COLORADO SPRINGS, February 15, 2016 — Communism is murder; socialism is assisted suicide.
Socialism is viewed as the gentle twin of communism, a system with the same ends, but executed politely by urbane, well-dressed, cultured Scandinavians rather than by crude, vodka-swilling, thuggish commissars.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders espouses socialism—true socialism, but with an avuncular, non-threatening face. Idealistic young people are flocking to him in droves. His tax-the-rich message provides a convenient, scapegoat for society’s ills. Rich people make easy targets for those who fail to study history.
Income redistribution to the masses by a score-keeping, slogan-spouting, socialistic government carries promises of single-payer, no-strings medical care, cradle-to-grave social programs, and a systematic dedication to “fairness” to level the playing field for all.
The Sanders campaign for equality has at least put progressives squarely on the truth track; they are card-carrying socialists. They’re four-square behind Sanders’ promises to raise the top tax rate to 52 percent, taxing top earners at 73 percent or more once state, local and other taxes are added in.
Private wealth creates uncontrolled centers of power that are unaffiliated with government. By eliminating private wealth, progressives concentrate power into their own hands. Once they secure the political power, they are free to rule, unfettered by private wants or public opinion.
Other socialistic regimes such as Nazi Germany (the National Socialist German Workers Party,) Cuba, North Korea or even Sweden, place control over wealth in the hands of political elites who can order those states’ political decisions as well. Socialism is supposedly for our own good, but it still requires leaders. It still leaves us with people telling us what to do, usurping our ability to ignore them by taking away our own personal value choices and economic decisions.
What’s so bad about that? Progressives and media celebrities point to Europe.
“Why can’t we be more like Europe?”
We can. But first, we should investigate what we’re getting in return as we turn over the reins to big, omnipotent government.
According to New York Times columnist David Brooks, European welfare states—Sanders’ model—generally rely on a highly regressive VAT (value added/sales tax), usually around 20-25 percent. Thus middle classes across Europe bear a much higher tax load than the American middle class. As Austan Goolsbee, former economic adviser to President Obama has noted, you really cannot have a Swedish style welfare state without a broad and high tax burden.
That means less spending power for most Americans and fewer resources to choose one’s lifestyle, one’s savings and one’s investments.
But at least we’ll get decent health care, right?
Socialized medicine, a distinct trend in America today, according to philosopher Leonard Peikoff is really nothing more than ‘bargain basement medicine.’ Increasingly, groups of doctors offer prepaid, all-inclusive care at cheap rates. If cost to the patient is your sole goal, knock yourself out: you’ve reached the Promised Land.
If, on the other hand, your health is a matter of serious importance to you, socialized medicine may be problematic. Increasingly, assembly-line medicine attracts new kinds of ‘bureaucratic’ doctors with the mentality and fundamental indifference to their jobs typical of some postal clerks.
In France, health clinics and medical services are being shut down in small towns across the country to save money; if you have a medical emergency, you’d better hold on until you can get to Lyons or Paris. In England, the scandal-plagued National Health Service has made patients the victims of malpractice and abuse by insulating healthcare providers from responsibility. And if you need non-critical treatment like a hip replacement or a crown, be prepared to wait a year or more while being careful to chew on the other side of your mouth.
Canada’s much-lauded system is in fact two-tier; the first tier involves crossing the border to get immediate care in the United States. If you can’t afford that, your care will be second-tier. Laura Hillier, 18, died after waiting for a bone marrow transplant during a hospital bed shortage in Canada despite having willing donors available. An Ontario hospital said it could only do five transplants a month; there were about 30 people who were waiting to have the procedure done.
Miss-handling your mail is one thing. You can have a do-over. But with one’s health, there are no second chances. The good news is she didn’t pay for the care. The bad news is she died waiting for it. For many in these so-called health care systems, socialism literally can be a form of slow suicide. Cheap, but lethal in the end.
Perhaps the best example of failed socialism can be found in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the former Soviet Union. This is socialism with the gloves off. They like to call it ‘Communism.’ A socialism of bread lines, special markets for the elite, old women wandering futilely through early-morning Moscow snow, bag ladies in search of non-existent cheap tomatoes.
Kick it up a notch to 2016 Communist North Korea, the land of skinny people and fat leaders. Not even adventuresome Swedes want to visit there.
Then there’s the media’s darling little nation, Cuba, whose ocean moat for years has been braved in all kinds of weather by masses of Cubans voting with their “feet” to get away.
That’s Communism for you.
When people are subjugated to the state, they lose more than just their money. They lose their will and ability to achieve; they lose their spirit and their individualism. Stopping the competitive drive to the top—whether that top is as a violinist, an entrepreneur, a sports star or anything else—eliminates winners and losers, but it also creates a society of low energy and soul-deadening sameness. Think of the vast expanses of concrete, Soviet apartment blocks, seas of humanity in Mao jackets, the creeping uniformity of thought on American college campuses and in American entertainment media.
Granted, when we are no longer ‘judged’ for our efforts by the almighty dollar, the fear of failure is removed. But the unintended consequence of such a bland existence will be loss of the ecstasy of personal achievement and success. Think about people who have everything handed to them from birth. What do they have to work for in life? What’s left for them to achieve? Where’s their life yardstick? Some will still achieve, build on top of what they inherited and be happy. But many just knock around the world, aimlessly, unhappy and addicted to party substances for their “kick” in life.
If Sanders has his way and manages to eliminate the human index of achievement, where will we go for our kick?
Young people who are joining the progressive movement, whether of the brands sold by Bernie, Hillary or Barack, should read their history books before they vote to sweep away the chaos that comes with individualism and free markets.
Perhaps, in the end, they’ll decide to stick to their big-government candidates. Admittedly, capitalism is the worst way to organize an economy—except for all the other ways. After all, the only good thing about free enterprise is it’s free.
But they should choose their cradle-to-grave cocoon with their eyes wide open and remember some words from Thomas Jefferson: “A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.”
The innovations of an Elon Musk, (SpaceX, Tesla, PayPal,) holder of $12.4 billion as the thirty-ninth wealthiest person in the world, Sergey Brin (Google), or Steve Jobs (Apple), will be left by the wayside.
And the rest of us will be ‘lost souls,’ with nowhere left to go but off to the side, in a flat line of sameness.
What a picture Socialists and Communists paint for our future: Not utopia, human bondage!