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Why People Like Socialism
By Bruce of Stone Marmot
Sept. 26, 2009
Why do people like socialism? The simple answer is because they never grew up and don't want to grow up.
Before I explain this, I must tell you that I grew up and live in middle class United States. Consequently, the lifestyles and experiences I'm talking about refer to middle and upper class Americans, which is most Americans, which I'm confident is also true of most people in the industrialized countries (Canada, most of Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc.). I suspect this is also true of the middle and upper classes in the developing countries, such as all Latin America, India, China, Indonesia, etc. I can't speak for the poor or those living subsistence lifestyles (where they make and raise most everything they have themselves) as I have no experience with these lifestyles. I also suspect the majority of those who read and respond to these blogs also can't speak for the poor and subsistence lifestyles as they also have no real experience with these lifestyles.
Most children in the developed countries have a pretty worry-free life, at least financially. What emotional concerns these children have tend to be with other issues, such as divorce, sexual abuse, bullying, etc. But they rarely have to worry, except maybe during a (rare for most people) natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flooding, etc.), about whether there is a roof over their head or if there will be food on the table at mealtime. These things are just assumed to always be there. They definitely don't have to worry about taxes and insurance and doctor bills and such. If they ever want anything, they just ask Mommy or Daddy for it. They may or may not get what they want, but they never have to worry about paying for it.
Then one day they are told they are now grown up and Mommy and/or Daddy kick them out of the house. Now, they are suddenly responsible for everything they want and need. If they mess up, they could be homeless and hungry.
Many will welcome this as an opportunity to grow and achieve their dreams. These people love this new freedom and are willing to accept, and even welcome, this added responsibility in exchange for the freedom and opportunity.
But many people don't like this sudden responsibility. So they try to find a surrogate "Mommy" and/or "Daddy" to take care of these needs so they don't have to worry about them. They are willing to surrender much of their freedom to relieve themselves of these responsibilities and concerns.
These people will often look to corporations, unions, or the government to be that surrogate "Mommy" and/or "Daddy." They will seek out jobs with great health and pension plans and, once hired, virtually guaranteed employment for the rest of their lives with pretty much well defined and fixed advancement. These people will be the last to try to start their own business.
There is no problem with this. "Different strokes for different folks." There is enough room and diversity for everyone. Let those who love responsibility and the almost limitless opportunities, as well as the risks of failure, that come with it seek and have it, while those who hate responsibility can hide in their government, corporate, or union job with the security that comes with it.
The problem is that most of those who hate responsibility and never grew up also never grew out of their childhood jealousies. The "Her piece is bigger than mine!" mentality still rules their lives. They are jealous of the success attained by those who welcomed the responsibility and, with the freedom that comes with this responsibility, used their ambition, brains, and talent to attain great success. The responsibility-haters conveniently ignore all the sacrifices (I'm sure Bill Gates didn't date that often or go to too many football games or concerts or wild and drunken and drug-rich parties as a teen and twenty-something - he was too busy writing software), risks, and even failures of the other many responsibility-welcomers.
Plus, the business environment changes over time. That means that the security that could be found in the corporate world may not be there twenty years, or even two years, from now, at least not with that same corporation. So, if a responsibility-hater chooses the wrong corporation, he could see his security vanish sometime in the future with a change in the business climate (though many of these changes are government induced and/or aggravated).
So the responsibility-haters seek socialism. Actually, it is not socialism they want, but a benevolent dictatorship. After all, a benevolent dictatorship is the closest you can come to the roll an ideal Mommy and Daddy plays in a child's life, all powerful and controlling but with the best interest of the child foremost in his/her mind. But thanks to people like Idi Amin, Adoph Hitler, and such, dictators have a bad reputation and virtually no one will admit to wanting one. Plus, even initially good dictators have a tendency to go bad. So socialism is the next best substitute. In fact, experience to date indicates that the more socialist a country is, the more its government looks like a dictatorship by committee (China, Vietnam) if not by an individual (North Korea).
(Incidentally, this may be another reason, other than fear of death, that so many are drawn to religion. After all, the Supreme Being in all monotheistic religions I know of is presented as the ultimate Benevolent Dictator, in control of absolutely everything but with our best interests in mind. In fact, this Being is often referred to in these religions as Father, King, Lord, etc. But that is another long discussion I don't want to get into.)
