By Monty Pelerin, Monty Pelerin's World
January 26, 2012
The siren song of Socialism contains the seeds of destruction that now threaten the very foundations of civilization. Socialism as a disease progresses slowly, but has been underway for more than 100 years. The malignancy is now metastasizing. Unfortunately we are the generations that will experience its pernicious outcomes.
Feckless politicians blame anyone and everything but themselves for the impending tragedy. They are responsible for the condition of the world. Ultimately, “we the people” are also responsible. We allowed these political opportunists to create this world threat.
What Went Wrong?
Deterioration in the quality and orientation of government is a long story which has been a long time developing. No one political villain can be blamed.
The decline did not begin with the rants and ravings of Karl Marx nor any of his disciples. The fountainhead was Otto von Bismarck in the late 19th Century.
Bismarck is considered the founder of the welfare state, which is modern day Socialism. He detested Marxian Socialism. He was a pragmatist, not an ideologue and is considered the founder of realpolitik which translates to “practical politics.” He was not an idealist trying to improve people’s lives. He acted purely in his own best interest.
The motive behind Bismarck’s concept of a social welfare state was simple. It was to placate the masses in order to obtain votes and solidify his hold on office. As he expressed it (emboldening added):
My idea was to bribe the working classes, or shall I say, to win them over, to regard the state as a social institution existing for their sake and interested in their welfare.
Bribery to create an illusion designed to expand the wealth and power of the State at the expense of productive people is hardly an admirable course of action or objective. His simple deception provided powerful means for subsequent political classes. Specifically it provided the means for politicians to grow and expand their power and wealth while solidifying their tenure in office.
Despite the pious claims of current welfare state advocates, Bismarck never espoused noble purposes beyond that of his political self-interest.
Politicians in Western democracies saw the power in Bismarck’s idea and patterned their careers on winning election and re-election via the Bismarckian bribe. Convincing the public that government existed for their sake and their welfare enabled expansion into areas previously considered off limits.
Tradition and law were eventually brushed aside. The US, constrained by a magnificently sculptured Constitution and a predisposition toward liberty, held out longer than its European counterparts. Its later start and slower progression is a fact often cited as a reason why the US economy was able grow from a backwoods beginning to an economic colossus by the early 1900s.
Progressives in the US initially used the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution as justification for a social welfare state. Deliberate ignorance and distortion of the Founders’ original intent was an important aspect of their attacks. Subsequent attacks used the argument that the Constitution was a “living document” meant to be changed to reflect modern day”needs.”
Eventually tradition and law succumbed to the incessant battering of progressive activists in the US. The people’s defense against government tyranny was weakened. Government was then emboldened to redefine itself in almost whatever fashion it chose.
Bismarck’s method of “bribery” was the model that altered the nature of politics practiced in democracies. With voter bribery, Government as Santa Claus was possible. The people loved this myth and the initial effects. Politicians loved buying votes as evidenced by political campaigns where competing political factions tried to outbid each other with more “freebies.”
Collective Bargaining Gives Enormous Political Power to Public Sector Unions
Obama, Bought and Paid for By Big Labor and Big Business, Brings Chicago, the Most Corrupt City in America, to Washington in the Form of Big Government
The Elite Island of Federal Workers: They Are Above the People They Serve
In 2011, Taxpayers Will Pay $19 Billion to Fund Federal Pensions, While Federal Employees Will Contribute Only $1 Billion
The Truth About Public Education in the U.S.: Public School Systems Are Overfunded and Public School Employees Are Overcompensated
Society Is Becoming Dependent on the Government to Care for Them
Blame the Fed for the Pension Crisis Because They Engineered It
The Advance of Socialism
For almost one hundred years, Bismarckian bribery, via an expanding welfare state, has been the predominant political strategy. Over time strategies grew bolder, ratcheting to higher levels each election cycle.
Today modern economies are being destroyed by Socialism as practiced via the welfare state. After generations of propagandizing Statism, the goodness of government intervention as a necessary means to equity and prosperity and the need to invade and manage virtually every aspect of our lives, a majority of voters believe the myth.
