Socialism: Also Known as Communism Lite
You know what that reminds me of? The Illéan form of government that appears in the first three books of Kiera Cass's Selection series. A few generations before the protagonist's (America’s) birth, everyone was assigned to a caste based on their careers–which meant that no one got any more than what was permitted to their caste. Ever. Celebrities got put into the upper castes, commoners got thrown into the lower castes and Gregory Illéa's worst enemies were likely automatically kicked down to Eights, which were the homeless and other untouchables. (The books never said that all his enemies were made into Eights, but it's stated that they were put into the lower castes.)
- Royalty, clergy
- Celebrities of all types (athletes, musicians, etcetera). All members of the military were promoted to this caste upon being drafted.
- Educators of all sorts, writers, philosophers, inventors, scientists, all medical professionals (doctors, dentists, etcetera), architects, librarians, engineers, film directors, music producers, attorneys. All thirty-five members of the Selection were promoted to this caste, unless they were born Twos or Threes.
- Business owners, jewelers, realtors, insurance brokers, chefs, project managers, farmers. (Farmers are probably not lower due to their importance in providing food.)
- Visual and performing artists
- Standard working class people; including maids/butlers, servers, sales associates, tailors and drivers. People who specialize in clerical work are also in this caste.
- All manual laborers not included above
- Homeless/runaways, the ill, orphans, those born outside of wedlock, those incapable of proving their caste, traitors to the crown who were not executed
If a lower caste was where you were born, that's where you stayed. Very few state/federal agencies lent a helping hand–that's probably why the Selected received stipends for each week they remained in the competition. (I'm not sure if there was a severance payment…that may have only been if you made it to the finals.)
If you were lucky enough to be successful, you could buy your way into the upper castes; but for those who made their living with subjective things like art, and those who did menial jobs (Sixes and Sevens), it would be very difficult.
In terms of marriage, castes were like the peerage–a woman took her husband's caste; it wasn't a matter of "whoever has the higher caste is the one the couple takes". For example, if the protagonist hadn't married the prince, she likely would've been downgraded from a Five to a Six, as her boyfriend did odd jobs such as clerical work or cleaning.
Sidebar: in case you were wondering, I probably would've been born a Seven, as I'm sure automotive assembly workers would've been considered that far down. If I'd still been able to get into retail despite my caste, I would've been upgraded to a Six. Maybe…just maybe…my endeavors in writing would've gotten me moved up to a Five. (Certainly not a Three! That caste would be reserved for people like Stephen King!)
I must not have been paying attention to world history when I was a sophomore; because I remember for a brief time, I actually thought communism wasn't that bad! (Obviously, I missed the "Big Bad Dictator" part and if socialism was mentioned, I missed that, too.)
And on the surface–if you leave the nasty parts out and just stick with socialism–it doesn't seem that bad. "I'm a healthy person," you think. "I have a job that I'm satisfied with. It sure would be nice to be paid based on the kinds of contributions I've made to the world and have the government treat me like I mean something!"
But if the government gives back to you what you put into the community, what happens when you can no longer contribute? How about if you get so badly hurt on the job that you can't work anymore? It doesn't seem to me like the socialists would leave programs like SSI/SSDI in place…why would they give you a handout if you're not contributing? In Illéa's communist/socialist government, you'd automatically become an Eight and likely thrown onto the street, as–again–there were no governmental programs to help you out. (If there were, I'm sure America and her family wouldn't have struggled.) What about retirement? Would that go, too, because it's another handout to someone who is no longer contributing to society? (People are so afraid of social security running out of money…what happens if it disappears permanently, because someone like Bernie Sanders is in the White House?)
I suppose there's nothing to worry about. If a bog standard president can't get anything done because of the constant congressional in-fighting and rebellion against whoever's in charge, how does anyone expect that a socialist to make a difference?
Not that I was worried when I started this. More like I'm saying, "My former friend basically told me she's a junior commie and it made me uncomfortable, so I took off."
Thought for the Future
With the parliamentary model, whichever party holds the house majority is the one whose head becomes prime minister. Party versus party likely still happens with that model, but the majority will never lie in opposition to the prime minister and therefore will not present a roadblock when the prime minister wants to accomplish something. (Unlike when congress is led by one party and the other party has the presidency.)
If America went to the parliamentary model, would that be better, worse, or the same? (Obviously, we'd have to do it a little different than the House of Lords and the House of Commons, but that's not being questioned at the moment.)