He made his proposal to the Alpha legislature. This body, seeing an opportunity to convert the Beta's to their economic system, which they believed to be superior, readily agreed. It was decided that the debate would be held aboard their ship since they had the large auditorium required to seat a few hundred people. Some general rules were established. The Alphas spokesman would be the first to speak, outlining his position, and then the Beta would follow him and do the same. Then the Alpha and Beta debaters would speak in detail, followed by closing statements. Lastly, each would summarize his case. The Reverend Billy Angel was chosen as their speaker since he was the person who had championed their economic system. Ron Silverman was chosen to speak for the Betas.
Announcements of the debate were made and interest was high. One hundred people from each ship would be allowed into the auditorium, the rest would be able to watch it on television. When the debate began the Reverend Billy Angel walked confidently to the microphone and began his statement. "It is my belief that it is religion's responsibility to free humanity from social injustice. All great religious leaders, especially Jesus, sought to free us from social structures that kept us impoverished. He was the champion of the poor, the sick and the outcast. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, 'If you wish to be perfect, sell all you have, and you will have treasure in heaven, and follow me.' It would be contrary to this Gospel to acquire wealth and not work for the poor. The apostles believed in sharing everything in common, and we should do the same. My belief can be simply stated, it is the belief that in the struggle of the poor and oppressed against the powerful and the rich, God is on our side. God always favors the poor and downtrodden as they struggle for dignity, freedom and economic justice."
Their were enthusiastic applause from the Alpha side of the auditorium as The Rev. Angel took his seat and Ron Silverman came to the microphone. He hesitated momentarily, trying to comprehend the "us versus them" attitude that had just been so strongly advocated. He knew that he had to counter it. "If you accept socialist doctrine, then you believe that there is a limited amount of wealth that must be divided equally among all claimants. In such a system one person's gain must be another person's loss. Even if that were truly the case, socialism would still be immoral, for reasons I will soon present to you. But it is not the case, wealth has an unlimited growth potential as long the person creating the wealth is allowed to keep it. True, the wealth is not equally distributed, because it is not equally created, but everyone benefits. As an American President said more than one hundred years ago, 'A rising tide lifts all ships." He sat down and yielded the floor to the Reverend Anglel.
"I speak for Christianity, but I believe the followers of other faiths practiced aboard this ship share my core beliefs. I see Jesus as the liberator who freed people from bondage of all kinds, not just sin and illness. He also desired to free them from the social structures that kept them poor. We believe that Capitalism is such a structure. Its purpose is to seek wealth, it ignores the needs of the poor. This is contrary to Gospel which states, "The ones who will enter the Kingdom of heaven are those who help the least of my brothers and sisters." We do not seek wealth on this ship, we seek economic justice. We want to be all that we can be. This can only occur in a society embodying the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. We recognize that a precondition for this development is sufficient food, education and good health. This can only happen when the government is democratically controlled. We seek to coordinate production directly to satisfy these human needs as opposed to generating profits. We seek to distribute it to each according to their needs for development. We are all members of the human family, interdependent. The full development of all human potential is our goal. We accomplish this thru state socialism and a planned economy.
"Now, how is this justice to be obtained? If you allow private property in the means of production you allow for different levels of wealth to materialize. If I own something, then you do not own it. I am therefore richer than you are in regards to something. By doing away with private ownership of production everyone owns everything equally. We all have a say in what will be produced and how much it will cost. There is no wage system, we all receive the social value of our labor. Anyone can choose whatever occupation they desire, because we own the means of production. This also means you'll never be laid off or fired, you have job security for the rest of your life. Education for you and your children will be free. You are able to seek your own interests to become well rounded people, not forced to learn a particular skill so that you can hire yourself out to earn a living. Our free medical services relieve you of the enormous burden of caring for your health and that of your loved ones. Our means of production benefit all of us, not just a few stockholders that receive profits from it.
"With capitalism the creation of profits dominates everything, humanity and nature are just the means of crating profits. It is you, the worker, that creates these profits, but you do not own the means of production, so you do not benefit from them. You are forced to sell the only thing you own, your labor, in order to buy the things you need to survive. You can sell it to whom ever you want to, but you can not choose whether or not to sell it! "Having sold your labor, you have no claim on what it produces. The buyer will only buy enough to generate surplus value, a profit. He is not in business to create charity! He will constantly look for ways to improve productivity, to get more benefit out of each hour you work. He will bring in new machinery and introduce efficiencies to reduce the number of hours of labor he has to pay for and therefore drive down the cost of that labor.
