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Is socialism the way forward?
Will a socialist government really make life better for the majority?
I see so many posts on Facebook, from intelligent serious and well intentioned people, that claim Mr. Corbyn will be a better leader of the government for the people of Britain than Mrs May. They claim he is more compassionate, more in touch with the needs and feelings of people. They claim he would make life better for the majority of the people. The slogan is for the many not the few.
To be better for the majority will mean that some 35,000,000 people will find their personal, individual, day to day life much better than it is now. History and experience suggests that the basis for measuring how people feel, in our materialist modern world, is (rightly or wrongly) how well off they are in financial terms.
The fact is even those who are on the lower rungs of the economic scale are materially better off than the middle classes were 200 years ago. The fact that “life satisfaction” is lower is not due to actual material possessions, it is due to an expectation of a right to great material wealth. Why people have such expectations is worthy of exploration. It suits both socialist politicians and corporate capitalist to have all people wanting more material possessions. They have common cause in wanting the majority of the people to be wishing for more goods and a greater ability to consume manufactured products. The socialist because they can use this desire to generate dissatisfaction with the existing governance and the capitalist because greater demand is always a marketing objective.
If some magic could increase the income of every single person in Britain by 100 percent, the poor would be “better off” in terms of cash income but since everyone they compare themselves to, and everyone the advertising and reality TV shows say they should compare themselves to, will have even greater disparity of income. They will not feel satisfied. They will not feel better off. Many on the left of the political spectrum will claim money is not the only measure of wellbeing, that such things as good health, relationships, non discriminatory social order, and other less tangible aspects of life are also important. They may be right but the access to health care, education, and an integrated society is far greater now than it was 100 years ago and there is greater dissatisfaction with life among the poor than there used to be.
If we accept that economic wealth is the bedrock of personal satisfaction, then we have to seriously study the effects a socialist government will have on personal finances. Since I am an old age pensioner, in the first 10 years of a socialist government, I would be better off, with a bigger pension and more free services, at least free to me, but everything has to be paid for by someone. They claim they would nationalise many suppliers of essential services. They claim they would give ever increasing amounts of tax money to the health service, they claim they would provide free education though every level of that education to all who want it, and they claim they would welcome anyone and everyone to come to Britain and share our resources. All these things have to be paid for. They claim this is not a problem as they would simply tax the rich, tax the companies, borrow money, and all can be paid for.
This may work in the short term, the first 10 years. All borrowing has to be paid back. All modern borrowing incurs added interest. History shows that nationalise “industries” become less efficient, less productive in terms of output per employee. Governments of any political view are actually bureaucracies and these all eventually turn into mechanisms for supporting the bureaucrats. The very rich will move themselves, their money, and their businesses to other nations with lower tax. The middle classes will find themselves far worse off. Those on the lowest level now will be better off but with businesses moved abroad and automation taking over to reduce labour costs, there will be fewer jobs, except jobs paid by the tax payers, which will lead to a spiralling need for more tax just as there is a descending spiral of people and enterprises paying that tax. The gap between what money the government has and what it wants will get wider. They will increase tax but will have a reducing number of taxpayers. Will 35 million people be better off? After 10 years doubtful, after 30 years when the borrowing repayments exceed the tax income, and so leave no money to pay all the state employees or to pay for any state provided services, most definitely not.