These days, it seems the slide toward socialism (in which the means of production are partially or totally state owned and redistributive monetary policy is pursued) is not only inevitable, but overwhelmingly accepted (1). With Republican and Democratic leaders embracing openly socialist policy, general approval of our president’s unabashedly socialist actions, and recent public ownership of banking structures, insurance companies, and the auto industry, it seems that capitalism has lost the battle for the New World (2). But why has socialist policy been able to capture the hearts of Americans?
Since its inception, socialism’s claim to the moral high ground is that it employs the public resources and the means of production to further the benefit of the poor, which appears noble upon first glance and has tremendous appeal to the public. But upon further inspection, the analyst is hard pressed to find socially beneficial qualities resulting from a leftist governmental structure at all.
For instance, anyone in the civilized world could tell you what social behavior would be. Charity, responsibility, and regard for the law are readily recognized as not only being beneficial to society, but also timelessly preferable to their inverses known as selfishness, irresponsibility, and lawlessness. In short, we all know who a good neighbor would be based on the behavioral traits they engender and promote, and as such, the institutions that promote these traits are inherently sociable and positive. On the flip side, institutions that reinforce negative traits should be recognized as harmful and discarded as soon as recognized.
So what if it could be proven that socialism (as opposed to capitalism) was responsible for not only reducing these core and universally positive behavioral traits, but actually reinforcing negative ones? Since the very title of “socialism” implies the embrace and promotion socially positive traits, we must ask ourselves if we’re being hoodwinked again by leftist Orwellian doublespeak, and if the time has come to call socialism what it is: a fraud.
1. Claim rights vs. liberty rights: responsibility under siege
Before beginning this quest, all readers should understand that humans inhabit the material world, and that one can rarely have their cake and eat it too. In the world of claim rights and civil liberties (obligations owed to you by society and the rights to do what one pleases, respectively) one can expect the same, since an obligation owed to someone by society balances itself by removing liberties from others, whether monetarily or socially (3). Both liberty rights and claim rights cannot increase simultaneously, as they rest on opposite ends of privilege’s teeter-totter.
For instance, in a socialized world in which a person chooses to drop out of school, earn money by making bead necklaces, and then produce children out of wedlock, that person has the freedom to go to school or not, the freedom to work where and when they please, and the freedom to impregnate whom they please without being forced into marriage. These liberty rights seem commonplace amongst Westerners, but in the scope of history appear to be radically libertarian. There simply aren’t many social things a person is barred from doing these days, short of armed robbery and being Christian at college.
The problem arises when poor choices—ranging from imprudent to immoral and permitted by an extensive code of liberties—are fostered and encouraged through socialist programs and a liberal endowment of claim rights. For instance, in the earlier example a person dropped out of school to work as a bead-maker and make babies out of wedlock, but then, after taking advantage of a series of claim rights through welfare programs, is able to counterbalance the negative effects of those actions by demanding that society reduce the poverty he created for himself. Other claim rights allow protection for groups of people at the expense of other people’s property and economic rights, regardless of the protected group’s behaviors.
Not much argument is needed to show that such claim-rights exist, and even less is needed to show that these programs affect people negatively, actually increasing crime and irresponsibility(4). These kinds of negative effects were clearly displayed by the Section 8 housing program, which to this day results in murder and rape being spread across suburban-America, funded through mandatory and non-negotiable taxation (5). Even liberal schools like the University of Washington were able to note the positive correlation between crime and welfare, and countless studies performed by reputable organizations resulted in the welfare reform of the 1990′s, which was just effectively repealed by Obama’s stimulus bill (4)(6).
So if society owes you something—your claim right, if you will—then that relieves you of responsibility, one of the most important characteristics of a truly social society. And when people can not or will not provide for themselves, MSNBC showed that people endowed with claim rights will seek to use those claim rights to obtain money, whether through government welfare or private discrimination lawsuits known as the ghetto lottery (7). Thus, these “rights” promote and ensure nothing more than laziness, irresponsibility, and an attitude of entitlement because an alternative to social behavior exists in the world of survival.
