Flemming: America’s poor are right to reject socialism

By David Flemming

Andrew Torre recently made the rather astonishing claim that “it is not the common man that has denigrated socialism — since he would benefit by it — but the wealthy minority that doesn’t want its wealth tampered with, and the common man has foolishly swallowed the propaganda.” Torre claims true socialism is “not Stalinist,” but “advocates that people equitably share in the wealth, as they equitably share in the political realm through their vote.”

Let’s take Torre’s argument to its logical conclusion. Say 51 percent of Americans agreed to redistribute the wealth equally to everyone. Nine in 10 of us might benefit from such a “democratic redistribution” at first, but not for long.

Wikimedia Commons/Carlos Menendez

Vladimir Lenin with a shopping bag.

It is easy enough to imagine a future where the wealth is evenly distributed to all Americans. But to get to that future, the changes we would need to make would be catastrophic.

In such a future, we can’t distinguish between hard workers and lazy workers in our brave, new egalitarian world. Such a system would have to provide “economic security” to those “unwilling to work,” as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so eloquently put it in her Green New Deal. This situation mirrors the one in Venezuela currently, and the one that occurred in Russia a century ago.

For a few years after the 1919 Russian Revolution, so long as you were members of the proletariat class, you happily accepted the farmland and property confiscated from the wealthy by the Communist Party. But once these poor farmers began turning over all of their crops to the party, and receiving whatever handout the party deemed appropriate, they stopped working so hard. This forced the party to lay down quotas enforced at the point of a gun. Even the threat of violence was not enough to increase production from those “unwilling to work,” and millions of Russians died from starvation.

History is replete with countless such wealth confiscation schemes that benefited the majority for a few years, but which saw living standards for all fall drastically in the decades following. If American millenials were to overthrow our current system, my generation could live it up for a few years on stolen wealth. But we would make our children and our children’s children pay dearly for that choice.

America’s wealth is not sitting in storehouses, inviting envious workers to take it. It is fueling philanthropy, funding products that make everyone’s lives easier and creating the conditions for even the poorest Americans to earn incomes Torre might consider “excessive.”

Unlike Torre, who has beheld the benign excesses of capitalism, one woman has seen the wounds of socialism firsthand. Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., a Vietnamese immigrant, recently called capitalism “the system that built us the greatest nation and the greatest economy in the world … it is not the moment to undo the whole system and embrace something (socialism) that Americans have spent blood and treasure fighting to save other countries from.”

Some 93 percent of 2012 American adults with parents whose lifetime incomes were in the bottom fifth of lifetimes incomes earned higher incomes than their parents. Does Torre really think poor Americans are gullible enough to bet their children’s futures on a system designed by an enlightened few that lacks feasibility in the real world?

At its worst, capitalism fosters consumerism. At its best, capitalism brings millions out of extreme poverty.

At its best, socialism means lower qualities of living. At its worst, socialism creates the conditions for dictators like Stalin to come to power.

Far from being “foolish” for rejecting socialism, America’s poor live with more wisdom than Torre could possibly imagine, making the daily sacrifices necessary to push their children ahead.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Carlos Menendez
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13 thoughts on “Flemming: America’s poor are right to reject socialism

  1. Socialism is really the way to legitimize crony capitalism and government. In many ways Vermont is very, very close to socialism.

    See for those in government and connected to government the system works really well. The leaders never have the same standard of living as the regular people, some how they are more equal than the others when it comes to monetary distribution.

    Will always fail due to the basic, ignored premise that people are inherently flawed, and given no bounds (free market) they will continue their selfish ways. There is also no competition so bad ideas get elevated by group think, leading to $500 hammers….

  2. If wealth is confiscated and then distributed so everyone had an equal amount how soon would that have to be repeated???

  3. Did you get your best job ever, from the unemployable welfare beer drinker across the street?

    Or did your best job ever – come from wealthy investors and “hope to become wealthy” business owners who had more money than you yourself could imagine?

