Mary Katherine O. Period 5
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII, gave a speech addressing the current issues of capital and labor in what is known as Rerum Novarum. He was fairly warning the people of the path multiple governments were taking and tried to steer them back onto a path allowing more freedom and justice. Furthermore, his many valid points are now what mirror the American government and some of the main reasons of why it has prospered. However, with the current government under Obama and his administration, policies and freedoms are starting to look more like the socialist governments that the Pope warned about.
Socialism came about because this political party believed that there was a large gap between the working class and the wealthy. This was unfair in their eyes and thought everyone should be equal. A basic definition of socialism is a system of social reform that contemplates a “complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor” (Libertarian). First and foremost, the use of the word “property” is evident and the Pope spends much time emphasizing the importance of the right to property for it is our basic right. This idea does not just stop at land, but everything that is personally ours and that has been worked for. However, the socialists wanted to do away with private property and “contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all” (Leo XIII p. 4). In the current United States government, this form of socialism can be compared to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or most commonly known as ObamaCare. ObamaCare is the newly enacted bill that calls for international healthcare. The point is to allow all Americans to have the same care and for it too not be based on one’s economic state or any other way of profiling, but if people use private health insurance and do not use the government care, then they will be taxed heavily. Therefore, people will not want to pay this penalty and will be forced to use the cheaper healthcare option of ObamaCare. Consequently, private health care insurance companies will be run out of business. It also gives “government bureaucrats the exclusive right to set reimbursement rates for physicians, clinics and hospitals” (Creech). The scary part dwells on the fact that it is completely controlled by the government and regulates the kind of care citizens will receive. They are in charge of our personal health decisions and come between the doctor and the patient. Primarily, they are “intrud[ing] into and exercise[ing] intimate control” because we have little right in the way we will be helped or treated (Leo XIII p.14). It would take away freedom and the use of knowledge from medical professionals because the government has the primary decision on the number of them allowed to work. Therefore, this causes a shortage in the long run because of the costs and years of medical school that might not even be rewarded.
International healthcare is currently present in many places around the world, such as Europe and Canada. Many of their citizens complain and disapprove of this healthcare because they are not adequately taken care of. For example, a patient in Canada has been waiting 13 months for a hip replacement and someone waiting 15 months for surgery on a herniated disc. In Europe, they can deny seniors dialysis and there are longer waits and less care. These people try to come to America for better care because they can never receive adequate care, so why would we want to fix what is not broken? The Pope said that “private ownership is the natural right of man” and this right is being taken away under this legislation (p.22).
Along with ObamaCare, redistribution of wealth is a popular idea under Obama and his administration. He stated that “When you spread the wealth around, it is good for everybody”. Clearly President Obama has not learned from history and current socialist societies. Ever since Obama has been in office, he continually stresses how taxes must be raised and implemented tax increases on the wealthy to begin in January 2013. Obama has had a track record of looking down on big business and those who are successful and feels higher taxes could even the playing field with the middle class. This has been seen with his constant regulations and watching over of big corporations and banks. He even implemented penalties that business have to “pay if they don’t provide health insurance to their employees, which strains the cost structures of small businesses and discourages creation of new start-ups as well as new jobs by existing businesses” (Libertarian). But why should the successful citizens have to be punished and looked down upon? Pope Leo XIII believes that those who have been blessed financially have a duty to help the poor and distribute their good amongst them. Furthermore, he believes that it is the States duty to watch over the working class and aid them if they are struggling. However, he believes that it is wrong to take away what people have worked for and rightfully earned if it causes them to be on an equal playing field with the working class. He states that “a man’s means be not drained and exhausted by excessive taxation” and therefore “would be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than fair” (p. 47). Redistribution is the easiest way for socialists to enact equality among all because everything will be owned by the government and everyone will get their fair share. These tax increases have already been implemented in many other parts of the world like Europe and Canada. For example, France has recently implemented a 75 percent tax rate on millionaires and the majority of countries in Europe have tax rates of up to 52 percent. The reasoning for this is because the countries are trying to pay for national healthcare and providing for those who have no jobs. However, these tax rates are driving away businesses and entrepreneurs alike. If Obama continues with his ideals of redistribution our country will begin to look as these do.
This is just the beginning for America’s road to socialism and does not show signs of stopping anytime soon. Socialism will have everlasting effects on society. Leo XIII further explains this by saying that socialism would “rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in community” and the main reason for this is that everyone will be seen as equal (p. 4). Socialism is supposed to be the key to helping the working class and providing them the equality that they have been seeking; however, it only hurts them. Without capitalism, there is no labor, so without employers there would be no employees. Therefore, if the government equally distributed possessions of individuals to communities, it would cause all wage-earners to allocate their incomes towards redistribution. This would mean that the general population would be prevented from getting ahead in the job force and would not have the opportunity of creating a better life for themselves. Property should not simply be handed out equally among everyone. A man’s labor has afforded him the opportunity to possess property and keep it for themselves. Why should the State take what man earned through hard work and distribute his possessions to those in society who do not? Clearly that is not logical. We live in a world where there will always be inequality and a reason for people not being able to get ahead. Pope Leo XIII said that “there naturally exist[s] among mankind manifold differences of the most important; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition” (p. 17). Just because people may have specific disadvantages does not mean that everyone should have to suffer. This is not fair to those who work hard for their living and end up seeing their hard work go to those who do not work at the same capacity.
A main downfall of socialism is that people take advantage of the system. They continue on with their welfare and specific benefits because they are getting enough to live comfortable lives without having to work. When the government is taking possessions away from citizens and distributing it out, what is the point in working anymore? Socialism causes citizens to lose the will to work because “source of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry” (Leo XIII p.15). No one would have anything to work towards because there can be no success. Without the right to private property, society would be made up of lazy individuals abusing the system. This is similar to the happenings in Denmark where they have some of the highest taxes and distribute them through their generous entitlement system “allowing unemployed and unemployable citizens an income well above that achieved by full time employees in the private sector in many European countries” (European Socialism). This shows how the system is being abused and how focusing on redistribution and health care for everyone allows a vicious cycle of the State reigning over man. It is only by labor that a State becomes rich and it should be men’s will to work and this will is necessary to be successful. The Pope said that “without the result of labor a man cannot live, and self-preservation is a law of nature, which it is wrong to disobey” (p.44).
As Pope Leo XII puts it, “socialism must be utterly rejected” (p. 15). With Obama’s current legislations, which does not stop at national healthcare and redistribution, our country founded upon freedom, capital, and labor will cease to exist. In order to put this country back on the right track, it must enact the teachings of Rerum Novarum and assure that citizens have the right to private property and the proper allocation of their resources. Our country must stay away from socialist policies and return to the America based on freedom and less intrusion from the government.
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