The Meme Above Is Not How Socialism Works: In Reality, It’s Much More Brutal
Now, obviously the above how socialism works meme is just a joke and isn’t meant to portray the reality of how socialism works. But, I do think it strikes to the root of a major issue, which is that Americans, especially young, left-leaning Americans don’t have much of a conception of the reality of socialism. They have some idea that it means the government taxing the wealthy and providing “free” (read: taxpayer-funded) services to those that are left fortunate.
That is completely wrong. In fact, it’s a semi-rosy view of how the Nordic welfare systems work, and those aren’t even socialist systems in the first place. Plus, they tax everyone quite heavily, not just the upper class; the average tax in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark is between 40% and 60%, but it is a more or less flat tax. In other words, everyone pays those relatively high taxes, not just the most productive members of society. That stands in contrast to the US, where about half of the population effectively avoids paying a federal income tax.
But, in any case, the Nordic countries are not socialist states. They are free-market states with high tax rates and large welfare systems. That’s not socialism, but the portrayal of it as socialism has skewed our understanding of how a socialist system works. Because Bernie Sanders and others have framed the Nordic model as “socialism,” young Americans think that socialism means lots of welfare, but a relatively high amount of economic freedom.