by Gary Flomenhoft
This whole Bernie thing has got people debating about what socialism is. Is it New Deal liberalism? Scandinavian welfare statism? State communism? Or what?
Let me simplify it for you. Socialism is basically anything run by or paid for by government.
Socialism is what free enterprise needs to operate. You might even call it the operating system for business. Business needs stable government, a strong judiciary to protect property rights and contracts, and good public services for delivery of materials and goods to firms and customers. All are socialist. Business also needs a socialist safety net to cover the failures of capitalism including the many people living in poverty and the enormous unemployment that results from the repeating collapse of the business cycle.
Let’s look at a typical firm making widgets or delivering services. Employees drive on socialist roads to work, and if they can’t afford a car they ride the socialist bus or socialist train. Trucks deliver materials and goods on socialist highways guarded by the socialist highway patrol. If there is a fire they call the socialist fire department at the socialist city hall where the socialist dispatcher works (except for a town in Tennessee with a private fire department, which lets people’s houses burn down if they aren’t subscribed). For local crime they call the socialist police department usually at the same socialist city hall.
Their water is delivered through socialist pipes by the socialist water department, and their sewage is removed through socialist sewer pipes to the socialist sewage treatment plant, where it is treated by socialist sanitary engineers and disposed of safely. Their trash is picked up by the socialist public works department and taken to the socialist recycling center where it is separated, and solid waste taken to the socialist landfill. Lighting at the plant is provided by the local socialist or private electric company and delivered over socialist electric lines. Natural gas is delivered by the local socialist or private gas company and delivered through socialist gas pipes. Water, waste, electric, gas, and phone connections are called utility “hook-ups” at the site of an empty lot when something is going to get built. Having hook-ups to the socialist, tax-supported infrastructure (including roads) raises the “free market” property value by quite a bit.
The company may do their billing through the quasi-socialist postal service, and talk to people through the socialist telephone lines, or private cell phone towers both regulated by the socialist Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Advertising and most communication is through the socialist internet, created by the socialist US federal DARPA agency. They undoubtedly have a company website, using the world-wide web, which was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in his spare time working at CERN, a socialist research laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1993 Berners-Lee ensured that CERN would agree to make the underlying code (html, URL, http) available on a royalty-free basis, for ever, which sounds like a socialist (open-source), not capitalist (proprietary) thing to do.
[Side-note: I recently went to a talk by the local neo-liberal political party where the speaker said that only business creates innovation, and government suppresses it. Since the internet and world wide web are the two biggest innovations in the last 50 years, and both were created at government institutions, I just wonder how ideologues can be that dumb, but they are]
If company stock is traded on the private NY stock market, it is monitored for fairness (supposedly) by the socialist Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If they have a legal dispute they take it to the socialist local, state, or federal courts where a socialist judge or socialist jury decide the case. If it is a criminal case the socialist district attourneys and socialist prosecutors will try the case, and if the defendant can’t afford a lawyer they will provide a socialist public defender.
97% the money they use is created by private bank loans through the Federal Reserve System, a quasi-socialist private bank, whose profits supposedly go back to the government. The 3% of coins and bills are made directly by the socialist Treasury department.
On weekends employees walk on socialist sidewalks to socialist parks and lakes for picnics, or hike in socialist forests. They enjoy the clean air and water created by socialist legislation reducing the pollution by “free market” business, who formerly dumped it into the air and water directly to reduce costs and increase profits. If employees get sick they use prescription drugs, most of which were developed by socialist funding to researchers at socialist and private universities. When they retire they get socialist retirement benefits (Social security) and socialist health care (Medicare). Since employees pay for these insurance benefits themselves over their career, you might say they are not socialist, but all the government employees running them are socialist. If they are disabled on the job they get socialist worker’s compensation, and possibly socialist Medicaid if permanently disabled. If they become unemployed they get socialist unemployment insurance. Again this insurance is taken out of their salaries, but the employees running it are socialist.
If people are worried about invading communists disrupting capitalism, they rely on the socialist military who have socialist training, socialist pay, socialist health care, socialist housing, and socialist everything else. Since it is a totalitarian system you might even call it communist. No wonder the military hates communism so much, they live in it! Imagine the US military fighting China, North Korea, or the old Soviet Union: communists fighting communists, for democracy, go figure!
What is the difference between communism, capitalism, and socialism?
Communism is when government runs business.
Capitalism is when business runs government.
Socialism is when people run business and government.
Gary Flomenhoft is a citizen of the Second Vermont Republic, rejecting the legitimacy of the quadruple Nuremburg War criminals currently running the US Empire, and advocates peaceful secession of Vermont from the Union. He is inspired by engagement of the youth, but not optimistic about Bernie’s “revolution”. Most recently he has been a university lecturer, academic and popular media writer and blogger. Currently resides in the land of Bush’s “Deputy Sheriff of the Pacific” Australia, where he is pursuing a PhD in political economy. For his first impressions of the land down under see:
15 March, 2016