Monday, March 11, 2019

Socialism on the Sphere

Earlier today I was listening to the STA Money Hour on radio (it comes on at noon weekdays on KPRC 950 AM), and one of the hosts mentioned he’d had a conversation with his young adult son about socialism, what it means, what’s being taught in schools and elsewhere, what the young man’s friends thought. And the answer was kind of scary. There’s so little knowledge among young people, who are being taught that socialism is about “fairness” and “sharing the wealth” so that these young people get free education, free healthcare, and other free “stuff.” So the host said it was his plan to post the video of Milton Friedman on the Phil Donohue Show, from decades ago, that so clearly explains the economics of it. I’ve shared that video before, but I’m including it again at the end of today’s post.

Later today I heard Larry Elder mention on his show, that there’s a recent poll showing that large numbers of young people in their 20s and 30s favor socialism—this in the face of Venezuela. They don’t seem to make the connection.

Last week economist Thomas Sowell was asked about the growing approval of socialism in America; would we resist it? He said he hoped so, but he wouldn’t bet on it.

Socialism, in red, overlaps with other -isms,
but they're all down into tyranny.
So today I’m doing my little part of educating the world on socialism, using what we know from the Spherical Model.

How do we know where socialism is on the sphere?

The same way you know about any government type or -ism: you see how it answers the questions for reaching north on the political, economic, and social spheres.

So let’s try it. We’ll try this one sphere at a time, but be warned that the spheres interrelate.

Political Sphere

Question 1: Is socialism something that an individual has the right to do, and therefore has a right to delegate to his/her government?

Answer: Depending on how we’re defining socialism, there’s some range here. Socialism could mean that government takes over various sectors of the economy, or maybe the entire means of production for a country. It’s a matter of degree, but socialism implies that government has the right to take private property without due compensation.

Socialism defines property “rights” as “whatever the government allows you to control as if you own it,” but government is ultimately the actual owner of whatever it decides to take ownership of.

But in real life—what we call natural law—we don’t have the right to take someone else’s property, which essentially means taking the fruits of labor from someone’s life, thus enslaving them; therefore we don’t have the right to delegate that right to our government.

This means socialism doesn’t pass the freedom test on this question. Socialism is southern hemisphere. The more power that government takes that the people do not have the right to grant to government, the more tyrannical the government.

Question 2: Does socialism infringe in any way on the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights?

Answer: Let’s remind ourselves of those God-given rights—just the ones listed in the Bill of Rights. (There are, of course, others.)

·         Freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceable assembly, petition government for redress of grievances.
·         Right to bear arms.
·         Right to security in our homes and papers, and from illegal searches and seizures.
·         Right to a fair and speedy trial, by jury.
·         Freedom from excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments.
The final two amendments of the original Bill of Rights add that government is limited to the enumerated powers granted in the Constitution, and that any rights not enumerated are retained by the States or the individual people.

In theory, socialism wouldn’t have to infringe on all these rights; it would only need to infringe on property rights. However, in practice, in order to enforce the coercive taking of property, in all the countries that have tried it, we’ve seen many more rights infringed. The right to bear arms gets lost early on. So do free speech rights—and all the rest of the First Amendment. The judicial system gets corrupted, and “fairness” becomes whatever the government says it is, no matter how unjust.
So, socialism falls into the southern hemisphere on this question.

Question 3: Is socialism within the proper role of government, some aspect of protecting life, liberty and property? These include national defense, protection from interstate crime, enabling (not controlling) international and interstate commerce, standardized weights and measures and currency, and the judiciary that guarantees the protective laws?

Answer: Socialism isn’t about protecting life, liberty, or property. It purports to be about fairness, and “protecting” people from poverty. But, as we know, whenever government interferes in a way that is beyond the proper role of government, there will be unintended consequences, which are usually the exact opposite of the stated goal. So, if socialism intends to get people out of poverty, you can expect the unintended consequences to include putting people into poverty.

That’s what we’ve seen happening in Venezuela. The richest nation in South America fell into abject poverty in about a decade. In some countries the fall has taken longer, 30 to 50 years. But it has happened every time. China, Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia. Everywhere it’s been tried. As it forces the people into deprivations while taking away their ability to rebel, tyranny reigns
screenshot from Stuart Varney report on Venezuela August 2018
Socialism is designed to fall into tyranny.

Economic Sphere

Question: Who decides what will be done with the fruits of your labors?

Answer: There’s only that single question for the Economic Sphere. Does the person who produced something through his labors get to decide how the fruits of his labors are used? Or should someone else decide? In socialism, it’s someone else. Government. Probably a distant bureaucrat, who decides that, if someone produces quite a lot—far more than the person needs for subsistence, so that the producer accumulates wealth—then government should take a portion of that wealth and distribute to someone who was not as successful at producing surplus fruits of labor.

Socialism ignores how hard a person works, how valuable a person’s work is to society, or how careful a person is to accumulate his wealth rather than quickly spend it. Socialism is only concerned that the outcomes should be equalized.

Socialism fails to take into account that, if a person doesn’t get to keep the fruits of his labors, and the government promises to give enough to everyone regardless of effort, socialism has taken away the incentive to work. And the result, before long, is that those who would have produced more will no longer bother to do so.

