In history class, we learn about two primary economical systems. We learn about Capitalism which was defined by the philosopher Adam Smith and was later advanced by the writings of Ayn Rand. We also learn about Communism which was developed and conceptualized by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and later was practiced by Vladimir Lenin of Russia, Josef Stalin of Russia, and Mao Tse-Tung of China. Capitalism is the economic system where the citizens are given the freedom to private property and to do with it as they wish. Communism, on the other hand, is the system where the property of the people is owned collectively by the entire government and no person owns anything that is personal. So much debate rages on between these two possibly economical systems - in a debate that has been labeled "C Versus C" - yet rarely is a third economical system considered. However, I contend that to have any well working system of an economy we must have Socialism. A Socialist society can be defined as an economy where the government has placed a restriction or a limitation on one of various economical factors: wages, working conditions, working hours, prices, etc.. The minimum wage as we have it, for example, can surely be considered a Socialist invention.
The 1800's were the dawn of a new time and new inventions. It was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Men and women were leaving their places as shopkeepers and tradesmen to work in conjunction with each other in large factories to produce higher quality and quantities of goods. This was surely not a glorious time. Men, women, and children where all thrown into a dangerous work place with dangerous machinery that could cause their deaths or amputations. Some children were forced to go into coal mines while other children worked in hazardous factories; much of the time children would fall asleep on the job with 17 hour a day jobs, so an overseer was hired to beat them if they had fallen asleep. They worked in poor conditions for long hours that seemed endless and they were paid pennies per an hour. This was not a few poor people, but the majority of the working class. It was with the blood and sweat of these individuals that industrialists made countless dollars. Men, women, and children died horribly deaths, sometimes with incredibly short lifespans, to feed the insurmountable greed of a handful of individuals. In 1894, Albert Leffingwell makes note of the various social reformers of his century...
Sometimes individuals were forced to work 17 hours a day. In his glorious speech of "Eight Hours Must Come," given in 1890, Robert Green Ingersoll addresses the issue of a working day.
One of the most cruel and vindictive Capitalists was John D. Rockefeller. He broke up unions and forced men, women, and children to work in horrible conditions, long hours, and low pay. After he had trampled over the dead bodies of children in rushing to his greedy fortune, he had donated large sums of it to the Christian Church. To quote Margaret Sanger...
The vices of pure Capitalism can be seen with clear vision: dead children, abused people, and countless suffering. What of Communism? Perhaps it holds some virtues that Capitalism does not? A pure Communist state accomplishes many of the objectives of a pure Capitalist state: depriving the rights of its citizens to fundamental needs. In a Communist state, the workers cannot advance any further, as all of the property that they create and all of the prosperity they create ends up in the hands of everyone but themselves. In a Capitalist state, no one can advance in their social or economic status, either. They are bound to a job and they may not advance, much like serfs were bound to land in the old Feudal system. There are exceptions to this rule, however; the comrades - or dictators even - of a Communist state as well as the industrialists of a Capitalist state are left with the unbridled opportunity of squeezing the blood and sweat of their workers to fuel their own greed. Is there a solution to these two conflicting economical systems? Is there an economical system I believe so, and it is called Socialism.
One method of Socialism is putting a minimum wage in economy and making sure that every gets at least enough money from their work to get by with a few luxuries. Another good law of Socialism would be to have safe working conditions, where men and women may go to work without fear of death or amputation. Another law, described by Ingersoll, would be to have a set number of working hours, namely eight hours. These are all good laws and regulations of a Socialist economy. In these conditions, both the industrialists and the workers may advance themselves further and they may contribute to society. No Humanitarian or social reformer could ever find Capitalism to be an attractive, economical system. Socialism is also generally the system which the United States economy operates under as of today. It is surely a fine, working system. However, if every person is granted the right to their property and to what they wish to do with it, then in what way is the government justified in controlling that property so that the industrialist has a minimum wage? How is it justified? Can it be justified? I believe so.
A government is a utilitarian system, made for creating a better outcome than we would have with anarchy, or no government. When a citizen is a member of a government, they have entered into an agreement with the government to follow its rules and regulations. John Locke referred to this as the Social Contract. It is not the industrialist who makes a government, nation, or society work. It is the working class. The voters, the cleaners, the clerks, the plumbers, the librarians, the teachers, the professors, the police officers, the farmers, the engineers, the doctors, and in general the working class that make society function and flow as it does. When we - the working class - have entered into this contract, this Social Contract, with the government in hopes that it would improve our living and we end up under the control of a tyrannical industrialist, it is obvious that the government has failed on its part of the Social Contract. We as citizens follow the laws put forth by the government, but the government fails to make laws which protect its citizens, namely the working class. The government is purely an intellectual invention to creating a better life for everyone involved; when children die at the age of 8 in coal mines and adults have limbs torn from their bodies from dangerous equipment, can we honestly consider this to be a government that attempts to improve the life for its citizens? It certainly is not and the government can easily be considered a failure. The working class have a right to Socialism - to minimum wage, to safe working conditions, to eight hours in a work day - and the justification for this is as follows: we are the members of society who turn the gears that make this economy move; and we are the citizens who have agreed to the Social Contract with the government to improve our lives.