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« One step forward, one step back | Main | Straightening steel forks »

Man exploiting man

Under capitalism man exploits man. Under socialism it's just the opposite

That is a joke. Not original, but never-the-less I found it funny and I posted it on a social media site yesterday. I thought it was fairly safe in that it pokes fun at both ends of the political spectrum.

But someone fired back,

“Um, no. I grew up in socialism. Had good education and access to health care at no extra cost.”

So this person did not find this funny because it seems in their view under the socialism end of things no one exploits anyone.

I usually steer clear of politics for the simple reason I am a Brit living in the USA. I am not a citizen (Even though I could be.) I am a Green Card carrying, resident alien, with permanent residency. Under this arrangement I get all the same rights a US citizen gets.

They allow me to have a driver’s license and own and drive a car, to own a home and pay taxes like everyone else. The two things I can’t do are vote or do jury duty; I can manage quite well without those responsibilities, thank you very much.

But because I can’t vote I feel strongly that I should not voice political opinions and try to influence other’s who do vote.

However, it annoys me when left wing eco-nuts assume that the bicycle is exclusively theirs; and on the other hand, there are those who think because I ride a bicycle I must be a left wing eco-nut.

The commenter on my “joke” stated that they grew up under socialism with free health care, sounds a lot like growing up in the UK in the post war years. I grew up in that same period and here is my take on it just from what I observed, and experienced.

Before WWII there was a (Capitalist.) class system in the UK where a small percentage of the population had all the wealth. (Sound familiar.) Most of this wealth had been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. The rest of the population were subservient to the wealthy class, and relied on them for a job and a living. And in many cases rented a home from a wealthy landlord.

This system, with all its faults, had made Great Britain a world leader. This is pretty remarkable when you consider that Great Britain is less than the size of California. But over the years they built ships, sailed all over the world, taking over countries, taking commodities and raw materials at a cost of next to nothing.

This made the wealthy even wealthier. Britain manufactured a great deal of the goods that were shipped and sold all over the world. In my lifetime I remember when the world currency was based on the British Pound, not the US Dollar. As a kid five shillings, which was a quarter of a Pound, was called a “Dollar.” Because there were four US Dollars to the Pound. Today the Pound is worth about a buck-fifty. ($1.50.)

Under the class system anyone born into the working classes found it very hard to reach the top levels of management in a large company. The CEOs and captains of industry were all from the wealthy upper classes. The British education system was geared so that working class kids would be separated at age ten years old.

The bright kids would get a higher education and become the accountants and middle management in industry. The rest of the kids had the self esteem beaten out of them, physically or by verbal put down. This made them subservient laborers who would do a menial job without question, or become cannon fodder for the armies to go off and conquer more lands.

Everything changed when WWII ended. All the men who came home from the war had the attitude, “We laid our life on the line for our country, now we want a piece of the pie.” Clement Attlee the leader of the Socialist Labor Party was voted into power with a huge majority.

The Labor Government took over ownership by Nationalization of the steel industry, coal mining, and the railroads. They also created National Health Care, with free medicine and health care for everyone.

Of course nothing is free; it was to be paid for by increased taxes. Now the government owned the hospitals and they paid the doctors and dentists a flat rate according to the number of patients they had.

There is a standing joke in the US about the British and their bad teeth, which is a direct result of NH dentists giving poor care. What incentive is there to give good care, and do extras like clean peoples teeth when you won’t get paid more?

The other thing that happened was, there grew this huge government bureaucracy to manage the health care system; and before long there were more bureaucrats than doctors or nurses.

When the government took over the steel, coal, and railroad industries the trade unions in those industries flourished. Trade unions are good when they fight for worker’s rights and make sure they are not exploited or under paid. But if your boss is the government, and the government is a socialist government, they are on your side.

In the mid 1970s there was a Conservative government in power who were not sympathetic the coal miners union when they asked for more money. The coal miners went on strike, and without coal, no electricity. There was a huge stockpile of coal, but the railway union refused to move it.

The country went on a three day work week, and eventually the conservative government had to resign. A labor government was elected; the coal miners got their raise in pay and went back to work. By 1978 it seemed that everyone was on strike for more money.

Truck drivers were on strike and I couldn’t get deliveries of oxyacetylene to build my frames, I would go home and there would be no TV ‘cos the TV workers were on strike. When hospital workers who do laundry etc., went on strike and people died because doctors could not operate on them, it was the end of the line for me. It was then I decided to move to the United States.

I think many UK citizens felt as I did, because it was soon after that Maggie Thatcher and her conservative party got back in power. She de-nationalized much of the nationalized industries, and even privatized some of the hospitals. When the Labor Party got back in power in later years it was a much watered down socialism, more in line with the US Democrats.

Yes capitalists exploit their fellow man; that is blatantly obvious by the financial mess we are in now, but don’t tell me that socialists don’t  exploit their fellow man, when they go on strike and let people die so they can get a pay increase.

And when unions become so powerful they can bring down a democratically elected government, I call that exploiting your fellow man?

