There is a meme floating around the internet claiming that police and fire departments are examples of socialism, to which I apparently am supposed to respond ‘huh, I never thought of that before. Socialism is totally awesome!’. I nearly succumbed to the temptation, too, just before realizing that I’m not completely stupid. I call this idea a meme because it falls just shy of qualifying as a critical thought, something that has some semblance of reason and brain power applied to it.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin addressing this.
I see it the most in twitter bios from the idiots sharing their favorite Bernie Sanders quotes about Americur or however the hell he pronounces his least favorite country. Bernie of course would agree that police departments and fire departments are excellent representations of socialism. His ideology is that mankind causes problems and only government can fix them. House burning down because you left the stove on? Government will come save you in their shiny red trucks. Someone robbed you blind while you were out at the movies? Call the government and file a police report. See how it works? Any action by government qualifies as socialism.
This is of course completely stupid. The Bernistas don’t even know what socialism is. As a matter of governance, socialism is a system that doesn’t recognize private property, be it physical or intellectual. It can’t. In order to equitably redistribute resources to the people, you first have to take it from them. You have no right to what you produce or what you earn. All of your money, your work, even your family belongs to the state because only the state – enter the ruling class like Bernie Sanders – can equitably distribute it. They know what’s fair, and if you disagree or fail to toe the line you will be shouted down because you’re just greedy and bigoted. And you hate poor people. And puppies. <bong hit> And you’re a fascist, even though that’s kind of the same thing as socialism. Doesn’t matter, fascist pig!
Since we’re on the topic of fairness, let’s brainstorm some more shiny examples of socialism at work in Americur. I personally think it’s unfair to only credit police and fire with such admirable prestige.
Medicare and Medicaid – going broke.
Social Security – going broke.
Amtrak – complete disaster and… going broke.
Public schools – even liberals agree this one is a disaster, and yes, in a perpetual state of being broke.
Infrastructure – despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars, a total disaster.
US Federal Government – actually running quite well! Oops, no wait. Broke. Like REALLY broke.
The Clintons – rich.
The Obamas – rich.
Nancy Pelosi – rich.
Harry Reid – rich.[Nearly everyone who goes into politics broke] – rich. Funny how that always happens.
Well at least the police departments and fire departments are still out there promoting the success of socialism by their existence, right? Just the other day I stopped at a street light and the fireman holding a boot asking for spare change wouldn’t shut up about how well they’re doing.
The truth is that socialism has never and will never ‘work’ in any country so long as your definition of ‘work’ is something consistent with liberty and prosperity. If by work you mean enslave and demean, then yes, it’s extremely successful. So by all means, move to Venezuela and get in on the action. They’re WAY ahead of us on the whole socialism thing. Just remember to bring your own toilet paper because they ran out, along with food, housing, and freedom. Good luck getting your freedom through the TSA.
America, at least in the beginning, was a different idea. When the founder’s wrote the Constitution, they weren’t designing socialism. They declared that we were born with certain unalienable rights that required protection from government, rather than rights to be provided by government. What are rights at all if they’re determined and distributed by government? You only have a right to anything if the select few in charge determine it to be so? Those aren’t rights, they’re crumbs from tyrants. The Bill of Rights was a declaration of actual rights, like the right to free speech, the right to peacefully assemble, the right to private property (sorry, socialism), the right to self-governance, so on and so forth. They didn’t forget to leave out the part where government guaranteed an equal standard of living for everyone because they were highly intelligent and Bernie Sanders isn’t.
Police and fire departments (for the most part) are a local matter, which is highly consistent with liberty and federalism. Think of it this way. As a citizen in America, you are one of about 320 million people. One vote in over three hundred million. In terms of representation, your vote is very, very insignificant. So why on earth would you want to relinquish important decisions – ones that directly affect your life – to a centralized government that you have such little say in? Do you want a team of faceless bureaucrats 25 states over deciding what kind of fire engines your town needs? Or what kind of healthcare you should have? What kind of car you should drive? How your kid’s school is going to be run? Hell no! You want those decisions to be made by you. If they must be made by government, you want them discussed 2 miles from your house at a table made up of your friends and neighbors so when they do something stupid you have direct access to them.
This is philosophically true of nearly every aspect of life. Empower people to make their own decisions, and the results will be better. Adam Smith called a ‘harmony of interests’. This is the reason capitalism and free markets are so successful at driving innovation and low cost high quality products to consumers. Like your iPhone, television, and car? Thank capitalism. Like going into the store and having 437 different kinds of bread to choose from? Thank capitalism. Like your doctor and your health insurance plan? Well too bad, the federal government fixed that one, meaning it’s less available and more expensive.
This is the reason the Founder’s divided government and required a federal government that was limited in size and scope so that states would be free to govern themselves. This isn’t to say states can’t be tyrannical – just look at California and New York. They have enough taxes and regulation to make Joseph Stalin blush. There is a reason those states are witnessing a mass exodus of people to more free states like Texas.
So please, don’t be fooled by the stupidity that socialism is cool and already at work in the United States. Matt Kibbe says it best.