Knee Jerk Socialist

Without the ability to get more than the other guy, fair or not, much of what we now take for granted would not exist.
Photo: Mr. Rogers (not sure who did the OG one)

I've always thought of myself as pretty much a socialist. I believe in a level playing field, where everyone gets an equal chance to participate. I've always believed there should be a safety net for individuals that for one reason or another are not able to support themselves. I've always kind of admired countries like Switzerland that set a cap on earnings but also have a bottom level as well. This to me would be the ideal set up but obviously there are other factors that make this maybe not the best system.

My brother is finishing up his last year as a political science major. He has always been a Republican but not the hardcore racist religious right, just a greedy bastard who loves money. I can't blame him. Like I've said before, whoever said money doesn't equal happiness must have been a poor fucker trying to pretend scraping from paycheck to paycheck is fun. I mean I get the root concept but I never find a problem having fun when I have money. But that is neither here nor there. So my brother tells me that his college professor said that a two-party capitalistic democracy is the most advanced form of government. That's funny, that's what we have here! To think a college professor would buy into that propaganda is sick but I guess they're only human.

Well, when my brother uttered this statement I naturally fought back saying things like "Is this the most advanced form of government, where there are only two choices, little different from each other, both in the back pockets of corporations?" "Is capitalism the most advanced form of economic policy, where the gap between rich and poor widens with each passing day, where mentally ill people are left to rot in the street because it would mean more taxes for rich fuckers who might not be able to afford a brand new SUV because of it?" I continued to batter him with my socialist rhetoric, drawing on my favorite Switzerland example.

Of course my brother, fresh from the brainwashing spouts his rhetoric as well. "Well, European countries have a serious brain drain due to the fact that the best and brightest move to America to make real money." He goes on to explain that if there was a monetary cap on your salary there is no incentive to strive for success. There is no incentive to put in the extra hours to achieve a medical breakthrough because no matter what you will receive the same compensation. This is a good point as well and one I often overlook in my blind allegiance to classic socialism. You cannot equalize everyone. There will always be individuals that, due to certain circumstances, will not be able to perform on par with the rest of their society. Whether this is due to lack of education or plain old lack of intelligence, there will always be the underachievers. But along with this come the overachievers. The people that invent the vaccines, the people that make it possible to travel to the moon. You cannot achieve the highest highs without experiencing the lowest lows.

Now I don't condone our capitalist society. Far from it, but my brother made me see that trying to scrunch everyone together on the same level is also not the answer. Rather it seems that you can take the best of both. I'm not sure exactly what this would be but if there was such things as socialized medicine, a welfare system that didn't punish single mothers and people's lives were not mere afterthoughts in the destruction of our environment, then I would be cool with that. I would also be cool with rewarding people that work hard to make this world better. Not the fucker that perpetuates eating disorders by continuing to model their fashions on waifs or the Wal-Mart that undercuts mom and pop shops until they go out of business and then raises their prices. But the people that truly make a difference. It's true that to achieve your greatest potential you need to be motivated. For some that motivation comes in the form of cold hard cash.

The main fact is that socialism as a form of government will never truly exist. There will always be inequality. So rather than continue to adhere to a fantasy, I'm trying to puzzle my way through a synthesis of these conflicting systems to maybe find one that truly represents not only a world I could live in but one that has an actual chance of existing. Of course this could all be just a waste of time but what else are you going to talk about when you and your brother are driving along.

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