Aside from responsibility and lawfulness, charity is one of the most important social behaviors a person can adopt. While life does indeed throw many lemons our way, a helping hand from either a friend or a stranger can mean a lot to a person in distress, not only reviving their faith in humanity, but also doing good for the person helping them. In short, charity isn’t just important to the person being helped: it is also an integral part of happiness for those engaging in charitable acts. Without the ability to directly engage in charitable acts, the most loving social acts cannot be committed in the most meaningful way, and our society becomes significantly less fulfilled.
Unfortunately, a society that mandatorily enforces indirect charity through government welfare programs not only diminishes the individual’s capability for giving charitable contributions (due to the excessive taxation and/or inflation resulting from the trademark deficits of the welfare state(8)), but the person who gives isn’t entitled to choose who they want to help, or even to see the person they’re directly helping. As such, the giver is denied the ability to feel the positive effects of charity while the receiver gets help from a faceless bureaucracy, removing almost all joy and love from the act of giving.
And as Walter E. Williams has noted, forcing someone else into charitable acts through taxation is about as moral as forcing one of your neighbors to mow the widow’s lawn, especially when unpayable deficits arising from entitlement programs are concerned (9)(8). Is this liberty and morality? To directly enslave someone for the benefit of someone else? And if unpayable deficits are involved, what about enslaving someone’s children? This, even before recognizing the fact that the government chooses who is and isn’t worthy of financial help, something we all know is not only ineffective at recognizing layabouts, but ultimately totalitarian.
And many may argue that capitalism leaves the poor to fend for themselves (which would be undesirable and unsocial), but this simply isn’t true. Many studies by mainstream media organizations have concluded that within a conservative, Christian, and capitalistic environment, not only are more people likely to engage directly in philanthropic behavior, but they are also more likely to give generously when compared with those who endorse liberal welfare policies (10). So when a “big picture” assessment of charitable contributions is given, real life shows us that leftist social policies reduce the amount of capital available for charity, reduce the positive benefits resulting from charity, and those who vote for the programs aren’t even as likely to give to charity anyway. So ask yourself the following questions:
Is a reduction in actual charity considered sociable, since charity through love is the glue that binds us together?
If the people who vote for socialist policies are less likely to give to charity while at the same time more likely to forcibly remove capital and economic rights from their countrymen, isn’t a slide toward socialism indicative of a rise in selfishness and anti-social characteristics?
With 50+ years of serious entitlement deficit spending, shouldn’t poverty have been eliminated by now if these programs worked?
And if the cities with the most liberal governments are geared toward socialist poverty reduction, why are they the worst cities to live in, with the worst crime and the most poverty (*cough* Chicago *cough* Detroit *cough cough* Gary, Indiana *cough* (11)(12))? Shouldn’t they be liberal utopias if this article’s assumptions are incorrect?
In conclusion, socialism may appear at first glance to be a noble cause, but results in reductions not exclusive to liberty, but also to responsibility, lawful order, and charity, three of the most important social traits we rely upon for healthy and harmonious civil society. A person lacking these traits would be considered sociopathic, so what of a government that enforces them?
Suddenly, socialism just isn’t all that sociable.
1) Socialism definition
2) Obama’s approval rating
3) Claim rights and liberty rights
4) Welfare and crime
5) Section 8 spreads murder across suburbia
6) Welfare reform murdered
7) Discrimination claims reach record levels
8) Deficit entitlement spending to soar
9) Walter E Williams speaks on charity
10) Conservatives and charitable donations
11) Chicago students shot
12) Detroit is America’s most dangerous city
13) The most liberal and most conservative cities
14) Gary Indiana, 8 times the murder and twice the rape
Lincoln on liberty and tyranny