By Tom Milligan
With the surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election cycle– especially among young voters – Socialism has found a strong voice in American politics.
The problem is that nobody seems to know what it is.
During the democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton stumbled when asked the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist. Over the last several months, I’ve personally spoken with many supporters of Bernie Sanders who are clueless as to what socialism is. And just today, I’ve been watching a twitter argument between a Trump supporter and a conservative over exactly what Socialism is and what it isn’t.
So what is Socialism? And why is it so hard to define – even for those who claim to support it?
The word Socialism is a very broad term used to describe a number of socialist theories, but regardless of the dictionary used, there is one common thread across all of definitions of socialism: government control.
Merriam-Webster defines socialism as:
Socialism is any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
In a Socialist society, while the government may grant some great services upon its citizens (e.g. free college and healthcare) literally everything is subject to government ownership and control.
That means the government can take over anything – as long as it’s for the greater good.
But the best part [insert extreme sarcasm] is that the government gets to define the greater good.
After winning independence from a monarchy that could take what they wanted – whenever they wanted – our founding fathers knew that they needed to find a better way. They knew from personal experience what it’s like to live under a regime with too much power. And more importantly, they knew EXACTLY what it takes to get away from that power.
The founders wanted to build a nation ruled by the people, NOT by kings or dictators.
As they studied monarchies, dictatorships, and all past forms of government they recognized that having too little or no government (“Anarchy”) was just as destructive as too much government (“Ruler’s Law”) and sought a way to find a balance between the two; a solution they called “People’s Law.”
In the course of their research, they identified several common characteristics of Ruler’s Law that must be avoided in order achieve People’s Law.
First, they recognized that under Ruler’s Law, without fail, the government tried to solve problems by issuing new edicts, creating more bureaus, appointing more administrators, and charging the people more taxes to pay for these services.
They found that under Ruler’s Law, taxes and government regulations are always oppressive.
The programs, edicts, and services already provided by the US Government requires more non-military employees than the combined population of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
If Bernie Sanders had won, we may have seen some pretty sweet government programs (e.g. free college) but would undoubtedly see a much higher tax rate – up to 90% if he had his way.
The way I see it, anyone that doesn’t consider a 90% tax rate “oppressive” is flat out delusional.
Since our country’s inception, we’ve moved slowly but steadily towards Ruler’s Law and have allowed our elected representatives to become true rulers. And instead of a citizen government, we’ve slowly become subjects of the ruling class.
And remember; under Ruler’s Law, taxes are never high enough.
The second common characteristic of Ruler’s Law is that increased freedom is never considered a solution.
In other words, in a Socialist society, my freedom to choose how to spend my hard-earned money and from whom to buy goods and services will have been eliminated. That’s not freedom.
You may have seen this idiotic meme floating around the Internet suggesting that any and all government services are a form of Socialism.
Not even close!
Paying taxes to buy a plow and to pay someone to drive the plow in no way threatens my owning of private property nor does it make my home or business ͞subject to government ownership or control.
Snowplows provided by the government is NOT socialism.
Neither are roads, highways, or bridges – another common – albeit stupid example the uneducated masses use to promote socialism.
Add public education, animal control, police & fire departments and the armed forces to the list of government-run, but non-socialist services.
None of those services threaten my freedom to own private property or pave the way of its being taken over for the common good.
It’s quite clear that many Americans believe that those of us that favor conservative principles must believe in zero government or government services when in reality, we only want the right balance of power.
We want what the founders wanted: People’s Law.