In Socialism in America, author Jacob Hornberger of The Future of Freedom Foundation discusses the idea that America is a preeminent socialist country and has been for some time, but Americans live in denial of this truth. There are no pure socialist countries, though North Korea comes closest, because they are doomed to failure and always require some private enterprise to be allowed in order to be taxed to fund the rest of the socialist enterprise.
Lost in the ongoing debate in America as to whether the United States should embrace socialism is a discomforting fact: America embraced socialism a long time ago. The problem is that many Americans have simply not wanted to accept that fact and instead have preferred living a life of denial.
A complete socialist system would be one in which the state owns everything in society, including businesses and real estate. In a pure socialist society, the government is the sole employer, and everyone is a government employee. No private grocery stores, computer companies, restaurants, movie theaters, or anything else. The government owns and operates everything, and everyone works for the government.
Moreover, in a pure socialist society, all the homes are owned by the state. There are no private houses or apartments for sale or rent because nothing is privately owned. Everyone lives in public housing because the state owns all the dwellings. How do people determine where they are to live? The state assigns everyone his own particular housing unit.
How does the socialist state fund all this? It owns and operates all the businesses and enterprises in the hope of generating revenues to finance its socialist system. One problem, however, is that state-owned enterprises are notorious for inefficiencies and corruption, which means that they inevitably end up losing money rather than making money. Think of Amtrak and the Postal Service. Or state-owned petroleum companies in Latin America. They produce losses, not gains, for the state.
Thus, to fund its socialist enterprises, the socialist state inevitably permits a small number of citizens to engage in private enterprise. Once those people begin making money, the state taxes them and uses the money to fund its operations. The state does its best to
extract as much money as it can from these private-sector enterprises without pushing them out of business.
There are few purely socialist countries. North Korea comes closest to the socialist ideal.
There are countries, however, that adopt programs and policies that are socialist in nature. The United States is a premier example of such countries, even though many Americans are loathe to acknowledge it. They have convinced themselves that America is a “free enterprise” country and that they themselves are “capitalists.” The last thing they want to confront is that they are living a life that embraces socialism.
Let’s examine socialism in America.
Contrary to popular opinion, especially as held by seniors, Social Security is not a retirement program. There is no investment fund into which people place their savings for retirement. There are no lock boxes at Fort Knox labeled with each person’s name and containing his “contributions.”
Social Security is a straight socialist program, one that uses the government to take money from people to whom it belongs and gives it to people to whom it does not belong. This process of coercive redistribution of wealth is based on a principle enunciated by Karl Marx: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The state takes money from those who have produced it and gives it to people who are said to need it more.
For more than a century after the United States was founded, Americans lived without Social Security. The idea for this particular socialist program originated among German socialists in the late 1800s. The so-called Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, adopted it into law in Germany. The program was later imported into the United States and became a legally established program in the 1930s. Today, the U.S. Social Security Administration displays a portrait of Bismarck on its website.
From its inception, Social Security has been a straight socialist, welfare-state program, one that uses the state to forcibly take money from some and give it to others. It
is no different in principle from food stamps, education grants, farm subsidies, or other socialist programs.
Seniors have a valid point when they say that the state plundered and looted them throughout their work lives, which has left them without savings for their retirement years. They say that they are just getting their money back under this program.
But that is simply not the case. Their money is long gone. It was spent in the same year that it was collected, on Social Security payments to people who are now long dead, to fund other welfare-state programs, or to fund the national-security establishment and its vast and ever-growing array of warfare-state programs. The money that is being given to seniors today is coming out of the pockets of their children and grandchildren and their friends in those generations, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. The problem is only getting worse because seniors are demanding more, which means even more taxes must be imposed on young and middle-aged people who are still working.
Proponents of Social Security say that this socialist program reflects how good, caring, and compassionate Americans are. That’s ridiculous. Social Security is founded on force. Young people are forced to pay Social Security taxes. There is nothing voluntary about paying such taxes. If a young person refuses to pay his Social Security taxes, the authorities will come after him, arrest him, fine him, and send him to jail. If he resists with force, he might well find himself dead at the hands of some trigger-happy cop.
Goodness, care, and compassion can come only through the voluntary choices of people. When a young person chooses to help his parents in their old age with financial assistance or personal care, that’s goodness, care, and compassion. When the IRS takes a young person’s money and gives it to seniors, that’s just political stealing.
There is no way to reconcile Social Security with the principles of a free society. Freedom necessarily entails the right to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it…