"The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both." -- Milton Friedman
“If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying, ‘I'm from the government and I'm here to help.’” – Jonah Goldberg
In a time where consumers have almost unlimited choices of music, movies, websites and every product you can imagine in the supermarket, socialism is an outdated economic system that no longer fits with the world we live in. Socialism requires the intervention and control of the marketplace by an overwhelmingly powerful centralized government. It penalizes high achievers, rewards laziness and stifles choice.
Socialism is a government regulation that stops you from creating a successful business. It’s the Bureau of Land Management or the EPA making arbitrary decisions about what you can do with your own land. It’s the IRS taking the money you busted your butt to earn and giving it to people who didn’t work as hard as you did.
Almost every socialist policy requires taking resources from someone who’s earned them and giving them to someone who hasn’t. Even programs that are supposed to be self-funding rarely are because the juice is never quite worth the squeeze. The real reason we’re so deeply in debt is because if the middle class was forced to choose between paying for what our government is spending or dramatically cutting back, our government would already be much smaller than it is – and no wonder.
What does our government do well anymore? Do you trust the IRS? FEMA? Are our borders secure? How does the customer service of the post office or DMV compare to, let’s say Apple or Amazon? Who wants to live in government housing? Who wants a minimum wage job? Who wants to answer to bureaucrats, jump through their hoops and do as he’s told by people who see him as a nameless, faceless slob dependent upon them for his livelihood?
This is what socialism offers.
Socialism will take something from someone else who earned it and give it to you and in return, you will do what socialists want you to do. If you’re irresponsible, lazy, have a habit of making poor decisions or just need a master, this can seem like a good deal. You can work a menial job and get paid more than you’re worth! You can go to college and you don’t have to pay for it! Someone else will give you a place to live, food stamps, welfare and health care! In return, you just have to give up on your pride, your dreams and control of your own life.
People who can take care of themselves don’t need socialism and most of those who have difficulty taking care of themselves would still be better off under a more capitalistic system. The more capitalistic an economy is, the faster it grows. The faster an economy grows, the more jobs and wealth are created.
Eighty percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. Meanwhile, 96% of the poor in America have televisions, 93% have microwaves and 81% have cell phones. Ultimately, it’s the economic growth produced by capitalistic policies that has allowed America’s poor to do so well compared to the poor in more socialistic nations. Paradoxically, the more we move towards socialism in the name of “helping” the poor, the less poor Americans will ultimately have. That’s because the more regulations, the more taxes and the more GOVERNMENT a country has, the slower its economy grows.
Socialism requires a gargantuan government so it can confiscate property, control behavior and manage an always growing list of programs to achieve “fairness.” Unfortunately, “fairness” is a will-o’-the-wisp that can never be caught because human beings have different levels of talent, skill and effort.
The factory worker who spent 30 years working his way through the ranks to become regional sales manager should make more than the new guy who just started yesterday. The man who spent 10 years building his own successful business should make more money than his employees. The man who invested every extra dime he had and does well should make more money than the fellow who used all his extra money to buy a bigger car and nicer furniture for his house. Socialists say, “Not so fast. Maybe those guys should make more money, but they’re making too much money. We should control how much they make. We should decide how much of their money they get to keep. We should control how much of their money is given away and to whom.”
On the other hand, capitalism is freedom. Capitalism says you should do what you want to do with your own time and either suffer the consequences or reap the rewards. Sure, we might all cooperate to create a military and a police force along with building sewage systems, roads, street lights and stop signs and a few other necessities, but beyond that, let everyone rise and fall as he deserves.
If you want to get a four year degree in women’s studies at an Ivy League university? Great, pay for it yourself. You want to live cheaply and work a second job so you can save up money? You should be able to do that and someone else shouldn’t get the benefits from your hard work. If you want to spend your twenties as a beach bum, surfing all day and sleeping in a tent at night, you can do that, but no one else should be asked to help pay for your lifestyle.
Having real freedom means you get to make real choices and when that happens, some of those choices will work out better than others. The only way to change that is to build a massive government apparatus that makes everyone poorer in return for reducing the amount of natural inequality that will happen when people are allowed to pursue their wildly differing hopes and dreams.
Capitalism is not perfect, but it won’t bankrupt the country, it doesn’t reward failure and it can’t control you like socialism. To the contrary, in a capitalist system, businesses benefit from voluntary transactions. Do you want to get rich in a capitalist system? Find a way to give people what they want. If you’re just okay at it, you can make a decent salary. If you’re as good at it as Henry Ford or Bill Gates, you can become rich beyond imagination.
Do you want to get rich in a socialist system? Be well connected. Make friends or just pay off people who can give you government contracts. Make contributions to politicians so they’ll change the laws to help you and hurt your competitors. Get the government to take money from other people and give it to you as part of a bailout.
Which sounds more admirable? Which sounds healthier for our country? When you give the government unlimited power to create “equality,” you also give it the power to tilt the playing field towards corrupt businesses that have every incentive to try to take advantage of it.
At the end of the day, socialism is for slaves who are willing to give up their freedom for promises that they’ll be given some minimal level of support no matter what. On the other hand, capitalism is for people who want the freedom to rise or fall based on their own effort. If you know which type of person you are, then you know whether you should be a capitalist or a socialist.