On Socialism and Freedom

Socialism Illustrated

Socialism Illustrated

Introduction

With all of the bailouts, automotive and bank takeovers, health-care reform, and wealth redistribution going on under the Obama administration lately, Socialism has become a popular topic.  I oppose Socialism because: 1) It doesn’t achieve its most important stated goals, 2) it is immoral and unchristian, and 3) for a bunch of other reasons (to be explained below).  First, let’s define some terms and then we’ll get to the details.

Socialism is defined as the government owning and controlling a country’s means of production (manufacturing, shipping, etc.) and allocation of resources (raw materials, property, etc.).  It concentrates a lot of freedom of choice to a small group of politicians.  Capitalism, on the other hand, allows individuals to control a country’s means of production and allocation of resources.  It distributes the freedom of choice across the people.  People choose which products to buy, which jobs to take, which companies to create, etc.  Then through a variety of prices (wages, prices of raw materials, prices of finished products, rent, etc.) agreed upon by millions of people through their individual choices, capitalism distributes goods, services, raw materials, risks, people, and wealth in the most efficient manner thus far discovered as evidenced by the per capita GDP of citizens participating in capitalist free markets vs. those using socialism.

One stated goal of socialism is to help the poor, and I agree wholeheartedly with that goal.  What I disagree with is the means by which that goal is achieved.  Often when a person opposes socialistic programs, they are assumed to be opposing the intentions of that program, “So you don’t like to help the poor then?” when in fact it’s not the intentions that are being opposed but the programs themselves, which have been shown not to work and almost always end up hurting the poor the most.  It would be similar to becoming a thief to make your way through college and someone tells you, “Hey, I don’t think you should be stealing from people.” and you reply, “What?  You don’t want me to go to college?”

It doesn’t achieve its stated goals

Some of the stated goals we hear each time socialism is brought up are helping the poor and punishing greed.  I agree with these goals.  They’re great goals.  The big problem is that the centralized planning of Socialism just doesn’t work – it doesn’t help the poor.  Take a look at the levels of freedom compared to the conditions of the poor in each country in the following maps as well as how well the poor fare in free market societies:

The poorest of the poor are in the least “free” countries.  This means centralized planning just doesn’t achieve its main goal of helping the poor.  The richest poor people in the world live in the U.S. where a free market has raised the standard of living of their poor well beyond any socialized or centrally planned system ever has.  There are simple reasons for this.  One reason is that you just can’t squeeze the wisdom and knowledge of 300 million people out of a few hundred central planners.  A central planner just doesn’t have the knowledge of the supply and demand of local markets that the people who live in those markets do.

A 2010 study on the correlation between economic freedom and prosperity has also found that the more free a country is, the more prosperous they are.  So why again is there a group of people who consistently wants to destroy the freedoms of prosperous countries to make everyone equally poor instead of freeing impoverished countries to let them prosper?  The same study also notes that government spending and “stimulus” has no effect whatsoever on a country’s growth.

The other goal is to punish greed.  The problem with that is that greed is a motive, not an action.  A wealthy person could be greedy or they could just be a hard worker.  So since there’s no way for government to measure the level of greed in a person, they assume that all wealthy people are greedy and then punish them all equally.  This has the unfortunate and destructive side effect of punishing and discouraging hard work as well.

This really should be enough, shouldn’t it?  If Socialism doesn’t help the poor – it hurts them – then why even consider it as an option for helping the poor?  Furthermore, if as it tries to punish greed, it ends up ignoring incentives that allow a good company to be rewarded with profits and a bad company to be punished with failure, should it be considered as a good greed punisher with no side effects?  It punishes good companies by taxing them (since they must just be greedy, not efficient or well-run) and rewards and keeps around bad companies (think teachers’ unions tenure rules, auto workers unions, failed bailed out banks, etc.).

Socialism also has another side effect of disconnecting people’s choices from their consequences.  If a company works hard to be efficient and thereby makes a profit which is then confiscated, the consequences of their choices have been removed.  If a doctor under socialized medicine gets the same pay and same patient load regardless of their performance, then the consequences have been disconnected from the choices they made.  If a patient under socialized healthcare pays a flat fee (or nothing) for services, then the choice of going to the doctor for every scratch in their throat is disconnected from the consequence of that choice, which is the cost incurred for treating them.  When consequences are removed, progress is slowed and efficiency and wealth are reduced.

