Socialist Dreams vs. Miserable Reality

Bernie for President! – Wait! Did I just say that?

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” – Margaret Thatcher

Two main premises of modern socialism are:

1. Wealth redistribution is the best way to make the bottom 99% wealthier.

2. Society is much better off when decision-making powers are taken away from individuals and instead placed in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. Thus, all human actions are subject to regulation by the government.

If enough people in a free society like ours can be convinced to accept these two false premises, then we lose everything. Most importantly we lose our freedom. When we lose our freedom, a loss of prosperity is sure to follow. This process has already begun in the United States.

“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ”  –Thomas Sowell

To paraphrase Bastiat; socialism is the great fiction through which everyone attempts to live at the expense of everyone else. It is a belief system born of a flaw in human nature that tempts each new generation to take advantage of goods and services that they believe someone else is paying for. It may be characterized as politically instituted theft by one group of another. But in reality it makes all of us poorer. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises correctly identified the illusion that many people find too hard to resist: “the illusion that socialism will make them richer.”

Reading between the lines of a typical Bernie Sanders speech, here is what I come away with: “The rich should not get to keep more than their fair share while the rest of us struggle. Therefore, if elected, I will give back to the people. I shall reward those without ambition, subsidize people on drugs, discourage people from saving, and encourage people not to work. Trust me. It will be awesome.”

Reading between the lines of a typical Bernie Sanders speech, here is what I come away with:
“The rich should not get to keep more than their fair share while the rest of us struggle. Therefore, if elected, I will give back to the people. I shall reward those without ambition, subsidize people on drugs, discourage people from saving, and encourage people not to work. Trust me. It will be awesome.”

This tendency in human nature is a godsend to politicians who seek and maintain power by promising “the people” something that is paid for by someone else. Hence, Hillary Clinton recently rolled out her “New College Compact” where she claims “costs won’t be a barrier” to higher education if she is elected. How will her plan make up the difference in college costs when the portion of total college tuition paid by students is lowered? The truth of the matter is that if Hillary’s administration convinces colleges to require less tuition from students, it is the taxpayers that will make up the difference. College administrators will not agree to a cut in salary – they are not dumb. The result will be a new bureaucracy that puts a dollar in the left pocket while pulling $1.50 out of the right. After all, as everyone knows, bureaucracy is expensive and must be paid for. In reality Hillary’s plan will not lower absolute costs; it will only place a higher burden on taxpayers, meaning all taxpayers will have less of their own money to save for college tuition. It will be a really raw deal for middle-income taxpayers without children. Hillary’s plan would certainly add to public debt, which at the federal level is already above $18 trillion and growing.

Chalk it up to greed or envy, but whatever the cause – politicians are aided in their tax grabs and debt spending by constituents who believe in the free-lunch fiction of modern politics. It’s a belief system that collectively makes all of us poorer. If the redistribution of wealth promoted by the political class proves too great for the electorate to resist, then the country will continue its current decline into economic mediocrity or worse.

For each new generation of Americans who become seduced by the false promises of socialism, which is essentially the platform of people like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the modern Democrat party – read on. (Note: Even establishment Republicans endorse socialism, if not by their words, certainly by their actions.)

The example of Venezuela:

American Hollywood producer Oliver Stone (right) with his late revolutionary hero, Hugo Chavez (left). Nicolas Maduro, the current socialist leader of Venezuela is shown in the right background.

American Hollywood producer Oliver Stone (right) with his late revolutionary hero, Hugo Chavez (left). Nicolas Maduro, the current socialist leader of Venezuela is shown in the right background.

Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone should be leading a humanitarian campaign using their own funds to help the Venezuelan people. Why? Because the Venezuelan people are literally dying due to the policies of the late Hugo Chavez (d. 2013) and his protégé Nicolas Maduro – socialist dictators that those Hollywood fools have publicly embraced in the past as champions of the people. Hollywood lefties, and their allies in government like Bernie Sanders who apparently do not understand the first thing about market economics, and who cannot comprehend the lessons of history are the last people anyone should be listening to for advice on public policy. The socialist policies that they have so publicly celebrated have destroyed what was once the wealthiest Latin American country. Socialism – price controls, government ownership of businesses, central planners who are not interested in a diversified economy, command regulation of the private sector – these are the reasons for the collapse of the Venezuelan economy. But the Venezuelans did it to themselves – they elected Hugo Chavez in the first place. It can happen here.

