Saturday, October 11, 2008


Since my "Little Red Hen" article on April 19, I have been wanting to write about socialism in the modern world and how it would apply to Americans if it were to ever become the norm here. Now that our economy has been "bent over the fuel tank" (an old truck driver saying) for the past few weeks, I've noticed a recurring theme in some of the blogs I frequent. That theme is the idea that maybe the free market isn't all it's cracked up to be and that maybe we should give this socialism thing a try for a while. If you are reading this and fall into that category, this blog's for you.

There are really only a few things you need to know about socialism in order to understand it's negative effect on the human condition. Socialism is based on a few concepts. One, everyone is equal. Two, everyone is equally entitled. Three, government knows best. Four, the government has the ultimate power over the individual.
The kingpin of socialism is the idea that everyone has the right to the things that others have, especially wealth, and to a lesser extent homes, and health care. This is not true. We have the right to pursue wealth, homes and health care. We have the right to work as hard as we want to achieve our goals.
In a free market system, the individual is empowered to achieve his goals on his own terms and the sky is the limit according to how hard that individual is willing to work for it and how savvy his decision making skills are. Under socialism, the individual is reduced to being a slave to the state. First by depending on the government to meet his needs, and then by squelching his ambition to improve his situation. After all, why go the extra mile to secure your stability in life if you know your government is going to wipe your butt for you if you exhaust your supply of government issued toilet paper?
One of the most popular justifications for socialism seems to be "fairness". Pro socialism people seem to be operating on the notion that it is not fair that some people are wealthy, while others are poor. This makes no sense to me. Unless we are talking about people who swindled or robbed their way into wealth, fairness does not apply.
Take Steven Spielberg for example. He is what any reasonable person would call "rich". According to socialism, his wealth should be taken by a third party (government) and re-distributed to the poor. Is this "fair"? No. Did the poor guy schlep his way through film school and bust his hump trying to get his first film produced? Did the poor guy take the risks and make the sacrifices, decisions and investments required to parley an education in cinema into a multi-million dollar enterprise? No. Or did the poor guy go through life playing X-box and smoking weed? Did the "poor" guy sit around and blame others for his lot in life, or did he make the changes necessary to get out of his situation? Why is the "poor" guy entitled to any of Spielberg's money?
This is the problem with socialism. It rewards the slacker and villainizes the ambitious. On a very much smaller scale, as a truck driver, I make a pretty good living. I make enough money to support my family and keep the lights on. Occasionally, I will hear a comment from someone about how unfair it is that I make the wage that I do, yet they make so much less. My reply is always the same. I tell them that there is nothing stopping them from getting their commercial driver's licence and working their way up the ranks as I did for so many years. It is usually at this point that the conversation comes to a halt.
It is the same in the blogs that I read today. People lamenting the fact that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer". Is there something stopping you from developing the next computer operating system or inventing the next Pocket Fisherman? Or do you think you deserve a piece of someone else's pie just because you woke up this morning and said so. Would that be fair?

If you want a house, quality health care, or a gold plated hubcap for your Hyundai, it is your responsibility to work for it...earn it. Stop looking to others to pay your way through life. Stop looking at wealth as if it were a sin, while at the same time complaining about not being wealthy.


ZACK said...

I understand your position a whole lot better, Roadhouse. This was your best post to date (in my opinion).

However, I feel that socialism would work if there were a few changes. Instead of redistributing wealth to just anybody, there should be more emphasis on salary caps with high-earning CEOs.

I have been enlightened by today's post. Thanks for sharing, and accept my apology for "putting you on blast" the past few posts. It's not you who is making me mad, it's those other guys.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point of view. Once upon a time, I felt that way except that in the good ole USA some people do bust their humps through hard work and still don't get ahead. Or better yet earn enough to take care of their needs.

As someone who holds a couple degrees, one an advanced degree because see I bought the lie that of I went to college and worked hard, I too would get ahead. I am less inclined to beleive that hard work alone will get you ahead.

God bless you if it does but in many cases, I think luck is a factor or even privilege.

Roadhouse said...

Thanks for the comments. I wasn't really happy with this article. I was a little sleep deprived when I wrote it and I'm probably going to expand on the topic in the next few days.
Socialism cannot sustain itself even under the best of circumstances. It requires too much sacrifice. Either personal ambition or liberty must be offered up in order for it to last at all. Socialism demands that government be given omnipitant power over the individual. Should the government have the right and/or the power to tell someone how much money they are allowed to earn? Can a massive beurocracy be trusted to delegate such decisions fairly and equitably?

