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Challenge Match: Seabag Vs. Sheepslayer247- Socialism is good for America

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posted on Oct, 4 2012 @ 02:33 PM
Before we are able to venture very far into such a controversial topic, I must ask the reader to temporarily forget any and all preconceived notions or opinions you may have against the word socialism. The political environment in which we live has not been kind to the reputation of socialism and in order to fully appreciate the information I am about to bring forth, we must be open-minded.

For reference, let's define socialism: "an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources".

First and foremost, we must recognize that there are many varying degrees of socialism. The simplest form being local communities and like-minded individuals combining resources for a common goal. One example would be communal living or neighborhood garden/farm initiatives. Each individual shares in the responsibilities needed to produce the desired results. In turn, each individual is entitled to their equal share of the "profit".

More abstract and complex systems of socialism such as Marxism or Leninism have also used socialist ideologies in the creation of their governments, but their governments were compromised by the introduction of Imperialistic Expansionism through force of government or Military might. These forms of socialist governments also tend to be created under conditions in which capitalism has not been introduced. In these type of government, all resources and power is consolidated at the very top of the governments infrastructure, with little or no rights given to the "common people" to profit from collective ventures.

But how does socialism apply to America?

America has many forms of socialism that thrives in our capitalist society. Many of these incarnations were written into the constitution and specifically for the benefit of the average American citizen at their collective expense.



The Congress shall have Power:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress....

This section of the constitution specifically allows the collection of taxes from the citizens of the United States to provide armed forces for the safety and security of the US citizens and assets. The military is a vital service provided to the people of the US, but is by definition....socialism.

The Fifth Amendment: Eminent Domain

"an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads; however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety"

his amendment allows for private property to be seized for the benefit of the common good, by the government, but not without proper compensation. The fifth amendment is a socialist idea as well.

Now that we have looked at a couple examples of socialism in the US constitution, we need to look at some quick examples of socialism at work in other government functions we take completely for granted, but are necessary for the public good as a whole.

-Infrastructure and Roads
-Infectious Disease Monitoring (CDC)
-Federal, State and local government-funded clinics and healthcare systems
-Social Security
-Water and Sewage Treatment Facilities
-Local Electricity and Power Co-ops

These examples are all funded by taxpayer resources, provided for the common good and administered by local, state and Federal governments. I think we can all agree that American society is better-off with such services being available and, although they are socialist by definition, fully adhere to constitutional authority granted to the government.

In following posts, we will continue to explore how socialism benefits America and delve into the relationship that socialism has with capitalism, examples of how they can coexist and the power collective wealth can have on entire economies.


posted on Oct, 5 2012 @ 10:38 AM
reply to post by sheepslayer247

Challenge Match: Seabag Vs. Sheepslayer247- Socialism is good for America

Opening Thoughts

Socialism is a very interesting topic and I am glad to have the opportunity to debate the merits of this issue with Sheepslayer247. He and I have been debating each other informally for a long time on many different issues so I know he is both a knowledgeable and formidable opponent. Thanks to Sheepslayer247 for accepting this challenge match and to ATS for giving us this opportunity.

My opponent defined socialism in his opening post. There are in fact many definitions of socialism. My opponent referred to some forms of collectivism found in America such as military, police and fire. Technically, these are mild forms of socialism. Most people agree that these are necessary functions in any society, so this form of collectivism or socialism is accepted by all modern societies. We can all agree that some mild forms of socialism can be found in the US today. This is not the type of socialism that I’m arguing against in this debate. To be clear, I’m arguing against Marxism, Leninism, Communism, Maoism and other forms of institutional, economic socialism. A society can be considered “socialist” if the means of production of goods and services are not in private hands but are socially owned and controlled by local, state or federal government. Clearly this is not the case in America today nor do I believe it should be. I will argue that socialism is NOT good for America.

I must concede that the concept of socialism makes a lot of sense. The idea of all citizens equally owning and controlling everything is very appealing. Unfortunately it’s completely impossible to execute in a way that benefits all. Simply put – it has never worked.

”Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery” - Winston Churchill

Socialists believe that all the ills and inequities of society can only be cured through the intervention of government. This control mechanism is exactly why socialism doesn’t work and why it’s bad for America. In a socialist society a ruling class of intellectuals, bureaucrats and planners decide what is good for citizens. They use the power of the State to regulate, tax, and redistribute the wealth of those who work for a living. The programs a socialist government implements require more and more tax dollars to fund. Government intervention in the marketplace almost always results in more bureaucracy (bigger government), increased market volatility, increased unemployment, burdensome regulation of business, intrusion into the lives of citizens, and huge increases in the amount of people dependent on the redistributed wealth of others. In its truest sense, socialism is a form of legalized theft and is completely antithetical to freedom.

We have seen this gradual lean towards socialism in America over the past several decades. Many argue that America stumbled into socialism with FDR’s New Deal. Since then the usurpation of power by our government has been increasing. Today bureaucrats in DC expect us to sacrifice our private freedom so the State can achieve its goal of "protecting” us. We have freedom robbing bills such as the Patriot Act, SOPA, ACTA and NDAA. Our “leaders” continuously attack our right to bear arms, they conduct warrantless searches and seizures, they use secret courts and military tribunals, warrantless wiretaps, etc; all of this for “our own good," of course.

”The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries” – Winston Churchill

Hermann Goering, formerly a leading member of Germany’s Nazi Party once said, "Common good comes before private good." This is the morality of socialism. I will argue that capitalism is the only ‘moral’ system because it requires citizens to deal with one another as free and equal participants who trade and sell goods and services on the basis of mutual consent and free will. Capitalism is the only social system that truly rewards individual achievement. In my next post I will give many examples of how socialism has failed whenever it has been tried.

Thank you.


posted on Oct, 6 2012 @ 03:41 PM
I am glad that we could agree on some very important points! Socialism plays a role in many different aspects of our American existence and serves our country well through the very basic functions our communities and governments provide. It would have been impossible for the United States to rise to it's current status if it were not for it's military, it's infrastructure and pubic services.

The extreme socialist ideology may be your focus in this debate, but I believe you have conceded that socialism, regardless of it's severity, is good for America.

In trying to describe the drawbacks of socialism in America, you have unknowingly pointed out the repercussions of ill-restricted capitalism and the fascism that is enabled through it. At the same time that our individual rights and sovereignty are being stripped from us, all in the name of national security, our elected representatives from both sides of the political spectrum have been more focused on paying homage to the corporate interests that feed their campaign troughs year after year.

Over time, the voice and interests of the individual and the collective whole have taken backseat status to unrestricted crony-capitalism and instead of the taxpayer dime going to better the living standards of each and every individual, the money is funneled to private corporations, enriching those that are already among the wealthiest in America. Income levels of the very rich and the very poor have never been so distant at any time in American history and it has not been caused by the introduction of government-mandated socialism. Instead, it has been fascist-corporatism that infected the halls of DC. So much so, that the rights and well-being of the American citizen has taken a backseat to corporate profit.....all in the name of "free-market capitalism", of course.

But even I cannot go as far to say that Capitalism is the cause of the problem in and of itself. The integrity of any nation is dependent upon the ability for individual citizens to own private property, invest and create business' for the purpose of personal gain. So if we were looking for a happy-medium between socialism and capitalism, where would we look?

Socialist Market Economy

Also known as State Capitalism, this economic theory allows for the rights of the individual to remain intact in that they have the ability to create business', wealth and have very little interference from the government. At the same time, the government infrastructure can be used to create programs in which the state can become active in the free-market. The combined resources of the people can be used, according to their government charter, to create venture-capital programs in which the profits are returned in the form of lower taxes, lower prices to the people for that specific product or service, or dividend payouts to the people.

No one need to look any further than the economy of China to see this theory at work.They have been able to create an environment in which socialism and capitalism coexists and since the 1980's, when sweeping reforms rebuked it's Communist extremes, have propelled itself to the world's 2nd most powerful nation and a world leader in exports.

It is not science-fiction to envision a society in which both capitalism and socialism can coexist. With proper limitation on both the government and free-enterprise, the opportunity to prosper for both the individual and the collective can be realized.

A very important example of this would be the construction of the Hoover Dam. This project was a collaboration of many government entities including local communities, various state organizations and Federal departments. While it was funded with taxpayer monies, private industry was allowed to bid for the contract. The winning bid, submitted by Six Companies Inc., allowed for this private organization to employ tens of thousands of unemployed workers during the Great Depression and to build a structure that would become iconic in the American paradigm.

