C’mon Seattle! Socialism? Laissez-faire capitalism is a better alternative.

By Jonathan Carmichael

Self-proclaimed Socialist, Kshama Sawant is running for Seattle City Council, and according to a Nov. 14th Seattle Times report, she holds an increasing lead over a four-term incumbent.  [UPDATE: Hours after I posted this, Sawant surged to victory winning 56.3 percent of the vote]

The council is comprised of nine members “elected to four-year terms  in citywide nonpartisan elections.”  Even though the council position is supposedly nonpartisan, there is no denying that the support of an openly Socialist candidate reflects the mentality of Seattle voters.

Let’s explore some of her objectives as listed on www.votesawant.org

Takes aim at wealth creators

  • Raise the minimum wage to $15/hr.

This is a common cry by those on the left.  The exact dollar amount varies, but the irrational thinking is the same – an employee’s need to a certain standard of living justifies forcing the employer to pay a government prescribed wage without regard to the employee’s value to the employer, the negation of potential volitional wage agreements between employer and employee, or the myriad of consequences that the market will logically incur in accordance with the laws of supply and demand.

  • A Millionaire’s Tax to fund mass transit, education, and living-wage union jobs providing vital social services.

Redistribution of wealth is only possible by violating the individual rights of wealth creators, and this is an overt example of it.  She is claiming the right to the property of some individuals in the name of the “common good.”

Author and philosopher, Ayn Rand added some clarity to the idea of “common good” in her book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

“When ‘the common good’ of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals.” — Ayn Rand

When these social services are funded by the Millionaire’s Tax will the individuals who use these services thank the millionaires?  Not likely.  Wealth creators are regarded as evil, immoral, greedy materialists and thereby society’s sacrificial animals under the irrationality of socialism.

  •  End corporate welfare. Tax freeloading corporations. Reduce the unfair tax burden on small businesses, homeowners & workers.

I agree that corporate welfare should end.  Government should not interfere with business with subsidies and the like.  Whereas Sawant and her fellow socialists would end corporate welfare yet maintain social welfare, a rational person would end all welfare.

Laissez-faire capitalism, which requires separation of economy and state, would not accommodate such corporate welfare.  Because capitalism is, as Ayn Rand defined it, “a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned,” there would be no unfair tax burdens on small businesses, homeowners, workers or any individuals.  There would be no exploitable system of regulations and tax codes to allow for “freeloading corporations.”

  • Unionize Amazon, Starbucks & low-paid service workers.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!  Companies like Amazon and Starbucks provide hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide to include their headquarters city, Seattle.  By what logic and by what moral code does a government claim the right to enforce acceptance of employee unionization upon any employer regardless of size, number of employees, or nature of work?

  • No layoffs or attacks on public sector unions!

This cry for “no layoffs or attacks” sounds like a means of perpetuating a tyrannical state.  Is she proposing to pass laws prohibiting layoffs and attacks on public sector unions, is she making a plea, or is she sending a warning to potential dissenters?  This is unclear.

Misidentifies capitalism as cause of failures

Sawant’s argument for socialism is predicated on the pretense that “capitalism has failed the 99%,” and the solution is “a socialist world based on the needs of humanity and the environment.”

This is a common misrepresentation of capitalism which is propagated by all who cry of its evils as well as those who claim to be its advocates yet — because they start with the wrong moral premise — apologize for it.  Capitalism is not in play today nor has it been in pure form at any point in history.  Today’s mixed economy with its expanding government manipulation cannot be considered capitalism.

Some will still claim that because capitalism is part of the mix – statism or government control being the other part – that capitalism has proven to not work.  That is a fallacy.  The nature of capitalism does not merely prefer freedom from government interference, but it necessarily requires freedom from government interference.  Introduce one government regulation, entitlement program, antitrust law, or a Federal Reserve and we are no longer dealing with capitalism. Much like introducing cyanide to a healthy meal contradicts the meal’s healthiness; and the more cyanide that is added the less healthy, thus more deadly it becomes. Likewise, the more government control that is added, the less capitalist, thus more statist the government becomes.

