Friday, September 23, 2016
Trump is Hitler? Why HILLARY is More Like The Führer...
The Experiment: Capitalism versus Socialism
What if we could have an experiment to compare the two systems? Wait – we already did
David R. Legates
Experimentation is a major tool in the scientist’s arsenal. We can put the same strain of bacteria into two Petri dishes, for example, and compare the relative effects of two different antibiotics.
What if we could do the same with economic systems? We could take a country and destroy its political and economic fabric through, say, a natural disaster or widespread pestilence – or a war. War is the ultimate political and economic cleansing agent. Its full devastation can send a country back almost to the beginning of civilization.
We could then take this war-torn country and divide it into two parts. It would have similar people, similar climate, similar potential trading partners, similar geography – but one part is rebuilt using capitalism as its base, while the other rebuilds using socialism and its principles. We’d let the virtues of each system play out and see where these two new countries would be after, say, fifty years.
Don’t you wonder what the outcome might be? Well, as it turns out, we have already performed The Experiment. It’s post-war Germany.
Following the devastation of World War II, Germany was split into two parts. The German Federal Republic, or West Germany, was rebuilt in the image of the western allies and a capitalist legal-political-economic system. By contrast, the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, was reconstructed using the socialist/communist principles championed by the Soviet Union. The Experiment pitted the market economy of the West against the command economy of the East.
On the western side, considering what’s being taught in our schools, one might expect that “greedy capitalism” would create a state where a few people became the rich elite, while the vast majority were left as deprived masses. Socialism, by contrast, promised East Germany the best that life had to offer, through rights guaranteed by the state, including “human rights” to employment and living wages, time for rest and leisure, health care and elder care, and guaranteed housing, education and cultural programs.
So the Petri dishes were set, and The Experiment began. In 1990, after just 45 years, The Experiment abruptly and surprisingly ended – with reunification back into a single country. How did it work out?
In West Germany, capitalism rebuilt the devastated country into a political and economic power in Europe, rivaled only by its former enemy, Great Britain. Instead of creating a rich 1% and a poor 99%, West Germans thrived: average West Germans were considerably wealthier than their Eastern counterparts. The country developed economically, and its people enjoyed lives with all the pleasures that wealth, modern technologies and quality free time could provide.
By contrast, East Germany’s socialist policies created a state that fell woefully behind. Its people were much poorer; property ownership was virtually non-existent amid a collectivist regime; food and material goods were scarce and expensive, available mostly to Communist Party elites; spies were everywhere, and people were summarily arrested and jailed; the state pretended to pay its workers, and they pretended to work. A wall of concrete, barbed wire and guard towers was built to separate the two halves of Berlin – and keep disgruntled Eastern citizens from defecting to the West. Many who tried to leave were shot.
By the time of reunification, productivity in East Germany was barely 70% of that in West Germany. The West boasted large, vibrant industries and other highly productive sectors, while dirty antiquated factories and outmoded farming methods dominated the East. Even staples like butter, eggs and chicken – abundant and affordable in West Germany – were twice as expensive in the eastern “workers’ paradise.”
Coffee was seven times more expensive, while gasoline and laundry detergent were more than 2½ times more expensive. Luxury items, like automobiles and men’s suits were twice as expensive, color televisions five times more costly. About the only staple that was cheaper in East Germany were potatoes, which could be distilled into vodka, so that lower caste East Germans could commiserate better with their abundant Russian comrades.
Moreover, state-guaranteed health care in the East did not translate into a healthier society. In 1990, life expectancy in the West was about 3½ years longer than in the East for men, and more than 2½ years longer for women. Studies found that unfavorable working conditions, psychological reactions to political suppression, differences in cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyles, and lower standards of medical technology in East Germany were largely responsible for their lower health standards.
The socialist mentality of full employment for everyone led to more women working in the East than in the West. This pressure resulted in better childcare facilities in East Germany, as mothers there returned to work sooner after giving birth and were more inclined to work full-time – or more compelled to work, to put food on the table, which meant they had to work full-time and run the household. This also meant East German children had far less contact with their parents and families, even as West Germans became convinced that children fared better under their mothers’ loving care than growing up in nurseries.
As the education system in East Germany was deeply rooted in socialism, the state ran an extensive network of schools that indoctrinated children into the socialist system from just after their birth to the university level. While it’s true that today East Germans perform better at STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) studies than their Western counterparts, that may be explained in part by the influx of numerous poorly educated immigrants to former West German areas, and the extensive money invested in the eastern region since reunification.
However, schools of the East were not intended to establish creative thinking, which results in creativity and innovation. Rather, they were authoritarian and rigid, encouraging collective group-think and consensus ideas, rather than fostering outside-the-box thinking, novel philosophies and enhanced productivity. Thus, East German technology was slow to develop and students were often overqualified for available jobs.
Did the East gain any advantage? Nudism was more prevalent in the East, if that was your thing. Personal interaction was higher too, because telephones and other technologies were lacking. But even though East Germany was much better off than other Soviet satellite countries (a tribute to innate German resourcefulness), East German socialism offered few advantages over its capitalist western counterpart. In fact, in the years since reunification, homogenization of Germany has been slow, due largely to the legacy of years lived under socialist domination, where any work ethic was unrewarded, even repressed.
Freedom was the single most important ingredient that caused West Germany to succeed. Freedom is the elixir that fuels innovation, supports a diversity of thought, and allows people to become who they want to be, not what the state demands they must be. When the government guarantees equality of outcomes, it also stifles the creativity, diversity, ingenuity and reward systems that allow people and countries to grow, develop and prosper. The Experiment has proven this.
