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Stan Gudmundson: Socialists need to grow up and recognize reality

March 7, 2019
Stan Gudmundson

Belief in the socialist delusion is the most amazing faith that exists. It persists despite failing always and everywhere.

There is one common thread that runs through all of the claims proponents use to try convince us that it really can work. It just hasn’t yet been implemented properly they say. In one form or another, we hear that over and over again. The “true-believing cool-aide drinkers” just won’t give that up.

They implausibly assert that “real” socialism has nothing to do with the catastrophes caused by communists. At least 100 million dead in the countries overrun by this madness. We still must keep on counting its bodies.

Venezuela is dismissed as a weird outlier of some sort. No need to address that awful mess. It isn’t “real” socialism you know.

They always point to Europe, especially Scandinavian countries, as examples to emulate. But those countries are not socialist. Very high-cost welfare states for sure but they are not socialist. Their market economies are free and robust.

Moreover, almost all of them have reduced or are reducing costly social programs. Those efforts are often market-based.

In a recent article, a writer said that “The inequality and financial speculation of the previous gilded-age precipitated the Great Depression.” He also said that FDR “started the social programs that ended the depression.” Twaddle.

The cause of depressions and recessions has nothing to do with “wealth disparities” or “conventional wisdom” nonsense. The cause is very simple.

Recessions and depressions are misallocations of economic resources. That is not something government can fix. Only the market can do that. Government interference can only make things worse, as it did during the Great Depression. Government “involvement” was also why the recovery from the recent “Great Recession” was so pathetic. Thank you Bush and Obama.

The terrible trauma of the 30s was created by government, pure and simple, from Hoover’s tax increases and tariffs (Smoot-Hawley) to FDR’s bank holiday, to the National Industrial Recovery Act, later declared unconstitutional, and all of the rest. Government “assistance” was a disaster. In 1937 there even was a “Depression within a Depression.”

FDR and his policies were dreadful failures. There are folks who make the case that he and they were major causes of WWII. Interesting speculation. Certainly, the deep depression didn’t help.

The author also said that “Democratic socialism does not do away with markets ... (or) private ownership ... (and) likely would mean more cooperatives, more workers on corporate boards, more democracy in the management of businesses and stronger unions.”

In other words, he is saying that businesses will be controlled by outside actors who are likely neither qualified nor understand how to run businesses. They might not even be interested in a business’s success.

Socialism doesn’t necessarily mean government ownership of the means of production. In that, he is correct.

But government ownership is totally irrelevant if government, through rules and regulations, along with “cooperatives,” boards, czars, and “more democracy in ... management” etc. controls literally everything a business can do. Under these conditions authoritarian socialism is just as real. And just as absurd with consequences that are the same everywhere that “real” socialism” is tried. That is, abject misery and poverty. Not to mention the loss of liberty across the board.

Further, he says, “The top .1 percent own as much as the bottom 90 percent.” Not sure that is correct but that wealth doesn’t exist in a gold vault somewhere. Owners of the so-called “means of production” create jobs, opportunity, and, in the U.S., the highest standard of living in the world.

He also says “Markets are man-made constructs that can be altered.” Just by deciding to, you think? One of the best illustrations of the force of markets is the illegal drug trade. If it is true that markets can be easily altered, prove it by altering and eliminating the world’s drug problem.

Can’t be done. The market system is far more complex and powerful then the willfully ignorant believe.

Finally, the author says, “wages have been stagnant since 1980.” Obviously, he hasn’t been paying attention to what is happening in today’s economy. Thank you Donald Trump.

Capitalism serves social interests. Socialism serves tyranny.

Socialists should grow up and stop believing in ridiculous fairy-tales.