Introduction: Millennials Are Killing America
This article is the introduction to a dedicated series that will dismantle the lies that are being accepted by society regarding socialistic (statist) policies and systems. No matter where the fault may be; the media, the politicians, the school systems, or the people themselves; I am unconcerned with placing the blame. However, it would behoove each and every reader to spend the time to read each essay fully and thoughtfully. This conversation is not about Republican versus Democrat; this is a conversation about government versus man. The improbable support of Bernie Sanders, eight years of President Obama, and the subsequent polls I mention below all contributed to the need for this series. The reason this is a series is because I could write thousands of pages discussing the topic and continue writing the next thousand; otherwise, the series allows a natural way for concepts to build on top of another and for me to clarify previously unclear arguments I improperly prove.
This generation is living through a historical turn that will one day be referred to as the generation that killed the American Experiment if we continue to allow ourselves to ignore the ideas and opinions such as the ones expressed here. At no other time in all of history has any generation, to the extent that millennials have, been so complacent, uninformed, and gullible. I am actually giving our generation the benefit of the doubt by arguing that this generation has been distracted, tricked, and lied to. After discovering the studies that have since been summarized in the quote found below by California Magazine, a publication operated by the Alumni of UC Berkeley, I had to come to that conclusion. Any alternative reasoning for these numbers would essentially make this series a waste of time. I will attach links to these polls at the bottom of the article.
“…Of that group in the Gallup poll who said they’d vote for a socialist; 69 percent were under the age of 30. A May YouGov poll indicates that 36 percent of people ages 18 to 39 view socialism favorably, compared to just 15 percent of those over 65. And in a survey by Pew Research Center, almost half of people ages 18 to 29 viewed socialism favorably.”
Our grandparents and great-grand parents risked their lives and in many cases lost their lives fighting the same systems of governments that are now supported by young adults here at home. Now you may see why I have to stick to the argument that this generation is being lied to in the same ways that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have all rejected. Perhaps because they lived through the massacring of innocent people as a direct result of the policies and the ideology casually supported by our generation, or because they didn’t have influential information outlets in their pockets that have made it their mission to spread convincing propaganda. Either way, this blog is dedicated to communicating the economic truth. I don’t have any agenda other than being the one of the few voices that is reasonable enough to look past the political agendas and speak out against a government that has grown too powerful and intends to continue that trend. This series covers a topic that is the furthest from irrelevant and uninteresting; however, that is exactly what those in power want you to believe. That is the goal, at least, of placing the word “democratic” in front of socialist. Is it not? The ideology is socialism and the simplest way to define it is with 169,202,000. That number is the total number of innocent people’s lives that were claimed by their own government after deceiving them that they would ensure the “common good.” 20 Regimes, 87 years (1900–1987), more than 169 million non-war murders, and our generation audaciously supports socialism. You might think of a blonde, fair skinned lady prancing happily through the mountains of Sweden when you think of socialism, but we will address your imagination in due time. For now, use that imagination skill to channel all your anger connected to, perhaps the invasion of Iraq, instead toward the 169,202,000 murdered souls that were promised far different.
In short; our government does not have our best interests at heart, your political party certainly does not have your best interest, and nor does your favorite candidate. This is an aggregate of economic theories developed over centuries by economists and philosophers engaging in debates back and forth in their publications. If these ideas are heard or seen in modern time, it is distorted and improperly sold. Mostly because nearly all information outlets, social institutions, political institutions, and academic institutions have a greater agenda. It should actually amaze everyone that when it comes to climate change discussions we turn to the scientists, but when it comes to economic discussion we turn to politicians as if they have a damn clue. Wake up.
Part One: Scarcity and Economics
You might ask why different economic systems exist in the first place to make this such an important debate and to that I will introduce to you, in brief, how the world works. Man has unlimited wants with limited means to satisfy them. This is known as the concept of scarcity and most economists agree that it is a fact of the human condition. To reject scarcity is more irrational than to reject the theory of gravity, but I digress. Scarcity forces us, as humans, to choose between competing uses and we choose according to whatever provides us the most benefit. What is the benefit? I don’t know, you tell me. The time throughout my given day must be allocated between school, work, sleep, and this blog in such a way that I can meet those requirements without impeding my ability to achieve the others. My ends are personal to me and their benefits, monetary and non-monetary, are subjective. For example, I am not a beneficiary of a trust fund nor am I highly-likely to be set up with a well-paying job whether I have a degree or not, thus I benefit from my job and college differently than my friend whose father is a diplomat. Further, time spent at the bar tonight means time not spent writing this post while watching a woman currently on all fours throwing-up in the lobby (Actually). In addition to my previously allocated time, I would also like to spend an hour on the phone with friends and family, chase Pokémon in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and be six drinks deep, but until someone smarter than me invents a way to create more time I am forced to choose wisely to maximize my benefits. The girl surrounded by vomit, security guards, and her RA dressed in pajamas is a college student much like me yet we both have a different scale of value. Although, properly allocating time and performing a cost versus benefit analysis is a time-perfected skill, that others are more naturally inclined than others. That being said, describing the same methodology that replaces time with money is my personal welcome to the field of economics and the establishment of social and political institutions that combine to create an economic system.
