Recently (August 9) The Verde Independent printed a letter about the failure of socialism. The writer presented the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, & North Korea as proof of socialism’s failure. With the exception of Venezuela, the examples of the evils and failure of socialism are communist countries. What the writer didn’t make clear is that communism is an extreme version of socialism.
Most socialists concur that communism, with the exception of China, has failed. The verdict on the Chinese version is still out.
In railing against socialism, the writer didn’t explain that socialism is a broad range of economic and social systems of public ownership and also workers’ involvement in the management of work.
By focusing solely on communism, he, as do most opponents of socialism, ignored places where socialism is not a failure and has successfully partnered with capitalism.
Excluding Cuba, China, and North Korea, there are no countries that are 100-percent socialist, but there are a lot of countries with successful socialist programs. Some examples are Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and New Zealand. I am not aware of vast numbers of people fleeing from any of these countries because of their socialist welfare programs and the accompanying high taxes.
Opponents of socialism say that free is “a false paradise;” that “sooner or later a price has to be paid.” Yes, socialism will fail as will non-socialist programs if citizens aren’t willing to pay. Is free though a false paradise? Look at Finland where there is no tuition fees for education, and students also receive free meals. The Finnish literacy rate is near 100 percent, and the nation has one of the highest standards of living in the world. This is a failure, a false paradise?
Look at New Zealand. Its welfare system provides support for housing, unemployment, healthcare, child care, & education, and yet the country maintains a free market economy. The country’s socialism is a failure?
Even in the United States. we have examples of various degrees of socialism. Some examples at the national level are the GI Bill, our national parks & monuments, the postal service, Veterans Healthcare, social security & disability insurance, Medicare & Medicaid; at state & local levels, there are public libraries, public K-12 education, and public utilities, such as the TVA and Seattle City Light (which has provided lower electrical rates than comparable private utilities), and state & city ferry systems.
Socialism is also practiced outside the realm of government with employee-owned companies, such as WinCo Foods, Publix Super Markets, Stiefel Labs, Herman Miller, and Bob’s Red Mill. There are many, many more.
Readers need to keep in mind that people who demonize socialism will point to its worst examples while ignoring the successful. It is totally wrong when the naysayer says, “Socialism by its very nature embodies government control of the lives of the citizenry. There is no freedom of choice.”
There are plenty of examples of capitalism and socialism successfully co-existing and making lives better.