Joseph Filko’s commentary, “The Troubling Rise of Democratic Socialism” (Jan. 26, 2019), is an articulate explanation of the essential differences between capitalist and socialist economic systems. Indeed, socialism as a national economic system has been tried in various countries and has proven to be a failure; mostly for the reason, as Mr. Filko stated, that it runs counter to human nature. But his essay failed to adequately explain why the democratic socialism movement has gained legs within the past few years.
During the past four decades or so, capitalism, as practiced in the United States, has given rise to a plutocratic society which rests primarily on unjustified and unreasonable inequalities of economic opportunity and wealth distribution. We need look no further back than to the 2008-2009 financial crisis to see how the plutocracy (banks) were the beneficiaries of taxpayer provided government bailouts, while common people who were losing jobs and homes were mostly left to manage on their own.
The United States has never operated on a purely capitalist system. Government has provided investment in education, technology and infrastructure, and this investment has allowed capitalism to flourish for the most part.
Fundamental economics courses teach us competition increases the quality of goods and services while keeping down costs to the consumer. Unfortunately, we do not have truly competitive capitalism in America, so most of the wealth produced winds up in the pockets of a relatively few super-rich “entrepreneurs” who have rigged the system through anti-competitive monopoly practices. We have entered a second Gilded Age.
The most effective way to blunt the forces of democratic socialism that Mr.Filko and others oppose is to create a fairer capitalist system that benefits the vast majority of Americans; not just the politically powerful banks and corporations that exercise undue influence in the halls of government.
Socialism will not lose its appeal to the working class unless our ruling class decides to stop failing the country. One suggestion has been to devise a truly fair system of taxation that, for example, does not tax those who work for a living at a higher rate than those who inherit wealth and those who manage hedge funds. Also, mineral, gas and oil companies are taxed on only a fraction of the resources they extract from publicly owned lands. These are only two of the gross injustices that ersatz capitalism has foisted on America.
If the American middle class is to be preserved, we must end the era of false capitalism that primarily benefits the ruling plutocracy that has taken over both the economy and the government. It’s long past time to put an end to a political system that provides socialism for the moneyed interests while demanding unfettered capitalism for the rest of us.