I do not consider myself a capitalist or socialist. Although it is technically both, I see communism as more of a philosophy rather than an economic system. As someone who has worked in small businesses, I have no reason to support unions as a whole (especially considering how political they have become). The idea of a worker co-op does not sound like a bad idea. Maybe if I start a business, it will be more like that than a top-down corporation with myself at the top. But what differentiates worker co-ops from the modern “communists” is voluntarism. If workers were kidnapped from a foreign continent, put on an unsanitary ship, then auctioned off, or born into servitude of some kind, then I could understand the movement. But the modern labor system (outside human trafficking and prison labor) in the US is not that contemptible. I mean, I think people complain about the labor system because people see a need for centralization. It is like the whole 77 cents to a dollar wage gap claptrap. Yeah, if you take women’s average hourly wages and compare them to men’s, there might be a gap. But to apply that to systemic sexism is a little lazy, in my opinion. Back to my point about centralization, during the Trump administration and especially during the span of the pandemic, something changed.
I know this country is called the United States of America, but it is more like fifty different states that agree on some basic principles. That is why I do not think the federal government should be as powerful as it is now. Don’t get me wrong, I believe some things should be banned at the federal level, such as slavery and human trafficking, but things like drugs and guns should be handled locally if there are going to be any regulations. Certain infrastructure can also be left to the feds, such as the interstate highway system, which had economic and militaristic uses. A lot of people on the left say that is an example of socialism. In which case, it probably is. I’m not like Sean Hannity, who would call a large spending bill socialism because it is socialism. My gripe is with centralization, as in the federal government taking over everything.
Let’s start with minimum wage. I have already written about my thoughts on minimum wage in the past, and I still hold mostly the same opinions. I am still not for a federal minimum wage, mostly because I have no reason to think that since the 13th Amendment still applies today. However, after watching a peaceful discussion on the topic between Ben Shapiro and Congressman Ro Khanna (I think people on both sides should watch it), I have a more nuanced view of it. A gripe I have with a federal minimum wage is that Congress cannot draw a line with every regulation they make. Heck, I think the federal government is partially responsible for why healthcare is so expensive in the US. That’s not a Democrat or Republican issue; it is just a result of stupidity. But I do not think Congressmen are capable of understanding issues of people outside their state. A recent example would be with arguably the most powerful man in Washington (until at least the midterms), Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and self-proclaimed democratic socialist with three houses, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The two senators have been going at it because Manchin will not vote in line with his party on a spending bill that would impose regulations that would hurt West Virginia’s state.
In response to this, Senator Sanders wrote an op-ed where he advocated for Biden’s plan and said it was for the best of West Virginians. Joe Manchin responded, saying, “This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state.” While it is true that Manchin does get a large (and I mean LARGE) amount of donations from oil and mining companies and has direct stakes in the coal industry (I might be understating it), the mining industry is still a big part of the West Virginia economy. Passing federal regulations will cause energy and material prices to skyrocket and people to be laid off. Also, considering both Biden and his energy secretary have asked OPEC to increase oil supply and fellow Democrat Senators are asking Biden to do something about oil (including Bernie’s fellow Vermont Senator) while complaining about climate change and Paris Accords, Manchin has every right to stop his party from screwing up his state.
Things like this are why I’m not too fond of centralization. Back to the minimum wage, I think that it should be left to the states. I did not realize this before, but affordable housing that politicians talk about seems to be a state issue. The federal government (the Fed) tried to mess with the home mortgage game, and it caused a recession. However, it seems housing is a more complicated demon than even I thought. Some examples:
- Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia. These are some of the poorest states in the Union. But being poor comes with some of the lowest costs of living in the country. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have some of the lowest homelessness rates in the country. This was one of the points brought up in the Shapiro-Khanna discussion that there might not be a need for raising the wage floor when people live mostly fine (healthcare could still be a big worry, but that is a different discussion). Yeah, I would not say that these people live lavishly and are all super happy (as I said, healthcare could be an issue). But it would be lazy, in my opinion, to use the poor states to justify something like a federal welfare program.
- The rich states (GDP-wise) seem to be driving the homelessness issues in the USA. Those states are California, Texas, Florida, and New York. However, one would make the case that it is because of the high population of those states. The states with the highest GDP are also states with the highest population. However, the top four states for homelessness do not follow the order for the top four most populated states in the Union. The top four states with the highest level of homelessness (in order) are California, New York, Texas, and Florida (the difference between Florida and Texas is about 250). I blame the blue area zoning for restricting the supply through high demand caused by a high population; however, even though Texas has a higher population than New York, living costs are still higher in New York. Actually, according to calculations from MIT, it is cheaper to live in Texas or Florida than to live in California or New York. According to CNN, that might be part of why people left New York and California for Texas, Florida, and Tennessee.
Factors like this prevent me from supporting certain one-size-fits-all economic policies. I think when it comes to economics, the federal government should handle international trade and transportation infrastructure. I believe energy should be left to states because I do not trust some bureaucrat considering the environmental differences of each state. That is just my opinion. I do not think it is baseless, but I can see some valid criticisms to it though.