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September 3, 2020

Socialism vs. capitalism in the USA – Hypocrisy galore

Our government and COVID-19


For many decades now, there has been a myth about capitalism as a mantra for all kinds of selfish, greedy, egotistical, and narcissistic attitudes in the United States. Socialism, by contrast, is an anathema to the average American, though most do not have the faintest idea what it really entailed, what the actual conditions were on the ground, and how much the United States themselves have taken on a whole plethora of ‘socialist’ programs to improve people’s lives all over the country. Granted, the socialist economies of the entire Eastern Bloc fared poorly in the long run, but mostly because party systems ruled there which quickly had become deeply corrupt and repressed people’s urge for freedom.

Could we think rationally for once about what has happened in our country to the advantage of everyone, whether we call it capitalism or socialism? The entire federal highway system was built by the government; the military defending our country is paid for by the government; Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, national parks, environmental protection, good drinking water for all, then NASA, increasingly also the internet, public libraries, and countless other institutions or entities are the result of ‘socialism.’ Why would anyone fight against a publicly supported (and funded) health-care system which strives very hard to protect us from COVID-19?

Would we not all agree that basic education up to the highest possible level, paid for by the government, represents a conditio sine qua non for a strong nation? Strangely, however, all post-secondary education has to be paid for by the individual, unless s/he gets a scholarship, a fellowship, grants, and tuition-wavers based on scholastic scores. On the one hand, this is a corporate model, on the other, a socialist one. Most European countries, certainly not socialist in their economic structures, offer free university education up to the Ph.D. Why can’t we do that, the richest country in the world? The better educated our young generation proves to be, the better it will be able to cope with the challenges of tomorrow affecting us all. A strong and powerful nation has a strong and well-supported education system. Do we? In fact, we have a very mixed system, combining public with private, capitalist with socialist, and fuddle through all this, with no clear national concept.

Now, we are in the midst of COVID-19, and the ‘capitalist’ system suddenly falters badly because there is no federal direction, no country-wide approach, no central leadership, so some states, such as Hawai’i, do extremely well, others, such as Arizona, do extremely poorly. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed, and we face the absolute necessity to support more than 30 million workers without jobs. Suddenly, ‘socialist’ approaches are what everyone is begging for, except for some really greedy, brutal, and selfish politicians who do not care when families suffer badly b/c the parents have no income.

In 2008, with the huge economic crisis, the entire banking and auto industry was on the brink of collapse, but then the government jumped into the fray and bailed them out. In reality, then, the government ought to own those industries, but we continue to pretend that we sacralize the capitalist system and act as if until today every individual operates all by him/herself in full freedom and without any support or control by the government. How about the airline industry? Both in 2008, and now in 2020 once again, it is in desperate need of governmental bail-outs, and all those who fight so strongly for the ‘free’ market system are suddenly in full support, of a form of socialism. Beware of your hypocrisy!



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Albrecht Classen  |  Contribution: 760