A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that an alarming number of people still believe that socialism “gives all people an equal opportunity to be successful,” with 52% agreeing this statement is at least somewhat true for socialism.
Fortunately, 64% agreed that statement is at least somewhat true for capitalism.
Still, it is evident that most people who favor socialism don’t understand it or its negative consequences. Apologists for socialism need to understand what the late economist Friedrich Hayek said: “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means, as de Tocqueville describes it, a new form of servitude.”
Socialist economies surrender class distinction by giving up freedom to politicians in the marketplace, including work, education, healthcare, and more. This is the exact opposite of “free.” Nothing scarce is free because there are trade-offs that come with every decision. Nations with socialized labor, schooling, and medicine must fund them at the expense of taxpayers, from the lost productivity that results from less economic growth, and from the lost opportunities with each of those taken dollars.
People in socialist economies work under a glass ceiling that they can never break. They surrender so much of their resources to the government that it contributes to a forced mediocrity. But in capitalist economies, the ceiling is much higher. People have more potential to prosper because the means of capital and labor are owned by them personally, not by politicians.
Greater economic freedom under capitalism tends to yield higher life expectancies, higher incomes, greater per capita GDP, and less poverty when considering countries or states .
But when the government is empowered instead of its citizens, people are left with few options for innovative solutions in the private sector. This destroys organic competition, where the best solution can be the most successful. This bears out the experience of socialist economies, that the government institutions dominating the provision of services typically have low quality at high cost.
Some socialists claim that their preferred system of pooling resources for everyone is a superior way of helping people than philanthropy or the work of employers, churches, or charities. But this assumes that a one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone. In reality, each person is different with unique needs, which is why making ways for entrepreneurs to create new solutions is critical. A system run by politicians can never fully satisfy the needs of its people. It makes winners of the politically connected and losers of everyone else.
One reason that people, especially young adults, may find socialism appealing is because it appears compassionate on its surface. A paradise where everyone is clothed, fed, and happy sounds like something to desire. But that’s never the outcome when liberties are surrendered to leaders.
The lack of belief in free markets is really the lack of belief in free people. Too many on the Left and the Right fail to understand this fact with their big-government solutions.
The world is witnessing this reality unfold in real time in the once-thriving nation of Cuba . Cubans embraced socialism 60 years ago with high hopes and are now impoverished and starving, waiting in line for hours with hopes of getting some bread , while politicians spend their money on sports teams and hotels to impress outsiders. By its nature, socialism disempowers people and forces them down the road to serfdom.
Capitalism, with a free market economy of voluntary exchange and limited government, allows spontaneous order with a well-functioning price system to best allocate resources to those who value it most. This results in a compassionate system for people rather than for politicians.
Socialism hasn’t worked, other than to impoverish many people across the globe. Stop its expansion and instead return to the antidote: free market capitalism.
Originally published at Washington Examiner.
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Vance Ginn, Ph.D.