Rebuttal to Walter Williams' "Socialism is Evil"
by - August 1, 2004
Walter Williams is a "conservative" syndicated columnist, who
promotes "Libertarian" ideology. I was somewhat surprised however when I
saw his recent article, Socialism is Evil, in my local
newspaper. Though my reply to his article is too long to make it as a
"letter to the editor", I did e-mail him in rebuttal to his claims.
Here is a link to Williams' "Socialism is Evil" article:
Walter E. Williams- Socialism is evil
My letter to Walter, in revised form:
Walter, Walter, you are really stretching these days.
Must you really break down to using such childish terms as "evil" to
describe modern economic systems?
First let me go into a little American economic history; this will be
brief and simplified.
Vast open "unclaimed" wilderness. Millions of natives killed,
enslaved, or driven from their land. Millions of Africans enslaved
for hundreds of years and bred in captivity like animals,
constituting one of the largest slave systems in the history of the
world. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land freely "given" to
white settlers by the American government (after it was "acquired"
from the natives).
A nation emerges out of a newly settled land of virtually untapped
resources where there was so much "unclaimed" property that almost
every white person was able to acquire some for free or nearly free.
America was born out of perhaps the single largest redistribution of
property in the history of mankind. 100% of America was
At the turn of the 20th century the Industrial Revolution takes root
in America and a system of ownership of the means of production by a
very few emerges. Prostitution, child labor, poverty, homelessness,
and abandonment of the elderly all increase, as does the suicide
rate. Lynching of blacks to "keep them in their place" continued as
With almost all of the wealth of the nation owned by a handful of
people, progressive income taxation and trust busting began. Teddy
Roosevelt led the charge by stating:
"…the National Government should impose a graduated
inheritance tax, and, if possible, a graduated income tax. The man
of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he
derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.
Not only should he recognize this obligation in the way he leads his
daily life and in the way he earns and spends his money, but it
should also be recognized by the way in which he pays for the
protection the State gives him."
- Theodore Roosevelt 1906
When federal income taxation was implemented by Woodrow Wilson it
fell almost entirely on the wealthiest Americans. This, coupled with
the post World War One economic boom (caused by massive American
profiteering from the war), led to somewhat of a subsiding of class
antagonisms, while still providing the money needed to run a
But of course this all came to an end with the Great Depression.
Government spending, yadda yadda, WWII comes and goes and low and
behold the immediate post war era sees the largest peace time
increase in government spending and redistribution of wealth to help
poor and working class families in American history. The majority of
the recipients of government assistance during the 1940s and 1950s
were poor white families.
(Notice that the highest peace time spending took place under
Reagan and Bush Sr.)
Guess what? While the American government was giving aid to
millions of families during the 1950s and 1960s with taxes raised
almost exclusively from the wealthy through a highly graduated
income tax, do you know what happened?
The large American middle class was born for the first time in
Do you understand that the most "socialistic" (as you describe it)
time in American history was the 1950s? By the 1960s much aid was
being given to minority families as well, and guess what? The
programs do largely work.
(Notice the decrease in poverty rates under Democratic Presidents
and rises under Republican)
Boy, America must be some kind of "evil" place, just imagine:
wealthy people (who have acquired their fortunes by making profits
from the work of other people or from simply owning claim to natural
resources, such a oil (which wasn't made or produced by that person
and which that person may have never even labored to acquire or
bring to market)) in America (where the "poor", "oppressed", rich
people paid high taxes during the 1950s and 1960s to help to build
the most stable middle class in American history) are FORCED to pay
for the maintenance of the social infrastructure that has enabled
them to acquire their fortunes! Oh the outrage!!
(Prior to 1941 virtually all income taxes were paid by the
wealthiest 5% of Americans)
Keep in mind that during the 1950s virtually all of the wealthy
were white people so make sure that in the future you point out that
in reality it was not the poor blacks, who were excluded from
politics, employment and education during the 50s, but rather the
POOR RICH WHITE MEN, who were sadly oppressed by the 98% tax bracket
who really suffered.
Forget the fact that some people are born (or should I say placed
by God) into wealthy families with every advantage and some people
are born (or should I say placed by God) into poverty, without
proper medical care, without proper nutrition, without the type of
environment that leads to a healthy and productive development.
Let's just forget that for a second, because after all, this MUST be
all part of "God's plan", and "Lord knows" that "just because you
are born poor doesn't mean you don't have all the exact same
opportunities that a rich baby has", or perhaps you can say, "being
rich has its own problems and challenges as well".
But let's just forget that, because we all know that just because you
can't choose your parents, "God" is doing it for you, and when he
chooses to give the blessing of motherhood to a poor single mother,
regardless of how bad or irresponsible the parents may or may not
be, the child has every equal opportunity to be successful just like
the rest of us. The last thing that a child born into poverty needs
is the big bad EVIL government coming along and trying to feed it or
make sure that it has a place to live as opposed to living on the
streets or pay for special school programs to try and makeup for the
lack of quality care that it gets at home, THAT is just down right
EVIL. Only Satan could conjure up such hideousness!
So as I said, let's forget that whole aspect of it altogether and
just look purely at the economics of the situation and what this
private property business is all about.
Let's just go ahead and "imagine" how great our country would be
without these evil programs (that helped to build the American
In order to imagine America without these programs we can simply look
at America before the programs (sort of).
The "evil" of Social Security for example:
Before this evil program was implemented there was a growing number
of elderly going homeless, committing suicide, and dying of
starvation in America. The true evil of this program is that it
interfered with "God's plan", which is to weed out the weak and the
sick to keep the pack lean and productive correct? Or was that part
of Darwin's theory about evolution, I forget?
Now I have to wonder, what was society like BEFORE the advent of
modern capitalism and the Industrial Revolution?
