By: Jon Mann
As aspiring academic DJ Khaled once said, “Congratulations, you played yourself.” That’s especially the case for populations that adopt socialism. In every example, someone who is not you, most notably leaders of state-owned corporations and corrupt politicians, will prosper from socialism. I am more than ready to concede many individuals benefit from a socialist system; I just highly doubt you would be one of them. Who are you anyway? Are you someone in a position of power? Are you a CEO, a wealthy foreign investor, a politician? If not, this article is for you. Although the idea of enhanced federal support may sound like an oasis in the desert of US politics, I fear it is only a mirage. As evidenced by its complexity, the prevalence of corruption and ‘governmental’ malpractice, and simple psychology, socialism is a destructive fantasy.
Before discussing the finer points of socialism’s shortcomings, it is necessary to outline the futility of over-reliance on the government and its regulations. As explained by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, “The world has a way of undermining complex plans.” Modern socialists in the United States typically advocate for policies such as federally-funded education and healthcare, increased wages, and wealth redistribution. Most of these proposals require a complicated tax code that is capable of allocating a great deal of money from the pockets of the American people into various programs. In a country where the government cannot even figure out how to keep firearms out of the hands of terrorists, it is highly unlikely they will be able to successfully take money from the richest people in society, without secret tax-breaks and loopholes. It is no coincidence that physicist Jean Boulton claimed, “If complexity was a person, she’d be a socialist”.
The supposed necessity of socialism comes from the belief that the rich take advantage of the working classes. Therefore, socialists argue that such oppression can be prevented if most money is given to the government. I never understood this argument, primarily because it is logically inconsistent. The reason why some corporations may take advantage of people is that humans are self-interested. Thus, there is no reason individuals in the government would be less self-interested than individuals on the outside. It is fallacious to believe that politicians will act in your interest when the rich do not. In fact, those with money and those with political power are often the same people. High levels of corruption in socialist and communist societies have been empirically observed. Let’s look at Cuba, where according to the CUBA: Business and Investment Opportunities Yearbook, more than 75% of the population is employed by the state. This government control allows the regime to economically stifle their own citizens. Author Richard Feinberg explained in his book, Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy, that worker’s wages paid by the government are devalued at a ratio of 24:1. This means that more than 90% of a worker’s wages disappear in the conversion and ends up going to the government instead of the people. This, as Feinberg puts it, “freezes Cuba into a low-wage, low-productivity trap”.
Let’s take a step back. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that every single government employee and politician is uncorrupted and incorruptible. In this make-believe world, would there be anything preventing socialism from being an effective economic system? Regrettably, the government has repeatedly proven to be unbelievably irresponsible with money. The current US federal debt is estimated to be over 20 trillion dollars. As amply put by ICE Cube, “Get money, spend money, no money, lookin like a dummy”. I may not be a professional economist, but I think it’s fair to say the solution for an institution that is terrible at spending money is not to give it more money.
Finally, let’s presume that the government is filled to the brim with economists with IQ’s of 200 and hearts of gold, who can never be corrupted. Although if this was the case, the government probably wouldn’t be socialist; let’s just pretend for argument’s sake. The final, but possibly most profound, problem with socialism is that it simply is not a sustainable system. Socialism relies on taxing the rich to give money to the poor. The underlying problem with this strategy is that the rich have a substantial amount of funds and no intention of giving it away. As explained by the American Enterprise Institute, our economy is driven by incentives. Corporations are incentivized to operate in the United States because we have a flourishing free market where firms can easily enter and exit that market. Wealthy individuals are incentivized to live here because they can both make money and keep the money they make. As soon as you remove these incentives by increasing taxes and corporate regulations, it becomes less and less advantageous to stay here.
Look, I get it. Everyone wishes politicians could provide them with access to medicine, education, and financial security. The only issue is, some of them do not want to and none of them know how. Even if politicians could, the people who they would want to tax most would find ways to keep their money. Whether it would mean leaving the country or simply using corruption to their advantage, the 1% that you so desperately desire to see contributing a “fair share” never will.
Please refer to this Boston Globe article for additional reading.
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