Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Socialism Doesn't Work

Socialism is a buzz-word now, especially among conservatives. I am against socialism. I am Libertarian, which means I believe in personal liberty and free markets. Personal liberty and socialism are antithetical to one another.

I'm sure you've heard about the lady who had the octuplets, in addition to her current six children. You have learned that they were all conceived via IVF and that the mother is without a life partner, living with her bankrupt parents. Here's what I think is interesting: It's not the first time we've heard of extraordinary multiples. There were the septuplets, of course, and the Dilleys with their sextuplets and now the blossoming of tv shows like John and Kate Plus 8, with their twins and sextuplets. Any of these multiple births seem pretty crazy, but none have attracted vitriol the way the octuplets have. Why? Because this woman intentionally brought these babies into the world without the ability to raise them on her own dime. She was on public assistence already, to say nothing of the expenses of raising the octuplets as well.

This is what is inherantly wrong with the socialist model. You wouldn't see the same level of anger about the octuplets if the woman were very wealthy. For point of fact, how about Angelina Jolie, whom the octuplet mom admires? Sure, people think she's a little nuts to give birth to and adopt many children in rapid succession, but nobody gives a hoot what the tab is going to be. Why? Because Jolie is not paying for her children through your money and mine.

See, socialism only works if everybody does their life equally. If they work equally and consume equally. The moment anyone seems to be getting an unfair piece of the pie, socialism generates animosity. Someone who has ten children is using far more resources than someone who only has one, so the person who only has one feels that they are getting cheated.

This attitude is also visible regarding the recent bail-outs. Before the bail-outs, nobody cared if a few CEO's flew all over the country in Leer jets. But once government money was in the mix, once you and I became unwitting supporters, suddenly it mattered a lot! Because we wonder why they can't just fly coach like everybody else and save a few hundred grand of OUR money. If they are in such dire straights, we rightly ask, why should they go to a spa in Vegas for a lavish party? But if the company was left to stand or fail on its own merits, the CEOs would have to either decide for themselves to fly coach or drive or else watch the company crash and burn on their expense accounts.

What I love about teaching history to my kids is all the great stuff I learn along the way. Take Captain John Smith, for example. Captain John Smith was such a strong leader was because he rejected the socialist systems that the first settlers had put in place. They were trying to create a "commonwealth". Everyone would raise the crops and then everyone would use the resources. Nobody owned their own personal land; it was all owned in common. (Actually, it was own by the natives, but that is another soap box.) John Smith rightly saw the trouble with the system. If the land wasn't their own and if they could just get food from the common store anyway, nobody particularly cared if the lot they tended grew well or not. I love this quote from my kids' History book "A History of Us: BK 2", where John Smith says,

"When our people were fed out of the common store, and laboured jointly together, glad was he who could slip from his labour, or slumber over his tasks, he care not how; nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a week, as now for themselves they will do in a day."

That, my friends, is the secret of capitalism. People take pains if they will directly benefit; they take naps when it doesn't matter how hard or little they work. Once people had the freedom to work towards ownership of their own personal plot of land, they put in the work necessary to make it prosper.