The difference between free-market capitalism and collectivist, or socialist, systems is found within the methodology of allocating resources. In my given example I could act by means I choose in order to realize my own ends that are subjectively valued by me, free from coercion by an external force. Whereas to contrast, a system with a central force dictating my time and my focus, regardless of my subjective values, regardless of my wants or desires, regardless of the inputs that provide me happiness. If my time is being dictated by a force that does not know me, does not know what I value, does not know what is important to me, does not know my abilities; then for what and to who’s benefit am I being used to provide for? If the ignorance and dismissal of me as an individual isn’t patronizing enough, the central force then attempts to sell my new schedule to me on the grounds that society as a whole will ultimately benefit. “Welcome to socialism, now go clean up her vomit.”
The Problem with Problems
Socialism was first introduced as a solution to the so-called problems created by capitalism. Socialism is the solution to everything from unemployment, poverty, starvation, homelessness, and general unhappiness. (Dammit, I knew North Korean has been hiding the cure for cancer this entire time!) The professed “problem” that occurs within a given system or model is not sufficient to claim that the system itself caused the “problem” nor sufficient to argue that a correlation exits between the two. This logical challenge is precisely why I find it most beneficial to discuss the worldview and ideology of socialism or capitalism in order to set the stage for more specific inquires. Additionally, many of the “problems” that have been introduced as being by-products of free markets are actually caused by policies that violate the principles of free markets. Proper understanding of an ideology in the first instance avoids the common mistake of making an argument prior to establishing mutual agreements. Nonetheless, making these abstractions is essential to proper economic analysis, but is subsequently attacked on the basis that it ignores reality. This is not the case, rather it helps us to understand reality more clearly. Reality won’t be ignored, worry not. I will give proper recognition to each and every form of proposed socialism. Moreover, the critics of capitalism often make an argument based upon the false impression that “problems” even exist within the field of economics. A problem is a problem if and only if there is a solution and there are no solutions in economics, only trade-offs. Markets themselves can not produce a “problem” although they certainly produce imperfections. The markets and all the many agents that operate within it are all decision makers that react and act individually. This makes a single market complicated by itself, much less the entire economy. It is for this reason that each attempt to correct a market imperfection demands a proper cost/benefit analysis of the effects of that market correction. I am currently finding it difficult to think of an area in which cause and effect do not apply, but then I remembered our friend Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law. Isn’t it strange to you that everyone from your mechanic to your professor believes to have the solution to market imperfections yet when it comes to open heart surgery they are clueless? The point is that when it comes to markets, there is nothing simple about it. The government does not “simply” pay your bill following a doctor’s appointment.
Let’s be clear, the disagreements between economists had never been about identifying market imperfections, rather the means to correct it. Free-market principles do not simply ignore these imperfections either. For the statist, the problem is ultimately liberty because in order for the central tenets of socialism to produce the purported goals it then must restrict liberty through coercion. There is little debate any longer amongst economists about the inherent failures within socialism. The academic debates have nearly ceased to exist within the field. If not entirely, at least in any matter that has a meaningful impact. Rather, today the debate exists predominantly in politics and media and other outlets in which the audience can be easily persuaded, regardless of facts. Nonetheless, politicians have been gaining more and more support by lying to the voters. Those drinking the Kool-Aid of this faux-philosophy have fallen into the historically-proven trap that so many complicit sheep before them have. The indisputable fact is that socialism, in every form since the beginning of time, is anti-humanity, socially and economically destructive, and often deadly.
