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! :)
Socialism, not that much. Social-democracy, very much.
All countries' socio-economic structers are to be found between pure capitalism and pure communism. The extremes in the respective ends of the scales would probably be Somalia and North-Korea.
Pure capitalism: The state owns no means of production and all products can be sold.
Pure communism: The state owns all means of production and only state products can be sold.
I come from Canada, so I've been in a system that most view as inherently more "socialist" than that of the States. That being said, I've never received anything from the system that every other Canadian hasn't. I've been to the hospital all of once for two hours to get my dislocated shoulder re-set. I've never been on any assistance programs. Both of my parents have worked for the government before, but only because hospitals are run by the government. Neither came from rich families and neither had many advantages either. My Dad was one of five kids in a lower-middle class family who worked his entire way through university. My Mom lost her father when she was 13, moved to Canada from England at 19 and put herself through a two-year college program with only the help of her aunt and uncle who gave her a place to live. Both of my parents have worked hard to get where they are and they are really only middle class now. Are their stories as heart-warmingly for capitalism as the rags-to-riches ones? No, but those are so rare and ofter crushed by the capitalism they're supposed to be the success of.
Now, consider the other side of things: those who do need help. I'm going to divide my examples because I have a few.
The good: My fiance's mother.
She was kicked out of home at 16 by her adoptive mother. She put herself through hairdressing school and then got married. After a couple years, her husband became abusive and started demanding children. Without many (socialized) options, she gave in. She had my fiance and then twin girls. When her husband injured the kids with his neglect, she left him. She moved back to the small town where she had come from, partly to escape her husband and partly to be near her family for their support. She worked any job she could there, from carrying mail to working in a cafeteria, but had a hard time earning enough to take care of three children. Welfare helped her keep them clothed and fed and that's about it. Any extras they got were from their grandmother, which usually was one sport a year and a pool pass for the summer. As soon as she could, my fiance's mother went back to school, and got a solid job that she's now settled in at. She didn't wring out welfare even a second longer than she had to, never used it for anything more than the necessities and tried her best to make what she could while she was on it.
The Bad: My fiance's sister.
She was in what she knew was an abusive relationship, but stuck around long enough to get pregnant. Then, she left him to have the child on her own. She hasn't worked in over four years. She takes the welfare she gets for herself and her daughter and after paying for her rent and about half the food she eats, spends the rest on herself. She hits up her mother for the money to clothe the child and buy her toys and even for as much of their food as she can. However, she's gone back to school and finished a college accounting degree and is currently searching for jobs. She's being insanely picky about what she will and won't do because she's cozy where she is, but she does want to reach for independence.
The Ugly: Acquaintance's Ex.
Had her first child just after turning 16 and the second just before turning 18. Dropped out of school about three months into the first pregnancy and hasn't gone back. Comes from a family of seven kids who were mostly born while her mother was on welfare and seems to have no intention of getting a job unless she's forced to. Now with a new man and trying for Baby #3 (to be had shortly before turning 20, if she gets her way). Happy to whine for as much child support as she can get in the meantime, asking for at least one new judgment on it a year.
2) Government Assistance for Tuition
Important to know: We have a program in our province where the government "lends" money to students for tuition and living costs (at a very low interest rate) that doesn't have to be paid back at all until they finish school, at which point interest starts accruing and payments start 6 months after their last class.
The Good: My fiance.
As seen above, his mother did not have enough to put him through school at all and he didn't have the option of living at home and working the way some people do. His inheritance from both sides of his family put him through his first year of school and he worked (either full- or part-time)for two of his remaining four years. However, he still needed money for school at some points. He got one of the government loans and between rent, tuition, books and transportation, borrowed about $40, 000 for school (showing how ridiculously expensive school is). He got two degrees with that money. Within four months of finishing school, he had a job. His minimum payment was $300, but he's been paying $500 a month since he started making payments after the 6-month grace period. He's paid off almost half of what he owes in the past three years and is hoping to pay the other half off within the next year to year-and-a-half. He's never been late with a payment or not had the money.
