Bernie Sanders may have coined the term during his ill-fated Presidential run in 2016. But today, thanks to a political upset in a Deep Blue New York Congressional District, all of the cool hipsters who pine over Caramel Macchiatos are more vociferously waving the banner of “Democratic Socialism” as they anticipate the latest possible iteration of a country that keeps everyone equal…whether people want it or not.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary upset over a high-ranking Democratic incumbent last month was certainly newsworthy. Any time a 28-year old bartender with an Economics degree knocks off a well-heeled incumbent, people are going to pay attention. Her youth, energy and photogenic qualities also attracted the media…as did her proud association with DSA. The Democratic Socialists of America.
Since then, the “Socialist Bae” has become a Rock Star. She has campaigned with Sanders on behalf of Democrats in Kansas. Last week, she stumped for a fellow Socialist hopeful in Michigan’s Governor’s race. She’s also begun making rounds on various talk shows.
But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has also demonstrated something else that is the hallmark of a Socialist—a fundamental and (possibly) willful misunderstanding of how economies work, and how humans behave. Indeed, her televised interviews make her sound less like a Congressional Representative and more like a college freshman debating socio-economic theory with her dormmates after a couple too many wine coolers.
Cortez and others go to great pains to put the word “Democratic” in front of “Socialism.” This, as though that makes it OK to plunder. The only reason they call it “Democratic” Socialism is that they recognize we live in a country where they will initially have to secure enough votes to make their dreams come true. After that, such restrictions will matter much less.
It is de rigueur for Democratic Socialists to point to Scandinavia as their model. That’s fine and dandy except Scandinavia does NOT utilize Socialism. Socialism is actual or de facto Government control of the means of production. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland have robust private ownership. They also have corporate tax rates that are roughly on par with we have here in the US.
If we are to take them at face value, what Democratic Socialists want is not really socialism. What they want is highly-taxed, heavily-regulated Capitalism to fund all of their great ideas. The problem is, Capitalism doesn’t flourish under such conditions. To pay for their good ideas, they will have to go MUCH further. Because what happens when this great engine stalls and sputters under your regulatory yoke and is no longer able to produce the revenue needed to make college free for everyone?
The fine folks in Scandinavia are finding this out and dialing back some of their high-tax theories. That they were able to make it work to this point owes much to their small and mostly homogeneous population, lessened defense burden, and the fact that the vast majority of their population live in a small handful of cities. They also have no minimum wage and most feature School Choice.
This is not bio-mechanical engineering. Human nature dictates you are going to work much harder and more efficiently when you are allowed to keep most of the fruits of your labor. The more than is taken from you, the less desire you have to work harder. Even the founder of the iconic Swedish company, IKEA, left the nation forty years ago to flee it’s confiscatory levels of taxation. Since then, Sweden’s center-right coalition government has chipped away at the country’s welfare system, trimming income taxes and abolishing the wealth tax that sent Ingvar Kamprad to Switzerland in the first place.
Indeed, in an effort to quench the fires of rabid Democratic Socialists in the US, the prime minister of Denmark said in a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government:
I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.
If you insist upon calling yourself Socialist, you should advocate for Socialism. You know…the REAL kind. Like they had in the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc nations—like they had in China. In Cambodia. And currently in Cuba and many destitute African nations.
It is no coincidence that socialism’s biggest fans are the people who aren’t trapped in it. Remember the celebrities who flew down to Caracas or Havana to party with government leaders? They always returned home. History abundantly demonstrates that no one ever evaded gunfire, sailed through oceans, scaled mighty walls or otherwise risked life and limb to flee free market capitalism. They fled socialism.
But the Democratic Socialists will tell you they are NOT like that at all! No sir! All they want are good roads, excellent schools, free college, free health care, and a strong social safety net. Again—if that is ALL you want, you’re not really a Socialist. But you want more than this, don’t you? You want the government vested with the power to make your good ideas come to fruition. In order to do that here in the US, you will have to dip your toes into the waters of Socialism. That is to say, you’ll need to have government exert a lot more power to enforce these “good ideas” on a population that is still very much married to the idea of individual liberty.
I’ll say this much. It takes a spectacular amount of faith to espouse a theory that has been so thoroughly debunked when fully practiced.
Why does socialism inevitably fail? Because it ignores our inherent desire for ownership. Shared means of production means no private property—this, no ownership. Without ownership, there is no incentive for innovation or improvement. Forced mediocrity produces an equality of misery.
Humans have an inherent desire to possess a piece of the pie. We have an inherent desire to own something that’s truly ours. Capitalism, flaws and all, is the only economic system that recognizes and rewards this.
For socialism to exist, the individual must be subservient to the state. Period. This is 100% incompatible with any notion of liberty.
And PLEASE remember this old axiom. People do not suddenly become kinder when they’re forced to share. Never.