Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The inherent problem with Socialism

Brethren and Sistren, I am taking a break from my usual in-depth evaluations of gaming and fiction and wizards and such to talk about a very real problem that I am seeing all too often.
I am a frequent patron of the Chesapeake Public Library system.  My most frequent activity at my library is the checking out of recorded books.  As a person that commutes to work I have between an hour and two hours a day to listen to books on CD, depending upon traffic conditions.  I have managed to read many books thanks to this service.  Like so many busy working adults I just don't have to use the restroom enough to get much reading done and this is a fantastic way to do it.  With a book playing through the speaker system of my car I can relax more in traffic knowing that any delay is simply giving me more time to "read".
Thus I say that it hurts me greatly, in an emotional sense, to find that so many of the CDs I check out are scratched, often to the point that whole sections of the texts are unable to be heard, much less enjoyed.
I say now to everyone who uses their local library:
Now a public library is a library that is supported by the public and for use by the public and is intended to serve the public trust.  Your taxes, my taxes, the taxes of the people go to build, staff, supply and maintain that institution.  It is, in essence, everybody's library.  Since no one person owns it you can say, quite correctly, that we all own in a public trust.  The library does not restrict membership to only those citizens who pay taxes, however.  Indeed the library restricts membership based upon local citizenry.  That is to say that in order to obtain a library card you must show proof that you belong to the community the library serves.  The Chesapeake Public Library system has 7 branch locations throughout the city of Chesapeake.  Chesapeake is an independent city in Virginia of 351 square miles that boarders the state of North Carolina and has a population of over 222,000 persons.  All of them are served by but 7 libraries.
Public libraries, like public schools and public parks, are examples of the essential failure of Socialism.  You see Socialism stands opposed to private ownership.  What everyone owns, no one owns.  As anyone who has rented a car or hotel room knows, if you don't own something you are not apt to take very good care of it.  What is worse is that a public institution carries the further problem of being the "government's" responsibility to maintain in trust for the people.  If your city park gets trashed, covered in litter and has its playground equipment and benches defaced who is responsible for the clean up?
Why the government of course, they own it!
But they don't own it.  You own it.  You pay for it with your taxes.  Yet, you do not own it alone.  You share ownership with every other citizen of your community tax payer or not.  What we do not own you do not protect.  The attitude, evident from the abuse and destruction I see every day in public parks and the library, is that "someone else" will take up the slack.  "Someone else" will pay the cost.
Ownership brings with it responsibility.  If you own something it is yours and you cannot look to another to replace it or supplement it.  Should you damage or destroy what you own you have to pay the cost to replace that thing or live without it.  Not everyone treats their property with the same care and concern, but too many of us treat the property of others, including shared public property, far worse than we would our own.
Where we hold no stake we hold no concern.
Take a thief.  A thief steals the property of others and then must fence that property.  Whether it is through pawn, private transaction or another thief who specializes in the disposition of stolen goods the thief accepts far less than the value of the item from the fence.  This is of little concern to the thief for he attaches no real value to the item stolen.
Lack of ownership breeds apathy at best and disdain at worst.
That's what Socialism is, a system in which those who have nothing, produce nothing and desire to produce nothing share in equal ownership with others who do produce and desire.  That corrupt system will not work unless someone in the group does produce, but always that production will be undercut and debased by those that do not.
If you want to see it in action, at its worst, go check out a recorded book from your local library.
Every skip, every scratch, ever second of the text lost to you is but a symbol of what will be lost to you in greater terms should you become a part of that corrupt system.  That book, even if it is a work of fiction represents knowledge and the destruction of the medium robs you of that knowledge.  If another person will so callously destroy that medium, because that person sees it as "somebody else" responsibility, that person will take from you simple joy and knowledge.  Would you put all of your existence into those hands?


  1. A system in which those who produce nothing and desire to produce nothing share in equal ownership with others that do produce. Well said! Socialism requires, as you aptly put it, a producer. The producer is expected to continue to produce for the unproductive less they be ridiculed as greedy by they that produce nothing. Oh, the irony.

    What's worse is there isn't even a sense of gratitude by the unproductive for those that produce. Instead they have become contemptuous. They side with the racketeers in government who steal the producer's fruits, using the police power of the state, and who pass on a pittance of what they have stolen in order to buy their votes, thus leading to a maelstromatic spiral toward economic catastrophe.

    1. Decidedly so. Perhaps the bitterest of ironies comes when we see that the drive toward such a system is fueled by the very greed, jealousy and desire to own that the system itself denies. Under such a system one who owns less than another can now claim to "own it all" and will no doubt treat it with the same respect they would treat anything given but not earned. The root is greed and it sucks its nutrients from a poison soil. Why would any desire the fruit from that tree? To eat of it is to become poisoned with the same sickness.

  2. Actually, Socialism merely implies that the workers own the means of production, which doesn't anything to do with what you are describing here, which is called "the tragedy of the commons" and is not an ideological problem, but a cultural one.