Even the term “welfare state” was phony. It was a marketing euphemism to avoid the proper, but pejorative, description — Socialism. The euphemism conveniently conveyed the Bismarckian myth that government cared for and could take care of its citizens.
In reality, the social welfare state was backdoor Socialism. The euphemism also provided convenient cover for what amounted to political enrichment and job security.
The Effects of Socialism
A good description of the effects of current Socialism was provided by Joseph A. Harriss. Although Mr. Harriss described France and Sarkozy’s re-election chances, these conditions apply to most other leaders in European states as well as the US:
What no politician had the courage to say was that the French are witnessing, in slow motion, the end of their welfare state, known locally as the French Social Model. For the last 30 years it has been sustained through political sleight of hand and financed on credit. The French were assured they were entitled to work only 35 hours a week, take five weeks vacation, have single payer health care, pocket generous unemployment benefits, and enjoy a cornucopia of handout programs. As a result, they work on average six fewer weeks a year than the Germans, fewer hours even than the laidback Greeks.
Let the good times roll was the implicit program of politicians both left and right. Now the inevitable bill is coming due right at election time. There’s no way Sarkozy can avoid paying the political price.
Countries have now run out of both time and money. The malignancy of Socialism nears its ugly end, in the manner predicted by Margaret Thatcher:
The trouble with Socialism is, sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.
All welfare states have attained her “sooner or later” point, with most at the “sooner” end of the spectrum.
Sarkozy is in political trouble for the same reason that politicians in all social welfare states are in trouble. Whether he is the right or wrong man for the job is irrelevant. He, like his peers, is a victim of history. He just happens to be the unfortunate one holding the bag when the music is ending. There is no right man for the job in France or anywhere else. The Socialist scam is imploding.
The three-legged stool that supported the fantasy of the social welfare state for the last 100+ years was based on the following:
- Prosperity is available without effort.
- Government creates prosperity.
- Government will take care of its people
Politicians were able to support this hoax only with “other people’s money.” It is now apparent to many that none of these premises were true.
The money obtained to sustain the myth has seriously damaged economies. Some of it was obtained by destroying the seed capital provided by previous generations. Some of it was obtained via obscene levels of taxation. Much of it was obtained via borrowing funds that were never intended to be paid back. The ability to obtain additional funds from these sources is dubious, particularly the last one.
The funds were obtained via coercion and under false pretenses. Inarguably, the social welfare state has crippled modern economies. The game is about over as the scam becomes more apparent by the day.
The damage done to our political system is likely irreparable. Consider current day politicians as compared to our Founders. George Washington was offered a kingship and turned it down. How many current politicians would reject a similar offer?
Current politicians are indistinguishable from clever street hustlers with inflated self-images of their importance and wisdom. They pass laws in areas they cannot possibly understand, often not even bothering to read the bills on which they vote. One wonders whether they would even understand them.
Self aggrandizement has transformed into pay and perquisites that even some well-to-do are unable to obtain. The immoral economic rewards of public office, both above and below the table, have turned politics into a career rather than public service. The political class has set themselves apart as elites in every regard, including protection from laws the rest of us must follow.
As bad as the changes to the political system and the character of politicians have been, the effects of Bismarckian bribes have ruined modern day economies. Here are a few examples:
- The incentive structure and work ethic for large sections of each country’s population has been destroyed. Instead of having citizens with the natural human spirit to progress, all countries now have a zombie class, untrained, unmotivated citizens living off government handouts.
- The regulatory state and its onerous taxes has destroyed productivity. Entrepreneurs and risk capital have fled to climes where they are treated fairly. Much of the manufacturing base has been outsourced to emerging countries where jobs and not snail darters are appreciated.
- The zombie class is growing. The “takers” rather than “makers” find it more comfortable (or lucrative) to not work but to collect welfare. This class has forgotten or never learned work habits and consider themselves entitled to live at the expense of others.
- The shrinking productive sector is forced to support the growing zombie class. Up til now, much of this support has come via enormous government borrowings, sheltering the productive class from the real costs that they will eventually have to bear. The era of leverage is ending and with it will come lack of support for the government-created and supported zombies.
- Developed economies have been crippled and hollowed out to the point where decades of slow or no growth is the best that can be expected. Many of these economies will implode.
