Mind on Money: Socialism gets a deserved rebuke

In my youth I was a radical libertarian, but barring a situation like the world of the Hunger Games, a radical libertarian is a bit of an oxymoron, as we libertarians will just assume skip the revolution and mostly want to be left alone.

After spending 27 years in a highly regulated investment career, parenting a child with special needs and becoming, through non-profit work, intensely involved serving disadvantaged individuals in my community, however, my world view has matured. I have come to appreciate the positive role a well-run government can fulfill in the lives of citizens and the society.

I have always resisted party politics, and my voting and political contribution habits would look too many to have no discernible logic.
I mostly believe in the idea that is “America”, and I believe this idea still remains viable today. To me this idea is one of free people, free markets, welcoming people from around the world, individual responsibility, opposition to excessive taxation and taking care of each other where we live. Its not complicated stuff, but once applied to the real world the implementation can become excessively so.

I would not judge a society by the disparity between the most prosperous and the most disadvantaged. Rather I think the better measuring stick is how society provides for the relative general welfare of its most disadvantaged, not by approaching success in a punitive or envious way, but approaching “need” holistically and creatively.

My job has allowed me to come to closely know a disproportionate number of successful individuals and families living in Northwest Indiana. All of them to a person can only be described as regular folks. They are the people at work, sitting next to you in church or a high school game, the people waiting in line with you for dinner at a restaurant.

These people, I call clients, have achieved success through working diligently, staying focused, investing patiently, taking care of their families, living within their means. Sometimes life throws them curveballs, they adjust, but if certain steps are accomplished by people over time in America, I believe our American system can help most folks create prosperity for themselves and their family.

During the last 100 or so years, a philosophy standing in direct opposition to this American idea has arisen in the world. We call it Socialism, and its more aggressive sibling Communism. This philosophy has never achieved traction in America, possibly because previous generations were able to directly observe the darkest side of its implementation in other nations. Possibly because deep down we all believe our American system remains the best shot for regular folks to achieve prosperity.

But now, at the height of general American prosperity, with our capital markets creating wealth for many through retirement plans and investment accounts, businesses providing more jobs than ever before, technology making our lives easier and more convenient and innovation in health care creating more access to better therapies, Socialism has come to America.

In a way I can understand why? I remember being in my early 20’s to early 30’s. The economic insecurity, the financial impatience. It sometimes seemed like there was a secret to success I didn’t know. And there are a lot of 20 to 30 somethings in America right now, who no doubt feel this way as well. For some, the idea of a government that provides for their needs without personal risk to ease the burden of financial insecurity is clearly attractive. Unfortunately, I believe the price of this sought after security, is the loss of true prosperity, and doubly unfortunate is the concept of Socialism in implementation has never actually been pulled off successfully.

This week America got a chance to stand against the idea of Socialism. The stand could not have come from the American political right, because it would have offered no additional insight. It needed to come from the American political left, which it did. After Tuesday, I believe the Socialism debate is thankfully now over for now.

Markets were unsurprising relieved, and I to me the stock market rally on Wednesday felt a little more satisfying than most other recent up days.