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Economists Prove Socialism Sucks, But The Beer Is Worse

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

In what was probably the most enjoyable book I've read on the subject, two economists drink their way through the "unfree world" to prove that socialism, well, sucks. Economists Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell traveled all around the world quaffing some of the world's worst beer to prove that socialism "is an economic system that has led to more poverty, less freedom, and really, really bad beer for millions of people." As you might have guessed -- the more socialistic a country is, the worse the beer. 


Lawson and Powell are sort of like the conservative version of the guys from Myth Busters. They're nerdy and academic but overall seem like fun guys. They seem, well, like the kind of dudes you'd want to have a beer with. Their book, Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through The Unfree World, was published earlier this summer by Regnery Publishing.

 Lawson is "the Fullenwider Chair in Economic Freedom and directs the O’Neil Center at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University." The book's co-author, Benjamin Powell, "is the executive director of the Free Market Institute and a professor of economics in the Rawls College of Business Administration at Texas Tech University."

Here's an example of how socialism completely failed the good people of Venezuela, as told by the authors during a recent interview:

"Let's talk about the worst-case first. In Venezuela, they ran out of beer. The country ran out of beer. In fact, what happened is they have a monopoly producer essentially...that's nominally private, but the government planners allocate foreign exchange," Powell told interviewer Matt Kibbe. 

"And what happened?" he said turning it over to Lawson.


"Well, I mean, here's the thing. If I was a socialist dictator, everything would go to hell because socialism sucks, but I would make sure they make beer," Lawson remarked.  "And the problem in Venezuela is the guys who are in charge of the hard currency, the very little dollars they have, they didn't give the beer company enough dollars so they couldn't buy enough barley, and you run out of barley, guess what? You can't make beer. So the country ran out." 

Kibbe, friend and fellow capitalist, then interjects and says, "So on the other hand, I went to one of my favorite craft brewers, The Veil, and this is their session beer. It's 4.4% lager. I suspect it's lower ABV than even Polar. Man, that's got a lot of flavor. And the beautiful thing about America, we're in America now, so we can get any freaking beer we want."

"Capitalism gives you variety. Socialism sometimes doesn't give you anything, and when it does, you don't get variety," Powell observes.

Socialism Sucks answers:

  • Why the so-called Swedish model might be attractive, but sure is not socialism (Sweden is capitalism with a big welfare state)

  • How Venezuela went from being the toast of liberals everywhere –Viva Venezuela! – to just toast

  • Why you never see cars or diverse menus in Cuba

  • Why no one forgets to turn out the lights in North Korea (hint: there aren’t any)

  • How hard it is to find a good beer—or sometimes any beer at all—in socialist countries 


Lawson and Powell's conversation with Kibbe can be seen here:

Socialism Sucks is short but jampacked with facts, funny anecdotes, and great advice about beer, economics, and life. It's the perfect gift for any college-aged student or anybody confused about socialism. It can be purchased here.

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