Socialism is seen in contrasting lights. Its supporters consider it beneficial for ordinary citizens, while its opponents consider it a malaise for a country’s economy.
- Socialism in economics and everyday life
The foundation of the socialist economy is that the means of production are socially owned and used to satisfy human needs, but not for profit, as in the case of capitalism. Socialists believe in sharing ownership of resources and central planning, offering a fair distribution of goods and services. They also believe that workers who contribute to the economy should receive equal rewards. Socialist economies seek to nationalize the commercial monopolies that seek to enrich their few owners, at the expense of working-class people. The US agricultural sector has some policies that can be described as socialist in modern times. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a federal agency that controls and manages the production of electricity and has resisted President Obama’s privatization order. State councils throughout America also control milk prices in contemporary times. In communist Cuba, health care is managed by the state without a private hospital and is free for all citizens.
- History and origins
The term socialism first appeared in print in 1827, in England and five years later it was used in a French publication. The term is the result of the industrial revolution in England and the great and popular democratic revolution of France from 1789 to 1799, according to the study of the Australian National University. It was based on hatred for the oppressive monarchy and poverty that was rampant in Paris. The poor in France united under the banner of freedom, equality and brotherhood. The revolution started as a rebellion against the monarchy began to challenge oppressive authorities in factories, churches and lords. There were two camps, the conservative and the revolutionary. The conservative camp perceived freedom in terms of ownership of property. The revolutionaries led by Jacques Roux in 1793 recognized freedom as impossible without equality of resources. Freedom meant that there were no classes and everyone was equal. From the French revolution the socialist idea of the French radicals emerged, which considered democracy and freedom as a society that requires equality, where wealth is shared.
- Examples of socialism in practice
In 2011, the US Department of Agriculture gave $ 21 million to provide subsidized electricity. The money was for people whose homes for reservations were far from jobs and opportunities, according to the Mises Institute. Cuba has a state-run economy, nationalized health care, government-funded education, subsidized housing, public services and food programs. The subsidies offset the low wages of Cuban workers, 80 percent of whom work in state facilities according to Investopedia. China is the world’s number one manufacturing economy. The country has a different form of socialism with free market policies. China allows investors and businesses to make profits, but in a state-controlled form. This ensures that its economy is not isolated from the world economy. North Korea also has a state-controlled economy with social programs comparable to those in Cuba.
Socialism has been credited with eliminating greed because no one has more money or resources than another. Businesses and public services are controlled by the state and everyone’s needs are met as health care is universal, without education, and free or subsidized food and clothing. In times of disaster, it is easy to mobilize goods and services like no private entity owns them, but the government. With socialism, wealth is easily redistributed through fiscal and spending policies focused on reducing economic inequalities. Community values are also valued as there is no concept of every man for himself with socialism. Workers also benefit fully from their efforts as there is no institutional robbery. Even the monopolies of the large corporations are eliminated through socialism. If done right, it can improve people’s living standards.
- Problems and disputes
Socialism paralyzes economic growth that generates jobs, tax revenues and an improvement in the standard of living of citizens by rewarding failure and penalizing the success of capitalism. It causes inflation and encourages laziness like those who work hard, pay for those who do not work but still receive welfare checks. It also reduces the number of successful people and encourages failure. Socialism has the merit of bringing down the economy of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the economies of Venezuela and Greece in modern times. Social security and pension payments to citizens have reduced the Greek economy when the country has run out of money. Socialist governments have also gained notoriety for being tyrannical as in North Korea and in China stifling freedom of speech. As a lifestyle, socialism can cause social conflicts, especially when private companies are seized by the state. Those at the top of the socialist state hierarchy, as Fidel Castro did in Cuba, maintain wealth for themselves, thus going against the principles of socialism. Castro’s net worth was estimated at $ 900 million, according to Forbes.