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Friday, April 10, 2009

Utopia: Socialist Paradise

by Harry Valentine

A socialist paradise has been evolving for years, in which the ideals of government caring for the welfare of its citizens is held in high regard. In this Utopia, government regards itself as a partner to business. And there are many businesses willing to be a partner, receiving grants and interest free loans from the mother state. The utopia has a few problems, like the emperor's naked posterior revealing itself from beneath his fine robes. Whenever this happens, some of Utopia's system flaws and shortcomings become know.

Several of Utopia's citizens are classified as "working poor" and "working homeless". In this latter case, these are people who go to a job, even a professional job where they wear a shirt and tie or even business suit. When they come home after work, home is a shelter for the homeless. This situation came about a few years after some of the city and provincial governments decided to eradicate slums and regulate the rental housing market, with the aim of improving rental housing. What soon happened was that people who rented a basement or a room in a private home, stopped doing so. People who built economy rental accommodations got out of the market, because of the heavy handed manner in which Utopia's bureaucrats began to enforce their authority. So Utopia has a shortage of affordable rental accommodation in its major population centers. The lower wage earners who most urgently need low-rent housing now have to seek accommodation in shelters for the homeless, most of which are run by private charities.

The more fortunate citizens who live in Utopia, pay a very high rate of taxes, which are amongst the highest in the world. Utopia's businesses also pay high taxes, which are usually collected by hidden and indirect means. This leaves the impression that businesses and banks in Utopia pay little or no taxes, which infuriates the defenders of Utopia's social programs. Every now and then a free market supporter will undertake a study that reveals that Utopia's banks actually pay 57% of their profits to the government via hidden and indirect taxation.

Utopia's social left usually responds with outrage to such findings, claiming that it is "merely rightwing propaganda". Of course at no time do Utopia's social defenders ever produce any factual information that can stand up to any scrutiny to substantiate any of their claims against private business. The Utopian social left is united in their conviction that a firm and heavy hand by government is needed to regulate the business community, for the "greater good". Of course they also demand that all businesses be domestically owned, because they regard foreign ownership of Utopia's businesses as being detrimental to Utopia's national identity. Utopia's main airline operator which was previously state owned, is now state-regulated with a very firm hand and operating near the brink of bankruptcy. It would benefit from a combination of new foreign investment and deregulation, or even outright foreign ownership of Air Utopia. Except such blasphemy is not even open to discussion in Utopia's central government chambers.

The Utopian government claims to have the best interests of its citizens at heart, so it maintains a firm hand regulating many sectors of Utopia's economy. To ensure credible regulation, large numbers of professionals are kept on the staff, while outside consultants including university professors are engaged to guide the government’s regulatory efforts. Example, Utopia managed an ocean fishing industry by giving out licenses and permits, while the fish stocks were continually studied and strict quotas enforced. Utopia's officials would board offshore fishing vessels to inspect the catch, as a means of enforcing compliance. The idea of fish farms was regarded as reprehensible by Utopia's social left, who had supreme faith in the government's ability to manage the offshore ocean fishing industry.

However, something went astray and the offshore ocean fish stocks became depleted. Utopia's government officials were dumbfounded: they could not explain what happened, after all, there were at least 24-people on government fisheries staff who held Ph.D. degrees as well as equally well qualified outside fish consultants and university professors, all united in their efforts in guiding Utopia’s government to act for the greater good.

The central government is of course very concerned about improving Utopia's economy. A recent study commissioned by Utopia's Department Of Industry claimed that "Utopia's tax rules were killing innovation." The study recommended that "inheritance taxes be increased". Now the central government has a multi-billion dollar proposal planned to boost high-tech innovation. Most of this revenue will come from hidden and indirect taxation of Utopia's industrial and business sector, some will come from personal taxation, while the remainder will come straight from the printing presses. In order for business to receive government funding, it is a good idea to be politically well connected and chant the mantra of the benefit of the partnership between government and business, for the greater good. Other businesses which prefer to remain politically neutral or even apolitical, have to forfeit profits the may otherwise have been able to allocate to new, innovative product development. In Utopia, the government absolutely has to be seen as the facilitator of industrial innovation.

To develop a powerful business sector in the emerging technologies, Utopia needs many scientists and engineers. However, fully half of the students from Utopia who are in university specializing in these fields, are attending institutions outside of Utopia. Most of them are likely to remain to work in the country in which they are studying, following graduation. They may of course come home to Utopia for an occasional visit. A large number of Utopia's university graduates will also leave to work outside Utopia, a kind of brain drain which also includes members of Utopia's socialized medical system, doctors and nurses who prefer to work in a freer environment, like in America. Yet despite shortcomings such as the few mentioned here, the United Nations claims that Utopia, which is located just north of the US border, is one of the best places in the world in which to live.

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