Thinking back on that time was a fantasy that didn’t materialize. It was reminiscent of a dream girl who married another guy. The raucous popularity of Democratic-Socialism has inspired me to tell my story.
My saga begins in the 1990’s with the birth of the public Internet. The crafty William “Bill” Clinton was president. He & his top advisors conjured up a fine idea — that the financial windfall made on the world wide web should be shared equally by all players, no matter their role. Establishing rules up front was the fairest way for this technology to roll out.
As a young adult looking to make my mark, I eagerly learned the basics of HTML, the code of the web. Before I knew it I was in business, capitalizing on the gold rush of economic activity headed to the ‘net by corporate advertisers. Each of them used their ad dollars to boast that they themselves had a presence in cyberspace. A pig wallowing in mud would have paused to envy my desire for the riches I was to collect.
Fresh out of the gate with a business registered at the court house, my enthusiasm soon waned. It seemed my elementary coding skills could only take me so far. But then Clinton’s edict came down — all profits were to be equally shared by all participants. That’s when I made a fortune. Prior to that, I eked out a meager existence with customers who had scarce financial resources. For a small fee, I put many of them “on the Internet” with their own simple web page, similar to an electronic version of a newspaper ad.
But when Clinton’s rule took effect, I began harvesting the financial fruit of all the truly smart web programmers in this virgin field. There were many coding nerds offering companies a web presence far superior to anything I could offer. Their sites were the precursors to today’s web — interactive. My work was static and dull.
While I charged a mere $50 per client, I suddenly began taking in $1,000/day by doing the same amateur work I had been doing. My static web sites qualified me to receive the forced redistribution of profits meted out by the government. I conveniently forgot the adage ‘equal opportunity, not equal outcome.’ Equal outcome worked for me! It wasn’t long before I bought my first house, a new truck, and began traveling for leisure. Life was good.
What I had not forecast was that with the evolving technological innovation that was the web, the really smart programmers quickly grew tired of financing the uppity lifestyle of pretenders like me. Their talents, skill, knowledge and hard work benefited my bank account and they were fed up. They simply stopped coding as much, reducing their work hours and living down on my level. This dried up the pot of money that was shared and resulted in my daily distribution being cut. The $1K/day I received was reduced to $300/day, then $150, then $50 and finally zero.
I protested & clamored & demanded the president do something about the reduced reality I was subjected to. But my ranting fell on deaf ears in those days. The result was that I had to sell my house and move in with my parents, buy a used Ford Tempo, and completely stop traveling. I was mad. And it was not fair. I was forced to find other work that could support the lifestyle I wanted. The president eventually reversed his rule and each programmer kept what he earned. And while the genuine techies earned millions of dollars, I was left out. It was true income inequality.
My tale above is partly fiction, especially the part of Clinton forcing programmers to equally share all profits. But this has happened before in North America. It was a different William, William Bradford, the pilgrim/puritan governor of the Plymouth Colony in New England. They equally shared the fertile land, the subsequent harvest and all profits.
What they learned was that the most able among them were agitated by working so hard while other men didn’t, yet the others’ families reaped the rewards. Likewise, the women deemed their labor of cleaning others’ clothes and preparing their meals a form of slavery. They had their own families to look after.
Bradford said they abandoned their democratic-socialist trial and established property rights for individual families. Equal opportunity, not equal outcome. The result was more food, goods & services than they knew what to do with. They paid off their debts to the Indians and to merchants in the old world.1
Sharing everything equally & socially over months/years, outside your immediate circle, kills incentive. The utopian belief that all people will work diligently while everyone receives the same outcome is not reality. It only works on paper. Human history has proven this true.
Socialism of European is mild, due in part to their small size (per country) and the reality that the USA protects them militarily. However, such things as free speech 2 and entitlement to the money you earn 3 are scarcer there than in the USA. When fully bloomed, Socialism results in the societal & financial crisis currently enveloping the South American country of Venezuela. 4
Socialism always finds the lowest common denominator, not the highest. Capitalism, on the other hand, while not perfect, has lifted more people out of squalor than any other economic system in world history. Responsible capitalism requires a healthy dose of morality. Without it, it becomes unabashed greed.
Socialist-styled programs in the USA have led to trillions of the public’s dollars being spent. 5 Most people believe the government is always efficient and always does good. But this is wrong — government usually wastes money beyond what the average individual would understand. 6
The fundamental laws of the USA, the Constitution, limits what the Federal gov’t can do. This was done on purpose because when unchecked, gov’t oppresses. The more the populace turns to it to solve all problems, the more it has to grow. But someone wise warned: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” 7
Sharing equally is a noble goal but cannot work in a continental nation with over 315 million people. Equal opportunity, not equal outcome. And this is ok. I write this as one who is no where close to the top of the economic ladder – not even close.
The eloquent PM Thatcher, a champion of capitalism, said it best: “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.” 8
Socialism = Bad government.
1. Read Bradford’s account here:
2. Here are a few examples how speech laws are different in Europe:
3. For example, the tax rate in Sweden is 60% right now. This means that their government takes 60 cents of every dollar they earn to use as they think best:
The UK’s “healthcare for all” program is another example – their government takes so much money, seemingly for the ‘good of all’, yet can’t pay all the bills. This results is that government coerces behavior:
4. Here’s a logical, intelligent word-picture account of the flaws of Socialism from back during the Obama years. Only 5 minutes long. Hopefully, YouTube will not sensor this link in the name of political-correctness:
This writer would highly encourage the reader to search the Internet for additional ominous warnings of Socialism by the twin-defenders against it in the late Twentieth-century, Ronald Reagan & Margaret Thatcher.
5. Read about the trillions of taxpayer dollars spent on LBJ’s socialist programs commonly referred to as ‘the Great Society.’ Well intended but it solved nothing — and notice that government never has enough money!
6. Link to the total national debt of the USA as tabulated by the Dept of Treasury: https://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/current
8. Thatcher’s original utterance was similar but this attributed quote to her has been refined to have a more cogent punch. The point should be well received.
3 thoughts on “Dot.com Socialism”
It has been a while since you have written. The intro is intriguing and the message is clear and oh, so correct! Great job
Always enjoy reading you Jon. You cause me and others to think.
This was excellent! Thabk you for sharing this with me Jon.