- Standards of living are decreasing and have been for a while. Bill Bonner points out that the average real hourly wages of non-high school graduates has declined by 47% percent over the last 32 years! Separately it has been shown that the average weekly earnings in this country, again in real terms, are below where they were in 1966.
- Governments have bankrupted themselves, their financial systems and their central banks. They attempt to continue the charade by having bankrupt central banks bail out bankrupt financial systems so that they can purchase bankrupt government securities.
Despite all the propaganda from the Statist machine, government produces nothing and never has. It depends upon a thriving private sector and bond market to play Santa Claus and continue the pretension that it is the source of prosperity.
The fraud cannot go on much longer because governments have crippled the golden goose via onerous rules, regulations and taxes. For three or four decades government was able to hide the problem by spending more than it took in. Governments around the world have reached the point where spending levels can no longer be sustained via tax revenues and bond markets. The latter source has practically dried up for some governments. Eventually it will for all.
France and other social welfare states (including the US) are virtually tapped out. Living standards are going down and insolvent Governments can no longer hide this fact via the charade of “debt” prosperity.
The dirty secret of Socialism has become apparent: It was never anything more than a political gimmick to gain or retain office and power. Politics has turned into what Bismark envisioned – an elaborate scam of voter bribery.
As a result, the world faces sovereign defaults, financial system collapse, civil unrest and a Depression that will make the 1930s look mild in comparison.
Thanks Otto von Bismarck for providing the the clever idea to our modern day criminal class who pose as politicians. One can only hope that civilization is not destroyed in the coming financial apocalypse.
January 25, 2012
A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled The New American Divide by demographer Charles Murray described a widening cultural divide between the "haves" (the upper middle class, roughly the top 20% managerial/creative class) and the "have-nots," what many would call the lower middle class and working class.
Murray chose to focus on Caucasian Americans to avoid all the issues and emotions of ethnicity, but I think we can apply many of his class-related observations to ethnic minority populations in the U.S. as well.
This article (based on a forthcoming book) is important not because it encapsulates this tangled subject, but because it offers a well-researched first step to a much broader spectrum of issues that the author touches upon in passing.
The cultural divides the author cites is symptomatic of powerful financial and social forces that operate well below the surface of everyday life. I don't claim to have "answers" to these issues, but I find it remarkable that the author ends up concluding that community has been displaced by the Savior State, and the ultimate solution is to return to a life based on community rather than handouts and subsidies from the Savior State.
This aligns with my own conclusions stated in my books.
I think there is much that was left out of his carefully apolitical exploration of class in America and much left out of his general explanation for the widening divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots."
I think he is correct in fingering Savior State "free money" as the primary cause of the dissolution of working-class America's communities and households: with welfare, Section 8, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. then working-class women no longer need a husband to afford children, and men either drop out, become financially dependent on someone else, enter the "war on drugs"/prison complex or "work the system" to avoid working altogether.
He is also correct in pointing out the self-sustaining feedback loops created by Savior State support and Power Elite membership: both groups' children grow up in worlds where welfare or Elite status and perquisites are the expected norm. In this profound way, people grow up in completely different Americas, and these culturally inherited mindsets are very difficult to pierce and change.
What he delicately avoids exploring is the reality that the Status Quo works very well not just for the top 1% but also for the top 20% that forms what I call the Upper Caste of American society: the technocrat, managerial, creative class that does the heavy lifting for the top 1% who own most of the assets and income streams.
The bottom 80% is employed as service workers/debt serfs or bought off with bread-and-circus welfare to keep them quiet and passive. The system doesn't have to work for the bottom 80%, it just has to sustain them at a level that doesn't spark revolt.
The housing bubble was a gigantic scam foisted on the top layer of the working class and the lower layer of the middle class as a "sure-fire way" to join the speculative financial frenzy that enriched the top 1% and their enablers, the Upper Caste technocrat class. When the bubble burst, so did fantasies of living the Upper Caste lifestyle without the hard slog to a meaningful university degree and long hours slaving away for Corporate America to join the Upper Caste.
