Monday, January 16, 2012

Social Studies

Do they not teach social studies in our schools any more? There is an old riddle that goes “What is the difference between Capitalism and Communism?”

I remember reading this when I was in school and laughing at it because I knew what the concepts named in the riddle were. I knew why it was funny!

At the risk of sounding like some crotchety old guy, I remember when I was in school they taught us how the government works and what the major opposing political systems are. What ever happened to those days?

The Republicans keep accusing the president of being a socialist. “He’s a socialist, he wants to redistribute the wealth. We’re a democracy, we can’t allow the socialists to tax us out of existence.” They cry; totally oblivious to the howling errors they have made.
  1. Socialists are not interested in redistributing the wealth. They are interested in centrally controlling the means of production and distribution. Under socialism there is no “wealth” per se to redistribute as everyone owns everything and therefore, the meaning of personal wealth is undefined.
  2. Socialists are not, necessarily interested in taxation. Again, as everybody owns and controls everything as a collective, the concept of taxation is one without meaning in a socialist system.
  3. We are NOT a democracy. In a Democracy, everyone votes on everything. It is a form of self-government where everyone has a say in all the decisions of the community. In a Republic, there is a small body of officials that make decisions for the community as a whole. Since those people are, in the case of the USA, elected (ostensibly to represent our interests in the governing body) we are referred to as a Representative Republic.
Theoretically, the idea of socialism is a good one. It has a number of flaws, but then what system doesn’t? Perhaps the biggest of the flaws in socialism is that of human nature. Humans are, by nature, interested in acquisition. There are those that have overcome this nature and are largely altruistic, but they are the rare exception. Gordon Gekko got it almost right. Greed may not be good, but it is human.

And therein lay the death knell for socialism. The biggest problem in leveling the playing field between the Haves and Have-Nots is how do you convince the Haves that they have enough? In Soviet Socialism, this was done at the point of a gun and maintained through oppression and disinformation.

The difference between Capitalism and Communism? It’s easy! Under Capitalism man exploits man. Under Communism, it’s the other way around!

Wherever you are today I hope that you will take enough of an interest in local affairs to become active in them – or at least educated about them!

Don Bergquist – January 16, 2012 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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