Is social security socialism? Let us find out together!
The fear and frown upon The “S” word — socialism is back into the conversation. Historically, people’s views on socialism have been tinted due to the failure of socialist economies. Socialist economies failed due to their ineffectiveness to generate investment and foster technological advancement and creativity.
People in socialists societies have shown less motivation to work and have lower productivity. The lack of any incentive due to equal distribution of wealth and resources made people lazy and inefficient. While capitalism led to economic success and technological advancement due to rewards and returns based on performances.
History reveals there always has been a tussle between socialists’ and capitalists’ ideologies. The communist regime in the Soviet Union and North Korea have contributed largely to the notorious image of socialism. In reality, both socialism and communism have different connotations and are not the same ideas, which we will talk about in detail.
According to research by Pew Research Centre, 55% of US citizens had negative views on socialism, while 46% imbued some positive views. Similarly, 65% had positive views on capitalism, while only 35% possessed opposing views.
America favors capitalism over socialism, as it has contributed to the economic success of the country. The American narrative changed after the crash and the failure of capitalism to restore the economy in 2008. After the recession in 2008, the big corporates have recovered from the recessionary lows. It is unfortunate though, the average American workers are still struggling to regain economic stability.
Despite complete America’s irrational dread of the socialist system, is America going toward the socialist route? Is social security socialism?
Let’s find out!
The little bit of socialism & little bit of capitalism constitutes modern economies
Is America going back to adopting socialism despite the capitalism runs deep in the country?
Let us clear it for you; the USA like any other advanced countries — the United Kingdom, Nordic countries, Germany, Japan, and France — is partly socialist. No modern economy practices any system in its pure form — neither capitalism nor socialism nor individualism. Modern economies from developed countries benefit from all the systems and work out the best for the country. That’s the reason they have both private and public sectors.
As America glorifies itself as democratic, liberal, and inclusive, it is hard to gulp the idea that it practices socialism at the heart of its capitalist system.
The fear of socialism comes from communism in the Soviet Union, which has stemmed from socialism, but both have important differences in their applications. Communism, through its authoritarian style, ill-famed socialism — which has a more egalitarian and democratic approach. Scandinavian countries and other countries in Europe have reaped benefits from socialism, which has brought socialism back into the conversation.
Since our article aims to answer the question, “Is social security socialism?”, we will go systematically to figure out the answer. It is worth noting that socialism is a very confused and at times misunderstood concept. The reason for such misconstruction has to do a lot with the communism in the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Venezuela.
So, let us start with the basics, the definitions, then we will move to the main question, “Is social security socialism?”
Socialism, capitalism & communism | classic & modern definitions of socialism
Socialism is, broadly speaking, a political and economic system in which property and the means of production are owned in common, typically controlled by the state or government — National Geographic Encyclopedia
The idea is an egalitarian society where wealth is equally divided among people. On the other hand, pure capitalism is the free market.
In a capitalist society, individuals can decide where they want to invest, sell or purchase at whatever price for profit. Profit-making is the essence of pure capitalism even at expense of others. Individuals can have private ownership of goods and property, and they pay wages to laborers to produce goods for them.
On the contrary, in socialism, the government distributes wealth equally among the citizens after some work. The government has high involvement in every economic activity and ensures the equal distribution of wealth and resources.
The equal distribution of rewards and wealth in socialism demotivates people to develop any creative solutions or be more efficient than others. Contrarily, in capitalism, social and economic disparity prevails in society despite economic development and technological advancements.
Communism, like socialism, advocates public ownership rather than private ownership. Communism, however, is an extreme or an advanced form of socialism. The communist society goes an extra mile to create an equal society through force or via an authoritative approach, thereby denying individualism, democracy, and basic liberties.
Modern socialism is not as scary as you think!
The kind of socialism practices today in Scandinavia and other European states differ from traditional socialism. Today, even the whole narrative of socialism has transformed. Currently, the Scandinavian model of socialism is;
a system of government that provides citizens with health insurance, retirement support, and access to free higher education.
Today, as aforementioned, modern economies are mixed economies with the goodness of both capitalism and socialism.
There is now a different version of socialism making waves in America — Democratic Socialism. Let’s talk about democratic socialism before we go answer our original question, “Is social security socialism?”
Democratic socialism or socialism — is it the words game?
Democratic socialism believes in achieving socialism more democratically. As Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders said in 2015:
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.
For modern socialists, economic democracy is what they aspire to achieve. It suggests the mixture of both private and public sectors, where the public sector intervenes in private enterprises to ensure equality.
Democratic socialists advocate income equality and the elimination of class divisions. They believe in making the workers and consumers as powerful as big corporations. Democratic socialists advocate state involvement through various welfare programs that ensure equality. They believe in redistribution of wealth by taxing large corporations and richer people more and giving more benefits to the members of society in need.
The advocates of democratic socialism believe in providing people not only the free necessities and also enabling them to have an equal chance at achieving success (Insider). Democratic socialists just want to empower workers and want to make the corporates more humane.
Is social security socialism?
The simple answer to this question is yes! Social security is socialism. There, I have said it.
Social security, Medicare, minimum wage, maximum hour, Agricultural subsidies, and child labor laws are all socialists programs. Public schools, community colleges and public universities, water supplies, sewage systems, and mass transit systems are socialists programs. The fact that America and other developed countries have their part of the system running under socialism depicts socialism as not as bad as assumed.
Shedding some light on social security system
Who runs the social security system?
The state has set up an agency called Social Security Administration to run the social security system. So, it is the state that runs it.
The history of the social security system?
The system was established back in 1935. The basic idea behind this system came from 19th century Germany’s old-age insurance program. Taxes were collected to provide for retirees who back then had no way to financially support their families.
Who decides how much the person will pay to the social security system and when he/she will receive the benefit?
The government decides how much, who will and when one will pay tax into the system through some defined formulas. Similarly, it is the government that decides when you will reap the benefits and the number of benefits.
Can you opt-out of the system?
Can you get social security benefit earlier based on your earnings?
No, once you reach the age of 62, then only you can reap the social security benefits. Unlike private retirement plans, where you can cash out at any time.
So, the final words, “Is social security socialism? “
Upon reading all the facts, one can conclude they system of social security is socialism. Social security is, in fact, democratic socialism. Here the government is running the entire system, and workers and their employers, along with self-employed individuals need to pay tax in the system while working. The government collects the money that goes into collective pots under nobody’s name. The government decides when each individual gives and the amount of benefit he shall reap from the system. Nobody can opt-out of the system, like private retirement plans.
So, it is really interesting, the country which has always abhorred the idea of socialism and considered capitalists society as an ‘American dream’ is reaping the benefit of socialists programs. You need to just wrap it well under a democracy blanket as America takes pride in its democracy, and socialism suddenly gets less repulsive.
It is time to understand the concept of socialism and see its modern connotations instead of outright rejecting the idea.