This notion that America no longer works for the bottom 80% (I would even say the bottom 90%) is something that standard-issue pundits like Murray cannot speak to or even admit. His "solution" is ultimately for the 80% to get on with life as an underclass and make the best of living in an economy which serves their interests only enough to avoid open insurrection.
Murray, a media-pundit in his field, studiously avoids the role of mass media in the creation of the divide. He touches briefly on the fact that we all once watched the same TV shows, a unifying cultral factor, but only because they were the only shows on TV. What I see, and what I believe research supports, is a vast chasm between the media the Upper Caste consumes and what the "have-nots" consume.
The really creative class is too busy to watch much TV or many films, or while away time texting and talking on cellphones. Rather, they create the context and content for these media and devices, and do so by avoiding addiction to their own creations--much like drug pushers never sample their own wares.
The managerial Upper Caste have all the devices and services, but their workload limits the amount of time they have to consume "entertainment" and communicate with text, twitter, email, etc. for amusement. But it is not just a matter of time constraints; they are highly conscious of the fact that consuming media and "entertainment" in quantity does not further their career. What provides the elitist sheen they desire to "fit in" to the upper tier of their caste?
The signifiers of membership in this High-Caste status are leisurely foreign travel in prestigious cities or exotic areas and foreign postings, study abroad, the ability to speak a foreign language, tasteful art in the home and office, facility with corporate-speak, participation in High-Caste cultural events such as the symphony, art-house foreign films, theater, an association (however flimsy) with an Elite university or other respected institution, pursuit of costly sports such as skiing, boating, etc., and last but not least, a network of associates and "friends" (real friendship being an increasingly rare commodity in America) who can be mentioned in conversation as owning/participating in these same high-caste signifiers.
The working class, on the other hand, is a voracious consumer of all media and entertainment; the TV is often left on 24/7 in working-class households and merely muted at night, and an iPod or internet radio is always providing a soundtrack to every activity, while Facebook (i.e. Global Channel of Me) can be a near-obsession, interrupting or taking precedence over all other activities, including, it seems, sex. Texting is constant, and social success is measured by signifiers such as the latest film on bootleg DVD, high-quality street drugs, large collections of films and music (i.e. media) and in rural areas, fishing and hunting trophies.
As correspondent Chuck D. recently observed, the divide extends to money management: the High-Caste class is deeply interested in investments and view high-earning investments as signifiers of status while the working class only sees the spectrum of consumption.
When High-Caste politicos like Al Gore or Mitt Romney attempt to cross the divide and mimic working-class signifiers, their attempts are either comical, wooden or downright painful. They live in a completely different America from the voters they are clumsily appealing to.
In some ways I have a bit of experience on both sides of this divide, having been lucky enough to graduate from an Elite prep school, snag a (non-Elite) university degree and gather the requisite bits of foreign languages and travel.
On the other hand, I worked in the construction/building field for many years alongside both deserters from Corporate/Central State America and working-class guys for whom construction was a relatively high-paying avenue to a middle-class life, if they saved their money (unfortunately not the norm).
There are two other critical long-term issues not addressed in the article:
1. The "mancession"-- the trend toward an economy that values the "female" skills of communiciation, cooperation and education, while the "male" virtues of a strong back and a physical-world skill have steadily lost value. This is a very complex set of issues, but we can "state the obvious" by noting that the decline in factory/manufacturing work has apparently hurt males more than females, who have shifted to retail, healthcare, pink-collar and government work more readily than working-class males.
2. The ladder from the lower classes to the Upper Caste--upward mobility--is crumbling. Many commentators have noted that the gateway of upward mobility has narrowed. Yes, anyone can "make it in America," but making it America requires an increasing number of cultural knowledge bases and values--the very values and knowledge bases that are eroding in the classes below the top 20% Upper Caste.
While Murray describes the complex and knotty issue of declining marriage rates and soaring out-of-wedlock births, the larger question is what is powering these trends. Are men simply no longer needed as breadwinners, or are they being "selected out" for other reasons? Could the mass media once again be a critical if unspoken factor, as it has presented malehood as little more than an extended adolescence without end and fatherhood as a role for bumbling losers?
