Lately, I've been realizing I'm a rare specimen among the atheist community...
I'm against socialism. There, I said it. And no, I will not meet you at the swing set after school. I've spoken with a good number of atheist friends and acquaintances, and it seems nearly all of them take offense at that fact. It's like I'm telling them their baby looks like a damn monkey! They try to convince me that I'm heartless, and that I should change my opinion because they're broke. It's very nearly the same arguments I hear when theists find out my religious beliefs...
I don't believe in socialism because of this:
I am a business owner. I've spent a good amount of my adult life living in a shitty little apartment, eating ramen noodles (and the slower rats), staying home while my friends go out, working WELL over 100 hrs a week for months (if not years) at a time, and trained myself to live on 4 or less hours of sleep per night. Shit, if I wasn't a dude, I wouldn't even have had anything to entertain myself with... That's because every spare cent I earned was re-invested into my business. And no, I'm not a drug dealer or a prostitute, it's legitimate.
Now, I'm the asshole, because I make more money than my friends. Every time we go out, they want me to pay for drinks, or come to me looking to borrow money, etc. I earned my money, dammit! Get drunk enough to cornhole fat bitches on your own dime! They tell me that it's all well and good that I should get taxed more, because I make more. I didn't eat shit for years so that Mr. NoHighSchoolDiploma with 8 kids and no job can take my money and use it for the food he can't afford to put in his kids mouths, or for more rusty-carpart lawn decoration...
I look at socialism as treating those who work smarter/harder, and don't give up on their dreams, as if they were a piggy bank for the lazy. Oh, and fuck Robin Hood, too. Fuckin commie socialist douche... But I'm getting off topic... I don't want to hear about 'privilege' either, the only privilege I can claim is that I was born in a free country. I've got felonies on my record, done jail time, have no credit whatsoever, and was recently declined for a JC Penny's Rewards card. I didn't even know that shit was possible. I can't even get a job in fast food without lying on my application. I was born into a lower-class family in Detroit, Michigan (Go Red Wings!), and went to a school where I'd pass if I just attended class, regardless of how much schoolwork I did. And the classrooms all smelled like smashed asshole, too. Imagine having to deal with that all day.
Does anyone else feel the same way? If so, then why? If not, I'd love to hear your reasons/story, too. There may be angles to this that I haven't thought of yet, if you have any insight you think would be helpful or change my opinion, for FSM's sake, let me know! :)
"I would love to have had a mom and dad."
Using your dead parents as ammo is disrespectful, and appeals to emotion are not an argument.
"IMHO Take your anti-socialism rant and shove it up your rich ass."
I'm sorry, didn't you read this: "I can't even get a job in fast food without lying on my application."
He's not rich. He may own a business, but I'd be surprised if he was more than just slightly more well-off than his friends, taxes and expenses said and done. The problem there is that there's some mystique attached to owning one's own business. It's not fun. It's not easy. And it doesn't make you rich unless you get very lucky.
I doubt his friends see that clearly, and it's hard to express the math (say you take in $300 per widget, and you sold 50 widgets today; looks like you did well, until you figure that the widgets cost you $295, and you only made $250, which, after taxes and overhead, may be a total of $100 for an 8-hour day) without looking like a whiny douche.
Offense is not the term... but "belief in socialism" is kind of not the point either. If you have to resort to belief, you don't understand the subject well enough to have an opinion of it.
Far as it goes for socialism v. capitalism v. communism v. resourcism v. ...; they're ways of looking at problems of requirements versus resource scarcity. They're not religious doctrines, and they're only economic systems if you let 'em get that big.
If you - or those who apparently are socialists - get offended because someone doesn't appreciate their way of approaching a particular problem, it may be because they've only got a hammer*, so to speak.
Anyway, socialist (solution should optimize social good at minimum social cost to those that can bes afford it), communist (governing body is best suited to control a particular type of business), capitalist (individual profit motive can be counted on for best results), and resourceist (barter-based capitalism) solutions to economic problems all coexist in the small and large scales in the US economy. Depending on the problem addressed, each has their merits. The differentiation should always be a cost-benefit analysis, concentrating on the interested parties.
In fact, there are many, many more ways of looking at socioeconomic problems (for example, how would you characterize Kiva? Doctors Without Borders? TED?) The question you should always be asking is not whether solution X is socialist, but "what are the merits of solution X, and how can it be improved?"
Really, these catch-words are just ways of synthesizing potential solutions. I really wish people would stop getting so damned polarized about it.
I think the problem you're having has more to do with your frustration with your own friends - that is to say, you're conflating your experience with mooches with what socialism represents to you: welfare. But welfare is not what socialism is; it's an implementation of a socialist solution to the problem of poverty. Additionally, there is evidence to indicate that a tax dollar spent on welfare returns twice as much value to the economy as a dollar saved in tax cuts for the upper brackets - but that's just part of the CBA.
Overall, I think it's time to step back and read MIT's courses on macroeconomics (they're free online and very good); the problem is obviously forcing anger where I know it's not wanted - how about diffusing that with a little bit of cold hard book-learnin? ^_^
* "If all you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails"
Just a minor change:
"be pragmatic, use whatever solution is measurably best suited to alleviate a problem"
They may all work. And semantics are important, pedantic as that was.
This might not sound very nice but all I hear when someone makes the argument that you have here is "I got mine so fuck you."
Some people are lazy mooches... your friends might be some of them. Most people want to work and want to be useful but life has a way of fucking over even the most hard working individuals. For every person like you who sacrificed and lived in poverty and got out there are even more people who sacrificed and lived in poverty and still do or died doing so.
I dunno if socialism is the best system or not certain aspects of socialism do inform my wold view, I certainly don't like what I've seen and experienced of capitalism but I'm not totally against it either. I have a feeling the best system is something we humans haven't even thought of yet.
I'm put off by people who assume you're socialist just because you believe in universal health care. The rest of the civilized world has it and is happy with it, despite the disingenuous remarks of Americans saying "we have the best health care in the world", and "people from countries with socialized medicine come here for health care". They leave out the rest of the sentence, which is "if you can afford it".
Even if capitalism is the best system in the world, that doesn't mean it's perfect and needs no improvement. It's the "isms" that people embrace without question that corrupt us, over time. Meanwhile, in this country, calling people socialists still demonizes them in the eyes of the public a lot more effectively than calling people capitalists.
What I don't understand is why people don't remember that one of the worst economic crashes in American history hit us while the sacred Bush tax cuts were in effect, financial institutions were leveraging other people's money and blowing up the speculation bubbles, corporations were outsourcing production and jobs to countries with cheap labor, and energy costs rose to the point of costing working schmuck families extra thousands of dollars, yet ACORN and the lower classes just barely able to afford food and shelter got blamed for mismanagement. I mean really, the lower classes had all that power? Come on.
So there's enough blame to go around, but perhaps the biggest crimes were greed and ignorance, and pervasive ignorance of how the rest of the world was catching up and figuring out how to do things better than us, and do it for less.
I didn't mean to go off on a tangent. It's just that the irony may be that the civilized, socialist world out there may very well be passing up our stubborn, traditionalist, capitalism-trumps-labor-no-matter-what attitude. And they're healthier and happier and going on vacations and not putting in outrageous work hours.
I'm not as one-sided as I sound, here, and am playing devil's advocate. I don't really know how we lost vision as a country, except maybe we just didn't care enough about how the rest of the world was starting to win the most important races. Pervasive hubris and ignorance? I think we need to look around, outside, and learn from the rest of the world instead of blaming each other and blaming outsiders, or just expecting God to keep blessing us no matter what we do.