Margaret Thatcher, the Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once said that: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” Wealth redistribution by government is an essential component of socialism. But, it is morally wrong because it is theft. Whether committed by the local criminal, the mafia, or the government, theft is theft. The person on the other end of this transaction is receiving stolen property. All of it is wrong because it violates the right to private property.
In the United States this theft is perpetrated with the progressive income tax and other devious methods. If you refuse to pay your taxes, the IRS will eventually seize all of your funds and put you in jail. Even the notorious gangster Al Capone was eventually imprisoned on the crime of tax evasion when the authorities could not make any other criminal charge stick. The government does need some amount of money to perform its legitimate function of protecting your rights, but its budget today is far too large. Much of its spending is on credit. Mathematically, we cannot pay off our national debt, and it will come back to destroy us when our house of cards collapses–sooner than you think!
America was founded on the principle of inalienable individual rights. Most Americans today take these rights for granted, and that is why we are losing them. They do not know what individual rights really are or why they are valid. The concept originated in ancient Greece and evolved over a period of more than 2000 years. Even our U.S. Supreme Court does not adequately understand it. Suffice to say that our country was founded on the idea of a limited government of minimal powers which would result in the maximum amount of freedom for the people. The bigger and more powerful your government, the less freedom you have. The government in the United States has grown far larger than our Founding Fathers had ever intended, and we have lost many of our rights and freedoms along the way. This commentary on socialism was written in response to my reading the second article linked below. Too many Americans are ignorant of the actual history of socialism, and it would be enlightening for them to read the article.
Under collectivism, also known as statism, the government (state) is large and all-powerful. It can easily be understood with the analogy of a honey bee hive. All subjects (they are slaves, not citizens) are worker bees whose lives are owned and controlled by the all-powerful state. They have duties to their collective (group, tribe, nation, religion, or race), but no rights. Their purpose and moral obligation in life is to serve and sacrifice for the “common good” of their collective, their honey bee hive. Their individual lives and happiness are irrelevant. What matters is the well being and survival of the collective, not of the individual.
The three variations of collectivism are socialism, fascism, and communism. Communism is the most extreme form, but the other two are similar in principle. Taken to their logical ends they both eventually morph into communism. Under socialism the government owns the means of production. Under fascism the means of production are privately owned (in name only) but controlled by the government through regulations. Some believe that fascism is the most practical form of collectivism because it takes advantage of its most talented individuals to efficiently manage and run the means of production.
The United States is a mixed economy which is an unstable mixture of capitalism and collectivism. The form of collectivism in its mixed economy is fascism, and we are becoming more collectivist every day because controls breed more controls. The more regulations we have, the more fascist we are. How many Americans understand this?
Our country has been on the ideological road to collectivism for more than a hundred years, and the popularity of Bernie Sanders in the last Presidential election proves the point. He openly stated that he is a Democratic Socialist. But, if you have any understanding of the ideology, it doesn’t matter what variation of socialism it purports to be. It is still a honey bee hive filled with worker bees who ultimately have no rights, only duties to their hive. The trend will always be toward full socialism, full collectivism, full dictatorship. Controls breed more controls. All worker bees have a moral duty to serve their all-powerful hive, their collective. They have no right to life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness because their individual lives do not matter. Only the collective matters, and they are its slaves. Collectivism is an appropriate social-political organization for insects, but not for humans. That is why all attempts at it in human societies have been failures. It simply does not work for us.
Human beings have dreams, aspirations, and goals. They possess a conceptual consciousness and are defined as the (potentially) rational animal. Each individual has a set of personal values, and his actions (if rational) are calculated toward achieving those values. The right to private property is a necessary pre-condition of achieving one’s happiness. How do you achieve happiness if you can’t own anything? The United States is the first and only country in history to explicitly state in its founding principles that each of its citizens has an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. This logically means that you must also enjoy the rights to life and liberty. Thus, our Declaration of Independence, the greatest political document in history, explicitly states that our government will recognize and honor each citizen’s pre-existing inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
America’s founding principles of individualism make it the first moral nation in history. It is the philosophical opposite of collectivism. Individualism is the ideology of freedom while collectivism is the ideology of slavery. A man who does not own what he produces is a slave. A slave does not even own his own life. In America our magnificent Declaration asserted that you would own your life and that you would also own what you produced. Our Constitution thus guaranteed that you would have the freedom and the means (private property) to make the best of your own individual life.
