are funded by the people for the greater good and regulated by the people. They are socialist constructs. You can't just decide socialism is a bad in all of its manifestations and then decide the socialist constructs that you like are not because you said so. By definition, these are socialist constructs that you have approved of again and again.
Now back to extremist. Peoplepower 73, you were the first to throw out this term describing JGShorebird. If JG actually was for capitalism with no socialism, as he claims to be, he would be an extremist, but despite his continual hangup on the term socialism, he has again and again provided evidence that he is for some socialism in government. Therefore, regarding the topic of the necessity of socialism and capitalism in a healthy government, he is not an extremist.
Now do I agree that we only need the socialist constructs of law, military, and police? Absolutely not. We need all manner of other aid. Neither Peoplepower 73 or myself have at any point indicated that we are in favor of any manner of absolute government. Though neither side is extreme to the absolute, Peoplepower 73 and myself would certainly be defined as being moderate and JGshorebird would be closer to extreme.
There are so many things you guys talked about that were interesting, but I don't want to write a book, so I'll just pick one. The gun debate really caught my eye. I think it is a common misconception that everyone with liberal leanings is anti-gun. Like many liberals, I am for our right to own guns with adequate regulations, if for no other reason than the practical ones. I'm from rural Oklahoma and you can hardly run a farm without a gun for varmint control. Hunting is also a way to provide food for your family, and though JGShorebird indicated the stopping of rape and murder with arms, I don't think it works quite like he thinks it does. I believe the fact that Americans own guns does keep criminals from attacking us as willy-nilly because they know we might be packing, but in actual situations where there is an attack and guns are involved, the outcome is almost never positive. As much as I like my video games and Dirty Harry movies, the practical use of guns, the ones that don't involve us killing one another, this is the productive and positive function of guns in society.
jgshorebird on July 16, 2014:
Capitalism, again, is simply free trade. Under Reagan, this was not - and has never been a Capitalist Country. Free trade requires sound money for one, not fiat currency. Laissez Faire Capitalism, more to the point. A centrally planned, centrally allocated, and centrally inflated economy, is a mixed-economy. You may call it Crony-Capitalism, Welfare Capitalism, State Capitalism, but these are mixtures of free-trade and controls and government corruption.
You mentioned the flipping of houses. I argue the the Quasi-Government Corporations (Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac) ignited the fires on this one. The MBS combos they sold to banks are well known. These were government controlled quasi-companies, inflating the fiat system with more risk. This is manipulation, which arguably caused the entire bubble and was not the result of free trade. Governmental intrusion. Thank Uncle Sam for you business failure.
Greed and corruption are in human nature, but so are fairness and discipline. In fact, if there were more criminals than good people, we would not be able to leave our homes. And what is greed? If you simply mean want of money, is that bad - so long as you obtain it via fair trade? If you mean theft, power, and this sort of thing, I would tend to agree.
The accountability in free trade is just that. If you don't want it don't buy it. With free trade - an unfettered market - coercive monopolies cannot survive. If Ponzi pops his head, arrest him. That is the regulation you need. It's called a Criminal Court System, jails etc. And not regulatory bloat.
Now to guns. Obviously you cherish the criminal code - not to be allowed to own weapons, unless you are a criminal - say a Robber? Good concept. Good luck with it. Fact is more innocents are saved by guns than killed by them. Rapes prevented alone are in the thousands - per day in the US. But that won't convince you. It's all just BS, right.
And back to that old tried and died Socialism. What kind? National Socialism. Didn't work in Germany. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic[ans]. The USSR was never Communist. Utopias don't exist. In short, Socialism means ruling. Whether you subscribe to mixed governmental systems or not, the socialist part of a Capitalist-Socialist Kingdom, is an oxymoron. It's like saying freedom is slavery. Oil and water. Blood and money. Huh?
And get off your high horse. The only extremist here is you. If freedom (free trade) is extremist, I'm all for it. But Socialism is slavery, nothing but. In a Laissez Faire Capitalist society, no one is ordered to pay for the medical care of another (Medicare). That is the reality, the slaver mentality you adore. And so does (or did?) Fidel Castro. He was (is?) a pretty extreme dude.
And you have all the earmarks of Lenin. "Workers of the World, Unite!" Oh, did I mention he chased that feudalistic dream called Communism, via Socialism, and millions died of starvation? Jeez, man - read a book.
And our country, no, our cause, is freedom and it is going down the tubes with freeloader mentalities like yours. Get a grip man!
