Well, I guess it has come to this. Once upon a time we argued our differences between big government and small government. Conservative vs Liberal. Now that the spendulus package has passed, we have crossed into a new debate, one of capitalism and free markets vs socialism. There was a time when we wouldn’t dream of ever entertaining the notion of socialism in America. Well here we are. Earlier this week, Mitch McConnell said that once the spending bill is fully implemented nearly 40% of our GDP will be consumed by the federal government. What else can we call it if not socialism? I can’t believe I actually have to devote a post to point out the dangers of this kind of economic system. I can’t believe I actually have to tell people that Marx was wrong. Here goes:
First, socialism is a failed system. The countries that have tried have either fallen (USSR), in the process of falling (western Europe, North Korea, Cuba) or are slowly migrating towards capitalism (China). Why? Because socialism does not create wealth and prosperity in the populous. Socialism only meets the basic needs of its citizens, and it doesn’t even do that very well. Remember the bread lines in the Soviet Union? From those who are most able to those who are most in need is a utopian idea based on the assumption that there are more who are able – and willing – than there are in need. Eventually, those who are able grow weary of working for the collective and the motivation for labor vanishes. Ask yourself: Why do we work? We work to make money so that we can support ourselves and our family, purchase goods and services and pursue our own individual happiness. In a socialist system they work to support society as a whole, other people and their families, many of whom do little to pull their own weight. That can only last so long.
Eventually the money dries up. As Margaret Thatcher once said, eventually we run out of the people’s money. Socialism deteriorates. It brings the collective down. The poor stay poor and the rich get poorer. If a worker labors hard and doesn’t profit from that labor, then how long can we expect him to continue laboring hard?
In ideal circumstances it creates a single economic class, but that class lives in substandard conditions. The only people who get wealthy from socialism are the politicians who raid and steal from the treasury, abusing their power to line their pockets. Can anyone name one non-politician who got wealthy in a socialist system?
Not only that, but socialism is incongruent with liberty. When people depend on the collective for basic needs, thus depending on the government to meet those needs, they are not free. The government can set the rules and change them at will. The government can dictate how people live their lives and the people have no say in the matter because the government controls the money, thus controlling food, housing, medical care, education, lending, and just about every other basic service we are currently free to enjoy. Even when socialist societies have elections those votes are useless because those who depend on the government are not going to vote against the politicians who provide their basic needs. This is the strategy of modern-day American progressives. The more people who depend on you for stuff, the more votes you effectively buy for the next election. This is not freedom. But it is an effective way to guarantee power. When I see people on welfare, medicare and food stamps; people who need the government for their education, their retirement, their jobs; when I see people like this I see people who are under the boot of politicians with little or no hope of controlling their own destiny. And there are more and more people like this every day.
Capitalism is not a perfect system. Indeed no such system exists. The freedom to pursue happiness comes at a cost, and that’s usually in the form of greed. And greed can create victims. Controlling greed is vital. It requires moral fiber and self-control, something that is becoming rare in America. If we can’t control our own greed we then seal our own fate.
There is suffering in capitalists systems, but it pales in comparison to the suffering we see when people have lost liberty. Because even when people are victimized by capitalism, they still are free to overcome their circumstances and re-ascend to prosperity. It’s a common tale of success. Despite the occasional victim, capitalism generates wealth and prosperity, it LIFTS the collective. America is the wealthiest nation on the planet. Even our poorest are very well off compared to the impoverished in foreign lands. And what’s even better is that those poor have the freedom to change their circumstances. That freedom does not exist in a socialistic society becomes the government has the power and will do everything it can to keep from relinquishing it.
Do you think for a second that the Democrats want people to get off of welfare? To handle their own retirement? To handle their own medical care? Of course not. If that were to happen then the party would lose votes. Their power depends on people who want handouts and they are more than willing to give the handouts at the expense of others.
With the passage of this spending bill we have transformed our economy to a European socialist model. Soon to come: high inflation, high interest rates and, yes, massive taxation. The collective will descend from prosperity. The economy will become stagnant. Jimmy Carter tried this already and the people rejected it. Now Obama seems to want to give it another go. The question is: Can we reverse it? Or will we even be willing to?
Common sense tells us that all capitalist systems eventually collapse into socialism as a result of greed if the people fail to control their greed. The people discover they have the power to vote themselves rewards from the treasury, and they abuse that power, unknowingly transferring it to the government. Is this a lesson we can learn from history and avoid? Or will we have to endure our own failed socialism experiment?