The Bad: My fiance's other sister.
Did a three year college program and dropped out with two classes to go. Has been out of school for four years now and has maybe paid 1/4 of her loan off. Pays the minimum when she's working. Has requested two breaks from her loan because of losing her job(s). Is currently in the second break. Will probably take another 15 years to pay off her loan.
The Ugly: Friend of a friend.
Did four years of university all paid for by loan and dropped out in his last term. Has been travelling the world since, rarely stopping back in Canada. Has not had a steady job yet. As far as I know, hasn't paid a cent of his loan back yet because he hasn't had a job the government can track. Mostly works under-the-table in other countries (including the US) to finance his travel.
As you can see, there's quite a variety of situations in which people receive social assistance (AKA "socialism"). There's some who very much need it through no real fault of their own and use it as best they can until they can do it for themselves. There's cases in which it's used for improvement but also abused when it's for the ease of the one receiving it. There are also cases in which it's outright abused. The thing is, it's hard to tell which are which at the outset. You can't know ahead of time who's going to get steady work because of their loan and pay it back as quickly as possible, who's going to have trouble and who's going to drop out and not even try to pay it back. You can't tell from an application which welfare mother is going to spend it all on the kids and work her butt of, which is going to spend it on herself and which isn't even going to try to get out of welfare. The thing is, there are as many of those that are honestly deserving and do make the best of what they are given (which isn't usually that much). You can go through many of the social programs we have and see the same patterns I described above: for disability, you have my blind and wheelchair bound uncle for the good, the friend who got a year of disability while she tried out anti-depressives for the bad and the father of one of my friends who hasn't worked in ten years because of his diabetes from only eating fast food for forty years for the ugly. I'd rather see that man get disability than my uncle not, so I accept the fact that there are going to be flaws. We need better regulation and more checks on where the money to go, but I'd still rather see those that don't deserve it get help than see those that do need it not get help.
Also, as a side note, starting a small business here seems to be easier because of a lot of our "socialist" controls and programs. "Socialism" might not have made the apartment not a shit-hole but it might have got rid of the rats. It might not have helped you work less hours, but it might have afforded you real food when you got home exhausted at the end of the day.
Your problem is you have never lived in a system without socialism. You profit from it everyday. Your transportation, communication, sanitary and social systems are also peppered with socialism. You did not build your business in a vacuum. You were born in a republic ruled by law and a hybrid economic system. People rant about socialism or capitalism everyday yet not one of them have been successful on their own. You need to be real with your assessment. What you friends do to you and ask from you has nothing to do with socialism.
What I can't believe is anyone who is atheist or agnostic would be dogmatic about either extreme. They, socialism and capitalism fail in their purest sense. This is not a religion. Or is it for you?
No--too many people go without in a Capitlalist system such as America where 400 people control over 50% of the wealth in the country. I believe wages should be capped at say...10 million dollars, so that nobody has to go without, and every working person (and everyone would have a job) could make living wage.
Socialism allows for health care and education for all....which is something the Capitalists do not want. They make money off of sick and ignorant people, as the sick pump money into their pockets, and ignorant allow them to do so.
Neither Capitalism or Socialism focus heavily on the distribution of wealth, what is important is who owns the means of production.
In capitalism, wealth is distributed based on the initial capital the individual hold, and the private sector determines what income you deserve based on your contribution to the enterprise. In socialism, wealth and income is to be distributed based on your contribution to society.
The mantras are a bit different, 'Work hard, take what you can' vs 'Work hard, get what you deserve'.
"Corn Hole fat bitches on your own dime." :D I don't get why people whom make less think that their friends with more money should pick up the tab. I have a buddy who just bought a $275k Race Horse, but frankly I've bought him dinner and don't take his money. But on to socialism.