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 15, 2014:
Well you just overwhelmed me with a bunch of idealistic BS. I'll keep this simple. Reagan created the savings and loan debacle of the 80's by removing the cap on mom and pop savings and loans. They were capped at 100 grand. It was capitalism at its finest. Every creepy crawler including the mafia got into the game of flipping and leveraging houses, until it went bust. The investigators couldn't even begin to figure out the transactions because they were so complex It took almost 20 years to recover from that mess. It was the first time that people started saying their American dream had been destroyed.
The Gramm-Leach- Bliley act removed the last remnants of Glass-Stegal. We are still trying to recover from that. Many business went under because they could not get short term loans from the banks. The banks could make more money by investing in derivatives and exotic instruments. People had to walk away from their homes because the sub-prime mortgages that started out with low interest loans were raised to the point where people couldn't afford to make the payments. And all of this in the name of capitalism without regulation. You don't seem to understand that greed and corruption are part of human nature. If all you have is capitalism without any regulations, then you get what we just went through and are still trying to recover from it. Why, because there is not accountability.
The following is a reply to your comments:
A center a code is just some generality. Religious beliefs against socialism. Aren't we supposed to have separation of church and state. Yes let's preserve gun rights especially for the mentally ill. So that they can perform mass killings. Did you know that Reagan stopped funding for mental institutions and put crazy people on the street and there has never been funding since then?
Bloated bureaucracies - A fact of life Governments are not self-purging whether a democratic or republican administration. They are always self-nurturing. The preamble to the constitution says to promote the general welfare. Yes lotteries work really great look at the one for education in California. Where is the money? Socialism doesn't need a mixer, It needs to work in conjunction with well regulated capitalism. Communism never existed in large groups. Have you every heard of the USSR? What people tend to like capitalism? Have you heard the Tea Party say I want my country back, but don't take away me medicare? Too much death chasing the feudalistic dream...what are you smoking. You have all the earmarks of an extremist conservative. You fear change and play the slippery slope what if game, to make it sound like this country would go down the tubes if there was a balance between social programs and capitalism.
jgshorebird on July 15, 2014:
peoplepower73: We pay everyday for freedom or what's left of it.
By base I mean a core, a center, an code. Something also enumerated partially within the Declaration of Independence. And yes, a body of laws like the Constitution. The Constitution often is cited as a shield against government intrusion, be it religious beliefs against creeping socialism or NRA attacks, attempting to preserve gun rights. So you are mistaken. Our Constitution and our Declaration emboldens us against intrusions of growing central powers, such as bloated bureaucracies and taxation without authorization. Bureaucracies of giant welfare programs answerable only to a central authority and only ever expanding, are not sustainable. There is no longer a check to balance to that unequal equation. When the Constitution no longer functions, burdened by a majority belief in a vague 'greater good', nobody agrees about, it is time to understand what was not meant by such a statement.
The greater good is never served when one is required upon pain of fine or imprisonment, to pay another's bills (food stamps, education or even shoes). But, certain bills, to guarantee our basic freedoms (life, liberty and property only) need to be paid - Defense, Courts, Jails, but little else. The bedrock upon which a free people stand - the base. Police, streets, fire - can be handled locally etc. There are many methods of payments, to include voluntary ones like lotteries.
So to say that Socialism needs a mixer, a vodka mixed with orange juice - is to dilute the idea. Sure it tastes good, but careful how many you consume.
I do not fear Communism, since such a Utopia has never existed in large groups. I fight against Socialism because I studied history in college. To much death chasing that feudalistic dream. I support freedom, a more Capitalistic system, since it appears people tend to like it - is in their nature.
And we, the US is not a Capitalist system, but already is a mixer - Socialism-Capitalism; which is the problem.
And never say never. Big mistake. Ancient Rome never fell. The Third Reich never fell. The US will last forever and God save the Queen Won't happen.
And the remark about China was meant to exhibit that they do not have nearly the controls the US does, regarding pollution, water quality and the like. And we still have plenty of clean water and breathable air - and we need to keep it that way. Not by turning off the power plants- by going forward, not backward with centrally planned Solar Plants, Wind Turbines - that do not work. Not by sucking the money from taxpayers to give to companies - for research and squander.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 14, 2014:
We don't have to pay for the Constitution. It's a body of laws. What do you mean by the base? There is nothing in the Constitution that says, we can't have social programs. If there were, then the social programs we have now would be unconstitutional. Do you want to rewrite the constitution? To balance socialism with capitalism requires judgement and people who can use the best qualities of both for the greater good of the county without being extremist in either case. It requires intelligence and forethought, not thinking that we are going back to feudalism. It sounds like you have a fear of this country becoming communist...that will never happen because of people like you who will try to take it to the other extreme. So you think that China and regulations has something to do with our air and water?
