Source: David Shankbone, “Members that the democratic Socialists that America march at the Occupy wall Street protest in new York,” wikimedia.org, Sep. 17, 2011, an innovative commons license

Socialism in the United claims is one increasingly famous topic. Some argue that the nation should proactively move towards socialism to spur society progress and also greater equity, if others need that the nation prevent this by any and also all means necessary. This subject is often carried up in connection with universal health care and totally free college education, ideas that room socialist through definition, or as a general warning against leftist politics.

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While some politicians openly encourage socialism or socialist policies (Senator Bernie Sanders and also Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example), others disapprove the socialist brand (now Vice president Kamala Harris stated she was “not a democratic Socialist” throughout the 2020 presidential campaign) or invoke it as a dirty word the is contradictory to American ideals (in the 2019 State that the Union, president Trump proclaimed the united state would “never it is in a socialist country” due to the fact that “We are born free, and we will stay free”). <1> <2>

To think about whether the United states should embrace socialism or in ~ least an ext socialist policies, the pertinent terms must first be defined.

Socialism is one economic and also social policy in which the public owns industry and also products, rather than private people or corporations. Under socialism, the government controls most means of production and also natural resources, among other industries, and everyone in the nation is licensed has been granted to an equitable share according to their contribution to society. Individual personal ownership is encouraged. <3>

Politically, socialist nations tend to it is in multi-party with democratic elections. Right now no nation operates under a 100% socialist policy. Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and also Sweden, while heavily socialist, all incorporate socialism v capitalism. <4> <5>

Capitalism, the unified States’ existing economic model, is a policy in which exclusive individuals and corporations regulate production that is guided through markets, no by the government. Capitalism is likewise called a free market economic situation or complimentary enterprise economy. Capitalism functions on private property, profit motive, and market competition. <6>

Politically, capitalist countries range from democracies come monarchies to oligarchies come despotisms. Many western nations are capitalist, consisting of the united States, Canada, the united Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, and new Zealand. Likewise capitalist space Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the unified Arab Emirates. However, many of these countries, including the joined States, have applied socialist plans within their capitalist systems, such as social security, minimum wages, and energy subsidies. <7> <8>

Communism is generally used together a synonym because that socialism and also the specific differences in between the two are heavily debated. One difference is the communism provides everyone in the nation with an same share, fairly than the equitable share promised by socialism. Communist is frequently summarized by the knife Marx slogan, “From every according come his ability, to every according come his needs,” and was believed by Marx to it is in the step past socialism. Individual exclusive ownership is illegal in many communist countries. <4> <9>

Politically, communist nations tend to be led by one communist party, and also elections are only within the party. Frequently, the armed forces has far-reaching political power. Historically, a mystery police has additionally shared the power, as in the former Soviet Union, the largest communist country in history. Polite liberties (such as freedom of the press, speech, and assembly) are publicly embraced, but frequently minimal in practice, often by force. Nations that are currently communist encompass China, Cuba, Laos, north Korea, and Vietnam. Precious noting is that few of these countries, including the autonomous People’s Republic the Korea (North Korea) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, label themselves as democratic or socialist despite they accomplish the meaning of communism and are run by communist parties. Additionally, some communist countries, such together China and also Vietnam, run with partial complimentary market economies, i beg your pardon is a cornerstone the capitalism, and also some socialist policies. <4> <5> <10> <11> <12> <13>

Given those definitions, should the United claims adopt more socialist policies such as complimentary college, medicare-for-all, and the Green brand-new Deal?

Should the US become Socialist?

Pro 1

The US currently has plenty of successful and popular socialist policies.

A many of daily American policies are socialist: medicare, society security, the minimum wage, and also child labor regulations to name a few.

As Jack Schwartz, the so late Newsday book editor and also author explained, the Socialist Party platform of 1912 included many policies Americans now wouldn’t think of as “socialist,” including: “An eight-hour workday in ~ a kind wage, a public-works regime for the jobless (realized later in the new Deal’s Works progress Administration), security regulations for workers in the mines and factories, a child-labor law, an old-age pension, unemployment and accident insurance, a graduated earnings tax, one inheritance tax, suffrage for women, a direct vote in nationwide elections act away through the electoral college, the development of separate departments the health, education and also labor, and a convention to review the Constitution. The an initial of their political requirements was absolute freedom of the press, speech and assembly.” <14>

If existing and also proposed socialist policies are so heavily favored, they should be maintained.

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Pro 2

The job of the US government is to permit and protect every one of its citizens. More socialist policies deserve to work v capitalist structures to undo the harm done by unfettered capitalism.

