Private vs. Public Socialism

David Simon, a professional writer whom I do not know, laments the inability of capitalism to appreciate the mediating quality of socialism.  I’ve never been a “market red in tooth and claw” type of person, so I think I understand where he’s coming from in saying, “There are other metrics besides that quarterly profit report.” 

Too true.  But the answer to this moral wasteland, to Mr. Simon, appears to be New Deal, state-sponsored socialism.  As proof of point, he uses a large firm’s ability to get group insurance rates.  This is where polemic gets wrapped around a pole.

We can’t even get healthcare for our citizens on a basic level. And the argument comes down to: “Goddamn this socialist president. Does he think I’m going to pay to keep other people healthy? It’s socialism, m*********r.”


What do you think group health insurance is? You know you ask these guys, “Do you have group health insurance where you …?” “Oh yeah, I get …” you know, “my law firm …” So when you get sick you’re able to afford the treatment.


The treatment comes because you have enough people in your law firm so you’re able to get health insurance enough for them to stay healthy. So the actuarial tables work and all of you, when you do get sick, are able to have the resources there to get better because you’re relying on the idea of the group. Yeah. And they nod their heads, and you go “Brother, that’s socialism. You know it is.”

Except it’s not.   “Private socialism” is known alternatively as “cooperation,” “civil society,” and occasionally “charity.”  Government-run socialism is better known as “Treblinka,” the “Holodomor,” and the “Great Leap Forward.” 

The notion of a medieval associational society is a wonderful dream, provided we have modern technology and a transcendent, unified culture through which we all desire the same basic ends.  An atomized, Balkanized society doesn’t allow that.  Taking resources from some at the point of a gun in an atomized society is in no meaningful way like a voluntary association of individuals who pool resources.  Old Roman funerary societies would not have worked if co-opted by the State, everyone would just end up cremated after a day and with some drab bureaucratic obituary.  Shared immiseration is the result of state run “sharing” (which is the obvious result of pass-through payments under rent seeking human nature), as opposed to shared bounty going forward under private associations. 

No gun barrel can extract more than a generous spirit.

So while one should be sympathetic to the notion concerns over “income inequality” (as opposed to the true enemy, a stagnant economy due to uncertainty), and alert to the increased callousness of moneyed interests, imposing “cooperation” through the clumsy apparatus of the state is foolhardy in hope, and dangerous in practice.

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