Reaching the highest office in the land meant that US President Joe Biden accumulated political bills that piled up during his election campaign. Many of those bills are now owed to socialist powers in the US, galvanising Biden’s image as the “saviour of the nation.” They represent an unholy alliance with left-leaning politicians who are staunch proponents of socialism in the United States.
“Roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion in the same exact period [of the Covid-19 pandemic]… And they’re now worth more than $4 trillion,” Biden said in a speech to the US Congress recently.
During a speech marking the passing of 100 days of his presidency, Biden stressed the rising number of billionaires and corporations in the country that according to him are not paying their tax dues by funneling profits to offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. He said that some companies that had earned billions had ended up paying zero taxes through an intricate web of tax-evasion techniques.
“The folks at the top aren’t bad guys. I get in trouble in my party when I say wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks. I’ve found no distinction,” Biden said in his speech.
Yet, the new US president must be the first in the history of the US who has had to defend the existence of billionaires in his country, which was founded on the tenets of the free-market and capitalism. He has to do so in a way that does not anger his left-wing base or campaign donors. Nearly 230 American billionaires donated to his campaign against former president Donald Trump, according to the US Forbes magazine.
Biden’s socialist base includes former Democratic Party presidential nominee Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom are hardcore socialists. Along with an assortment of other Biden supporters during his campaign, these professed socialists have spoken of little other during their political careers except hunting the rich and redistributing their wealth. They usually play on the feelings of the impoverished or the unemployed by providing them with an enemy, in this case rich businessmen blamed as the cause of their misery.
It is bizarre that even the president of an avowedly communist country such as China’s Xi Jinping has never complained of the growing number of billionaires in his country, which, according to a BBC statistic in April 2021, has reached 695 compared to 724 in the US. The Chinese capital Beijing now has the highest number of billionaires, with 100 billionaires, surpassing New York’s 99.
China altered its failing communist economic model in the 1980s and turned it into a simulation of a free-market economy while maintaining the tight grip of the government on its billionaires and even having many of them become members of the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese thus did not achieve the success they have seen by following former chairman Mao Zedong’s Marxist Red Book, which led to nothing but failures. Instead, they followed the path of capitalism to economic success.
The leftist rhetoric in the US is not much different from what it has been across the world. It is usually focused on the urban myth that the rich and successful have acquired their wealth by twisted methods and that their wealth is ill-gotten, while the poor have paid the price for that success. However, this idea, unless there is some major corruption involved, is a complete fallacy. The US is an example of a country where the poor can become rich if they are successful in creating a flourishing business and maintaining it through creativity and expansion.
Yet, the current trend in the US, once the citadel of capitalism, is following a socialist ideology and is being propagated by media anchors, celebrities, university scholars and even politicians. A recent poll has shown that four out of every ten Americans would prefer to be ruled by socialist laws and that 55 per cent of these are women. While these polls can be misleading, the numbers are alarming in a country considered to be in the vanguard of international capitalism.
The foundation and success of the US, especially in the 20th century, was based on following the tenets of free-market capitalism, and the world has been thankful for its success since it catapulted the global economy into economic development not witnessed before in history. The global consumerism that followed the globalisation policies after World War II, one of the main criticisms of socialists, was the cause of the massive development seen in societies worldwide, all thanks to capitalism.
A poor student in an African country is now able to talk online to a rich man in Western Europe and exchange ideas on a laptop. That could not have happened except for the massive industrial development made possible by free-market capitalism. At no other time in history has the world experienced such communication and such standards of living, even in impoverished countries, and this has been facilitated by Western and US industrialists and entrepreneurs who managed to change the world in a couple of centuries.
In the US, there is a fascination with the socialism in place in some European countries such as Sweden because of the high standard of living that Swedish citizens enjoy. But most of the proponents of such fascination neglect the fact that Sweden is a European country with a free economy but also with extremely high taxes to fund its high standards of services and healthcare provided by the state to its citizens.
The fact that Sweden is also a country of 10.3 million has facilitated the distribution of wealth garnered by high taxes on a much smaller population, and this in itself provides the answers to many questions. The case of the US is very different, as it has a population of nearly 330 million. In 2016, over 1.18 legal immigrants were admitted by the US, while almost half a million more find their way in illegally. There are some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, according to several estimates, in other words more than the entire population of Sweden.
Regardless of how wealthy a country is or how robust its economy, it cannot withstand these numbers of illegal immigrants on an annual basis, especially during an economic crisis. The fact that some politicians are demanding that everyone should have their “fair share” of the country’s wealth and healthcare based on socialist ideals is ludicrous.
Each country has its own budget that is distributed depending on its needs, capabilities and population on the areas of health, education, energy, defence and so on. If the number of new-born citizens and illegal immigrants exceeds annual growth in GDP, then the country is in trouble regardless of its wealth. The government will have to scrap social programmes or downsize them to meet the growing population, and such is the case with the US or with any other country that has no control over its borders or the increase in its population.
The world owes a debt of gratitude to capitalism and to its founder Adam Smith and to other economists who paved the way to the economic development of which we are now reaping the fruits, despite periods of economic stagnation and occasional hardship. Such development could never have occurred under a communist or a socialist ideology, which carries the seeds of failure within it.
Examples of such failure extend from the former Soviet Union and its satellite Eastern European countries to the dozens of countries in Asia, South America and Africa that have tried such recipes, all the way to socialism’s latest victim of Venezuela. The question that should be asked of communists and socialists is how many more countries will have to fail and how many more generations and lives will have to go to waste before they realise that these ideologies do not work and that they will certainly not work in the US.
Biden above all should be the first to acknowledge that.
*The writer is a political analyst and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 May, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly