In defense of socialism | Opinion

In his April 26 “Your Turn,” DeVoe Moore laments the rise of socialism and the decline of capitalism in the United States. In doing so, he calls the government’s response to Covid 19 “unnecessary spending” and presents some figures for government spending to deal with this national crisis.

In his last paragraph he says that “’sharing the misery’ doesn’t sound too appealing because socialism is not synonymous with freedom. Well, neither does the capitalism he stands for.

Under capitalism, we have experienced human misery of almost immeasurable proportions. Beginning in 1819, the United States regularly went through depressions largely due to capitalism. Up to 25% of the American workforce had no job, banks collapsed by the hundreds, businesses simply shut down and people starved to death.

Presidents from Martin Van Buren to Herbert Hoover refused to help the masses because it was not something the national government was doing.

If we let capitalism run unchecked as Mr. Moore suggests, we would have repeats of the crash of 1929. Five years before President Calvin Coolidge said, “America’s business is business. Therefore, under government, Moore laments that taxes have been cut for the wealthy. Tariffs raised by Congress to protect capitalists. With this unchecked capitalism, American business turned red until October 1929, when the economy collapsed.

Millions of Americans had nothing to eat and much of the industrialized world faced 10 years of unprecedented misery.

The effects of capitalism are much deeper than bad economies. If we had pure, unchecked capitalism, we wouldn’t have bald eagles or condors. Decades ago, capitalists would have stripped redwood forests and made coffee tables for the wealthy.

We would have no tuna, no whales. The earth would have no birds, no plants or animals because pesticides like DDT would cover the planet.

We wouldn’t have national parks, no national forests, like Apalachicola. Loggers would have stripped them years ago. The capitalists would have turned our rivers and lakes into cesspools that regularly caught fire as industries dumped their pollutants into rivers such as the Cuyahoga in Ohio.

The Fenholloway in Taylor County would remain dangerous to all living things. People were starving, millions of children were dying every year from air and water pollution. If they didn’t die, they would have to work because their parents weren’t earning a living wage.

Our national government would raise no objection. Thousands of children died in industrial accidents. One in three women who give birth will die. There would be no public education, no public health. But these golden age capitalists are giving the masses the crumbs they dropped from the dining room tables of their Hamptons mansions.

Now, if you want to call government efforts to control creeping capitalism and address national problems socialism, then that’s it. But, we have learned through sad experience that unchecked capitalism leads to unchecked human misery as well. And that’s something our children should learn.

If socialism is not synonymous with freedom, uncontrolled capitalism inevitably leads to disasters, which is not synonymous with freedom either.

David A. Davis

David Davis is a retired attorney living in Tallahassee.

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