Tag Archives: Socialism

In Socialist Venezuela the Poor Starve to Death While the Politically Powerful Feast, by Tho Bishop

Every time socialism fails, it’s proponents claim that it wasn’t “really” socialism. Now it’s failing again, this time in Venezuela, and it won’t be long before we’ll learn that it wasn’t socialism, although Maduro and Chavez before him both claimed to be socialists. From Tho Bishop at mises.org:

The socialist policies of the Venezuela government continue to impose a living hell on its people. Hyperinflation has turned its currency to literal garbage. Mortality rates have skyrocketed for groups such as infants, pregnant mothers, and the elderly as clinics have shut down and medicine grown scarce. Food has disappeared from store shelves forcing the population to consume pets and zoo animals. A recent poll found that 78% of Venezuelans “reported trouble keeping themselves fed.”

Of course, this is not true for all Venezuelans.

Earlier this week President Nicolas Maduro was seen in a plush Istanbul restaurant lavishly dining on expensive steaks while smoking fine cigars, the check paid for by the wealth his regime has drained from his people. Once again we see that under socialism “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Continue reading

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Progressives: The Real World vs. Neverland, by David C. Stolinsky

Faith, hope, and pixie dust is not much of a political philosophy. From David C. Stolinsky at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Many of these children in adult bodies were told, and actually believed, that better health care for everyone, including an unlimited number of illegal immigrants, would be attainable at a low cost, if only the government were to run it.
  • Many children in adult bodies also seem not to know that Socialism failed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba, and is now failing in Venezuela. The irrational wish is evidently stronger than rational arithmetic.
  • These victims of arrested emotional development seem to confuse good motives with good results. They want better health care for a greater number of people at a lesser cost; so they fantasize that they can achieve it without denying care to those who are too old, too sick or too expensive to receive it. They kind-heartedly want a “more equal distribution of wealth”; so they fantasize that they can maneuver it without penalizing and discouraging the productive members of society, while rewarding and encouraging the unproductive ones.

“Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child,” Cicero astutely observed. For many self-described progressives today, however, this seems not to be a drawback. On the contrary, like adolescents — insisting that they are grown-ups when their parents get in the way of their fun, but then running home for all their basic needs and creature comforts — such people seem to give no thought to the past and equally little to the future.

Continue reading

The Fake Promise of Adult Day Care, by MN Gordon

Governments that promise to do everything for you inevitably turn out to be governments that do everything to you. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

The sun always shines brightest in the northern hemisphere during summer’s dog days.  Here in America, from sea to shining sea, the nation burns hot.  But, all the while, cold dark clouds have descended over the land of the free.

For example, Senator Mark Warner – an absolute goober – is currently running interference for the Democrats on a proposal to silence political criticism.  Yet for Warner, and his cohorts, all political criticism is not created equal.  Criticism of President Trump is allowed and encouraged.  Criticism of Washington insiders, like Warner, is what they want to prohibit.

The guise of Warner’s would-be regulation is to prevent the bugaboo of Russian spread disinformation.  Hence, Warner wants to destroy free speech to save it.  Zero Hedge, via Martin Armstrong, offers the particulars…

“The Democrats want full disclosure regarding any online political speech.  They even want the Federal Trade Commission to have unbelievable power and require all companies’ algorithms to be audited by the feds as if they even have qualified staff to conduct such audits.

“On top of that, they have proposed tech platforms above a certain size must turn over internal data and processes to ‘independent public interest researchers’ so they can identify potential ‘public health/addiction effects, anticompetitive behavior, radicalization,’ scams, ‘user propagated misinformation,’ and harassment—data that could be used to ‘inform actions by regulators or Congress.”’

Unfree Speech

Free speech, under this proposal, would only be free if it’s considered acceptable by ‘public interest researchers.’  In other words, free speech wouldn’t be free.  It would be unfree.

Remember, it’s free speech that grants us the right, without fear of fine or imprisonment, to say President Trump’s an orange faced blowhard with whacky hair.  Similarly, because of free speech, we can say Hillary Clinton’s a political loser with the flare-up durability of ring worm jock itch.  Would ‘public interest researchers’ find this speech to be unacceptable?

What’s more, a vast segment of the population seems to have wet their pants with glee over Warner’s war on free speech.  They no longer have the sense or sensibility to hear or consider opinions that differ from what’s deemed progressively acceptable.

