Sam Hansen

A n increasingly popular sentiment expressed in today’s political environment is that of the desirability of implementing socialism in the United States. Proponents of this ideology cite socialism as a better, fairer economic system than the free market capitalism that has existed in our country since its infancy. The foundational principles supporting socialist ideas may sound good, but they are simply too idealistic. While claims from socialism’s advocates may come from a pure place in their heart, it simply will never produce the same freedom and prosperity that capitalism will.

A claim leveled against capitalistic ideas is that they exist solely to please greedy members of society and their money. Socialism, they argue, calls for the redistribution of wealth so that everybody has a fair share of money, with each individual selflessly working for their fellow man. This idea however, is fundamentally flawed. This is not to say that giving to needy people is a bad thing; voluntary care of those less fortunate than you is a virtue that will benefit any society. Charity and socialism are different because charity is genuine and from the heart, but the moment government steps in, all interactions are coersive. What would be a benevolent interaction then becomes one’s legal duty, and failure to fulfill said duty results in fines or imprisonment. This sort of forced altruism is not beneficial, and only reinforce the false notion that you are entitled to the work of your neighbor.

What is good for one person is often good for their neighbor as well. Take for example, any small business owner or franchisee. If they make a change to their business that displeases the public, less people will buy their product or use their service, forcing them to amend the change. On the opposite end, better products and services will yield higher sales. This is what Adam Smith, the father of economics described in his book, “The Wealth of Nations,” as the “Invisible Hand.” Establishments under free markets are, by nature, incentivized to provide superior service than their competition. The market will regulate itself with no need for government intervention.

Proponents of socialism frequently point to European countries as examples of successful socialism in action and that the United States should follow suit with similar policies. While Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are economically successful countries, to attribute that to socialism is fallacious in nature. With the exception of certain social programs in place, the economies of these countries are almost completely free-market based. The aforementioned policies and social safety nets were put in place after prosperity was achieved through capitalism. They could only exist while piggy-backing off of Capitalism’s success. None of these countries have minimum wages, and all of them have school choice. These countries don’t fit the bill of socialism at all, and instead look like a vaguely influenced, capitalist-rooted cousin of real socialism. When full-fledged socialism is implemented, we can see its true colors shine through.

A handful of countries have implemented socialism fully, which inevitably leads to communism. To quote Vladimir Lenin, “The goal of socialism is communism.” When Venezuela implemented socialism in 1999, many in the United States said to look to it as an example of a true socialist country. As it turns out, they were right, and two decades later, we can see the effect that it has had. Mass poverty and starvation now plague the country, and there have even been accounts of people eating trash, wild animals, and their own pets. We’ve seen how many innocent lives socialism and communism have taken in countless examples like China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea. When war-torn and economically stagnant countries have adopted capitalism, the effects have been fantastic. During the reconstruction and occupation of Japan after World War II, Japan instituted a new, more market-based constitution and economy. Since then, Japan has flourished with economic prosperity. Imagine your life today without Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Panasonic, or Nintendo. The positive effects of capitalism and negative effects of socialism have been observed time and time again throughout history, and to say otherwise would be foolish.

The economic system of socialism simply does not have a place in any society that wishes to thrive economically and morally. Human nature is not compatible with socialism, and capitalism is the only system has been proven time and time again to create flourishing societies, including our own. As the common saying goes, socialism is people lined up waiting for bread, and capitalism is bread lined up waiting for people.