Yes, it's easy to "blame the media" but once again we must start by asking who is absorbing thousands of hours of this politically convenient (i.e. distracting and deranging) "entertainment" and who avoids it like the plague. How can ceaseless propaganda not influence those who watch it daily for hours on end?
As many oftwominds readers have noted, Step 1 in liberating oneself from propaganda is to stop watching broadcast TV.
This divide speaks very directly to the core problems we face, which are not simply financial or political but cultural.
For historical perspective, back in 1986, the top 1% of earners reported 11% of all income and paid 26% of the income taxes (compared to 20% and 38.02% in 2008); the lower-earning 50% made 17% of the income and paid 6% (compared to 12.75% and 2.7% in 2008) of the nation's individual income tax bill.
Only about 10 million (or seven percent) of the 140 million people in the U.S. workforce earn more than $100,000 per year. Only 25 percent of the U.S. workforce earns $65,000 per year or more (the average salary of federal employees is $79,197 per year or $119,982 per year when benefits are factored in; the average U.S. worker's salary is $39,336 per year). The widening divide between the Upper Caste and everyone below is not just of income and wealth--it is also cultural and values-based.
American Public Radio
February 8, 2010
Most everybody has lost economic ground the past few years, but some people are still wealthy while others are getting by on less. Monthly contributor Dan Ariely talks with Kai Ryssdal about wealth distribution.
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: Most everybody has lost economic ground over the past two years or so. But before the recession and the financial crisis and the wealth destruction that they brought, people in the upper reaches of society were proportionately way better off than most of the rest of the country. While over the past decade or two everybody else has been figuring out how to get by with less. Dan Ariely polled more than 10,000 people -- including, via our Web site, some of you -- to discover how we feel about the ever-increasing U.S. wealth gap. Dan, it's good to talk to you again.
DAN ARIELY: Same here, as always.
Ryssdal: So it is the haves and the have nots, a little wealth distribution that you've been looking at.
ARIELY: Yes, and the first thing I should tell you is that you don't have many people listening to you.
Ryssdal: To this show?
ARIELY: Yeah, only about 600 people filled out the survey.
Ryssdal: All right. So it's actually 601 because you gotta count my mom.
ARIELY: OK, so aside from the fact that not many people are listening or at least not many people filled the survey, here is the question that we're interested in. The philosopher Rawls proposed a long time ago that a fair society is a society that if you knew everything about it, you'd be willing to join it in a random place in the distribution. You would be willing to toss the dice and put you in one bin of wealth, for example. So we posed people two questions, we said: What do you think the wealth distribution in the U.S. is? And what do you think is the ideal wealth distribution?
Ryssdal: So in other words, what do you think in the United States now, who has most of the money and then what ought it be, right?
ARIELY: That's right. And what happened is that first of all, people dramatically underestimate the wealth inequality in the U.S.
Ryssdal: Underestimate. So the fact of the matter is fewer people have more of the money.
ARIELY: That's right. So if you look at the whole world in terms of wealth distribution -- before the recession, I don't have data about after the recession -- but before the recession we're basically between the Western world and South America. We were the most skewed distribution of the Western world in terms of the haves and the have nots. But now the more interesting question is what do people think it should be. And what we found was that actually there's a huge agreement between people in terms of what it should be. And this happened to both your listeners and the general sample population. You would take, for example, Republicans and Democrats, and you would think that they would vary dramatically, and they don't, I mean they differ but they don't differ so much. So you take Republicans and they basically agree with Democrats, and you take people with low income versus high income, and they basically agree.
Ryssdal: Can you quantify what we have right now? I mean, what percentage of people have what percent of the wealth?
ARIELY: Right now the top 20 percent of the people have about 85 percent of the wealth. People think that they only own 68 percent of the wealth, so people underestimate the inequity, but if you ask them what's kind of an ideal world in the Rawls kind of sense that you would actually want to participate in, they say 33 percent. So they say in an ideal world, we want the top 20 percent to own more than 20 percent, we want them to be wealthier, but we want them to own about 33 percent of the wealth.
Ryssdal: That's so interesting. They still want the rich to be rich, but just not as rich?
ARIELY: Yeah, you know, actually, rich to be rich is a perfectly reasonable idea, right? I mean, people that have money can create jobs, they can create factories, so there is benefit in non-equal distributions of wealth, the question is what is the ideal?
