Monday, September 21, 2015
Great Moments in Socialism
Socialism is an economic failure. International socialism didn’t work in the Soviet Union. National socialism didn’t work in Germany. And democratic socialism, while avoiding the horrors of its communist and Nazi cousins, also has been a flop.
Socialism fails because it attempts to replace market-determined prices with various forms of central planning based on government-dictated prices.
Moreover, socialism channels self-interest in a destructive direction. In a free market, people get income and improve their lot in life by satisfying and fulfilling the needs of other people. In a socialist system, by contrast, people squabble over the re-slicing of a shrinking pie.
There’s a famous Winston Churchill quote that basically says that the ostensible problem with capitalism is that people aren’t equally rich, whereas the supposed attractiveness of socialism is that people get to be equally poor.
Sure, the masses are equally impoverished by socialist systems, but a handful of people escape this fate. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the government elites have very comfortable lives. And that may be the understatement of the century, as indicated by this report in the U.K.-based Daily Mail. Here are some very relevant passages.
“The daughter of Hugo Chavez, the former president who once declared ‘being rich is bad,’ may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets. Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35 … holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2 billion. … Others close to Chavez managed to build up great personal wealth that was kept outside the petrostate. Alejandro Andrade, who served as Venezuela’s treasury minister from 2007 to 2010 and was reportedly a close associate of Chavez, was discovered to have $11.2 billion in his name …
During his lifetime, Hugo Chavez denounced wealthy individuals, once railing against the rich for being ‘lazy.’ ‘The rich don’t work, they’re lazy,’ he railed in a speech in 2010. ‘Every day they go drinking whiskey – almost every day – and drugs, cocaine, they travel.’”
What a bunch of hypocrites. They denounce successful people who presumably earn money honestly, yet they amass huge fortunes by pilfering their nation.
And what’s been happening in Venezuela is no different, I’m sure, than what happened in the past in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and other socialist regimes.
And I’m sure it’s still happening today in other socialist hell holes such as North Korea and Cuba. The elite enjoy undeserved and unearned wealth while ordinary people live wretched lives of deprivation.
Everyone’s equal, but some are more equal than others.
Let’s close by citing some wise words about the impact of socialism on ordinary people from Kevin Williamson of National Review.
“The United Socialist party’s disastrous economic policies have led to acute shortages of everything: rice, beans, flour, oil, eggs, soap, even toilet paper. Venezuela is full of state-run stores that are there to provide the poor with life’s necessities at subsidized prices, but the shelves are empty. …
While Venezuela has endured food riots for years, the capital recently has been the scene of protests related to medical care. Venezuela has free universal health care — and a constitutional guarantee of access to it. That means exactly nothing in a country without enough doctors, medicine, or facilities. Chemotherapy is available in only three cities, with patients often traveling hours from the hinterlands to receive treatment. But the treatment has stopped.”
Now ask yourself whether you think the party bosses are suffering like other citizens because of a lack of food and health care (or toilet paper!).
And that giant gap between the treatment of the elite vs. the peasantry tells you everything you need to know about socialism, whether it’s the brutal kind practiced in places such as Venezuela or the kinder, gentler (but equally hypocritical) versions found elsewhere.
Senator Embraces ‘Nativist’ Slur: What’s Wrong with Favoring Americans?
Alabama’s Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is pro-American, and he doesn’t care if he’s called a “nativist” by post-national advocates for massive immigration.
“What’s wrong with that? … What’s wrong with putting America[ns] first?” he told a reporter for Roll Call, which published an article headlined as “Sessions Feels Vindicated by [Donald] Trump’s Nativist Surge.”
Sessions’ focus, however, isn’t on just the people born in the United States. He’s looking beyond ancestry and birthplace to include immigrants and their kids who’ve been welcomed legally into the United States. “We [politicians] represent the people who voted for us. That’s who our duty is owed to. To them…we should be doing what’s in their best interest,” he stated.
The mere existence of the would-be “nativist” slur shows the deep contempt that internationalists have for ordinary Americans, said a Hill staffer. “It should go without saying that the country exists to serve the interests of its citizens… so that fact that we have the [sneering] term ‘nativist’ implies that some people think the citizens shouldn’t have that priority,” the staffer said.
So far, populists haven’t developed their own term to trump the would-be slur of ‘nativist’ for the politicians who put Americans’ interests ahead of other people’s interests. Americans First, Americans’ Pride, citizenist, pro-American, and nativist are all being thrown about in conversation.
Sessions — and Trump — are pushing that conversation along. “It is important for people to see a politician to turn a word around on its head,” said the staffer.
Washington’s political class unfortunately caters to the post-national, globalist business groups, Sen. Sessions says. “They spend too much time in fundraisers with rich people and they don’t deeply understand the pain of middle-class, salaried people,” he said.