This is not just another example of how socialism is good for America, but how it can work together with free-enterprise to provide goods and services for the people of the United States.

In my third and final post, we will discuss what I believe is the very heart of this debate. My opponent wishes to refer to the extreme outreaches of socialist ideology and I think it is key that we address it.


posted on Oct, 6 2012 @ 09:10 PM
reply to post by sheepslayer247

In this post I had planned to provide examples of the failure of socialism. Instead, based on my opponent’s previous response, I think it’s important that I clearly outline the differences between a centralized capitalist government and a socialist government because the line is being intentionally blurred.

I believe in a centralized government as described by the Constitution of the United States. The Preamble says the federal government was established to operate under the guidelines of the Constitution to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” More specifically, the constitution spells out the role of the federal government and drastically limits its power. The main prerogatives of the federal government are:

1) Defense, war prosecution, peace, foreign relations, foreign commerce, and interstate commerce;
2) The protection of citizens’ constitutional rights and ensuring that slavery remains illegal;
3) Establishing federal courts inferior to the SCOTUS;
4) Copyright protection;
5) Coining money;
6) Establishing post offices and post roads;
7) Establishing a national set of universal weights and measures;
8 ) Taxation needed to raise revenue to perform these essential functions.

Those are the ONLY prerogatives of the federal government. Furthermore, the Tenth Amendment states that all prerogatives not explicitly given to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

Here is what I would like you to remember:

* Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production.

*Capitalists believe the ownership of the means of production and the exchange of wealth should be by “private individuals” (WE THE PEOPLE).

*The United States declared independence to get away from overbearing government control. Nowhere in the constitution do ‘we the people’ grant the federal government power to control the means of production. In fact, the constitution strictly limits the role of the federal government as described above.

The Role of Government in Capitalism

Centralized government does have a big role to play in a capitalist system. In fact, without a whole host of government rules capitalism would run amuck. The free market is best described as a set of behaviors that is structured by rules. Many of those rules have been developed and enforced by the federal government. The federal government has intervened many times to limit concentrations of power and address many of the social problems associated with unchecked private commercial interests. Because centralized government does play such an integral role, our economy is not a purely capitalist one; capitalism wouldn’t work if left completely unchecked.

Here are just a few of the rules established by the government to help capitalism:

Limited Liability Laws - Without limited liability laws, the economy would not have access to the capital it needs to grow.

Property Rights - Without the right to own property capitalism could not exist.

Law and Order – The free market could not function well without the criminal justice system. Otherwise, organized crime would take over large sectors of the business community.

Stable Money Supply -Without reliable money, markets would be based primarily on barter and thus be extremely limited.

Banking Regulation - A capitalist economy depends heavily on stable banks to finance growing businesses.

In every economic system, entrepreneurs bring together resources, labor, and technology to produce and distribute goods and services. The way these different elements are organized and used reflects a nation's political ideals. One of the basic tenets of capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production. Even though the government plays an important role, in the end, it is the PRIVATE ownership of the means of production that sets the US apart from socialists systems and what gives each individual American far greater opportunity for prosperity.

In my final post I will finally get a chance to provide many examples of the failures of socialism. The shift from what we have in America now to a purely socialist system that my opponent is advocating for would mean the shift in ownership of the means of production from ‘we the people’ to the government. This has never been beneficial to citizens under socialist control and it certainly is not representative of FREEDOM.

Thank you


posted on Oct, 7 2012 @ 02:33 PM
All due respect to my opponent, Seabag, but the premise of this debate is “Socialism is Good for America”. Whether a centralized Capitalist government is better for America than a centralized Socialist government is another debate in and of its self.

However, the list of constitutionally-allowed rolls the government can take is very important and can help illustrate how socialism, in its most basic form, is constitutionally acceptable and benefits America as a whole.

1) Defense, war prosecution, peace, foreign relations, foreign commerce, and interstate commerce
6) Establishing post offices and post roads
8 ) Taxation needed to raise revenue to perform these essential functions.

These government functions are socialism at work. Along with the other examples I have provided in the previous two posts, these constitutional mandates on government cannot be performed if the citizens of the US are not taxed…..thereby giving the government the power to take collective wealth and create programs and services that benefit the common good.

But my opponent mentioned the Tenth Amendment and I believe it is important we touch on a very specific attribute of states rights.

