I would disagree. Strongly.
The left is NOT interested in your money, it is interested in letting you - the actual producer - keep it to the extent consistent with the public interest (at the end of the day, taxation is necessary, like it or not). As in YOU own the means of production, and therefore are allowed to keep the wealth that results from that production (that's TRUE socialism - go look it up - not the "socialism" of the Bolsheviks, which was really planned state capitalism). That sounds like freedom to me. When workers own the means of production, they control it. That sounds like freedom to me (and yes, it really can work). In terms of government policy, the left proposes that the purpose of the government is to serve the public interest, and if that comes into conflict with the corporate interest, the public interest should prevail.
The capitalist right (elite) is interested in keeping as much of YOUR wealth as they can possibly get away with. They do that by keeping your wages as LOW as possible, while charging as much for the wealth you produce as they can possibly justify. They get away with that by convincing you that "socialism doesn't work, therefore you gotta put up with us, even if we exploit you, because it is better than the alternative." That is the constant propaganda refrain we have heard from about every major news magazine and national newspaper, and just about every edition of Reader's Digest since it was founded. Faux News and just about every other capitalist media organization simply reinforces that propaganda at every opportunity - and people believe it simply because they hear it so often and don't hear any alternatives. The middle-class right goes along with it, because they are propagandized (by relentless appeals to their fears, hatreds, resentments and anger) into thinking that if they allow themselves to be exploited, it'll trickle down to them. That doesn't work, of course, but such is the emotional attachment to belief, created by those appeals to emotion) that, like a fourth marriage, believing in trickle-down is based more on hope than than experience.
The right manages to discredit the left, and keep it discredited, for two reasons: first, the left has no coherent message or leadership worthy of the name, and hasn't had since the end of the New Deal, while the right has been very coherent and organized, ever since the consensus around the Powell Memo created that coherence and motivated the organization. Second, there's that awful "example" constantly pointed to, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was no more truly socialist than the People's Democratic Republic of Korea is democratic, is a republic, or belongs to the people. But by calling itself that (the name dated from a time before the propaganda, when socialism was credible), its failures have provided a golden opportunity for the right to discredit the socialist left, and it has carefully and deftly exploited that opportunity ever since the Bolsheviks managed to suppress the Menshevik (the true socialist) movement in 1921.
For this reason, I would suggest that the right and left are NOT "the same damn thing in different clothes." People who suggest that, simply don't understand what is TRUE socialism (as opposed to the caricature of socialism, created by capitalist propaganda and endlessly repeated by the capitalist media). For those looking to understand what TRUE socialism actually is and is capable of, I would strongly recommend William Greider's excellent book, "The Soul Of Capitalism," in which he tries to explain how capitalism can be saved from itself, but in reality explains true socialism, operating in a market-based context (the syndicalism variant of socialism), showing examples of how it works in practice.
One, taxation is only necessary to keep alive and sustain the nonproducers. Why would welfare be necessary if people worked for what they got. Because the capitalistic nature of man is cruel and best for only the fittest survivors? Cry me a river. It is not the responsibiltiy of one citizen to provide for another. No one is born and can ever be equal. Difference is implicit in human nature. Only our proper right is to do what we can with what we have. That is the only equality; not being trampled on by others. And being strong, while others aren't isn't sufficient of a complaint. Nowhere!!!!!!! in the constitiution or in any reasonable argument does it suggest that the things that are necessary for life are owed to you because you are born. Society as a whole gets better as individual rights are upheld; history is a very very clear example of this. Ancient Greece turned into Rome, before it fell to socialism and The Age of Reason resulted in 1776 well before it succumbed to socialism. Nature suggests and demands only what you can provide for yourself. If you wish to live in a country where the weak are provided for by the strong, fine. But, don't tell me that it is necessary. That's bullshit. Necessary is only for ifs. It is necessary to breath, if you wish to live. There is no absolute necessity that I provide for others' perceived needs.
Two, that is ridiculous that you say the left isn't interested in my money. All they want is to raise taxes. Take my and any other producers money. I don't give a crap for what perceived reason you think it is for. It is not your right to my money. Giving money to the masses for special interest groups' scraps after pay-backs and kick-backs and ear-marks is just down right wasteful, immoral and non-productive.
I am not so interested in all your different varieties of socialism. What's one's who earns it, is his or hers. To take it by force is pathetic.
Socialism is any freaking governmental system that hold society as the beneficiary and not the individual. Everything you have commented demonstrates that it is you that does not understand what it means to have a moral system that respects what should be respected. Every man or woman in society owes each other the same respect and benefit. Not the same percentage of their worth. For you to demand that the unfortunate person next door deserves some of your money is cowardly and pathetic.
