Socialism vs. Capitalism

In the realm of politics, the concept of socialism often rears its ugly head because someone is looking to start a movement without understanding where that movement will go.  The lead in topics are normally things like college education – free to the masses, or income equality, or minimum wage. 

Just for fun, starting with college education, the issue is, as with all free programs, who pays?  The funny thing is that those liberal professors that support socialism want: 1) tenure, and 2) a paycheck that reflects their opinion of themselves.  The first question becomes a simple transfer of money from your pocket to their pockets because those ‘free’ programs are paid for by the people that have jobs and make money.  The best part is that the taxpayers are happy to provide this money because it is a socialism programs and everyone averages out under socialism, so you’ll gets yours just as they get theirs.

The costs associated with the free college programs are actually very high, but the free part only applies to the people that want to reap the benefit.  This is the important point, a college education is intended to be an investment in the earning power for the future, and as such, requires an investment.  The question is just a matter of who is paying for the investment into the future lifestyle of the person that wants a free education?  This is part of the problem with socialism, everyone pays for everyone else’s personal investments under the impression that society will benefit from a more educated student.

The next topic is income equality and the real question is simple: what has each person done to be worth the same level of money that someone else makes.  Another issue of personal responsibility where someone wants more without any effort or work, just to be given to them.  The value of labor is determined by the market and if one person has labor that is worth more, can you guess why?  For anyone that wants income equality, please show a list of reasons and qualifications to prove you are worth more than you are being compensated.

There is an old saying that you can’t buy success, if you do not make the effort and provide the work, any amount of money will be lost.  On the flip side, how many people without money have put in the effort and the work and made money?  It sounds like the failures of the world want to be able to buy success by having other people pay for it.

Lastly, consider minimum wage.  Minimum wage is the lowest amount of money anyone can earn for their labor, not because their labor is worth that amount of money but instead because the law requires that amount be paid no matter how poor the labor provided.  Minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage, it was always intended to be the starting point for anyone’s career prospects and some people have none because they never make the effort. 

The problem with minimum wage is more of a social problem because there is no attempt to training and skills to those people that have none because they never made an effort in previous jobs or in the public education.  Perhaps instead of forcing the economy to waste money buying labor at inflated prices from unskilled and uncaring employees, the employees should be trained and evaluated.  Even with training, some people will never try and there is no reason for society to supplement the income of a worthless person.  Getting out of this condition or group is a personal decision and cannot be forced on anyone.  This is just like an addiction, in that all the intervention and programs in the world will not cure an addiction unless that person makes the decision to be a contributing member of society.

The problem that most people fail to understand with Socialism is the tendency to average instead of excellence.  Consider most labor unions, and it is especially true of the Teachers Unions, in that these organizations are not interested in the improvement of the skill level of members, they are more interested in establishing rates of production that do not require effort so that even the son of the union boss can perform at the required level to keep his job.  Unions do not demand that employees perform with honor and integrity; the unions will instead demand that a person not be terminated for poor performance or improper behavior (like drinking on the job).  New York City School District has a ‘rubber room’ where poor teachers can be sent to simply sit and wait out the day because they can’t be terminated for poor performance.  Let’s all be clear, if a person has a poor performance, that is the fault of the employer, it is the fault of the employee for failing to make the personal decision to work instead of whatever the alternative is.

Socialism implies that everyone gets the same but there is a problem with even this simple approach.  In every group of people, there are those that work at an average pace, those that work at a slower pace and those that make every effort to avoid work.  This is true in every work environment, but the goal of socialism is that everyone, no matter the level of production, is paid the same, resulting in a work environment where everyone slowly reduces the work level because trying is not rewarded.

On top of this, consider the leaders in socialism or communism countries.  Yes, they are the same over time even though the names used are different.  Are the programs and the intentions the same?  In both cases, the production facilities are controlled by the leadership.  The difference is the reward for the leadership is never the same as the reward for the average worker, because they are leaders and have greater responsibilities, they deserve better rewards.  If you doubt this concept, go back and look at every country that has implemented socialism / communism.

The other problem with socialism is the likelihood of criminal activity as people steal from the group to use or sell the items to others.  Anyone that is looking for an easier life will fall into this group, not everyone buys into the concept of socialism and those that don’t will move in concert and look for ways to avoid the system.

Every time I hear a youth speak of socialism in glowing terms, I recognize that this person has either: 1) never actually worked for a living, or 2) never accomplished anything on their own.  Yes, I know this is a very harsh judgement but consider the relevance.

When I hear these people, they are normally shouting slogans about free college education or increasing the minimum wage or the inequity of the 1%.  All of these issues are self-serving and are not intended to encourage a work ethic.  But, essentially, these slogans simply highlight the lack of knowledge about the topic.  Socialism has failed every time, in every aspect but still it is a dream of many that don't want to accept personal responsibility.

The underlying strength with the flip side weakness of socialism is the issue of the nanny state.  Under all the claims and highlights, socialism offers a nanny state mentality for those willing to accept the conditions of socialism.  This is also the weakness because many people don't like the oversight of a nanny state because of the lack of self-determined growth.

Consider the issue of 'Socialized Medicine', which is often the first step towards further discussions on socialism.  There is a reason that most attempts in socialized medicine fail, there is no reason for anyone to try beyond the 'average'.  Socialized medicine is based on the application of the 'average' in all things but primarily for the services provided.  Everyone seems to forget that the services that people receive are provided by someone else that is going to provide services at an 'average' level.  These service providers don't spend more time on the job than required for the average.  There is a reason that many people leave countries that provide socialized medicine and go to clinics that are operated on a for profit basis.  Very simply, the finest medicine in the world is provided by for profit clinics, or it is the medicine provided for the leaders of socialized countries but the average citizen has a waiting period, why is that?