After notices appeared in empty supermarkets across Venezuela prohibiting picture taking, Venezuelans defied the prohibition and began a campaign on Twitter to highlight the shortage of basic goods in their country. Hashtag: #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela Profit-seeking entrepreneurs in a free economy would never let store shelves go bare in Venezuela or anywhere else. Only socialist planners like Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro could let this happen. History tells us over and over again that government-imposed price controls lead to scarcity every time.

After notices appeared in empty supermarkets across Venezuela prohibiting picture taking, Venezuelans defied the prohibition and began a campaign on Twitter to highlight the shortage of basic goods in their country. Hashtag: #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela
Profit-seeking entrepreneurs in a free economy would never let store shelves go bare in Venezuela or anywhere else. Only socialist planners like Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro could let this happen. History tells us over and over again that government-imposed price controls lead to scarcity every time.

Look at what the news outlets have recently reported on or written about the situation in Venezuela – the socialist government there has wrecked her economy while blaming others and it continues to bring misery and terror to her citizens.

Washington Post Editorial Board, Dec. 13, 2014:

“Since 2013 two other big newspapers and a television network have been sold by longtime owners to investors linked to the regime or to shell companies whose principals are unknown. The result has been the shutdown of critical coverage of the Maduro government even as it presides over an economic collapse and mounting political repression, including the arrest or prosecution of top opposition leaders.”

Washington Post Editorial Board, Dec. 26, 2014:

“Mr. Maduro’s regime is a de facto satellite of Havana: Thousands of Cuban operatives are seeded in its security services and, in a deal that has long propped up the Castro regime, Venezuela supplies Cuba with 100,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for the services of a few thousand doctors.

(Now, many of those doctors have tried to escape their servitude by defecting and no longer serve Venezuelans.)

“Repression in Venezuela has steadily escalated this year: More than 40 people were killed when security forces cracked down against opposition street protests, and bogus criminal cases have been brought against senior opposition leaders. One, Leopoldo López, has been imprisoned since February.

“As Venezuela’s economic crisis — which led to severe shortages and high inflation even before the collapse in the price of oil — steadily escalates…

“Mr. Maduro should be required to restore freedom of the press — and stop blocking the provision of newsprint to opposition newspapers…”

National Public Radio May 5, 2015:

Stand-up Comedian Laureano Marquez “dwelled on the absurdities of life in this oil-rich nation, where gas is cheaper than water but it’s hard to find milk, toilet paper and many other everyday goods.

“Turning serious, Marquez tells the crowd that the socialist revolution, launched 16 years ago by the late Hugo Chavez, is collapsing under the weight of bad policies and corrupt public officials. “That message doesn’t sit well with Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro. Besides jailing opposition leaders and cracking down on protesters, the Maduro government is now going after comics. “Marquez says that three of his recent shows were canceled after all three clubs that booked him were suddenly closed down for alleged tax evasion. He’s also been shut out of government-run theaters and hotels.”

According to the Reuter’s story in the New York Times shopping in Venezuela is hazardous to one’s health – http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/08/06/world/americas/06reuters-venezuela-looting.html?_r=0):

“Lines are increasingly filled with smugglers who buy subsidized goods and resell them at a profit on the black market or in neighboring Colombia, generating tension between resellers and those trying to stock their own kitchens.

“Josefa Bracho, a 70-year-old teacher in the central city of Barquisimeto, vows not to stand in any more supermarket lines. She was slashed in the thigh with a scalpel after a dispute in a line with women she believed were smugglers.

‘“We’d been in line for almost four hours when three women got in front of me,” said Bracho in a telephone interview.

‘“I said ‘What are you doing? Why are you cutting in line?” Later one came by and cut my leg … Standing in line means putting my life in danger.”’

Food line outside a supermarket in Venezuela, 2014. Long live the socialist revolution!

Food line outside a supermarket in Venezuela, 2014. Long live the socialist revolution!

New York Times Editorial Board, Aug. 7, 2015 – “On Monday, officials in Venezuela announced that a leading opposition politician, María Corina Machado, will be barred from running, along with a handful of other government critics. Another leading opposition leader, Leopoldo López, has been imprisoned since February 2014, facing spurious charges.

From Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-20/venezuelan-inflation-could-average-86-this-year-survey-shows) Aug 20, 2015:

“Venezuelan Inflation Could Average 86% This Year, Survey Shows by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Catarina Saraiva

“Venezuelan inflation will average 86 percent in 2015, up from 57 percent last year, according to a median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The survey produced a wide variation of estimates after the government halted the regular publication of official statistics in December when the annual rate hit 69 percent. Morgan Stanley had the lowest forecast in the survey at 65 percent, while Caracas-based Ecoanalitica is expecting prices to rise 139 percent this year.

“The economy of South America’s largest oil exporter will see the deepest recession since 2009 this year with an expected contraction of 5.6 percent, according a survey of 15 analysts.

“The collapse of Venezuela’s oil revenue after prices fell more than 50 percent in the past year has slashed the country’s capacity to import basic products, leading to shortages and pushing up the price of goods available domestically. The country’s currency has collapsed 88 percent in black market trading in the past year.”

From Bloomberg.com August 26, 2015 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-26/venezuela-said-to-ready-larger-bank-notes-as-inflation-soars):

Venezuela Is Adding More Zeroes to Its Currency to Deal with Hyperinflation by Noris Soto and Nathan Crooks

“Many Venezuelans have to carry wads of cash in bags instead of wallets as soaring inflation and a declining currency increase the number of bills needed for everyday purchases. The situation is set to get worse. Inflation, already the fastest in the world, could end the year at 150 percent, said the official.

“Some banks, meanwhile, have reduced daily withdrawal limits at ATMs because of shortages of the highest denominated notes.”

The lesson for Americans – reject the temptation of socialism – it will bring nothing but misery upon you, your children and future generations. Need another example. Look at Greece. If you vacation there, ask the Greek people you meet if their retirement plans are going according to the promises of their politicians.

Socialism necessarily leads to an increase of government power at the expense of individual freedom. It is a system where government dictates every aspect of our lives – who we may or may not associate with, what we may or may not eat, who we may or may not hire, what we must pay our workers, it dictates nearly all aspects of the employer/employee relationship, how we save for retirement, what speech is acceptable or not. According to socialists the list of human actions that must be regulated is infinite.

Don’t think it can happen here? It’s already begun. America’s flirtation with socialism has certainly gained steam on President Obama’s watch. It’s time to reverse the tide before we reach the point of no return like Venezuela has.

Finally, I would like to nominate Bernie Sanders for President – of Venezuela. Oliver Stone can be his Vice President in charge of keeping supermarket shelves stocked, Sean Penn his Secretary of Socialist Indoctrination and Education and Michael Moore Director of the Peoples’ Propaganda.

Frotho Canutus

“No government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. Even when it comes to the redistribution of income, the left talks the talk but the free market walks the walk. What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how can that be done, on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates vastly more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists somehow and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it.” ― Thomas Sowell, Controversial Essays

“As socialists put in place programs that increase the dependency class, our country will find itself deeper and deeper in debt as fewer people have the incentive to work and pay the taxes that fund the social services they have become addicted to. Eventually, this arrangement will collapse under its own weight and the financial crisis of 2008 will appear like small peanuts in comparison.” This is exactly what has happened in Greece, but it will be 10 times worse when in happens in the United States because we will not have a European Union to bail us out.” –James Bryan

“Progressive socialists like President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaign against people in business who have been successful and amassed greater than average wealth. They put forth the silly notion that by confiscating the wealth of others through taxes and spreading that wealth through government programs that all of us will be better off. It’s a nice show and to some who don’t look below the surface, this seems like a good idea. But the dirty little not-so- secret is that behind the scenes, when the microphones are turned off, these politicians, who have been given so much regulatory power over all economic activity, often bestow protections, even advantages on their financial backers. This is what’s known as “pay to play” or political cronyism. The Clintons have perfected this brand of cronyism by setting up the Clinton foundation and hitting the speech circuit. This has made them very wealthy indeed. As long as the American people continue to forfeit their freedoms to the political class, political cronyism will grow like a cancer. If you want to see what corrupt cronyism does to a society when left unchecked just look at what has happened to Venezuela – the people starve while their socialist leaders and their friends drive around in fancy cars and purchase new homes.” — James Bryan

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