    Some would say their best job came from the government – which got “their money” from the wallets of all the other families.

    • The Soviet workers had a saying: “As long as they pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work.”

  4. The only semblance of Socialism that remotely worked was the Scandinavian model which now is
    running out of capitol to continued on the Free ride train cost and lower Oil revenues. It only worked
    while the people weren’t being bilked to pay for it. Now that it’s in financial peril the gov can’t reign it in
    because the people don’t want to give up the free $hit..
    The entire Finnish government quit recently over this very thing because it’s now hopeless to be able
    control it.

    If burnee can promise me *in writing* 3 dacha’s and a Audi sports car I may reconsider but for now NO
    SOCIALISM NO WAY

    • Socialism never works. Remotely or otherwise. It destroys the human spirit to grow, robs the soul of its identity and makes waste of an otherwise productive life.

    • Those countries tried in the seventies and quickly abandoned it, they don’t have anything resembling socialism at the moment, Bernie is lying about this constantly and few are calling him out for his BS, Lawrence Zupan did…he had a great debate with Bernie.

  5. “At its worst, capitalism fosters consumerism. At its best, capitalism brings millions out of extreme poverty?” David, why not tell it like it really was in 1919 and in subsequent years? Folks, at its worst Socialism fosters Totalitarian Socialism. Absolute demonic power were unleashed at levels never witnessed by anyone alive today and, unfortunately, a history that our Dept of Education won’t allow to be told. That, in and of itself, is a complete and wilful failure of a fiduciary duty that our educators and elected officials have to current and future generations of this country. Millions of people, innocent people, were murdered under Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedeng so they could control every aspect of everyone’s lives. How many people has capitalism and free markets murdered? What, we’d never let that happen again? Really? Why do you think the country is so divided? Did it just happen? How do you think cultural change happens? Look at China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966 and the “Belt and Road” initiative today that is all about spreading Communism and gaining footholds around the world. Look at what the Socialist/Progressive Obama said in 2008 about the transformation of the United States of America. Why did we need a transformation that he initiated by growing the powers of government over the people by what, 10 fold? Nobody ever questioned. The opinion makers were quiet while he initiated his programs. Are you sure we shouldn’t be passionately proactive in defending the legacy left to us?

  6. The young are all for socialism for they are sucked in for all the freebies that socialism provides.
    I truly believe that they are getting taught much of this in school where our nations history has been eliminated from many schools across the nation. We are slowly disintegrating from within. It’s shameful and unbelievable as to how quick this country is changing..

    • I don’t think that young people would be so inclined toward socialism had the capitalists not been so greedy as to hollow out the manufacturing jobs of America,by way of outsourcing.

      Socialism will win if opportunity remains rare.

      • The reason U.S. manufacturing jobs were ‘out-sourced’ was because U.S. taxes increased to support ever increasing U.S. social services (i.e. socialism). Now, with taxes in decline, jobs are returning, pay is rising, and people who dropped out of the workforce because it was easier to take free benefits are returning to the workforce.

        Sweden, for example, after a fling with socialism, has seen the light. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/sweden-socialist-no

        Socialism provides opportunity until it runs out of other people’s money. As Winston Churchill reminded us:

        “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy….The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

        How much ‘opportunity’ do you see in Venezuela today?

    • The young have been ‘brain-washed’ by a powerful education monopoly. American civics instruction is virtually non-existent. As Lenin once said:

      “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

      Check out the article on Sweden referenced below.

      “The open-competition school choice model in Sweden would trigger U.S. teacher unions into a froth. Parents and pupils decide what school they want to attend and they are all paid for by taxes. Corporations, towns, charities, religions, most anyone and anything can start a school, but it’s up to parents and pupils if they want to attend. The more people that choose a particular school determines if that school will get more government funding.”

      As with Lenin, you won’t hear the disingenuous Bernie Sanders mention this in his socialism credos.

      • Sanders counts on the fact that none of his supporters will ever take the time to discover the truth. They’re lemmings of the highest order.

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