"Hey Grandpa, what is your opinion of socialism?"
"I've never heard of a socialist system not turning into communism."
"But don't you believe that we, as humans could do better: share the worlds riches; distribute wealth equally? Isn't giving up a few comforts worth knowing that no one is living out on the streets?"
"I believe that the world works the way it is: it couldn't succeed any other way. I worked hard to get to where I am in life, and I'm not about to give it all up. I think I deserve what I have."
This was a small portion of a conversation I had with my grandfather several months ago.
I love my grandpa, but at times, he can be more stubbornly pigheaded then I can, and-in my opinion-about all the wrong things. He sniffs disapprovingly when I come to family get-together's dressed in baggy t-shirts and camouflage pants. He becomes annoyed when I explain earnestly why he doesn't need two cars in his driveway. On the topic of socialism, his response to my ideals was no different.
Personally, I think that socialism, while flawed, is a better option then the money grubbing, capitalistic world in which I currently dwell. I will pause to take a deep breath as I prepare to say something incredibly cheesy: I don't want money. I will give you a moment to wipe the tears of admiration from your eyes. Yes, that sounds stupid, but no, I'm not lying. I know I need to have some money to survive, but I don't want to live in a big house in the suburbs, or drive an SUV. It is my dream to live in an apartment in some large city. I don't want to be rich; I don't know how to be. I'm not rich now, and not always having enough money to buy an Ipod Touch may seem like the worst thing on earth, but it's a lot better to come home to your small, lively pigsty of a home then to live in a huge house that echoes when you call out at night.
Oh dear, I seem to have drifted off topic; back then, to socialism.
Ms G., whom, as many of you may know, was my teacher last year, was the one who first explained the constructs of socialism to me.
As she told me and my classmates of what a world with a socialistic economy might be, I was far from convinced; I wanted to succeed, I wanted to be rich, and I knew that with my grades, succeeding would be a simple matter. That was when Ms G used an example that changed my mind.
"If Matt and Eva both have the same jobs," She said, grabbing my classmate and myself at random, "And both work the same hours, but Matt works extremely hard, yet struggles to do his work, whereas Eva is lazy, but does an exceptional job at everything and constantly gets promoted, is that fair?"
Matt didn't think so, and on contemplation, neither did I. Ms G. had grabbed to students at random, but for me, it struck deeply. In truth, I am lazy. I don't do my homework, yet I excel in every subject (except French). I've never had a grade lower then an "A" (except in French). I have friends who study for hours every night, stay late after school to get help from the teacher, pay a tutor, and still barely pass with a C-. I sit around drawing and reading, while they work their asses off: is that fair? According to Capitalism, I suppose it is. According to Capitalistic ideals, of course, those who fail in life were lazy; I must work harder then they, to achieve my grades, to find my place in society.
Grandpa clearly believes himself to be more deserving of his station in life, because he worked hard to accumulate wealth. In his mind, those who are poor are slime, because they brought their poverty upon themselves; I disagree. Yes, some people are lazy, but poverty isn't a choice; our society is set so that there are only enough jobs for 90% of the population. This insures that there will always be people willing to take even the worst of jobs, endangering their lives in dangerous working conditions for terrible pay. Is that fair? What you answer to that question makes the difference between socialism and capitalism.
Everyone is entitled to there opinion, and this is mine:
No; it isn't fair. No one should ever have to starve to death on the streets, while others eat caviar and drive multiple cars. No; I don't think that your quality can or should be measured by the money in your pocket. No; it isn't okay to believe you deserve the things you have in life, and take them for granted. I believe that socialism can work, if we all understand that giving up on having more is worth it if everyone has enough.
Idealistic socialistic high school kid signing out,
PS. Hey grandpa, I hope you're not reading this, because I have a feeling you won't give me any birthday presents if you do! Sorry to use you, but you make for such interesting topics! (Grandma! MAKE HIM GIVE ME BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!)