A new age of socialist furor has gripped the nation recently. The term Democratic Socialist has been softened to the point of acceptance and a freshman congresswoman and one of the 2020 front runners are proud and open socialists. This has caused an open discussion, especially among young people, about the merits of socialism in the twenty first century. The issue is, no one really knows what socialism is anymore and no one can really agree on what AOC and Bernie Sanders actually stand for.
Merriam Webster offers two good, if not broad, definitions of socialism.
a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole
(in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism
If we look at the first definition, it says the means of production (factories), distribution (shipping and commerce) and exchange (the marketplaces) should be owned or regulated by the community. The community, in most cases, means government, because if you take our current system of stocks you could argue that most of our biggest companies are already owned by the public. Since today’s socialists don’t spend much time talking about the merits of stocks and public ownership of major companies on Wall Street we are going to assume they mean heavy regulation or ownership by the state. I believe most of our socialists fall into this first category.
Then we have the second definition, which derives from the mind of Karl Marx in which socialism is simply an imperfect stepping stone to the ultimate goal of a communist state. There are some people in this camp but they are the ones who have still been deemed dangerous and unfavorable by the American public.
Then we have Amazon and Jeff Bezos. The wealth of some of these tech moguls is truly stunning and makes a lot of people uncomfortable if not legitimately upset. However, Amazon is one of the single greatest examples of capitalism in the world. Capitalism created a service in which you can log on from your phone, your laptop, tablet, computer or the watch on your wrist and order almost anything your heart can think of. Books, dog food, phones, food, memorabilia, home security, music, clothes… almost anything on the planet. You can search for it, source it, price it and have it shipped all within 48 hours for most products. This is incredible and something we take entirely for granted.
Our millennial socialists are talking out of both sides of their mouths. One the one hand they want to decry the ultra-wealthy and on the other, they all use Amazon constantly and subscribe to Amazon Prime. Jeff Bezos is a billionaire because, according to CNN, Amazon has north of 100 million Prime subscribers. That’s a lot. Amazon did $232.9 billion in revenue in 2018. That’s a lot of packages. People use Amazon in droves because it is a brilliant service that is fast, convenient and accessible to everyone. Government can only dream of creating something so efficient.
If you like Amazon, if you use it daily, weekly, monthly, then you will hate socialism. Socialism can only be born on the back of capitalism because it cannot create anything on its own. The government does not create anything that people truly enjoy. They don’t manage services or companies that we prefer to their capitalist counterparts. It just doesn’t happen. The age group that is fawning over socialism, 18-35, are also in love with wholly capitalist companies. Netflix, Apple, Google, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, Tesla. These are all uber capitalist companies, with amazing products and services that they love which generates their owners and founders lots of money which they then use as an example to tax the rich and turn from capitalism. It makes no sense.
I would ask anyone who has a favorable view of socialism if they like the following services and places:
- the DMV
- the healthcare industry
- the postal service
- the social security office
- the TSA
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
If they can stand up and raise their hand and say that they prefer Amtrak over a private airline or the post office to UPS or PBS to Netflix then I will shake that hand and say vote socialist all you want. The problem is I don’t think many people would. The industries that the government has meddled in, healthcare, airport security, home mortgages, have ended up absolute disasters. The government quietly removed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from the public mind after the 2008 housing crisis. Similarly, many have forgotten most airport security was private before 9/11. Healthcare is an absolute disaster, especially insurance, because the government has came along and decided it will try to do what we all know it can’t: replicate the private sector.
So if you’re planning to vote socialist in 2020, make sure to check your Apple watch, your Amazon Prime subscription and your Netflix watch list and ask yourself if you really want these services ran by your state and federal government.