I was thinking about politics today – like that never happens! Ha! More specifically, I was pondering socialism and the happiest countries in the world. The agency who does these surveys (something in the UN) did its annual study taking into account many different factors including amount of vacation time, income, health care, etc. etc. to discover the five happiest countries in the world. Number one was Switzerland (hurrah! I am about to go there!), followed by (in no particular order, mainly because I forgot the order) Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.
What do these countries have in common? Well, obviously a reasonably high standard of living. More importantly, the disparity between the rich and the not-rich is relatively narrow: far more narrow than in the US or most other countries. They all have a socialist democratic government.
And yet the US, and increasingly, Canada, seem to think that the word “socialism” is evil. No surprise there, given that capitalists rule the North American world. And capitalists like to take from the poor and give to the rich. Sort of a reverse Robin Hood thing. And they still hold to the propaganda that when the rich get riches, the poor will get richer because crumbs fall from the rich man’s table. I do hope we are all over that myth by now.
So let’s look at socialism. A brief and partial definition from Wikipedia: A socialist economic system consists of a system of production and distribution organised to directly satisfy economic demands and human needs, so that goods and services are produced directly for use instead of for private profit driven by the accumulation of capital.
Why is this evil? Actually, I don’t believe anyone thinks it is. We are socialists at heart. Let me explain: what is one of the first things we learn in pre-school or kindergarten – the magic word, “Share!” We share in a family. Can you imagine if we imposed a capitalist agenda on a family? Again, from Wikipedia: In a capitalist economy, investors are free to buy, sell, produce, and distribute goods and services with at most limited government control, at prices determined primarily by a competition for profit in a free market.
Basically (and this is very basic) Socialism is about sharing and looking out for the other guy while capitalism is about making as much money as you can for yourself and only for yourself.
So, in a neighbourhood, you would care about your house and enhancing its value and to hell with your neighbours. In socialism you would care about the entire neighbourhood. And from what I can see, people are far more inclined toward socialism. They set up neighbourhood watch programs, people come to the help of their friends – we naturally want to help others and be part of a group and thrive as a group.
And yet we demonize the very thing we are inclined toward – because of the propaganda we are fed every day.
And please note that democratic socialism has nothing to do with communism.
Well, there you have it – my thoughts for today. So far – my brain is still working. Look out!