What Is Socialism, And How Does It Relate To Capitalism?

With more avowedly socialist candidates gaining traction in mainstream U.S. election and socialism’s favorability generally ascendant, especially among Millennials, it is worth noting exactly what is meant by the word socialism. Far from being straightforward, like most political ideologies, various schools of socialism have evolved in various places and times. Although there are literally as many variants on the theme as there are governments that, at one time or another, have implemented policies that could be described as socialist, there are still a few main schools of thought and essential features that distinguish this political ideology from its more capitalist-oriented counterparts.

What is the essence of socialism?
At its core, socialism is an economic arrangement where the people or the state that represents them own the means of production. What exactly constitutes ownership can take a wide variety of forms, depending on who you talk to. In the end, you will find those who believe that no Americans own their own homes because they are required to pay property taxes. At the other extreme, you have people who insist that only a command economy, like the kind that was seen in the Soviet Union, represents true state ownership of a business.

But from a capitalist perspective, it can be said that there are two key characteristics of socialism that are absent in pure capitalist systems. The first is that for a system to be socialist there must be some redistribution of wealth. The second is that there must be the threat or use of state violence to effect this redistribution.

While far from being a purely socialist system, this means that the United States itself has been a partially socialist state since at least the introduction of the Social Security system in the 1940s. This is because the Social Security system was introduced as a means for redistributing wealth from current taxpayers to those who were no longer in a position to earn sufficient money for decent survival. Unfortunately, the Social Security system also fulfills the criteria of threatened state violence for enforcement because its revenues are taken from FICO tax, a form of income tax. Failure to pay this tax will eventually lead to the authorities placing the tax evader under arrest, by force of arms if necessary.

Therefore, socialism, in the broadest sense, can be seen as any redistributive system that affects its ends through the use of state violence.

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Podcasts To Follow For Politics

In today’s age, the ability to remain current on a variety of topics has become more accessible than ever, with information being readily available in countless forms. One medium that has taken on a new form in recent years are podcasts. In short, podcasts are audio files that can be found on the internet and is available to download to one’s computer or smartphone. In general, podcasts are recurring pieces that cover a popular or controversial topic. One industry that has made significant use of podcasts is politics. Podcasts have allowed working professionals in politics to voice their viewpoint, resulting in a significant number of political podcasts. With this in mind, it is important to learn about some of the podcasts that are offered, and how they differ from others.

The Federalist Podcast
Based off of an online magazine, the Federalist podcast provides their conservative viewpoint on a host of topics. What makes this podcast appealing to many Americans is its ability to view politics from the conservative standpoint, and not solely from one party. As a result of this approach, the Federalist podcast continues to be a popular choice for politics.

Pod Save America
As a podcast featuring former employees of President Barack Obama, Pod Save America dives into current events in politics. Because of their work with the former president, the podcast focuses on a left-leaning analysis of anything going on in the world of politics.

Left, Right, and Center
The podcast titled Left, Right and Center takes a different approach than many other political podcasts by bringing three people in, all with different political affiliations, to discuss some of the more recent politics stories. What makes the podcast exciting is the ability of the speakers to discuss such controversial topics without it becoming overwhelming while bringing interesting insights to the table. Left, Right, and Center allows listeners to hear the different sides of politics in a new way.

Nerdcast
Originated from the publication, Politico, Nerdcast provides another show that does not significantly lean either way in politics. Instead, the podcasts’ host regularly has guests on the show with differing political affiliations, thus providing a show that analyzes all sides of a debate.

For anyone who is beginning to become interested in politics will often find that a podcast, like the ones discussed above, could help them learn more about the topic and its influence on today’s society.

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The Rural Vs. Urban Split In Politics

The most recent presidential election demonstrated that there is a deep divide between rural and urban communities based on political beliefs. Hillary Clinton had significant support from the large cities in America, and she did very poorly in rural areas especially in areas in the heartland of the nation. On the other hand, Donald Trump’s main areas of support were in areas outside of urban areas. He did well in rural areas and suburbs, and this allowed him to win the election.

After the election, the big cities that have a more liberal political identity attempted to pass city ordinances which expressed a more liberal agenda. Some cities enacted measures increasing the minimum wages. Some other cities tried to defy the new administration’s laws concerning immigration. Other cities have attempted to enact environmental legislation that bans plastic bags.