The essence of capitalism is freedom, and that is what made America the land of opportunity. It was a beacon to immigrants from all over the world who wanted a chance to make a better life for themselves and their children. The unwritten pre-condition was that they would need to assimilate into a culture of freedom and leave any contradictory cultural principles behind in their old country. A nation’s prosperity is proportional to its freedom. America traditionally is the land of the free. To make America great again, all we need is our freedom back! If you think you are free today, consider all of the (fascist) regulations that limit your actions in business, for example. Ideology (an idea) does matter! Collectivism is actively destroying our rights and freedoms. Ignore fundamental ideas at your own peril!
Communism Turns 100
The Staggering Toll of the Russian Revolution
Never has there been such an insidious and deadly ideology as Marxism-Leninism.
The article below reveals the ignorance and self-centeredness of many college students. Their views and opinions are upside down and backwards. It is as if they speak in opposites: good is bad, bad is good, and dictatorship means freedom. Unfortunately, we cannot allow them the luxury of destroying our freedom just to show them that they are wrong. America is the world’s rare and precious example of freedom. If we lose our freedoms, we will never gain them back in our lifetimes. We cannot spill enough blood to accomplish such a extraordinary feat. Anyone who believes in the fantasy of a socialist utopia is free to leave and live in Venezuela, or anywhere else but here. Live it! Don’t just talk stupid and be a hypocrite! We must make it clear to them that they do not get to extinguish our freedom as a result of their naiveté. No way!
Speech is not violence. Indirect violence is threat, intimidation, incitement, or shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. Whether direct or indirect, violence must not be tolerated. For example, we cannot allow a speech or debate to be cancelled because protesters threaten violence. They have no right to not be offended! What they do have is the freedom to leave and to not listen. They do not have any “right” to prevent others from listening if those others choose to do so.
Free speech is under assault in America today, and this movement is being led by ignorant students on college campuses and their equally ignorant professors. Neither have ever had to make a living in the real world which does not care about their immature feelings. They are being taught a radical Leftist ideology (collectivism) in government (public) schools which does not work in reality. It is indoctrination, not education. They are not being taught how to think, how to properly use their rational faculty. They use political correctness (which is invalid) as club to beat their opponents into submission and silence. “If you disagree with me you are wrong, so shut up!” But, they cannot explain why! They are ruled by emotion and advocate the false theory of collectivism. They do not realize that they are actually advocating slavery! Do not let them use your polite manners against you–and thus make you a slave. We must not allow our history to be determined by stupid people who operate on their emotions. They will readily resort to physical violence, but they don’t seem to realize that it cuts both ways. Violence could also be used against them! And, they won’t be able to stop it once it really starts. They should beware–before it’s too late!
The reason or force principle states that there are only two fundamental ways to deal with another human being: reason or force. And, when anyone through their words or actions demonstrate that they have rejected reason, they leave us no choice but to deal with them in the only way that they themselves allow, and that is with force. Physical force is rarely the answer, but when it is the answer, it is the only answer. We must absolutely not tolerate their threatened or actual violence!
When someone says something contrary to your views, you should tell them immediately that you disagree. You could diplomatically ask: “I heard what you said, but I do not understand what you mean. Please explain.” Accept only a rational answer, not “feelings” however sincere. It must make sense! If it does not, tell them clearly that it their opinion does not make sense. By insisting on a rational answer you will not betray your rational faculty which is the defining characteristic of a human being. Your integrity and your freedom is on the line!
Vassar College Activists: Constitution ‘Inherently Racist,’ Speech Must be for Collective Good
“It’s the stuff of which totalitarian societies are made.”
The article below shows that ideas matter. The violence described is a result of teens accepting false ideas–and acting on them. This is why false ideas must be confronted immediately because they will result in inappropriate action, either immediate or eventual. This is also why we need the police. They are supposed to protect our rights by enforcing laws against physical violence. Allowing teens to get away with their irrational violence or intimidating threats only teaches them that it is okay. Then, they will do it again, and again, and again. Bad behavior needs to be corrected immediately, the first time. It takes much more effort to unlearn and correct bad habits later. They must learn to be responsible for their lives–and to not violate the rights of others if they want their own rights to be respected.
‘Group of Teens’ Strikes Again in Baltimore, Young Girl Beaten with Bat
We have another Chicago on our hands.
