So as someone who has worked a number of years in corporate America (and admittedly, is NOT a fan of the rat race) let me start by saying: I get it. Business in America isn’t what is used to be. It certainly lacks the strong moral center needed to keep excesses in check (thank you Leftists…but I digress), and the fact of the matter is there is enough corruption and soullessness in the marketplace that stifles passion, creativity, and the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great. A lot of lofty expectations regarding our careers, especially for those of us who graduated college, are forcibly checked by the realities of a downturned market. To many it seems that the American Dream is dead, or worse, a nightmare.
I also understand why it’s easy to blame big business and capitalism for all the current economic problems we face as a generation.
Not only are they big, easily visible targets, but more importantly: you’ve been spoon-fed your entire lives, from Pre-K to college, that free-market capitalism is the culprit and that we need big government to solve our problems and make everything ok.
That being said, there are just a couple of problems with that premise I want to point out.
First off, America has not had a true, free market capitalist society in over 100 years. In fact, supporters of socialism love to try and use this fact to support MORE SOCIALISM. The argument often goes like this: America is already socialist country because of certain preexisting social programs like Medicaid et al (partially true) and the military (false but irrelevant). Ergo, you are either a hypocrite if you are ok with these programs and not more social justice policies like the big government Progressives mindlessly advocate, or cruel and heartless (and no credit for consistency!) if you advocate their removal in addition to opposing social justice policies. So, which is it? Is America a socialist country already? Then why are you blaming capitalism and the free-markets for its economic woes? Or is America not socialist? Then you can’t claim “America is socialist” in order to soften the blow and make your policies seem like a less risky and radical change than it really is.
The fact of the matter is, America has gone down a Marxist past since the enacting of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but the biggest strides have always been made under so-called “Progressive” presidents like Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, and Obama, et al. So, if you are going to blame anyone, you might want to blame the anomalous policies.
After all, America did just fine 150 years prior to Progressive policies.
It wasn’t until the industrial revolution (which is when socialism, particularly Nationalist Socialism and Fabian Socialism, really took root) that you really see a radical shift in the role of federal government (as opposed to strictly local and state governments) in terms of caring for people beyond protecting their lives, their liberty, and their property rights. So if you are going to blame a particular political ideology for the current economic failures you are suffering thru, recognize that big-government, “compassionate” Progressivism has had more influence in economic and domestic policy over the last 100 years than free-market capitalism (even under so-called “conservative” Republicans, like Bush), and that prior to Progressive policies becoming the new norm, America didn’t have the kinds of problems you are concerned about (which isn’t to say America didn’t have problems, but the problems that existed were not a byproduct of freedom -they were a byproduct of human nature and living in a fallen, sinful world. Laissez-faire capitalism is actually responsible for mitigating these problems and elevating the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in America, and billions across the globe).
That being said, let’s address the second horn of big-government advocacy.
The argument from the Left is that businesses are so corrupt and money-grubbing that if left to their own devices then we will have foul air, foul water, and no money before we can blink. The poor will be forced to eat themselves just to survive, while the rich live a life of hedonistic and callous excess. It paints the kind of picture you would expect in any Hollywood dystopia. The solution then is government regulation and redistribution of wealth. “We need the government to check the greed of big business!” (or more overtly “The government needs to soak the rich!”) is the mantra. Of course, such a philosophy ignores the fact that the same corruption and greed can just as easily exist in big government as it can in big business (government officials are no more angelic and noble than Wall Street execs and businessman, nor are they less human), and can be a bigger bugbear to deal with. After all, if a business is corrupt, I can always refuse to do business with it. We call that “voting with your wallet.” Refusing to do business with government –corrupt or otherwise- is called secession. “But the People can vote to oust corrupt politicians,” you say? Wrong.
There is no way to oust a corrupt government, once sufficiently entrenched, other than thru violent revolution.
That is why, as Madison stated, “The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.” Big government, once sufficiently entrenched, is dangerous, corruptible, and the source of more ills to social justice than cures. How will big government, with its unelectable bureaucracies, prevent regulatory capture? How will society decide who is to be the beneficiaries and who will be the providers without politics driving the decision? How will the weak and powerless protect themselves from the abuses of such a government (as there are ALWAYS a weak and a powerless, and they are not always popular enough to be able to rely on the benevolence of the people to protect them)? Rather than address these concerns, most on the left prefer to dismiss them as the paranoid delusions of a frenzied mind (which is insulting), or at least, less of a concern than the “pressing” issues of today (which is myopic).
Of course, most sensible Americans (and even some of the nonsensible ones) acknowledge that socialism is a failed and bloody ideology.
Which is why Millennials try and sugar-coat the philosophy with the term “Democratic”. After all, socialism cannot be bad if we all vote on it, right? (This is like arguing that there is nothing bad that could possibly happen with drinking arsenic-laden Kool-Aid as long as everyone agrees to drink from the same punch bowl.) Ignoring the fact that “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what is for dinner,” Democratic Socialism is an oxymoron. It is impossible for a people, especially one numbering 350 million and growing, to agree 100% on what are the most pressing issues that we should dedicate our limited resources to, much less what is the best way to utilize those resources. The resulting political gridlock and division inevitably demands the arrival of some charismatic leader who convinces the people that he/she can carve thru all the red-tape and politics, if only the People will give him/her enough power and silent, obedient consent to do what is necessary, “for the greater good”. Ultimately, to maintain “Democratic” socialism, very undemocratic methods must be employed in order to accomplish the goals and agenda of the State.
The solution then, is not more government, but less.
Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. The corollary is equally true: Government that is relatively powerless is less prone to abuse, or at least, when such abuses occur, they are mitigated. Since “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield & government to gain ground,” Americans should always err on the side of small government than big government. After all, the consequences of too little government are more easily rectified than the consequences of too much government. It is often a wonder that liberals will invoke small government principles when it comes to social matters like the legalization of weed, abortion, or gay marriage (“it’s none of your business!” is the underlying principle) but will then reject the same fundamental premise on matters of taxation, business regulations, and redistribution of wealth (these are just a much “not your business” if not more so). It’s time for Millennials to educate themselves, instead of relying on the “education” they received at the indoctrination mills called “formal education”. You’ve been taught to read, remember, and regurgitate your whole life; now we are asking you to, perhaps for the first time in your life, think for yourselves, and to do so critically and analytically. A thorough understanding of history and economics will demonstrate by casual observation two things: first that Socialism or any other form of Collectivism, of any flavor –Democratic, Nationalist, Fabian, Green, Marxist, Trotskyist, Keynesian, etc. – will ultimately breed misery, poverty, and death, and that second, despite that being the case, America is the only country in all of recorded history to try and accomplish the stated goals of collectivists –prosperity and justice for all, brotherhood and unity- while employing political methods completely contrary to collectivism –individual and property rights, liberty, personal accountability, free markets, and strictly limited government. By all means if you want to try what has already been tried, many, many times, and failed, each and every time, go ahead and support another stodgy, aging white collectivist like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.