What is Socialism? Part 1

Thirty-years ago today the Berlin Wall fell, marking the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Bernie Sanders and other presidential candidates say they want to transform America into a “democratic/socialist” nation.

What is socialism? There are three basic forms relevant to our discussion:

  1. global socialism (Communism);
  2. national socialism (Nazism); and,
  3. mixed socialism (modern industrialized nations)

In Part 1 we will discuss mixed socialism.

Bernie is a little late. The United States is already a “democratic/socialist” country. The US has not been predominately capitalist since Roosevelt’s New Deal, the growth of America’s “military industrial complex,” and the advent of LBJ’s Great Society programs. During the past eight-decades America has been transformed into a hybrid economy, combining aspects of capitalism with a vast array of socialist policies.

Following World War II, Western Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations also developed hybrid systems combing socialism with capitalism. Much of the reason for this was to prevent Communism from gaining a foothold in western countries. So, social programs were greatly expanded to keep “the masses” from becoming radicalized.

Today, America is largely socialist. Huge portions of the economy are controlled by the government, and most other parts of the economy are heavily regulated.

The United States spent $650 billion on defense in 2018. But this huge part of the US economy has little free-market capitalism anywhere in system.

The American medical system is dominated by Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and other government social programs. The drug industry is tightly controlled and regulated by the government, as are insurance and medical providers.

The list is virtually endless. The Federal government spent more than $4 trillion dollars in 2018. That’s an average of $13,000 for every man, woman and child in America. And that doesn’t include expenditures by state and local governments.

The dirty little secret about many of America’s “uber-rich” is that they gained their wealth through government contracts and by gaming the system. The Clintons became filthy rich from “public service.” Forbes estimated in 2016 that Bill and Hillary Clinton “earned” $240 million in the fifteen-years after they left the White House. And the Washington Post estimated in 2015 that the Clinton Foundation had raised more than $2 billion, which was largely used as the Clinton’s own personal piggybank.

The “uber-rich” exist in every nation, but in socialist countries they are primarily political leaders and those they choose to reward with government favors. H. Ross Perot, the late presidential candidate, earned much of his billions from government contracts managing Medicare and Medicaid.    

Should America become socialist, is NOT the question. The real question is: HOW MUCH socialism should be practiced in the United States?

California is the most socialist state in the US, suffering from one-party rule, where Democrats have complete control of all the levers of government. State Democratic leaders continually raise taxes and increase regulations. And yet, California has more people trapped in poverty and homeless than any other state in America. As problems mushroom, political leaders do “more of the same” pursuing the identical failed policies but expecting different results. New York is California’s twin. Increasing numbers of people are leaving California and New York, moving to states with lower taxes, fewer regulations and less socialism.

A good example of failed socialist policies is the price of gasoline. Californians now pay the highest prices in the nation, over $4 per gallon, more than in Hawaii, and $1.50 more than most other states. This is due to high state taxes and cumbersome regulation of every aspect of the oil industry in California.

There are several observations that can be made when a nation becomes TOO socialist:

  1. The cost of maintaining the social programs becomes unsustainable as the system is driven either to bankruptcy or to a reduction in expenditures;
  2. The economy becomes increasingly incumbered, unproductive and weak, impoverishing the country; and,
  3. Individual liberties and freedoms are severely curtailed as the government becomes the “nanny state” and ultimately a tyrannical dictator controlling every aspect of life.

Venezuela is a prime example. It has become a “failed state,” an utterly impoverished country ruled by a socialist despot. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, even larger than Saudi Arabia, and yet socialism has impoverished and enslaved the nation.

I fear for America, because we are currently at the point where individual freedoms and liberties are progressively restricted, as the government gathers increasing power to itself and its permanent unelected bureaucracy in and around Washington DC.

The United States doesn’t need an ever-growing socialism. What we do need is a renewal and revival of our spiritual and political foundations. I pray that repentance and spiritual renewal will sweep over our land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Next: Part II – Global Socialism

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