“The idea of somebody sitting in Wall Street, a million-plus dollars a year in income, saying ‘This is all right to bring in an unlimited number of people,’ to cause trouble and you know, financial difficulties for our schools and our hospitals? They don’t live with that. It’s easy for them to say that. Who are these people? Who’s speaking for the average person?”
Each year, the federal government invites or accepts roughly 2.5 million new immigrants, guest-workers, and illegal migrants to compete for jobs sought by the four million Americans who turn 18. The resulting glut of labor thins Americans’ wages and strains taxpayer’s anti-poverty programs, while also fattening company revenues, profits, Wall Street stock prices, and progressives’ career opportunities.
Populist champion Donald Trump recognizes the issue, Sessions noted. “He met with us and certainly adopted a lot of the suggestions that I’ve been making over the years and all of a sudden he’s surged to the top of the polls.”
Trump is the first or second choice of roughly 40 percent of GOP primary voters. In contrast, the GOP establishment candidates are stuck below 10 percent or five percent.
But Sessions thinks there’s time for the GOP to redeem itself. “People like confession,” he said, offering up a script for politicians to get on the right side of history. He says:
"We [politicians] need to say, ‘We’ve been too pure in this trade business. … You are right, American people — we have not defended you sufficiently on the world stage in these trade agreements and we’re going to negotiate tougher and we’re going to defend our interests more effectively. And yes, you’re right. You’ve been asking for 30 years to end this [immigration] lawlessness. We don’t have enough jobs for our own people. We’re not going to keep bringing in millions of people, legal and illegal, until you have a better chance to get your children, your family, a job. And I care about you, and I don’t care what Wall Street money says.’"
Trump’s roaring success has been a surprise to the establishment, Sessions’ said. Now, the shocked GOP leaders and lobbyists “ought to be a little more humble in their political prognosticating,” he said. So far, however, “I haven’t had a lot of people [in D.C.] say I was right,” he said.
Equal opportunity will not give equal results
By Thomas Sowell
A hostile review of my new book — “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” — said, “there is apparently no level of inequality of income or opportunity that Thomas Sowell would consider unacceptable.”
Ordinarily, reviewers who miss the whole point of a book they are reviewing can be ignored. But this particular confusion about what opportunity means is far too widespread, far beyond a particular reviewer of a particular book. That makes it a confusion worth clearing up, because it affects so many other discussions of very serious issues.
“Wealth, Poverty and Politics” does not accept inequality of opportunity. Instead, it reports such things as children raised in low-income families usually not being spoken to nearly as often as children raised in high-income families. The conclusion: “It is painful to contemplate what that means cumulatively over the years, as poor children are handicapped from their earliest childhood.”
Even if all the doors of opportunity are wide open, children raised with great amounts of parental care and attention are far more likely to be able to walk through those doors than children who have received much less attention. Why else do conscientious parents invest so much time and effort in raising their children? This is so obvious that you would have to be an intellectual to able to misconstrue it. Yet many among the intelligentsia equate differences in outcomes with differences in opportunity. A personal example may help clarify the difference.
As a teenager, I tried briefly to play basketball. But I was lucky to hit the backboard, much less the basket. Yet I had just as much opportunity to play basketball as Michael Jordan had. But equal opportunity was not nearly enough to create equal outcomes.
Nevertheless, many studies today conclude that different groups do not have equal opportunity or equal “access” to credit, or admission to selective colleges, or to many other things, because some groups are not successful in achieving their goal as often as other groups are.
The very possibility that not all groups have the same skills or other qualifications is seldom even mentioned, much less examined. But when people with low credit scores are not approved for loans as often as people with high credit scores, is that a lack of opportunity or a failure to meet standards?
When twice as many Asian students as white students pass the tough tests to get into New York’s three highly selective public high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech — does that mean that white students are denied equal opportunity?
As for inequality of incomes, these depend on so many things — including things that no government has control over — that the obsession with statistical “gaps” or “disparities” that some call “inequities” is a major distraction from the more fundamental, and more achievable, goals of promoting a rising standard of living in general and greater opportunity for all.
There was never any serious reason to expect equal economic, educational or other outcomes, either between nations or within nations. “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” examines numerous demographic, geographic, cultural and other differences that make equal outcomes for all a very remote possibility.
To take just one example, in the United States the average age of Japanese Americans is more than 20 years older than the average age of Puerto Ricans. Even if these two groups were absolutely identical in every other way, Japanese Americans would still have a higher average income, because older people in general have more work experience and higher incomes.
Enabling all Americans to prosper and have greater opportunities is a far more achievable goal than equal outcomes. Internationally, the geographic settings in which different nations evolved have been so different that there has been nothing like a level playing field among nations and peoples.
Comparing the standard of living of Americans at the beginning of the 20th century with that at the end shows incredible progress. Most of this economic progress took place without the kind of heady rhetoric, social polarization or violent upheavals that have too often accompanied heedless pursuits of unachievable goals like the elimination of “gaps,” “disparities” or “inequities.”
Such fashionable fetishes are not helping the poor.
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Posted by JR at 12:36 AM