The removal of consequences is like mercy robbing justice.  Justice treats all people equally.  It connects people’s choices to their consequences whether those consequences and choices are good or bad.  Mercy, which is appropriate at the right time, forgives choices and takes away consequences.  Mercy is essential but only in a case-by-case basis when the individual is truly sorry for their mistakes and who truly wants to improve.  If mercy is applied to everyone without regard to these things, it robs justice.  The government can’t administer mercy across all people at all times without robbing justice, bankrupting society, and giving limitless power to politicians who then have the option to abuse that power, which has happened several times throughout history.

It is immoral and unchristian

But Christ said to help the poor and take care of the sick and afflicted, to clothe the naked and take care of the widows!  Right, but he didn’t tell the government to force people to do these things – he told individuals to do it themselves.  The scriptures explain it quite plainly.  The war in heaven discussed in the scriptures was not about right and wrong, it was about freedom and slavery: Do we allow people to make their own choices or do we force them to do what’s right?  God’s plan was to give us agency.  Satan’s plan was to force us all to do what’s right by taking away our choices or agency.  And Satan wanted all of the glory and credit, of course, since he’d be calling all of the shots.  With freedom and choice comes power and responsibility.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Have you ever heard of a politician forcing the rich to give to the poor and then taking credit for the “charity?”

Furthermore, while Socialism puts forth the ideas of “equality” and “social justice” (and it actually does end up forcing most people to equal poverty as this and other forms of tyranny has done for millenia), it assumes that politicians are more moral than citizens are.  I don’t know of anyone who thinks politicians are generally more moral than the general public.  (One reason for this is that politicians generally have their choices and consequences disconnected – if they waste a bunch of my money on a failed project, they have no consequence especially if they can spin it right in the media.)  One group of people declares itself better than the rest, and then they rule over them – it’s an old storyline.  With Socialism, this is done to keep the “greedy” people from hording all the resources from the poor.  But aren’t we just putting greedy politicians in charge of greedy people at that point?  If we treat people differently by taking from some and giving to others then the door for corruption is wide open for favors, vote-buying, etc.

The way to cause charity while maintaining freedom is to preach the Gospel to people to motivate them to give and be generous of their own free will and choice.  Only among a righteous people can there be no poor and no tyranny in the same place at the same time!

“But people just won’t take care of each other unless we force them to!”  The ironic thing is that with all of America’s wealth, we have been the most charitable country in the history of mankind – to our own poor as well as to other nations.  That goes against what Socialists claim.  Also, when a politician or person from a socialist country argues against the greed of the rich in a capitalist country, they’re really just arguing against freedom.  Yes, freedom to do good or bad.  Freedom to choose what you want to do and to learn from the consequences.  To argue against freedom like this is to argue against the progression of mankind, and it’s ironic that modern socialists call themselves “progressives” when they’re just trying to take us back to the tyranny that has reigned in this world for thousands of years!  Do you realize that tyranny and centralized planning has been the norm for this planet throughout almost its entire recorded history?  The result has been widespread poverty and slavery – denying people of their God-given rights.  Purposefully and knowingly going back down that road again is immoral.

So, here we have the United States of America breaking free from 1000’s of years of tyranny into the light of freedom and the tyrants start to complain about this unmitigated greed!  They stir their follower-slaves up against it in the name of greed bashing – breaking the 10th commandment of covetousness.  Their plan is to grab free markets that are flourishing and drag them back down into tyranny through socialism.  The capitalists plan, however, is to free the rest of the enslaved globe.  “But won’t we need like 5 planets if everyone were living like Americans?”  Americans and other upcoming free market capitalistic countries are wallowing in wealth because they have a monopoly on freedom.  If the rest of the world were freed, then they’d compete with Americans and others for resources, products, etc. and through prices, people would automatically self-regulate.  That’s how it works.  And it works really well.  I would love to have the entire world liberated and free from the tyranny and oppression of socialism – based on history, this would truly help the poor.

