Tom Hurst writes on liberty, free markets, private property rights, government and the Constitution from Nevada, USA
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The United Socialist States of America --- or Worse!

By Tom Hurst, 21 January 2007

Why, you ask, do I call our country socialist, or even communist, despite the fact that most Americans would claim to despise such socio-economic systems? Surely these horrible manifestations of society that have tyrannized and impoverished so many nations have not found a home in the "land of the free"? Let's first define socialism, and then I'll point out what America was meant to be and how over the past century or so it has become, sadly, almost quintessentially socialistic.

So, without getting into arcane dictionary definitions, in a practical sense socialism simply means that government takes care of its citizens. And socialist citizens, in turn, believe that it is the responsibility of the government to care for them, providing every need from cradle to grave. People are guaranteed education, jobs, food, housing, healthcare, and even happiness, self esteem and freedom from fear. This may sound nice to some, but it all comes at a high price.

First and foremost, in a socialist system individual freedoms, desires, and needs are necessarily subservient to the needs of society and government. And, since government itself produces nothing, all that it provides must in some way be taken from the citizens themselves. For instance, every dollar government gives to a welfare or social security recipient, every dollar paid to a doctor who treats a medicare patient, every income tax deduction, every dollar spent on a park, and every dollar of salary paid to a government employee, all come from the pockets of citizens. What this means on a personal level is that what one earns is not their own. Property rights simply don't exist. People are impoverished by and become slaves to the government and society. Further, the "rights" that socialists claim we all have are actually non-rights because just and proper individual rights absolutely cannot impose servitude on another person or that person's property. Only the rights to life, liberty and property - codified in the Constitution by our Founders - impose no burden on another. The bottom line is that the real costs of a socialist utopia - something that could never, in fact, exist because it is contrary to human nature - are severely restricted freedoms and distorted or even destroyed economies. Under socialism, free men become impoverished slaves of the almighty state.

And, for those of you who think the phrase "promote the general welfare" in the preamble of the Constitution authorizes even the tiniest amount of socialism, read what James Madison - one of the authors of the Constitution - had to say about it: "If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of the public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America." Thomas Jefferson summarized this same idea very eloquently when he stated, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated [in the U.S. Constitution]." Of course, when one reads the Constitution it is quite clear that there are only a very few enumerated powers such as providing national defense, coining money, and providing courts and the post office. Believe it or not, nearly everything else that the government does these days, and nearly every agency, are totally and unambiguously unconstitutional! So, you see, our Founders really did want to create a free, non-socialist country with a small government empowered only to preserve our rights. They expected free people to take responsibility for themselves and knew that such people would prosper to the degree that government stayed out of their affairs. The Constitution was written as it was because the Founders knew that if they gave government the power to do anything else, that power would be mightily abused - and it has been.

Now for the proof that America is indeed a socialist country. Classic, indisputable examples of American socialism include all "entitlement" programs. The very name implies that the recipient has a right to a good or service provided by government, paid for with taxes that you and I are forced to remit. This redistribution of wealth can only be just if we are socialists. And what of the massive government central planning and nanny-state intrusions that control every aspect of our lives? Just read between the lines of every utterance of every politician, of every spending bill in Congress, and of nearly every law or regulation ever written, and you will see that they all imply that some anointed, all-knowing, all-seeing government "planner" is at the helm, supposedly making our lives better, safer and healthier. Sometimes planners are indeed a single person, but we should also realize that Congress and every government agency or department ever invented are also our life planners. Of course, issues of individual freedom aside, the idea that one person or a small cabal - politicians or government bureaucrats, no less - could know what is best for everyone is simply preposterous. Even if they could somehow always be "right" and at the same time please absolutely everyone, to expect such corrupt and arrogant people to even work towards our best interests is a great, totally unfounded leap of faith. Contrasting this, consider the alternative of free markets that allow millions of individuals to make their own decisions. True, there may be a degree of chaos and corruption - far less than with government, though - and some folks will no doubt make idiotic or foolish decisions. On the whole, however, we will all get more or less what we want based on our abilities, not privilege. We will not only be free, but will have the moral satisfaction that we are not telling others what to do or taking their wealth or property.

Now that I've explained the functional and moral difference between a socialist state and one of free men, let's take a look at just how American socialism works to defeat us. One sure-fire way is to analyze the cost and quality of goods and services in various sectors of the economy in the context of how much government is involved in that business. Invariably what you will see is that the farther from government one gets, the better the service and the lower the cost. First, let's think about the things that are truly horrible: things whose cost is continually increasing at many times the rate of inflation, things whose efficiency and quality is shockingly bad, things that you often don't have a choice about. It turns out that such things are those controlled almost totally by the government: K-12 education, government universities, healthcare, mass transit, major roads, police, first class mail, and social security. All of these things are the product of a socialist government monopoly. And, as Lew Rockwell says, "Clearly the biggest monopolist of all is the U.S. government. No competition is allowed, the quality of output is continually falling, the prices are continually rising and the consumer is treated shabbily." How true!