Oh yeah, and the right is not capitalistic. They are socialist. When was the last time you saw a Republican politician talking about a tax free society or paid citizenship or fee for service? Not in over a hundred years. The right and the left are both, to varying degrees in different situations, clearly socialistic.
And also, I don't own the means of shit whilst the government, sanctioned by leeches like yourself, demand that I give up my hard earned cash to subsidize thousands of uneducated and unmotivated people to incompetently raise more children than they reasonably can. Long live Obama.
One, taxation is only necessary to keep alive and sustain the nonproducers.
Guess you don't drive on government roads, wish that the police and fire departments were dismantled, and think that the court system is just a waste of time?
I would, and do, gladly pay for everything I use. Oh, and I pay for other people to use them to, lest I go to jail.
Michael writes: Socialism is any freaking governmental system that hold society as the beneficiary and not the individual.
That is a classic example of a straw-man fallacy. Set up a straw man (in this case a personal, rather than accepted definition of socialism) and then swiftly attack it with great valor and vigor. Well, I don't think that the rest of the world shares your definition of socialism, so if you wish to set up straw-man arguments, fine, but don't expect that to make your case. So I am not going to engage you in a debate on your straw man. That is an exercise in pointlessness. I would suggest that instead, you accept and argue socialism on the basis of its proper and accepted definition ("worker ownership of the means of production"), and if you are willing to do that, I am willing to engage you. But I will not do so on the basis of any and all social evils to which you wish to apply that label.
In your very next sentence, you say, "Everything you have commented demonstrates that it is you that does not understand what it means to have a moral system that respects what should be respected." Besides that being perilously close to an ad-hominem attack, it suggests that my personal morality is somehow deficient. Well, I would suggest that promoting an economic system that tolerates, even encourages exploitation in the presence of more morally acceptable and economically successful alternatives, is itself morally blind at best and morally deficient at worst, and therefore, I would suggest, physician, heal thyself. The fact the moral foundation of my political philosophy is that I believe in social justice as a higher moral priority than personal self-enrichment at the cost of the exploitation of others, and if you find that to be morally deficient, then I would suggest that perhaps you would benefit from an introspection of your own value system.
The tone of your remarks, Michael, suggests to me that capitalism is for you not so much an economic model as it is a secular religion, and if so, I would suggest to you that you would also benefit from an introspection of the reasons for it having become so. Continuing to cite capitalism as a morally superior economic model, in light of what has been revealed about its habitual moral turpitude in the wake of the financial system collapse of 2008 and subsequent events, suggests a certain blindness to its habitual abuses. I would recommend that, rather than blindly accepting propaganda that simply appeals to your moral prejudices, you would be well served to instead open your eyes - and mind - to alternatives. I was once a capitalist as you are, even a libertarian at one point, and spent a good deal of time with the introspection with which I am now recommending. I quickly realized that it was morally unacceptable, and when I found morally superior alternatives that work better, I think you would find it helpful in coming to moral consistency. It took me awhile, but I think you can manage it too.
As John Maynard Keynes so famously said, "Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds."
Secular religion is an oxymoron. I have zero faith. That is a stupid argument.
Socialism IS any attempt or success in taking by force an individual's achievements for the use of the group (SOCIETY!!!). If you wish to use the socially accepted postmodern toned down version that makes it seems somewhat reasonable, go ahead. I don't care if you are not willing to have an objective discussion about it. The political argument has its fundamental base in morality. You consider the group as the important focus. I do not. Capitalism is the market, people acting in their rational self-interest. There is NO exploitation in trade. They are two completely diferent concepts. Those exploiting shoud be under penalty of law. Those creating profit, while paying workers for work, is what makes the economy run and they should not be penalized for it, whilst the needy are rewarded for their need. No amount of government controls can lead to prosperity. Every time the government intervenes, it does so to the detriment of the individual. It is the individual that makes decisions and produces. 2008 and the over 100 years before that are only an example of how governmental intervention has slowly inched us toward what we have now, a weak ass welfare state pulling us all down.
Your poor understanding of fairness is key. If I AGREE to sell the hot dogs that you make and get to keep less than you do, I am not being exploited. I am honoring a contract. I am free to get another job. 'Oh, but jobs are hard to get', cry me a river. You have no basis for your moral superiority. You can try to say that compassion is important and that there is some spiritual good or consciousness or that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but the fact remains, minds, decision making machines, are singular in nature and operate best when left alone. It is not practical to have a central agency, even by mob rule, making decisions about how we live our lives. If YOU were even a little bit intellectually honest you would go back before 2008 and realize that socialism fails throughout history, because it has a weak, mystical, philosophical base. Progress and prosperity and innovation occur when individuals are left relatively free.
