Monday, March 16, 2009

The Truth About Socialism

Jeffrey Folks wrote a remarkable article in American Thinker, titled My Socialist Past. It strikes a particular cord with me because I spent 14 years under communism and another 10 under quasi-socialism. I recommend you read it in its entirety, because it explains everything that's wrong with socialism. I can help with further explanation for those who still don't get it. My former country of Romania experimented about 50 years with socialism, and some of our neighbors even longer. They all failed miserably. Here are a few excerpts from Mr. Folks' article:
Anyone who has lived inside the demoralized, unproductive, gray prison of a communist state, as I did in the mid-1980s, knows to what depths of impoverishment the egalitarian fantasies of socialism inevitably lead. They lead to decades of frustrated poverty and lifetimes of untreated illness culminating in early death. I remember the columns of death notices for men and women in their forties and fifties that appeared in the local newspaper. Gradually I learned to associate those death notices with the lack of fresh foodstuffs, the travesty of state health care, and the pervasive demoralization of an enslaved population drowning itself in cheap alcohol and cigarettes.

Unnumbered lives were sacrificed on the ungodly altar of communism in the last century, not only in my temporary abode of Yugoslavia but throughout eastern Europe, Russia, and much of Asia, Africa, and South America, and now the American Left wishes to revive this monstrous ideology on our own shores. Every totalitarian regime begins with the same heartfelt promises of justice and equality, just those promises of fairness that Barack Obama has made the fixation of his political career. What tyrant, one might ask, has not risen to power on promises of benevolent change?

Soon, however, those who come to power, even with good intentions, discover that for all men to be made equal, some men must be made poor, and most men will not agree to be made poor in the absence of force. So force must be applied, assets must be seized, censorship must be imposed, dissidents must be jailed, enemies must be destroyed. Men must be made equal by any means necessary, and soon enough those means include intimidation, imprisonment, and execution.

Under socialism, those who are lazy and unproductive, or not productive at all, or even blatantly destructive, get a free ride; those who are skillful and enterprising are punished. When ambitious workers attempt to get ahead on the basis of their abilities, as inevitably they do, they are harassed, beaten, imprisoned, and executed. The longer that ambition is repressed, the less productive the overall economy becomes.

Socialism always stifles talent and ambition, and the more it does so, the more squalid things get. It is no accident that socialism always fails. It fails because of its fundamental assumption that self-interest can be suppressed in human relations. Socialism fails every time because of the arrogant lie upon which it rests.

Anyone who does not understand what this means has failed to study the history of the past century, especially those horrific decades of political oppression and moral collapse resulting from centralized government planning and control in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. There is nothing subjective about this notion of decline. The symptoms of this demise of civilization are all easily measured and acutely felt: they include a shrinking food supply, a decline in the quality and availability of housing, a reduction of educational standards, an attenuation of essential public services, a diminishment of private property rights, and, ultimately, a decreased life expectancy.

As astounding as it may seem, given the history of Yugoslavia and of much worse, socialism remains the dream of the American Left, and it is exactly what we are getting with the Democrats now in control of the White House and Congress. In one form or another, we will have socialized medicine, with its callous specter of long waiting lists or outright denials for life-saving operations and drugs. In one form or another, we will see government control of the energy industry, and with it ever higher prices for fuel and electricity.

Without the powerful effect of the free market, no one has any real incentive to work. If the high earners are removed at the top, the new top comes to be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay, not in millions. But if the new top becomes hundreds of thousands, why not tens of thousands? With the realization of this fact, why would any young person sacrifice so much in training for and obtaining a professional position?

Every communist regime in history has begun its rule with sweeping confiscations of private wealth and widespread nationalization of industry. How does this differ from Democratic proposals for government regulation and confiscation within the health care, financial services, and energy industries, or from their plan eventually to institute a four trillion dollar tax increase -- the result of bloated stimulus programs and rollback of President Bush's tax cuts?

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