Is It “Socialism” or “Democratic Socialism?”

In 2016, it was Bernie. But after the 2018 midterm election primaries, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) took over Bernie’s mantle of Socialism. And ramping up to 2020, the dozen or so declared Democrat Party presidential candidates are running over each other, each crying for the World to hear, “I’m the bigger Socialist…I’m the biggest Socialist!” 

It’s a bit spooky that the “next” generation of Americans are getting so chummy with Socialism. The reason for the far-too-common use of the term is simple: today’s educators have wrapped their classroom agendas in a cloak of Socialism. And Democrat presidential candidates have done so too with their campaigns. They talk about it like it has brought Nirvana to the countries who have embraced it, and they use that to demonize Capitalism. Educators nor politicians discuss the horrors of Socialism in Germany, China, Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and nations who long ago disappeared because Socialism always implodes. All they share with our next generation is this: “Socialism is a political environment in which everyone is guaranteed by the government that all their fundamental needs are going to be met — no matter what.” I’ve not heard of any of these Socialists in their speeches espousing the grandeurs of Socialism even mention that it has never worked in any country on Earth. It seems that would be a pretty important fact to mention, don’t you?

Let’s be honest: who doesn’t like the idea of someone taking care of all our needs and wants? It’s a warm and fuzzy thought — at least initially. Remember when we were kids? We worried only about “important” things, like recess, and a new bicycle. “Where’s my catcher’s mitt?” was about the most serious thing we had to deal with. Fighting with a brother or sister over control of the tv remote finished a close second. We did all that while Dad worked, Mom cooked and cleaned and carpooled, and everyone and everything was peachy. The 60s and 70s families were the U.S. Socialism models that worked — at least that’s what pundits point to today.

What’s so spooky about it is that this utopian promise is based on totally false information. These Socialists and economic elitists are filling the heads and hearts of the next generation of Americans with untruths. And our kids and many adults are swallowing that propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

When asked about the history of the universal failure of Socialist nations, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is quick to correct that question: “What we need is not the old Socialism. What we need and must have in the U.S. is Democratic Socialism,” says AOC.

So let’s today compare Socialism with Democratic Socialism. We’ll then consider Capitalism and contrast and compare how each has succeeded or failed.

Socialism

Exactly what is Socialism? Webster defines it these two ways:

1.  Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. (It requires termination of Capitalism)

2.  The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.

Socialism is almost totally a political system, which does claim to magically solve all problems even though a socialist concept is what creates the problems that result in its inevitable failure. The Soviet Union is a good example. The claim for establishing the socialist Soviet Union was to solve the disparity between rich and poor and assure that everyone will have at least a minimum good life. (“Hey Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: does that sound familiar?”) The reality is, Socialism Soviet-style resulted in making everyone extremely poor and destitute, including people who were not poor before it was instituted.

Democratic Socialism

As compared with “Normal” Socialism, Democratic Socialism means that this political reality—the abolition of capitalism—will be achieved and administered through democratic, as opposed to authoritarian, means.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) website explains: “Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.”

AOC defines Democratic Socialism this way: “So when millennials talk about concepts like Democratic Socialism, we’re not talking about these kinds of ‘Red Scare’ boogeyman,” she said. “We’re talking about countries and systems that already exist that have already been proven to be successful in the modern world.”

Ocasio-Cortez has likened her view of Democratic Socialism to Scandinavian Social Democracy. The congresswoman’s progressive platform consists of a single-payer health care system that covers all forms of health care.

“We’re talking about single-payer health care that has already been successful in many different models, from Finland to Canada to the UK,” she said.

She also believes in tuition-free public colleges and universities. Her platform includes guaranteeing Americans a living wage that maintains “basic levels of dignity so that no person in America is too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That’s what democratic socialism means in 2019, and not this kind of McCarthyism Red Scare of a past era.”

Capitalism

“An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.”

Capitalism has always been the home of true entrepreneurship, encouraging through free market trade the initiative for people to create and develop new technology and continual innovation for improvement and invention. Those who take advantage of the capitalistic environment receive rewards tied directly to their efforts. 

The greatest drawback of Capitalism is corruption that results in individuals and groups from both private and government sectors taking advantage of capitalistic opportunities to garner power and wealth: sometimes illegally and sometimes skirting the law but doing so unethically.

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

  1. The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
  2. The fifth would pay $1.
  3. The sixth would pay $3.
  4. The seventh would pay $7.
  5. The eighth would pay $12.
  6. The ninth would pay $18.
  7. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. The first four men were unaffected: they would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?”
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay:

  1. The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
  2. The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
  3. The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
  4. The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
  5. The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
  6. The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings:

  1. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”
  2. “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”
  3. “That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
  4. “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important: they didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

Summary

Socialism, whether called simply that or with the word “Democratic” in the front, is nothing new. And there have been those who have tried and tried to get Americans to take more than just a passing glimpse at Socialism to try here. Very smart men and women have spurned the idea for a couple of centuries. They have stood on America’s shores and watched Socialism destroy cultures and societies all around the World. One of them was Ronald Reagan and long before he became President. A half-century ago, “The Gipper” had this to say about Socialism:

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system AND Socialism works. The people who pay the highest taxes today or do the most effort and provide the greatest amount of work in Socialism don’t get any extra benefit from what they bring “to the table.” Like the guys who met for drinks in the bar night after night — especially the guy who made the most money. Tax him too much, attack him for being wealthy, take from him the extra he put into the system, and he just may not show up anymore. In fact, he might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier!

One of our forefathers was asked once why Socialism never lasts anywhere. When does Socialism die? His answer: “It happens every time the country spends all of the ‘other’ guy’s money and there’s none of the ‘other’ guy’s money left.”

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One thought on “Is It “Socialism” or “Democratic Socialism?”

  1. Norm Ahearn Reply

    Democratic Socialism? Isn’t that the definition of an oxymoron? Like saying “we need more honest liars “.

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