Why I’m all for social democracy: an unconvincing, unoriginal and rambling argumentation

Okay, the title is a lie. There are some practices of social democracy which I am not a big fan of.

The Nordic Model, for an instance. The idea of high, flat rate income tax and extremely generous handouts are jarring to me; the former seems to discourage everyone from having savings and the latter is prone to abuse. But, I am not entirely opposed to the system.

I love the idea of providing free-of-charge education and healthcare, I am all for giving handouts to people who are unemployed because of reasons other than simply not having jobs (e.g. poor health), I am all for unionising the workers and I am open to the idea of implementing high income taxes for the super rich (not the middle class) and all while still embracing free market capitalism.

People complain such policies will cost taxpayers lots of money. But, isn’t that the point of taxation? To improve a country’s state of being? If that’s the argument, why bother paying taxes at all? Also, why are beneficial policies seen as financial burdens while increasing the budget for the most funded armed forces in the world isn’t?

I have made this rant many times before. One person gave me nonsensical replies.

First, he accused me of being arrogant; he said I acted like I knew more about how to make use of taxpayers’ money more than the government itself, as if ranks and power instantaneously guarantee you reason, knowledge and expertise. Well, that belief rings true to you if you are a feudal meritocrat who live among maggot-infested cadavers and hellfire.

I am not being arrogant, I am just embracing common sense. Education, health and good finance benefit a society just like balanced diets benefit our bodies. Because of them, we are able to live wholesomely and collectively move forward with our lives.

Second, he also said it makes sense for the US government to cut education funding considering the increasing ineptitude of American students in the recent years. In what infernal maggot-infested universe does that make any sense?

It is obvious the problem lies in how the education system runs itself. If I have a poor eating habit and your solution is to take away my food money, you are going to worsen my well-being as I would eat less altogether! Instead, you should encourage me (or force me) to change my life style. Cutting fund for education does not explain why the ineptitude exists in the first place. In fact, I am sure it will worsen the disease. You know, that one thing those fiscal conservatives supposedly hate!

Regulations. Oh, I almost forgot about them.

Why do some oppose them in general? What’s wrong with preventing exploitation of labours? Fatal accidents? Environmental disasters?

One common ‘rebuttal’ to those questions is another question, an egocentric one: what about freedom?

Goddammit…

If regulations that are meant to curb sordidness threaten your sense of freedom, what does that say about your character as human beings? I can’t help but thinking you embrace freedom not because you love righteousness, but because you want the free rein to abuse anyone as you desire! Did I just commit an ad hominem? Yes, I did. But, can you blame me or anyone for bearing such sentiment? No, you can’t.

Then, there is the ‘ineffectiveness’ argument.

They assert how regulations are inherently impotent in tackling human vileness. Why do they believe that? Is it because they have actual data to back those claims up? If they have, I want to read them. No, seriously. Prove me wrong that they are impotent in doing so.

Do they believe so simply because their beliefs say so? Well, if that is the case, why bother criminalising murder and rape when murderers and rapists still exist? Why bother having laws at all? They may as well embrace anarchism… which I am sure many in the right edge of the political spectrum find off-putting.

Then, there is also the ‘bad-for-business’ argument.

If your business cannot thrive without your corruptness, then you are not a good businessperson in the first place! In fact, if that’s the only viable way for you to make cash, you don’t deserve to be called a ‘businessperson’! The only title you deserve is ‘villain’!

Besides having actual business skills, what else do you need to have a thriving business? Well, living in a social democratic country sure helps in the long term.

You have to acknowledge the success of your business also depends on the public’s state of being. The more prosperous the people are, the more likely they are able to pay for your products and services. The more skilled the people are, the more likely you can hire good workers.

If you are well-educated, not only you would be skilled, you would also be adept at learning new skills which means you would have a relatively good chance in the job market and therefore, you would have some level of ease in grasping financial stability.

If you have access to good and free healthcare (assuming you have a healthy lifestyle yourself), you would have more time to work, to find work or to learn new skills and therefore, you would not have medical debt and, once again, have a better chance in the job market.

Strong environmental protection means one cannot exploit natural resources recklessly to satisfy one’s greed. It means we would still have them in large supplies for future use and we would not pollute the nature, preventing any public health problems. Focus on the emphasised word. Remember what I said earlier.

If you think that would increase the prices of products, then we should do more scientific researchers to discover greener alternatives. In the long-term, that’s the wise choice considering how limited natural resources are. What would we do when they cease to exist and there is no available replacement? Cry?

God, this is getting long…

Another anti-regulation argument I encounter is this: the free market regulates itself! Well, if you believe that corporations are inherently ethical and moral entities, that would sound believable.

In theory, a for-profit entity would try to win its customers’ heart by providing them satisfactory products and services at reasonable prices and a sleazy one would not survive a day in the market.

