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Is America Socialist?

Is America Socialist?

3 mins
March 17, 2016

If you use Social Security are you a socialist? All Americans use it. Is America socialist?

Well, Social Security is a socialist program.

But being forced to use a socialist program doesn’t make one a socialist. A socialist, after all, is one who thinks the government should own (most of) the means of production in an economy.


We can easily see how wrong, because there is a lot of socialism in “free market” America.

  •  Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac are socialist. These mortgage lenders are government-chartered, government-supported, and, since 2009, government-owned. When they go bust from reckless, politically-driven lending (as they have), it is taxpayers who are forced to bail them out, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. They wreck the economy, then wreck your pocket-book to pay for it.

  • Our health care is mostly socialist: thanks to Obamacare, government outlays, transferred from taxpayer pockets, account for more than half of total U.S. health care spending. And nowadays “private” insurance is neither fully private nor insurance. It’s a sign of how socialist our health care is that we never see prices in medical offices like you do in any Walmart or Best Buy. Another sign is that we tend to think of our health benefits without considering the costs or who pays for them.

  • Passenger rail service is socialist. It is government-owned, both Amtrak and commuter systems.
Amtrak off rails
  • It never covers its own costs. Productive people are forced to pay taxes to support it. Its work rules are hidebound. Amtrak has become a living museum, preserving the work practices and rail quality of 1968 for all eternity.

    Yesterday I experienced railroad socialism first-hand. I and a colleague happened to arrive at an Amtrak station just when a train we wanted was scheduled to depart. We hurried to the platform. But then, the posted train schedule declared our train “departed.” When the train was removed from the posted schedule entirely, we gave up and headed back to the main station. And only then did the train arrive. I ran: I caught it. He ran: he didn’t. That’s no way to run a railroad. But guess what: no one cares, because Amtrak is a socialist firm.


Is that how the whole country should run? The more government regulates or controls a business, the less creative and efficient the business becomes and the more customer complaints swell. Government control threatens your property and your life in order to restrict your ability to act on your own judgment. In a free market, it’s your own money that determines which businesses succeed by best serving you; under socialism, it’s the government using your money, shielding businesses from your choices.

socialism churchill sample

As Ed Hudgins has pointed out, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme lumbering toward bankruptcy. That’s what socialist economies are like, generally.  

Socialists think government can change the “rules of the game” to make them more consumer-friendly. But no one’s life is a game. We are all producers as well as consumers, if we live virtuously. We all deserve the chance to live our own lives and make our own choices.

America is already too socialist. Let’s make it a real land of liberty in the 21st century. A thriving culture and economy—or stagnation and misery—that’s what’s at stake.


Economic Power versus Political Power

Can There be an After Socialism?

How to Counter Socialists about Social Security


William Thomas

William R Thomas writes about and teaches Objectivist ideas. He is the editor of The Literary Art of Ayn Rand and of Ethics at Work, both published by The Atlas Society. He is also an economist, teaching occasionally at a variety of universities.

William Thomas
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William Thomas
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