5 people you didn’t know were socialists
Paris Marx

the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion.”

No better description of the planned economy of the USSR exists. And the Russians were not stupid. Their best and brightest did their best to plan the economy; but it just isn’t possible. Their economy was a total failure. Central planning has been an utter failure everywhere it has been tried. Individuals start businesses and run businesses based on the needs of their customers, and that is the only system that has succeeded throughout history.

As for Africa, the last colonial power left sub-Saharan Africa generations ago. Has Africa prospered? Their nations have been subjugated by generations of totalitarian dictators. They have neither capitalism nor socialism. Without law and representative government, only anarchy prevails. Such socialist countries as USSR and China have only begun to prosper in proportion to the degree they are replacing socialism with capitalism.

There are two flaws in thinking shared by all the examples given. The first is Utopianism — the idea that under socialism, all will act like angels. Everyone will work to the full extent of their abilities, regardless of the outcome. No one will game the system and live a life of freedom from work while all their basic needs and wants are provided from the work of others. Sufficient numbers of people will spend years acquiring advanced education, will risk all they have starting businesses, will work the eighty hour weeks for no pay that building businesses demands, and will endure the 80+% failure rates of startup business; and will keep doing that while their hard earned wealth is “redistributed” to people who do none of those things, people who even don’t work.

The second basic flaw is the idea that the economy is a zero sum game, that a dollar of profit is a dollar exploited from the customer. Socialists do not believe that successful businesses create wealth which the business’ owners have earned, but rather that any wealth the owners accumulate from the business is wealth taken from their customers unfairly. And as such, is justly taken from them and given back to those people who were exploited. This mistaken idea produces the practical problem that eventually causes socialism to collapse — the gradual demise of the successful businesses whose blood was sucked to fund everyone else. What sane investor would put his wealth into a new business whose purpose was not to make profits, but to break even? What entrepreneur would put his net worth into starting a new business and put in all the sweat equity required, and run the high risk of failure, just to break even? What bank would lend to a business just breaking even? What sane people would do all those things when the profits were taken for “redistribution”? As the successful decline, eventually, as Margaret Thatcher said, socialists run out of other people’s money.

The author could have profitably included one other example — Argentina. A century ago, Argentina was as rich and successful, on a per capita basis, as America. Then in 1946 Juan Peron was elected president, and began to turn Argentina socialist. As the economy immediately began to falter, they turned more and more to totalitarian government. Today, Argentina is an economic basket case. Here is their story, in their own words: http://www.applet-magic.com/argentinatanoira2.htm

Beware the siren call of Utopian socialism. The delusion is far more seductive than the reality.

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