A bunch of other reasons

People often complain about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer in the United States.  The reason for this is simple, and it’s a great example for us to learn from:  The rich are working under capitalism, the poor are working under socialism in the form of wealth redistribution and welfare.  What a great example of how socialism  hurts all those who use it and how capitalism helps those who use it.  You want to close the gap between the rich and poor?  Take the poor off socialism and welfare and put them into pure capitalism and let them be free to lift themselves to their full potential.  Of course there are situations where the poor need help and that can be done, and is being done, through charity.

Any time you want to force people to do something you want them to do, they have to give you a lot of power.  Any time you give a lot of power to imperfect human beings, they often, as history has shown us, abuse that power, which many socialists have done to the tune of murdering tens of millions of people throughout history once they have the power.  Just look at the list of socialist and communist murderers who have slaughtered hundreds of millions of their own citizens – usually the crippled, poor, elderly, Jew, handicapped, Christian, and others who couldn’t contribute enough: Hitler (17 million total through gas chambers, execution style murder, etc., not including the people killed in WWII), Mao (50 to 70 million through military slaughter combined with starvation brought about by socialist programs), Stalin (anywhere between 10 and 100 million), Pol Pot (only 1.7 to 2.5 million), Kim Il Sung (1.6 million, not including the 2.5 million killed during the Korean War), Mussolini (only 300,000), Che (“several thousand” citizens – but he, in his own words, liked to kill them himself execution style at close range and forced their families to watch the executions), etc.  What a strange pattern of mass murder from those who just want to take from the rich and give to the poor to level the playing field – of course, out of compassion for the poor.  Socialism is not just immoral, it’s satanic, according to how satan himself describes his plan in the scriptures and that seems to be backed up by the fruits of those who follow his plan of socialism and communism.

Government through taxation disconnects its choices from its consequences.  If it does a bad job, it still gets taxes.  If it throws money away on a bad program, it still gets taxes and has lost nothing.  Because of this disconnection, combined with its monopolistic nature, government should be kept as small as possible.  When it creates a program, it’s generally the only option and so free market controls, incentives and disincentives are not there to help it stay efficient and to minimize corruption.   It should be big enough to maintain order and protect its people.  The reason that the military is one of the only things a government does well, is because a government’s military is in competition with other countries’ militaries and so that competition keeps it in check whereas other government programs don’t have that competition.

I think it’s worth mentioning one other pattern I’ve seen recently in the environmentalist movement.  Parts of it appear to have been hijacked by the socialist movement.  With global warming scares (no global warming has occurred since 1998, by the way), the socialists have found a vehicle upon which they can achieve their wealth redistribution goals.  This is happening through cap-and-trade legislation, which will funnel trillions of dollars from the wealthiest countries to the poorest countries over the upcoming decades.  Why don’t we just free the poor countries and let them become wealthy like the U.S. and others have instead of stealing, redistributing, and keeping them poor all in the name of helping them?  Proponents of these socialistic environmental programs stir up support by encouraging people to break the 8th and 10th commandments in the name of injustice – stating that the injustice comes from freedom when it actually comes from slavery.  Don’t usher in “equality” by enslaving the free – do it by freeing the enslaved!

One other area that is worth mentioning is the housing and financial crisis.  Socialists like to blame those problems on the unregulated free market and by doing so, they suggest that what we need is more regulation and less freedom, thereby achieving their freedom destroying socialistic goals.  They’ve already taken over large portions of the financial and automotive industries through these crises in the name of saving us from our consequences.  If it weren’t so tragic, the hypocrisy would be quite funny.  The housing crisis happened because the government put pressure on banks to lend to minority groups.  They wouldn’t let banks open up new branches or install ATM’s or do other things that require government approval unless they met certain quotas.  The government also allowed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to buy bad mortgages from banks, moving the risk from the banks onto the taxpayers.  So, with pressure to loan to those who would likely not repay and a removal of the risks involved with doing so, the banks were incentivized to make loans to anyone who was breathing.  This caused housing prices to skyrocket with all the new demand and money flowing into the market.  Once Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac started to crumble under the weight of all of these bad loans, the house of cards fell and there was the government, ready and willing to blame its own mess on the “free” market.  They bailed out (which equates to taxpayers buying these homes for the people who could not pay for them – which was the socialists agenda in the first place) and blamed and pushed forward with more regulation.  It’s actually quite disgusting – and of course it ended up hurting the poor once again.  I recommend reading “The Housing Boom and Bust” by Thomas Sowell for a more in-depth look at this socialistic wealth distribution housing mess.