Capitalism has actually resulted in the peak 1% of american holding an ext wealth (a linked net worth of $34.2 trillion, or 30.4% the all united state wealth) than the bottom 50% of american ($2.1 trillion, or 1.9%). <22>

This disparity is not since billionaires work-related harder 보다 those earning a minimum wage. Instead, rich Americans have an ext access and exposure come the stock market, and the Americans with the top 10% of wealth hold over 88% of all accessible equity in corporations and also mutual money shares (and the optimal 1% hold much more than double as much equity 보다 the bottom 50% of american combined). And also nationwide crises, such together the COVID-19 pandemic, only increase these disparities. <22>

Socialist policies, specifically a wide range tax, might redistribute wealth and assist Americans who have actually been penalized through a structurally inequitable system.

Those who support socialist policies think the measures might “create a fairer, an ext generous system,” and “build upon… and also improve capitalism.” including socialist policies isn’t an either/or debate against capitalism. Both equipment can function together. <23>

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Pro 3

The American public support the implementation of an ext socialist policies.

In general, socialist policies are generally supported by Americans: 69% support medicare-for-all. 63% support complimentary public university tuition. 59% support increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2025. 85% support paid work leave because that illness. 82% support paid maternity leave. 69% assistance paid paternity leave. 67% assistance paid leave to treatment for one ill household member. 74% support ongoing social protection benefits without cuts. 66% assistance government-led eco-friendly protections. And also 64% assistance a wealth tax. <15> <16> <17> <18> <19> <20> <21>

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Con 1

The US currently has too countless costly socialist entitlements.

Socialism is a collection of entitlements that price the American windy a considerable amount the money. 2018 estimates put the cost of democratic Socialist proposals, including however not limited to Social security expansion, cost-free college, paid household leave, and medicare-for-all, in ~ $42.5 sunshine over ten years. In 2017, the federal government spent approximately $2.7 trillion on entitlements consisting of Social Security, medicare, and also unemployment insurance. If new entitlements expense $4.2 much more per year, it is a 157% increase in government spending for handouts. <24> <25>

To raise money come pay because that the entitlements, taxes space going to need to be raised. The socialists propose a riches tax, however 60% the registered voter were no in donate of a wealth taxation if it applied to them (if they won the lottery, for example). <26>

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Con 2

The task of the US government is come enable totally free enterprise and also then get out the the way of individual ingenuity and also hard work. The government should promote equal opportunity, not promise equal results.

As the Dallas commonwealth Reserve explained, “Free enterprise means men and women have actually the chance to own economic resources, such together land, minerals, manufacturing plants and computers, and also to usage those devices to produce goods and services because that sale… Others have actually no intentionally of starting a business. If they choose, they can offer their labor, an additional economic resource, for wages and salaries… By allowing people to go after their very own interests, a complimentary enterprise system can develop phenomenal results. To run shoes, go shoes, mint toothpaste, gel toothpaste, skim milk, coco milk, moving phones and also BlackBerrys are simply a couple of of the millions of commodities created together a an outcome of financial freedom.” <31>

When the government permits individuals to go after what is finest for them there is no interference, individuals prosper, the nation enjoys “an median per capita GDP about six times higher than those with lower levels of financial freedom, also as higher life expectancy, political and civil liberties, gender equality, and happiness.” In summary, “the diversity of economic freedom… help us flourish both as individuals and also as a society.” <32>

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Con 3

The American public supports a capitalist economy.

The American public go not assistance socialism. 65% that Americans have actually favorable see of capitalism, when 42% have a unfavorable check out of socialism. 87% of american support complimentary enterprise, a cornerstone of capitalism, and 60% think a complimentary market model is the finest economy. <27> <28> <29>

Capitalism is the best fit because that the American business man spirit. As note J. Perry, PhD, MBA, Scholar in ~ American enterprise Institute and also Professor of Economics and Finance in ~ the university of Michigan, explained, “Capitalism will certainly play a major role in the an international revival the liberty and prosperity due to the fact that it nurtures the human being spirit, inspires human creativity, and promotes the soul of enterprise. By offering a powerful system that incentives the promote thrift, hard work, and efficiency, capitalism creates wealth. The main difference between capitalism and also socialism is this: Capitalism works.” <30>

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Take Action

1. Think about this defense that socialism through Bruce Nissen, Carol McNamee and also Sean Armil.

2. Explore socialism through the Brookings academy primer.

3. Analysis Andy Puzder’s defense that capitalism.

4. Consider how friend felt around the issue before reading this article. After reading the pros and cons top top this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List 2 to 3 ways. If your thoughts have actually not changed, list 2 to three means your better understanding the the “other side of the issue” now helps you far better argue your position.