Cities are finding that in many instances that their efforts are being resisted and repealed by the more conservative state legislatures. In the American political system, there are levels of precedence in the law. Federal law supersedes state laws, and state laws supersede city ordinances.

There are a few examples. In the state of Arizona, a couple of the larger cities attempted to ban the toys that come in Happy Meals from McDonald’s. The idea was that the toys made the children want to go to that restaurant and therefore they would eat less nutritious meals. The state issued a law stating that cities could not ban these toys thus overturning city ordinances.

Another case in point is the state of Mississippi. Rural Mississippi is one of the most conservative areas in the United States. When some cities in Mississippi sought to regulate sugary soft drinks, state lawmakers stepped in and made it illegal for any city to place regulations on the soft drink industry.

Some of the greatest division between rural and urban communities has occurred over the issue of transgender rights. In some southern states, the major cities have passed transgender non-discrimination bills. The state legislatures and those in rural communities immediately passed legislation to overturn these transgender bills.

Over the next few years, there will continue to be a great divide between the more conservative rural areas which still make up the largest portion of some states, and the more liberal urban areas of states that want to implement a progressive agenda.

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What Are The Biggest Differences Between The Democratic Party And The Republican Party?

Politics is a thick and messy intellectual quagmire to navigate. If you find yourself unable to decide which political party your ideals are more aligned with, take a look at three of the biggest differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Women’s Reproductive Rights
Notice that this section isn’t labeled simply “reproductive rights.” This is because, for the Republican party, reproductive rights are only an issue if you’re a woman. The Republican National Convention recently reaffirmed their political position to be opposed to the freedom of women to control their reproductive rights with regards to abortions. Republican lawmakers have worked tirelessly for years to put forth legislation would make it so abortion clinics would have to relocate or close entirely, essentially destroying women’s access to abortion methods across the country. The focus of their attacks has been Planned Parenthood. Alternatively, Democrats have been long supporters of women having control over their reproductive system with the most recent Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, running on a platform of demanding women retain control over their bodies.

LGBTQ Rights
Republicans consider themselves to be the party of the religiously dedicated. They have been opponents of LGBTQ rights, including gay marriage. More recently, Republican president Donald Trump signed a bill to ban all transgender citizens from serving in the armed forces. Additionally, once the Trump administration began to take over the White House and implement their agenda, the LGBTQ section of the White House website disappeared, sparking controversy and suspicion. Democrats have a long history of not only standing by the LGBTQ community, but Democratic lawmakers and presidents have shown a steadfast dedication to preserving the rights that the LGBTQ community has fought so hard to achieve while expanding them for future generations.

Climate Change
Climate change is a topic that has been turned into a political talking point instead of being recognized as the immense global threat that it truly is. The Republican party has decided to go against intelligence, science, and the facts presented by 99% of the world’s scientists to say that climate change is a hoax. Republican president Donald Trump has even pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement which was struck between several industrialized countries who vowed to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in the hopes of slowing the damages of climate change. Meanwhile, Democrats have been at the forefront of many movements with regards to advocating for lower carbon emissions, a turn towards greener and more renewable energy sources, and have openly accepted the scientific community’s findings that climate change is a real event that we are currently experiencing.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Lobbyist, And What Are The Different Types Of Lobbyists?

Jim is a politician. Today, he and his colleagues are voting on whether oranges should be held in the same baskets as apples in their county’s supermarkets. The orange business could very well be harmed by having to share shelf space with apples because apples aren’t as nearly as appetizing as their citrus counterparts.

Mary, a lobbyist on behalf of the citrus industry in the town Jim and Mary live in, is paid by the orange business in town to try to persuade Jim not to allow apples and oranges to both be in the supermarket’s baskets at the same time. Mary is paid by the citrus industry because somebody has to do the company’s bidding for them.

And That is an Example of What Lobbying is
According to TripSavvy, a lobbyist is “an activist who seeks to persuade members of the government to enact legislation that would benefit their group.”

Lobbying is extremely prevalent in American politics, unfortunately; Senators and members of the House of Representatives are often paid thousands of dollars – if not even more than that, sometimes in the millions of dollars for just one payout – in an effort to encourage such politicians to stick up for what the special interests – lobbyists – believe in. This political process happens so incredibly frequently that it’s practically an inherent part of politics by now, at least here in the United States.