To continue reading: The Fake Promise of Adult Day Care

How Inflation Destroys Civilization, by Nick Giambruno

Nick Giambruno connects the dots between inflation and the desire for socialism. From Giambruno at internationalman.com:

Yesterday I told you about the unstoppable trend towards more socialism in the US.

I think inflation is the primary factor driving this trend. Americans feel squeezed because the cost of rent, medical insurance, and tuition, as well as other basic living expenses, is rising much faster than their wages.

This creates very real problems for ordinary people. In response, more and more turn to Santa Claus politicians that promise supposed freebies, like a $15 minimum wage or universal basic income.

Why the Cost of Living Has Exploded

This is all a predictable consequence of the US abandoning sound money.

By every measure—including stagnating wages and rising costs—things have been going downhill for the American middle class since the early 1970s.

August 15, 1971, to be exact. This is the date President Nixon killed the last remnants of the gold standard.

Since then, the dollar has been a pure fiat currency. This allows the Fed to print as many dollars as it pleases. And—without the discipline imposed by some form of a gold standard—it does precisely that. The US money supply has exploded 2,106% higher since 1971.

The rejection of sound money is the primary reason inflation has eaten up wage growth since the early 1970s—and the primary reason the cost of living has exploded.

The next chart illustrates this dynamic. It measures US hourly wages priced in gold grams (the number of gold grams the average person’s hourly income could buy).

Measured in gold, wages in the US have fallen over 84% since 1971. That’s an astounding drop.

The next chart measures the federal minimum wage in terms of gold grams. Priced in gold, the minimum wage has fallen 87% since 1968.

Note that the federal minimum wage was $1.60 in 1968. It’s $7.25 today, or 353% higher in dollar terms.

But that $7.25 buys 87% less than $1.60 did back in 1968. That’s the story you won’t hear from the mainstream press.

This is why millennials and millions of others are gravitating toward socialism.

To continue reading: How Inflation Destroys Civilization

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Predictable, by Jose Nino

Regardless of who’s spouting socialism, its unworkable, tyranical, antithetical to human life fundamentals never change. From José Niño at mises.org:

After pulling off a major upset in the Democratic Primary for New York’s 14th congressional district, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now being touted as the new face of the Democratic Party.

Ocasio’s victory has rejuvenated the Democratic Party and liberals naitionwide. For many on the Left, Ocasio’s recent victory is a breath of fresh air after putting up with Hilary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign in 2016.

Beyond the typical R vs. D analysis that continues to grab headlines, what is most troubling about Ocasio’s meteoric rise to political fame is her complete disregard for basic economics.

A brief look at her platform is enough to realize that the ideas of socialism are alive and well in American politics.

Her platform is centered on the following policy planks:

  • Medicare for all
  • Free public university
  • Universal jobs guarantee
  • Housing as a human right

The common denominator of all her proposals is the amount of faith placed in the State to conduct private affairs. Channeling the spirit of failed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders , Ocasio describes her program as democratic socialism .

White-Washing Socialism

Leftists have tried their best to re-brand and obfuscate socialism to make it palatable to the misinformed masses.

No matter how many times socialist experiments have failed—from the Soviet Union to present-day Venezuela —many naïve leftists continue their never-ending goose chase for a socialist experiment that works.

The casual mention of socialism in political discourse is troubling.

When countries like Venezuela are crumbling before our very eyes it is astounding that many elected officials continue to flirt with the idea of implementing socialism.

In the Left’s imagination, Scandinavia is the silver bullet to the capitalist model.

This tired trope ignores several crucial details about the Nordic countries’ prosperity:

1. They are among the freest economies in the world (which admittedly may not be saying much), according to various economic freedom indices. At worst, they are mixed economies.

2. As highlighted in works like Scandinavian Unexceptionalism, Nordic countries first became rich through capitalism well before the welfare state was established.

Facts notwithstanding, the political Left continues to doze off into economic lala land and relies on raw emotion to draw conclusions on political economy.

To continue reading: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Predictable

Socialism Won, by Robert Gore

If she’s elected and goes to Washington, socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will feel right at home.

