Socialism 101

Roughly thirty-five years ago, my daughter asked for an explanation of how socialism works. So, for better or worse, here’s how I explained it to a member of the National Honor Society.

My answer started with a little history. The concept we know as socialism began to emerge during the French Revolution that began in 1789 because living and working conditions are what we would call today, horrific. There were huge in economic and cultural inequalities in French society.

The words liberté (liberty), fraternité (fraternity and brotherhood) and égalité (equality) were on the lips of those who overthrew the French king. French philosophers of the day envisioned a socioeconomic system in which every citizen would be treated equality, i.e. made the same amount of money, be taxed the same, enjoy the same privileges, same social status, etc., etc., etc.

Based on that background here’s the analogy I used. Envision a group of students in which there is a mix of grade point averages from really bad – D’s and F’s) to straight A’s.

And, imagine you are working your butt off (which she was) to get straight A’s to get into the college of your dreams. To do it, meant taking (at parental insistence) advanced placement and honors math, science, English and history courses. To do this, she was studying several hours a day, worked a part time job and was an officer on the drill team. This was her world as a high school junior.

For the sake of discussion purposes, I suggested that her A’s gave her a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 100. It wasn’t but it makes the math easy.

Now, I said, the high school principal decides to make all the students’ GPAs equal with a GPA of 75 that he arbitrarily sets. His plan takes twenty-five points from your GPA and gives it to other students so that theirs will come up to the average of 75.

You’re not the only one affected. All students whose GPA is above 75 are being “taxed” on a graduated basis. In other words, the closer your GPA is to 100, the more you will contribute.

At the same time the principal tells you about your GPA tax, he is also insists you continue to work your buns off so you can continue to contribute 25 GPA points. But, you ask, what about the others who are the beneficiaries of your effort, why don’t they have to work as hard I do?

His response is a gobbledygook collection of socioeconomic excuses as to why their GPAs are always below 75 before he returns to the core message, i.e. you have to continue to work your ass off to maintain a 100 point GPA.  because if you don’t, you will contribute to the failure of the system. You wouldn’t want that to happen, now would you?  More guilt comes with the rhetorical question that you don’t want those who aren’t as fortunate as you are to suffer do you? The principal’s answer comes with a threat that if you object or try to return to the normal practice of rewarding students for their effort, you’ll be branded with some ugly word like Nazi or Fascist or, or, or …

Her reaction was predictable. The words “that’s not fair!” came flying out of her mouth followed by “I would never agree to that!”

Welcome to some of the proposals coming out of the mouths of some of our elected officials since the 2018 election. A lot of what they are proposing sounds nice, but in reality, are unworkable and un-affordable to say nothing of just plain dumb. “Nuff said.

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