It is true that success does not bust down everyone's door. I'm a truck driver...nuff said. My lot in life was by my own choices and poor judgement. Regardless of how much money I do or do not make, the government can not be allowed to take someone else's money to give to me. I don't consider myself a slacker, but I have made my own bed.
Luck cannot be legislated or mandated, and privilege is reserved for...well, the privileged.

Our only other options are to keep on truckin' or join the criminal element. Keep on truckin'!

Thanks to both of you for the comments.

Dwane T. said...

Hello Sir. Of course I’ve been reading your stuff for awhile, but this is my first comment, so excuse its length. This is an excellent depiction of Socialism. It is a failed system, because a system that runs on complete collection and distribution of resources can never engender pride in its people. Be all you can be makes people proud to serve in the system that allows them to fulfill there human capacity. Even at its heyday, the Soviet Union had to give an “unfair amount of resources to it’s athletes in order for them to compete with those outside of the country. Based on human’s natural curiosity, and drive to be self-actualized, there would always be people who would try to rise above a socialist system’s constraints, not because they have a problem with the government, just because of they’re desire to express the individual gifts they were born with that make them different from others. People don’t have equal levels of all talents, so we will never all be equal, still no one person is better than another.

The US could never have a socialist economy, because our governmental structure does not support that ideology. Of course, it could never be completely market driven for the same reason. Government has to ensure that roads get built, safety codes get met, a criminal justice system is maintained for general safety, and other “basic needs”. Like in sports, you can not assume that all the athletes have the same talents; some are more talented than others, and they should be allowed to show their talents. But you also can’t assume that the game will be played fairly in the absence of referees, because in a competitive system, people will naturally look for a competitive edge. And based on the availability of steroids, oversight of the game has to include regulations that don’t directly apply to the playing field. Regulations are the only way to show that the game is actually fair, and that the most talented are actually the most talented.

Government works like parents raising children, you have to recognize that each of the children has different gifts and skills, and you have to nurture them to be the best that they could be. At the same time, you have to have house rules to maintain order and keep everyone’s “basic needs” met in your role as parent. You also have to instill the values that the family has based it’s past growth, and on what it believes will ensure it’s future growth in all the children. In a free enterprise family, the biggest, strongest child will always be the biggest and strongest if he/she is fast enough to get to the best food first, and allowed to eat as much as she/he can. Should he/she be allowed to get as much as they can based on their abilities? Should the parents reward the one with the best natural gifts who works out the hardest with more resources? To some extent, but they still must look out for the least of the children… even the slacker kid with the “D” average. If the fastest, biggest kid gets the food, the others will suffer. And kids that suffer will not be happy with the parents, and they will be a disruptive force in the house. Also, good parents recognize that sometimes the D student works harder than the A student, they just don’t have the same gifts. But the D student should not be allowed to die off because they aren’t as good. Some would say that particular kid, who is different from the D slacker, should get more love and resources.

Strong government oversight can be business' best friend. I have been a Bill Gates fan since Windows 95 (revolutionary product!!!), and when the government went after him, I was not thrilled. But by slowing Gates down, it opened up the market for other products services and innovations that helped the computer industy and the country as a whole... and Bill Gates isn’t any less rich. Anti-trust laws are as American as apple pie. They show that government can get involved in business to make the country stronger. Do anti-trust laws infringe on the rights of the individual business to maximize their productivity? Absolutely! But in the end, they help business as a whole. Government isn’t bad for business, bad government is bad for business... as the last eight years has proven.

Roadhouse said...

Dwayne T.
Thanks for the comments. You're right that socialism can not work here. But that doesn't mean it won't be attempted.
We have differing views on our perceptions of the role government. You see it as a parent, I see it as an obstacle. As for the D-student, he is entitled to pursue his options, but not to reach into my pocket.

The last eight years have been great for business until the policies of the Clinton administration caught up with us.

Folk said...

In a move not seen by anyone, Folk agrees with Roadhouse.

Great post and there is nothing like the truth. Folk can't stand socialism. Folk also can't stand corporate greed and rich folk who take advantage of the system.

Folk gonna have to write on this to clarify one of Folk's views.