Consider the following two analogies:

  1. Suppose a man bought a car, removed all of the tires, drained all of the engine oil, and drove it as fast as it would go with the emergency brake engaged.  Eventually, very soon in fact, bad things would happen and the car would no longer be drivable.  Should he then conclude that cars don’t work?
  2. If one were to open a can of white paint and mix in some green paint then use the mixture to attempt to paint a wall white, would one then deduce – ignoring the fact that green paint had been added to the white paint – that white paint was proven to not work on account of its “greenness?”

The irrational conclusions in each of those analogies are akin to the anti-capitalist’s foolish claims of capitalism’s proven failures; claims that ignore the government interference that, by its existence, denies the freedom required for capitalism and capitalist societies to flourish.  A society’s economic prosperity is in direct correlation to the degree of its freedom.

“It must be remembered that the political systems of the nineteenth century were not pure capitalism, but mixed economies. The element of freedom, however, was dominant; it was as close to a century of capitalism as mankind has come. But the element of statism kept growing throughout the nineteenth century, and by the time it blasted the world in 1914, the governments involved were dominated by statist policies.” – Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was perhaps the most rational proponent and intellectual defender of capitalism.  For anyone who wants to go beyond the misconceptions and become more informed about capitalism, Ayn Rand’s book, Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal is a great place to start.

I do hope that the people of Seattle will prevent its demise at the hand of socialist government policies.

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10 comments

  1. I agree with much that is said here. But I don’t understand the red scare, she is one member on a 9 member panel, that only holds the office for 4 years. Let the social experiement run, the proof is in the pudding right? Seems like small fish in a ocean full of predators.

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    1. Another note on this: Local radio (KVI 570) talk show host John Carlson had Sawant on a few days before the election. He observed that her opponent held all of the same positions Sawant had, but at least she had the honesty to call herself a socialist.

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  2. Thanks for commenting. You’re right. The good thing is that there are eight other positions on the council. Personally, I don’t have the sense of a “red scare” per se, I’m more disturbed by the mentality of the masses in Seattle – at the least the masses that vote.

    My concern is more about the fact that letting this experiment play is what the voters want. Her ideas have a lot of support and endorsements. I’d hardly call Seattle an ocean of predators with respect to socialism. By and large it is a left leaning city. But we’ll see what happens in the next four years because she has won the election.

    As you said, the proof is in the pudding. The socialist experiment has played out before and history has shown what it leads to. I’d rather it didn’t play out any more. I won’t be surprised if her success encourages similar socialist movements elsewhere.

    Another thing is the attack on capitalism. I know she is not the first person to do so, but she adds fuel to this myth that capitalism is to blame. When the people buy into this, which they clearly have, then naturally they seek an alternative – something fundamentally different which is exactly what socialism offers. … and the myth is perpetuated.

    Your thoughts?

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  3. Doesn’t freedom also mean, freedom to let ideas evolve, whether or not you agree with them or not. You seem to paint socialism as the enemy. Crimes are commited under both political guises. It’s really about power and control both of which are achieved by the greed of men, no matter what enviroment they are grown in. Capitalism is no magic bullet.

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    1. Excellent! We have ourselves a meaningful friendly debate in which we fundamentally disagree.

      If it is about power and control, as you say, would you rather be in power and control of your property, or would you rather submit power and control of your property to the state? If we’re going to frame socialism and capitalism as “political guises,” we need to be clear that this is not like comparing democrat vs. republican vs. libertarian. We are talking about two fundamentally opposing political philosophies. One’s political philosophy cannot be isolated from one’s philosophy of reality – one’s life philosophy. In other words – I cannot be of the mind that a man has the right to his own life and at the same time advocate a social system that claims that a man’s life belongs to the state or to the “common good”; the collective.

      That is the essence of these two opposing philosophies. Capitalism is rooted in individualism which holds that a man’s life is his own independent from others. Socialism is rooted in collectivism which holds that the collective common good takes priority over an individual man therefore he belongs to the group and not himself. Because he has something that others are in need of it is therefore his duty to provide it. So, yes, I do paint socialism as the enemy.

