|Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura|
He went from "Jesse the Body" to "Jesse the Brain."
The video below is a few years old and in it he discusses the notion of a "maximum wage."
He uses the Walton family of Walmart fame as an example. He argues that there is something fundamentally wrong with wealth distribution in the United States. Walton family members are billionaires even as US taxpayers are forced to subsidize their employees due to low wages. From my perspective, Ventura is correct to point to the problem. Personally, I could not care less how much anyone earns or how many simoleons a person acquires over the years. It is not my business and it does me no personal harm.
However, the very notion that regular working-class Americans must subsidize the employees of gazillionaires does indicate a significant problem. So, what to do?
I do not have the answer.
The reason that the question interests me, however, is because it seems to go to a fundamental fault-line in western politics between authoritarian socialism and liberal capitalism. I never write on economic theory because I do not believe that I have the necessary education to weigh-in on that field. But I certainly think that Ventura has a point.
Socialism, if it means anything, means that the workers own the means of production. That is the most fundamental definition. But it also means, essentially, that therefore the government owns everything. It suggests an authoritarian framework that flies directly in the face of the Constitution of the United States and of western liberalism, more generally.
What I would suggest is that many of the people who currently refer to themselves as "socialist" on the American political scene are probably not. Actually, they are social democrats. The reason that I say so is that they also see themselves as anti-authoritarian. Certainly the little ideological offspring of Bernie Sanders -- a self-proclaimed socialist -- see themselves as freethinkers and anti-fascists. The problem is that socialism and anti-authoritarianism are mutually exclusive in practice.
One cannot be a socialist and anti-authoritarian simultaneously because socialism is authoritarian in its nature as a political ideology. The only way that "the workers" can gain ownership of the "means of production" is through government intervention through violence or threats of violence. This is the very definition of authoritarianism.
Thus in the United States, the primary political question is not between socialism versus capitalism, but where to draw the necessary lines within regulatory capitalism because, at the end of the day, we are all pretty much regulatory capitalists. The hard American left is mainly comprised not of actual socialists, but of regulatory capitalists who want to see more regulation. The hard American right is mainly comprised not of fascists, but of regulatory capitalists who want to see less regulation in the interest of individual liberty.
I am not putting forth answers to these fundamental questions.
I am merely endeavoring to define the questions for my personal edification and perhaps for yours.