Ryssdal: I'm stuck on the idea that there is a segment of society out there that thinks that inequality is the way it ought to be.
ARIELY: Yeah, you know, everybody thinks inequality is the way to be. The main lesson for me from this whole study is that when we look at the political arena, we kind of have this huge polarization, and yet when we ask people a question that is not tainted by saying Republicans or Democrats -- it's just formed and here are the numbers, and what kind of society do you want to live in -- the answers come out quite close. And for me that's kind of the optimistic outcome of all -- of this -- is, in fact, as a society, I think we're much more similar to each other than the political arena plays out how it looks like.
Ryssdal: You learn something new everyday. Dan Ariely teaches behavioral economics at Duke University. Dan, thanks a lot.
ARIELY: My pleasure.
The 'Haves' and 'Have Nots': Is the U.S. Government the Last Great Source of Middle Class American Jobs?If you drive through Northern Virginia, you will find nearly entire neighborhoods of $500,000 to $900,000 homes owned by government workers or contractors. Then you can drive five streets over and find $200,000 to $400,000 homes owned by those who pay the salaries for those government employees. It’s a fascinating distribution of wealth. Most government employees and contractors could not earn more than $60,000 on the free market. Their only chance to make that kind of money comes from having an employer that not only never has to make a profit but can forcibly take money through taxation. - Public Servants Live Better Than the Public, and Federal Pay Continues to Skyrocket, The Daily Bail, October 26, 2009
End of the American Dream
August 10, 2010
Once upon a time, private industry was the engine of the great American economic machine. From coast to coast, expanding industries spawned massive cities filled with optimistic Americans who were able to achieve middle class lifestyles on the good jobs that American companies were providing for them.
The largest middle class in the history of the world had been created and it seemed possible for just about everyone to live the American Dream. But today all of that has changed. The private sector is being dominated by gigantic global corporations that have shown absolutely no hesitation to ship jobs overseas. Millions upon millions of good jobs have been sent to China, India and the third world and they are never coming back.
Pay and benefits for middle class Americans working in private industry have been slowly eroding and are now at dangerously low levels. Meanwhile, working as a "government servant" has never been more rewarding. Today, the average government worker makes far more than the average worker in the private sector does.
How much more?
Well, according to a new study from the Heritage Foundation, U.S. government workers earn 30 to 40 percent more money than their private sector counterparts on average.
So, in essence, the "servants" make substantially more money than the taxpayers who employ them.
Isn't the system great?
In fact, according to the study, if you add in retirement and health care benefits, the average federal employee now earns nearly twice as much as the average private sector employee.
Just check out this excerpt from the study....
"Including non-cash benefits adds to this disparity. The average private-sector employer pays $9,882 per employee in annual benefits, while the federal government pays an average of $32,115 per employee."Yes, it is very good to be a U.S. government employee in 2010.
Meanwhile, the private sector continues to bleed jobs. The U.S. economy lost 131,000 more jobs during the month of July. Needless to say, the vast majority of those job losses came from private industry.
The truth is that it is becoming very, very difficult to live a middle class lifestyle if you do not work for the government.
A reader of this column named Tim recently shared the difficult experiences he has been going through as an employee in the private sector....
Been with my current company over 12 years. Last pay raise I got was six years ago. The last two years we’ve had our salaries actually reduced. 401K matching, vacation time, company stock purchase plans, actual pay, all gone or reduced. Me and buddies figure it to be about ~14% overall reduction. At my level I was averaging a 10% annual bonus (which are now a vague memory).Of course the U.S. government cannot keep paying their workers above market wages forever.
All in all, I am NOW working longer hours, at a much less satisfying job (it actually sucks), for about 20-25% less than I was making just 3 years ago.
My company was once a very highly respected company for the way it treated employees and the loyalty that created. We were long term focused, made great products. But now? ha! Upper management pushes harder and harder so they get their *quarterly* bonuses. Below VP level, people, and I mean a LOT of people are now pushing 55-60+ hour weeks for fear of losing their jobs.
