Political Fantasies

Not many people, despite how laudable it is, support Communism as a realistic and workable economic system.  It’s not that they necessarily disagree with the idea and essence of Communism.  I bet a decent percentage of people would favor a true and complete equality of resources if it could be honestly achieved.  The problem is just that, it cannot be achieved.  It’s not realistic.  If you try to distribute resources evenly, everybody will end up worse off.  Karl Marx’s vision that people, even if knowingly receiving equal resources, would obtain a higher sense of consciousness, one in which everyone would contribute equally and not want to take more than his fair share, is a delusion.  It runs counter to human nature at the most fundamental level.  Inefficiencies would abound; people would cheat and look for shortcuts; people would get lazy and dependent, knowing they’re going to get what they’re going to get.   Conservatives love to use that reality as a way to bash the whole idea of income redistribution – progressive taxes, entitlement programs, welfare, government spending on education, healthcare, and infrastructure, etc. Ironically, when examining the way the Right believes the world should work, they espouse logic from the exact same economic fantasy they discount.

Mitt Romney was recently recorded saying that 47% of the population is dependent on the government, considers themselves victims, and cannot be convinced to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.  His reasoning, which is standard conservative boilerplate, is that the way to get people out of poverty and grow the economy is to slash government spending and have nearly unfettered regulation and taxes for the top income earners and “job creators” in order to grow the whole pie and allow more people to enter the middle and upper classes.  To people on the right, this statement is gospel and a big “duh!” But it’s not that simple.  First of all, opportunity is not free.  Most people were not born with silver spoons in their mouths or can simply borrow money from their parents.  Eliminating programs that provide a boost for the less fortunate would stymie a lot of future dreams and opportunities.  But more to the point, this idea that everyone can be in the middle class or rich is just as delusional as the idea that everyone can have a perfectly equal slice of the pie.

I see the double standard when the Right and Left make their cases.  Communism, or the idea of an equal share of resources, has been debunked.  Even the most liberal of people does not go around proclaiming that we need to pool all of the money and redistribute it evenly across society.  On the other side, however, especially in Tea Party or Libertarian circles, the near complete eradication of government is championed as an almost acceptable and rational solution.  The idea that everyone can be a millionaire is part of the common dialogue in conservative lingo—not even challenged.  But that statement is open to the same analysis and falls just as flat.  Wouldn’t that be ideal?  Having a country where the unemployment rate is zero and everybody is rich.  If you just reduce taxes and get rid of government, high-paying jobs will magically start appearing and people will move straight from the streets into the office.  How does this relate to the Communist utopia?  It’s just as unrealistic.

Having no social programs and an infinitesimal tax rate on top earners would be great for a small minority of lucky and highly skilled people—great for plutocrats.  It would also obliterate the middle class and quadruple the poverty rate.  It would be the incarnation of the have and have-not society.  Of course, this can be defended by stating that there will be winners and losers in this laissez-faire style capitalistic system, but that’s a different conversation about fairness and the government’s role in society.  Nonetheless, the Right promotes this far-fetched fantasy.  And what’s baffling is that their large Deep South constituency—much of whom is dirt poor—also supports this ideological fantasy.  That’s like a rich person, who’s worked hard for what she’s achieved, supporting the pooling of all her resources into a communal bank.  The real answer is in the middle.  You cannot have a prosperous society by pooling resources and dividing them equally among everyone.  You also cannot have a prosperous society by eliminating the entire social safety net and having everyone fend for themselves.  If you disagree, you live in a fantasy world, my friend.


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