Jeff Robinson: Capitalism and socialism are not rivals

(Charlie Neibergall | AP file photo) Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

We need to properly distinguish the real conversation we are having when discussing socialism and capitalism.

It needs to be delineated clearly that the actions of social programs are carried out by governments, where the actions of capital markets are carried out by individuals and corporations. Capitalism pays for social programs; one does not exist without the other.

People discuss these ideas as they might view a game between Notre Dame and Alabama, that there must be a winner and loser between two powerhouse ideas. A more accurate analogy would be comparing the Alabama football team with the University of Alabama. Football helps pay for the university, but couldn’t exist without it. It is a program beneath the larger charter.

Yes, the genesis for the idea of socialism has a purer definition; that of centralized distribution of resources. That definition is seldom what we are thinking about when we talk about socialist ideas in the United States.

Capitalism produces value, which produces revenue, which pays for social programs. The demonization of socialism is a ploy by those who seek to keep profits high. Social programs should be designed based on what is fiscally responsible; but in equal measure determined by a civic duty of society building. These programs should have nothing to do with catering to corporate greed. Corporations have an array of loopholes and rarely pay their share.

The government’s role is to look at the net effect of a social program and determine if the societal benefit outweighs the tax burden needed to achieve it.

Even though trickle down as an overarching idea is a manufactured fraud, there are opportunity costs with capital that can be allocated by efficient corporations as opposed to inefficient governments.

The government, though less efficient, is still working on behalf of the whole population. The corporation is confining profits to benefit its operations and shareholders.

The choice to serve the individual, the focus of government administered programs, is still the best choice in most cases. We cannot, however, suffocate corporation’s ability to grow and innovate, but need the balance of each system supporting the other.

Without schools, highways, bridges, dams, airports, police, firefighters, military, etc., business would not thrive, and have the curated playing field we take for granted. Without safety nets for those in society who are less advantaged, giving them some hope and dignity, we would have a less stable society.

In an interconnected system we pay the costs anyway, whether we pay for an individual’s health care up front, or pay as a society by bankrupting them financially. The actual costs are absorbed by the hospital, which passes those costs onto other patients.

Having the debate about which social programs are paramount, what tax rates are needed to achieve them, and where the line is drawn on both, is crucially important. Pitting one idea against the other is unreasonable and insincere; there is no organized social program lobby, just citizens electing people who have ideas and hopefully the intellect to comprehend all that is required.

The incentives to vilify anything that sounds like socialism are vast. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who has the most to gain by doing so.

Jeff Robinson

Jeff Robinson is an aspiring writer who works in sales and lives in Holladay.

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