Possibility of socialism?I would like to hear peoples' opinions on the thought of the goverment converting to socialism. This comes to mind because of our economic struggles and the goverment has...

Possibility of socialism?

I would like to hear peoples' opinions on the thought of the goverment converting to socialism. This comes to mind because of our economic struggles and the goverment has already helped out the banks thus giving the goverment vast majority of controlling parts in the banks. Now with the big three hasking for help as well what is the chances of the goverment controlling the vast majority of commoditites thus producing a socialist goverment?

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enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The purpose of government, at least in these United States, was to safeguard rights.  That among these, were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  I can't seem to find among our founding documents anything about a right to housing, health care, education, job security, political stability, economic regulation, and safety programs, but many consider these as rights.  The are not and cannot ever be rights; these are commodities.  They are useful to have, are not guaranteed, and are best created and maintained by having government leave its citizens alone so that they may determine what is in their own best interests.  The visible hand of government, with regard to economic issues, such as this current housing crisis, has its roots in Federal programs (Feddie Mac and Fannie Mae) that were forced to make poor loans because it was politically expedient -- reaching for the utopia of "cheap housing for everyone!" The free market would never have tolerated the making substandard loans.  So not only do we not get housing utopia, we get economic chaos and more government intervention.  The proposed bailout of GM, or the American car industry in general, for another example is simply deplorable.  For the most part, the US car industry has been making substandard products for 40 years, and should have died an honest market death years ago.  If that had happened, maybe we would have had a new American car company that would have come out with something like a Prius long before the Japanese. But what we got was government funding to keep a bad business going making crappy expensive cars (who remembers the Chrysler bailout? Know anyone who's bought a Chrysler lately?) What these two examples underscore is what happens with "government intervention." It should be avoided at all costs, because now we have the worst of both systems: Privatization of profits and Socialization of risk.  Capitalism demands a level playing field, not government aid due to pressures from a special interest group. Capitalism is not about profit at all costs.  It's about profit because you've earned it.  The former statement is just bad business practice.  And bad business practices, along bad businesses, and bad government, should be allowed to die off.

Having the Federal government improve education through MCAS or other Federal funding is like giving money to McDonald's to start a program to randomly weigh all its customers to see if they're losing weight. Having the Federal government control all aspects of health care so it's "affordable" damns us all to the same poor crappy standard, because that's what government can administer and that's what's fair.  Unless you can buy your own care, which the wealthy will always do. Government is the problem in health care, because they're the ones who foisted the concept of "HMO's" on everyone back in the 80's, bowing to pressure from the health insurance industry. If the health insurance industry had operated under free market rules, we'd now have less government intervention, less health insurance regulations, and better, cheaper, and more innovative care.  But with government backing them for their crappy business decisions, they can be reckless and spread the cost on us. A CEO making xxx millions but some patient can't get a lifesaving procedure because its disallowed?  Get real.  It's not Capitalism, it's coercion.  It's bad business.  And in a true capitalist system, they would have been annihilated in the marketplace.  Would you buy health insurance from such a company?  I thought not. 'Cause you don't by Chrysler, either. Socialism requires and ever-expanding government to adminster all those aspects of life that should be left for individuals to decide.  It creates and propages more bad government, and individual rights and choices are  eliminated in the process.

We don't get utopia.  No country nor political/economic system ever will.  The poor you have with you always.  I invite you to consider what system(s) would provide the  most commodities, for the most people, with the most accessibility, and in the process, maintain individual rights, among which is the freedom to choose how to go about securing and maintaining those rights.

"The government which governs best governs least." 

- - H.D. Thoreau

alohaspirit's profile pic

alohaspirit | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Socialism is not necessarily a bad thing for a government to institute.  Lots of people mix up socialism with communism, and they are very different.  Socialism is the idea that everyone buys into the government, which we do with taxes, and the government supplies the general public with the basic necessities such as education, healthcare, environmental care, etc.  We already have public education, which in a way is a socialistic idea, so why can't our government make healthcare a socialistic program since many in our country cannot afford proper health insurance.  I agree with basic socialistic ideas.

dbello's profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

There is a great quote by an anonymous author regarding economics...The message of economics is as clear as it is universal: you can't have everything, we can't have everything, and they can't have everything.......

It is not easy to describe socialism because it holds a spectrum of definitions, from communist to socialist to democratic socialism. All possess some aspect of a command economy where by the government dictates what will be produced, how production of goods and services will be produced, and who will recieve them, however the amount of power exercised within these systems differs. For example, democratic socialistic countries such Great Britain and Sweden democratically elect their representatives and as such the level of 'socialism' depends upon the political party in power.  

