Socialism works better than Capitalism!
Brian wrote an unpublished letter-to–the-Editor of the New York Times in December, 2019, in response to columnist David Brook's criticism of socialism.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Re: “I Was Once a Socialist. Then I saw How it Worked” by David Brooks, New York Times, December 5, 2019
I, too, became a socialist because I attended a liberal arts college and spent five years in a Franciscan seminary learning about communal living. Then I served indigent populations for almost three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the slums of Latin America.
Unlike capitalism, a liberal arts education teaches one to think independently and freely, to work in cooperation with each other and to formulate new and fresh ideas, which may be part of the future.
Education under capitalism is staid, short-lived, which includes a lot of math and logic, but is no fun and very expensive. Most Americans are bored by capitalist schools, that are to be tolerated. They create students and citizens to ruthlessly compete against each other for material gain and personal profit, at the expense of the common good.
Mr. Brooks is factually correct when he states that more than a billion people have been lifted out of poverty under capitalism. But his frame of reference is misleading. It is based on the United Nation’s $1.90 a day, which is still significantly beneath the minimum for livable conditions. The World Bank’s new calculations would make it $7.40 a day; and with this new measure of global poverty, according to public health researcher Peter Edward of Newcastle University, we would see today about 4.2 billion people living in poverty, which is more than 60% of humanity.
As for the advantages of socialism over capitalism: a) central planning is better than market forces; b) there is less inequality of income; c) there is an absence of exploitation by private monopolies; and, d) instead of business fluctuations, socialism makes full use of available resources in a systematic and orderly march to economic progress.
With regard to Mr. Brooks’ admiration for economic heroes like Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt; half of my Peace Corps service was in Panama City, Republic of Panama, adjacent to the Panama Canal, which was built under President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. The entire Canal was built from 1903 to 1914, not by the private sector, but entirely by the United States federal government, and its engineers and laborers. The US government in Panama, provided an entire socialist system by providing its workers with government employment, education, housing, food commissaries, recreation, health care and more. The only negative mark of America building this wonder of the world, was the government's use of the silver pay line (for black workers) and the gold pay line (for American white workers).
As for Brook’s economic heroes, Abraham Lincoln taxed the wealth creators with the country’s first personal income tax at 3%, and those making more paid a higher rate. This was the first move toward “progressive taxation” of individuals. President Lincoln then led a federal takeover of currency and banking , instituted the first national conscription, gave away valuable national properties to vested interests to establish national colleges; and sold bonds to finance the first transcontinental railroad. President Lincoln also expropriated private property valued at $4 billion then ( and $100 billion now) for redistribution to poor blacks, especially those from slavery.
In Lincoln’s public speeches, he did not shy away from socialist analysis with quotes such as ‘Labor needs…to command Capital.” “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.” "Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
Please, Mr. Brooks, save your conservative propaganda, and look to the future from those with socialist ideas.