"What price does humanity pay for all of these profits? Instead of allowing people to develop all of their potential, capitalism treats people as a means to its goals. The people relate to their work, its products and the consumption of those products. They become alienated from each other, impoverished human beings. Contrast that with the people created under socialism. You have producers who live in a society characterized by solidarity, who produce the needs of society. This enables them to develop into rich human beings who recognize their utility and their need for each other We will put an end to poverty. Modern technology provides the means to allow everyone to live full and prosperous lives. But under capitalism it is used for anti-social purposes. It is used for the private profit of its owners, and not for the benefit of the workers that invented it and built it.
"Finally, let me say, that under socialism we have a complete democracy. A democracy based upon you, the worker. We have a unified, classless society of useful workers collectively owning the means of production and distribution. We collectively safeguard the rights of the individual to a free, unrestricted life of accomplishment. Socialism is both the correct moral and political system for a just society."
Now it was Ron Silverman's turn. What he had just heard had, on it surface, all the appearances of a valid argument. He knew that he had to examine it thoroughly and expose its weaknesses. He was confident that he could do so. "There is a name for a person that does not have the ownership of his own labor, that person is called a slave. To the extent that that person is forcibly deprived of the results of his labor, that person is enslaved! An entity forcibly depriving me of the fruits of my labor, a socialist government, is committing an act of aggression against me. The only justification for government is to protect its citizens from force and fraud, not to conduct it against them. That acts as a disincentive to produce and an incentive to consume what others have produced. The affect this has on a society is to cause a change in its moral composition, a reduction in the level of it desire to produce it basic requirements.
"There are two basic political philosophies, one for freedom and individual rights and one against them, capitalism and socialism. The first upholds the rights of the individual, the second claims those rights must be sacrificed for the sake of the so called greater good of the collective. This is termed social justice, but it is not. Justice is all people being treated equally. It means that a person is entitled to keep what he has earned, and no group is entitled to take it away from him. Social justice under capitalism means that what a person earns is directly proportional to what a person produces. Socialism institutionalizes injustice by legally expropriating property from one person or group and giving it to another. "The fact that I no longer own a factory because it is owned by the state does not solve the problem of what should be done with the product produced by the factory. Previously I made that decision, based upon what was best for the company. Under socialism one group's opinion must be favored over another group's, and this decision must be made by political means.
"There are many side effects to socialism, effect that you are realizing as I speak. It leads to less savings and more consumption, less work and more leisure. This in turn causes a reduction in output and a lowering in the standard of living. Income tends to drift towards those in government who control the means of production, causing people to devote less time developing productive skill in favor of learning political ones. Let us now look at the function of these people who somehow end up in government. Under capitalism the individual decides what he wants and needs, under socialism a bureaucrat does, therefore, 'one size must fit all'. He will decide what you want and need. He will decide who has too much of something and too little, who should pay taxes and who shall receive that money. Even when some private ownership of production is allowed, the owner doesn't own all of the income received from it. Some of it is characterized as belonging to the people, and the government maintains the right to determine how much that amount is by using taxation. It automatically creates a system of 'winners' and 'losers' based upon one persons subjective opinion, because he has no way of knowing what the real necessities are. And what is the basis for his opinions? Under capitalism it is recognized that the ownership of property is determined by original appropriation, the homestead principle. It is the concept that you gain ownership of a natural thing that currently has no owner by using or building something from it. That is the manner in which you gain property without the use of aggression. Socialism denies this principal. It states that the people that come afterwards have as much right to the property as the ones that developed it. This is what is happening when the state forces the property owner or his heirs to pay a tax on it so that the people who came afterward can enjoy its benefits. The problem with this idea is that there is an unlimited amount of people that will come afterward, all with an equal claim on the property, and all of whom would have to give their consent as to how the property is to be used. Clearly this is impossible, as the claimants would reach on into infinity.
"Let's now examine the history of socialism compared to capitalism. There are no better examples of the difference the two systems can make than the case of Germany after the second world war and Korea after its civil war. In Germany you had one country, a well educated industrious culture, speaking the same language. It was divided into two countries, East and West Germany. One governed by socialism, the other by free market principals. Let us examine the results. In the East the workers became lethargic while in the West they remained energetic. In the East the workers complained about the incompetence of their politically appointed supervisors and became frustrated, in the West they prospered. In the East they had to build a wall with armed guards to keep the people in. We also have the example of what happened in Korea. Once again a country was divided into two states, one socialist and one capitalist. The capitalist South became the fourteenth largest economy in the world, while the socialist North became impoverished and had to resort to centralize food rationing. It was forced to devote one fourth of its GDP to its military to keep its population in line. It only succeeded to the extent that it allowed a minimal of private enterprise. Everywhere that socialism has been attempted, it has failed. In order to sustain itself it has had to allow some amount of free enterprise, and has only been able to remain in existence because of it. The quality of life in those countries is determined by the proportion of the freedom in their economy. In free economies, when socialist ideas are introduce, they begin to decline.
