I saw a survey or poll of college graduates in 2016 who subscribe to socialism over capitalism.
It was 51 percent socialism and only about 32 percent capitalism, which I found to be shocking. Shocking!
But do they understand the differences between capitalism and socialism and what makes capitalism so successful and socialism so not?
Capitalism is based on free markets and individual ownership of companies, businesses and private enterprise of all kinds. Profits accrue to the individual, whereas socialism is a system that ascribes ownership of most companies, properties or other holdings to the entire community, state or nation; since no individual owns anything, no one is responsible for anything.
If everyone owns everything equally there probably are some who would take advantage of that (You think?) and simply show up when payday rolls around. The rest of the time they just piggyback on the ones doing the actual work — the Little Red Hen system of “let someone else do it” and we’ll show up later — just another day at the collective.
Competition is probably the essential element of capitalism and it drives economic activity. Prices, production quantities and resources are, in a market-driven society, geared to — you guessed it — profits.
The simple fact is that if all the participants in some venture derive an equal share, there is little incentive to excel, so there are not a lot of profits. What if someone had told Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos that we like your little start up, but since we all share equally don’t expect to get any richer than the rest of us? Would there be a Microsoft or an Amazon?
But let’s go back to college for a moment and the shocking young students wandering the campus. The majority has enthusiastically embraced socialism; the question is why?
Most college professors are on the left of mainstream society and tend to favor socialism over that nasty 10 letter word — capitalism. So obviously their students are going to go with the flow — grades and graduations depend on it.
It’s also a fact that most colleges and universities get lots of government subsidies, grants and free money and many, many students get the same — free money. But when they graduate they hit the real world and student loans, a perfect example of capitalism, are great until it’s time to pay the bill.
Contemporary college students have come of age in a permissive society in which there are no winners, no losers and everyone gets a trophy for just showing up. Places first and last get the same trophy and the same gold star. Their teachers at every level, including college, were raised in our permissive and mildly competitive society wherein the common denominator is lowered year by year.
Responsibilities and expectations of teacher and student are diluted in similar fashion and everyone gets the same watered-down grade.
Most college students fail to realize that America has been and is the greatest country on earth with the greatest system of social organization, upward mobility and government ever devised by mankind. Almost every other organized system, including socialism, communism, despotism and monarchism has been tried and they all pale in comparison.
As we discussed earlier, competition is the key to capitalism, but without an incentive there is no capitalism.
Does capitalism have its faults? Without a doubt: class distinction, greed, inequality and favoritism are among the most obvious. But by and large, freedom to reach for success, break from the crowd and be your own person is a dream to which most of the world aspires and can never hope to attain.
The fleeting seduction of socialism will, like a one-night stand, recede into a distant memory as the college student of today becomes tomorrow’s adult, faced with the daunting task of making it through life.
I think of socialism as a stunted orchard wherein all the foliage and shriveled fruit share the same misery, but in an adjacent field there stands one straight, tall, beautiful apple-laden capitalist tree.
I suspect that in a few years most of today’s socialist-inclined students will aspire to be the tree.
Jock Davidson is an Athens resident who writes this column for The DPA. Contact him at email@example.com