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IN DEFENSE OF SOCIALISM: WHY STEVE FORBES AND ALL CAPITALISTS ARE WRONG (PART 1) - David Michael M. San Juan

A certain “Steve Forbes” recently reposted (Feb. 20, 2013) a plain photo of a Caucasian-looking white-haired professor with the following dim-witted caption: “An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all). After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. one was happy.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and namecalling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment: 1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. 2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

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3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. 4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it! 5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation. Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.” Steve Forbes’ reposted tirade against socialism is totally flawed, invalid and stupid but unfortunately, it is somewhat popular, at least in some circles. It has garnered 104,354 likes and 344,397 shares in Facebook as of 5:46 pm (Philippine time) of 27 February 2013. At the outset, some flaws in his post are really glaring enough to warrant an instant junking of his whole thesis point. One, OBAMA IS NOT A SOCIALIST. Two, GRADES AND MONEY (OR WEALTH) ARE SIMPLY APPLES AND ORANGES. THEY ARE INCOMPARABLE. Three, SOCIALISM DOESN’T MEAN ABSOLUTE EQUALITY. Four, SOCIALISM ISN’T ABOUT DIVIDING BUT RATHER, SHARING THE EARTH’S WEALTH. Five, SOCIALISM DOESN’T CONDONE LAZINESS. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE ARE NO LAZY PEOPLE IN SOCIALIST COUNTRIES, UNLIKE IN CAPITALIST COUNTRIES WHERE LAZY PEOPLE RULE. Six, THE STATEMENT “What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.” IS ACTUALLY A CAPITALIST TENET. SIMPLY PUT, IT IS UNDER CAPITALISM THAT LAZINESS IS ENCOURAGED AND REWARDED. Seventh, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE SOCIALISM BECAUSE EVEN UNDER CAPITALISM, THE BEST POLICIES THAT BENEFIT THE GREATEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE ARE USUALLY SOCIALIST, SOCIALISTIC, OR SOCIALISTINSPIRED POLICIES.

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Obama: A Pseudo-Socialist It is very easy to prove that Obama is not a socialist. First, we define what socialism is. Ludwig von Mises, an anti-socialist economist and sociologist gave a good definition of socialism in his 1922 book “Socialism”1: “The essence of Socialism is this: All the means of production are in the exclusive control of the organized community.” In other words, socialism is the exact opposite of capitalism. Karl Marx revealed that “The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist production is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus value, and consequently to exploit labor power to the greatest possible extent.”2 Simply put, socialism is a system where the profits of businesses are accumulated and controlled by the community, usually through the government (which is assumed to be pro-people), in contrast with capitalism which is a system where the profits of businesses are accumulated and controlled by capitalists (few individuals or clans who reap profits at the expense of the workers). It is necessary to emphasize that under socialism, businesses (and social services such as education, housing, transportation and health care) are owned and controlled by the community, while under capitalism, businesses (and “social services”) are owned and controlled by rich individuals, families and/or private corporations. It is thus clear that Obama, like all American presidents before him, has a capitalist mindset because he never said anything about subjecting private corporations to community control. In fact, Obama is a big supporter of private firms. For example,
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Mises, Ludwig von. Socialism. (1922/1981) Liberty Fund Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana, p. 211.

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Marx, Karl. Capital, Vol. I, Chapter 13 (International Publishers edition) p. 331. Available online: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch13.htm (Accessed 27 February 2013)

