TheGrio Daily

What’s So Bad About Socialism?

Episode 40

Michael Harriot pulls the boogeyman mask off of socialism and explores the many facets of the American government that exercise socialist principles.


Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified.

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Oh. Mm hmm. I’m the scariest thing that ever was. No, I’m not a ghost. I’m not a poltergeist. I’m the boogeyman. They call socialism. I’m Michael Harriot. World famous wypipologist. And this is The Grio Daily. I mean, I know you like whenever white people want to make you scared of something, they’re going to say something about socialism. Or if it’s real bad, communism or Marxism. People just accept that socialism is bad without even considering what it means or what it is. Right. Because we don’t care about knowing things in America anymore. I mean, I know you heard it right. Like whenever anything happens and conservatives or the majority of white people don’t like it, they want to call it socialism, you know, or communism or, you know, something related to that. When Colin Kaepernick knew that was socialism, even though socialism or communism is an economic theory, somehow that was communist and Marxist. When Joe Biden said he was going to forgive student debt, that was Marxism. That was socialism. Black Lives Matter has been accused of being a marxist, a socialist or communist, everything. You know what I’m saying? I’m probably being called a communist right now as we speak, as I’m talking to you. But we have to ask ourselves, like, what is socialism? Is it, you know, that boogeyman that they always talking about, a massive redistribution of wealth and what’s wrong with redistributing wealth? Like like we gave money during the New Deal to white people and created the middle class. We redistributed wealth for with Social Security. We redistribute it with Medicare. We redistribute wealth all the time. So what’s so bad about socialism? Well, you know, first, as we usually do, we got to figure out what the hell socialism is and you know, who always has the answer. As far as this podcast is concerned, our girl Merriam-Webster and you know, that dictionary calls socialism any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of good goods. That’s a lot of big words. The second one is a system of society or group living in which there is no private property. And that sounds scary, right? Because it will come to take your house and your car. But of course, I keep reminding you that I have a master’s degree in macroeconomics and taught a class called race as an economic construct. So simply put, what socialism is, is instead of having the means of production or the wealth of a society, because that’s what economic theory calls wealth means of production, instead of having that being being determined by what they call the free market, which doesn’t really exist. And we’ll get to that. What socialism does is said, hey, you know, anything produced in this society or in this group we live in belongs to all of us. And people who believe in capitalism don’t necessarily like that because they think without merit that it’ll make people lazy. And then the hard workers will work hard and benefit the people who are lazy. But. That is kind of a simplification because and here’s the big important part. We’ve got socialism in our society all the time, like most of American society uses socialist principle. But when you, you know, drove here, go to wherever you are, you went on a road that was paid for by taxpayer money. It wasn’t paid for just by the people who drive down the road. They use all of the taxpayers money. Not just people. Even people who don’t. Who will never see that role. They pay for that role. If you went to school, which I hope you did, and you’re not like Lauren Boebert, if you went to school, the people will pay for that school. Some of them didn’t have children. But they still paid for that school pay for those teachers. If you’ve ever been to a public library or public park or call the police or use the fire department, all of that is paid for collectively by the means of production or the wealth of that group. It’s socialism like. Capitalism, on the other hand, advocates for a free market that is only influenced by market factors such as supply. How much of something there is demand, how much of that thing people want, or external factors like, you know, how much of that thing that might be in the future or how much people might want that thing in the future. And that’s a simplistic way. But when people talk about the free market, they really want something that only exists in theory in conservatives and, you know, conservatives who don’t wear ties, which we call libertarians. They love the idea of a free market, but there’s really never been any such thing as a free market. Like, can you name a point in American history when there weren’t, again, police officers, fire departments, roads that were publicly funded because part of American society is influenced by socialism, part of it is capitalism. And that’s the thing about absolutes. Why don’t people like absolutes? Don’t people think we should only have a free market or we should redistribute all the wealth? But the reality is that society has to exist. A good society would exist with both of those, and we can argue about how much balance there should be between publicly funded stuff and privately funded or capitalism or the free market, which doesn’t exist. And I’m going to explain let me get to why the free market doesn’t exist. Right. Because let’s say you are going to sell, I don’t know, rocks, widgets. And there was a limited supply of widgets that were available and there was a limited demand. So the people who wanted widgets, not everybody wanted only a certain amount of people wanted them. And there were only a finite amount of widgets. Well, that would be a free market in theory, but in reality. The truth is that there could be something that influences the demand, right? Not just the supplier or the seller. Right. The supplier could, you know, put some ads on TV and try to create a demand for widgets. But that would also affect not just affect the supply, because you would have to use some of his widget money to buy those ads, but it would also affect the demand because