Walter E. Williams
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 What is socialism? We miss the boat if we say it's the agenda of left-wingers and Democrats. According to Marxist doctrine, socialism is a stage of society between capitalism and communism where private ownership and control over property are eliminated. The essence of socialism is the attenuation and ultimate abolition of private property rights. Attacks on private property include, but are not limited to, confiscating the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn't belong. When this is done privately, we call it theft. When it's done collectively, we use euphemisms: income transfers or redistribution. It's not just left-wingers and Democrats who call for and admire socialism but right-wingers and Republicans as well.

 Republicans and right-wingers support taking the earnings of one American and giving them to farmers, banks, airlines and other failing businesses. Democrats and left-wingers support taking the earnings of one American and giving them to poor people, cities and artists. Both agree on taking one American's earnings to give to another; they simply differ on the recipients. This kind of congressional activity constitutes at least two-thirds of the federal budget.

 Regardless of the purpose, such behavior is immoral. It's a reduced form of slavery. After all, what is the essence of slavery? It's the forceful use of one person to serve the purposes of another person. When Congress, through the tax code, takes the earnings of one person and turns around to give it to another person in the forms of prescription drugs, Social Security, food stamps, farm subsidies or airline bailouts, it is forcibly using one person to serve the purposes of another.

 The moral question stands out in starker relief when we acknowledge that those spending programs coming out of Congress do not represent lawmakers reaching into their own pockets and sending out the money. Moreover, there's no tooth fairy or Santa Claus giving them the money. The fact that government has no resources of its very own forces us to acknowledge that the only way government can give one American a dollar is to first -- through intimidation, threats and coercion -- take that dollar from some other American.

 Some might rejoin that all of this is a result of a democratic process and it's legal. Legality alone is no guide for a moral people. There are many things in this world that have been, or are, legal but clearly immoral. Slavery was legal. Did that make it moral? South Africa's apartheid, Nazi persecution of Jews, and Stalinist and Maoist purges were all legal, but did that make them moral?

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Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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