With all this said – I still consider myself LUCKY. Even with the ~20% pay reduction, I still make very good money. But one thing has drastically changed. I no longer circulate my money. It all goes into savings. Every spare penny. And while this is good for me, we all understand it is at the expense of the local economy.
The saddest thing is to see my kids now graduating from college (two in the last four years!). They are entering a dismal job market with no hope of “true” recovery in the foreseeable future.
But for now, if you need a good job and can stand to do it, working for the U.S. government pays really, really well.
Might as well jump on the gravy train for as long as it lasts.
So is this a good system?
Of course not.
The true wealth of a nation is produced by the private sector. But unfortunately, the private sector is providing fewer and fewer good jobs in the United States.
The truth is that the U.S. government has become the last great source of middle class American jobs. This will not be able to last indefinitely, but for now those seeking the safety and security of a job ("just over broke") should be looking to the government because the chances of getting a great job in the private sector are getting slimmer by the day.
It is becoming very, very difficult to live a middle class lifestyle if you do not work for the government. More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs in the private sector, which are often very low paying. So the tables have turned: the private sector now works to service the public sector, the last great source of middle class.
Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have many similarities as well as many differences. It is difficult to discern the true differences between socialism and communism, as various societies have tried different types of both systems in myriad forms, and many ideologues with different agendas have defined both systems in biased terms. Some general points distinguishing the two concepts, however, can still be identified.
One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, while communism generally refers to both an economic and a political system. As an economic system, socialism seeks to manage the economy through deliberate and collective social control. Communism, however, seeks to manage both the economy and the society by ensuring that property is owned collectively, and that control over the distribution of property is centralized in order to achieve both classlessness and statelessness. Both socialism and communism are similar in that they seek to prevent the ill effects that are sometimes produced by capitalism.
Both socialism and communism are based on the principle that the goods and services produced in an economy should be owned publicly, and controlled and planned by a centralized organization. Socialism asserts that the distribution should take place according to the amount of individuals' production efforts, however, while communism asserts that that goods and services should be distributed among the populace according to individuals' needs.
Another difference between socialism and communism is that communists assert that both capitalism and private ownership of the means of production must be done away with as soon as possible in order to make sure a classless society, the communist ideal, is formed. Socialists, however, see capitalism as a possible part of the ideal state and believe that socialism can exist in a capitalist society. In fact, one of the ideas of socialism is that everyone within the society will benefit from capitalism as much as possible as long as the capitalism is controlled somehow by a centralized planning system.
Another difference between socialism and communism is centered on who controls the structure of economy. Where socialism generally aims to have as many people as possible influence how the economy works, communism seeks to limit that number to a smaller group.
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. [Justice Litle, Is America’s Economic Recovery on the Whole Based on a Rotten Sham?, Daily Markets, April 20, 2010]
Freedom and initiative are being replaced by ever higher taxation, regulation and centralization of power in Washington. Our economy is now stagnant and our standard of living is declining. Each year government takes a bigger share of our earnings, employs more and more of our people, enacts more rules that strangle our economy, and controls more and more of our lives. In the enjoyment of plenty, have Americans lost the memory of freedom? When citizens are willing to sacrifice their liberty for security, they will have neither liberty nor security and will soon find themselves living under tyranny. [Ellen Sauerbrey, The Spark That Has Triggered Rebellion, American Thinker, September 13, 2009]
The government does not create a traditional sellable product and thus produces no revenue outside of what it collects from taxpayers or what it seizes from the people. Public sector workers are the most protected and most over compensated group of workers in the world. They have the powerful, politically-backed unions on their side, taking away the voices and votes of the taxpayers who pay their salaries. Like typical government dependents, they display a sense of entitlement at the expense of others. They don't want to make the same sacrifices that the private sector is forced to make. It comes down to this: Either the government workers must contribute more toward their benefits or taxes will have to be increased.
"If one understands that socialism is not a share-the-wealth programme, but is in reality a method to consolidate and control the wealth, then the seeming paradox of super-rich men promoting socialism becomes no paradox at all. Instead, it becomes logical, even the perfect tool of power-seeking megalomaniacs. Communism or, more accurately, socialism is not a movement of the downtrodden masses, but of the economic elite." [Gary Allen, None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Concord Press, 1971]