“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
– Winston Churchill
Greetings, my friends!
Today’s topic is Socialism v. Capitalism. Now, I remember when Obama first took office and people on the Right started using the dreaded S-word, and people on the Left laughed and called them extremists and fear mongers. A little while later, people on the Right were still raising the Socialism alarm and those on the Left replied, “As if Socialism is a bad thing…” Well, it’s been getting worse ever since. These days, it’s pretty common to encounter some ideological window-licker who’s absolutely sure Socialism would be just swell, if only it was properly implemented. They can quote a few political theorists, but can’t seem to grasp the relationship between Socialism and Communism. But these nitwits don’t care about the Marxist “workers’ paradise,” they just want some free stuff.
The fundamental belief in any Collectivist theory is that man will work just as hard for the collective as he will for himself. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, realized that the beauty of capitalism is that man benefits society inadvertently by working for his own self interest. So, the butcher isn’t working to put meat on your table because he cares about you or the community necessarily; but he provides the meat because he wants to make a couple bucks. The great thing is, we no longer have to depend on theories of Capitalism and Collectivism. We can see both systems play out in history. Let me tell you a story…
The first Puritan colony at Plymouth originally established a Socialist system, where everyone would share equally in what the colony produced. Sounds like a great idea, right? Sharing is caring… The Pilgrims nearly starved to death. As it turns out, people don’t put in as nearly as much effort when they’re working for the collective. When workers think they can get an equal return for less effort, they put in less effort. That’s just human nature. The colony’s governor, William Bradley, wrote in his diary that workers were often faking illness, or stealing in spite of their strict Puritan values. For two years the colony’s food production failed to meet the needs of the population. Their solution was very simple: They assigned each family a parcel of land, and every man would sow and reap “each to his own particular.” The result was very successful! The next harvest came and the colony had abundance instead of a third year of famine. So, that’s Socialism versus Capitalism on a small scale.
The one thing all collectivist Progressive social planners have in common is that they fail to account for human nature in their theories. Now, human behavior can be hard to predict on an individual basis, but in a community setting it’s actually very predictable. Many studies have been conducted on this and a quick Google search will produce lots of results. Human nature has its pros and cons, but it works in favor of Capitalism.
We can see the effects of both systems on a large scale, too, of course. Historically, America is the best example of Capitalism in my opinion, but not the only example. Stalinist Russia is a striking example of Socialism, or Collectivism if you prefer; but certainly not the only one. Now, it’s really tempting to look at America and, say, China side-by-side and think that Collectivism works better. After all, until very recently China owned most of America’s debt, although Japan recently overtook them as the biggest foreign owner. If America is deeply in debt and China can afford to buy it, doesn’t that mean that a Socialist economy works better? Well, yes, but only in the short term. Collectivism is full of short term solutions, which is why Progressives like it so much. Whereas with a free market economy it takes a long time to see the positive effects, and there’s a lot of struggle in the beginning. In the long run, however, Capitalism produces a wealthier, freer and more stable society if it’s allowed to operate freely.
China has the money to buy our debt because, for one thing, they don’t pour billions of dollars into an organization like the EPA. China’s air is so dirty that half of the smog that drifts in San Francisco is from their factories.
Another thing to take into account is our energy policies. America is sitting on vast reserves of oil and natural gas, not to mention nuclear and thorium reactor technology; but we’ve handicapped ourselves severely. If we actually made use of all this energy we wouldn’t need to outsource production to China, or anywhere else, which would tip the scales back in our favor and bring a lot of wealth back to America. I could go on and on about other mistakes, like our flawed Keynesian economic policies, but I think you get the point. China and Japan are only able to buy up our debt because we’ve made ourselves weaker, and them stronger in the process.
To wrap this up, the greatest disparity between Collectivism and Capitalism is liberty. Socialism is always maintained by force, whereas if people are free, they will naturally gravitate toward a free market system. If you need further evidence, consider this: No one was ever shot trying to climb over the Berlin Wall to escape the freedom of West Germany. The Berlin Wall was erected by the Soviets after WWII not to keep freedom out, but to keep people from escaping. That’s right; Socialism is so good you have to enforce it at gunpoint! Look at Cuba with its apparently utopian healthcare. We don’t see 60 rafts coming from Cuba for every 40 going the other way. Nor is it 80 for every 20, or 99 for every 1. No, 100% of the rafts are coming from Cuba to the freedom in America! Mexico is another example, of course. So, if Socialism or Communism or any Collectivist theory is really that great, where is the evidence?
Think about it…
Eric also contributes at CastOffChains.blogspot.com,
and you can catch him Tweeting @Eric_Carr80