Saturday, November 01, 2008

Socialism is dehumanizing

From Marianne at The Eternal Student:

Rush asked yesterday on Greta Van Sustern's show on Fox, "how many young people even know what socialism is?"

I am living in France with two other Americans, both of whom voted for Obama. The election has come up a few times, and also the subject of socialism. I said, "I'm not voting for Obama, because I don't want to see my country become socialist."One of my American friends, twenty-two years old, said, "What's wrong with socialism? I don't think it's a bad idea."I was speechless for a second. But then those little warning bells that tell me, "say something. Don't let that pass. Even if her vote is cast, you can still try to give her an alternate perspective for the future," made me open my mouth.

So, I said, "What's wrong with socialism? We live in a socialist country right now, and you hate it here. You just spent all day yelling, "Damn these French!" Imagine this level of bureaucratic frustration and ineptitude taking over every aspect of American life." I didn't want to belabor the point. But I kept thinking of life here in a socialist nation:

1. Waiting in line for EVERYTHING. No transaction takes fewer than 30 minutes. This, to me, is not a mere accident or ineptitude. This seems to be a design. If people can be kept waiting to perform headache-inducing bureaucratic tasks, then the people are kept occupied and quiet. Business is kept at a slow, manageable trickle. You want to see socialism in health care? Take the average level of service you receive at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Now, imagine that you have a hernia.

2. Taxes on everything so high that you are kept in a certain life mold by default. Want to drive to Paris? The tolls are so exorbitant you might as well just take the train. Want to buy a better education? You can't because the state's monopoly is so huge that the only private schools are the Grandes Écoles and the Catholic universities. Yes, you could go to one of them, but they are so competitive that you must study for two years just to pass the entrance exam. So, the great majority of people take the path of least resistance, conforming to the state's wishes, because to excel or to be different, or to opt out is just too expensive.

3. This results in a greater stratification between the rich and everyone else. When Americans (middle-class Americans!) visit France they stay in the picturesque city centers where the rich people live and work. But travel even a few kilometers out to the suburbs where the dehumanizing tenements climb into the sky, and people shop at discount stores just as cheap as WalMart and barely scrape by, and then tell me that socialism "spreads the wealth around." And then, please, take a walk around a French ghetto, where the radical Islamic population has taken over the streets, where the French police don't dare to go, where the rule of law has bowed to sharia, and tell me that this is a "secular and equal" nation. With unemployment for Muslim young men at over 20%, discontent is high, and violence is always simmering. America is not perfect. But don't buy the lie that socialist nations have their houses in order. Don't even get me started on the worrying rise of neo-fascist national parties in England, France, and Italy.

4. I, personally, don't agree with the consumerist ethic that has gripped our nation, but I firmly support my fellow citizens' right to buy as many things as pleases them. My roommates enjoy traveling, buying gourmet food, expensive shoes, designer clothes. All of this is paid for by the American dollars of their parents. Capitalism creates wealth.

5. I meet many, many students of English, who really love America. I say, "Oh, you should go!" and I am told, by about 85% of them, "Oh, I can't. It's too expensive."Imagine. Almost every American student of a foreign language, if he or she has the desire, finds a way to travel to the nation where that language is spoken. We love to treat the world as our Disney World. Well, prepare to cut back. Travel requires disposable income, either your own or your parents, and under socialism that disposable income is going to shrink.

6. Young people have an intense sense of justice. They dislike the injustice they see in daily life in America, and they want to make things better. But because they have been taught by ideologically Left teachers and curricula their whole lives, they think the problems are systemic, ideological, and too big for individuals to change (this way of thinking is fundamentally Hegelian-Marxist). And so, they buy into the rhetoric of a demagogue who says he's going to bring "change to Washington." Because, according to their education, they think the only way to change things is at the government level. They have no idea the power they have to effect change in their lives, communities, states, and therefore their nation. The conservative movement should be proposing an ideology of empowerment to the individual citizen. You think inner-city education is poorer and less equitable than that in the suburbs? So, volunteer five hours a week to tutor a child in reading! Do something. Give something. You have so much more to give than just your vote (although that matters). In fact, if individuals try to solve these problems, the results are always better than if the government tries to fix it. Again, just look at education. How much money do we have to pour into government schools before asking ourselves, is money really the answer? Why is it that a family of eight, on a budget of $1,000 a year for homeschooling supplies, has children who can read Greek and speak Spanish, and the children in our public schools are functionally illiterate? Surely we are smart enough to solve this problem.

Socialism is dehumanizing because it puts the state before the individual. Under socialism, you stand in line to be given some basic necessity. Under capitalism, you earn your livelihood, and however much more you might want and have the energy to produce. And if you see injustice around you, why then, by all means, "spread the wealth around." But don't take my money in order to do so. I have to pay taxes in France, after all...
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