jgshorebird on July 14, 2014:
Larry, thanks. I think we are mincing ideas here. Where you think 'socialism' exists in programs, such as police, CDC, etc., I see a basis for a free society. So long a people agree to pay for the base, the Constitution, if you will, and that Constitution serves only the basic rights ideas I have yapped about - the there is no socialism. Socialism goes way beyond the wrappings of a free society and enters feudal and fatal realms of little-Kingdom-ism. One group decides for the other, smaller groups. I think you need to re-examine your premises. Something many are afraid to do. I simply know, that each minute I spend alive, the more I learn. And oh gosh, I'm glad those myriad of regulations in little ole US of A saved our air and water. China says thanks.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 14, 2014:
steffsings: Wonderful comments.
Yes, we need both systems. Most of us can agree on this. As for how much of each we should have, almost nobody agrees:) I can't speak for others, but the back and forth this article has generated has been great fun for me. Though we argue, this is the way things are supposed to work. We're all supposed to care. We all have a stake in this. Arguing, as long as it is kept civil and productive, is as much a basis of the smooth function of this country as anything.
Thanks so much for dropping by.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 14, 2014:
jgshorebird: You spoke some this time about regulations. I agree that too many repetitive and misdirected regulations are bad. I have experienced personally at various jobs how bad redundant and unnecessary can be. The two aspects of regulation that annoy me the most are when a regulation is put in place that makes an old regulation obsolete, and what I hate most is when one regulation contradicts another, so in essence, you can't perform your duties legally if you wanted to. It's a waste of taxpayer money.
That said, there are also plenty of things that are under-regulated. It isn't a matter of having tons of regulations or not having any. It is the matter of having the right amount to facilitate safe practices. It's an issue of opinion, but without our current regulations I think we would have used up most of our good water and oxygen decades ago. Though some regulations can be annoying, even useless, I would be terrified to live in an organized society without any.
Another thing that sticks out to me, you agree that some of our necessary institutions can't be privatized. Therefore they must be socialized. The main point of the article is that we need a balance of socialized programs and capitalism for our society to function. Yes, I am the sort that is in favor of a good number more socialized programs than you are, but whether you like it or not, as far as the existence of socialized programs, we agree.
Next you keep saying I'm dodging the agenda of taxes being slavery. It isn't that I'm dodging it as much as I don't even know where to begin. Yes, you can make comparisons between socialized programs and slavery, but you can also compare a tricycle to a Lamborghini. It doesn't make them the same thing.
steffsings from Pacific NorthWest on July 13, 2014:
I have enjoyed the comments as much as the article itself. I cannot agree more with your portrayal of necessary balance between Capitalism & Socialism for free market, potential for success & services that virtually all Americans will directly or indirectly benefit from at some point in life (i.e. CDC, Medicare/Medicaid etc.). Thank you for not taking part in the tired ol' Socialism ='s Communism spiel. Great last comment... "There is no Utopia, gentleman" agreed -and - history tells us of possible dystopia with demanded submission & loyalty to one 'ideal' system. Balance is key.
jgshorebird on July 11, 2014:
The game of monopoly is bad analogy by comparison, to Capitalism, but yes, not bad by comparison, to the US economy, however. One bank? That would be the FED. It is a great analogy when trying to understand a centralized, small, one-bank economy, where one is trapped in a downward spiral or at expense of the other players or a brief upward spiral – until total collapse.
In a Capitalist Game, the board would have no end, money would be real gold coins, there would be competing banks, not cloned one-cell bank-government-organs, susceptible to the next fiscal flu. Would it be a Utopian panacea, no. Would one be free to fail or succeed? Sure. Would there be a government? Yep, but small and meant only to ensure the basic liberties. The freedom to play, but not the freedom to force others to pay your bills.
There is no Utopia, gentleman.
jgshorebird on July 11, 2014:
The Glass-Stegall Act further regulated the amount of funds the FED was able to inject into the economy. It also established the FDIC. And as we know, it separated commercial and investment banking. And it was changed over and over. But I argue, the cause of the Great Depression in the first place, was the result of government interference. The consolidation of money, the creation of the FED, the raising of the gold ratio, the FED's pre-Depression monetary contraction policies, just to name a few. The Act did not usher in years of stability – unless you subscribe to that theory. There are a thousand more. The Act was yet another 'act' in a long line of '5 year plans' no better than the ones used by the old Soviets. A dance.
And Clinton's tacit agreement? to deregulate certain aspects of our fiat paradise did not unhinge an already fiat-bubbled system, coupled with Fannie Mae delights. I will again argue that '5 Year Plans' are the culprit. We know what Warren Buffet thinks about these asset comminglers: manglers. But, it is a system built on fiats. On game-money. On theory, not reality. On Maynard Keynes.
