LETTER: Real socialism

Randolph Oberlin

To the editor:

Seems like there are a lot of people out there, including several Times columnists, who really don’t know what socialism is. Real socialism is where the government owns the means of production. Too many equate socialism with a generous welfare state. They are not the same.

A lot of people tout the Nordic countries as socialist. They may have great welfare systems, but every last one of them has a capitalist economy. Without those evil capitalists, they could never afford to pay for all those great benefits. All of them have lower corporate tax rates than we do, even after the last round of tax cuts.

Sweden (and others) also have the Value Added Tax or VAT. The VAT is essentially a national sales tax on almost everything. Sweden’s is 16% on most goods and includes an 8% tax on food. This is how they raise the majority of their tax revenue.

Guess who is hit the hardest by this? If you guessed the rich you were wrong. Sweden also has no inheritance tax. So in this country, if grandma has to sell the farm, it was probably to pay taxes.

Now there are real socialist countries out there. North Korea, Cuba and Communist China are great examples where governments own or control everyone and everything. They are also where the reeducation camps, secret police and brutal political oppression reside.

When you donate freely to others, it is called charity. When the government takes from you by force of law, it is called taxation. The sanctimonious hand wringing for more welfare spending is laughable.

Since 1964, when the Great Society programs were started, we have spent $22 trillion on 80 different programs. The overall poverty rate then was 19% and 23% of children lived in poverty. Today the overall poverty rate is 15% and 22% of children live in poverty. Seems like there wasn’t much bang for the buck there.

In the next decade, we will spend another $14 trillion and the number of programs has grown to over 100.

Looks to me like the main benefactors of all these programs are the bureaucrats that administer those programs. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Of course, throwing all this public money at any perceived problem makes all the social justice warriors feel good. Forget the fact that it has been largely ineffective and actually harmful to many elements of our society. Remember that democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. Thank God we don’t live in a democracy or a socialist paradise.