Different Types Of Lobbyists
Individuals who work as independent contractors for special interest groups are called contract lobbyists. These people do not regularly provide their services. Rather, they only lobby when work is available and convenient.

Subcontracting lobbyists are contracted to perform a specific set of duties for their special interest groups of employers. The only difference between these and the aforementioned contract lobbyists is that subcontracting lobbyists will dole their work out to others, at least in part.

Employee lobbyists are full-time lobbyists who work a lot for the special interest groups interested in swaying the opinions of politicians. These lobbyists have to register with the government.

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Getting The Next Generation Interested In Politics

There is no such thing as the phrase, “I’m not really into politics”. Politics affect everyone, regardless of how little or how much they may notice! Encourage young people to harness their passion and turn it into political power that other generations will take notice of. Below are five ways that the youth can be motivated to kick out the indifference and inspire real change-making involvement:

1. You’ve Got My Vote
Organize to hold voter registration events at local high-schools, colleges, festivals, and fairs. Getting young people registered is just the first step of many, but a critical one in the direction of greater youth involvement. Be sure that those who are running the registration booths are well-briefed on the subject so as to be able to answer questions like “What if I change my address?” or “What’s an absentee ballot?”

2. Know Your Rights
Urge young people to understand the importance of knowing and understanding their rights. From the ins and outs of due process within the Bill of Rights to recognizing the importance of tenants like the 19th amendment (which first began the journey to allowing all women the right to vote), encourage them to have a deeper political literacy should their circumstance ever call for it.

3. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Got an issue that you’re wildly passionate about but aren’t quite certain how to get involved? Host a protest party with supplies for creating protest signs/art and stationary for sending postcards to local and state representatives. For signs and art, provide poster board, cardboard, markers, paint, and stencils. For stationary, provide pens, stamps, and postcards, and have a list of your representatives’ names and addresses at the ready. This kind of event is especially relevant if there happens to be a protest or march taking place within the same week as your sign-making/postcard-writing party.

4. Lend a Hand
Encourage young people to get involved with their community or world at large by volunteering! Whether it’s helping at an animal shelter, creating care packages for the homeless, fundraising money for the arts, or some other track, there’s a passionate place for everyone to assist in. Remind young people that all politics begin locally, and volunteering is one of the most tangible ways to see that a difference has been made.

5. Something to Rally Behind
Got an election coming up? Check to see if there are any candidates stopping by a town near you on their campaign tour! Political rallies are exciting and create a sense of unity and urgency that young people should cling to. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to connect with other politically motivated individuals and change-makers.

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The Significance of Politics on Today’s Society

Whether one likes it or not, politics is an important facet to life. How the government manages important policies and laws has a significant impact on the daily lives of every citizen. With elections always around the corner, it is crucial to remember how significant politics plays in contemporary society.

Foreign Affairs
Foreign relations are a key component to all governments. How a country interacts with other nations can improve peace across the world, as well as highlight the national interests of a country on the world stage. Cold relations between countries can hinder cultural communication and trade. If relations deteriorate, there can be an increased chance of turmoil or conflict between countries or regions of the world. How a government manages these relations is essential to maintain peace and reflect the national interests of the citizens of a country.

Defense And Security
Protecting the lives and livelihood of all citizens of a country is one of the most basic tenants of a government. The contemporary era can be seen as a moment of danger. International terrorism, civil wars that create continued violence, and bad blood between countries can cause an outbreak of war, military conflicts, and terrorist attacks. Realizing how important a government manages the reduction of terrorism and commands its armed forces is crucial for the lives of all citizens of a country.

Economy
Although the economy acts separately from government intervention, the politics of the day impacts the economic vitality of a country. Labor and class issues, such as wages and wealth, can be solved or exacerbated by government actions. Taxation policies also impact the economy by either improving the general welfare of a country or hindering economic growth of businesses and individuals. Seeing how a government impacts the bottom line of citizens shows the significance of politics today.

Cultural Affairs
The government has a role in spearheading the direction of culture. Massive issues abound across all nations on various issues. Immigration policies, for example, can lead to debates on who can and should become citizens of a country. Health care debates can be highly volatile as to how much health care could be considered a right to all or an economic service. Constitutional issues, like the ownership of guns, also lead to big debates. With this role, politics serves as an important factor to how a nation progresses.

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