This is an entry I’ve been meaning to post for quite some time, and feel a strong need to get done while there’s still time before the election, especially with Barack Obama wanting to “spread [America’s] wealth.” If that statement hasn’t made your alarm bells start clanging, read on: the following is for you!
Although I was teaching English/Language Arts in the small, rural, impoverished district where I was employed before I moved to the state capitol, at some point during the year, there would arise an occasion to give this small lecture about how Communism/Socialism only works on paper. I never got to complete the lesson, because someone would indignantly shout out the “moral of the story” before I could finish. That’s ok–that’s how I wanted it. I wanted them to realize the lesson on their own and they did. Every time.
To make my illustration, I would begin by writing on the board that famous one-sentence summary of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto:
From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
I would then lead a brief discussion of the meaning of that sentence, to ensure that everyone understood what it meant. I’d then ask the students “Sounds good, doesn’t it?” The students would agree. I would leave that quote on the board throughout this mini-lesson.
At this point, I would choose two students to come to the front of the classroom and stand beneath the quote. I was always careful to choose two students who loved being the center of attention and who could take a good-hearted ribbing. For the sake of this illustration, I’ll call them “Chris” and “Tyler.”
“Chris,” I’d tell the students, “is a model student.” Chris is always on time to class, prepared with pencil, paper, and textbook. Chris takes notes in class, and asks questions in order to ensure understanding of what is being taught. Chris’ work is always turned in on time, neat and legible. If there is something Chris still doesn’t understand when class is done, Chris will come in before school to meet with me. When it’s time for the big test, Chris has kept up with the chapter reading, so on the night before, all Chris has to do is review the things that need reviewing. Chris gets a good night’s sleep and eats a good breakfast the next morning. Chris uses the test-taking skills taught in class and takes his/her time. When I grade the test, Chris’ hard work has paid off, for (s)he has earned a “100” on the test. I then write a large “100” above “Chris'” head.
Then there’s “Tyler.” Poor, poor, Tyler. Tyler is always the last one in class and the first one out. Tyler’s attendance record has more “no shows” than Harry Houdini at Halloween seances. When Tyler DOES show up to class, don’t expect to see pencil or paper. Tyler couldn’t locate the textbook if his/her life depended on it. Tyler’s idea of taking notes? Writing a snarky comment on a piece of paper and passing it to a classmate. The only question Tyler has ever asked in class is “How much longer, Miss?” The night before the test, Tyler stayed up all night IM’ing someone from MySpace. Tyler overslept on test day, skipped breakfast, and missed the bus. Tyler stumbles loudly into class halfway through the period, and announces loudly enough to disrupt everyone: “We had a test today?” Of couse Tyler “Christmas tree”‘s the test, marking random answers here and there. Still, Tyler beat the law of averages and scores a 40 on the test. I write a large 40 above “Tyler”‘s head.
At this point, I stop to remind the class that 70 is the minimum passing grade, and write a large 70 between “Chris” and “Tyler.” I then remind them of the quotation written on the board above both of them:
From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
Next, I tell the students that since, according to the principles of Communism/Socialism, “Chris” has 30 points more than (s)he needs, I am going to take those points and give them to “Tyler,” who needs 30 points to pass.
I turn around and, with a different color marker, begin to cross out the “100” above “Chris”‘ head, and draw an arrow toward “Tyler”‘s “40” which I also cross out, replacing each score with a “70.”
Funny thing is, though, I never get to finish. As I illustrate Communist/Socialist theory on the board, some student–usually one of the more vocal ones, rather than one of the highest-scoring ones–invariably shouts out “But Miss, that’s not fair!”
At that point, I stop. I cap my marker and put it on the tray. I turn to the class and benignly smile. I say quietly and calmly, “And that’s why Communism doesn’t work.”
Middle school students have a super-heightened sense of what is or isn’t “fair.” They pick up in five minutes what tweed-clad graying Economics professors haven’t learned in over 100 years: Socialism doesn’t work. It goes against all of human nature. If we work hard to earn something and play by the rules, dammit, it’s ours. Keep your grubby hands off it. Conversely, if you want to be lazy, that’s your perogative. If you choose to do so, however, don’t expect someone else to take up your slack.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I know the system fails from time to time and people who DO play by the rules occasionally lose. I’m there now myself. For the first (and hopefully, the last) time in my life, I’m drawing Unemployment. What I need is a short-term stop-gap measure until I’m back on my feet. I don’t need some overprotective government entity doing everything for me and making us all pay out the wazoo for it.
The thing we’ve forgotten all too quickly is that whenever liberals attempt to “stick it to the rich,” it’s us average Joes who really get the shaft. Back in 1991, Congress imposed a “Luxury Tax” on high-ticket items such as jewelry, cars, and boats with a selling price of over $30,000. What happened was that rich people STILL got the luxury items they wanted–they just bought “gently-used” items instead of new ones in order to avoid paying the tax. It was the middle- and lower-class wage-earning workers who MADE these big ticket items who wound up paying–by losing their jobs. No demand means no employment. The rich stayed rich (hell, they SAVED money in the long run), and the poor workers lost everything. This “luxury tax” wound up costing the Federal Government money in lost income and sales taxes and increased unemployment and other assistance payouts. The next Congress couldn’t repeal the “luxury tax” fast enough.
You’d have thought the Democrats would have learned their lesson. Sadly, they haven’t, else Obama wouldn’t be preaching “sharing the wealth.” You’d have thought America would have learned its lesson as well when it comes to a “sore loser” tax. Judging by the number of people who are swallowing Obama’s proposal hook, line, and sinker, I think it’s safe to say that we as a nation haven’t.
Those of you who haven’t yet taken advantage of early voting, it’s not too late. Let Obama and the Democrats know that you are not falling for this sucker play. Show them that you’re smarter than that. My middle school students were.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this Tale to tell. Waiting for me in my Inbox when I finished was the following link on the same subject. It’s well worth the read. I just hope that by using the name “Gator,” he doesn’t mean that he pledges allegiance to the Florida Philistines. The Dawgs are going to kick some serious Gator tail in Jax on Saturday, then blacken it and serve it on rice, Cajun-style (in remembrance of our sweet victory over LSU this past Saturday)!