I'm a business owner as well. The economy has played havoc with that, but the reality is that my effective tax rate was 6% last year when I'm in a 28% tax bracket. Effective write-offs are the key. My paid for truck, 14k a year in write offs. Oh, and look, those computers in the house, internet, all of my clothes, phones, etc are all write-offs. The effective tax rate on the top 1% is actually 17%. So if you are paying more, then you are doing it wrong. If you have a problem paying 17%, then your empathy is all fucked up.
Socialism isn't the problem with our budgets. Prisons... we put 6 and 7 times the number of people in prison as compared to all but Russia and I believe China. Military. Why do we have a standing army six times larger than a country with 1.2 billion people? Health care. Why do we have a system that bankrupts people for falling ill? Frankly this could be fixed through the Bismarck system that has nothing to do with Socialism, but there was no room for talking about it. We all saw those Town Halls. Education... Why is reinvestment virtually unaffordable? That type of socialism would bring us all up to a better standard of living a defend what we have but so many people can't see past the end of the day and what's left in their pocket. Much of socialism can be fruitful whereas capitalism is anything but fruitful (education and prisons).
But I can appreciate how one feels on a falling out on one subject in an otherwise good relationship.
Wow, lotta good information here... I realize I am biased, because I spend a lot of time in a place where people abuse every angle of government assistance possible, but at this point, I hadn't heard many stories where people have actually used said assistance wisely. I've got a lot to think about, but I love the responses, thanks to all of you who have obviously put in a lot of time and effort into their responses, I really appreciate it :)
To all of you who just told me I'm a douche, go get a damn job and quit scamming welfare.
And Gaytor, you'll probably be hearing from me next tax season... lolz
It's not as simple as some lazy mooch living off the money you busted your ass to earn. I don't know why those against socialism always assume that people in need aren't willing to work, or that they haven't worked. All "capitalists" seem to envision, when they imagine who is benefiting from public services, are fat, uneducated slobs. This is not the case. It's been said before... a lot of the people who need help worked just as hard as you, might have even made it further, and then some tragedy occurred and now they need a hand.There are many scenarios that I'm sure you've not considered, and the fact that someone needs help should not be so repulsive to you. Don't forget that we're all one calamity short of destruction at any moment (just look at Japan).
I have mixed feelings about both socialism and capitalism. I don't think there's a perfect system. However, I do have respect for the "intentions" of socialism, however misguided or ill-applied. Some things that socialism provides the community: education, law enforcement, fire protection, libraries, parks, bike trails and lanes, etc. We all enjoy those things.
The most important service is education and, yes, health care (more specifically, programs like Planned Parenthood). Of course, our education system needs serious help, but what it provides people benefits even you (whether or not you attend, or your children). People need to be educated. Knowledge is power. The more a person knows, the better they are equipped to crawl out of the hole they were born in. If they are taught about contraceptives and how to avoid STDs, the state/govt doesn't have to pay for unwanted pregnancies/welfare. Education, in the long run, saves everyone (including you) a lot more money than it takes to pay teachers.
This "sink or swim" attitude is beyond callous, and very short-sighted. You only see what you're being deprived of, while ignoring how you're benefiting. It all comes around full-circle. You pay taxes so you can live in a society that is safe, clean, crime-free, commuter friendly, etc. We help those less able to help themselves because it actually does serve us in the long run.
I'm sorry your friends are mooches, but they do not represent the sum total of those who actually do need help. I congratulate you on working hard and earning a pretty penny. Your success, however, is very precarious and you may be the next sucker who could use a hand. But everyone will assume you just want a hand out.
I'm realizing this, Cara, as I hear more stories of people who use the assistance appropriately. But like I said earlier, I live in an area where I see none of that happening. I still live in the same shit-hole apartment (for the next two weeks, at least), and a good number of the people I live here with are the ones abusing the assistance. I know this because I've asked around, it's not rumor or conjecture. I had a very biased opinion because of this, but I'm learning, and that's the important part.