Socialism can be described, without controversy, as varying degrees of top down control of the economy; a system where goods, trade and labour are regulated by government. Capitalism can be described as an unregulated economy where people are free to produce and trade, to determine wages and hire and fire.
Not one industry in any country today is free from government regulation. Trade is free nowhere and labour conditions are likewise tightly controlled. It is undeniable that we live in a socialist world and have done so in varying degrees for the best part of one hundred years.
No one could convincingly argue that the world is a better place because of it. Why is it that socialism’s seductive call translates into such reliably poor results?
The power that accrues to governments under socialism ends up being used to support those who help maintain them in power. Bankers for obvious reasons are number one in this category. Financial firms are number two – think Goldman Sachs, but don’t stop there. Number three are the ever-increasing number of public servants hired to administer the ever-expanding power.
Taxes are taken from working people and businesses and used to support those in power and their cronies. This is the world of today. By its nature, socialism automatically produces two types of people: those at the top who ‘have’ and those at the bottom who ‘have not’.
“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.” Frederic Bastiat
The socialism of the 20th century has, at the beginning of the 21st, created a larger wealth gap in the western world than has existed since the latter part of the 18th century.
Socialism is not only immoral because of its reliance on power and force, it simply does not work. People cannot be treated like numbers – statistics that can be manipulated. People will always have their own dreams and aspirations, will always chase their own perceived best interests. Those who aspire to power over the lives of others are not exempt from human nature. And what is it that is in the best interests of these people who have the power to author, interpret and enforce the law? Why to increase their own control, wealth and stature by passing even more legislation destroying even more of the freedoms of ‘their’ people.
The people toiling under this yoke are reduced to a daily fight for survival. Their wages are accompanied by ever lower real purchasing power. They struggle to pay the onerous registration fees just for the privilege of driving their own car and struggle to fill it with heavily taxed fuel. They struggle to pay their mortgage and feed their family. They struggle.
The reliance of socialism on brute force is a reversion to the law of the jungle where only the biggest and fiercest survive. It is a regression to the centralised control of pre-New Kingdom Egypt circa 1500 BC. Every new piece of legislative control increases the size of the wealth divide between Pharaohs and peasants, or Lords and Serfs, or one percenters and ninety-nine percenters, to give it a more modern sound.
There is very little social mobility under socialism; if you are born poor you will likely stay poor. The only real chance of escape is to either enter politics and gain some power for yourself, or be educated enough to work for a bank or financial institution that is favoured by those in power. Those who are able to make it through success in business are few and far between. Those who are able to keep the resultant profits out of the hands of government are even fewer.
When it does all go wrong, what is the excuse?
“Though markets can be powerful drivers of prosperity, markets can go wrong,”
Mark Carney (June 2015) – governor of the Bank of England
No they cannot Mr Carney (ex Goldman Sachs), freedom can never “go wrong”. It is coercive control of money, trade and wages by a centralised committee that considers it knows better than the individual market participants that goes wrong – reliably and predictably.
If, as can be readily observed, the more socialism there is (think Venezuela, North Korea and Zimbabwe) the more poverty, misery and unnecessary deaths there are, then it is logical to accept that the less socialism there is, then the greater the prosperity (think most of the western world). Individual freedom and human wellbeing are inversely proportional to the amount of government regulation.
Socialism is the antithesis of freedom. Capitalism, another word for freedom, is not only more moral and equitable, it works. People are rewarded for how much real value they produce for society, not how much control over the lives of others they have.