Good economics is not influenced by politics rather; good politics is influenced by good economics. It is almost a laughable irony of today that the exact same system our generation blames for the imperfections of the market is the same system that afforded us the unique luxury to attack it. The power of the free markets and the wealth that was created as a result is what affords us the ability to seek higher social achievements. The single mother on the poverty line has little ability or desire to engage discussion about the harmful effects of carbon emissions to our atmosphere while her immediate concern is feeding her children. Similarly, divisive arguments about gun control would be a comedy special for a small African village, had they a television, electricity, or a living room. This is my plea for you to allow me the opportunity to remind you of the values that have allowed such wealth creation in much of the world. They are timeless but impermanent; tenacious, but flexible; and widely recognized, however easily ill-perceived. This juxtaposition is made possible because these ideas are products of, and promote, human nature. You can choose to remain incredulous or choose to challenge the growing popularity of statist policies.
What is Socialism?
Firstly, we should reiterate that all economic systems are established with aims to alleviate the human condition; having unlimited wants with scarce resources. Capitalism is a system built on the notion that the most efficient means to allocate scarce resources is through voluntary exchange. In other words, a buyer and seller are free to exchange in a transaction that is mutually beneficial. This requires the guarantee of private property rights, competition for the means of production, and profit seeking motivation. Socialism was introduced in objection to capitalism.
Because socialism has evolved and taken many forms over the centuries, whether due to implementation failures or systematic failures, it forces the conversation to include historic qualities as well as modern qualities. We can thank Ludwig von Mises, an economist from the Austrian School, for his work in expanding the original definition of socialism. Socialism in its basic form is an economic system in which the state owns the means of production. While it may be properly defined as “common ownership” of the means of production, it is agreed that the state must direct production, at least at first if not indefinitely, to ensure successful implementation. (Side note: Apart from every other huge error made in developing the concept of socialism, how did they truly believe the concept of common ownership to be possible) Each worker is distributed food, wages, housing, and an assigned job based upon their need to survive. Employment is a guarantee and wages are based upon an arbitrary system based upon the regulations of central planners and not related to performance. As the quote made famous by Karl Marx says, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The state decides what to produce, how to produce it, how much to produce, and who will produce it. If the state doesn’t explicitly own any or all industries, the state will regulate industry in such a way that the state has effective ownership. Modern aspects would include wealth redistribution by way of heavy tax burdens, through the progressive income tax, to fund the expanding social welfare state; providing access to guaranteed healthcare, higher education, housing, employment, and a minimum wage. Finally, when the state can no longer own more resources than it already does, when the state can no longer tax its populace anymore to fund the welfare state; the state prints its owns currency to fund its expenditures, causing massive inflation. This is how socialism is an economic system, as well as being at the core of much public policy.
A common and fatal misconception is that socialism can only be introduced by a totalitarian dictator, but it is patently untrue. A set of plans imposed on society, insofar as to replace individual plans, is socialistic in essence. National healthcare programs such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is very much indeed a socialistic policy, contrary to the dismissal of that claim by the statists. The state planners now have the power to allocate funding to the parties they choose, at the prices they choose, as well as dictate what goods and services will be provided. The ease by which individuals relinquished their right to decide for themselves how best to make their healthcare decisions is beyond me; similarly disheartening, the naïve belief that a distant and coercive planner has any interest in ensuring the proper health of individuals, let alone possessing more interest than individuals themselves. Hence, the people can undoubtedly vote in socialism just as well as a revolutionary dictator can impose it upon the people. Have we really forgotten from history that Hitler’s work was half completed for him? Regardless, it defies sound logic to argue that a majority vote is sufficient criteria to disqualify a policy from being socialist. Simply because popularity, and unpopularity for that matter, is not a quality used to define socialism. Similarly, the popularity of anti-Semitism did not disqualify Hitler of being evil; the popularity of slavery did not disqualify plantation owners from being in-humane; and the love that the Manson Family had for Charles Manson is not sufficient to disqualify him of being a master manipulator. Obamacare is, in fact, a socialist policy. The same can equally be said for Social Security retirement benefits. To categorically deny the possibility of the United States becoming socialist is, by default, false since it has already succumbed to many socialist policies. Social Security and ObamaCare are perfect examples of the trade-offs the American people made between liberty and common welfare. Instead of having the freedom to plan our own retirement using whatever portion of our paycheck that we determined most beneficial, the government has been allowed to impose their plan for us. Their plan, however, allowed them to spend the Social Security Fund on other projects and have all but bankrupted the retirement benefits once promised. (Hint: the return individuals would receive investing for retirement on their own far exceeds the return paid by the government.)
