Understanding Socialism

Bernie Sanders

One of the biggest mistakes of my generation was somehow allowing much of American society to degenerate from rational opposition to blind acceptance of socialism. We have sat idle while our replacement generation has lost sight of the grave dangers of this political and economic system. The best we can do now is to make a bold attempt to expose this evil for what it really is. This post is a move in that direction.

Socialism in a nutshell is giving up individual freedom and allowing the government to provide for our needs in exchange for making our decisions for us. It is an economic and political system that depends on a powerful, autocratic government. Socialism came of age with Karl Marx’s theories written as the Communist Manifesto in 1848. The socialist government can be totalitarian (a dictator), oligarchic (a powerful committee), or even democratic. Regardless of the structure, such a government determines what the people need and controls all business production and services to meet those needs. This results in an equitable distribution of wealth and material resources among all people with no competitive buying and selling in the market. Citizens are totally dependent on and subject to the government.

Prominent historical examples include the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, while current examples are China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Although some socialist governments have maintained a robust economy by controlling production, those countries’ citizens are ultimately oppressed and have little incentive to pursue a better quality of life.

In this election year, we are being told that the socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is not the failed socialism of the past but rather “Democratic” socialism. They point to the Scandinavian countries as examples instead of China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Sanders says he is not anti-business and declares he supports free elections. However, his proposed system of government is pure socialism. He advocates free health care, free college education, controls on income, and major government subsistence for low income earners. The astronomic costs of these government programs would be funded by huge tax increases on everyone. Oh yes, he says he will tax the rich to provide these comforts. The problem is these costs could not begin to be funded by taxing the top American earners at 100 percent. Taxes would be raised tremendously on almost everyone, which is exactly what socialism does. If the socialist government decides the people need more, it takes more from the people in the form of taxes. A democratically elected socialist government is still a socialist government that preys on its citizens.

The truth is that socialism has never worked effectively as a political and economic system…never!  Even in the Scandinavian countries, it reduces efficiency and initiative in production. It can easily take root in a poor country with a chaotic government looking for something different. When it does, it is usually the result of a revolution that leaves a trail of violence and death. But the “utopia” is short lived as the citizens figure out they are under oppression without freedom to determine their own destiny. Then it is too late. To bring socialism into a thriving economy under-girded with individual freedoms would be absolutely disastrous and absurd.

Free market capitalism has made America the richest, healthiest, most powerful, and most productive country in the history of the world. A recent study shows the poorest 20 percent of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries including western Europe. In other words, if America’s “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest. This is why we have such an immigration problem. Millions of people dream of coming to America. The greatness of America is the result of God’s blessing through two essential concepts: capitalism as the driver of our economy and individual liberty as the standard of our society. Both must exist simultaneously for the ultimate benefit of the people.

Granted, there are some downsides to capitalism. It does not ensure economic equality. Those who work hardest and are most productive will gain more wealth than others. Incentive is rewarded with better quality of life, while lethargy lessens quality of life. American capitalism, however, makes provision for the less fortunate with social programs supported by reasonable taxes of the more affluent. A cursory study of the American free market and individual freedoms proves that, despite some problems still needing to be resolved, our society is superior to any other in the world. Then why is seemingly half our population ready to trade that life for a much lesser life?

I believe the answer lies in two realities. First, the education of our youth, both parental and institutional, has largely avoided the socioeconomic truths that formed this great nation. Instead of factual studies of constitutional democracy, economic history, and comparative government, millennials and younger have been fed a scholastic diet of liberal psychology and social radicalism. They have learned the weaknesses of America but not its overriding strengths. Secondly, technology, liberal media, family breakdown, and the devaluation of discipline have produced a sense of entitlement, false security, and irresponsibility in our younger generation. Why wouldn’t they want more free stuff without regard to its source and ultimate cost to society? That is their experience, and they have not been taught the consequences. The reality that nothing is really free has been lost on most of them.

The future of America as we know it will depend on freedom-loving Americans showing up on election day to put down the revolution of socialism. We must also make every attempt to instill the truth in our children and grandchildren. We have to replace their indoctrination with factual counter positions. The future of our nation hangs in the balance.

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What President Trump’s Recent School Prayer Guidance Really Means

prayerinschool

On January 16th, President Trump unveiled the first updated White House guidance on school prayer since 2003. It was a promised follow-up to his Executive Order in 2018 putting religious groups on equal footing with other organizations competing for federal funds. There is talk across the country about what this new guidance means to Americans of faith. Let’s take a look at where the issue stood before the guidance and where it stands now.

The “restriction” regarding school prayer that most Americans have lived under their whole lives resulted from the 1962 Supreme Court case of Vitale vs. Engel. New York state had encouraged schools to begin each day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer with the words, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country. Amen.” A group of New Hyde Park school parents led by a Jewish man, Steven I. Engel, sued the school board president, William J. Vitale, Jr., challenging the constitutionality of the school policy. The case drew frenzied response dividing the nation on the issue. It ascended to the Supreme Court which held that reciting government-written prayers in public schools was unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Ever since that decision, well-meaning, but over-zealous Christians have lamented that our kids can’t pray in school anymore–that we have taken God out of the schools. Simply put, that has never been true. The Supreme Court decision and most subsequent lower court rulings prevent school policies that would allow administrators or faculty members to force or coerce students to pray. Granted, a few judicial rulings have overstepped the Supreme Court’s intention and have come down against any prayer by students. Most of those, though, have not withstood appeal.

What has hampered most student prayer has been school administration and faculty members who are paranoid about threats of parents or the ACLU. They have too often opted to create policy that actually does take away the religious rights of students.

In 2003, the federal government, responding to a groundswell of school-based religious rights violations, provided official guidance to schools regarding school prayer policy. This guidance clarified what schools could and could not do in school prayer matters. On January 16th in the Oval Office, President Trump unveiled the federal government’s first updated guidance on school prayer since 2003. It details scenarios in which school officials must permit prayer and clarifies the consequences if they don’t. Those consequences include loss of government funding for any schools violating student rights to pray. It also streamlines the complaint process for such violations.

The president signing the guidance with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students standing around him declared, “We will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all.” The students in attendance had each filed grievances over religious rights violations in school. Although this guidance made few major changes to what it replaced, it threw down the gantlet to liberal lawyers who see a lawsuit in every issue of school prayer. It also affirmed the president’s commitment to evangelical supporters.

The guidance makes it doubly clear that students have the First Amendment right to pray in school including organized group prayer. The 1962 Supreme Court decision was never about excluding that right. Challenges to that right have only come from over-reaction by lawyers and scared school officials. All American students can pray during free times at school. They can organize group prayer during free time, and even use school property for prayer meetings. Students can initiate prayer at sports events or any school event for that matter. The only restriction is that school administration or faculty members cannot initiate the prayers or in any way pressure students to pray.

The Trump administration has now put the American education system on notice to abide by the Supreme Court decision on school prayer, but to not add the tiniest restriction beyond that. Any future student complaint about violation of religious rights will be afforded the full support of the federal government.

So, let’s get over the myth that little Johnny or Suzie can’t pray in school anymore. But, let’s celebrate that our president has warned the nation’s attorneys, judges, education departments, and school officials that his administration will guard that right aggressively.

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