Vail Daily column: A perfect form of government?
December 12, 2016
The truest measure of the efficacy of any political philosophy or ideology is how it benefits the masses. If you accept that premise, then the most surprising aspect of the past election cycle wasn't that an outsider was elected to the 45th President of the United States, or that Hillary Clinton lost, but rather that millions of young people accepted the message of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
I wonder how many of these impressionable voters truly understood the ramifications of socialism or the impact such an ideology, if embraced, would have on the social fabric of this nation. I wonder too if they realize that as an ideology, socialism has a record of failure so blatant only intellectual could ignore it.
I believe the senator is a compassionate man, but the question young people should have asked themselves was how could someone with absolutely no economic experience or accomplishment be expected to bring prosperity to the masses.
As a political movement, socialism includes a diverse array of philosophies whose genesis was the general concern for the problems associated with capitalism. There are many varieties of socialism; with no single definition encapsulating them all, save for the belief in social ownership.
The notion of a society in which everyone shares, no one is greedy and other people’s interests take precedence over individual needs, while noble in concept, is simply unrealistic. History has proven repeatedly that for socialism to function in the real world as it does in theory one must ignore human nature.
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Many altruists feel socialism is the ideal form of government because broadly speaking, socialism seeks to share resources and power equally among the population. But how this 'equality' is achieved is where the rubber meets the road.
The notion of a society in which everyone shares, no one is greedy and other people's interests take precedence over individual needs, while noble in concept, is simply unrealistic. History has proven repeatedly that for socialism to function in the real world as it does in theory one must ignore human nature.
Real world socialism simply doesn't comport with its adherents' preconceptions. Evinced by the "government mandates are the answer to every problem," mentality, socialists seek to replace individual initiative with governmental control.
The most sweeping vision of socialism occurred during the early 20th century—Karl Marx called it Communism. After the Bolshevik Revolution communism spread rapidly and soon encompassed more than a billion human beings. And in the societies in which everyone shared no one was greedy, the people were oppressed, economies stagnated and the government was confiscatory.
Some will say Sanders' approach was benign socialism, but benign socialism is about as realistic as creating a square circle. Meanwhile, the polar opposite of socialism is free-market capitalism, whose basic functions are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution, a document predicated upon the notion of equal opportunity—not equal outcome.
Socialism is the very antithesis of the vision of the Founders. So when young people fall victim to the specious promises of a socialistic form of government it's fair to infer that these individuals' notions of governance are at variance from that of Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, et al. It also makes me wonder what these people were taught via our education system.
If someone truly believes socialism is good for America, that's his or her prerogative. The problem with that line of thinking however is they cannot point to any real world examples to support that assertion.
Some will 'cherry pick' data to illustrate their point. But cherry picking information suppresses evidence and attempts to mislead by pointing to individual cases or data that seek to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that contradict that position.
A person's favorite football team just lost the Super Bowl by a score of 35-0, but the person tries to convince others that theirs is really the better team by cherry picking data such as sighting the fact that their team gained more yards or had more first downs. Sounds insane right?
Socialism is not a new concept; it's been around since the late 1700s, and the claim that socialism can lift the poor from poverty and make the world a better place also isn't new. Unfortunately for its adherents, in all of recorded history there's no evidence whatsoever where a socialistic society actually served to improve the quality of life of the masses.
Quote of the day: "Socialism states that you owe me something simply because I exist. Capitalism, by contrast, results in a sort of reality-forced altruism: I may not want to help you, I may dislike you, but if I don't give you a product or service you want, I will starve. Voluntary exchange is more moral than forced redistribution."—Ben Shapiro
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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