Monday, October 20, 2008

does socialism make people lazy? do i care?

We've all had the opportunity to see the seamier side of capitalism of late. It's really makes me wonder if it's all it's cracked up to be.

I've heard a lot about the bad side of socialism. That it's crippling to the economy, that it makes people lazy, etc. I remember J telling me once about a conversation he had with a European on this topic. J told the European that from his point of view it seemed unfair that people who don't work should be maintained by those who do. The European's response was more or less, "What business of mine is it if they are lazy? That's their business. What matters to me is that there not be poor people around and the social ills they cause."

If I had the opportunity to live in a community where there were no poor or rich people and I happened to be one who had to pay mega-taxes for the privilege, I would do it. If there were decent libraries, an admirable public education system, and affordable health care of reasonable quality for everyone, I would consider it very much worth it. No question.


Karen ~ said...

We don't just agree on Jacob over Edward. I'll have to write about this topic ... I lived in Norway for 3 years and often thought about this. Their saying was "we only have a couple rich people and a couple poor people so we have to take very good care of them."

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Any type of socialism in my view is bad, whether it is the soft socialism we see in countries like Canada, England and Germany etc. or hard socialism like Marx, Hitler, Lenin.

Socialism is Satan's version of the Law of Consecration and Stewardship. It is compelled redistribution of assets,
and subverts agency which is why we fought the war in heaven. The socialist redistribution of wealth taking from the "haves" to give to the "have nots" to "even out the standard of living" kills the economic incentives of those who do produce because they don't want to work hard just to have their profits taken away by the government to be given to someone else. If working hard doesn't get you ahead, you stop working hard.

The Law of Consecration and Stewardship is voluntary and done out of love. It develops the
sanctifying power of the pure love of Christ in those sincerely practicing it. The Welfare program of the church is so successful because those who do need help are required to work or show improvement in return for receiving aid. They don't get something for nothing.

Calandria said...

Many people living in the countries you name as soft socialist seem to be pretty happy with the arrangement, even those who receive high salaries and end up paying most of it to the government.

I don't think it would work as well in this country because there are so many people who really want to have more than others have.

Anonymous said...

I think what a lot of Americans do not understand is that they already pay much more tax/health insurance then we do here in Europe. Americans also do not understand that every European country has their own very different way of doing things. There is no one single way but rather many variations.

Percentage wise,if you add my family of 4's tax (income tax and property tax) health insurance and my college tuition and books all together, then we pay less then a family of 4 in the U.S. for the same thing.
As a matter of fact, the same family of 4 in the U.S. would have to leave out the one person going to college and we still pay less.

Socialism is a lot like feminism in that people forget what the world was like before it was here. Read books like Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Rath' and we are taken back to the world where children needed to work instead of school, there were no labor laws, no minimum wage, no health and safety laws, no social security, no pensions, and no child protection agencies.

The law of Consecration is a Godly law and certainly based on love but here on Earth we can only work with other people and do what we can to help our brothers and sisters. The progress we have made to bring the little bit of the Godly law to a world where Satan also has power should not be pushed aside. If I knew my tax money was truly going to help people in need then I would even pay more taxes. The problem is that God is not running the government but people are. That is why we need to participate in politics to tell the government what to do with our tax dollars.

I tell you one thing...I am always shocked when I go back to the States and I see the state of some of the schools and I see working homeless people around. When you pay that much in taxes shouldn't you get some of it back?

Athena Danoy said...

i'm not sure i would say that those who live in countries that practice socialism are happy. that's one reason why my inlaws left france and why my husband will not return (even after all my persuasion that we should live there--what can i say, i love the food). many of the wealthy in france cheat the government so they can keep their money--even i was shocked to learn this but it's treated lightly by everyone. and it does make people lazy and we should be concerned. i've seen it and lived with it and don't like what it can do to a person. new zealand practices a form of it and i hate what it has done to our people.

capitalism does work. what doesn't work is the greed that creeps in.

