I take no issue with Charles Misak’s explanatory descriptions of capitalism and socialism but, nonetheless, I believe it necessary to elaborate on the subject as a result of his final comment that he is amazed “anyone would advance it (socialism) as a viable economic system.”
I agree that socialism, as an economic system, has shown itself to be a failure. But I have observed that many of those who derogate socialism as a viable economic system make their comments in response to calls by those, primarily on the political left, for government sponsored social welfare programs. One example is a single-payer, universal healthcare system, i.e. healthcare financed by tax revenue and administered by the federal government.
Some critics of socialism state they are opposed to the Social Security system because of its socialist design when, in reality, most are opposed to paying the tax. Certainly, the overwhelming number of Americans defend Social Security vehemently. There is nothing wrong with the Social Security system that sensible eligibility and tax adjustments couldn’t make right. Several recent polls show most Americans also desire a universal, single-payer healthcare system, and I fully believe that such will happen in the United States sooner rather than later.
My principal objective is to point out that the failure of socialism as an economic system, whereby government controls the means of production and distribution of all goods and services, does not logically mean that government-controlled social welfare programs are destined to be failures. Moreover, market economy opponents of such socialist programs often do not voice the slightest objection to very expensive government bailouts and subsidies to the banking industry, coal industry, steel industry, etc. This type of corporate welfare is a form of socialism – disguised and denied – but socialism nonetheless. I do not necessarily object to all such government handouts to various segments of our alleged free enterprises, but I do believe the health and welfare of the American populace is every bit as important as the health and welfare of our corporations, if not more so.
What amazes me is that so many allegedly educated and intelligent members of the American business community, as well as so many of our national politicos state, oppose universal, single-payer healthcare and the like because they smack of socialism when, in reality, they are opposed to paying the taxes necessary to finance them.
Are programs such as these expensive? You bet. Just ask the Danish Prime Minister who, I am virtually certain, would not advocate the termination of Denmark’s generous social welfare programs. They are among the reasons Denmark can boast such a high standard of living. Denmark proves that a market economy can indeed exist alongside social welfare programs that are financed and operated by the national government. One gets what one pays for.