Marginally better, but still atrocious, are areas where there are government enforced monopolies, where the companies are de facto government departments. Has your power, water, sewer, or gas bill ever gone down? Have they even increased only at the rate of inflation? Are their employees efficient and courteous? Enough said. Of course, missing from this gallery of rogues is the humble telephone company. Though phone service isn't perfect, we all know the history of how rates tumbled and service blossomed when government-enabled monopoly Ma Bell went to her grave.

Very highly regulated industries also fall prey to the high costs and low quality usually attributed to government agencies. We all complain about them, but we must realize that they are not at fault per se, for in a truly free market these industries would be much better. In this category are insurance, pharmaceuticals, banking, mining and energy production. Those of you with a sense of history know that all of the services and products of these businesses were far more affordable when government involvement was less. Also in this category are forcefully socialized industries that suffer under unjust federal laws mandating that they continually cave in to union labor demands. Of course, most of these will soon go out of business because of this - think "Big 3" auto companies.

Last but not least, let's not forget the many billions of dollars of research that is done by the government (often via universities) "for our own good". How many R&D and consulting companies have been put out of business by government providing the same service? Of course, as recently as the 1950's when there were few university research grants from government, private companies simply paid for their own research - and no one can claim our standard of living and technology wasn't rocketing skyward then. Or lotteries - I thought gambling was the private territory of the mob and indian tribes. And don't get me started on farm subsidies. Why corn and wheat farmers need welfare handouts while growers of many other similar crops get no help at all has its basis in politics, not necessity. In the past efficient farmers survived while those who weren't, didn't. Fair enough, and common sense, I say, realizing that the costs of perpetuating inefficient businesses will ultimately come out of my bank account. I think we all want to see businesses become ever more efficient so that products and services we buy will go down in cost, and nothing motivates efficiency like competition and the chance of going out of business. Even import quotas and tariffs are socialistic in the sense that the government uses them to benefit favored companies and industries at the expense of consumers and other businesses - once again, it's the government presuming to know what's best for all.

Contrasting all of the above socialist excuses for businesses are sectors of the economy that are not much regulated by government. As anyone with common sense might expect, these are the sectors where we see things getting ever better and cheaper even as government goods and services get ever worse and more expensive. Computers and technology are prime examples, as are many common consumer goods that enrich our lives daily. Even airlines - to the degree they are deregulated and non-union - show some hope of providing better service at a lower cost.

The final evidence of a socialist America is our compliance with the infamous "planks". By that I mean the ten planks of communism as published by Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto (1848). I won't go into great detail here because a simple internet search will turn up scores of websites that detail the unconstitutional legislation that has made each plank a reality. In brief, though, the list of planks goes like this:

1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transportation in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State... generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies...
9. ...abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in government schools...

Honestly, now, don't most of these ideas characterize modern American society? Property is taxed, routinely zoned to limit use, and even seized; we certainly have heavy progressive income and inheritance taxes; we have a private central bank (the Federal Reserve Bank) that prints money at will, and then charges us interest; our media hardly reports on anything but government, and then almost always in a favorable light; the government engages in many business ventures that compete with private companies, including gambling, recreation, scientific research, security, and transportation; the government attempts to control and plan large sectors of our economy as the communists did with their never ending "5-year plans"; labor laws and government-empowered unions wreak havoc with the private affairs of corporate America - corporations that are, in fact, ultimately owned by stockholders like you and I; and lousy, compulsory government schools - rightly called propaganda camps by some - are the norm. Of course, as I noted earlier, it's well documented in the writings of our Founders that all of these things I've mentioned are totally contrary to our Constitution and a society of free people. The poor fellows must be spinning in their graves. I know that I certainly lose sleep over our increasingly unconstitutional government!

Just how did we get to this lamentable state? It's been a gradual transition, for sure, and most people even when faced with the facts above will still deny that they are socialists or communists. Economist Murray Rothbard said it best in his essay describing methods of defeating socialism, 'The Case for Radical Idealism': "And, over the years, it is precisely the strategic role of the 'extremist' to keep pushing the matrix of day-to-day action further and further in his direction. The socialists have been particularly adept at this strategy. If we look at the socialist program advanced sixty, or even thirty years ago, it will be evident that measures considered dangerously socialistic a generation or two ago are now considered an indispensable part of the 'mainstream' of the American heritage. In this way, the day-to-day compromises of supposedly 'practical' politics get pulled inexorably in the collectivist direction."

Behind the scenes, of course, are an army of politicians, bureaucrats and employees of the state who gain great power and wealth from increased socialism. And supporting them are many millions of voters who have been bought and paid for with the very taxes they themselves pay, each one of them naively expecting to extract more from the system than they pay into it, caring not at all that the money and benefits they get from government were taken from other hard-working citizens at the point of a gun - something that would be a crime called robbery if you or I did it in a dark alley. Combine this government-enabled greed with widespread ignorance of basic history, philosophy and economics, and you have the complete recipe. So, here we are. To paraphrase Shakespeare, socialism by any other name is still socialism. Like it or not, we ARE the United Socialist States of America, and only patriotic Americans fighting socialism whenever it raises it's demonic head will save the day. R.I.P. U.S.A.

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Tom Hurst - Defender of liberty, free markets, private property rights, and the Constitution