Bernie Sanders is light-years ahead of Donald Trump in class and intellect, and I didn't bother watching the State of the Union address because when I want to be lied to I'll try dating again, but I saw this going around Facebook and it made me laugh.
Trump: America will never be a socialist country.
Of course, Trump's words ring a little hollow. Because he's a Republican, some people are gullible enough to actually think he's a proponent of limited government and restrained spending even though he's not. He just has his priorities of where to use government and spending completely wrong. Still, I thought this picture was funny and I sympathize with the sentiment. Every conceivable human economic system is inherently evil, but since we've got to have one, I think capitalism is the most tolerable evil. It's evil because it revolves around the acquisition of money and by definition motivates any behavior leading to that result, no matter how wrong it is. Now of course some people in this system would do the right thing regardless of profits because they're good people. But experience has borne out time and again that others will only do the right thing if the government forces them to. Pure capitalism was and is a nightmare for everyone at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy.
It's absurd to think that while the government is corrupt and power-hungry, corporations are purely good and benevolent. For all its failings, we depend on the government to stop corporations from making children clean dangerous machinery, feeding us E. coli, dumping sludge in our waterways, and lying to us about the health benefits of cigarettes, to name just a few not hypothetical examples. There are plenty of other things it should be stopping. I saw firsthand how insurance companies still get away with screwing (mostly elderly) customers because they can, by refusing to cover things they're blatantly required by their policies to cover and then counting on many of these people to lack the patience or knowledge to appeal these decisions through a court system that's required by law to resolve the issue within three months but, because of the obscene backlog of these cases that never should have happened, actually takes closer to three years. Why isn't the government stopping this crap? I hope these insurance companies burn in hell. Also, it should be illegal for oil companies to lie about climage change.
I believe socialism is okay, even necessary in moderate doses. It's silly for any non-libertarian who has no problem paying taxes to build roads, libraries, schools, hospitals, etc. to assert that taking money from people to benefit society is inherently wrong. The only logically consistent position for an avowed socialism-hater to take here is that all taxation is theft. But I think Social Security was a great idea in theory, before the government ruined it by stealing Social Security funds so that now I can count on receiving nothing after a lifetime of paying into the system. Obamacare is a train wreck but its ideas aren't all bad, considering that the United States has had one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world for a long time. When Taiwan became a developed nation and built their healthcare system they literally used ours as an example of what not to do. And I'm not going to lose one bit of sleep if billionaires have to start paying 70% taxes when they hit eleven billion dollars. I really could not care less if they could now only afford to buy four dozen of everything they could conceivably want.
Obviously full-blown socialism like Venezuela's is awful. No sane person will deny that. There are, however, the counterexamples of most European nations, which have wedded capitalism and socialism in an interesting way (and on this point some American socialists are ignorant or dishonest by overlooking capitalism's role in their prosperity, while others say that's exactly the point and the difference from Venezuela). On the one hand, they have pretty high taxes, but on the other hand, they're actually paying for worthwhile things that benefit society. I would much rather pay taxes for someone else's antidepressants or college degree than for Trump's stupid stupid wall. In fact, I'd rather flush my money down a liberal toilet than pay for Trump's stupid stupid wall. Currently, I would hate to pay higher taxes simply because I know they'd be wasted, and a government that spends money it doesn't have and never has to pay its debts doesn't need mine anyway, but if things were different I would tolerate it.
Why is it no longer taboo for Americans to admit they support socialism? A very short time ago when conservatives accused Obama of being a socialist, liberals vehemently denied it and accused the conservatives of being racist Now they vote for actual self-proclaimed socialists. Millennials in particular are outspoken about their widespread support for socialism. Old capitalists generally assume it's because they're lazy and entitled. Those old capitalists are uncharitable, arrogant, and wrong. Here are a few of the actual reasons why millennials support socialism (and I will mostly say "they" even though I'm a millennial and most of these things apply to me because I don't consider myself a socialist, and I recognize that there are undoubtedly a few exceptions because no generation is a monolith regardless of what old people who don't even know there's a difference between millennials and Generation Z try to pretend):
*Because they're tired of working their butts off, often at two or three jobs, for less money and a lower quality of life than their parents. Incidentally, they're the first generation in American history to have less money and a lower quality of life than their parents. So they get blamed for "killing" various luxury industries they can't afford.
*Because they're tired of watching capitalism fulfill its promise for only a select few, enriching the people who are already rich, while their own paychecks are devoured month after month by rent, groceries, utilities, and the other various penalties for being alive. Money they do manage to save is periodically devoured by emergency expenses.
*Because they're burdened for decades by record-setting debt from pursuing the secondary education that they were told their whole lives was necessary for them to get decent jobs and accomplish anything, which cost astronomically more than ever before and in many cases turned out to actually be useless.
*Because they're sickened, as any decent human being would be, that citizens of this country have to set up GoFundMe campaigns and hope for the best when they get chronic illnesses or injuries they can't afford to have treated. Ambulance rides alone, which are free in many countries, can cost thousands of dollars here.
An article that may be of interest to some: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
Sure, maybe capitalism isn't even the cause of these problems. Maybe the government caused these problems. I wouldn't be surprised. But these legitimate gripes need to be recognized whatever their source. Pretending millennial socialists as lazy and entitled instead will do nothing to win them over. I mean, it just seems to me like maybe you old capitalists would want to find common ground and try to persuade them of your point of view, especially since all millennials are old enough to vote, but that's just my opinion. Feel free to ignore me and keep calling them snowflakes instead. Let's pretend that will accomplish anything besides making you sound stupid.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.