Venezuela is a 21st century socialist experiment gone bad. Different country, different time, same disastrous results. Socialism simply doesn’t work!
Socialist Venezuelan President Eats Empanada During TV Broadcast While His Nation is Starving
Regulations (fascism) again! Here we go! Unelected bureaucrats are empowered by our big government to become dictators, and you are their victim whether you realize it or not. You really need to be able to articulate a sensible argument (especially an ideological one) against collectivism. Stand up for your rights, or lose them. Reason or force. Will it be the rule of reason, or the rule of brute force? Using reason is the human way! Your choice, and their choice.
Note: We need to be able to make a clear distinction between a law and a regulation. A proper law protects your rights; a regulation violates them (limits your freedom).
Zoning Regulations Have Dire Human Costs
The issue with zoning restrictions is not merely academic. Tight regulations on land use cause real problems for real people.
My economic principle is: “A nation’s prosperity is proportional to its freedom.” Look at the world and you will see that all dictatorships are poor. No exceptions. The most prosperous countries are semi-free. There are no completely free countries (economic freedom, specifically, along with personal and political freedom). Assert this principle at the beginning of any discussion as soon as the subject turns to economics. Unless they can show you why it is wrong (they can’t), use it against them whenever they say anything to the contrary. You will thereby change the terms of the debate. This is one way to defend America and the free market (= capitalism, the essence of which is freedom.) Ask them to explain how they get a (fascist) regulation out of the concept of freedom! As long as you do not violate the legitimate rights of others, you should be free to do anything you want. You should be free to pursue your happiness!
Keep Asking the Big Questions
It’s the responsibility of economists to ask and answer questions like these—and the job of economics columnists to relate and explain the discussion.
Capitalism is a system of “willing exchange”. This an excellent description from the article below. When both parties are willing participants in the exchange there is mutual consent. An example is a bilateral contract. As long as there is no coercion it is genuine choice, and freedom is all about choice!
The Essence of Capitalism Is Mutual Consent
Capitalism is a loaded word. Try using “willing exchange” instead.
This last article and video is an excellent wrap-up to my commentaries. The argument for “equality of results” is one that captures many of the idealistic but naive young. In a free market, in capitalism, there will always be those who achieve more than others and gain great wealth. This is just the way it is, and it is based on human individuality. But, what we need to realize is that it is not a “zero sum” game. The size of the pie (our economy) is not constant; it grows or shrinks.
Under capitalism, producers working for their “selfish” interest increase the size of the economy. It is a system of “willing exchange” in which the use of force is outlawed. In the process of getting rich they increase the size of the economy so that there is more pie left for everyone else. Even if they take a bigger share of the pie, they have made the pie so much bigger that everyone else can have more pie–provided that they earn it. Everyone gets richer because the economy is bigger, much bigger! This is how great producers benefit everyone. This is how the United States became the richest nation on earth. A free people created more wealth. How much “wealth” was here when the Pilgrims arrived? There were lots of natural resources, but no wealth. Americans are the people who coined the phrase “to make money” which implies that wealth is created. A nation’s prosperity is proportional to its freedom! Get it?
One of the problems with collectivism is that it eventually shrinks the economy, a lot. It runs out of other people’s money because there is no incentive to work hard when everyone knows that they cannot make a better life for themselves. That is the reason why the communist Leon Trotsky said, “Those who shall not toil, shall not eat.” A collectivist country eventually becomes too poor to support anyone who does not work. There will be no welfare or entitlements because the country cannot afford them. Everyone must work. Those who do not will starve. If you are a cripple, or too stupid, or too old, tough. Those who shall not toil, shall not eat! Period!
The only valid concept of equality is “equality under the law”. Everyone has the same rights. Everyone is supposed to be treated the same by the law. Corruption is only made possible by the “politics of pull” which is cronyism. The term “crony capitalism” should be “crony fascism”. It is an integral part of collectivism, not of capitalism. Under genuine capitalism no politician or bureaucrat would have the power to do what you would bribe him to do. That is what a government of limited powers is all about. That is what our Constitution is all about. Get it?
The excellent book, Equal is Unfair, is highly recommended. It explains why the “everyone should be equal” mantra of Bernie Sanders is wrong. This is the book that will make the case for true justice, both in practical and philosophical terms. Solid book!
Socialism is Never Cool