Corporate Charter System

Not only did our ancestors come to America to distance themselves from overbearing government control and taxation, they also fled from the overbearing power corporate entities had in Europe. The corporations, through uncontrolled capitalism, were able to funnel money away from the people and into the pockets of the corporations and shareholders. So when the US was formed, each state had the ability to control corporations through a corporate charter system.

Here is a short list of criteria set forth by many states.

 Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
 Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
 Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
 Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
 Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
 Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.

These charters mandated that the existence of the corporation had to serve the public good. Uncontrolled capitalism had a history of creating wealth for a very select few, and pushing the average citizen into poverty. To combat that, the people in each state had the right to control capitalism through their state governments and solidified the fact that the capitalism is good, to a certain extent, and that the social-collective must be able to fight corporate pillaging through their governments.

This is just another example of how social responsibility coexists with the free-market principles of capitalism. We must have one to balance out the other. If no balance exists, out of control capitalism or extreme socialism can take over the governments and control of it’s people.

But as we bring this debate to a close, I think it is important that we touch on a very important subject that is applicable to any form of economic theory or government infrastructure. No one economic system or type of government can withstand the test of time and tyranny if it weren't for a few key factors that can make or break the success of that particular system.

All forms of government or economic theory are dependent upon:

The morality of its people.
The integrity of their leadership.
A system of checks and balances within the government to combat hard swings to any one extreme.

So while we can both give examples of run-amok capitalism and socialism, it is documents like the Constitution and the moral people of the US that keep us from falling too far down the rabbit hole. We are experiencing a hard swing to extreme capitalism in America today. It will only be a matter of time before the people pull the reigns of capitalism to keep it from destroying this great nation. Socialism in America keeps Capitalism in check, and visa versa. It is an odd relationship, but serves us well. So in closing, we must realize that we cannot run and hide from socialism. It is at work all around us in the most unsuspecting places and it is, and has been, Good For America!

Since I forgot to do this in my first post, I would like to extend my heart-felt thanks to the Mods, Admin and members of ATS. I’d also like to say thanks to my opponent, Seabag. As he stated before, we seem to debate each other quite a bit on the forums, but that does not mean I do not have respect and that we cannot see eye to eye sometimes.

Thanks again and good luck in the judging!


posted on Oct, 7 2012 @ 02:48 PM
reply to post by sheepslayer247

Closing Statement

Socialism is the biggest lie of the 20th century because it promised things it could not possibly deliver. Socialism promised prosperity, equality, and security, but instead it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. There is so little difference in government structure between socialism and communism that it’s an easy and natural progression. As a result, the continuing usurpation of power and control on the upper level of government translates into the loss of remaining personal freedoms.

While aspects of socialism do appeal to our sense of morality, the truth is government ownership and control of industry has never benefited the people. Socialism always deteriorates into totalitarianism.

The basic tenets of socialism are:

1. Convince the population into accepting government as the sole arbitrator of all problems (ie - cradle-to-grave government)
2. Make the citizens dependent on these new services
3. Take away guns so citizens have no way to resist
4. Increase taxes on all services while destroying all free market alternatives
5. Blame a scapegoat for the inability to meet demand for services
6. Have the centralized national police force round up all dissidents

The most despotic governments of the last century all started as socialist governments supposedly designed to “help” the people. The Nazis in Germany, the Fascists in Italy, and the Communists in the USSR and China all began as socialist endeavors. Their leaders; Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung became tyrannical murderers. These individuals actually tried to out-do each other in the total number of their own citizens which they murdered. In fact, each of these men killed more of their own civilian citizens than they lost in military conflict.
In the 21st century we’ve seen numerous examples of the failures of socialism. Governments always turn to excessive and unsustainable borrowing and inflation to finance their societal obligations. This cradle-to-grave security has resulted in numerous economies in Europe failing. Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy are all in a huge downward spiral because their socialist policies have proven to be unsustainable.

Another recent socialist experiment that is failing is the EU. The European Union idea of bringing together first, second and third world countries and making them all financially equal has proven to be a failure. Actually, it has had the opposite effect on all of Europe, creating an even bigger divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. There is a direct correlation between unsustainable social spending and economic turmoil. The countries doing the worst economically over the past 24 months are also some of the biggest social spenders.

