How Governments Work #1: Communism
When most people say Communism, they immediately think of China or the Soviet Union. What most people don’t understand is that this is very, very far removed from communism and is merely a type of socialism taken to extremes. What is communism? Communism can best be described as a town or village in which everyone works together for the common good of all, sharing all resources equally and that people only take what they need. This sounds nice on paper, but is quickly squashed by reality.
People are greedy. I said it, greedy. It’s not a bad greedy per say, but rather a type of greed that can be beneficial. I want to have the most resources so my family can do better. I want more so I don’t have to do as much and can focus on my family. There will of course be greedy people who are only thinking of themselves, but most people who are genuine will want to care for those in their immediate family first. And it’s something that is very, very hard to do on a large scale.
Communism is essentially what most tribes operate under. They don’t pay taxes to higher governments, they don’t work to build roads to other villages, they simply exist on their own as mostly independent groups. They farm or hunt together, care for the children together, sustain themselves together, it’s all part of a group effort. And that works, but it has trouble making the transition to a large group. When you look at someone else, especially someone you don’t know, you can’t very well sympathize with them as much as you could with someone within your village. John, your neighbor your entire life, means more to you than some random person who moved in just two weeks ago. That sounds callous, but it’s reality.
On the small scale, when it’s only a village or town, communism can possibly be achieved. However, there is a threshold at which it begins to break down, and that’s when a new system must be looked to. So just remember, China and the USSR weren’t communist countries, but are rather socialist states.
Next time: Feudalism, a bridge to modern government
The Reagan Years: Why We Regret Them
Before I get started, this is not an attack on the late Ronald Reagan as a person, merely his policies that have a resounding impact on the nation today. Personally, Reagan stands out as one of the few Republican presidents that no one really has much of an issue with because he’s universally seen as a hero to many and the reason that Soviet Russia collapsed.
Don’t get me wrong, the sad state of affairs in Soviet Russia were insane. Bread lines were common, with people living in complete poverty and trying to survive without having complete and utter failures kill them due to incompetence or corruption. The meltdown at Chernobyl, the loosening of media censorship and a general attitude of “Hey, our government sucks, let’s revolt” led the entire thing to fall like a house of cards. Part of this was due to Reagan’s increase in military spending during his presidency, which shot up to around 6% of the total GDP of the United States. Why is that important? Well, an increase in the military’s total budget means the entire US military got a bonus, and a big one. It let the military invest in the newest technology coming out to combat Communism, and it gave the Russians something to worry about.
I don’t have exact data from before 1988, especially not coming out of the Soviet Union, but the Russian Federation’s military budget took up a whopping 23% of the total GDP of the country for 1989, the last year of the Soviet Union. This means that in order to keep up, the Soviets were literally throwing money at the military in a desperate attempt to keep up, and that’s what ultimately helped break them. The disasters that befell them worked with a runaway military build-up that left them unable to afford anything, let alone the essentials, and so the entire system broke down. It was a major victory against the more agressive form of Communism, and after Nixon went and helped solidify relations with China, the world was deemed clear of Communism forever! At least until China started making everything for cheap.
For the US, however, the cost of the military build up came with a price tag. While the US had easily paid off the debts from WWII, that was in an era when the entire nation was producing almost half the industrial goods of the entire planet and taxes were pulling in plenty. While industry was still huge at the time, goods from Japan were flooding the American market, and Reagan had begun issuing tax cuts, cutting the available revenue stream down enough that the debt began to grow. The debt from Reagan’s spending has been a cancer ever since.