In 2010, a cab driver from the Czech Republic was quoted as saying, about leaving the USSR, "The new way is good for hard workers, the previous way was good for lazy people."
A recent article in the Federalist cited YouGov polling results showing N"early half of American Millenials (44 percent ) would rather live in a socialist society than a capitalist one. . . . "
This should be a wakeup call to all of us who cherish our freedoms in the United States. The good side of that survey, though, is that even a larger percentage of Millenials had difficulty telling the difference between a socialist and a capitalist society — thus further need for this series of articles to better explain to our country’s future leaders the synergy between a free society and free enterprise.
Our U.S. Constitution is based on the concept of personal freedom, one that we too often take for granted. The first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights, restrict the power of the government to interfere with these personal freedoms.
Our Founders had strong reasons to specifically limit the power of government. Our Constitution likely would not have been ratified by the states without such limitations.
Each of us should be just as protective of those freedoms today.
The basic message of socialism is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." If people were motivated like machines, socialism would be the most efficient use of natural resources and human efforts — great in theory and very attractive from a humanitarian view. But individual motivation and decisions are more the squishiness of psychology than the mathematical calculations of economics.
How is each person motivated to do their part? How do you determine what each person needs?
The root of my concern is that Millenials are taught that Socialism is just a like what we have in the U.S. but with more money spent on social programs — those safety nets that sound so good. Bernie Sanders espouses, "Democratic Socialism" with the idea that you only get the good part — to each according to his (her) need — not the negative side of giving up your freedom of choice. But each "service" turned over to a federal government is one more choice surrendered by each of us.
Each of the experiments in socialism I discuss below have been labeled as democracies but with the government controlling how and what is on the ballot. The most important votes, how your money is spent, cannot be left up to a vote or socialism can’t operate. Since taxing and spending votes are a land-slide with a 55 percent majority, there are 45 percent who would still want to express their dissent.
The socialist revolutions of the last 100 years were led by popular leaders with the best of intentions to bring "power to the people" by overthrowing extremely abusive governments or failed economies. Their goals had very similar promises to our U.S. Declaration of Independence. The unfortunate results, though, have been to usher in another form of abusive government and even worse living conditions.
Republic of Cuba – Fidel Castro took power in 1959 due to multiple government power abuses including many poor U.S. policies. Castro offered many of the grand ideas originating with Karl Marx — putting the means of production in the hands of the people. Cuba has an elected national legislature and is, per the Cuban Constitution, a democratic centralist government.
In practice the people have no say in their work and lives — these decisions belong to the chief of state and head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the only political party allowed in Cuba.
The Results? He confiscated property from business and property owners — the ultimate taxation of the rich — with the goal to distribute that wealth to the people. The result — everyone in Cuba is extremely poor by anyone’s standards. The standard monthly wage equivalent to $25 U.S.
Each person has ration books to use standing in line in a poorly provisioned government store for a monthly allocation of rice, beans and cooking oil at government set below market prices. Everything else is a luxury. Windows in most buildings, the monthly fee of a cheap cell phone, a small refrigerator — all of these are luxuries that could take years of saving the equivalent $10 a month.
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic — The 1917 October revolution, led by the idealist Vladimir Lenin, overthrew one of the last of the totalitarian European governments that treated all citizens (peasants) little better than slaves. Upon his death "that butcher Stalin," in Lenin’s words, became de-facto leader of the Russian Socialist Republic.
The results included the repression of dissenters considered counter-revolutionaries and enemies of the people. Any peasant with property or skills above a hand-to-mouth existence was an existential threat to that government.
This repression took the form of political purges by Stalin to solidify his power:
1929-1930 — Purge of 400,000 party members who disagreed with Stalin
1929-1932 — Deportation of 1.2 million peasants in order to establish socialism in the countryside. It has been claimed that as many as 5 million people in rural Ukraine immediately or within a few years
1936-1938 — Purge of the Communist Party, repression of peasant, and Red Army leadership resulted in imprisonment or execution of over 1 million people
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – Although not a revolution, President Hugo Chavez and his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, sought to build a 21st century socialist republic, using the very same words that Bernie Sanders preaches today. There are ongoing arguments on why their grand promises failed when oil prices dropped, but there is no arguing that this democratic socialist government has turned to the same repressive policies of other socialist governments.
Millenials — the tempting offerings of socialism should be taken for what they really are: A subtly framed pitch to offer a few shiny trinkets in exchange for surrendering your future freedoms of choice — a grab of power away from you as an individual and your local communities.
Don’t get me wrong, the U.S. federal government provides a critical role in providing common defense and common protection under the law. But its power should always be subordinate to that of the people it supports.
Each dollar you spend on products or services is a decision that you keep. Each service the government provides requires you to surrender both your money and a little of your freedom to decide. And thus the lesson from all of the socialist experiments, once the government has taken these powers away from individuals and local communities to provide universal services, the government has the need to repress even verbal dissent, leading to the police state actions seen in Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.
David Bryant had a first career as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and aircraft carrier commanding officer followed by extensive experience in both large and small production companies. He has graduate degrees or equivalents in physics, aeronautical engineering, international relations, and nuclear engineering rounded out with an Executive MBA from the University of Washington. He is board member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association and active in politics in the other Washington. He strongly believes in Theodore Roosevelt’s oft quoted approach to foreign policy, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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