Complete socialism, danger to the United States

Jonathan Rustad, Copy Editor

Information Graphic by Jonathan Rustad
Information Graphic by Jonathan Rustad

Socialism.  An economic system that some fear, but others accept with open arms.  It has come up frequently in presidential debates and conversations alike.  With the 2016 Presidential Election coming up, it is possible United States citizens could see more socialist elements implemented into their economy and every day lives. While socialism has been implemented in many countries, increased socialism would not benefit the United States.

Most people do not actually know what socialism is or how it could impact them.  Socialism is an economic system where the means of production are owned by society instead of being owned privately.  Saying this, there are many variations of socialism that exist.  For example, a more extreme and well known form of socialism is communism.

In a socialist economy, all work and profits are shared equally.  The goal is to eliminate the large class division between the rich and poor and create a classless society.  Money is often redistributed from the rich and given to the poor.  Supporters of socialism often think that rich are taking advantage of the poor and wouldn’t mind the upper class having some of their excess wealth moved around.

In reality, it would do more harm than good.  In socialized economies there is a much smaller incentive to work.  The mentality is “Why should I work harder if I get paid the same?” Therefore, less people go above and beyond.    If there is less incentive to work hard, there will be less new inventions.  One can measure the innovation of a country by examining the amount of patents per year. The U.S. had 144,621 patents or roughly 424 patent per million people back in 2012.  In the same year, the European country with the most patents per million people and a similarly high education standard was Sweden. Sweden only had 290 patents per million people.  There are many factors that could contribute to this large difference, but a socialist economy is one of them.  Socialism would contribute to lowering the American inventive spirit.

In socialist countries, taxes are usually higher.  This is because the government will pay for basic necessities.  In Sweden, which is a socialist country, most people end up paying between close to 60 percent of their income to taxes.  In the United States, it is between 10 and 39.6 percent for all people.  With the taxes in socialist countries, things like healthcare and education are available at a reduced price.

High taxes could be liked by some because then the government would have more money to spend on things like roads and education, however the government doesn’t always spend money in the wisest fashion.  The United States is a free country, because of that, money belongs to the people who earn it.  Of course, it is needed to pay some taxes, but the government should not be able to take an unreasonably high amount.  The U.S. is founded on the idea that you go out and earn your living, you do not simply wait for it to come to you.

The United States already has socialist elements in society.  Things like free public education, social security, welfare, medicaid, police, fire fighters and the military are examples of socialism in America.  These are necessary parts of the United States that greatly benefit everyone, especially the more disadvantaged.

Some socialism in the U.S. is very helpful and needed, however more should not be added.  The fact that socialism discourages hard work is a reason that it cannot be implemented in a large scale in the United States.  Socialism was first tried in the U.S. in 1620 with the pilgrims.  They tried having a communal garden that all would work in, then all would share in the crops grown.  It seemed like a good idea on paper, but just did not work out in practice.  No one would want to work in the garden because they got the same amount regardless of how much they worked.   They eventually decided to switch to a more capitalistic approach.  Families would get their own land in accordance to the size of their family and get whatever they produced.  This is what worked.  They worked harder to produce for themselves than producing for others.  This is completely natural and this saved the colony.  This can be applied to modern society.

With all the socialist elements in the economy already, some presidential candidates wish to bring more.  One candidate in particular, Bernie Sanders, recognizes himself as a democratic socialist.  He says he wants to work for a progressive America that creates jobs, closes the gap between the rich and poor and provides healthcare for all.  One of his attractions is his policy of wanting college to be free, this makes him very popular with younger people.  However, these policies come at a price. Taxes are raised across the board, mainly for the upper class.

Could Socialism benefit the United States?

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Jobs, the income gap and healthcare are very important, but socializing them is not the way to go.  The U.S. has started to socialize medicine, but there are many problems with socialized healthcare.  For example, the quality of care can go down and healthcare is abused.  When healthcare is “free” quality can decrease because there is no incentive to provide better care if you get payed the same regardless of how well the operation was completed.   In addition, the people who innovate are private companies going for profit, not government monopolies. People also tend to use or abuse socialized medicine more.  If it is free there is no reason to not use it more.  This drives up the cost for the government.  For example, if food was free people would take more than if it has to be purchased. Money belongs to people who earn it.  There is no problem with helping the needy, but it is unacceptable to fund the lazy.

If socialism played out how it is supposed to, it would work out pretty nicely.  Everyone would have a place to sleep and plenty of food.  Sadly, it does not work out like that and people usually just do the bare minimum to get by.   As sinister as it sounds, most people are motivated by money.  Motivation causes innovation.  Of course, uncontrolled capitalism is not a good way to go either.  Some restrictions are needed to keep those with money from abusing it and others.  The best way to go is to find a happy medium between the two.  Here, private enterprise is free to grow, but the worker is not subjected to unfair treatment.  The ideal economy would be mainly capitalistic with some socialism added in.  Saying this, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and it is time others start realizing this as well.