Socialism: “A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by community as a whole” (Oxford Dictionary), has been in the news lately. The most interesting aspect of the stories and commentaries is what tense the writer uses. Most use the future tense, heralding or decrying the impending arrival of socialism, or simply noting that it’s a possibility.

It’s the wrong tense. The past tense is the correct one, socialism arrived long ago. In the US, it unpacked its bags February 3, 1913, the day the Sixteenth, or Income Tax, Amendment was ratified. When the “community as a whole”—a euphemism for government—has first call on individuals’ incomes, socialism has established its vital beachhead. Everything from there on out is a mop-up operation.

For what is “the means of production, distribution, and exchange”? The minds, bodies, time, and effort of individual producers, which the income tax expropriates. Once a government steals those, there’s nothing it cannot steal, including, via regulation, the ability of producers to produce. To impose socialism on a nation, first impose it on its individuals.

The cherry on 1913’s socialist sundae was the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which began the transition of the US monetary system from the gold standard to fiat debt, the value of which is now decided by political and bureaucratic whim. It was another expropriation, stealth theft via currency depreciation and inflation.

Some are treating “avowed socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory over Democrat war-horse Joe Crowley as a watershed moment. Assuming she wins the general election, she’ll join 434 other socialists in the House of Representatives. That’s not a watershed political moment, it’s a watershed truth-in-advertising moment. She’ll be one of the few socialists there who admits to it.

The partisans on both sides of the barricades are a hundred years too late. The battle is over, victory to the socialists. In the US, it’s impossible to find an industry or economic activity that’s free from government ownership or regulation. Governments have their hands in agriculture, manufacturing, communications, finance, insurance, banking, transportation, technology, housing, medical care, advertising, entertainment, warfare, welfare, charity, and every other human endeavor of consequence. When children need to get a permit and pay a fee to set up a sidewalk lemonade stand, what’s left?

Judging by the reaction to Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, “socialist” is still an odious term in some quarters, mostly those precincts which still pay lip service to free markets and capitalism. Republicans long ago jettisoned freedom and made their peace with the income tax, the Federal Reserve, welfare and warfare states, and ever-expanding government; their horror is merely rhetorical. The only parts of Trump’s platform that were noncontroversial with them were his vows to increase military spending and not cut entitlements. This in a nation over $21 trillion in debt, with an estimated $200 trillion of additional unfunded liabilities.

Unlike many of us in the hinterlands, those who inhabit the swamp rarely have to answer the question: does it work? When the answer is no in Washington, it’s a justification for an expanded budget and more power. Effectiveness is the hallmark of what remains of honest American enterprise, where whatever your “it” is has to work, or you don’t get paid. Those who have only worked in dishonest enterprise— government and its satellites—are instinctively hostile to that requirement and to those who make things work.

Socialism doesn’t work; history is littered with its failures. That is why it’s embraced. Government derives its power from coercion and violence. It is no coincidence that the twentieth century, history’s most socialistic, has also been its most murderous, with governments inflicting an estimated 100 to 200 million deaths.

Socialism’s failure, death, and inevitable restrictions of liberty account for its odium among those who oppose it. The clearest lesson of history is the most ignored. Man versus the state is history’s overarching theme. Humanity flourishes when it’s free to do so (man wins) and deteriorates when it’s not (the state wins).

There is only one way to eradicate a weed without pesticide: pull it up by its roots. Well over 99 percent of arguments against government—inadequate border security, military interventions, out of control spending and debt, the national security state, loss of liberty, etc.—essentially try to kill the weed by pulling off its leaves and stems, but leave the roots intact. As long as there is unquestioning acceptance of the government’s self-granted right to forcefully relieve the productive of their honestly earned incomes, those issues amount to diversionary sideshows.

Since the dark year 1913, government has grown relentlessly larger, more powerful, and more corrupt. The tax take has gone one direction. Even with all that loot, the government has plunged into the abyss of debt and unfunded liabilities. The US has become an oligarchic empire spanning the globe. At least half its population rely on the state for some or all of their sustenance. Occasionally the socialists have lost battles, but those have amounted to mere tactical retreats. They’ve won the war.

Imagine a government that had no claim on people’s incomes and the monetary system was an honest gold standard. That such a state of affairs seems inconceivable is testament to widespread ignorance of history. This was the actual state of affairs pre-1913, when all levels of government in the US spent less than 10 percent of the GDP, as opposed to more than 40 percent now.

