Argentine Marxist Che Guevara continues to serve as a global socialist icon almost half a century after his death.
Argentine Marxist Che Guevara continues to serve as a global socialist icon almost half a century after his death.

Socialism is viewed in contrasting lights. Its proponents view it as beneficial to common citizens, while its opponents view it as a malaise to a country's economy.

5. Socialism in Economics and Daily Life

The foundation of the socialist economy is that, the means of production are socially owned and utilized to meet human needs, but not for profit making, as is the case in capitalism. Socialists believe in sharing ownership of resources and central planning, offers an equitable distribution of goods and services. They also believe workers who contribute to the economy, should get rewarded equal rewards. Socialist economies seek to nationalize commercial monopolies which seek to enrich their few owners, at the expense of the working class people. The U.S agricultural sector has some policies that in modern day can be described as socialist. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a federal agency that controls and runs electrical power generation has resisted privatization order by President Obama. State boards across America also control milk prices in contemporary times. In communist Cuba, healthcare is state run with no private hospital, and is free for all citizens.

4. History and Origins

The term socialism first appeared in print in 1827, in England and five years later was used in a French publication. The term came as a result of industrial revolution in England, and the popular great democratic France revolution of 1789 to 1799, according to the Australian National University study. It was grounded on the hatred of the oppressive monarchy and poverty that was rampant in Paris. The poor in France united under the banner of liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The revolution that began as rebellion against the monarchy began to challenge oppressive authorities in factories, churches, and lords.There were two camps, the conservative and the revolutionary. The conservative camp perceived freedom in terms of owning property. The revolutionaries led by Jacques Roux in 1793 recognized freedom as impossible without equality of resources. Freedom meant there were no classes and everyone was equal. From the French revolution, the socialist idea from the French radicals came up, that viewed democracy and freedom as requiring a society of equality, where wealth is shared.

3. Examples of Socialism in Practice

In 2011, the US Department of Agriculture gave $21 million to supply subsidized electricity. The money was for populations whose reservation homes, were far from jobs and opportunities, according to the Mises Institute. Cuba has a state run economy, nationalized healthcare, government funded education, subsidized housing, utilities and food programs. The subsidies make up for low salaries Cuban workers earn, 80 percent of whom work in state owned facilities according to Investopedia. China is the world’s number one manufacturing economy. The country has a different form of socialism with free market economy policies. China allows investors and businesses to take profits but in a form that is state controlled. That ensures its economy is not secluded from the world’s economy. North Korea also has a state controlled economy with comparable social programs to those in Cuba.

2. Benefits

Socialism has been credited with eliminating greed as no one person has more money or resources than another. Business and utilities are state controlled, and needs of everyone are met as health care is universal, education free, and food and clothes free or subsidized. In times of disasters, it’s easy to mobilize goods and services as no private entity owns them but the government. With socialism, wealth is easily redistributed through tax and spending policies focused on reducing economic inequalities. Community values are also enhanced as there is no concept of every man for himself with socialism. Workers also reap full benefits of their efforts as there is no institutional robbery. Monopolies of big corporations are also eliminated through socialism. When done right it can improve the living standards of citizens.

1. Problems and Controversies

Socialism cripples economic growth which generates jobs, tax revenue, and improved living standards for citizens by rewarding failure and penalizing capitalism success. It causes inflation and encourages laziness as those who work hard, pay for those who don’t work but still get welfare checks. It also reduces the number of successful people and encourages failure. Socialism is credited with bringing down the Soviet Union economy in the eighties and Venezuela and Greece’s economies in the modern day. Social security and pension payments to citizens brought down the Greek economy when the country ran out of money. Socialist governments have also acquired notoriety for being tyrannical such as in North Korea and China by stifling free speech. As a way of life, socialism can cause social strife especially when private businesses are seized by State. Those on top of the state socialist state hierarchy, such as Fidel Castro did in Cuba, keep wealth for themselves, thereby going against the socialism tenets. Castro's net worth was projected to stand at US $900 million, according to Forbes.


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