A recent letter described socialism as state ownership of the production of goods and services, which is no longer true. That would be communism and early forms of socialism. To understand the differences, look at core values and centralized planning.

In capitalism, companies practice centralized planning, where a small group of leaders decide what and how much to produce, what to buy, who to employ, where to operate, etc., for the benefit of a small number of people. Communism theoretically does the same thing on a nationwide basis for the benefit of everyone, though a tiny elite often are the major beneficiaries. This is state-owned capitalism.

Current socialism emphasizes decentralization of decision making in the production of goods and services by giving employees and consumers more input to the process, sharing of profits, and diversified ownership. Cooperatives and employee-owned companies co-exist with private companies and the wealth becomes more evenly distributed. Access to services based on wealth is diminished.

Core values are the essential differences. Socialism values people and society and seeks improvement in social conditions by giving direction to economic activity and civil rights. Capitalism values wealth and power, which requires control over government and society to enable the pursuit of enormous excessive wealth. It is government structured to give advantage to the already wealthy, government by the few for the few. Capitalists created the U.S. Constitution, which enables wealth and power in contrast to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights (an appeasement added on later), which value people, civil rights and true freedoms.

Socialism and capitalism have opposing values, which is why we have been in continuous conflict politically, economically, socially and personally. The wealthy have access to whatever they want, the rest of us have to struggle for every little benefit.

 

Brad Sherwood

Waterville


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