One can argue that the move towards socialism and the accompanying unsustainable spending to fund the government’s endeavors has led to the current economic crisis in America. The US government has increasingly moved toward a cradle to grave approach under President Obama. Obamacare, increased subsidizing of private industries and the near takeover of the auto industry are huge steps toward government control of production and services (socialism).

History has shown that when a government controls the means of production the people suffer. The mathematical and physical impossibility of managing an economy from a centralized power is what dooms all forms of socialism to failure. Individual citizens operating within a market based economy ‘regulated’ by a centralized government is the only way to provide prosperity, equality, and security to all people. America already has this system in place – it’s called Capitalism.

The most important thing we need to remember is that in a capitalist system ‘we the people’ own and control the means of production which means we control our prosperity. In a socialist system a centralized government owns and controls the means of production and thereby controls our prosperity. Throughout history socialism has always led to shared misery rather than shared prosperity. America was founded on the principles of limited government. We have an intentional division of powers between federal and state governments and within the federal government itself between its three separate branches. When absolute control is relinquished to a centralized government it will always be bad for the people.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton

Thank you....and thanks again to Sheepslayer247 for a spirited debate.


posted on Oct, 9 2012 @ 10:00 AM

Tough debate to judge, because I feel that both sides were struggling to define what Socialism actually is, and how it is applied to the United States. The opening round was clearly SheepSlayer's, though mostly on Seabag's rather concessionary opening -- his arguments that are presented as being against Socialism are actually more being against Fascism.

The middle arguments don't have a clear winner -- Sheepslayer doesn't do much to further his opening remarks, and Seabag retreats into a defense of capitalism and a statement of how ingrained it is in the American economy, which I think few would argue with.

Where the debate is won is in the closing round, I think. After rightly pointing out that Seabag missed the point of the debate in his last post, Sheepslayer then proceeds to do the same thing -- arguing that one of the fundamental rights of government had been to limit the power of corporations, which seems quite beyond the scope of this argument, as there are corporations in Socialist states (Nokia, anyone?)

Seabag's closing, on the other hand, finally gets to the meat of the matter, defining core tenets of Socialism, a somewhat "over the top" assessment of their impact on their people, and then citing examples of failure with the system, particularly in the past decade or so.

I think that both sides would have been well served with practical examples -- Sheepslayer, for example, should have cited one very clear instance of the success of Socialist institutions in the United States, the State Bank and State Mill and Elevator in North Dakota (of all places) and Seabag could have produced some data on Capitalist driven innovation versus that in Socialist countries.

On the basis of his strong close, I view Seabag as the winner of this one.

I have to give this debate to Sheepslayer for the following reasons:

Sheepslayer opened the debate with a definition of socialism applicable to same, and was very convincing supporting his position in regard to that definition.

Seabag seemed to more or less disregard Sheepslayer's definition and carry on with his own idea of socialism and thus basing his argument upon a different premise altogether.

Sheepslayer's definition is by no means arbitrary, either, since I have also educated myself on what defines socialism and that it is when the people collectively own the means of production for the common good. Of course, in America's 'We the people' style government, the idea that government owns the means of production might be stretched to imply that the people owning it is the government owning it, but since that point was not brought up in Seabag's argument, I can't use it to reconcile the use of a differing definition for the subject of the debate.

Sheepslayer's argument also was more finely tuned toward the idea of Socialism being good for America whereas Seabag argued against Socialism in the US by pointing out how it did not work in other places and times. This is not as relevant as it might seem at first since each example, including our own, is uniquely qualified by a multitude of details that cannot be applied universally to Socialism our current setting.

Overall, this was a stellar debate to read and an excellent example of two great minds, who are both amazingly knowledgable and articulate. It is, imo, an awesome example of the purpose and art of debate!

The tie was broken with a third judge:

For me Seabag wins this debate on account of a strong closing. Both debaters could have done more to address each others specific points. Sheepslayer had the stronger side in the opening and somewhat in the second post but then seabag took the lead. In his third post, rather than arguing that "Socialism is good for America" sheepslayer appears to concede that socialism and capitalism should both keep each other in check. That would be a good closing, but in his final post, once sheepslayer could no longer reply, seabag brought out his artillery. I suspect this may have been seabags tactic and it won him my judgment in his favor.

Seabag is the winner by a close margin. Congratulations ATSers.

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