Sub-prime mortgages were enabled by Uncle Sam. Encouraged by Uncle Sam. Guaranteed by Uncle Sam. Ginnie Mae. Fannie Mae. The banks simply made investments, guaranteed, I argue, by you and me. It was a party encouraged by government. If we were not guarantors, why would a bank risk the assets – say in real gold? If there were no FDIC, the banks would need insurance. In fact, the FDIC does not have the ability to cover a major banking collapse, which in reality is absorbed by other banks. It was a problem created by the Central Planners, I submit.
Capitalism without regulations is a recipe for disaster. Explain that. To what recipe do you subscribe. If I sell you a glass of lemonade and you agree to buy it, what regulation is required and why? A temperature regulation perhaps? I must only sell lemonade in Florida at 47 degrees Fahrenheit, to inhibit bacteria etc. Let us now create a Lemonade Act. Where are you going with this? How about a "shoe tie" regulation? My point being, there needs to be a happy middle. If one sells warm lemonade and someone gets sick, I can file charges in court. My Lemonade Company will fail very quickly, if I sell bacteria laden juice. Newspapers and blogs love this sort of thing. The point? We do not need to regulate to the nth degree. Witness what happened when we deregulated the airlines. Lower fares. When we broke up government allowed monopolies in phone services: better prices. I could go on.
The courts, the police etc., are not social programs. They are 'rights protection programs.' You know this. Please get rid of the wool. Other readers are not fooled. Social Programs are things like Welfare, Food Stamps, spending millions to determine why people throw Frisbees. Waste. Corruption. Theft. Draw a lineman. Interstate Highways were built initially to move big military vehicles (by they way – the military is not a Social Program, but good try) And I have zero problems, even with 'Social Programs' so long as they are voluntary. Meaning, as long as I am not required to pay for them, but you go right ahead. I'll continue to contribute to my favorite charities. I'll save for my own retirement, not require you to pay for me, i.e., Social Security.
The issue the two of you have danced around; however, is: Involuntary Servitude. How far will your Utopias go? Given that Socialism is partial-slavery? How much slavery is good? A fireman does not enslave me. I voluntarily pay my fire tax, my 911 tax etc., to protect my property and my life, just as I pay the Marines and cops, to keep me safe. How many regulatory agencies must be born to protect me from say, those evil companies who dare not have a male and female restroom? Surely you've heard about the billions wasted each day by Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention that you are required, on pain of fine and imprisonment, should you not pay for these Social Programs. Debtors Prisons? Again? How much regulation and servitude must we swallow until you are satisfied? How many billions each year does the IRS refund to criminals? How efficient is the United State Postal Service? The DMV?
If not enough of those Goldman-Sachs folks went to jail, then perhaps you know something we do not? Evidence? Witnesses? Help out here... And it is not Free Market Enterprise anyway. It's Pravda Enterprise. Where have you been? Banking and money went Socialist almost 100 years ago in the US. Oh, I know – you were not around then. Okay – now I get it. You...think it's Free Enterprise. Whoops. Your mistake. It's free enterprise (no caps) on a Monopoly Board owned by Uncle Sam.
Ripped off the people? Do you mean Uncle Sammy took your fiat bills without your permission to help fund the Goldman-Sachs crowd's next Christmas Party? Welcome to your world. You asked for it: Centrally Controlled Money, a.k.a., The American Duma. The FED. If their monopoly game is in trouble, they just print more money. Can't do that in the 'real' world.
And we cannot, I think privatize some things. The military? Police? Prisons? Maybe. Courts? I can think of a dozen reasons why not. But should I be required to pay for radio shows on PBS? Why? Socialism?
What of Sound Money. Perhaps a metal based system, but one where value has a base and cannot become zero, overnight. How about no fractional reserve banking. No inflating the currency. No radical growth, followed by radical declines – when bubbles – enabled by the bubble-fiats – pop.
Promoting the general welfare simply means protecting the right of individuals, in the countryside...and the cities. It does not mean, stealing from the most productive and giving it to the least productive.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 11, 2014:
jgshorebird: Monopoly is a perfect analogy. You cannot win if you start with nothing while others have everything. It is absolutely applicable. It wasn't an analogy used to insult your intelligence, just a board game set on the concept of absolute capitalism that shows what absolute capitalism does. Even if everybody starts on even ground, the end result is that everybody but one person fails.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 11, 2014:
Peoplepower73: Very well put!
You talk about the "brainwashing," and I think that is a good word for it. Certain corrupt people of means are brainwashing the citizens into thinking they need to do the exact opposite of what would actually help us.
Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 11, 2014:
jgshorebird: I read both of your comments and also Larry Rankin's replies. let me try this. The financial meltdown was caused because of deregulation of the Glass-Stegall Act. This act was put in place in 1932 to prevent another 1929 crash. It prevented co-mingling of assets between commercial banks and investment companies. It was removed in 1999 by...yes Clinton was in office. This opened the door for sub-prime mortgages without any qualifications, packaging of mortgages into exotic securities. It also opened the door for greed and corruption at the highest levels and also the lowest levels of the banking and investment industries. Capitalism without regulations by the government is a recipe for disaster. You said people go to jail. But not enough of them went to jail. I watched 13 hours of the Goldman Sachs congressional investigations and no one went to jail.They and many others in the industry ripped off this country and should have gone to jail, but they didn't because of free-market enterprise without regulation.
Communist style socialism is bad. However, if you removed every social program this country has, the list is too long to post here. I'm just listing the major ones: no interstate highways, no FDA, no FAA, no FCC, no CDC, no FBI no Military, no relief for natural disasters, no local highways, no fire departments, no police departments, no social security, no internet...and on and on.
This country has been brain-washed into thinking the word Socialism implies Communism, Nazism, and Fascism. Oh and the great one Entitlements. We have to pay for these things with taxes, in order to promote the general welfare of the country. Socialism without regulation is a bad thing. Sure you could privatize all of these things, but just think about the chaos it would create. We are not living in rural areas where it's every man for himself.
jgshorebird on July 10, 2014:
Monopoly is a game. Life is real. Even in the game, there are rules, no socialism. You steal from the bank, you lose. You mortgage your properties, you might lose. You save and invest you could lose or win. But, life is real.
The real amount we pay, not as a percentage of our income, is real - regarding taxes. If I make nothing, I pay nothing? How fair is that to the real workers? Or even the rich-rich-rich etc. (No answer - congrats.)
Socialism is exactly the Robin-hood Mentality. Nothing less. You can't hide behind the 'common good.' It is nothing less, than partial involuntary servitude. (Go ahead - do that one again - dodge the real issue. The 800 pound Gorilla in the room is laughing at you. He thinks he is smarter. He wants to play Monopoly.)
Capitalism is simply free trade. Nothing more. Since when is too much freedom bad? (Mind you, in a free Capitalistic System, not a Fascist System, businesses are not allowed to buy votes.)
Here is your answer: Socialism + Capitalism is good. Why? Just because. Please pass me your crayons. (I had to go there. You introduced games.)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2014:
Sanxuary: Very interesting response. I talk about the difference between what we are as a country compared to what we pretend to be in another article I wrote.
No, a country where less the 1% of the population pays for virtually all the policy and representation is not a democracy. Yes, a country in turmoil does dictate more social programs. I used the example of FDR and The Great Depression. FDR didn't start all those programs because he wanted to, but because it was necessary for the time, and many were dropped as things improved.
While a healthy economy with a reasonable distribution of wealth does require not only less government assistance and less money put into many financial aid programs that are kept in place, some social programs we need regardless of the state of the economy: roads, public schools, military, etc.
Thanks for dropping by. I really appreciate the insight.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2014:
jgshorebird: Thanks for the feedback. I found your arguments more palatable today, but I still don't agree with you on many levels.
One thing we can agree on, Warren Buffett is a financial genius. Starting from scratch from a middle-class starting point in our current system, I give him about a 50% chance of becoming uber wealthy. The chance of him being financially successful are around 100%. He's just that good. Personally, he is among the billionaires I have admiration for. I don't hate everyone that is uber richl, nor did you say I did, but I feel it was strongly implied. I do loathe a good many of them because they are ruining the democratic process by simply buying policy.
Try this. Get some friends together to play Monopoly. When you start the game, one opponent will already own most the stuff and have access to most the money. Can you win? I suppose it is statistically possible, but entirely unlikely.
Let's look at the concept of more and less. I've already agreed with you that the wealthy pay more in taxes than the rest of us when we look at that sum as a total of dollars and not a percentage of wealth. With somewhere around 95% or more of the nation's wealth, almost any minuscule amount of tax rate would insure this. But let's look at it from a percentage base. Is it harder to live on 70% of $30,000 a year or 70% of $5 billion dollars a year?
I haven't proposed a Robin Hood concept of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, here. I'm just proposing that the distribution of wealth be returned to its former state by returning things to the way they were, i.e. all individuals paying a similar % of their income to taxes. I am in favor of the ultra-wealthy paying a slightly higher % than the wealthy and the % reducing as we move down the line. I'm not suggesting a significant difference in %, just a few points (as per how things used to be), but even if we all paid the same %, things would function fairly well and wealth would redistribute over time.