In theory. In practice, it is an entirely different reality.

First of all, not everyone becomes upstanding on their own initiatives. When driven by the desire to gain profit, the more corrupt among us would do anything to satisfy it. Who cares about fucking up the people around you? All is good when profit is gained.

Second, many customers don’t give a fuck about moral integrity. Who cares about suicidal overseas labourers? Who cares about homophobia? Just let me have that smart phone and chicken sandwich!

Third, the customers don’t always have the options. When corporations are aware about their monopoly in certain regions, more of than not they will drop the pretense and show their true faces! Oh, you hate our low-quality, expensive, yet essential services? What are you going to do? Move on to our non-existing rivals?

Remember the man who called me ‘arrogant’? I want to pick on him behind his back one more time.

He said it was unfair of me to bash the big businesses as evil. He pointed how a corporation is a collective that embodies a horde of distinct human individuals. Therefore, a corporation cannot be evil. On the surface, his argument seems well-rounded. But, that actually makes me despise him even more.

For one thing, a corporation is indeed a collective… a formal collective with actual ranks, voluntary membership and which members share the same common objectives. Its mechanism is different from the one in a religious or ethnic group. Such lack of nuances in his thinking does irk me. But, this is actually the least anger-inducing thing about his argument.

While he declares the ‘humanness’ of corporations, he also actively denounces governments as evil entities who should always be shackled from interfering with the people’s life, brainlessly not realising each government also consists of different human individuals!

His belief about big businesses’ sainthood convinces me that his outcry against authoritarianism and police brutality is solely motivated by his anti-big government libertarianism, not by his sense of humanity. When it is purely ideological, your moral outrage is insincere. Does that also count as an ad hominem? Yes, it does. Can you blame for reacting negatively to such hypocrisy? No, you cannot.

When it comes to deciding which groups knows what’s best for our countries, we cannot reach a consensus. Some of us may say the people should decide everything, as they are the majority. Some of us may say it should be the government, as we all need strong authority figures. Some of us may say it should be the corporations because they bring wealth. Obviously, I disagree with all three.

While I believe in democracy, I also cannot stand with the ‘people-are-always-right’ belief. It is literally the bandwagon fallacy! If you decide the rightness or wrongness of something should be based on popularity, then you unwittingly let the tyranny of the majority come into being.

While I believe in the effectiveness of strong authoritative figures, I also believe they should possess actual competence, intellect and moral compasses. The belief that ranks and powers instantly guarantee rightness is literally the appeal to authority fallacy! If you give authorities unrestrained power, they would violate your human dignity every time opportunity arises; the prosperity they prosperity is nothing but bribery.

I acknowledge big businesses for their contributions to the societies. Besides providing jobs, they also encourage the growth of innovations which are beneficial for the people in the long-term. But, you should not let them be the ones who control our lives.

The idea that a government should be run like a business infuriates me! It implies every single deed we perform must have direct monetary returns! People who adhere to such doctrine barely try to conceal their money-worshipping tendency.

I am also cynical about corporate philanthropy. If corporations actual care about generosity, they would not stamp their logos at every facility they build, they would not brag about it in their ads. Nowadays, indirect marketing is good marketing; they successfully blur the line between marketing and PR. In the end, what is good for the corporations is mostly good for the executives.

I am glad I took that basic PR course.

In an ideal world, a near-perfect society is the one where the voters are well-informed and civil, where the authorities are not only driven by the desires to benefit the people, but also take scientific and ethical consideration in their decision-making, where the businesses restrain themselves from exploiting the masses. As I said, in an ideal world.

No wonder escapism is popular. The real world sucks.

*****

In case you didn’t know, I am an Indonesian. Every time I make comments about other and more developed countries online, I often got these responses:

‘Why do you make a fuss about other countries’ domestic issues?’ ‘

Shouldn’t you just stick talking about your shithole third world country?’

Well, I make a fuss because I can. If foreigners can make false assumptions about my country and invade other countries to satisfy their white saviour complex, why can’t I make relatively more sound observations about their beloved and so-called perfect countries?

Also, I actually envy countries where social democracy is a widespread ideology. I wish it has a bigger presence in Indonesia. I wish more Indonesian voters vote for social democrats. I wish more Indonesian politicians embrace social democracy. But, considering how even publicly-funded primary schools charge tuition fees, the idea of social democracy is too alien for the masses.

The US is indeed not a social democracy. In fact, in many ways, the system seems to treat social democrats as parasites. Not to mention the so-called ‘left-wing’ party in the US Congress is behaving like a centrist one, often shares the neoconservatism and neoliberalism of the right-wing party. But, despite everything, I envy how the ideology is openly and proudly embraced by a large chunk of the American population.

I envy how aware they are of how the system they live under is in an ill state of being.

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