Thursday, July 5, 2018

9 Big Problems With Socialism

Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016 as a democratic socialist, and he was extremely popular among young democrats.  But what is socialism, and what is the difference between socialism and capitalism? 

Capitalism is about liberty and justice.  Capitalism simply means freedom economics.  That’s why capitalism is called free market economics.  People are free to buy and sell and trade as they please.  If you can produce a product or a service that people value enough to pay for, then you can make a good living, and possibly become wealthy.  In a capitalist economy, the harder you work, the more disciplined you are, the more responsible you are, the better your reputation, the better you will do.  However, if you do not work hard, if you are immoral, if you are irresponsible and lazy, then you will struggle.

Socialism is about equality.  Not equal opportunity, but equal outcome.  Socialism sees income inequality as injustice.  If one man makes $50,000, and another makes $500,000, it is an injustice.  And socialists want to give the government the power to take money from the man who has more and give it to the man who has less so that they are more equal. 

There are several big problems with socialism.  First, it is immoral.  When you take money from someone, it is called theft.  The eighth commandment in Exodus 20:15 says, “Do not steal.”  When you take money from someone to give it to the poor, it is still theft.  And just because the government is doing the stealing does not make it right.  The government has the right to tax people, but only for the general welfare of society.  It does not have the right to tax one man to give to another.  That is called theft.  And it is also called slavery because it forces one man to work for another.  Under capitalism the government cannot take a man’s money and property.  A man keeps what he earns.  He has the right to private property.

Second, socialism punishes success.  Socialism assumes that if you are rich, you got that way by taking advantage of others; and if you are rich, then you are greedy and are not going to share with the poor.  Socialism also assumes that if you are poor, it’s not your fault.  You are entitled to have just as much as the rich man.  And so the government must step in and take the money from the rich to give to the poor.  Socialism punishes success.  Under capitalism the government does not play favorites between the poor and the rich.  Capitalism simply rewards value.  Under capitalism, if you work hard, and treat people right, and develop a good reputation, obey the law, and produce a product or service that is valuable to the marketplace, then you will be rewarded accordingly.  And this opportunity is available to everyone. 

Third, socialism assumes that income inequality is evil.  But the truth is that income inequality is not a problem.  Just because one man has less than another does not mean that an injustice has taken place, or that the man with less is suffering.  The real problem is not income inequality, but poverty.  The issue is not how much you have compared to your neighbor, but whether or not your basic needs are met.  Capitalism does not try to solve a problem that does not exist.

Fourth, socialism assumes that equality is possible.  Again, the big problem that socialism tries to solve is inequality.  Economic inequality, specifically.  The idea is that if everyone had an equal amount of money, then we could achieve utopia – a perfect society.  But the problem is that equality is impossible.  First, as I said, income inequality is not an injustice.  One man having more than another is not evil.  Second, equality is impossible.  Imagine two men.  One man is a multi-millionaire, and the other man earns about $20,000 a year.  To correct this inequality the government takes the multi-millionaire’s money and divides it between the two of them so that they are equal.  They may be equal for a day, but that’s all.  As time passes, inequality will emerge.  Why?  Because the two men are not equal.  They have different skills, different talents, different interests, different values, and they will make different choices.  Eventually one man will have far more than the other, not because of injustice, but because equality is an impossible goal.  It is unrealistic.   On the other hand, capitalism does not try to reach an unrealistic goal.  And it does not assume that equality is a good thing.  Capitalism is about freedom – giving people the freedom to buy, sell, and trade as they wish, and to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Fifth, socialism worships the government.  Under socialism, the government’s job is to right every wrong, solve every problem, cure every evil, fix all inequality, and heal every hurt.  The government is god.  If we would all simply give up our freedoms and our rights and our resources to the all-loving, all-knowing government, the government would make sure that we are all happy, healthy, and prosperous.  The problem is that history tells a different story.  The more power the government has, the more the government oppresses people rather than cares for them.  The more power the government has, the more society begins to crumble and fall apart.  The Bible tells us why.  People are sinful.  If you give too much power to sinful people, they will inevitably abuse it.  The founding fathers understood this, and this is why they created a very limited system of government with many checks and balances.  Capitalism does not worship government; it views the government as existing merely to keep the peace and to keep the rule of law; to ensure that nobody steals your stuff, or endangers your life.  Capitalism expects people to be responsible, self-reliant, and able to take care of themselves and to solve their own problems. 

