“…even if they don’t entirely understand what it [socialism] means.”

You certainly don’t. Socialism has a number of definitions, but the common element of those definitions is that the public, through its government, owns most of the wealth, and distributes that wealth to the citizens according to a set of rules deemed equitable by the public.

There is no country in the world that uses socialism. Every country on this planet uses a market system. There have been a number of small groups, especially in the nineteenth century, that set up socialistic systems. Some of the Andean communities prior to the arrival of the Spanish were socialistic, and chiefdoms can often be socialistic. However, I am unaware of any large societies in history that used socialistic structures. Market systems have dominated human history.

None of the Scandinavian countries has a socialist economy. They are all market economies.

I suspect that you confuse social support systems with socialism. Yes, you can argue that a system with high taxes and high redistribution is functionally socialistic, but the degree of taxation and redistribution is the relevant metric here. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden have the highest taxes as a proportion of GDP — about 45%. The USA, by contrast, takes in only about 25% of GDP in taxes.

In the strictest sense, a purely socialistic system would take 100% of GDP in taxes, while a purely market system would take 0% of GDP. However, governments provide a number of services that are not redistributive, such as defense, justice, health and safety regulations, and so forth.

You are definitely right to talk about the concentration of wealth. This is measured through the Gini Coefficient. I suggest that you take some time to learn about the Gini Coefficient. There’s no question that we need to implement redistributive systems that reduce the Gini Coefficient. I would like to see the elimination of income tax on earned income and replaced with income tax on capital income.

You are also right to worry about social trust. This is in fact an old idea that has many names. The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote about it some 650 years ago. He called it “asabiyah”. Economists call it “social capital”. It can also be called “solidarity”, “patriotism”, and “one for all, all for one”. The Japanese express the idea when they say “Banzai!” High values of social capital have been one of America’s economic advantages for many years, but they are starting to decline in the 21st century. Low values of social capital have been holding back economic progress in China for many years.

I suggest that you learn about socialism before writing about it.

Master of Science, Physics, 1975. Computer Game Designer. Interactive Storytelling. www.erasmatazz.com

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