If everyone pays their fair %, eventually the wealthy wouldn't pay the majority of taxes, because wealth would redistribute. I don't want to live in a world without capitalism. Such a world would be without incentive. But I don't want to live in a world without socialistic programs either. These two systems have happily co-existed in the United States for I don't know how long. I know FDR wasn't the first to institute common aid for citizens.
I know that too much capitalism is bad. I know that too much socialism is bad. I know that a healthy country relies more on capitalism than socialism, but I also know that when everybody doesn't pay their fair %, things in this country get really out of whack fast.
Sanxuary on July 09, 2014:
The argument is the facts that we are none of the above. We are not a Democracy and barely a Republic that claims representation of the people. If we were actually practicing Capitalism we would need fewer social programs. Low wages is why we are poor not to mention fewer jobs. Civilizations are created by regulations and no regulations usually means we do not have a Civilization. Claiming to be one thing you our not is what we mostly practice. The more money you have determines the things you pretend to be. If we were not poor, we would not be needing any social programs. If greed did not need regulations to protect your 401k you might have a retirement. If we were a Democracy we probably would not have voted for these known Representatives of the rich.
jgshorebird on July 08, 2014:
Interesting information, but what concerns me is I hope you do not mean the redistribution of wealth is fair and that such redistribution, is the answer.
Supporting a government via taxes or direct billing, should not be for the purposes of taking money from one person and giving it to another. That is not a function of a government. That is a the function of and for little despots. Kings, Queens, Emperors, Dictators, Autocrats and the like, are widely known for their love of take and give. FDR was a little king or a wannabe along these same lines.
The strict purpose of government is as an organ with the authority to use only retaliatory force in very narrow circumstances. A proper government, nay, a morally founded government, only protects the rights of people. Nothing else. These are basically: freedom to exist, rather than be erased for being, say, Jewish; freedom to own things, so long as you do not steal said things; and the liberty to move around and yap and think and complain etc. Life, liberty and property. Rather basic.
In a Utopian Community, I guess we will all just agree to be forced, to spread the wealth? Won't happen. Because of the one giant flaw. A Socialist-Capitalist Plan, at least in part, requires force, not retaliatory force, but the initiation of force, in order to operate – if any such plan ever really operated successfully.
Freer Systems do not require the initiation force in order to operate. People tend to retaliate against such force. Revolt. Repeatedly. It's a historical pattern thing. A cycle. Oppression breeds hatred. Socialism is oppression by majority rule or group rule. As in 'rulers.' In a freer system, there are no rulers, only custodians. Rights Guarantors. Presidents, not kings. A balance of powers, not a consolidation of will. That is why Socialism is a clear path to despotism.
Warren Buffet could make money in any system, I'll wager. There are billionaires in Russia, but their system is arguably, a lot less free. China is experimenting with some free enterprise, but the old guard still has a firm grip – for now. My point? The US system is most definitely fouled beyond redemption, if you mean the US Tax Code, especially. I say dump it. Not immediately. I don't want to cause a shock to the 'system', but it will probably just fail on its own. Or warp into a Socialist Paradise (sarcasm). There are many workable tax ideas on the table now. We need sound money and/or competitive currencies too. No more top down edict-cash. No FED-flation.
This is not a discussion, in my mind, about who pays what. Whether 43% of Americans pay payroll taxes or not. It's not about CNBC (2013) saying that the top 40% of wage earners in the US pay 106 percent of the taxes. Huh? But what is even more telling is that the bottom 40% pay a negative rate of taxes – that's a minus 6%? Below zero. Welfare, food stamps etc. What the...?
In short, the rich are getting richer and almost paying all the taxes too. How much more do we want? Whose money is it anyway? Not yours and not mine, but their bread. The rich did not steal their wealth. Unless you are talking about the Ponzi's and Madoffs – but those are criminals and we have special rooms for them – with nice sink/toilet combos. Most of the wealthy sold stuff and we bought it. No force. We were free not to buy it. Personally, I like stuff, especially food and Walmart things – bless your soul Sam Walton.
It's not about wealth distribution. That implies a distributor who forcibly does so. What you mean, I would say, is a level playing field. No special favors, pork, or funny (fiat) money. Let the rich be rich and the poor be poor, but close not, the revolving door.
People who work hard and try to help the world are absolutely not lazy. But such work does not allow them to steal from the rich. Theft is theft. No way around that. Can't rationalize it away or close your eyes to it and say "na na naa! I can't hear you!!"
