The Failure of Socialism

Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. He is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist who ran on a very progressive platform. His defeat to Clinton was all but certain due to certain policies the Democratic National Convention established prior to the election cycle. Although Sanders lost the election, he remains a popular figure among many voters, and others have adopted his socialist platform as they seek offices in the 2018 election.

These young Democratic Socialists are running on a platform that states the Federal government should provide free health care for all people, free college tuition, jobs for all Americans, the elimination of ICE, and a host of other freebies. It sounds very much like the old 1928 claim that if Herbert Hoover was elected President there would be a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Unfortunately, none of these Democratic socialists can explain who would pay for all the freebies they are offering.

Growing up my parents, one Democrat and one Republican, reminded me over and over again that society did not owe me anything. If I wanted to have anything I had to work for it. College was not a right to which I was entitled. Neither were groceries for that matter. We worked hard on the farm, raising a lot of the food we ate and earned the money to buy what we could not raise ourselves by raising livestock and crops. If someone needed help, the community was quick to offer that help, but no one walked around with their hands out waiting for their government check.

These Democratic Socialists scare me because they do not realize that socialism has never worked anywhere except in a university classroom. Socialism has failed in the Soviet Union, France, Venezuela, Cuba and everywhere else it has been tried. It could be argued that even in the United States socialism has been tried in various states and large cities that are now so deep in debt they may never be solvent again. Now, some want to take socialism nationwide to ensure the complete financial ruin of our nation.

Socialism fails for a number of reasons, but the most simple explanation is that it removes personal incentive. Most Americans, at least of a certain age, were taught to work hard, save part of their earnings and enjoy a successful life. To achieve anything of worth it was necessary to pay a price and earn it. That is not the lesson many younger people have been taught. They got participation trophies for showing up and smiley faces instead of grades on their school work. There was no reason to work hard because everyone would receive the same trophy and smiley face. As these individuals entered the workforce they continued to believe they were entitled to everything anybody else had regardless of whether they did anything to deserve it or not. They have no incentive to produce if everything is going to be distributed equally to everyone. Soon, nobody is producing anything and the entire system collapses on itself.

A basic economic principle is that people respond to incentives. Remove the incentive and people have no reason to act. Put a chicken in everybody’s pot and soon no one is interested in earning the money required to buy a chicken. It is frightening that people who want to run our government do not understand this basic economic principle.

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