Mazzuca: Socialist-leaning youth today really don’t have a clue (column)
Last May, Steve Chapman, an editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, referenced a University of Chicago GenForward Survey of Americans, ages 18 to 34. The survey found that 45 percent have a positive view of socialism, with the highest approval among blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans. The same survey also indicated that 61 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans have a positive view of socialism, which begs the question, what have our schools been teaching?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner of a recent New York Democratic primary, is a classic illustration of “youth without a clue” as she joins Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as the faces of socialist America.
The allure of socialistic policies is undeniable — every citizen will have access to free education, free health care and no one is discriminated against. The poor members of society will be given access to basic services which otherwise would not be as readily available and of course profits will be spread equitably among all workers while those who can’t work will still have their basic needs met.
But results matter more than rhetoric. Recall Bernie Sanders’ now infamous quote, “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized … in places such as Venezuela where incomes are actually more equal today … Who’s the banana republic now?”
A quick glance at Venezuela today shows more than 50 percent of the population lives in poverty, its 2017 inflation rate is 2,400 percent and families must earn 63 times the minimum wage to simply buy basic necessities. Meanwhile, dozens of children are dying every month from malnutrition.
Reason magazine wrote that even though capitalism has been the most dynamic force for economic progress in history, delivering billions people out of poverty, raising living standards almost beyond measure and enabling an unprecedented flourishing of productive creativity it remains “on trial” with many young Americans.
After reading that piece, I had to ask myself “What are these people thinking and where do they get their information?” Conservative pundit Cal Thomas speculated it’s likely that most of those who embrace socialism or socialistic policies have never lived in a country where it is practiced. He’s probably not too far off base. I know from personal experience I’ve never met an individual who’s lived under a socialistic form of government who would like to return to those places where everything was “free.”
Whenever I hear someone go off about the benefits of socialism I have to ask, are they completely ignorant of historical fact? By far the most compelling argument I’ve ever heard on this topic comes from Milton Friedman, who predicates his comments on reality rather than on theory and intentions.
During an interview with former TV host and liberal advocate for socialistic policies Phil Donohue, Friedman said, “The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus.
Albert Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. And in the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.
Friedman went on to tell Donohue that if he wanted to know where the masses are worst off it was exactly in those places that departed the most from that standard. Obviously perceptions of socialism have changed over the years, but one would think that its proponents would look to the actual history of that ideology and its effect on societies rather than on some ideological utopian notion that’s never delivered any society from poverty.
Yes capitalism has its faults — no system is without flaws, but while socialism makes promises of “free stuff,” it has never delivered. Meanwhile capitalism and free enterprise has delivered; and has lifted more people from poverty than any system ever developed in the history of mankind
Quote of the day: “Our Constitution begins with ‘We the people’ not ‘Us the government’” — Cal Thomas
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.