The Ownership and Social Insurance Societies
The contrast between the right and left is as sharp as it has ever been right now. The right stands an Ownership Society (aka capitalism). The left stands for a social insurance society, or put more briefly, socialism.
The Ownership Society believes that what you earn is yours, and belongs to you only. A man's resources are his own, and the government has no right to take it for anything other than what is absolutely necessary for government to function.
The individual does not have a legal obligation to provide for the less fortunate. If someone experiences misfortune, they are, for the most part, on their own. (Even the most die-hard capitalist usually advocates some degree help for only the most underprivileged). It is a philosophy that rewards hard work and success, but punishes laziness and failure.
The social insurance advocate's cry is "we're all in this together". They view someone with more than enough for himself as someone with a legal obligation to provide food, shelter, and resources for the needy. A rich man owes the society he exists in. The flow of money is not based on supply and demand, it is based on the needs of society.
Fairness in the allocation of resources is valued above all else. The Utopian society is one in which everybody has a equal share of resources. In business, everyone would play with a level playing field. There would be no monster Wal-Marts crushing all competition under its merciless heel. Everyone would have a nearly equal share of the economy.
Social insurance people argue that in a capitalist society, there is a mad race to the top that results in very good living conditions for the rich, but abysmal ones for the poor. As the wealthy get their claws on more and more pieces of the pie, the lot of the poor grows worse and worse. In the end, the only ones to benefit from this society are the select ranks of rich, supported on the backs of the working poor.
The United States is probably the world's largest bastion of capitalism. And the results are: the social insurance folks are right when they say that there is widespread poverty. The poverty rate is 12.3 percent. The United States does have more poverty than many socialist states.
So are the socialists right about the economic path the U.S. should follow? No. They ignore the fact that the U.S. has a standard of living higher than any country in the world. Our gross domestic product is larger than that of any other country in the world. We consume a larger share of the earth's resources than any other country, sure sign of widespread prosperity. (And maybe greed, too. But definitely prosperity). Sales of expensive and luxurious electronic equipment are sky-high. Those who live in the United State live amid a greater profusion than any other society in the history of the world.
Socialism has few success stories, as vicious dictators tend to take over and kill off any dissent, and then proceed to manage the economy for their own interests. However, there are some successful socialist states. Sweden was long the prime example of a welfare state that could get things done.
Sweden provides socialized medicine, education, and insurance. The government runs virtually everything. Swedes pay the highest tax rates in the world, and in return the government completely controls the economy.
So how does it work? The Swedes, for a long time, did get a fairly high living standard (although nothing like that of the United States). Swedish industry wasn't exactly rocking the world (the United States and Japan seem to develop most of the more advanced products), but it was adequate. Crime was relatively low. The system seemed to work.
Until the problems entrenched in socialism caught up with it. Crime (fueled by high immigration rates) is skyrocketing. Swedish defense is a joke. The number of troops in training is between 5,000 and 10,000.
And the famous Swedish welfare? That, at least, should be providing good service, right? After all, most of what the people earn goes into the government coffers. On the contrary, it is being radically downsized- with no lessening of the tax burden. As the immigration population of Sweden continues to grow, it is probable- no, inevitable- that the welfare state as they know it will not exist.
As the Left's demand for global "economic justice"? The Gross Domestic Product for the whole world was divided evenly and fairly among the world's approximately six billion people, everyone would get the princely sum of 8,040 US dollars. Instead to some the people living in misery, everyone would live in misery. Some improvement.
It seems clear the capitalism as represented by the United States is the best economic choice. However, the Left in this country wants to end it, and replace it with the system seen in Sweden, France, or England. While doubtless all of those countries are pleasant enough places to live, ask yourself: is anyone fighting to get in there, as they are here?