The comments have been extremely interesting, but if I tried to respond to each one of them I would really get lost in the weeds so let me try to say some more general things that might address a number of the comments without connecting each thing I say to one of them.
The totality of goods and services produced anywhere in a large capitalist economy like that of the United States is the collective consequence all of the work done by those who in any way participate in their production. Most of this collective product either takes the form of final consumption by the people in the society or goes for the replacement of inputs, depreciation, and so forth. The remainder is profit, appropriated by the owners of capital and invested in expanded levels of production or retained in the form of financial holdings. There are two problems with this way of managing things (among many other problems): the first is that those who produce the social surplus do not get to decide what is done with it. The second is that the allocation of capital resources is skewed by private decisions of profitability unrelated to social desires or needs. Thus it is that at the moment it is profitable to produce nicely designed, well-made cheap clothing and luxury housing. Consequently, millions of people in America are well dressed and ill housed. Nevertheless even in a capitalist economy these days decisions about the allocation of some of the surplus are made collectively in the form of socially funded schooling, socially funded old age insurance, and socially funded medical care, for example.
A modern capitalist economy is enormously productive. Out of curiosity, I looked up the gross domestic product in the United States for 2019 and divided it by the number of households in America in 2019. The result was approximately $175,000. That is almost 3 times the median household income for 2019. Simply depriving the superrich of the annual increase in their wealth could go a long way to giving everybody in the United States a decent standard of living.
How exactly would socialism work? What would it look like? I do not know. Collective ownership of the means of production would have to grow organically out of the present set of circumstances as a consequence of the mobilization of many scores of millions of Americans. Do I think this likely? Of course not. At the moment, this country is trying to decide whether to be ruled by a fascist white supremacist party with the support of at least 30% or more of the American electorate. All our energies must be devoted to making as sure as we can that that does not happen. It seems to me that the 2022 and 2024 elections will go a long way to deciding whether this country remains even as much of a functioning democracy as it now is, which is not saying very much.
That is why, when I wrote a paper entitled “the future of socialism” some years ago, I began by observing wryly that the title was a little bit like “Betamax: the technology whose time has come.”