Have you ever given a dollar to a beggar? You remember, I’m sure. You were walking downtown and this bedraggled old man shuffled up to you with his hand out. You could have said “No” and walked away, but you didn’t. You reached into your pocket or your purse and you gave him a five dollar bill. That’s called charity.
You’ve written checks to Loaves and Fishes, Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way. You’ve contributed to hundreds of non-profits both here in our community and overseas. You never turn away the Girls Scouts or the Boys and Girls Club, or the Children’s Miracle Network. Perhaps you’ve supported the Macon Volunteer Clinic that provides health care for the poor. That’s called charity.
Now look at your paycheck. See where it identifies your deductions? “Unemployment; Social Security” and perhaps a few more. I drew a paycheck for 60 years and never went on “unemployment.” Where did my money go? It went to somebody else who became unemployed. Nobody asked me if I wanted to contribute to that individual and nobody thanked me for my donation, because it wasn’t a donation. It was forced. That’s called Socialism. But most of us never complained; we considered that just part of our employment. We got used to it.
There are many different kinds of Socialism. Libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, religious socialism, social democracy, Marxist socialism etc. But the central idea is to “humanize capitalism.” Capitalists are seen as money-grubbing individuals who cannot be trusted to “give a dollar to a beggar,” so the socialistic governments remove that dollar from his paycheck before the capitalist can get his greedy hands on it.
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In a totally capitalist or free-market economy, people own their own businesses and property and they must buy services for private use, such as health care. In a totally socialist economy, the government owns many of the larger industries and the government provides education, health and welfare services while allowing citizens a few minor economic choices. It’s the difference between “big government” and “small government.”
Republicans feel our government is getting far too big; too many government agencies, misspending trillions of dollars every year in industries that should be left to private enterprise. Democrats feel that the wealth of this country is in the hands of a few -- because of unregulated private enterprise -- and the government needs to tax that away from them and spread it around. Republicans tend to be capitalists and Democrats tend to be socialists.
And that’s the fight we see exploding around Obamacare. Democrats accuse Republicans of pushing grandma off the cliff; Republicans accuse Democrats of spending $1.36 trillion on a health care program not written by health experts, and $394 million on a website that crashed. Very few people have read all 10,535 pages of this law, but the core issue is this: those who can afford to pay for their health care are now forced to pay for the millions of families making $23,492 a year and the millions of individuals making $11,720, who are considered to be living in poverty.
Forced? Yes, those who refuse to pay will be fined and the IRS will collect it in your yearly income taxes. The fine increases each year. The government will make you pay one way or the other. It’s called socialism.
What happens to charity when socialism takes over? Right now, the U.S. gives more in charity than any other country in the world. We’re first, followed by Israel and then Canada. Nations with cradle-to-grave welfare systems rank far down on this list: Sweden 18th, France 21st, and Germany 32nd. As we become more and more socialistic, will we become less and less charitable? Who cares?
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corporation and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.