I read Ed Hale’s April 17th letter (“Socialism Has Arrived) with great amusement. Given the timing of his anti-government rant, I was left to wonder if he wrote it with fingers slamming angrily against the keyboard, just after he sent a check to the IRS. If I could go back and read his previous letters in sequence, the experience might be sort of like singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, where each verse contains every element of the prior verse, but with a new element added on at the end. I’m sure Mr. Hale believes all that stuff he wrote about the government taking over every aspect of our lives, but I think that old Christmas carol would probably stand up better to fact checking than his letter.
Let’s start with a definition of socialism, courtesy of dictionary.com: “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”
No doubt Mr. Hale might say this language supports his argument that the government is working to redistribute wealth. I would wholeheartedly agree, except it appears to be going in the wrong direction. Real wages for the middle class have essentially been flat since the mid-1970’s, but in 2012, the top 1% of earners collected 22.5% of that year’s income, the highest level since 1928, according to former MIT economist Thomas Piketty.
Average CEO pay is now 200 times what an average employee earns, a gap ten times the size of what it was in the 1950’s. There is opposition to raising the minimum wage even though the current proposal leaves it below the rate required to keep up with inflation over time. Perhaps this opposition has more to do with a desire to offload labor costs to the taxpayers, using programs like Food Stamps as indirect subsidies for corporations, than some government plot to control people’s lives, as Mr. Hale asserts.