Socialism’s Fight Against A Caricature

Socialism seems to be enjoying a revival these days, primarily in the Democratic party. That is a good thing for the Republicans. Most people now understand the immorality and deeply flawed foundation of socialism, and have seen it play in countries like Venezuela. A socialist America would be no different.

The name “capitalism”, though coined as a derogatory term, is the perfect essence of why it has resulted in rapid economic development wherever and whenever it has been largely adopted. People accumulate capital, as in buildings, tools, equipment, machines, etc, to become more productive, and thus offer more value to others for the same amount of 1abor. Wages have been increasing steadily since the beginning of the industrial revolution, long before the dawn of unions, due to increasing productivity. Capitalism is nothing more than private individuals and their organizations using their assets and skills to engage in voluntary exchange with others who want what they have.

Because America and other “Western” countries have been free-market, capitalist nations for a long time, and remain so, at least nominally, one thing that socialists have been very successful at doing is pinning the blame for everything bad about society and the economy on the bogey man that they claim is called capitalism. Business, for them, is necessarily bad and anti-social, and greedy capitalists require the heavy hand of politicians to prevent them from destroying society for their own benefit.

Who, however, is a capitalist? At its core, anyone who purchases and uses tools to be more productive or to have more productive employees is engaging in capitalism. You probably have family members, friends, and neighbors who fit that category. He or she might be an executive at a corporate manufacturer, but is just as or more likely to be a small shop owner, a gas station operator, or a farmer. It is definitely true that some people have higher moral standards than others, but everyone has weaknesses, troubles, and temptations. That is the reality of life. If a business owner violates the rights of others to their lives, their liberty, or their property, such as with fraud or coercion, that person deserves punishment under the law, and that is the ultimate function of the justice system.

There is no reason to believe, however, that these same flawed, less-than-perfect individuals will magically transform into angels when elected or appointed as politicians or bureaucrats. There is no evidence that they are suddenly immune to malice, greed, or revenge. The evidence is actually the opposite, as can readily be seen in the politics of the day. The incentives to abuse public office are often immense, and more so the bigger the government entity.

People with political or administrative power are in a position to influence behavior, and often use that influence to generate political “contributions.” On the other side, businesses, unions, and other non-profit groups actively seek favors using what might be called soft bribes. That is a description, not of capitalism, of people engaged in voluntary commerce with others who choose to participate, but rather of cronyism, the use of political coercion in its various forms to get some type of benefit, subsidy, or protection from competitors.

America is plagued with cronyism today, as are most developed countries. Governments have gotten so big that the rewards of malfeasance can be tremendous. Socialism is not the end of that malfeasance, but rather its magnification. Socialists want politicians to have more power to confiscate, manipulate, and control, but that is the very heart of what is evil about it. It destroys the incentives to individual cooperation while preaching the gospel of the common good. It is battling a caricature for the heart of America.

Dan McLaughlin is the author of “Compassion and Truth-Why Good Intentions Don’t Equal Good Results.” Follow him at daniel-mclaughlin.com

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