Part of a socialist government’s power grab is to demonize the heads of the companies that the government wants to take over in the name of greed and then start to take away their rights and punish them.  We see this currently as the government currently demonizes the heads of banks and the American public sits by and watches this happen because, “well, they really don’t need all that money”, right?  If we allow the government to take the rights of some, we give them power to take away rights of all of us – all in the name of forcing people to do what’s right to help the poor and needy.

Profits are also demonized and losses are bailed out by the government – if they choose to.  Those two incentives are what cause a free market to be efficient.  Profits reward companies that are doing well, allowing them to reinvest those profits to increase the size of that good running company.  Losses shrink poorly running companies.  If the failing company doesn’t change something quickly, it will disappear.  This frees up the people involved in that failing company to go do something else that they’re better at.  It punishes waste and inefficiency.  It gets rid of things that people don’t want.  It rewards efficiency which allows more goods and services to be available to more people.

Property is the physical manifestation of our choices.  If we choose to get an education, then choose to work hard to contribute something of worth to our society, our employer choses to pay us for our efforts, then we choose to go purchase goods with that money.  The results of all of those choices is the property we own and the knowledge we have gained.  While the government can’t take our knowledge and give it to others, it can take our property and give it to others.  This boils down to taking the results of our choices – or really the choices themselves – after the fact.  This fits the pattern of taking choice away through confiscating property.

Socialism pretends that incentives don’t matter when thousands of years of history prove that incentives do matter.  Some day, when a group of pure people who can live together in love and who have good work ethics regardless of pay, they can help each other and there will be no poor among them and that would obviously be the best kind of society.  There have been a few examples in the scriptures of that happening, but those situations are rare and fleeting.  That kind of heavenly society is what we all yearn for, socialists included, but instead of letting people arrive at that place by their own refinement, free will, and choice, they seek to force all people into a fake form of that kind of society where all end up suffering equally.  Forcing people against their wills is slavery and it just doesn’t work in the end – it achieves exactly the opposite of its stated goals of helping the poor and punishing greed.  It’s been proven throughout history over and over but we, like Satan, try it again and again because of the power grab it provides as a side effect.

There are four ways to spend money: 1) Spending your own money on yourself – this is the best way to spend money because you look for the best quality and the lowest price, 2) Spending your own money on others – This is a little worse because you still look to save money since it’s your money, but you aren’t as concerned about quality because you won’t be using the item being purchased, 3) Spending other people’s money on yourself is worse still – you look for good quality because it’s for you, but you don’t care about cost because it’s not your money, 4) Spending other peoples’ money on other people – this is socialism and government spending in general, and is the worst form because you don’t care about either quality or cost.

Socialism goes against natural law. In “de Legibus“, Cicero expresses his belief in natural law, which talks about self-evident truths dealing with what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”. He says that a country’s laws must promote good behavior and forbid or punish evil behavior. If a country’s laws go against natural law, it will fail and you’ll get less good behavior and more bad behavior as a natural consequence. Socialism inadvertently rewards bad behavior and punishes good behavior.

Socialism breaks at least the eighth and tenth commandments that deal with stealing and coveting. We’re playing robinhood and stealing from the rich and giving to the poor because we don’t like how the rich person is living their life. I think you need to give me your bank account number so I can spend your money on my house because I think I know better how to spend your money than you do.

It almost seems that socialism is really just a clever and covert method of gradually turning a free country into an enslaved dictatorship in the name of helping the poor and providing social justice.  At least that’s what history has shown us.

Educate yourself.  Vote.  Get involved.  Talk to your friends, neighbors, family, and relatives about these things.  Oppose socialism now in all of its forms.  Fight for freedom – apparently it’s worth fighting for.

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One thought on “On Socialism and Freedom

  1. Pingback: U.S. Senate – Robert Bennett « Utah Republican Delegates

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