An Honest Question: What’s so bad about Socialism that it Infuriates the Right?

This small essay was posted on a discussion group hosted by The Nation magazine.

A lot of the socialist underpinnings of a non-socialist nation are under attack. Healthcare isn’t a war won, it’s a battle that ended with something better than a draw. A lot of poor people with no money to spend will still have no money to spend, but now either the tax man or an insurance salesman will be standing there with his hand out. And of course, there are no new funds to pay for the little we got from this. Wealthy individuals still shield their income and their wealth, wealthy companies still exploit workers while lavishly rewarding the managerial elites, tax loopholes abound and more are for sale, with the suppliers being congresscritters and the vendors lobbyists.
And as for the semi-socialist-but-not-free-enterprise education system, the attacks are already well under way.
All that tax money…waiting to be handed over to opportunistic for-profit entities…It’s enough to make a rapacious entrepreneur slaver.

So let me ask here: what, really, is wrong with having at least some of our national endeavors socialist? Can we move from Oh my god that’s socialism which is communism they’ll take my house and we’ll have a politburo in Washington Never Never Never to perhaps a rational discussion of WHAT socialism is, a recognition that some things are better when done socialistically, and to what limits exist for such under our system of government?

Not on the table: abolition of private property. But perhaps on the table: nationalizing of essential services and even industries when capitalism has shown those industries to be too corrupt and operated at the expense of the national good?

As an example, our finance system is a hybrid; public, i.e. socialist, central bank authority (the Fed, FDIC) operating along with private banks, but as has been shown, when the private banks fail due to stupid bets on worthless securities, it’s the government that steps in. Socialist dollars rescued them from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, your savings draw a pittance for you in interest because you’re competing with the Fed, who makes money for loans available at perhaps a half-percent rate which drives your rate down to much less; 0.02% or less. The same banks still extract money from consumers when interest differentials aren’t enough and they aren’t making many loans; fees and such.
If we’re already on the hook when banks fail, why should we not simply nationalize them?

Oil, energy in general, has been the root cause of much of our national decline. We insisted on having oil cheap even when we weren’t producing it. Our money flowed out and came back in the form of interest-bearing loans that propped up the economy and concealed the damage from losses. Double whammy. Later trade imbalance just made it all worse. The world’s most robust economy has become something of a hollow shell, filled not by entrepreneurs but by salesmen and advertisers, hawking products they bought from overseas suppliers. Walmart is really no more than an economic arm, the marketing division, of Chinese manufacturers, despite originating here and despite the Walton family still living here. Commodities markets force us to compete with whichever nation has the money; manufacturing must compete with factories that are subsidized by a government, China for example, and with no control of the government agencies that might regulate this. Our national assets are for sale to the highest bidder and the profits go not to us as a nation but to individuals.

So what makes socialism inherently bad, and capitalism inherently good?


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