Well, if you take the older communal societies, (naturally
socialistic that is) people would live with their families, often in
shared communal neighborhoods. The community would pitch in to help
care for and feed the elderly and people often lived with their
parents their whole lives or at least brought their parents back
into their homes when they were too old to care for themselves.
Even going more primitive, in tribal cultures the young productive
members of society would WORK to create extra resources, such as
food, that were then brought home to GIVE to the elderly. Hmm...
this is starting to stink of socialism!
Well, let's look at Social Security today, we have the younger
members of society working and some of that labor produces resources
that are given the elderly to care for them. Boy that's evil. After
all, the young folks don't owe anything to the elderly do they?
Hell, they just came before and helped to build his great nation of
ours and make the lives of the young possible. It's EVIL to think
that the young, whose lives are only made possible by the hard work
of those who came before them, should help to care for the elderly.
That's just down right Satanic!
But wait, there's more, we still haven't fully imagined America
without aid for the poor and the elderly.
Let's see, without these programs we could expect things to be
similar to the way they were in the 1930s before their
implementation, could we not? Actually it would be worse because in
the 1920s and 30s about 25% - 30% of Americans were farmers. Now
only about 1% of Americans are farmers, which means that only about
1% of Americans could be self-sufficient (probably less since most
farms today are factory farms, not family farms).
Of course, capitalism and industrialization are the reasons why
Americans as individuals can no longer be self sufficient like they
used to be. So, let's imagine a modern America without welfare and
Well, you can bet that crime would increase massively (real crime
that is, not the fake so-called crime of taxation, but actual
muggings, armed robbery, extortion, sales of drugs, prostitution,
etc). The number of homeless would go up; that surely wouldn't be
good for business would it? And this seems to be where most
conservatives get confused, because you fail to recognize that the
Welfare State is a product of capitalist society and that the
purpose of the Welfare State is to benefit the wealthy by
controlling the poor by keeping them placated instead of
revolutionary like they were in the 19th century and first half of
the 20th century.
I may be figuring this whole thing out though. You see the number
of people in prison in America has exploded over the past 20 years,
and of course the majority of those behind bars are black Americans.
In some states people permanently lose their right to vote after
having been convicted of a federal crime. America now has the
highest prison population in the world and it's still growing. If
funding for programs such as Social Security and Welfare programs
were removed the American Prison-Industrial Complex could continue
to expand at a rapid rate, producing vast profits for the growing
privately-owned prison systems (which still require taxes to fund),
a business that makes billions of dollars a year. By the way, I'm
sure you know that lobbyists for private prison corporations also
lobby law makers for harsher penalties and longer sentences, but of
course that's just good business. It is the American way right?
13% of adult African American males have permanently lost their
right to vote due to laws that prevent people with federal
convictions from voting.
But hey, the way that the prison system has been ramping up lately
I'm sure it can take a few million more inmates. After all that
might help reduce the "unemployment rate".
If you could just eliminate all this "evil" "redistribution of
wealth" (because after all, redistribution of wealth from the
working class to the wealthy through ownership of rights to value
created by workers is God's will, right?) you can help to bring
class warfare to a point and bring America closer to a new
revolution. Way to go Walter, way to go.
P.S. Walter, are you opposed to the Stock Market too (a system that
by definition takes value from workers and redistributes it to the
wealthy)? Are you opposed to banking and the charging of interest,
because after all according to the Bible God said:
24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with
the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children
25 If you lend money to one of my people among you who is
needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him,
Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute
unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come,
35 'If one of your countrymen becomes poor
and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an
alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.
36 Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your
God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you.
37 You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at
13 He lends at usury and takes excessive interest.
Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these
detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will
be on his own head.
Strangely it seems that your God may be a socialist! If you
are going to try to use the Bible to oppose social assistance
programs, perhaps you had better actually read it first, and then
you should direct your efforts against the very things that create
the need for such programs in the first place, ya know, like taxing
the poor, low wages (the minimum wage is now lower than it was in
1950 when adjusted for inflation), discrimination, unequal funding
of schools in low income areas, excessive corporate profits,
corporations that pay 25 cents an hour to Chinese workers instead of
hiring Americans who are looking for jobs, a school system that is
behind the schools of Europe and Asia, etc. Since profits are the
result of paying workers less than the value that they create
through their labor, who exactly is stealing from who? As I said,
the Welfare State is simply an enabling tool for capitalism. Without
it you have to change the fundamentals of the system, which means
eliminating the root causes of these problems, which means
eliminating capitalism itself. So it's your choice Walter, the
Welfare State or capitalism; which one do you want to eliminate?
Additional Note - September 13, 2004:
P.P.S. One of the most interesting things about "conservative"
voters who oppose government assistance programs is that the
conservative states are the largest recipients of government
assistance. In fact, the real redistribution of wealth in America is
taking place from the liberal states to the conservative states.
Government programs such as the Rural Electrification Project, the
Federal Highway System, and farm subsidies have disproportionately
benefited conservative rural America, projects paid for
disproportionately by the liberal urban economic centers.
"Conservative" America is actually the largest recipient of
redistributed wealth in America. As the table below shows, there is
a net flow of money from "Democratic" states to "Republican" states
via federal spending.
The first step Walter, is for all the poor conservative states to
stop "stealing" from the wealthy liberal states.
States' Balance of Payments with Washington, 2001 (dollars in
Republican vs. Democratic States During 2004 Presidential
|Total Account Balance for Red States
|Total Account Balance for Blue States
|* Red States won by
only 5% of the vote or less
Data complied from:
New York's Balance of Payments with Washington - The Public
Election 2000 maps
Winners and Losers in the Tax Game -- 12-18-2000