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Why I became a Socialist

I spent most of my life a devout capitalist and over 20 years as stockbroker and investment banker. Today I am a Socialist. As the years went by, I observed the amoral practices of capitalism that rigged the system in the absence of regulation. The system forced otherwise good people into that mold because they could not compete unless they played the same game.

The very word, Socialism, has been so demonized in the U.S. and compared to Stalin’s so-called communism, that I did not even consider such a system as being socially and economically just. Then when I considered the injustice of the gross and growing inequality among people that is wrought by pure unregulated capitalism, I decided to look into this so-called demon, the Socialistic system.

My first introduction to and respect for Socialism came after reading the life of Eugene Debs in Irving Stone’s book, Adversary in the House. Debs was incarcerated by Wilson’s administration for speaking out against World War I. That and other wars inspired General Smedly Butler to write War Is A Racket. Debs ran for president as a Socialist three times. The last time he ran while he was still in prison and he still won around a million votes. Wow! What a man and true lover of humanity. Then I was pleasantly surprised at the reputation and caliber of people who were professed Socialists. Some of my real heroes were Socialists, people like Jack London, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, and George Bernard Shaw. There had to be something good about such a system if these esteemed people considered themselves Socialists.

Then I discovered that Socialists were always in the forefront of standing up for both political and economic justice for all, same as me. When injustices and abuses occurred in our present capitalistic system, Socialists always took the stand for people and true justice. Socialists take a strong position for true democracy and demand that all citizens have an unhampered right to vote [U.S. Constitutional Amendment XV states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be abridged by race, color, or previous condition of servitude. In practice this has become fiction]. It is the vote that gives the citizen the right to respond to unfair laws and in effect gives them a say in such laws. In true Socialism all positions are subject to recall and replacement by those who elected them if they are dissatisfied with their actions and votes. As a result of global capitalism and corruption, the socialist systems in Russia and China evolved into state capitalism with ruling coming from the top down instead of from the people up.

We must remember that all resources of this earth are here for all life, not reserved just for a few rich grabbers. Certain characteristics of Main Street Capitalism have proven to be good for the community, with individual services to their fellow citizens and personal initiative in creating goods and services and filling needs. Yet even at this level you need regulations and rules to play by to keep the unscrupulous in line. We also need progressive taxation and inheritance taxes above a certain level to prevent excessive inequality. There are certain functions too big for small companies, including transportation, public utilities and some industrial undertakings that would better serve the public by being community-owned. Banking, insurance, health care and education can better serve the citizens by being community-owned rather than filling the pockets of private capitalists that seem to turn into monopolies.

Unregulated Corporate Capitalism, industrial and financial, leads to control by political oligarchies and economic monopolies. Capitalism like Feudalism has had its day and we need to move on and design a new system to replace it.

Some may call this a rant, but it is an honest statement of why I am enraged at the abuses of capitalism and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see my fellow citizens paid poverty wages and forced to pay excessive unregulated rents, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see the obscene and extravagant increases of as much as 140% paid in compensation to CEOs while their employees are lucky to get even 3%, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist. [Wendell Potter, Center for Public Integrity]

When I see my fellow citizens sleeping on the cold, dangerous streets and under bridges when there are empty buildings and vast wealth hogged by the few, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see our young people burdened with unpardonable debts to get an education when earlier, less prosperous generations were provided almost free education through college, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see people having to declare bankruptcy because of health care problems when most other advanced societies take care of these needs, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see our prisons being turned into private moneymaking ventures to profit from the misery of people incarcerated when they are not a real danger to society, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see unfortunate poor and black people in jail for nonviolent crimes while banksters and corporate executives commit wholesale crimes and even murder and get off free or with a slap on the wrist or a fine, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see predatory corporations and banksters robbing other countries of their resources and using our military to protect their interests, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see the 1 percent’s toadies in Congress create a security state that has trashed our Constitution by the passage of laws, including the Homeland Security Act, Patriots Act, Military Commissions Act, and the recently renewed NDAA that allows the president to maintain a kill list that even includes American citizens without their day in court, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When I see the corrupt Supreme Court declare that corporations have the same rights as flesh and blood citizens who die for their country and not declare such laws as those mentioned above that have trashed our Constitution as unconstitutional, I am enraged and think it smart to be a Socialist.

When in the hell are we all going to get enraged and quit supporting these predatory corporations, international banksters, manufacturers of killing machines and quit voting for the corporate toadies in the Democratic and Republican parties?

Copyleft 2014 J. Glenn Evans

(Feel free to copy and distribute to others)
J. Glenn Evans

Part Cherokee, native of Oklahoma, founder of PoetsWest and Activists for a Better World, hosts PoetsWest at KSER 90.7FM, a nationally syndicated weekly radio show. Evans, an award-wining poet, is author of a book of poetry, Window in the Sky and three chapbooks, Buffalo Tracks, Deadly Mistress and Seattle Poems. He is author of three novels, Broker Jim, Zeke’s Revenge and Wayfarers, is a former stockbroker-investment banker. Evans has lived in Seattle since 1960, worked in a lumber mill, operated a mining company and co-produced a movie, Christmas Mountain, with Mark Miller, co-starring Slim Pickens. Evans, in addition to poetry and novels has written numerous political essays and is the author several local community histories including a history of Seattle’s Pike Place Market and has been published in many literary Journals.

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