it might not work. And so he’d have to balance like what we call the return on investment, how much money he spent with how much it would affect the demand. Right. And we see that happening all the time. Right. But the other thing is like like let’s say with this widget what if. Somebody else found a way to make widgets cheaper. Then that competitor. Would have to compete with the original widget maker in a what we call a free market, but not really because that first widget maker already influenced the demand with his spending on advertising. So he has. An advantage. He has a privilege of being the first person who invested in widgets. Right. And that ain’t a free market. Cause the moment another person enters that market, it was already imbalance. A free market can only exist if there is no time, if there is no privilege, if there was no external factors like the weather. Or a more popular sponsor or advertising person promoting the other, which it’s like there really isn’t a free market because there are too many external factors that can influence it like. The government. What if the government comes and says, I want to buy? Half of your wages, but at a reduced price. They are influencing the supply of widgets which will increase the demand. Now. All of those things I just said to you. I wasn’t talking about widgets. I was actually talking about money. Our money isn’t based on gold anymore. They are created by the government. There is theoretically a finite amount. But the government has the option of producing more, which can increase inflation, which can reduce the value of what we call the dollar. And people who have more. Who had some before you got some. They have the privilege of time. They have generational wealth. That’s why there is no such thing as a free market. White people like to pretend that there is some kind of what it’ll snow globes where economics works in a bubble, but it doesn’t exist. Now back to socialism. What if we all agreed that we can influence the market? With some things that everyone deserves. Everyone deserves an education. So education, instead of depending on wealth or the demand or the supply of teachers or the supply of schoolbooks. What if we could all agree that we should all own the educational opportunity in America? That socialism? What if we agreed that we’re going to all take responsibility for the road? That’s socialism now as it relates to stuff like student debt. What if we agreed that college should be affordable, wait? We all did agree that college should be affordable. Right? Because that’s why we created state institutions and funded them with state money. And subsidize them with taxpayer dollars and then give students Pell Grants. We give students student aid. As a matter of fact, all of those loans that we were paying back, they got low interest rates because we all agreed as a socialist society that we will guarantee those private institutions owned by people who are bellyaching about the free market. That we will guarantee them that if those students default on those loans, the government will pay them back. They ain’t cleared in a free market. Even though they hate socialism, they are profiting off of it because if you don’t pay your student loans, the bank doesn’t lose money. That’s why it’s called a federally guaranteed student loan. White people love socialism. Just not when you get it. Right. That’s the same thing is all of that small government bullcrap, right? They love to give white farmers money. They always talk about, well, we need to federally fund this wall on the side. Like if you don’t want Mexicans in your house. If you believe in free market. Build a wall around your house. It’s free market, right? Free country. That’s what they told me. They only believe in capitalism. When it benefits them and they only hate socialism when someone else is going to get something. Remember when Obama said that you didn’t build that and they got mad because he said that we could we should share in the responsibility for paying for roads and bridges and the infrastructure. And he said, you didn’t build that in people who built their businesses from the hard work and the sweat of their brow said, Well, I did build my best stuff. You did. Your community subsidizes the power plant. How did water run to your factory? Tell me how you got radio waves that  are regulated by the FCC. Right. Like you couldn’t watch TV because some hacker in Des Moines would be hacking into that frequency. If the FCC didn’t regulate it. Right. Those cell phone companies that you talk to your sales people on the regulated by the government with government dollars. If not, anybody could listen to your phone call. And if somebody breaks into your factory to steal your widgets, who are you gonna call? Ghostbusters. Now, you gonna call the police? That’s paid for with public money. With public means of production. There is no such thing as a free market. There is nothing wrong with socialism when applied correctly. Because. They never had to compete. See they believe in the competition of capitalism because they already have their widgets. When we got here. They gerrymandered the widget game. They control the widget industry. And they let you believe that it is a free market when it ain’t never been free and nothing in America has ever been free. They are not constrained by the truth. So they have fooled themselves into believing the lie of the free market of capitalism. That they have more because they worked harder. Because they competed at a higher pace. Because they deserve it. And by proxy, poor people must deserve to live in poverty. But it’s all a shell game or in this case, a widget game. And that’s why I have to tell you to download the Grio app, because, you know, we believe in a little bit of capitalism. We sell and tell a friend about it. Subscribe, watch us on YouTube. And most importantly, remember, if a white person gave it to you, you’re going to pay for it. You just don’t know how it. Thanks for listening to The Grio Daily and we’ll see you next time. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download the Grio app. Subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at The Grio dot com.

Panama Jackson [00:16:51] You are now listening to the Grio Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified.