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.