Economic systems are given labels so that their characteristics can be understood. Capitalism,socialism,communism and managed capitalism mean nothing unless they can be placed within the context of a nation.  The fact that the United States currently finds itself between an economic rock and a hard place combined with recent intervention by the federal government to the tune of 700 billion dollars does provoke the imagination. I think what is misunderstood is that the United States does not have a pure system of capitalism. It has a mixed market economy,which is a combination of capitalistic principles based upon free enterprise and when needed, government intervention. Although this intervention is  the largest ever, we must remember it's not the first time government 'bailed out' the nation. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act 1890 prohibited monopolies, because they stiffled free enterprise. The Clayton Anti-Trust Act 1914 added further protection within the economy. The New Deal legislation of the 1930's saved and forever altered the relationship between private business and the government. However,some of F.D.R.'s New Deal legislation was considered to 'socialistic' in nature and as a result was overturned. In the 1960's L.B.J.'s Great Society was going to rid the United States of poverty, and to that end the Congress passed sweeping civil rights legislation as well as created numerous programs to assist the disenfranchised in America. The critics would again argue 'socialism', I suggest another perspective... Due to the incredible foresight of the framers of The Constitution, there has been enough flexibility within The Constitution as to allow the nation, to have its 'stay of metamorphsis.' With respect to the economy, from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act 1890 to the 700 billion dollar bail out, the United States has at times acted on the behalf of the collective, but has done so in order to protect the individual. Regardless of the incoming President's socialistic perspectives on U.S. policy, U.S. history suggests otherwise. Due to these facts, I do not believe there is any possibility of socialism as a form of economic or political control taking hold in this nation.

engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Since the question has been raised, I'll be happy to oblige: What I find "distasteful" is any governmental system that grossly interferes with the common everyday lives of its citizens, be that dictating their health care options, telling them what they may or may not own, or infringing upon other basic human rights.

Socialism and Communism have managed to eliminate the freedom of the individual, and replace it with the will and whim of the ruling governmental powers. Having said that, life within a federal republic (like Germany) or within a constitutional monarchy (UK) doesn't vary too greatly from that of a socialist system; it just "sounds" nicer. Even if a nation doesn't identify themselves as socialist, that doesn't mean that their government deviates from the same basic ideals.

santari's profile pic

santari | eNotes Employee

Posted on

During the campaign, our president-elect prided himself on saying that his health care plan was a "moderate" one, located between the extremes of government-run health care and an obsolete system that fails to provide for the masses.

If one looks closely at the wording of his health care plans, however, it is easy to see how it would quickly lend itself to the idea of a national health care system, just like they have in socialist countries.

Health care, however, is not where the striking similarities to socialism end: If our future president has his way, tighter gun control laws and other government impositions will come sharply into play, much like socialist regimes.

While I truly do not think that it is Mr. Obama's intent to create a socialist country, his policies and stances certainly lend themselves toward that end.  

Your points are well taken, but the underlying assumption is that all things socialist are inherently bad or undesirable.  In fact, health care systems in many socialist countries have much that are good about them, namely that a decent level of coverage is available to all citizens, which is not the case in the United States.  In fact, the United States has many things that are socialist in origin or nature. Our tax system for example attempts to eliminate vast inequalities by imposing higher taxes on higher incomes, and even labor unions are something that have historical roots in socialist organizations.

But I think the topic concerns the economic nature of socialism, and whether the massive bailout being undertaken by our government has us on a road to a socialist economic system.  And ironically, one of the contributing factors to the economic mess was a very non-socialist problem: lack of government oversight.

santari's profile pic

santari | eNotes Employee

Posted on

That's a big topic and an interesting one.  Marx thought there we would be a period of transition between capitalism and communism that he called socialism.  He felt just as capitalism replaced feudalism, it is inevitable that something else will replace capitalism.

It's hard to say if the United States is moving that way because there is a still a strong sentiment against forms of socialism in this country. The major banks (and potentially the auto industry) that have made the U.S. Government shareholders or senior position creditors all have plans to ultimately buy back or pay off the government and restore private control.

Moreover, history has shown, most notably in the former Soviet Union, that state control or centralized planning of the production of commodities is inefficient and results in shortages and misallocation of resources. And indeed, the U.S government is not planning to come in and administer/manage the banks or the auto industries (at least not yet).

On the political side, a common criticism of socialism is that it invests too much power in the state, and can lead to the reduction of political and economic freedoms.  Friedrich Hayek, a defender of free-market capitalism, once said:

No socialist system can be established without a political police. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance.

engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

During the campaign, our president-elect prided himself on saying that his health care plan was a "moderate" one, located between the extremes of government-run health care and an obsolete system that fails to provide for the masses.

If one looks closely at the wording of his health care plans, however, it is easy to see how it would quickly lend itself to the idea of a national health care system, just like they have in socialist countries.

Health care, however, is not where the striking similarities to socialism end: If our future president has his way, tighter gun control laws and other government impositions will come sharply into play, much like socialist regimes.

