A Revolution I Don’t Want

Millennials, it’s time to wake up

What if I told you that those fancy hoverboards aren’t actually hoverboards? What if I told you it was just a Segway without a pole? What if I told you wheels were touching the ground? The addition of flashy blue lights and the fact that you’re moving across the ground without touching it may be pretty convincing, but you’re no Marty McFly. You’re just another millennial on a glorified scooter.

Now, I’m just going to put this out there, but I bet you’re a millennial who loves Bernie Sanders. I mean, how could you not? He offers authenticity, values, and a strong Twitter game; he’s basically everyone’s dream grandpa. But just like the grandpa who made you drink his glorified RC Cola, Bernie brings with him his glorified version of socialism — democratic socialism.

Millennials seem to be fully embracing the concept of socialism. In fact, in a recent YouGov survey, 43% of respondents under 30 view it favorably. When asked about their outlook on capitalism, only 32% viewed it favorably. Compare that to people our parents’ age and you get the complete opposite. Only 27% have a favorable view of socialism, while 62% view capitalism favorably.

I think it’s fair to attribute the rise of socialism in the U.S. to Bernie Sanders. But as I’m sure many of you have been screaming at your screen, “Bernie is advocating democratic socialism, not socialism!” Yes, I know, which makes me nervous. Are us millennials just that uninformed about what socialism really is? Or has Bernie Sanders skewed the lines of the Leftist ideology?

To answer the first question, I would say yes. Relying on data from a 2010 CBS/New York Times poll, only 16% of millennials were able to accurately define socialism as government ownership, or some variation of it. After six years, we hope it’s safe to assume that more than 16% of millennials know what socialism is, but sadly, it may not be true.

According to a 2014 Reason-Rupe report, millennials have a more favorable view of socialism than they do a government-managed economy, even though they are the same thing. When looking at the numbers, socialism has a 42% favorable rating, while government-managed has a 32% favorable rating (capitalism and free market economy still have higher favorability rankings, 52% and 64% respectively.)

So really, it seems millennials don’t know what socialism is. But fear not, that’s why we have an outstanding higher education system…Millennial support for socialism peaks in college with a 49% favorable rating (compared to capitalism at 48%.) For non-college students, support for socialism peaks at 38%. You can draw your own conclusions.

Well millennials, let me give you a little rundown of what socialism is.

Socialism is an economic system where the means of production (i.e., factories), capital (i.e., banks), and agricultural land (i.e., farms) are owned by the state. Throughout history, from Cuba to Eastern Europe, it has been proven time and time again and that socialism is a failure.

Why? It’s simple. Socialism attempts to suppress human nature in hopes that a large, bureaucratic state knows an individual better than he does himself (it doesn’t.)

What do I mean by human nature? Self-interest, of course. Adam Smith, in his 1776 book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, coined the term “invisible hand” to explain this natural phenomenon. In his book he states:

“Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it … He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”

When socialism suppresses human nature, the result is low economic growth and consequently, low living standards. Income inequality may have been low, but people were much poorer compared to other parts of the world. This may have made the citizens equal, but party bosses and their bureaucracies tended to be above the law. Generally, they were exempted from limits on wealth accumulation and could not be accused of crimes.

Mark J. Perry, an economics and finance professor at the University of Michigan — Flint had this to say about the failure of socialism: “While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.”

So we know that Bernie isn’t just your typical socialist, he’s a democratic socialist. So what does that mean? Well, that’s a very good question, that when you dig deep, has a few different implications.

When Bernie is asked, “What is democratic socialism?” He often gives an answer that talks about corporations and the top one percent, free healthcare as a right, and then he references some European countries like Denmark and Sweden. Of course, this doesn’t really define democratic socialism. By implication, democratic socialism is socialism brought about by voting. A.K.A., it’s still socialism.

Now when we hear the word democracy, we think of it as some noble practice. However, pure democracy is simply mob rule. In this, the majority enjoys complete power simply by having a couple more votes than the opposition. Therefore, the majority can vote to impose tyranny and take away rights from the minority. Thus, a constitution was born to limit and divide power to prevent the majority from imposing their will on the people.

So Bernie’s definition isn’t really a good one, so let’s take a look at what Democratic Socialist of America define it as.

Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically — to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

Also on their website is a Q & A section because “all over the world the idea of socialism has taken root, except for the United States.” So because of that, “many false ideas” have formed about socialism (whatever that means.) Let’s discuss a few.

Question: Doesn’t socialism mean that the government will own and run everything?
Answer: “Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy…We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.”

Well let me start off with, “WHEW!” I’m glad they don’t want to create an all-powerful government. Secondly, let’s look at the types of economic institutions they’re referring to. Proprietorships make up 72% of all these institutions, followed by evil corporations at 18%, and partnerships at 10%. So are they really suggesting that all of those single-owners give up the rights to control their business, even though they’re the ones who went out and acquired the capital and took the risk to start it? I’m not buying it. But if they vote on it, then I may (sarcasm inserted).

Oh yeah, they also suggest that the long-term goal is to eliminate private corporations. Yes, that’s a great idea. Just ask the USPS and Amtrak.

Question: Why are there no models of democratic socialism?
Answer: “Although no country has fully instituted democratic socialism… We can learn from the comprehensive welfare state maintained by the Swedes, from Canada’s national health care system, France’s nationwide childcare program, and Nicaragua’s literacy programs…”


Question: But hasn’t the European Social Democratic experiment failed?
Answer: “Many northern European countries enjoy tremendous prosperity and relative economic equality thanks to the policies pursued by social democratic parties…”

Bernie constantly refers to the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland as prime examples of the socialist utopia that America should emulate. However, one of those countries seems to have taken offense to that. The Prime Minster of Denmark felt compelled enough to set the record straight on the matter.

“I am aware that some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

On top of their market economy, Denmark also has an expanded welfare state that provides cradle-to-grave services that protect their citizens. According to the PM, this market economy is combined with “as much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

However, this welfare state doesn’t come without its problems. In fact, Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. Why? Because when a woman has been on welfare for 20 years and has more money to spend than many of the country’s full-time workers, you may have a problem.

This massive, but dwindling welfare state may explain the wealth gap in the country. In 2014, the Top 10% in Denmark owned nearly 67% of the country’s wealth. It seems as though the middle and lower classes have become so dependent on the government that they don’t see a reason to accumulate wealth. The upper class on the other hand seem to keep accumulating wealth for business and investment purposes.

It seems like to me there’s more to these Scandinavian countries than meets the eyes.

So millennials, hop off the hoverboard, stop reading that VOX article, and pay attention. We have a country to fix, but we can’t do it with failed ideologies and a generation that doesn’t truly understand what they’re supporting. Socialism is a proven failure and democratic socialism and its “free” stuff hasn’t proven much better.

As with all candidates, do your research and don’t fall for the sound bites…or the RC Cola either.

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