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his official website (2013)3 brags that before he took office, “the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now, we've seen 35 consecutive months of job growth and more than 6.1 million new private-sector jobs.” Notice too that his main economic agenda (available at the same official website) which is “Making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing” speaks nothing about socialism and in fact emphasizes capitalism: “1) End tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas and reward companies that hire here at home; 2) Partner with businesses and communities to train American workers for high-tech manufacturing jobs.; 3) Slash reliance on foreign oil, create jobs and cut energy costs by doubling renewable energy production.; 4) Create jobs and help businesses by fixing the roads, bridges and other infrastructure most in need of repair first.” One can’t find anything about abolishing private corporations and capitalism in Obama’s agenda. Genuine Socialism: Anticapitalism Then and Now In contrast, in his acceptance speech4 as the official presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America in the 1912 elections, Eugene V. Debs, a genuine socialist, clearly stood for pro-people socialism against pro-corporation and pro-private sector capitalism: “The Socialist party is the only party which declares that the tools of labor belong to labor and that the wealth produced by the working class belongs to the working class...Poverty, high prices, unemployment, child slavery, widespread misery and haggard want in a land bursting with abundance; prostitution and insanity,

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http://www.barackobama.com/economy?source=footer-nav (Accessed 27 February 2013)

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Eugene Debs, “Speech of Acceptance,” International Socialist Review (October, 1912). Available online: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5725/ (Accessed 27 February 2013)

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suicide and crime, these in solemn numbers tell the tragic story of capitalism’s saturnalia of blood and tears and shame as its end draws near.” In the same stirring speech, Debs minced no words in calling out for the abolition of the exploitative capitalist system and the establishment of a socialist system: “It is to abolish this monstrous system and the misery and crime which flow from it in a direful and threatening stream that the Socialist party was organized and now makes its appeal to the intelligence and conscience of the people. Social reorganization is the imperative demand of this world-wide revolutionary movement. The Socialist party’s mission is not only to destroy capitalist despotism but to establish industrial and social democracy. To this end the workers are steadily organizing and fitting themselves for the day when they shall take control of the people’s industries and when the right to work shall be as inviolate as the right to breathe the breath of life.” Debs ended his speech with these poetic yet really moving words that clarifies socialism’s tenets: “Standing as it does for the emancipation of the working class from wage-slavery, for the equal rights and opportunities of all men and all women, for the abolition of child labor and the conservation of all childhood, for social self-rule and the equal freedom of all, the Socialist party is the party of progress, the party of the future, and its triumph will signalize the birth of a new civilization and the dawn of a happier day for all humanity.” To further prove that Obama is not a socialist, one needs only to scrutinize Obama’s policies and pronouncements vis-à-vis the official “principles”5 (2013) of the current Socialist Party of the USA which traces its roots to the original Socialist Party of
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http://www.socialistparty-usa.net/principles.html (Accessed 27 February 2013)

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America: “THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control -- a non-racist, classless, feminist, socialist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community. Socialism is not mere government ownership, a welfare state, or a repressive bureaucracy. Socialism is a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and community residents control their

neighborhoods, homes, and schools. The production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. Socialism produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth.” Owning The Bakery Versus Increasing The Bread Rations Finally, it must be mentioned that Obama’s 2012 campaign was partly financed by big businessmen like James H. Simons (president of Euclidean Capital and board chair of Renaissance Technologies Corp., a hedge fund company), who contributed $5 million to Obama’s campaign kitty6. Why would big businessmen support Obama’s campaign if he were a genuine socialist? Simple: they all know Obama is not a socialist. Rather, he’s a capitalist who wants to give capitalism a more humane facade. For example, in contrast with Republicans who doggedly oppose any tax increase for rich citizens and corporations, Obama is “Asking millionaires to pay their fair share” by making this goal part of his agenda: “No household making more than $1 million each year should pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than a middle-class family pays.”7 Hence, it is clear that contrary to what socialists emphasize and strive to
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http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance (Accessed 27 February 2013) http://www.barackobama.com/taxes?source=footer-nav (Accessed 27 February 2013)

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achieve, Obama doesn’t want corporations to be controlled by the people or the community. He merely wants corporations and rich individuals to pay more in taxes. In other words, unlike socialists who want the people to control the whole bakery, Obama is just calling for more bread rations for the people while corporations and rich individuals keep their control over the bakery. (To be continued...)

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