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What Americans Must Know About Socialism

By Lee Edwards, Ph.D.  –  Dec 3rd 2018

Key Takeaways:

1. Socialism is no longer a parlor game for academics but a political alternative taken seriously by millennials.

2.“They don’t recognize that much of what they enjoy in life is a result of capitalism and would disappear if socialism were to be implemented.”

3. This is the reality of socialism — a pseudo-religion grounded in pseudo-science and enforced by political tyranny.

Is a specter of socialism haunting America, especially among our millennials? There is disquieting evidence of many young Americans’ sympathy for socialism. Exhibit A: 2.052 million people under the age of 30 voted for democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries and caucuses. Exhibit B: Polls find that, not only do a large majority of millennials have a favorable opinion of socialism, a near majority would prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. Exhibit C: The no-longer sleeping Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) now boasts 30,000 members, most of them in their twenties and eager to follow the socialist banner.

We’ve come a long way since the 1988 presidential race when George H. W. Bush buried his Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis by labeling him a “liberal.” Socialism is no longer a parlor game for academics but a political alternative taken seriously by millennials who are not put off by the radical DSA platform.

DSA believes in ending the private ownership of industries whose products are viewed as “necessities.” The production of such products, it argues, should not be left to “profiteers.” It also believes that government should “democratize” private businesses — that is, give workers control over them — to the greatest extent possible. “Socialism,” explains a member of DSA’s national steering committee, “is the democratization of all areas of life, including but not limited to the economy.”

What is happening in America, once the apotheosis of capitalism?

The first part of that answer lies in two words, not “Karl Marx,” but “Bernie Sanders.” The senator from Vermont captured the hearts and the votes of many millennials with his call for single payer health care, free public college, campaign finance reform, and racial, economic, and climate justice. The prime target of his animus was the top 1 percent in America who own, it is true, some 40 percent of the nation’s total wealth — as much as the bottom 90 percent. What Bernie rarely pointed out was that the same top 1 percent paid 39.5 percent of the individual income taxes. Sanders had a ready explanation for how to pay for all of the freebies: increase the taxes on the rich and their corporations. In Bernie’s world, there is such a thing as a free lunch because the bill will be paid by those at the top.

According to one CNN analyst, millennials rallied in the many thousands behind Sanders because they are socially liberal — especially on LGBT rights — saddled with mountains of student debt, disillusioned with the status quo, “and eager to break with traditional [political] models.” Bernie provided solutions to all their problems — without detailing the price or conceding the lessening in individual liberty. Such details were swept aside by the revolutionary spirit of the millennials who “felt the Bern.” As one Bernista said, “You can build a powerful political movement with a base of 2 million true believers.”

The second reason for the shift toward socialism was the Great Recession of 2008. It tore a huge hole in the American people’s belief in capitalism as the way to a better life and sent them looking for alternatives. Many of them, especially younger Americans, found it in a “soft socialism” that was part welfare state, part administrative state, part socialist democracy.

The most startling poll was the YouGov survey that reported that given a choice, 44 percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist nation rather than a capitalist country. Another seven percent would choose communism. However, the same poll revealed that only 33 percent of the respondents could correctly define socialism as based on the common ownership of economic and social systems as well as the state control of the means of production. What most millennials mean by “socialism” seems to be a mix of our welfare state and what they perceive to be Swedish democratic socialism. But Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries including Denmark favor the free market and are content with private rather than government ownership of their major industries. However, Danish domestic spending including comprehensive health care has a high price — a top personal income tax of 57 percent.

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Attribution:The Heritage Foundation

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2 comments

  1. The Bible, in Proverbs Chapter 1, appears to condemn socialism which is described as “let us all have one purse”. The level of evil is manifest in the context of the other sins addressed from Verse 10 to verse 19.

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