Sixth, socialism worships money.  All problems are economic; all solutions are economic; all evils are motivated by economics.  Why do people commit crimes?  They are poor.  If only they had enough money, then they would make good choices.  Socialism assumes the answer to every problem is to throw money at it.  For example, America’s public education has gotten increasingly worse over the years.  What’s the solution, according to socialist democrats?  Not competition.  The answer is to give the schools more money.  And so they do, every year.  And every year, the schools continue to get worse.  The problem is that money is not God.  It is not the solution to every problem.  God is the solution.  Virtue is the solution.  Biblical values are the solution.  And money is not the cause of all problems.  Human sin and wickedness is the problem. 

Seventh, socialism attracts people by appealing to envy and greed.  Human beings are naturally envious and greedy.  So when a politician comes along and says, “This rich man has way more than he needs; if you vote for me, I’ll take his money and spread it around,” he naturally gets a lot of support.  When a politician tells the people that it if they vote for him, he will pay for their college, and their childcare, and their food, and their health care, and their housing, and their cellphone, then many people are going to support him.  But again, this is called theft.  It is legal plunder. 

Eighth, socialism attracts people by deceiving them.  Proponents of socialism claim that they are all about equality; they are all about fairness; they are all about helping people; giving people a hand up.  And this is how they attract so many idealistic and naïve young people.  It’s been said that if you are not a socialist in your twenties, then you don’t have a heart.  But if you are still a socialist in your forties, then you don’t have a brain.  The truth about socialism is that it is not about helping the poor and disadvantaged; it’s about power.  It is about giving all power and control to the government, with the assumption that the government will take good care of us.  Once they have all the power, all the control, then all problems will be solved.  It is the assumption that the government will take much better care of us than we can of ourselves.  It is the assumption that freedom does not work; government experts must be empowered to control every aspect of our lives.  As well, socialism is deceptive because they make themselves sound very compassionate; very caring; very generous; very loving.  And they make their supporters feel that way, too.  But the problem is that socialists aren’t generous; they are thieves.  Generosity is when you take your hard earned money and voluntarily give it to someone in need.  Socialism is when the government steals your money at gunpoint and gives it to someone else.  Socialism isn’t about compassion; it is compulsion. 

Ninth, the problem with socialism is that it flat out doesn’t work.  Wherever it has been tried, it has led to mass starvation, mass murder, the violation of basic human rights, the loss of freedom, religious persecution, and government tyranny.  2017 was the 100th anniversary of communism.  In an interview with the Daily Signal, Daniel Hannan said, “Communism, in terms of crude numbers, must be reckoned the most lethal ideology ever devised by human intelligence. The Atlantic slave trade killed maybe 10 million people. The Nazis killed maybe 17 million. Communists killed 100 million people.  Every communist regime in the world—Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cuba, all the way down—every single one has relied on Gulags, torture chambers, secret police, firing squads. You don’t find a single exception. Maybe the fact that every time the experiment is tried, it ends the same way is telling us something about the nature of what it is we’re dealing with.”  To see the failure of communism, all you have to do is note that communist countries put up walls to keep their citizens from leaving, while capitalist countries have to put up walls to keep people from entering.  Winston Churchill said, “The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity.  The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery.”

Let me make a few clarifications.  First, socialism and communism are the same thing.  People are afraid of the word “communism,” so communists today like to use the word “socialism.”  Second, socialism is essentially the economic philosophy of the Democratic Party, while capitalism is the economic philosophy of the Republican Party.  Third, the Democratic Party has been slowly and deceptively introducing socialist policies in America under the guise of compassion via income redistribution.  The idea is that the government will help the poor by taking from people who have money, rather than allowing poverty to be solved by the private sector – by churches, charities, families, and individuals. 

We must not vote for any politician is advocates for socialist or communist policies.  Jay Richards wrote, “When we have all the facts before us, then, we discover that Christianity and capitalism are not bitter enemies.  On the contrary, a good Christian can be, indeed should be, a good capitalist.”   Capitalism is not a perfect system, but it is the best economic system the world has ever known, lifting more people out of poverty than any government program or entitlement.

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