In everything, there are at least two sides to the discussion, do you understand both sides of the discussion?  It is easy to tune into the one side that you want to support, but why are there other people that are supporting the other side?  You cannot encourage others to see your sides unless you can understand and detail the flaws in the positions of others.  

To understand socialism, start at the beginning.  All forms of market economics must be implemented by law.  In order to implement the changes desired through socialism, the structure of the socialism must be imposed on the citizens of the country.  The reason for this lawful implementation is human nature and the leaders that are implementing this structure recognize that human nature has two basic failings: laziness and greed.  These characteristics cannot be eliminated with slogans but through the application of force.  

So, as with all things, what do you do with the people that refuse to obey the laws and instead look for the means to avoid or skirt the laws.  Laziness is one problem, in that someone is unwilling to make the maximum effort required of all workers to the common goal.  Often, these people are looking to find short cuts or avoid the work itself or fail to remain in the best possible physical condition.  Consider, recently a journalist took pictures of auto workers drinking beer and smoking marijuana on their lunch hour.  What kind of an impact does this have on other workers who must tolerate this behavior of fellow workers when there is a common goal?  The old USSR has proven that over time the entire structure establishes new 'averages' to account for everyone operating at the same productivity.  The other problem is greed in which some workers simply take more than they are entitled.  

This would make more sense if the reader fully understood the nature of socialism and if you don't then you try to believe that you can implement portions without all.  You can't integrate socialism and capitalism because of the different natures of the economic systems and the impact on the individual.

Back to the nature of socialism.  This is a market system which permits a central governing group to manage the distribution of the labor, assets and resources to those components that central group believes is best for the collective.  However, lack of understanding of outside influences can drive these choices in the wrong direction resulting in failures to provide for the collective as a whole.

The type government, either dictator or democracy, does not matter because in theory either version will work.  Communism is nothing more than a dictator form of government with a socialism market form.  In this case, the leaders end up with secret police and mansions while the rest of the populace often struggle for the necessities.  

The democracy form of socialism has many of the same results with two levels of leadership and governance.  The highest level would be elected by the people, however, under this top level is a layer of bureaucracy which have developed their own positions and structure that is outside of the structure overseen by the elected representatives.  This can be identified by the public workers that form unions to ensure that they can keep their jobs when the elected leadership changes.

The biggest difference between socialism and capitalism is the inherent nature of humans to desire to better themselves and their circumstances.  Socialism provides a means for everyone to have the same.  This is important, it is not the best of the group but is instead the average of the group.  So if you try harder than everyone else, you still get the average of everyone.  Capitalism provides the opportunity for everyone to make an extra effort and to be rewarded for that.  

This single concept is the one issue that causes the greatest misconception.  If you want to have better, you must try.  If you want the same as everyone else, then you simply don't make the extra effort.  

Many people espouse the concept of socialism with talk about the promise of a free college education but fail to look beyond the word free.  Have you ever considered why people want a free ducation?  Currently, the primary driving force is the cost of a top of the line education with many people graduating from college with hundreds of thousands in student loans hanging over their heads as they enter the work force.  Of course, this is a stupid reason.

As with everything that is free, the quality will suffer so that free college education will not provide the knowledge base or the training to equal the current level of education.  Second, when someone graduates with outstanding student loans, the first question should be one of planning?  Did this person give any consideration to the ability to pay for the student loans in the career field they have chosen?  The answers are simple: they went to an overly costly school and had no clue as to the potential market skills of their education.  Frankly, this entire problem is the result of students that are incapable of long term planning and thought processes, do we really want students that are this stupid getting a free education and wasting the limited resources of the education system?

If we implement a free education, do you think this approach will apply to places like Yale, Harvard, MTI, or Stanford?  No, of course not, these institutions must maintain high standards but you can't maintain high standards with the admission being free.  Also, how do you select who goes to which schools if everything is free, they all want to go to Stanford.  The driving force is the resulting student loans after graduation, so shouldn't we be looking for a means to eliminate the student loans?

Perhaps we should encourage schools and businesses to work together providing the best education possible while the student works at a job and goes to school so that when the education is complete, they have a job that they can step into without delay or transition?  Of course, this approach would require that the college experience be more work and study and less partying and social interaction.  

Perhaps we should consider raising the academic level of every school to the same standard so a student could go to any school and be assured of an education that is on par with anything that can be received across the country.  This approach would eliminate the need for a student to incur costs just by attending a distant university.  Perhaps we should remove the stigma of a four year education, what is wrong with taking 6 or 8 years while working so that the cost of the education can be paid during the process.

The point is that the cost of an education must be counter balanced by two primary issues: first, what are the long term financial prospects based on the completion of the educational goal, and second, what time frames are planned for the payment of the student loans?  The biggest issue is that many people don't have answers to these questions before agreeing to the structure of the student loan.

So it is now back to the issue of personal responsibility.  Someone decided to incur costs while seeking an education and decided to incur the costs associated with a student loan to implement the plan.  These were all decisions made by the individual, society did not force the individual to incur these costs or the debt and the individual failed to grasp the obvious: decisions have consequences.

Like so many other consequences from poor decisions, the individual wants society to accept responsibility for stupidity of the one.