    If people are raised in a society that espouses capitalist values, essentially, "rational self-interest", then of course they will abuse the commons. After all, it is not their property, it is somebody else's problem. Selfish people behave selfishly. Capitalism is an ideology founded on the, somewhat bizarre notion that people are, and should be selfish.

    And so, the problem that you have experienced, could be seen as more of a "capitalist" problem, than a socialist one. Ironical!

    And, to say in defense of true socialism, worker ownership of the means of production, what could be more reasonable? The people that do the work deserve a lions share of the profits of their work. Those who produce should profit, rather than having the bulk of the profit eaten up by greedy investors.

    Bottom line, people should behave responsibly with resources, whether they have a personal stake in them or not. It's a moral, rather than an ideological, problem.

    1. A most interesting response, sir.
      The worker owns his product, but owning the means of production? Why, that is free enterprise. Marx was wrong and his principle was flawed. You must acquire the raw materials and the tools and the other ingredients to produce. If you do not have those things you must get them from somewhere. If I have those things and let you use them I must receive something in return. The efforts of your production are the fair trade for this. I can then sell those products. If you already own the means of production then you may produce all you desire and sell it as you desire. That is free enterprise. That is Capitalism. However, if I, who own the "factory" have it taken from me and distributed to you, the worker, and your fellows, you have stolen. Now you own the means of production, yes, and the product, but you did not and you have taken from someone else to gain that.
      Only in a free market, that is Capitalist, society can you "own" the means of production. Ownership. Not Social control.

    2. Hhm, so I get to do all the work, and the owner gets to take the lions share of the profit of my work? Because he has access to investment capital. And I don't.

      Hhm, no deal, sounds like a scam to me.

    3. No. If you have the tools, raw materials and work space you get the freedom to be your own boss. If you don't have those things you must sell your skills. You are still owning the means of your production in terms of skills.
      Look, it is very simple. There are a finite amount of resources in the world. Some persons have more of some type. To say that a person who owns something should have to give it up to someone else for no reason other than the 2nd person does not have it is what we call "theft". If person A has no skills in manufacture but does have money and person B has skills in manufacture but does not have the investment capital to put them to use how can person A make a lasting form of income? How can person B make any income at all? Person B sells his skills to person A and both profit by the deal.
      What if person A does not have the capital? Where does person B go to get the tools, raw material, etc. to produce and thus make an income? Perhaps person B gets his raw materials from a government source?
      Take the pre-industrial village as an example. We all own the farming land together and we all work a plot of it. How do we get hoes, spades, plowshares? Who shoes the horses or oxen to pull our plows? One of us must give up his farming to feed his family to learn and practice the skill of smithing. This will take all of that person's time and resources. I will do it for the good of us all. Now you feed me, because I cannot farm, I will smith for the village. So I have another child. I need more food. Give me more food. If you don't give me more food I will stop making plowshares, horseshoes, axe heads, etc.
      I got you by the short and curlies. So you tell me, "Nope, we own the ore and the village owns the smithy." That's my home.
      Perhaps you'd rather I just came to your home and ate your food that you grow?
      So I leave and go the urban center and find a guild and work for them. I am restricted by their rules for competition and only "own" my own smithy at their sufferance. You have no person to make your tools and I am not owning my own business anymore.
      We've left that system behind, mate.
      I don't know why you see private ownership as a scam. Your system is illogical. You want everyone to have everything but to do so you deny the owner his rights. Would you feel the same if I, as a carpenter, simply took your house to component parts because I need raw materials (wood) to do my job? I know you like in that house, but since we are looking at this from a Socialism perspective I can do that.
      In a Free Market a person is free to own their own means of production and use it, or sell their means of production to another person as they see fit. This owning the means of production is a myth, or as you would say, "merely implies" but we are not looking for implications; we are looking for demonstrable phenomena.

    4. My parents opened a hair salon. My brother and I spent many weekends helping to paint it and set up equipment along side my parents. My father put his house up for collateral to gain investment capital. He then had to fill out miles of paperwork, for which he needed to hire an accountant in order to get through the bureaucracy.

      So, having spend years saving and months preparing he finally opens the doors. My mother does mostly high end clientele that she has spent near 20 years building, now she hires a couple of stylists out of beauty school to do the hair-cuts and the work she doesn't have time to do. They negotiated a price with said stylists for their skills, and gave them a place to practice so that they could become better.

      Are you saying that my parents don't deserve the lion's share of the profits? That's a scam to you? Socialist sympathizers are never concerned with the reality of their Utopian ideology; only that they can safely tremble behind buzzwords and then demand the police power of government be used to take from someone else. As French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said "Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom."

  3. The people that do the work deserve a lions share of the profits of their work. Those who produce should profit, rather than having the bulk of the profit eaten up by greedy investors.

    Or greedy governments?