Thursday, May 20, 2010

Socialism: It Ain't All Bad!

It's exhausting being a political science major these days.

You spend four years in college studying the political spectrum. You write long research papers on socialism, Communism, and the differences between the two. You learn about Marx and the intricacies of his theories. You take test after test on the application of these theories throughout history.

Then you get out into the real world and shit hits the fan. All of a sudden socialism and Communism are used interchangeably (some even throw fascism in the mix for added fun!). Despite the endless examples of socialism in every single modern democracy, you hear it used regularly as a four letter word in political debate.

Well, I've decided to try a fun little experiment. I call it "Socialism: It Ain't All Bad!" I'm going to start posting positive examples of socialism at work in our own country and other democracies.

First up - The Green Bay Packers!!!

The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, Brett Favre, FOUR Super Bowl wins - you don't get more American than that!

And owned by the ... wait for it ... GOVERNMENT! That's right the Green Bay Packers are a non-profit, community-owned organization. The scourge of capitalism - the team has strict bylaws that prevent any share owner from profiting (that's right they legally can't make money) from ownership or gaining majority control of the team.

The Packers are the only NFL team organized in this way. Many argue this is the reason the small community of Green Bay has been able to keep its team, while huge cities like Los Angeles go without.

So there you go. Socialism at work.

Maybe it's not so bad after all! ;)


Anonymous said...

How interesting! I look forward to future installments...

Anonymous said...

which is also why they are one of the lesser "valuable" teams in the NFL. Teams like Dallas are valued much higher because they are profitable. Hmmm. . . which one is better at being a "business" which is supposed to create wealth for the shareholder???

Elizabeth said...

I actually knew this, from a visit to Lambeau Field in 2000, but had forgotten. There's also something special about the tix to the game because of this, but I forgot what it was.

However, it is COMMUNITY owned and is a not-for-profit. Does that make it US GOVERNMENT owned?? I'm not so sure I agree with that assessment. I would agree that if your working definition of socialism is an entity being publicly owned and run while no one person can profit or become the dominating power, that the Packers applies and is in fact an excellent example of socialism working, but I would still not call that US GOVERNMENT owned, which it seems you are suggesting.

The community members who CHOOSE TO BE, are stockholders in the Packers, and like you said there are rules about how many shares any one stockholder can own. One may not more than 200,000 shares in order for it not to be controlled by any one person or group. This and all the rules governing sale and trade of stock in the Packers are made by the shareholders through the board of directors which is elected by the shareholders (and if I'm correct, one gets a vote for each share, so that has some inherent inequality...). All profits are given to the Packers Foundation which distributes the profits to charities. The president of the board is the only paid member.

Now, for my biggest issue with this. Yes, it is socialism. Socialism of choice. The citizens of Green Bay are not automatically shareholders in the Packers and when more shares go up for sale, noone is required to buy them. In a socialist government, if you live in the country you are required to pay taxes, and that country provides benefits to each citizen. But one is REQUIRED to be a shareholder and buy into the "country" if one lives within the borders.

In the end, many people don't want to be forced into charity, and I think that's how many people feel about socialism. So, while the Packers are a great example of socialism at work, none of the participants in this socialist "regime" are forced into participation (and can stop participating if she chooses), while if one is dealing with socialist policy in government, one IS forced into participation by living within the country's borders.

Elizabeth said...

Gee, that was a lot longer than I planned... ;)

Jennie said...

I do take a slight issue in this being an example of socialism, in that the Packers are community owned by individuals, NOT by the government, either city, state or federal.

Big difference between a community and a government. Can't use those two words interchangeably. :(