With the term ‘socialism’ being bandied about so freely these days, I thought it might be instructive to actually define the type of economy that exists in America today. No, not capitalism… Nor communism. Not even socialism…. Gasp! A mixed economy. Verbatim, courtesy of http://www.dictionary.com…
Socialism: 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole 2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory 3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles
Capitalism: an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth
Communism: 1. a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state 2. (often initial capital letter) a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party 3. (initial capital letter) the principles and practices of the Communist party 4. communalism
Mixed economy: an economy in which there are elements of both public and private enterprise
Plutocracy: 1. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy 2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules 3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth
I included the last definition as a precursor to my forthcoming argument. Yes, we have a mixed economy, one in which public and private enterprise co-exist, but I believe, as do many others, that the defining characteristic of this economy is its overwhelming bias to moneyed corporate interests. These days people are using the term “corporatist,” but that is just a new term for an old game, one with its genesis in the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, with the creation of the modern industrial economy. The plutocracy of today has spawned the protests of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and rightly so.
America now has income disparity on par with Mexico and the Philippines. Half of American households, a household being two earners with two children, now make less than $50k annually. Poverty amongst women and children has soared, along with the incomes of the wealthiest 1% of Americans. CEO compensation has spiked to over 300 times that of the average worker… This should be recognized as a problem without the proponents of the argument, such as myself, being labeled ‘Socialists.’ Most of us do not object to capitalism– but we definitely object to the crony capitalist variety, as it destroys the fabric of our democracy through the denial of civil liberty.