      As for freedom – Every individual is free to think, create ideas, and attempt to persuade others to accept his or her ideas. You’ll get no arguments from me on that. When one’s ideas can have no effect on me and my values then I say be and let be. However, that is not the case here. One might argue that I have no reason for concern because I’m not a citizen of Seattle therefore I won’t be affected. To a certain degree that is true, the fact that I might have considered becoming a citizen of Seattle in the future notwithstanding. But in the context of America today it is not irrational for one to think that those ideas could spread beyond Seattle. Then the question becomes when? When does one voice his disagreement and attempt to persuade acceptance of his ideas instead?

      I certainly don’t condone or suggest censoring ideas that oppose mine, but that doesn’t mean I should keep quiet and simply wait for the ideas I oppose to evolve.

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  4. “I cannot be of the mind that a man has the right to his own life and at the same time advocate a social system that claims that a man’s life belongs to the state or to the “common good”; the collective.”

    I try not to mix my life philosophies with that of politics. Politics is not rational and takes on a life of it’s own. My philosphies do not take into account who is in office. Take “to the state” out of that phrase, so as to remove the political element, and you have a statment that I believe is false. We all live in both worlds. (Collective and Individual)
    I personally belong to both. I have a responsibility to my fellow man and I practice that in my daily life. This part of me functions inside the collective. I also am able to think for myself and decide what path I will take in my own endevours. This part of me acts inside the context of the individual. What I disagree with is the semantics that are used to seperate these two things. I believe this gives the impression that one must choose sides. When there are no sides. Some things work, some things don’t. Think for yourself and choose for yourself. You also have to be able to see both things outside the context of politics. Collectivism is not inherently bad. Individualism is not inheritly bad, but when you polarize people and compartmentalize ideas that is dangerous. Socialism is not always viewed in the context of communism, or at least it shouldn’t be. And indivdualism is not always viewed in the context of capitalism, or at least it shouldn’t be.

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  5. “Socialism is rooted in collectivism which holds that the collective common good takes priority over an individual man therefore he belongs to the group and not himself.”

    Says who?

    I believe in a world where both can work together. I see this happening in “reality” almost everyday of my life. Why is the world of politics so divided on these issues? Because it’s not about the issues, but about power and control.

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  6. I completely disagree. Because we live as individuals among other individuals with a constitution that outlines the framework of our society – a framework that entails government which involves politics – one cannot simply be immune to the effects of politics.

    One need not have political aspirations or even to pay attention to election campaigns. Even if a person doesn’t care one bit about politics he or she lives in a society that is affected by political actions.

    One can successfully ignore politics insofar as the workings of it, who holds what office, and the day to day minutia, but one cannot evade the effects of the prevailing political philosophy that either recognizes his individual rights or imposes on him.

    My life belongs to me. No man, woman, group, government or other entity has a right or entitlement to my life, my thought, my action, my property, or to deny my liberty unless I infringe on the life of someone else. – no matter what their needs are.

    I am free to trade, give, donate or in other ways help an individual or a multitude of individuals by my own volition. The only responsibility I have to “my fellow man” is to honor any agreement or contract I make by choice and to otherwise not infringe on his/her individual rights to life, liberty, or property.

    No society exists with that philosophy. Governments impose mandates, regulations, controls, affirmative action laws, entitlement programs, and so forth. The only way to not be effected by politics is to find some unclaimed island somewhere, settle it, and defend your independence.

    – “I believe in a world where both can work together. I see this happening in ‘reality’ almost everyday of my life.”

    If one values an organization, the goals and actions of a group, or another individual for that matter, then one has the free will to choose to lend his support or not. The reality is that the choice people have is to comply or to face punishment. I don’t regard that as harmony between individualism and collectivism.

    – “‘Socialism is rooted in collectivism . . . ‘ Says who?”

    Can you define or describe an instance or theory of socialism where my statement that you quoted doesn’t hold true?

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