While I truly do not think that it is Mr. Obama's intent to create a socialist country, his policies and stances certainly lend themselves toward that end.  

normalgirl's profile pic

normalgirl | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Also, for every one rich American woman there are hundreds of poor ones. The Chinese Government once said, "There is a third world country hiding inside America". While I in no way support the Chinese authorities, there is a grain of truth in their statement.

As the 'richest' country in the world it is criminal how many people are completely poor in America. Poor finacially, poor culturally, poor academically, poor morally etc

Scandinavian society does not have vast no-go areas of dilipidated housing with whole communities of addicts and unemployed broken people. Scandinavia doesn't vote for 'an actor that they recognise from the TV' to do the most important administrative job in the world (You don't give administrators star roles in Holywood movies, do you?). Scandinavia doesn't loudly pray one minute and then drop thousands of bombs on people the next.

A few people having millions of dollars while the majority struggle to get health care is wrong. I don't care how much they tell you it isn't. It is wrong.

Inequality in America is a national shame and scandal. Socialism is not a dirty word, but the capitalists don't want it so they promise you that if you work hard you'll be 'rich' because this is America.

Probably you won't be rich, whether you work hard or not. But you 100% definitely will get old and sick.

 

 

normalgirl's profile pic

normalgirl | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Socialism will not work until the members taking part in it are much more enlightened than they are at this point in history. If we study The Scandinvian countries (who are far better educated than Americans) we can see they are prepared to sacrifice some of their personal wealth for communal wealth.

BUT (and this is a massive but), when they vote, they are much more aware of who and what they are voting for than American voters. They don't vote for actors or fall for stupid presidents like Bush (twice). They demand (and so get) talented politicians. As a result their coutries are models of liberal democratic centre-left socialism.

Who is richer?

A woman who has a million dollars but has cameras and fences and a gun to protect her from crime and is scared of her own community and feels guilty about the massive inequality as she drives in her big mercedes to pick up her uncommunicative, anti-social children and lives in a society of cheap instant entertainment and uneducated, unhealthy, fat people?

Or the woman who is comfortable financially (not a millionaire) and lives in a secure and happy society with great hospitals and schools and (most importantly) emtionally-healthy, educated, happy kids with high standards of art and culture and care for the needy.

Sweden/Norway/Finland/Denmark are not perfect, but they are far in advance of America for standard of living. It may not be easy to hear, but it is 100% true.

npoore84's profile pic

npoore84 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

I completely agree that socialism would be a foolish idea to implement in the United States. I also believe that it would go against all that the US stands for and upholds. The first ten amendments, or the Bill of Rights, of our Constitution guarantee certain rights. If the US government were to instate socialism, it would break down the constitution and everything our founding fathers intended for this country to represent and everything they fought and risked their lives for. 

rlendensky's profile pic

rlendensky | Student, College Freshman

Posted on

Though socialism, in theory is not necessarily a terrible idea, it would completely contradict and undermine the purpose of the United States military and military action in the last century. From Iran to Kosovo to Iraw to Vietnam the United States government has set out on a purpose to promote both democracy and capitalism. The cold war and the space race were both measures to fight communism, therefore placing socialism in a negative light as well. Though both political parties having socialist ideals (Republicans supporting the socialist version of of social programs and Democrats support the socialist side of economic law) socialism will certainly be impracticle and foolish to establish in the United States.

omni's profile pic

omni | College Teacher | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

Oh and as a final note, I think it would be interesting to see what countries #3 considers "socialist". Currently there are only 13 countries in the world which self-identify as socialist countries-- Laos, Viet Nam, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ireland, Bangladesh, North Korea, Syria, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, India and Libya. 

It could be that "socialism" is the wrong word to describe what #3 finds distasteful about national health care and gun control laws.

omni's profile pic

omni | College Teacher | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

During the campaign, our president-elect prided himself on saying that his health care plan was a "moderate" one, located between the extremes of government-run health care and an obsolete system that fails to provide for the masses.

If one looks closely at the wording of his health care plans, however, it is easy to see how it would quickly lend itself to the idea of a national health care system, just like they have in socialist countries.

Health care, however, is not where the striking similarities to socialism end: If our future president has his way, tighter gun control laws and other government impositions will come sharply into play, much like socialist regimes.

While I truly do not think that it is Mr. Obama's intent to create a socialist country, his policies and stances certainly lend themselves toward that end.  

The top tax rate in the United Kingdon is 30%. I don't think anyone would classify the UK as a socialist country. The top tax rate in Germany is 45%, and 90% of the population pays 15% tax. Again, not a socialist country.

And yet Germany and the UK both have national health care which covers the vast majority of the population. In fact, every wealthy Western country has national health care with one major exception-- the United States. 

National health care has very little to do with socialism, it has to do with societal and government priorities. 

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