"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"
Karl Marx said that. Then, millions of college students said the same.
"It's genius!" They cry, "If everyone just selflessly helps everyone else out, everyone will be happy! Utopia!"
But lets look at the requirements of the statement. Really dissect it.
"From each according to his ability"
Ability is something we're all born with. 90% of human beings have the ability to do pretty much anything. From the homeless man on the corner to the business executive, almost anyone has the ability to become a doctor (for example). Sure, some have to try harder than others, but we're talking about ability here. If you grab the manager of a Dairy Queen, put a gun to his head, and say "Become a doctor or I'll blow your brains out" and then follow him around with the gun for the years it takes to learn the profession, pay for his education, housing, and food, you have a pretty good chance of making that Dairy Queen manager a doctor.
But why didn't that Dairy Queen manager become a doctor in the first place? He technically had the ability, financial aid is not that difficult to get. Doctors graduate all the time with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and work to pay that debt off in their practice. Immigrants come to America with nothing more than the shirt on their back, and get college educations by working on campus as janitors while sleeping in the janitor's closet. If the ability is there, why on Earth is this Dairy Queen manger not already a doctor?
Maybe because he didn't want to be a doctor. Maybe he thought it was too much work for not enough pay off. Maybe he hates the sight of blood. Maybe he thinks doctors are quacks. Or maybe he just prefers to work at the Dairy Queen.
The difference between all the doctors, Dairy Queen managers, computer techs, professional bowlers, and the people who aren't doctors, Dairy Queen managers, computer techs, professional bowlers, is that the people who are that profession, chose that profession, and chose to do the work to become that profession because they wanted to, or felt the need to.
But choice has nothing to do with ability.
If a socialist government worker decides you have the ability to become a doctor or the ability to dig ditches, you will have no choice in the matter, and there will be a gun to your head. As any college Marxist will tell you; the success of this ideology depends on everyone doing their part whether they like it or not. What do you think happens to the people who don't play along?
"to each according to his need"
Ahhh, "need." Was there ever a more subjective word? There's a game I like to play when people start talking about need. What kind of car do you drive? If it's not a geo metro, do you really need it? What kind of clothes are you wearing? Bourgeoisie cotton? You know, burlap covers you just as well. What kind of food do you eat? You know, humans can subsist entirely on rice and beans. Do you really need all that flavor?
Well, maybe you really do need all these things. Maybe you need a wagon because you have a lot of kids. Maybe you need cotton because burlap gives you hives. Maybe you need other foods because beans give you stomach cramps. But do you think you're going to get them when you get into the food line, or file the paperwork to get a car? Rest assured, YOU will be the LAST person to determine YOUR need. Otherwise the system doesn't work. Someone else must decide your needs, you may not.
But even if you don't need the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the food you eat, why do you have them?
Look around you, look at what you're doing, look at who you're with, look at your life. Everything in it, every action you take, every thought you have, is because you want. But want is not a bad word. Some people want to help the homeless. Some people want to have a fast car. Some people work because they want to buy things they like. Some people want to eat thai food. Some people quit smoking because they want to live longer. Some people want to go surfing. Some people change because they want to find love.
Our lives are defined by our wants. We are driven by them! They are what make us unique!
But wants have nothing to do with needs.
Imagine a life without wants.
Imagine waking up in a bed you didn't want, taking a cold shower you didn't want, driving to a job you didn't want, in a car you didn't want, then returning to a home you didn't want, to a family or roommate you didn't want, eating a dinner you didn't want, and going back to sleep in that bed you didn't want knowing tomorrow was going to be exactly the same.
Imagine living a life you didn't want, without the choice to change it.
That, my supposedly well educated friend, is socialism.