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 08, 2014:
In the May 2014 issue of Forbes magazine the top 50 billionaires in the world were polled. 62% said they were taxed enough. 22% said they needed to be taxed more. 16% had no opinion. Even amongst the rich, there is an ever growing contingency saying enough is enough and things aren't healthy.
Warren Buffett is among the most respected billionaires amongst billionaires and considered by most to be one of the biggest financial geniuses to ever walk the earth. He is also amongst the most respected billionaires by everyday people. Buffett has voiced his opinions of aggravation with the current system. He doesn't feel like people have the same opportunity that he had to be successful. He feels the current game lacks any skill because it is so heavily rigged in the favor of those that already are successful and that simply bullying the money out of the system isn't a sustainable model for a country. And he isn't the only one amongst billionaires who feels this way.
The economy and overall well-being of society was better when the distribution of wealth was wider. Upward mobility was better when the distribution of wealth was wider. Small business was more profitable when the distribution of wealth was wider. There were more job opportunities that paid a living wage when the distribution of wealth was wider. During times of prosperity the wealthy were called upon to pay at least an equivalent tax percentage to that of their fellow Americans.
The tax you are most in favor of, that which goes to the military, is the most expensive single program amongst our socialist programs at $640 billion for 2013.
It is more of a burden to pay 30% of a $30,000 income in taxes than it is for a person to pay 30% of $5 billion in taxes. Almost any tax percentage paid by the wealthy will result in an overall cash total that is more than that paid by the rest of us, seeing as we have less than 5% of the nation's overall wealth, just as the general population paid more of the taxes when they had 75% of the wealth.
People who work hard and try to help the world are not lazy.
jgshorebird on July 07, 2014:
And thanks for the replies...but I have not yet begun to jabber! You sorta have to keep it rather toned down in this Hub thing, however. The owners, the readers - are like little humming birds waiting to suck our nectar – but so long as we make the advertisers happy, all is well. Don't worry, it's easy to mince words, up to a point. Beware the poison flowers!...
Rand was a philosophical realist. That was her activism. Thinking. I think she was correct, about a lot of stuff – but like many – us peons, of little import – I also think – only based upon what I've read, of course – never met her, that she did not communicate the one thing which many of us look for: emotion. She was a computer, to some. Not a human. Hitler and Stalin and Obama (whoops – did I type that out loud? Geez, forgive me) are and were better communicators. As was Reagan and Margaret.
There is (if I may dip my words in deep sarcasm, dripping with the heat of human passion, of understanding – nothing else meant here) no such thing as the Boogeyman. No ghosts or goblins roam the halls of free will. Last time I checked anyway. Extreme Capitalism is like spouting: Extreme Trade. It does not make any sense. “Hey, dude! I'll extreme trade you 10,000 Whoopie Pies!” Huh? (Great place to buy them is on Highway 40 in Ocala, Florida – Silver Springs, by the way. They don't even force you! Not at all like Socialism.) My point is, if you are going to banter, then banter better.
I think, as you hinted about semantics, that you, dear sir, are baking Socialism a bit too firm. Take it out of the oven man! It is burning. Indeed, it has burn marks, staleness and fungus upon it. Toss it out, along with Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and his buds.
Semantics? Let me explain. If I tell you to give me your 'stuff' i.e., Welfare, that is called theft. Agreed? Pure slavery. Really. No buts. This is a concrete thing in the many Socialisms. Give it up baby. Why? By what right, dude? Tell me. I'm waiting. The Majority Rules thusly? Oh, I forgot. Might is right. Crap. Let me hide my brain behind my behind.
If I advise you, on the other hand, that if you voluntarily give me a little of your 'stuff' and in return I will protect your life, liberty and property – form a governmental body, based on some constitutional thingy, and you can decide not to give me a penny – what is that called? Freedom?
Oh, prey tell, how on earth could that work? If I could simply not pay a penny, why would I? Now, that is a darned good question, but don't you, dear sir, think...that it is a darned good starting point? Or must you give up? Socialism, in my addled brain, is the easy way out. A fast and easy vodka soaked (as that moron in the Kremlin would agree) way out. Whooped boy. Just appoint, elect, allow – however you would like to define it – and order it. Huh? I object. Really, I don't agree. Poo-poo on me. I think that everyone deserves more. The old Utopian Ideologies of “I'm in Command” are over – for me. But what do I know? Who is John Galt – right?
And I submit, in my most, but least humble rebuke, dear sir, that oil and water do not mix. Most deservedly, the old world, until it shrugs off its coil of chains – be they monetary or hereditary (e.g., the U. Kingdom – oh just shoot me) – they will maintain that men are mere sheep, burdens upon their un-owned, selfless souls, and treat them as cannon fodder, in their games of war and lust.
And if I agree to any Social Programs, you have my permission, and complete authority, to dispose of my corpse. I only ask one favor. Eradicate my flesh, into the past, next to the remains of Patrick Henry. (He was cool.)
I do fathom the revolutionary ideas born here. Tax Rebellion being a mainstay, a critical point of departure (an excuse?) from the motherland, but of course, kind foe, it was not only this which enlivened the spirit of want. Can you see it as it was then? Can you understand? Can I? No. Not entirely. We can only read history and wonder. And guess. And estimate. And wonder some more. It ain't a perfect reproduction. Just listen to any college professor, then a local pastor – and you be the judge.
Argue away my frenemy. It is the essence of us, do you not think? Rich or poor, I am far richer this moment, to have punched some darned keys on this flat board thing – rather than pistol whipping you. Which might make me feel better? This key punching, I posit, is far more civilized. Would Hitler agree? Probably not.
Wealth is not cash. The rich can pee away their lives in drunken stupors, just like us. Money is power, but power can be limited. That was the whisper to us – about two hundred years ago. Control the power. The two nasty kinds. The power of the military or despotism and the power of the church. Same coin, different sides.
Most taxes – are paid, not by most of the people – but by the Ultra-Wealthy. The burden is on them. Percentage, is not the key. Per Capita is the key. One man – who is not on the government payroll – equals one vote or 'one tax'. One man – one tax bill – perhaps based upon consumption or lottery tickets – is the idea. The idea is fairness, right? Why should a rich idiot pay more than a poor genius? – in real dollars? Forget the semantics, so to speak, look at the real money – the real numbers.
In 2009, the top 10% paid over 70% of all the taxes in the US. What? Why are we raping the rich? Hello. Where is the love? Rape is not love or so I've been told. Is it really hatred? Yep. Envy? Yep. “Hey, dude, you have a nicer place – I want your money!” Why? “Just because. I'm lazy. Whatever.”
I would not live in the Cayman Islands. They do not even have nukes. Please... Would I keep my jack there? Maybe. Temporarily.
I do not keep house with tyrants or fools, my kind sir. Should there be less Socialism on a thimble and I could affix my anchor, I would sail to that isle. That said, do not attempt a landing upon my thimble. I will contest it. And if I must, I will soak my mortal soul (I did not say 'coil', as you will note) upon the sand of hatred and slavery – those who would trade any form of security (read Benji Franklin) for any form of despotism, a.k.a., partial slavery, i.e., socialism. (Oh, and by the way, I'm not religious – go figure – 'soul' just works.)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 07, 2014:
Jgshorebird: Thanks for the response
Ayn Rand was a political activist for laissez-faire capitalism. These ideas are represented in her books. That is why they are touted by proponents of extreme capitalism. Yes, there are a number of other topics present: romance, science fiction, mystery, etc.
If you want to argue about semantics: social aid programs are slavery, really? Maybe get a time machine and go have some actual slaves explain the difference to you..
I hardly see how Europe is less socialistic than the U.S. The point of the ten or so countries I mentioned is that they all already have a socialized healthcare system, and they are working well. The UK has had theirs since the early 1900s. But I digress because the article we're commenting on isn't about socialized healthcare. It is about the necessity of aspects from both socialism and capitalism in a healthy society, a topic that isn't even that controversial. You, yourself agree that we need some social programs.
The Boston Tea Party and the U.S. Revolution was not exclusively about taxes. It was about taxes without representation. Step out your front door and it won't take you 5 seconds to see where taxes are represented.
I have no counter argument if you are happy with 285 million people in a society of 318 million only combining for a few percentage points of the wealth. I just figured this would be upsetting to you. It probably also won't be upsetting to you that the top 400 people in the U.S.(.000001% of the population), the ultra-wealthy, collectively have more than the bottom 150 million of society or that from after WWII until around 1977, when everybody paid their share of taxes, 90% of the population had 75% of the wealth.
As for your idea that everyone pay the same percentage of taxes. That would be a wonderful start:) If we could get back to the ultra-wealthy paying a fraction more than the wealthy, the wealthy paying a fraction more than the middle class, on down the line, that would be downright outstanding. As things are, middle class pays the highest percentage and the ultra-wealthy pay the lowest.
As for the rest of your comments, I feel like I've responded to those already.. On another note, if you want no taxes you could move to the Cayman Islands. They don't have any and it almost works. Of course it's a specialized situation. You have more companies keeping their money there than there are citizens, and more tourists coming through than there are citizens. The country just taxes them and th