In the USA, the word ‘socialism’ has become a curse word, associated with handing the fruits of the productive over to the least productive, from grateful laborers to contemptuous malingerers.
The word might take on a new meaning though if we re-examine the role of a re-distributive government.
A quick look at the present and at history tells us at once that there are societies out there that compete for dominance.
So the main duty of a society’s rulers is to set up their society to win over its competitors.
Since rulership itself derives from control of resources, distribution of resources has always been one of the roles of the ruler.
Socialism however, has become known as a program where the rulers distribute resources to the least productive members of society.
These measures do serve a practical function. Some form of welfare has existed since ancient Rome for good reason. It’s simply cheaper to distribute free bread than it is to deal with the crimes of truly desperate men and to repair the damage done by chronic bread riots. More than one regime has been toppled when there were simply too many empty stomachs.
So some form of redistribution to the poor is typical for rulers, whatever the form of government.
Obviously, any system that gives out free bread will be flooded with claims of hunger and privation from every quarter, every idle person trying to snatch the greatest share. The most important part of a welfare system is the protection against abuse.
In America the word ‘socialism’ has become synonymous with a system that not only allows the most typical abuses but allows many unearned benefits to accrue for those who do not produce. This system loses sight of the main purpose of redistribution to unproductive people: to do the minimum required to prevent the more costly problems caused by many empty stomachs.
Any investment in the poor beyond the bare minimum required to prevent unrest must be justified. An ideal ruler spends every penny with the object of getting his state ahead of other states. Every penny he spends on his own people is an investment in the society over which he rules.
Whenever the ruler spends money at a loss on the least productive people, it is a waste of wealth.
And wealth to the human or the human society is little different than sun to a plant. The plant that can absorb sun more effectively than another will outproduce and outgrow its neighbor.
We can easily reason from these premises that society should invest in its most promising and intelligent people, not in the slowest, least capable, and lowest in character. Thus, if we re-think socialism we might realize a welfare queen with 8 kids, a high iq, and demonstrable talent isn’t such a bad idea.
The real reason why redistribution programs meet with such opposition isn’t because of the principle of redistribution itself, but because of who the wealth is redistributed to.
If we look at European countries, socialism seems to work best in countries with highly homogeneous populations. In such nations, the people find redistributive policies far more tolerable because their wealth is providing for those who share a common ethnicity, culture, and language.
In a heterogenous nation like the USA, however, redistribution ends up financing the spread of a thousand penniless ethnicities, with alien cultures, and foreign languages. Naturally, no one tribe wants to pay for the expenses of another. Asians don’t want to pay the hospital bills of blacks, blacks don’t want to buy free housing for Asians, Whites don’t want to send Mestizos to college…
In a vast, heterogenous nation, socialist policies that are easy to implement in smaller, more homogenous states are quickly found to be impossible.
The ruler is best off simply calculating what peoples and which people will most likely yield positive returns on investment. What if all the money that is funneled into hopeless ghettos was instead used to give those on the cusp of making it an extra push? Startup loans for small businesses? Scholarships for those who want to study profitable disciplines?
What if instead of disability checks, the system was more concerned in dealing out ability checks. If someone has a talent for drawing, music, or even for poetry, why not send them a monthly check simply for being what they are? A disabled person collects checks on the same premise after all. Why then do we not also recognize the abled, whose prosperity benefits everyone and rewards the best in us rather than the very worst?
If someone has good genes and superior intelligence why not send them a monthly check? The extra wealth renders them better able to support children and to influence our world.
If someone has sound spending habits why not send them a check, just because it’s known they’ll save it up for something important?
Why shouldn’t society clamor to pay for multitudes of children from smart, educated women? What sane ruler would finance the child-bearing of the most hopeless and despondent women?
Shouldn’t geniuses rather than gangsters be given free housing and endowed with food stamps?
If socialism was done the smart way, perhaps ‘the projects’ would be identified with shining beacons of humanity rather than cesspools of violence, stupidity, and despair.