Archive for the ‘Free Market’ Category

The Failure of Socialism in Buffalo NY

August 19, 2010

 If you don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, then click out of this web site and find something on the internet about Snooky.  It shouldn’t be hard.  But if you want your eyes opened to the cruelty of machine politics and the failure of socialist economics, then take the time to read James Ostrowski’s essay entitled What’s Wrong With Buffalo: A Rothbardian Analysis, which can be accessed on the Lew Rockwell website at http://www.lewrockwell.com/ostrowski/ostrowski99.1.html.

 Yes, it’s longer than what you’re probably used to reading on the internet, but I cannot recommend it too highly.  It takes political and economic theory and examines a real-world, specific case in the light of libertarian economic principles.  Libertarian economic principles are represented in its best and purest form in the “Austrian” school of economics.  We will be saying more about Austrian economics as Providence allows, but for now let’s start by offering a small excerpt.  But please read the whole essay as you have opportunity.

Let’s look in more detail at why socialism, or liberalism as we call it in the United States, is so popular. The reasons are not complicated. First, socialism allows people to spend other people’s money. Let’s avoid the word “steal” other people’s money, because only libertarians see it that way. Nevertheless, however socialists justify this spending, even they realize they are taking other people’s money. Yes, I know some socialists deny the very concept of private ownership. But even they realize that socialism takes money and property that is possessed by some and transfers possession to others so they can spend or use it.

Reason No. 1: Socialism allows people to spend other people’s money without feeling guilty about it.

Second, there is a related but distinct craving that animates socialism, as noted by many commentators. Envy is a strong emotion that has a powerful impact on society and politics. Envy is “a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”  (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). Because no one admits to acting on the basis of envy, the term “equality” – robbed of its original and legitimate meaning, equality of liberty – is used instead. Socialism is the perfect political expression of envious people as it purports to rein in “greedy” and wealthy capitalists and usher in social and economic equality. When socialists and liberals want to steal people’s money, they call the victims “greedy.”

Reason No. 2: Socialism satisfies the deeply-felt and widely-held emotion of envy.

Third, free market capitalism emphasizes the individual’s responsibility for his own economic welfare. Socialism professes to place this responsibility outside the individual and with the state. Many people are happy to be rid of this burden and glad to be able to blame others for their problems. Unlike Reasons No. 1 and No. 2, this reason for the popularity of socialism is one trumpeted by its proponents. They do not see the obvious downside of the structural reduction of individual economic responsibility: laziness, profligacy, passivity, and worst of all: boredom!  Life in the advanced welfare state is a big bore. Check your brain at the door; pick up your check on the way out.

Reason No. 3: Socialism purports to relieve people of the burden of worrying about their economic well-being.

Finally, in a secular age, socialism acts as a substitute for religion. Traditionally, religion would offer solace to people facing the numerous traumas of life. Now, for millions of people, socialism plays that role. “For who would bear [Hamlet’s] whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he” could overcome all these problems with socialism? 

Utopian socialism – all socialism is utopian – purports to offer a solution to virtually all human problems. In contrast, the claims of capitalism are seen as too modest, and hard work is required as well. There is no need to quote a Marxist on the all-encompassing promises of socialism. Lyndon Johnson will do fine. In an Orwellian speech given on May 22, 1964, President Johnson promised that his Great Society would “pursue the happiness of our people,” conquer “boredom and restlessness,” and satisfy the “desire for beauty” and the “hunger for community.”  All this and beat the Viet Cong, too. Amazing!

Reason No. 4: Socialism is a secular substitute for religion and offers people (false) solace against the traumas of this life.

These are some of the main reasons why socialism, in spite of its spectacular failure, remains so popular, even in a society such as ours whose fabulous wealth is the result of the shrinking capitalist remnants of the economy.

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