Anonymous said...

I understand both points. Why should we be concerned if our neighbor is being slothful? I think capitalism does work, it has worked for this country and was a good thing, however, I think it worked so well that people have become stinkin' rich and the money stopped trickling down. I really think that a lot of it has to do with our reliance on China. If we would just go back to the way things used to be, with buying local produce, everyone gardening, buying quality American made products and less of them, our economy would flourish and we could have lower cost health care again.

tone almhjell said...

I agree with you calandria, but I just have something to say to some of your readers, who seem to know so much about living in a 'socialist' country.

I'm from Norway, and I feel pretty confident in saying that there is no satan in our system. I pay taxes, and in return I get free medical care, schools that are safe and nurturing, safety if anything should happen to me or my family.

Right now I suppose I pay more taxes than I get help, and you know what? I'm the lucky one, because I'm not ill or out of a job or in need of help.

People who need the money more are certainly welcome to it, and I don't feel abused or fooled because elderly people get a part of what I earn. I even consider myself happy.

But what do I know. I'm just a 'socialist'.

Papa Redden said...

Excellent post!

I think it's interesting that people in the U.S. think socialism and capitalism are diametrically opposed such that the more you have of one the less you have of the other. Here, "capitalism" and "socialism" are used as shorthand for "good" and "bad," and made to serve dogmatic functions for various political creeds.

Some socialism sometimes equals more capitalism. It is the socialist-style tweaks here and there that have provided the consumer stability necessary for what has been a reasonably livable capitalist system, for some people anyway.

I have more to say, especially about the socialism = satanism argument, but it's your blog. See you Sunday! Hopefully we won't be too warm there. :)

Mama Ava said...

I don't think socialism as a broad application works well. But a lot of the posts here seem to focus on propping up lazy people. The United States has millions who work hard and can't afford health care, or retirement savings, or rent, or enough decent food. Are they lazy?

I believe God calls us to be good stewards--to take care of the gifts we've been given, not because we deserve them, but because He has a purpose and a plan for us. But yesweareonmars is right...we live amongst people for whom that is not anywhere on our radar. And even that idea...if you have two coats and your brother has none, give him one...Biblical, yet socialist, I imagine.

I don't understand how people can surround themselves with their "stuff" and then say, "I've got mine, you get yours." I am well-educated. I have a good job, my kids have great educational opportunities, we have traveled, we have a home, a car, good health. Yet my quality of life is dramatically affected by the fact that there are people in our country (the US) that can work as hard as I do and have nothing to show for it. I think my life and my family's life would be improved if I knew that my taxes paid for healthy educated nutured children. I wouldn't mind paying for that via my taxes, because I would be paying less out of pocket myself and I'd benefit, too. How much will I pay for my kids to go to college? In private schools, probably over $500,000. My good health care plan when we lived in MN was $900 per month. Could I pay higher taxes if I knew that those things were part of what I'd get in return?

I think it is natural to want more, to be rewarded tangibly for the effort you give. It's why I think that socialism and communism don't work well on a large scale. People who live in socialized countries probably aren't happy with lots of aspects of that life. Neither are a lot of people living in the US. But I do think one of the fundamental purposes of government is to provide a level of service in areas that are beneficial to the common good--education, for example. Health care now. The world has changed and we can't keep up as a society or a country if we lag behind on those fundamental things.

And, to the last poster on reliance on stuff from China. Wake up and smell the coffee. The world is never going to be "us" anymore. There is a lot to be gained from profiting and working with other countries. Think what Minnesota would be with buying only local produce. Winter without fresh fruit and vegetables would be pretty bleak. Think of how much you would pay for clothes, shoes, anything made of plastic, etc. etc. etc. We would have a seriously expensive time living on those things. Obviously these are very complex ideas and I don't mean to sound simplistic. But I think the time for thinking inward is gone. I think we as Americans have done that for too long. China and India aren't going to sit around--they want to be devleoped at the same level the US is, they are working toward it, and as more and more and more people achieve that level, our lives will be affected.

