As I read articles (and associated comments) about Bernie Sanders and “democratic socialism”, I am sometimes struck by the tunnel vision conservatives display in many of their comments. They consistently characterize liberals as “lazy”, “uneducated”, “envious”, “looking for freebies” or “greedy”. Two examples follow:
“Yep socialist greed and envy compared to capitalism and the to opportunity for all that are willing to work for it. For the socialist it is constant whining about “money money money, he has more,she has less it’s not fair”. A childs mentality.”
“Get off your azz, get an education and get a job! Quit whining about what somebody who did HAS!!!!”
It has absolutely nothing to do with envy or greed or wanting free stuff. If you are more educated than I, or worked harder and make more money than I do, that’s fine. I’m happy for you. What I take issue with is the fact that only the upper echelon is reaping the financial benefits from increased productivity. Executive salaries are, to be blunt, obscene in comparison to the wages paid to the people who actually produce the goods or provide the services. Executives already receiving seven figure salaries see increases and/or bonuses in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars while the average worker is lucky to see an increase that might amount to $25 or $30 a week (before deductions). How can you accuse liberals of being “greedy” when such a disparity exists?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read the standard anti-socialism argument that “capitalism affords everyone the opportunity to succeed if they want to work for it.” On its face, that statement is most certainly true. The bald fact, however, is that millions of people ARE working for it and getting a disparately low return because the “haves” are increasingly appropriating an ever bigger slice of the income pie. Do you truly believe that any corporate CEO deserves to receive two or three hundred times the compensation being paid to the guy who installed the motor in your yacht? If so, then, in my opinion, you have a very warped sense of the definition of “equitable”.
I believe in capitalism. I also believe that capitalism, abused and unchecked, provides a dangerous path to economic destruction. Admittedly, I’m no economist but simple common sense would say a capitalist economy absolutely cannot survive without consumers. Where will the consumers come from if we continue to allow the disintegration of the middle class? Who will be left to buy your products and services when the average working people in this country no longer have the disposable income to afford them? Oh, right, the emerging middle class overseas. Yeah, that’s the ticket. We can use the cheap labor to produce our goods and sell them outside America and still rake in the cash. The American middle class is just greedy. They want to be paid enough to meet a little more than is required to survive. They have the audacity to want enough money to go out to dinner or a movie now and again. They want healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt them, doesn’t permit insurance executives to decide what constitutes proper treatment, that doesn’t allow hospitals to charge $7 for a single dose of aspirin. They want to get an education that doesn’t bury them in debt in an economy that doesn’t provide enough good paying jobs to enable them to repay that debt. They want the elderly who perhaps chose not to climb the corporate ladder yet worked 50 years at a productive job to be able to live without having to make a choice between buying food or buying the medicine they need. They want an affordable way to care for their children when a non-working spouse is forced into the workplace because a single income is no longer enough to provide the necessities.
“And they want to take OUR money that we EARNED to pay for it all!”
No, not exactly. What we do want is an economic system that is more equitable for all. That is not what currently exists. The wealthy possess a political and regulatory power not available to the less well to do. We have a system wherein wealthy individuals and large businesses can and do use their financial advantage to exert their power to manipulate our political process for their own benefit. We do not want business to be unprofitable, we want business to distribute their profits more equitably, a little less for those who already have enough and a little more for those who don’t. We want business out of the political and regulatory processes. We no longer want the fox guarding the henhouse to put it in terms you might understand. We want the large financial institutions to be prohibited from gambling with what little money we have. Perhaps you can afford to lose 30 or 40% of your wealth or savings and still manage to live decently but many millions of hard working people cannot, forcing them to ultimately depend on social programs they otherwise may not have needed. The very same social programs you find so distasteful and wasteful. So, in one sense, you are partially responsible for their existence by continually absorbing an ever larger portion of total income.
We want a political system that is responsive to the “common good”, not just to those with the financial resources to sway legislation in their favor. We want a tax system that fairly distributes the burden, not one that allows those with substantial wealth to effectively pay a lower percentage than those who earn considerably less.
Your knee-jerk response to all this will be to say, “Hey, in this country everyone has the same opportunity to succeed so anyone who doesn’t has no one to blame but themselves.” “I worked hard for what I have so why should I give it away to greedy, lazy leeches who think they deserve what they didn’t work for.” You will attribute their lack of success to a failure to get an education or an unwillingness to work hard or laziness. You would be dead wrong. Yes, there are some who fit that characterization but the vast majority of the middle class are hard-working people just trying to raise a family and live a secure, comfortable life. It is their labor that provides the goods and services that we all, including you, consume and they rightfully deserve a fairer share of the fruits of that labor.
Greed? Take a good look in the mirror.