Capitalism demands socialism – The Ukiah Daily Journal

We are now less than a year away from the midterm elections and are starting to see more enraged conservative comments on the “evils of socialism”. What these people fail to realize is that a healthy capitalist economy requires a solid socialist base to function.

Capitalism is a way of organizing economic profits for the benefit of a few. On a small business scale, this allows versatility and ingenuity to explore different avenues, with results that can be beneficial for the whole of society. But there are many necessary parts of society that do not clearly generate profits: emergency responses and collective physical and financial infrastructure. When these systems are underfunded or absent, society suffers, risking complete failure.

The advantages of widespread socialist structures are so pervasive that we take them for granted. In Ukiah, where I live, the power system, city roads, local police and courts, fire departments, water and sewer systems all belong to the city. Mendocino County has most of the minor roads, the sheriff’s department, and county courts. The state of California has wildfire organizations, most major highways, and the state legal system. The federal government owns the highways, the national postal system and the national legal system. I receive social security and I have the right to Medi-Care, important socialized systems. All of these systems have problems, no doubt, but imagine a world where none of them exist and businesses have to meet the needs.

How would a totally privatized road network work? Could you even leave your property if you had no cash on hand? How would the deliveries of goods be handled? How would emergency repairs be funded? Imagine the negative impact there would be on the general flow of the economy. Collective systems have real economic advantages.

In Ukiah, we pay about 2/3 of the price of electricity that PG&E customers in the rest of the county pay, which is typical of public power systems. The reason is a difference in organizational intention. PG&E wants to maximize executive salaries and shareholder returns, while Ukiah wants to provide a reliable power system while minimizing costs for customers. Same power, but very different price structures.

The United States is dominated by the capitalist economy, resulting in massive economic inequalities and a degradation in our quality of life, compared to other developed countries that are not so afraid of socialism. For example, our health care system is mostly privately owned, which translates into a health care infrastructure kept to a minimum, with a smaller bed per capita, so as not to “waste” the investment. . It may make budget sense in the short term, but the recent pandemic shows the high cost of lack of resilience, as our facilities are saturated with each wave of Covid and medical staff reach burnout.

When these capitalist systems fail, it is the socialism of the federal government that comes to the rescue to serve the real needs of our society. Public health is a collective recognition that we are all better off if we take care of our citizens who are sick, including those who have limited resources. This socialist investment takes advantage of the avoided costs by not allowing the disease to flourish and spread.

The recent increase in destructive forest fires has disrupted the economy of California’s fire insurance industry, causing many companies to stop renewing their policies as they plan to leave the state, another example of limits of capitalism. But the banking and real estate sectors will collapse without insurance coverage, threatening the entire state economy. One solution is the socialist expansion of the state’s fire insurance program, much like the federal flood insurance program, which resulted from the bailout of private insurance in areas of increased flooding.

Countries with a history longer than the United States have all included socialist structures in their societies. They have learned that the world is connected and have evolved their economy to align with this fact, rather than pretending that life is nothing more than deadly competition.

We face serious challenges in the face of the simplistic assumptions that underlie capitalism, which ignores and degrades the commons, and requires a continuous expansion of extracted resources and energy, on an overpopulated and finite planet. Whether we like it or not, we are really all in the same boat. We must evolve or die.

Crispin B. Hollinshead lives in Ukiah. This article and previous articles are available at cbhollinshead.blogspot.com.


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