5. Push for the position and policies you support by composing US national senators and also representatives.


1.Jeremy Hobson and also Serena McMahon, “What Is Socialism? A background of the Word offered as a fear Tactic in American Politics,” wbur.org, Mar. 7, 2019
2.Rebecca Walser, “Trump claims US will "Never" it is in a Socialist Country, Here"s Why It matters So Much,” foxbusiness.com, Feb. 6, 2019
3.Terrence Ball and Richard Dagger, “Socialism,” britannica.com, Mar. 1, 2021
4.Matt Rosenberg, “A perform of existing Communist countries in the World,” thoughtco.com, Apr. 11, 2020
5.Kimberly Amadeo, “Socialism and also Its Characteristics: Pros, Cons, Examples, and also Types,” thebalance.com, Nov. 7, 2020
6.Editors that Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Capitalism,” britannica.com, Sep. 23, 2020
7.Kimberly Amadeo, “Capitalism: that is Characteristics, Pros, and also Cons,” thebalance.com, Oct. 16, 2020
8.George Waas, “America currently Has Socialist programs — you Probably advantage from castle | Opinion,” tallahassee.com, Dec. 2, 2020
9.Terence Ball and also Richard Dagger, “Communism,” britannica.com, Nov. 13, 2019
10.Kimberly Amadeo, “What Is Communism?,” thebalance.com, Mar. 18, 2021
11.Robert W. Pringle, “KGB,” britannica.com, Mar. 2, 2021
12.Martin McCauley, “Soviet Union,” britannica.com, Nov. 10, 2020
13.Carmen Alexe, “I prospered Up in a Communist System. Here’s What Americans nothing Understand about Freedom,” fee.org, Mar. 9, 2018
14.Jack Schwartz, “How Socialism made America Great,” thedailybeast.com, July 1, 2019
15.Hannah Hartig, “Democrats Overwhelmingly Favor cost-free College Tuition, while republicans Are separated by Age, Education,” pewresearch.org, Feb. 21, 2020
16.The Hill, “Poll: 69 Percent that Voters assistance Medicare because that All,” thehill.com, Apr. 4, 2020
17.Reuters Staff, “Majority that Americans assistance $15 Minimum Wage, Reuters/Ipsos poll Shows,” reuters.com Feb. 25, 2021
18.Juliana Menasce Horowitz, et al., “Americans Widely assistance Paid Family and Medical Leave, however Differ over particular Policies,” pewresearch.org, Mar. 23, 2017
19.Kim Parker, well-off Morin and also Juliana Menasce Horowitz, “Retirement, society Security and also Long-Term Care,” pewresearch.org, Mar. 21, 2019
20.Mohamed Younis, “Four in 10 Americans adopt Some kind of Socialism,” news.gallup.com, may 20, 2019
21.Howard Schneider and Chris Kahn, "Majority the Americans donate Wealth taxation on very Rich: Reuters/Ipsos Poll," reuters.com, Jan. 10, 2020
22.Tommy Beer, “Top 1% the U.S. Households Hold 15 Times much more Wealth than Bottom 50% Combined,” forbes.com, Oct. 8, 2020
23.Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, and Rakesh Kochhar, “Most americans Say there Is too Much financial Inequality in the U.S., but Fewer Than half Call that a height Priority,” pewresearch.org, Jan. 9, 2020
24.Brian Riedl, “America could Be ready for democratic Socialism. That Not all set for the Bill.,” vox.com, Aug 7, 2018
25.Drew Desilver, “What go the Federal federal government Spend Your taxation Dollars On? social Insurance Programs, Mostly,” pewresearch.org, Apr. 4, 2017
26.Matthew Sheffield, “Polls: Americans desire a 70 Percent Tax rate on the Rich, but Are much less Enthused about Applying It to Themselves,” thehill.com, Feb. 26, 2019
27.Jennifer Rubin, “Opinion: new Poll: Capitalism Is an ext Popular 보다 Socialism,” washingtonpost.com, June 25, 2019
28.Jeffrey M. Jones and also Lydia Saad, “U.S. Assistance for much more Government inch Up, but Not for Socialism,” news.gallup.com, Nov. 18, 2019
29.Ezra Klein, “Is America’s Future Capitalist or Socialist?,” vox.com, Jan. 7, 2019
30.Mark J. Perry, “Why Socialism always Fails,” aei.org, Mar. 22, 2016

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Dallas federal Reserve, “Free Enterprise, the Economy and Monetary Policy,” dallasfed.org, Sep. 2005
32.Policy Circle, “Free Enterprise and also Economic Freedom,” thepolicycircle.org (accessed Apr. 2, 2021)