Personal self-enrichment is the highest moral goal and does not, at all, entail hurting others, unless you arbitrarily add that. Learn your definitions. Selfishness does not entail, as an essential component, being mean to others. But, on the other hand, a welfare state does, in fact, entail, necessarily, coercion and immoral force.
You write: Secular religion is an oxymoron. I have zero faith. That is a stupid argument.
You have certainly demonstrated complete faith in capitalism, in the remarks you have already made, and I will assert that implies religion. It is cultish, by anyone's definition - and that implies secular religion - not all religions are theological.
Regarding socialism, again, I am not going to accede to engaging with you on the basis of your straw-man definition, no matter how many pejoratives you throw at me in your insistence that I use your definition. I don't argue fallacies.
You write: Selfishness does not entail, as an essential component, being mean to others. I would accede that it is not an essential component, but it often does include the disregard of the rights of and responsibilities to others. This is the principal defect with capitalism. For example, if a factory owner wishes to spew pollution from his smokestack and poison the community in which his factory is located, that would imply a lack of responsibility to the rights of others, even though he is not being deliberately "mean" to any one individual. If the community wishes to pass a law preventing him from doing so, would they be within their rights to enact such legislation? This is what economists call an "externality" - a capitalist externalizing his costs in the pursuit of his pure self interest. Pure selfishness, if taken as a virtue (as the Ayn Rand cult would have it) would suggest he is right to do so. I cannot agree, nor do I believe there to be any serious moral philosopher who would disagree with me. Yet the capitalist incentive is clearly to do so.
If, on the other hand, the community or workers' cooperative owns the means of production, they have the incentive to not poison themselves and their own families, and therefore, to not externalize that cost. That is but one example among many I could cite.
Regarding your assertion that socialism does not and cannot work, I would hasten to disagree. Even state capitalism, if you include that in your definition of socialism, can work, if it is kept transparent and accountable in a democratic political system - I know, because I live in an example nation. In 1948, at the conclusion of a civil war, Costa Rica was the poorest nation in Latin America, even more poor than Haiti. The victor in that civil war, Jose Pepe Figueres, began a program of social development, based on a mixture of state capitalism and worker cooperative movement socialism. The result was that by 1980, less than a generation later, Costa Rica was by far the richest nation in Latin America, per capita - so rich that when economic statistics were quoted for the region, they were routinely quoted with and without Costa Rica included, and it was seriously discussed whether or not Costa Rica was really a First-World nation. At the peak of the socialist program, fully 42 percent of the workforce worked either for the government directly or for one of the 240 corporations that the government owned, and the nation was seriously short of labor, actually welcoming refugees from the Nicaraguan civil war. Most of the rest were employed in worker-owned and managed cooperatives - traditional capitalist enterprises were a relatively small part of the economy. The profits from all those state capitalist enterprises were used to displace taxes and invest in health, education and infrastructure. Costa Rica went from having almost no infrastructure or health care to having the best and most extensive in the region, by far. All paid for by the profits from state capitalist enterprises. The taxes at the time were the lowest in Latin America. Many of the private enterprises were worker/producer cooperatives, organized by government, but owned and managed by their members. Dozens are still around and doing well. One of them, Cooperativa Lecheros Dos Pinos, R.L., has gone on to become by far the largest dairy producer in Central America, and is now moving into the U.S. market.
That socialist success all ended when Ronald Reagan became the U.S. president on the campaign slogan, "government isn't the solution, it's the problem." Everyone was saying, "well, what about Costa Rica? It's clearly been the solution there!" So Costa Rica's shining example had to be ended no matter what, and so end it, Ronnie did. In 1982, through Paul Volker, his Fed chairman, he engineered a debt crisis (by raising interest rates to be paid on Latin American external debt, from less than 3% to over 22%), and forced Costa Rica into a debt/currency crisis. As a condition of an IMF bailout, Costa Rica was forced to accept typical "neoliberal" reforms - privatize nearly all of those corporations, vastly reduce spending on health, education and infrastructure, rely on taxation instead of profits from state capitalist enterprises, and become more like its neighbors economically. The result is that Costa Rica today is little different than its neighbors, and almost no major infrastructure projects have been completed since the socialist era ended. Nearly all the infrastructure in use in Costa Rica today was begun, and most of it completed, during the socialist era. It is now largely obsolete and slowly decaying, and as it does, Costa Rica is slowly regressing economically.
So don't tell me that state capitalism and socialism can't work. I know better. I see evidence of it all around me every day.