Mazzuca: The results of socialism show its consequences (column)
It shouldn’t be surprising that socialism is experiencing a revival a quarter of a century after its spectacular worldwide collapse in the late 20th century
The thing I find most interesting about socialism is the only people who seem to want a socialist government are those who’ve never lived under one. Nonetheless, a recent Pew Foundation poll found that 69 percent of voters under the age of 30 said they would vote for a socialist for president.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that socialism is experiencing a revival a quarter of a century after its spectacular worldwide collapse in the late 20th century.
Socialists don’t seem to understand that consequences matter more than intentions; we see this in the ideology’s historical performance that has never actually benefited the masses. Having said that, the even bigger problem with socialism lies in its abject arrogance as an ideology.
Why do I use the term “arrogance?” The reason socialism has failed everywhere it’s ever been tried is because in order for it to work, it first requires an absolute understanding of human nature and, secondly, a specific knowledge of exactly how a complex society should be reorganized.
Remember when Bernie Sanders said, “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger.”
Today one can’t turn on the news without watching the riots in Venezuela or reading about food shortages in what was once the richest country in South America.
In 1999, Venezuela made sweeping and radical shifts in social policy when it moved away from a free market economy and embraced socialistic policies with their attendant income redistribution and social welfare programs.
Talk is cheap when it comes to political policy, so I’m inclined to look at results rather than promises. After two decades of socialism, Venezuela has an inflation rate of 3,000 percent, a third of its children are malnourished, and 82 percent of the country lives in poverty all while suffering the second highest crime rate in the world.
Don’t cry for me Argentina
Another example Sanders used was Argentina. Similar to the United States, Argentina is blessed with abundant agriculture, vast swaths of rich farmland; it’s a nation laced with navigable waterways and accessible ports. In fact, in the early 20th century its level of industrialization was higher than many European countries, and luxury items for the time period, i.e., automobiles and telephones were commonplace.
Then in 1916 Argentina elected a new president, Hipolito Irigoyen, under the banner of Fundamental Change (sound familiar?) with an appeal to the middle class. Among Irigoyen’s changes were mandatory health insurance, mandatory pension insurance, support for low income housing construction to stimulate the economy and numerous other social welfare government policies.
I won’t bore you with statistics about Argentina’s poverty rate, inflation, unemployment, debt, high taxes, reduced standards of living, etc., but suffice it to say that in 1902 Argentina was one of the world’s richest countries — now a little over 100 years later it is poverty stricken with high inflation and struggling to meet its debt obligations.
Ah, but that’s not the type of socialism Sanders and the new darling of the left, Alexandra Ocassio-Cortez are referring to — they would have us believe there’s a different form of socialism practiced in places like Denmark and Sweden. Nonesense! Nima Sanandaji’s 2015 book, “Scandinavian Unexceptionalism,” exposes this lie and documents the disastrous effects of the Scandinavian socialist experiment.
Perhaps Sanders and Ocassio-Cortez are unaware that in recent years both these nations were forced to pull back from their unsustainable socialistic programs and have been incorporating numerous free-market policies.
Meanwhile comparing Denmark and Sweden, two countries with combined homogenous populations of less than 16 million to the complexities of governing the United States, an ethnically and racially diverse nation of 330 million, is patently absurd. According to that logic, running a 25-acre ski area in Vermont with an 800-foot rope tow would be the equivalent to operating Vail & Beaver Creek Ski Resorts.
I’m sure Sanders and Ocassio-Cortez have good intentions, but then the road to hell is also paved with good intentions.
Thought for the day: How is it that as a society we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.