But there are a lot of problems with socialism. One is that we are "putting all our eggs in one basket." Right now in the world, we have all these multibillion dollar corporations who have the assets to attract the absolute best talent available. But many of these corporate giants eventually fail or at least end up very much weakened and reduced in size. Many corporations once considered all powerful and "too big to fail" have failed just in the past year. But people are willing, even demand, that we put ALL our assets into one big corporation, that is, the government. What makes these people so confident that this one big corporation, the government, can be any more successful than all these other corporations? If this one big corporation, the government, fails, we are ALL screwed as there is no one else to fall back on and bail us out.
Second, socialists will argue that they can never be truly successful in running the economy unless they have complete control of the economy. They will blame any of their failures on this lack of control. That means no one can keep control of his own destiny and assume responsibility for his own life. This takes the freedom and opportunities that come with assuming responsibility for your own life away from the responsibility-welcomers.
The responsibility-haters will see no problem with this, as they have never outgrown their childhood jealousies. But the responsibility-welcomers are the ones responsible for virtually all progress attained by mankind. The lack of limits on their potential abilities and, probably more important, rewards, as well as competition with other like-minded individuals, is what drove them to achieve their accomplishments. With socialism, human progress will be dramatically slowed, if not completely stop.
But, some may argue, the Soviet Union did attain some remarkable scientific advancements. But they weren't operating in a vacuum. They still had very severe competition from the countries that were mostly non-socialist, particularly the United States. And the socialist Soviet Union didn't survive the competition. They have been replaced with a far more capitalist Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, etc. And China's great progress these past twenty years have been mostly due to their absorption of various free market practices. This progress is not just in wealth, but also in health, human rights, opportunities, and the environment.
Also, with any government issue, it is the winner takes all. I get very few opportunities to vote directly for any government issue. I do get opportunities to vote for representatives who will then get an opportunity to vote with regards to these many government issues, but have little control over how these representatives will actually vote or even if they will vote. If I don't like the result of these representatives' votes, there is nothing I can do about it other than complain. If, for example, these representatives vote to invade another country, there is nothing I can do about it. If fact, I am forced to support this decision against my will. The government forces me through taxation to finance this war they chose to initiate. I cannot choose to refuse to give the government any money to finance this war without the government arresting me and throwing me into prison.
Corporations don't have that power. If I don't want to contribute to some corporation, I don't have to. I can always find alternatives to the corporation's products and services or do without. That is, unless the corporation influences the government to force me to contribute to the corporation (as discussed in recent articles on this blog). But, again, it is not the corporations who are forcing me but the government because we gave the government the power to do this.
And this gets us back to my much earlier article on "Why People Hate Capitalism." I have received many private comments* on this article, most agreeing and some disagreeing. The common thread in absolutely all who disagreed is that they are unwilling to accept responsibility for their lives and destinies. They all feel "the devil made them do it" and all the world's problems are someone else's fault. And they are right! They have as individuals personally given up and refuse to accept any responsibility for their lives. They make no effort to change anything as they feel everything is beyond their control. I am wasting my efforts to try to convince them otherwise.
Corporations aren't all powerful. If they were, none would ever go bankrupt. But they do go bankrupt, quite often. One of the most recent big examples was General Motors, which was at one time the largest and most powerful corporation in the world. Why do they fail? Mostly because either they can't attract enough customers and/or their shareholders lose confidence in them and start withdrawing their money from the corporation. This is the collective act of many individuals, and usually not an organized collective act, but the end result of a bunch of individual decisions. Individuals can shut down any corporation or corporate act. Maybe not just one or even a couple individuals, but a lot of individuals who feel the same can.
This is not true with the government. The government has as much power as we give them. Usually this power includes the ability to significantly restrict a person's freedom (prison), confiscate her property, and in some cases even kill her. And once the government has power, it is virtually impossible to nonviolently take it away.
It has been said by many that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In a capitalist society, power is distributed. True, those with more money tend to have more power, but anyone with any money, no matter how little, has at least some power. The biggest potential problem for a capitalist, or any society, is a monopoly, because a monopoly can attain enough power to force out any competition and then attain absolute power. So all monopolies, business and political, are to be avoided at all cost.
With socialism, we are purposely creating the ultimate monopoly, that is, government control over everything. The government then has absolute power. And remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
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