These days in the United States, however, forgetful, unobservant and ideological politicians are again touting the supposed benefits of socialism. Government-provided health and elder care, free tuition, paid day care and pre-school education, guaranteed jobs and wages are all peddled by candidates who feel government can and should care for us from cradle to grave. They apparently think East German socialism is preferable to West German capitalism. Have they learned nothing from The Experiment?
A friend of mine believes capitalism is greedy and evil – and socialism, if “properly implemented,” will take us forward to realizing a better future. I counter that The Experiment proves society is doomed to mediocrity at best under autocratic socialism. Indeed, those who turn toward the Siren call of socialism always crash upon its rocks. But my friend assures me: “Trust me, this time it will be different.”
That’s what they always say. Perhaps Venezuela and Cuba are finally making socialism work?
A Battle of Narratives?
On Sunday, while the search for bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was unfolding, CNN had Barack Obama spokesman Josh Earnest in the studio for an interview. Earnest made a point to stress that the U.S. battle against Islamic terror was a “battle of narratives.” He said, “What I am telling you is that we are, when it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight — a narrative fight with them, a narrative battle, and what ISIL wants to do is they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam in a fight and a war against the West and a war against the United States.”
However, it appears that the real battle over narratives is not primarily between the U.S. and ISIL but between leftists and conservatives. Consider how CNN reported on Donald Trump’s remarks after the bombings. A CNN headline read: “Trump Says ‘Racial Profiling’ Will Stop Terror.” The problem is that Trump never said “racial” in his comments on the need for better vetting of immigrants. CNN simply injected the word into its coverage. Clearly, CNN wants to promote a false image of Trump being a racist.
Then there was MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. He tweeted: “We’re also very very lucky that the attackers tried to use explosives rather than guns.” Hayes, seeking to make some anti-gun point, comes across as completely out of touch with regards to the actual issue at hand. This kind of unabashed exploitation of a horrific event in order to further some unconnected social agenda has become increasingly common for the Leftmedia. On a side note, to counter Hayes' foolish comment, it was a citizen armed with a handgun who stopped the knife-wielding attacker in Minnesota.
Back to Earnest’s comments on a “battle of narratives,” the Democrat leadership and specifically Hillary Clinton, who was the secretary of state at the time of ISIL’s rise, and current Secretary of State John Kerry are responsible for framing this as a battle of narratives rather than what it truly is — a war against American values. To deny the radical Islamic ideological motivation for these terrorist attacks and boil them down to merely a “battle of narratives” is to deny reality.
No Thank You, Obama
Last week, while touting the new Census report on income and poverty in America, Barack Obama took credit for $2 a gallon gasoline, and immodestly shouted to his crowd of supporters: “Thank you, Obama.”
I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but given that for eight years your administration has done everything to decapitate the oil and gas industry that gave us low gas prices, sorry: No thanks are in order, Mr. President.
Even more amazing was Obama’s victory lap on the income numbers. Yes, incomes for middle-class families rose by an impressive 5 percent in 2015. And poverty fell. Thank goodness. It’s about time.
But the Census report was anything but cause for celebration. It is a stinging indictment of the policy results of both the George W. Bush and the Obama legacies. They both miserably failed and are equally culpable for the sad state of the American family’s finances today.
Census found that American incomes are lower today (adjusted for inflation) than they were in 2007. What kind of recovery is this, when we still haven’t made up the lost ground from a recession that happened seven years ago? Thank you, Obama.
Even more worrisome is the Census revelation that Americans are poorer today than they were in 2000. In other words, for 15 years, average families have made no progress at all in terms of their personal financial situations. That’s a decade and a half of no growth. That’s sad. The Bush administration has to be held accountable for this malaise, since most of it happened on Bush’s watch. This is a good point to make to the pro-Bush “never-Trumpers,” who keep sanctimoniously denouncing Trump’s policies as reckless. They should look in the mirror.
Other decade-long trends brought to light by the Census report were equally gloomy. We still have more than 43 million Americans in poverty today. About 1 in 7 of our citizens is poor. The absolute number of poor people is so large it is now the equivalent of every resident of California being in poverty. Obama’s record on fighting poverty has been a complete failure. The number of families that are poor grew by 3.2 million since the self-proclaimed savior entered office. Thank you, Obama.
If the poverty rate stood today where it was 15 years ago, we would have 7 million fewer Americans under the poverty threshold.
Why is poverty higher? Two reasons. One is that economic growth has been abysmally low over the last decade. And second: a smaller share of adults are actually working. Getting a job and a paycheck is usually a good way to move out of poverty, but we now have a near-record number of adults who are unemployed. Thank you, Obama.
These numbers are not just worrisome; they are scandalous. They point to a decade of failed policies enacted by our clueless political leaders. As the great Reagan economist Arthur Laffer has put it so aptly, we keep punishing success through taxes and rewarding failure through welfare, and then we wonder why we are getting nothing but failure.
One other depressing statistic is the lack of economic progress for black Americans under Obama. You won’t likely hear this from Black Lives Matter or the NAACP, but blacks have lost ground economically since Obama entered office. Their incomes have fallen by 2 percent. That’s especially disappointing because blacks already have much lower incomes than whites and Asians, so they are falling further behind relatively. Thank you, Obama.
The left’s flimsy explanation for all this slow growth is that this is the best America can do in the 21st century. But Donald Trump put it very well in his economic speech last Thursday at the New York Economic Club when he admonished the liberal policies that have put us in this current state. “This isn’t the best America can do; this is the best they can do,” he explained.
He’s right. Tax cuts, regulatory relief, energy production, school choice and repealing Obamacare will fix these problems and create, as John F. Kennedy put it half a century ago, a rising tide that lifts all boats.
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Posted by JR at 12:18 AM