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Memories of the 28th Century

Rationale for State Socialism

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For years, various people have been trying to persuade the American people to adopt socialism, but there have always been problems, until recently, when we have seen exactly how government succeeds in the distribution of goods. Specifically, I mean the distribution of vaccine against Cov-SARS 2, AKA the Covid 19 vaccine.

To ensure fairness and efficiency in the distribution, the federal government took it upon itself to oversee the distribution and delegated the states to handle distribution within each state. Instead of relying on organizations that have been distributing vaccines for decades, the states are having ad hoc organizations do the work, so your medical clinic can't even get vaccine. I should make it clear that I don't know how the distribution is going in other places, and this is exclusively about the distribution in Massachusetts.

For decades, vaccines of various sorts were distributed through medical channels, and those distributions worked reasonably well. They were set up for flu vaccines, childhood immunizations and whatever adult vaccines were necessary. I think there was some school department involvement for the Polio vaccines in the 1950's, but the smallpox vaccine went through commercial channels; although that was not true in other countries, where commercial channels did not exist.

With those decades of experience, the federal government decided that the COVID 19 vaccines had to be treated differently. Except the matter of two vaccines needing extra cold temperatures for storage, there were no difference in what the distribution needed, but the commercial channels weren't good enough. Instead of reliable deliveries and distribution, we have had to deal with mass vaccination sites and spotty supplies.

I suppose that some would claim that there were special circumstances, but I would contend that the special circumstances were created by the inept distribution. The regular pipeline for drugs would have had no problem with Covid vaccine.

The only reason I can find for the inept distribution of the Covid vaccine is that some people are trying to get us used to state socialism messing up manufacturing and distribution of all sorts of goods that will be controlled by government. Here in the U.S.A. there already are many regulations on what can be produced and sold, how it can be handled, etc. Add to those regulations on how employees can be treated, and it becomes questionable as to whether a business owner actually owns the business. One of the rights of ownership is to treat the thing owned as one wishes. Many of the regulations exist for good reasons, but there are no reasons for other regulations.

On the other hand, there are activities that are public responsibilities. These include the building and maintenance of roads, and even in that field, there are limits. Developers of real estate commonly are required to build adequate roads within their area, and that makes sense, but the roads become public property after the development is complete. In some places some public utilities are operated by government, and if they are not operated by government, then they are closely regulated. If we could be confident that private entities would do an adequate job running utilities, then it would be better to let them, but we have seen poor management of utility companies many time, consider the problems with electric utilities in Texas, where generating and transmission equipment were not weatherproofed.

Then there is the matter of long distance communications. The postal service had been a national enterprise from before the beginning of the federation until 1971, when the post office became an independent agency of the federal government, with the postmaster general serving at the pleasure of the Board of Governors. The postal service did not expand into other modes of communication,. When those evolved, including telegraph, telephone, and the internet, even though it appears that the intention of the Constitution is that the postal service would organize communications.. On top of that, the postal service has let service deteriorate and costs increase. The present postmaster general appears to be trying to eliminating the postal service. If it were well regulated on prices and services, then privatization might be good, but it might be easier to return it to being a government department and to reform the postal rate structure. It might also be a good idea to have the post office department provide internet access , but the details of that would have to be worked out.

The desirability of government business has always been questionable, but the recent behavior of the postal service and the mess being made of government distribution of vaccines puts a lot of weight on the no side of the scale on state socialism. But it is clear that there have to be organizations to oversee the government involvement in business watching to make sure that it is beneficial to the citizens.

We also have to recognize that regulations should be complete and adequate for the situation. I am thinking about the problems that Texas had with its electricity a few months ago. Texas expected that utilities would have the sense to have their equipment defended against the weather, but much of the electrical generation is completely unwinterized, and they paid the price.