Since my childhood I could remember the penury of those around me who were suffering because of a lack of essential resources. The grotesque inequality of health-care, education, infrastructural development, nutritional facilities, wealth, housing, police protection, and adequate job opportunities was irrefutably present. It did not take long to realize that I as a human being was less than those on the affluent side of town. Inevitably, as I grew older into my preteen years I began to contemplate the significance of my role within this society. I felt weak, vulnerable and hopeless against a repressive system that was directly affecting my daily life. It wasn’t until I wound up at a community day school (practically a prison school) at the age of 15 that I asked myself, “What am I going to do to create a more just society?”
Consequently, I began to search for an ideology that was embedded in the pursuit of creating a more righteous society. From this search, I found the socialist ideology and method of reasoning. It was as if I had found a gram of gold in a pile of a thousand pounds of dirt. In turn, I became a socialist for a multitude of reasons.
I became a socialist in order to combat the myth of opportunity within the United States. According to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist, “Only 58 percent of children born to the bottom 20 percent make it out”. Furthermore, most of these children only slightly move up the socio-economic staircase while the top 20 percent continue to maintain their advantageous position. Moreover, the majority of the youth has been coldshouldered from society because of the exponential increase in student tuition over the past decades. Currently only 17 percent of Americans attend secondary schools. The tuition increase has discouraged many from attending and obtaining technical skills that would allow them to get decent jobs with opportunities to move up. This has left us stuck with service jobs that usually lack any benefits and living wages.
I became a socialist because the current economic model is based on invalid assumptions and it does not tackle the problem of negative “externalities”. One incorrect assumption is that the market, if left to its own internal devices and without too much regulation, will equitably allocate resources to the population. On the contrary, the market distributes the larger share of total output to those with the most income, and since the richest fifth of U.S households get half of all income, it creates an unequal share of the pie (Schiller). Another assumption is that the market system is filled with rational participants all working together towards collectively reaching their individual goals. But as one of the fathers of current macroeconomic thought John Mayard Keynes famously once stated “The market can stay irrational longer that you can stay solvent”. In other words, the herd-like activities of individuals being fueled to act on the basis of pleasures and not needs, creates an unhealthy system that constantly is booming and busting leaving the workers to fend for themselves. Nonetheless, the grimmest problems with the current economic model are negative externalities. Externalities are costs of a market activity that are footed by a third party. We are producing goods and services without considering the footprint we are leaving on our beautiful planet. The notion that unlimited growth can exist on a planet that has limited resources is a mental step before insanity, yet the overproduction of unnecessary goods and services continues with no end in sight.
I became a socialist to help dismantle the aggressive and destructive U.S foreign policy. As stated in Noemi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”, over four million people have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq alone since the U.S invasion began in 2003. This death count includes 116,000 civilians many of which were women and children (The Telegraph). In Pakistan, signature drone strikes have taken the life of 286 innocent people and over 3,000 combatants without any formal prosecution (New American Foundation). The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost the U.S an estimated 4 to 6 trillion dollars, which does not include the 836 billion dollars for providing medical and disability benefits to veterans (Reuters).
I became a socialist because the capitalist system is rooted in a selfish and egotistical ideology that promotes profits over the well-being of most citizens. Individualistic gain does not justify others pain! It does not justify the inability for people to organize and act collectively! It does not justify the stagnation of the minds of individuals! It does not justify the opprobrium of loving one another! It does not justify taking advantage of the weak and vulnerable! It does not justify the gluttonous and self-indulgent lifestyles of those who are in power. And it does not justify the lying, cheating and corruption it invariably creates at cost of others welfare!
I became a socialist because I can no longer deal with the internal pain I feel for those who are suffering because of the capitalist system. I constantly see people begging on the street for scraps of food and children running around looking for guidance. In modern day America, it is estimated that more than 3 million people are homeless, thus are lacking an adequate place to sleep, eat and live (PBS). Additionally, out of these three million people, approximately 50 percent are children according to a study conducted by the National Center on Family Homelessness. How can it be, that in the wealthiest nation to ever walk on earth, a nation who produces over 15 trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services every year, more than 16 million of its children still live in poverty?(NCCP).
All together these and countless of other reasons is why I decided to become a socialist. I am committed to organizing and playing an active role in a collective movement for the ultimate and necessary purpose to create a more just society.
Socialist Party USA member Earvin Chavez