Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is Socialism?

The transition from a capitalist economy based entirely upon private property to a communist one comprised entirely of community property requires the adoption of new terms and definitions. The Absolute Marxist agrees with Karl Marx and favours the use of the term "socialism" to define this intermediate transitional stage of economic development. And since the real problem with capitalism lies in the inherent inequities in distribution of any currently available supply of goods, state interventions to level the playing field, redisitribute income and wealth, and ensure a fair and just distribution of goods to all societal members should also be labelled "socialism".
Now there are some Marxist heretics at the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) that deny that any of these activities constitute "socialism" since they do not support another Marxist heresy of perpetual worldwide revolution, but that is there cross to bear, not mine. I will identify and call socialism any state or government intervention which seeks to circumvent the effects of lassiaz-faire capitalism between completely private individuals. This includes regulation of business and policies of taxation designed to redistribute income, wealth or even the services necessary to sustain human "health". And of course, one of the chief means that governments use to more "equitably" distribute resources is rationing. In a laissez-faier system, commodities in short supply experience an increase in price, thereby limitting the market for those goods to those with the income or wealth necessary to purchase them. But when "health" is at stake, the governments preferred method of distributing this good is through rationing. This has long been done with human organs available for transplant, but there is no reason why this policy should not be extended to others areas of medicine as well, as has been effectively demonstrated in Cuba and other parts of the world where Health Care costs are born by the state, and not the individual.

Wikipedia defines rationing as follows:
In economics, rationing is an artificial restriction of demand. It is done to keep price below the equilibrium (market-clearing) price determined by the process of supply and demand in an unfettered market. Thus, rationing can be complementary to price controls. An example of rationing in the face of rising prices took place in the Netherlands, where there was rationing of gasoline in the 1973 energy crisis.

Romanian ration card, 1989A reason for setting the price lower than would clear the market may be that there is a shortage, which would drive the market price very high. High prices, especially in the case of necessities, are undesirable with regard to those who cannot afford them. Traditionalist economists argue, however, that high prices act to reduce waste of the scarce resource while also providing incentive to produce more (this approach requires assuming no horizontal inequality).

In wartime, it is usually imperative for a government to maintain the support of this part of the population, to maintain "equality" especially since in most countries, the poor and underclass families contribute most of the soldiers.

Rationing using coupons is only one kind of non-price rationing. For example, scarce products can be rationed using queues. This is seen, for example, at amusement parks, where one pays a price to get in and then need not pay any price to go on the rides. Similarly, in the absence of road pricing, access to roads is rationed in a first come, first served queueing process, leading to congestion.

Authorities which introduce rationing often have to deal with the rationed goods being sold illegally on the black market.

Health care rationingShortages of organs for donation force the rationing of hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys in the United States. During the 1940s, a limited supply of iron lungs for polio victims forced physicians to ration these machines. Dialysis machines for patients in kidney failure were rationed between 1962 and 1967. More recently, Tia Powell led a New York State Workgroup that set up guidelines for rationing ventilators during a flu pandemic. Jacob Appel, a bioethicist, recently described the effects of rationing ventilators bluntly: "Some unfortunate individuals will have to be removed from life support so that others may live."

Among those who have argued in favor of health-care rationing are moral philosopher Peter Singer and former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber.

Triage is the rationing of medical care in an emergency situation.
Now medical care isn't the only social service or commodity that can be rationed. As the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve system successfully demonstrates, even the total available money supply that floats the capitalist system can be "rationed" as well. But unsuccessful attempts at the inverse-rationing policy of expanding the base of available credit to many low income previosuly ineligible members, as with the housing collapse of 2007 demonstrated, have proven to be absolutely disastrous to a socialist economy in transition from captitalism to communism.

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