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Socialism is not the answer, but working together is

Last week we were chatting about the US Government, economy, the State of the Union Address and learning lessons from our close friends in America. The main point of the article was that if they can improve their economy and certain initiatives work, we should consider implementing them in Bermuda. Obviously if they don't work we may not want to implement them, but I digress.

I received an interesting perspective on this from one of my readers. We are all entitled to our opinions and this individual has presented an interesting perspective, where they made the assertion that President Obama's policies are socialist and that Bermuda is a socialist regime.

I know what socialism means but thought to confirm it by, guess what? Looking it up.

Socialism is a system of government whereby major industries are owned and controlled by the Government rather than by companies and individuals. It seems to me that the President is trying to influence major industries to do the right thing. This is not owning and it is not necessarily controlling. However, if you simplify his tax proposal to being like being Robin Hood, the concept of taking from the rich and giving to the poor can be simplified and interpreted as a form of socialism.

However, the other side of this is that in any society throughout the history of mankind, whenever the upper class is doing well and the lower class feels as if they are being left out, exploited, etc, there will be a revolution and nobody will be happy. The point of spreading the wealth is that adage, “To whom much is given; much is expected”. There is also the Christian concept of helping one another, loving thy neighbour, being the good Samaritan, being fair, and that it is better to give than to receive.

So let's say that I'm middle class. I should pay more in taxes than a person who is impoverished, whether they are responsible for their predicament or not. I have no issue with this because it is just a fair system that gives everybody a chance to succeed; to have the proverbial 'American dream' or 'Bermudian dream'.

For instance, even though Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are self-made billionaires (and I am a huge fan of people who create wealth), they live in a society and the fee for the privilege to live in that society and create wealth is some form of taxation but you cannot tell me that it is fair for them to pay less in taxes than their secretaries.

I believe that any wise Government should regulate all industries. Those businesses being regulated may feel that the Government is controlling them, but this is not real control and it is certainly not ownership; it is merely making sure that companies don't break the law of the land. Governments should do no more than that and should otherwise stay out of the way and let businesses run their business and make money as long as those businesses are not breaking the law.

Government representatives should not be on boards or involved in companies in industries for which they are responsible. That is a conflict of interest which has no place in governments because it leads to corruption.

To paraphrase British historian Lord Acton, 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. That is what I took from what President Obama was trying to prevent or stop. I submit that the Bermuda Government should also take steps to prevent corruption or conflict of interest from even being possible, for this very same reason.

Bermuda is not a socialist country or government. I see where the reader was going however, with his thoughts and feelings on the matter. We do not encourage laziness and we definitely don't want to give handouts to people who simply don't want to work. However, we have to create the conditions for every citizen who wants to work to be able to get a job and feed their family and loved ones.

Every citizen in a country should have healthcare. Every person in a society should be able to work and afford accommodation. Basically, a government has a duty to use its best efforts to provide access to the things on the first level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (things like food, shelter, clothing) to all of its citizens.

In any event, a significant percentage of the American public appear to not embrace President Obama's policies or his message. It would also be fair to say that a significant proportion of them do embrace his policies and message. We will see in November what the majority of Americans feel and who they want to lead them.

Bermuda too will have an election soon, possibly before November. I guess we will also see who the majority of Bermudians want to lead them. Only time will tell. Until then, we should all be doing whatever we can to encourage job creation, grow the economy, increase the size of the workforce, make Bermuda attractive to foreign investment and even local investment, encourage new business start-ups, encourage real estate development, increase consumer confidence, develop the workforce, change the attitudes of those who need an attitude adjustment, and get Bermuda going and growing again.

Now is not the time for taking political sides. We must all take Bermuda's side and do what's in the best interest of Bermuda. We all succeed or fail together. Let's all please do what we can so that we all succeed. High tide rises all boats.

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Published February 03, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 03, 2012 at 6:03 am)

Socialism is not the answer, but working together is

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