"Why do free economies move towards socialism, you may ask? Consider the person about to take his first injection of heroine. He is doing it because he has been told that it will make him feel good. He is skeptical, but decides that just trying a little bit one time can't hurt him. He likes the effect and before long he become addicted to it and is no longer of any use to himself or society. That is socialism, that is what I am asking you to reject. Finally, let me address the morality of capitalism. My definition of morality is that which is in favor of life is moral. We are able to live our lives because we are able think for ourselves, therefore a system that allows us to do that must be considered moral. Capitalism is the only political system that allows us to do this." He took his seat.
Billy Angel came forward to make his closing statement. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain asked God. God does not answer, leaving the choice for humanity to make. I, like Jesus, choose to answer yes. I choose not to rise above the level of my lowest brother, I choose to raise him up. Socialism is the only economic system that can accomplish this."
Ron Silverman was ready with his rebuttal. "Helping our neighbor is not the same as knowing what is best for him. The Bible does not say that we are our brother's keeper, for what is a keeper? The person responsible for the care of animals in a zoo is called a keeper. His duty is to care for creatures that are no longer able to care for themselves. Prison guards are also known as keepers in that sense of the word. Their charges are also kept behind bars and are unable to provide for their own livelihood. I do not believe that this is the relationship that we want to establish between government and citizens. Government should not be our keeper. Individuals should do as much as they can for as many as they can, because it is the right thing to do. That is not the question being debated and Socialism is not the proper means of helping those unable to care for themselves. Capitalism is the engine that pulls humanity forward, free competition is the fuel that propels the engine. The effect of moving a capitalist society towards socialism is to add to the load of the engine, causing it to strain harder and harder to pull its burden. If, while this is happening, the engine is being deprived of its fuel, if capitalism is being weakened in favor of socialism, the strain is doubled. If this process is allowed to continue, the inevitable result will be the destruction of the engine and the load it carries, socialism."
It was now time for the summation, and Billy Angel came to the microphone. "The choice between capitalism and socialism is basically the choice between greed and the love of humanity. It is the choice of placing the individual's needs above that of the masses. It is the choice of allowing the few to thrive at the expense of society as a whole. Capitalism is contrary to every religion's teaching, a creation of man in opposition to God's intentions. I urge you to completely and permanently rebuke it."
Ron Silverman then made his closing summary. "Contrary to what you have just heard, it is socialism that is the system created by greed and envy. It is socialism that seeks to forcibly take wealth from its creators and give it to those who did not earn it, because they are envious of that wealth. To those of you who still retain the essence of human dignity, the desire to be creative and self sufficient, I say this. Beta is an open and free society, and our doors will always be open to you while we are on this journey. Once arrived at our respective planets we will have no say in your government. I urge you to seriously consider which system you want to live under for the rest of your lives.I invite you to come join us on the beta ship."
As he traveled in the shuttle back to the Beta ship, Ron Silverman was discouraged. He knew from the sounds of applauds given that few minds had been changed by the debate. Alpha planet would be socialist, Beta capitalist. The Imams would gain power and govern their followers as they had on Earth, they would convince them that it was necessary for them to live impoverished lives in order to serve God. Just why God wanted them to live that way would never be explained to them. Reverend Angel would insure that what he considered to be social justice would prevail on planet Beta. In time Beta would grow resentful of Alpha planet and accuse it of exploiting them, never acknowledging that it was Alpha's science and technology alone that kept them from living the lives of surfs during the dark ages. The fire of capitalism, which had burned so brightly for a few hundred years, would be extinguished. The light that it had provided, the idea that wealth could be created and renewed, and was not a static entity to be divided and sub-divided until everyone had an equally diminished share, would be extinguished. The socialist would always perceive his cup to be half empty, while his neighbor's was half full. He would drink from his cup and then replenish it from his neighbor's cup, believing that that would make them equal, never acknowledging that they now both had less than before and that he had gained in the exchange. The divisions that had occurred on Earth would be transplanted to these new worlds light years away. Religion versus secularism, individuality versus collectivism, all of humanities old problems that he had hoped to leave behind had followed him these millions of miles out into space. In hind sight he realized that no matter how far mankind traveled, it would never escape from its nature.