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Socialism – the pitch and the purpose, Part 7

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

(continued from last week)

The Pitch – Part A

The first part of the pitch is something everyone likes – the government gives you money. Who doesn’t like to receive money?

Of course, governments are very clever in how they determine if you are eligible to receive money. They offer to send your small children to pre-school. They offer public schools, Medicaid, Medicare, federal highway funds, tax breaks for installing solar panels and on and on and on. It never ends.

They are appealing to your greed and your desire for immediate gratification (see Part 6).

Let me ask you something. Do you ever buy things? Groceries, gasoline, rent and so forth? Of course, you do. What is implicit in your purchase? An expectation of service or goods delivered.

When a government gives you money or goods or services, their side has the same implicit expectation. The government expects you to perform in a certain way in exchange for the money they gave you.

Look at the strings that are attached when the government gives you money. Perhaps you are required to report regularly on some certain defined activity you do or perhaps you are expected to behave in a certain way. You are beholden to the giver from now on. This happened last year with the PPP money related to COVID-19, which is why my companies never even bothered to apply. We did not and still do not want to beholden or accountable to the government. “Gift” money comes with strings attached.

The Pitch – Part B

Of course, in order for the government to execute Part A above, it has to have money. One way to do that is print it, causing inflation. The inflation report for August 2021 is the highest in recent memory. Another is to borrow it. In 1980, the federal debt was less than $1 trillion. In 1995, it was around $5 trillion. Now, it is pushing $30 trillion.

We’ve gotten used to it (a goal of the government), and don’t pay much attention to it.

The third way is more taxation. Governments like it when the useful idiots want to be taxed or are used to it. Here is where they appeal to us with environmental issues, the broad “save the whales” category, crises we must solve now (climate change) and on and on and on. Of course, these appeals are all for the “useful idiots.” The “anointed” are above these trivial worries engendered on the rest of us.

The Pitch – Part C

There are flaws to all of this, of course. The first is that we “useful idiots” don’t get to pick and choose which government programs we wish to support. That is, unless we are trained (brainwashed) into doing this.

Scandinavia is often cited as a great example of “good socialism.” Let me tell you, you have to brainwash people into thinking an effective 70-percent tax rate is supposed to make you happy, but I have seen this in action. In the spring of 2019, I was visiting a company in Helsinki, Finland and mentioned Uber. I immediately got the lecture that Uber is bad, because they have low rates solely by not paying their fair share of social costs (taxes). That’s real brainwashing.

There is good socialism. It exists in the Amish and Mennonite communities around you. What is good about it, is it comes from the heart, from genuine Christian principles of doing good for your neighbor. It is truly done to lift people up, not to control them.

I got several letters on this after the first column in this series. “We’re not socialists, we are capitalists” would be the general theme of those letters from the Mennonites and Amish.

And I’ll agree with the capitalist part. I have seen 10-year-old Mennonite children give me very lucid analyses of a capitalistic style business exchange, one that many 20-somethings out in the rest of the society would often struggle to comprehend. But the socialism part is for pure purposes and done without bureaucratic overhead.

The test of good and bad socialism is this. If you and another party are talking about assistance needed in a certain area of society and they are loudly complaining about the lack of government action, while at the same time not reaching into their own pocketbook, that’s bad socialism. In essence, they are wanting to use your tax dollars to fix their burning issue of the day.

Good socialism is when you quietly reach into your pocket directly and fix a problem, not looking for a government solution.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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