As Bernie Sanders has taken the 2016 Presidential campaign trail by storm in the United States, the term “socialism” has been brought up frequently to describe his proposals. Socialism in its traditional form is the state ownership of manufacturing, industrial, and business entities. The profits from those businesses are then redistributed to communities so that needs can be met. Here are the pros and cons of socialism to consider, even if it varies from this traditional form.
What Are the Pros of Socialism?
1. Everyone in the society gains access to health care, education, and social services.
A system of socialism promotes equality by offering the same opportunities to everyone. You get health care. You get an education – sometimes even a higher level education, such as a bachelor’s degree. You get social services that help your family function. This is in exchange for employment.
2. It eliminates most of the socioeconomic classes within a society.
To say that socialism creates a completely classless society would be incorrect. There is still a political class. There may be an athletic class. There may also be an intelligence class for students who perform well in school. It does, however, bridge the gap between the wealthiest 1% and the poorest 1% more than a capitalistic society tends to do.
3. It stops consumer price gouging.
Because industries are owned by the state, private businesses are not allowed to create monopolies under socialism that can create consumer price gouging. The government regulates prices to make things affordable, sometimes free, and this makes it easier for many households to budget for their daily needs.
4. It creates balance.
How long have women fought for equal wages in the industrialized world? What about people from different ethnicities finding it difficult to get a good paying job despite a good education? Socialism eliminates much of this because each worker is treated as a commodity. Instead of gender, background, or social status determining employment, a person’s productivity and natural skill set are valued instead under most systems.
5. It simplifies life.
Instead of fighting to move up the corporate ladder of success or struggle to find a way to pay for college, people in a society based on socialism are able to focus more on what they want to accomplish in life. There are more opportunities to explore creative career fields instead of being forced to work at minimum wage at a fast food joint because no one is hiring within your preferred industry.
What Are the Cons of Socialism?
1. There is generally no property ownership allowed.
The government typically owns the property in a socialism-based society. They place workers into residential units so they can go to work at state-owned businesses and factories. The profits go to the government and the people get what they need to survive.
2. Everyone basically gets the same amount no matter what.
Most forms of socialism don’t put in any high level incentives for working hard. Everyone receives the same maximum level of benefit no matter how much work they actually do. This removes the incentive of doing one’s best every day because they’ll get something no matter what happens.
3. The government essentially owns a 100% monopoly.
Although private businesses don’t have a monopoly under socialism, the government usually does. This means the population has no control whatsoever over what prices they’ll pay for needed goods or services. If the government wants to jack up prices, they can do it whenever they wish.
4. Workers typically have fewer rights.
In a capitalistic society, unions might be in place to protect the safety of workers and their earning rights. Under socialism, these worker’s rights can get in the way of what is needed. Workers typically earn the same wage, if a wage is earned at all, and unproductive employees are cast aside and given a minimal living benefit instead.
5. It can put too much power into the hands of a few people or just one person.
The decades of socialism in the Soviet Union, which has been referred to as Communism, show that absolute power can corrupt absolutely. The temptation to seize complete control of a nation might be too much for some politicians to resist.
Is Bernie Sanders trying to bring socialism to the United States with his Presidential campaign? The pros and cons of socialism listed here can help you decide if that is happening on your own. Just like everything else in life, there are some good components and some bad components which must be carefully considered. By evaluating what has happened in the past and what is needed in the future, we each can decide if these ideas should be implemented.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.