Some of the ends that socialism seeks to meet are certainly admirable in a certain sense, however the means of doing so not only fail to meet them but also have moral implication of their own. Of course most Americans would agree that they would like to see the entire country having access to quality healthcare and/or living above the poverty line, but just like my time example used earlier it isn’t realistic; at least not without consequence that we are misinformed about and ill-equipped sustain. As I continue along in this series I will address distinct by-products of a socialist system that detail the inescapable reasons socialism fails in every form. However, I first want to address a concern that is slightly less technical than the failures and talk about morals.
The Big Lie: Capitalism is Immoral
The majority of Millennials can most likely be placed into 2 categories; those that have been entirely convinced by society that capitalism is inhumane and immoral, and those who are finding it increasingly difficult to defend our current system and ignore the former groups appeals to morals. The third group is a smaller category of Millennials who successfully won the internal battle of sorts that is imposed when your moral standards are under attacked by professors, family, co-workers, etc. for defending and believing in the free-market, capitalist system. The debate has been settled; socialism fails to reach the goals it sets out to reach, and this has been settled for a long time. However, the facts and reasoning that ultimately concluded socialism was impossible under the given designs are no longer the subject of debate nor the chief method the statist is using to persuade voters to subscribe to their false belief system. If supporters were not convinced by facts and reason prior, I couldn’t reasonably expect that my article would have a meaningful impact if I failed to mitigate the social pressure many millennials may feel. If the statists want to make arguments on moral grounds, then let them eat cake! Let me talk about a couple moral implications of my own regarding socialist and socialist-inclined policy.
We can operate in only two schools of thought when it comes to this issue; that is collectivism versus individualism. Free-markets capitalism is the best system, and the only system, that recognizes the importance of the individual and built a system around fostering the creativity, ingenuity, and innovation that the free human mind is capable of providing. Collectivism treats humans as a means to a greater end for the whole. Man is expected to sacrifice his ends to meet the greater ends that society desires. Man is used by the state without consideration for the individual. I find this to be morally wrong, no matter what “society’s” ends may be.
I find it strange, the enormous amount of admiration, that we have for the “collective” goals and values of society. As if the collective goals are of greater morals than those that can be held by a single individual. If you look at what is traditionally referred to as “American Values”, they all emphasize the importance of the individual. This isn’t a coincidence. When I think about anything great that has ever happened in all of history, I can attribute it all entirely to an individual. Every idea that has changed our world have been products of the human mind: an indispensable gift to society that lives longer than the creator, longer than the social or political institutions that existed at its conception. Ideas are bigger than you and I, they are immortal. An entrepreneur, dedicated to the pursuit of developing an idea that will better mankind for generation to come, is where I place my admiration. His creations, his contributions, are of the highest of moral achievements and deserve the admiration that is now directed toward the virtues that society demands of us all; which we succumb to this demand everyday.
Yet how do we thank some of the ingenious creators of ideas, small and large, that we are so ungrateful for, that we refuse to spend any time championing. We vilify them. Our society is in love with politicians and hates the innovator. We celebrate elections, sports games, celebrity pregnancy or relationship gossip but the innovators from past to present that made these luxuries possible are the unsung heroes. I don’t subscribe to that moral code in which we punish or impede an individual to achieve his or her ends, so feel free to count me out of the “common good.” Society expects the rich and wealthy to pay “their fair share” while those same people demanding such have contributed nothing to society that is of any value beyond the here and now. These are values of an individual that run direct opposite from the professed common good that socialism is aiming for. I know I am not alone, so I ask again; to whom are the common and what is the good? I am not keeping quiet about this any longer. The government is championed as the guardian of the people that delivers the people their needs and the people ironically consider the wealth holders and wealth creators as evil, exploitative, and thieves; while they are that which affords the government this unique ability. If this type of divisive hatred directed toward any group is higher morals, I don’t want any part of that.
The idea that “my needs are greater than your needs” is really what is at the heart of the moral sentiments of socialism. It forces one to consider only their own needs. The idea that someone else has something that you need and therefore they should be morally-aligned, or obliged, to fulfill your need is a manipulation tactic that I find absolutely repulsive, parasitic, and behavior that I reject in myself as well as in people I associate with. If the need or want of someone else is sufficient criteria to trigger that demand to be filled, through threat of force, by another person- what can be said about the respect for the needs and wants of the holder of such? The idea that it is immoral to have more than you need while allowing others to have less than they need would thus require an immoral act, much worse and of a different kind, be imposed to complete the forced transaction. (Theft)
The government and the people seem to have found a mutually beneficial leech-like relationship, one that sucks the life out of innovation and creation in pursuit of still unknown ends.
Just a few Things That Matter.