A person who fails to see the humor in that little joke at the top of the page, has lost the ability to laugh at themselves and their belief system. It may mean that they are extremist either to the left or right.



Reader Comments (17)

Dave, interesting article.
A pound is worth 1.55 dollars.
I wonder who your friend thinks pays for 'free' healthcare in her socialist paradise?
Right now, even the socialist (Labour) party in the UK think healthcare needs reform. They don't re-nationalise industry when in power. In fact, some argue the left have lost most arguments - see this interesting blog:


January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Almond

Dave, this has to be one of your best blogs! Please don't shy away from posting more of the same.

My family were refugee immigrants in England after the War, but left for Canada in 1956 because there wan no legal way for our kind to get ahead. Back then I realized how unions were bringing the country down.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Steve and John B,
Extreme greed is bad, but there has to be a money incentive to make people want to work. When you are in a union and know you can’t get fired because of it, the tendency is to slack off. The same if you work for the government.
Britain at one time had a great auto and motorcycle industry but lost it all to Japan, and it was mainly due to poor work habits of the unionized British worker. Now Japan is number three in the world behind the USA and China, while Britain slips further and further down. It is sad.

January 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

"Britain at one time had a great auto and motorcycle industry but lost it all to Japan, and it was mainly due to poor work habits of the unionized British worker. "

I think that poor engineering and management had as much if not more to do with the loss of those industries.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDWhite

It is sad, but exploitation leads to riches and as long as that remains a fact of life, compassion-fairness is at a distinct disadvantage.

Bureaucratic nightmares (defined as finding an inferior means of achieving a stated goal) can be created by government (all types), businesses, unions and nonprofits. Bureaucracies increase their power and influence by becoming resistant to change and thus create their own inertia.

I do look forward to seeing Streep as the Iron Lady though and the flick may stir strong reactions in the UK. Remain outspokin' Dave, I like it.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

What the bloody hell is this to do with CYCLING, DAVE! Maybe I am on the wrong blog. BUT you started it so, now I will put in my 10 cents (15p?) My grandfather and his brothers, one a printer in Smethwick Brum, left in the early 1900s from ENGLAND by boat, They all emigrated to Wallingford,Connecticut, Started up the Crump printing co, One brother became a minister, one a Judge, One brother, my Grandfather went back to England, NOW he ended up working in a carriage works, living in a council house ALL HIS BLOODY life, died broke also from illness(PROSTATE) that he coud not get treatment from due to the NationalHealth, they let him die! All the other brothers who stayed over her in the USA lived to be over 90yrs old. All died wealthy, one son my cousin died last week age 95 yrs. left a very large estate. THEY ALL WORKED FOR THERE WEALTH. Why do you think I left Brum in 1957 for the USA? I have mates that I went to school in Brum that died years ago due to NH and the socialism THEY stayed. I left! END OF STORY! PS. I am 78 very healthy NOT rich by any means BUT still bloody alive and CYCLING 40 miles a day

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

Discussing pros and cons of "social democracy" with Americans?

No, I would rather make love to a cheese grater. Much more humorous and much less painful.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTP

I'm seeing why Dave has stayed away from discussing politics here!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Dave, thanks for stimulating some comments from the Brit's. I haven' t had much contact with anyone form the UK since I retired 6 years ago. The media in the US does not provide a clear perspective of "life" in other parts of the world, probably because they don't (or don't want to) really understand and present an objective picture. There is nothing like seeing and hearing multiple viewpoints first hand.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary

I'd be interested to know if you've kept your NI contributions up to date though? Non-resident friends of mine in the US make damn sure they do, so if they get screwed by the health insurance companies they can go home and get treated on the NHS.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Yes I did, and that is a good tip for any British expats, even those who have become US citizens, not only for the NHS but for your retiremnt pension also. Monthly payments are reasonable and you can make lump sum back payments too. That's what I did some years ago when I found out about it.

January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Vote, jury duty, and represent the country... um... you're not about to cycle in the Olympics, are you? :)

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

No more politics Dave. Please? My own two cents? I've done very well here in this country; born and raised in the USA. However, the notion of retirement scares me silly because health insurance - not care, but insurance - will cost me about as much as my average mortgage payment. Yep, we have choice in this country: to die or turn over all our wealth to an insurance company.
I am sympathetic to your arguments, but please from now on, reserve them for a different forum.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Well-written post.

January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

Good Blog Dave, keep it up !

Under socialism it's just the opposite but you do get your sense of humour surgically removed !

Baled out from Scotland to France.

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRonnie

"A person who fails to see the humor in that little joke at the top of the page, has lost the ability to laugh at themselves and their belief system. It may mean that they are extremist either to the left or right"

Amen, brother. Neither business nor politics has a lock on all the crooks (or saints). The more power government assumes, the more greedy crooks will flock to government, and vice-versa. The problem, it appears to me, is that instead of keeping each other in check they both seem hell-bent on working together to gut the country.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonyd

Before we give the UK National Health Service a complete bashing let's just remember that the average life expectancy in the UK is greater than the US, and the average Englishman is now taller than the average American.



February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Rawlins
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