The word “socialism” tends to have one of two reactions on people; either disgust or acceptance. Yet when confronted, it appears that few have an understanding of what socialism actually is and what it entails. This miscommunication ends up causing division and polarizing people on the issue. I decided to discuss socialism as I see constantly people post about the “wonders” of socialism without grasping what that entails. My goal for this article is to bring forth a discussion about what socialism is and why it is not an adequate solution for our economic system.
Socialism is an economic system where consumer goods are regulated by the whole rather than a centralized system. At first glance, this seems like a suitable concept to benefit society. On paper, a pure socialist society promotes prosperity for all. However, the transition to a socialist economy is much messier than it eludes to. First, a socialist economic system relies on all parties holding themselves accountable. While some individuals will welcome this responsibility, the unfortunate nature of humanity is that we prefer leisure with the least amount of struggle, and people are bound to abuse the system. This is not to say all humans are inherently greedy. Rather, in an era of technology with knowledge are literally at our fingertips, we impatiently tend to go towards the path of least resistance.
The second issue with socializing consumerism is there can be stagnation in progress. Take Cuba for example. The country is one of the few last remaining “socialist” countries in the world. And for decades the country has lived under an oppressive dictatorship where economic goods are heavily regulated and rules strictly enforced. Because of this, economic and humanitarian progress has stagnated in the country, leaving the people impoverished and the economy in shambles.
Certain socialist values do have noble notions. An example of a socialist issue, universal healthcare, when handled efficiently, is a helping hand for the people and a win for all. Countries such as Norway, Sweden and Canada have systems in place to help all who need it. Education for all is also an important value in these respective countries.
The issue with the United States adopting socialist ideas is the fact that the states have many enumerated powers. Attempting to place policies such as universal healthcare would cause problems with the federal government overreaching its powers, as implementing an overarching system that affects citizen’s taxes would be detrimental to states that face tax issues already. States such as California have massive taxes in various sectors, and adding more taxes for universal healthcare could increase the poverty rate in California.
It is also important to note, that there are no true socialist first-world countries. All countries that have socialist healthcare systems employ and rely on the free-market and international trade. The closest are communist countries, such as Venezuela, North Korea, and Vietnam.
There is a large distinction between true socialism and communism. In a purely socialist country the wealth goes to the people and in communism the wealth lies within the central government. Communism is both a political and economic state, where as socialism is purely an economic system. But with media biased skewing the representation of information, communism is labeled as socialism and in the masses minds, they are synonymous. While many countries use socialist values, the only countries that could remotely be considered socialist are all under the rule of a communist dictatorship. Socialism is based on the trust of the community in each other, and unfortunately, communism is the corruption of that trust and is way more likely.
Socialism exists only in a vacuum, where all people are righteous and selfless and to date, hasn’t been truly put into practice in the way it is advertised. The sad reality is that so long as humanity exists, there will always be people who take advantage of others, and those who openly oppress others.
Socialism on paper is a beautiful concept. Equality for all is a core value of the United States, and it is surprising to me that we as a country do not incorporate some ideas from socialism. But socialism is ultimately impossible for humanity. Both capitalism and socialism both exist in their pure forms only on paper. However, capitalism promotes industry and creativity and although our current system is not perfect, there is more positives that are not focused upon.
Because of the technological industry brought on by capitalist thought, medicine and innovation have leaped to levels that were inconceivable only decades ago. Common drugs that we take for granted such as aspirin and penicillin were created by capitalist scientists. We live where technology allows us to stay in contact with friends and family across the world. Socialism may seem like true democratic equality, but there is a reason that pure socialist countries ultimately fail and the United States shouldn’t be one of them.