How American Socialists Disregard Real Poverty

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I’ve lived in third world, socialist Bolivia before. It was unpleasant. I saw thousands begging and going hungry. People would pull their pants down and defecate right in the streets. No one paid them any mind, because they didn’t have toilets either. I saw people who lived in mud shacks half the size of my living room (and my living room is not big) with their entire family — shacks with no electricity or clean running water.

Every argument I’ve ever heard for socialism has begun with how someone thinks that they have a right to something. Here are things Americans don’t have a right to. Being an American doesn’t give someone the right to think that their life is more important than anyone else’s. It doesn’t give them the right to feel like the world owes them anything either. Americans are not entitled to having air conditioning, or their own bedroom, or cable, or internet, or computers, or TVs. Perhaps most important, being an American does not entitle someone to spend their income on privileges, and enjoy a standard of living greater than most of their fellow human beings, and then turn their pockets inside out and pretend that they simply couldn’t afford insurance or other things they claim they have a right to.

If your average American lived the way many in Bolivia live, if they shared a one room apartment with four roommates, if they had no water bill, no power bill, no cable bill, no phone bill, or internet bills, I think you would find almost everyone would be able to afford their ‘rights’.

So, there is a problem when a socialist pulls me aside and points to some metaphorical random ‘poor’ American, (someone who is statistically likely to be overweight as opposed to starving) and asks, “Why don’t you feel obligated to pay this person’s bills for them?” To put it bluntly, it is because that person is not special to me. The fact that that person is American like me does not cause me to believe that their life is more important than a random Bolivian. The fact that that person is more likely to be white like me, relative to a random Bolivian, does not lead me to grant them more importance.

What people need to understand is that socialism has nothing to do with helping the poor. If American socialists cared at all about poor people in general, they would not suggest that we redistribute wealth to first world, American poor, of which most of them so conveniently happen to be. They would advocate taking wealth from the top 1% and giving it to the bottom 1% regardless of race or nationality. But they never do. They realize that if such a thing were proposed, almost every dime would go to third world countries and not themselves. If you ever meet someone who claims they desperately want to help the poor… but only if said poor shares their own nationality or race, then you should find it evident that it isn’t charity motivating this person.  It is bigotry.

Socialism is never proposed without elements of nationalism. It is always national socialism. And it shouldn’t surprise any student of history when they discover that the word Nazi is short for National Socialism. Nazis are the type of people socialism attracts. Socialism attracts people who say, “My problems are more important than yours… because I’m a (blank) and you aren’t.” And it always makes the political leap by saying, “My rights are more important than yours… because I’m a (blank) and you aren’t.” All I have to say to American socialists is that being an American does not entitle them to my stuff. And if being poor entitles someone to my stuff, I can think of literally billions of people who would be more entitled to it than even the poorest person in this country.

To the socialists. Please do not tell me you intend to fix poverty by redistributing wealth from the top 1% of human beings to the top 20% of human beings while conveniently choosing to ignore the bottom 80% of human beings simply because they are not of your race or nationality. Please do not tell me that you intend to create a utopia by advocating that my own government threaten me with imprisonment for not wanting to pay taxes to help the poor… while conveniently narrowing the specific poor to your own in-group.

Too often people apologize for socialists. They say things like, “Oh the socialists are good people. They have the best of intentions. They just don’t know how economics work.” They aren’t good people. They are nationalists at best, racists at worst, who also don’t know how basic economics work, because frankly, ignorance is the common denominator for many of humanity’s failures. It is time that Americans understand that socialism is more than an intellectual failure. It’s a moral failure.

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James Parrish

James Parrish is a 31 year old CPA and financial analyst living in Tennessee. His father was in the military, and for two years his family was stationed in La Paz, Bolivia.

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