Bear with me. This is fairly long, but I think it’s important. More than that, I believe it is an accurate explanation, in lay terms, of what America is facing. I hope you will have the patience to read it all. Thanks.
Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, is suggesting that people unhappy with the economic state of America should fly to Venezuela. He wants you to see how socialism works there. Hint. Not very well.
Mister Langone is a happy recipient of all the benefits of a democratic, capitalistic society, perhaps the most notable such society in the history of the modern world. It is the “Great Experiment,” testing literally whether such a society such as ours can long survive. Mister Langone undoubtedly worked and still works hard. Just as hundreds of millions of other Americans. In addition to hard work, he has been extremely fortunate, and now he absolutely feels that people such as himself are entitled to all they can take, in both money and power. Notice how he throws around the word ‘socialism,’ in a grossly generalized slur. I think some things need to be cleared up.
*First note* Remember that it is the job of the government in a capitalist/ free market society to stand up for the people, ALL of the people; to use reasonable regulation to ensure that the ever more greedy rich at the top don’t become Kings while the working population is relegated to the level of serfs. The process that the government uses is often described NOT as socialism, but as DEMOCRATIC socialism.
The question that needs answering is, what then IS ‘democratic socialism?’ What’s the difference between that, and simply “socialism? In as few words as possible, it is this: SOCIALISM, in concept is a society in which everyone’s efforts, big and small, are placed into a central pot, from which everyone draws the fruits of those efforts equally. It is a concept that has never worked in the modern world. I’m not sure if it ever worked in the pre-modern world. I think it probably didn’t. The obvious inequity is that those who produce the most get the same amount of fruits as those who produce the least.
Socialism has also been smeared by monsters such as Hitler, Mussolini, and others who have used the term as a thin disguise of their hateful dictatorships. Socialism is at the core of Communism, which has also not worked well for one simple reason. Power has always become centralized in the hands of one, of a handful of powerful people.
*Second note* The destructive force within socialism is, and always has been, the rise to power of ultra-ambitious and greedy people who believe that their ambition and personal “vision” gives them the right to dictate what is good for everyone, based on what is good for themselves.
So then, what is capitalism? Here is a good, succinct description of the theory of capitalism from Wikipedia: Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.
All of the things described there are in themselves good, and on the surface, as fair is it is possible to get. But there is a built-in danger, a very severe danger, in that description. Did you find it? Can you see it? The Achilles heel within capitalism is what you do NOT see in that description. There is no mention of limits, or regulation.
*Third Note* The ultimate destructive force in capitalism is the same, EXACTLY THE SAME, as in socialism. There will always be those who are ambitious far above the norm, greedy in their desire for accumulation of riches far above the norm, and who will inevitably draw as much power as possible to themselves in their quest to have, consolidate and grow ever greater levels of riches and power. Moreover, these people will always, like the man you see here, will always feel ENTITLED to more.
*Fourth Note* Such people will always feel it is their right to keep as much of the accumulated fruit for themselves, and to share of it as possible with the very people whose labors actually produce the fruits. They march forward with grossly exaggerated rewards for their own efforts while denying an equitable level of reward for the “working people,” without whose daily toil their own reward be either severely limited or non-existent.
THE IRONY, then, is that such people, when faced with any effort to create a more fair share of the fruits for the people who actually produce the goods and create the fruits, will shout SOCIALISM and warn of its evils, when in fact they are practicing the same kind of central power and greed that they rail against. Every time they moan about big government and regulation, what they really mean is “You’re getting in the way of me getting richer”
*Fifth Note* Unfettered, unregulated capitalism is, then, is doomed to end as badly for the masses of population we call “working people,” as the dreaded socialism they throw about as the boogey man. Awareness of this is not a new thing. It’s been known about since the very inception of the term going back at least two centuries.
Remember this. The power and unscrupulous will always seek to gather all riches and all power to themselves. It is a simple fact of humanity.
So now, what IS a Social Democracy? It is actually what our founding fathers envisioned when they established this “Great Experiment.” The experiment is actually a test of whether a society can be as free and capitalistic as possible, with just the right amount of control exerted by a government of the people in order to maintain the freedom and rewards for all in reasonable balance. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are part of a democratic socialism. Tax structures represent democratic socialism. Regulation to protect and distribute food and water supplies, and to provide a safe environment for working and living are part of democratic socialism.
*Next to Last Note* The Great Experiment then is make it possible through capitalism, for ambition and hard work to be rewarded in kind, while using regulation and taxation to ensure that everyone who works hard, who labors with dedication, is also reward in kind. THAT is what is called democratic socialism. My preferred term is socially responsible governance.
*Last Note* America is currently far along the last branch of the road to collapse as a democracy. Every book and movie that has portrayed a dystopian society, one in which the mass, the working class, lives in misery while the rich and power few live and rule in outsized luxury, has pictured a society not very far down the path we are following. Consider: **- the working class faces ever shrinking affordable housing due to rising prices in both rents and houses; **- the working class goes without necessary health care due to drug and care prices that rise astronomically; **- working class youth is subject to inferior education due to poor funding and priorities for our education system; **- Higher education is outlandishly expensive; ** working class Americans can no longer plan or save adequately for retirement due to prices that rise much faster than wages; **- 1% of America has more wealth than the remaining 99%.
*Conclusion* American capitalism is broken. It is out of control. The only way to fix it is through governmental intervention and regulation to restore some level of equity. The 1% who have accumulated their power and wealth will not agree to a more equitable society of their own accord. Remember, they believe it is their right. They think their extreme ambition and ruthlessness make them better than the other 99%. Their wealth and power, and adding to both, is more important to them than the greater economy, the environment, or anybody they don’t perceive to be on their level. They have control of America, and I don’t know if it is even possible to fix America at this point. The 1% has insinuated its power and its control to within the very core of America’s governance. I believe their very being is wrapped around a singular belief which they will never say in public, but which I describe thus: “If you can’t keep up with me, then live the way I allow you to live. If you can’t handle that, then perhaps you had best just die.”
I don’t think Vlad the Impaler could have said it better.