How much of an issue would illegal immigration be if the government paid out no benefits to either immigrants or citizens? The immigrants who arrived would be here to work, and it would be much easier to ensure that they went through the proper channels of citizenship.

Cut down government by 80 to 90 percent and the military would shrink to defense of the US’s eminently defensible borders and tending to a worst-case nuclear arsenal. You’ve got to think the costly Big Brother surveillance apparatus would shrink, too, maybe down to nothing.

There would be no unfunded liability problem, because government would be out of the pension, medical care, and redistribution businesses. A government that couldn’t inflate away its debts with more of its own or its central bank’s fiat debt would be less inclined to borrow. Creditors would be less inclined to lend, because the government would have no call on incomes.

Such a reversion might even work a “miraculous” change in the American character, a rebirth of values like the work ethic, self-reliance, individualism, community involvement, and private charity. One of socialism’s great myths, the opposite of the truth, is that only the government can help out those in need.

An appreciable part of the US’s unprecedented, privately generated bounty has always been redistributed by people acting on their own charitable impulses, not at the point of a government gun. Regular people, not just philanthropic millionaires, help their families, friends, and—through a mind-boggling variety of eleemosynary causes and organizations—total strangers.

Which gives the lie to socialists’ argument that “the masses” (they love that demeaning term) cannot handle freedom, they need to be guided and governed by an expert and virtuous elite. If the human psyche cannot handle freedom, it most certainly cannot handle unlimited power. The last 105 years of elite-initiated horrors offer conclusive proof. Wars, death camps, and genocide didn’t bubble up from they bottom, they’re ordained from the top.

If we don’t insist proudly that we have the first and only legitimate claim to what we’ve honestly earned, if we aren’t willing to fight for it, we are not and never will be free. And that’s why we need all the sideshow issues—to divert our attention from our well-deserved servitude.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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“Real Socialism” Has Indeed Been Tried — And It’s Been a Disaster, by Ryan McMaken

Every time something called socialism collapses, the true believers say that it wasn’t “real socialism” that collapsed, because “real socialism” has never purportedly been tried. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

May 5th marks the 200th Anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, and in spite of inspiring a wide variety of political movements that have caused countless human rights disasters, Marx continues to be an object of admiration among many intellectuals and artists. One such example can be seen in Raoul Peck’s new film The Young Karl Marx which portrays Marx is a principled radical with a laudable thirst for justice.

Fortunately for Marx the man and his reputation, he never personally gained control of the machinery of any state. Thus, the dirty work of actually implementing the necessary “dictatorship of the proletariat” was left up to others. And those who attempted to bring Marxism into the light of practical reality, quickly found that applied Marxism brings impoverishment and the destruction of human freedom. 

Nevertheless, after a century marked by brutal socialist regimes based on various interpretations of Marx’s ideas, Marx’s rehabilitation often rests on the idea that “real socialism” has “never been tried.” That is, a truly “pure” socialist experience — as Marx presumably wanted — has always been tainted by the presence of bourgeois ideas or lingering capitalistic habits present in the state apparatus.

A typical example of this sort of thinking can be found in Noam Chomsky’s insistence that the obviously socialist regime in Venezuela is really “quite remote from socialism.” And it’s also notable in philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s 2017 article ” The problem with Venezuela’s revolution is that it didn’t go far enough” at The Guardian. 

In Zizek’s view, it seems, socialism can work if the habits and customs of the status quo are destroyed utterly and replaced by entirely new ways of thinking. Or, as Zizek’s describes it, old proverbs (i.e., modes of thought) must be totally replaced by new proverbs. For example:

Radical revolutionaries like Robespierre fail because they just enact a break with the past without succeeding in their effort to enforce a new set of customs (recall the utmost failure of Robespierre’s idea to replace religion with the new cult of a Supreme Being). The leaders like Lenin and Mao succeeded (for some time, at least) because they invented new proverbs, which means that they imposed new customs that regulated daily lives.

Thus, the problem in Venezuela is not that countless private business have been seized, property rights been destroyed, and countless citizens deprived of basic freedoms. No, the problem is that the Venezuelan regime was too conservative and failed to implement a total break with the past.

To continue reading: “Real Socialism” Has Indeed Been Tried — And It’s Been a Disaster