Mazzuca: Democratic socialism — the ultimate oxymoron
Whenever I hear the phrase, “democratic socialism,” I’m reminded of Woody Allen’s comment about restaurants in the Catskills: “The food isn’t very good, but at least the portions are small.”
Democratic socialism is the ultimate oxymoron. But the scariest thing about the socialism argument is the naiveté on the part of much of the public. This is especially true of millennials and their willingness to be satisfied with talking points rather than serious arguments or a genuine desire to look at real-world examples of how these failed economic policies have reduced the standard of living in every nation where it’s ever been implemented.
We’re told by many of the democrat candidates how this type of economic system works in Scandinavia, with the clear implication those same policies would work here — but that’s a canard.
Not to be overly facetious, but c’mon, comparing the size and complexity of the American economy, geography and demographics to that of the small and demographically homogeneous nations of Scandinavia is tantamount to comparing Vail Mountain to a two-run ski area in Iowa serviced by a rope tow.
Besides, the notion of democratic socialism in Scandinavia is a myth. The Scandinavian nations began moving away from socialism in the ’80s and now rank among the 30 most capitalist countries in the world, according to the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom.
Socialism didn’t create the affluence in Scandinavia; embracing free-market economic principles did, which in turn allowed Scandanavia’s respective governments to tax the citizenry to pay for their extensive social programs.
Nonetheless, many democrat candidates seem hell-bent on embracing socialism. Take Sen. Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill — S.1129, a bill, that if enacted, would make it illegal for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under his plan.
So let’s consider — a government bureaucracy assumes full control of your family’s health care and then that same bureaucracy makes it illegal for anyone else to compete with it. Yeah, that’ll work.
Some argue socialism can work here and use Social Security as an example. But that argument is specious and further serves to illustrate my point because our Social Security System is no longer self-supporting, and next year for the first time, more money will leave the system than it takes in.
And what should concern those nearing retirement age is that there is no money in the so-called Social Security trust fund. Most people are unaware that as soon as their FICA taxes are received by the Treasury Department they’re spent and replaced with government IOUs — but more on this accounting legerdemain in a future commentary.
The reason I use the example of Social Security running out of money is that history tells us this can happen anywhere. Let’s not forget the Soviet Union, a nation that at one time was the world’s “other” superpower, collapsed in the late 80s because it ran out of money and could no longer afford to deliver on the “promises” that were embodied in its constitution.
Those constitutional promises included the right to work, rest, leisure, health protection, care in old age and sickness, housing, education and cultural benefits. Interestingly, these are identical to the “rights” Sanders advocates in his socialistic “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.”
Our Bill of Rights protects the citizenry from the excesses of government — and have but one prerequisite — the rule of law. Meanwhile, Sanders’ “economic rights” have a very different predicate. While our Bill of Rights provides protection from the government — “from” being the operative word, Sanders’ rights are claims “on” the government, and therefore, just like the former Soviet Union, require billions of tax dollars to pay for it all. Begging the question — where does the money come from?
I’m sure Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believe what they’re selling, but before falling into the trap of “free stuff” it might be wise to inquire why neither of them ever point to the places where their policies or variants of them have actually been practiced, such as Eastern Europe from 1945-1989, North Korea, Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Venezuela, etc.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure and its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Quote of the day: “There really isn’t a plan to eliminate student loan debt, only a plan to transfer that debt from those who currently owe it to the rest of us.” — P. Edward Kepic.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.