Socialism, therefore, not only takes what has been produced from the producers, but it leads the producers to produce less in the future—which means there’s less to take, to redistribute. That’s how poverty results.

Another option for producers is escape. Those who want to keep more of what they’ve produced will leave a place where a government takes their earnings. Even if government were to confiscate all their wealth, those producers who escape would still have their human capital, which they would take with them to produce more wealth in a less hostile environment. That’s one reason socialist countries have historically prevented their people from leaving. And you’re hearing complaints from New York's governor about the wealth producers leaving, just when they had so many uses for the exorbitant taxes they were charging.

Socialism doesn’t lift people out of poverty; it sinks entire societies (except for a few ruling elite) into poverty.

Social Sphere

Question 1: Does socialism allow for and encourage the flourishing of religion?

Answer: There’s an essential reason for this question. Rights come, logically, from either a greater than human source or a human-given source. If rights are God-given, then a person is entitled to them simply by virtue of being human. No human can rightfully deprive you of them. But if rights are not God-given, then there is no guarantee the human giver will not take them away.

Say, as in so-called “Democratic Socialism,” a majority votes that you should be deprived of your property simply because you have more than the majority (or its appointed bureaucrat) deems that you need or qualify for. You’re deprived of your property rights because you worked harder or smarter than someone else. Put another way, the majority has enslaved you to work for the majority’s benefit, rather than your own. The majority is a human tyrant.

And since the actions of a socialist government are tyrannical—i.e., go against your God-given rights—coercion will be necessary to do the enslaving, so you’ll lose additional rights.

But here is the crux of the matter: socialism claims to be a way to alleviate the unfairness of unequal outcomes, those terrible inequalities, or disparities. Without socialism, how do you deal with the fact that some people are starving or homeless while others enjoy mansions and private jets? Socialism claims to be moral and charitable.

But is it? Is it charitable for you to go on your neighbor’s property, steal the apples he has grown and was going to pick and sell at a market, and instead take those apples and distribute them to some hungry people down the road?

If your neighbor finds out and decides—voluntarily chooses—to allow for this theft for the sake of the hungry people, that says something about the charitable (and also merciful) feelings of your neighbor. But it says nothing about you except that you disrespect your neighbor’s property. You didn’t give anything of your own to feed the hungry. So you should stop smugly calling yourself charitable.

We can’t delegate our ability to give charity to government to do for us, because we don’t have the power to give someone else’s property charitably. We only have power to give our own property.

But isn’t that what we do when we pay our tax money to government to distribute to the poor?

The simple answer is no. You give tax money to government to carry out government responsibilities, of which charity is not one. When you vote (or have your representatives vote) to take tax money for charitable purposes, you’re giving your money and your neighbors’ to government bureaucrats to make decisions about who deserves what, which opens up all kinds of possibilities for favoritism and corruption.

If you donate your charity directly, not only is that actual charitable giving, rather than coerced “giving,” there’s no portion of it going to a government bureaucrat, so more money goes to the charitable cause. If you give to an organization, you can do your research to know who they serve, how they decide who’s deserving, and how much of your donation goes directly to charitable purposes rather than overhead.

So there’s a free choice way to take care of the poor, and socialism isn’t it.

But that real way does require a righteous people—a religious people, most likely—who feel the personal obligation to help out their fellow human beings.

Earlier today, the Heritage Foundation linked a piece well worth reading by historian Lee Edwards, “What Americans Must Know about Socialism.” The piece ends with this:

This is the reality of socialism—a pseudo-religion grounded in pseudo-science and enforced by political tyranny. This is the case against socialism—a god that failed, a science that never was, a political system headed for the ash heap of history
Socialism is a religious perspective, but it places government in the role of God. And instead of seeing theft and coveting as sins, it exalts them as basic principles.

Question 2: Does socialism promote the family as the basic unit of civilization?

Answer: No. Socialism tries to replace the family. It tries to be the source of rights, provider of needs, educator and inculcator of ideology, controller of messages, controller of behaviors. It assumes that people would not do what government calls “good,” left to their own devices. So it steps in, where the family used to be, to provide and teach its ways, and to coerce and punish any disagreement or disobedience. And it punishes much more severely than a loving parent would. Violence against dissent isn’t a mistake in how it has been implemented; it is an inherent practice.

Socialism is not intended to grow civilized adults, as a family is intended to do; rather, it is intended to grow submissive minions to allow the ruling elite unlimited power.

Ahead of a story on Venezuela posted on Facebook on March 8, the Heritage Foundation summarizes with this:

Socialism always promises progress, but it inevitably delivers scarcity, corruption and decay.
Rather than empower the common man, socialists believe in empowering bureaucracy. In their minds, bureaucrats will always make decisions based on science and dispassionate reason—and make sure those decisions are implemented and enforced efficiently.
It’s an elitist, intellectually arrogant belief, and it’s dangerous.
Capitalism is the economic engine of freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Socialism sinks us into tyranny, poverty, and savagery.

Here is the Milton Friedman video again: 

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