Anonymous said...

For those who are Christians, I don't think some of you understand that both Capitalism and Socialism are man made phenomena of the past few hundred years. A new phenomena to mankind. Five hundred years ago a completely different way of commerce existed.
So if you believe Christ will return and rule the Earth then you have to get use to the idea that when He does return, he will probably scrap the whole way in which we now do things. So be careful as to how fanatic you defend a so-called free market system because in the end it may not be what Christ wants.
We need to learn to be giving, loving and understanding and most importantly non-judgmental. Be open to thoughts and ideas that will better our lives and the lives of others.

You may also be interested in watching the film Zeitgeist Addendum by Peter Joseph. Whether you agree or not it is an interesting view on the modern monetary system. An interesting film to discuss. Here's a link…

Athena Danoy said...

norway has safe nurturing schools? i'm wondering why everyone hasn't flocked there!

but the comment about paying more taxes in US. i don't know about other parts of europe but in france you pay about the same. the only differences are the benefits (you have more benefits in france). for example college tuition is free (or rather tax funded). however that might change as there have been talks to privatising college. and just today it was announced that the french school system or rather the curriculum will start to look more like that in the US. shocker actually seeing that I much preferred the curriculum there. but last year we had school officials from france visit our school district looking for ways to improve their school system (sarkozy likes some of bush's conservative views and is working to implement them). when i spoke to some of the mums in france about the school system there they said that they liked the US system in that you can choose what you want to study and progress at your own level (AP classes, regular classes, etc). i told them that I liked how the fundamentals were approached in there. they seem to have a much better grounding.

tone almhjell said...

Yes, Norway has safe, nurturing schools. And free college education. And free health care. We are also pretty comfortable, none of the 'all-you-can-get-is-a-potato' shops or drab, rigid sameness that you might imagine if you equal socialist to communist era in Russia or DDR. We get pretty much the stuff you get, in terms of consumer comfort. We have the same legal rights, the same political safety mechanisms that you do. Cronies do not run the country. Journalist are not harassed at our borders (yes, in the US they are).

And yet we have had a social democratic foundation for a long time. I'm not sure what you guys mean when you say all-out socialism, but the Scandinavian model is a mix: Businesses come and go and need to prove they can exist, as in a capitalist system. But the state is responsible for things that are vital to people's welfare, such as education, health care, parts of the infrastructure, and taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. You can of course buy health services elsewhere if you want and can afford it (and many norwegians can). But the vast majority people get all they need from the system that is provided. To me, it seems incredible that you leave these things up to market forces. Those are people who suffer the consequences, not things.

There are very few poor people in Norway, and even fewer that would be considered poor according to American standards.

What you might say we miss out on in a society as comfortable as ours, is excellence. It's safe to say that some of the finest doctors and best colleges in the world are American. That is very good, for the rest of the world, too. But I'm not convinced that this justifies letting so many of your own struggle to get by, to survive even, while others, having been born into better circumstances, can shrug and say 'well, they're not working hard enough'.

Why don't people flock to Norway? Maybe they're scared they'll become 'socialists'? Apart from that, it's pretty cold half of the year (kind of like Maine, I guess). Also immigration laws are strict (sadly, in my opinion, because we really should share more of our wealth. The 1 percent of our GNI that we give to developing countries is perhaps more than most other countries donate, but I don't think it's enough). And it is true that Norway is incredibly expensive - for people who are not paid Norwegian wages (minimum wages are about 22 dollars per hour).

Chocolate on my Cranium said...


I think you might enjoy reading this speech by Ezra Taft Benson given at BYU in 1977. It discusses the alw of consecration, communism and also socialism, defining each and what they mean and how they apply to gospel doctrine. It titled A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Gee willikers sorry for all the spelling mistakes in the previous comment. I hate when I do that!