A Dangerous Ideology

A Dangerous Ideology

In recent years we’ve seen a resurgence in the support for a form of government that flies in the face of what we hold dear in the United States of America. It’s called socialism, a political philosophy that directly goes against the ideals that the founding fathers dedicated their lives toward. Most Americans might understand bits and pieces of what a socialist country would look like, but they fail to fully understand its implications.

A simple definition of socialism would be this – “fair”. This new government would “level the outcomes” rather than “leveling the playing field” typically found in a free market economy.

Socialism is extremely attractive to the millennial generation and younger because they haven’t been taught the basic tenants regarding civics, liberty, capitalism, and freedom. Instead, they’ve grown up learning that the number one priority is fairness. When they put on their soccer cleats at age five, they played in a system that ensured everyone got equal playing time because it was “fair”. If that didn’t happen, their parents would have a conversation with the coach to make sure that he would fix his ways and be “fair”. When the season was over, regardless of record (because most kids leagues these days don’t even keep score anymore) every child got a trophy. Everyone's a winner when you live in the world of “fair”.

Unfortunately, “fair” isn’t realistic or beneficial when we attempt to apply it to a nation-state. The deeper definition of socialism is this - a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, private property, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

The nation is run by a mass community that controls what is given by whom, for whom, and to whom.

Nothing is private. Government determines winners and losers.

You don’t own land, your house, your car – nothing. Everything is divided out via some fairness ideal constructed by the community. Redistribution is a foregone conclusion and outcome.

The big problem is that history continues to show us that this doesn’t work. Some would say that today’s Americanized, Bernie Sanders-led definition of socialism is more of a “soft socialism” since it is the bridge between capitalism and communism, but it is still a historically failed system.

Socialism, or a group of people fixated on “fair” tend to create significant problems such as high tax rates, governmental monopolies, lower living standards, and disincentivizing effort, innovation and the overall quality of the nation’s output.

Think about it. Who gets motivated when they realize that no matter how hard they work, it will never change their current economic condition. You’ll never make more money, buy a better house, get a nicer car to replace your rust bucket, or grow your career. Why? Because it’s not fair to everyone else.

Socialism caters to the lazy, uninspired, people living in their mom’s basement trying to find themselves. Those cats would LOVE to get a piece of the pie from someone who started their business from nothing, worked their rear off for years trying to make ends meet, finally broke through, and now lead a multi-million-dollar corporation who employs tens, hundreds or even thousands of well-paid employees. Is it fair to give that person’s hard-earned money to basement boy? Socialism says it is.

Richard Esptein, from the Hoovers Institution, puts it like this:

"Bernie Sanders constantly pushes Medicare for all and free college tuition for all without ever understanding that with a price of zero dollars, supply and demand will be perpetually out of whack. Consumer demand explodes with the promise of free goodies, while the supply of goods and services shrinks given the want of revenue to cover wages and capital expenditures. When public price or wage controls ensure that supply will necessarily outstrip demands, only two responses, in tandem, occur. Queues form and quality declines."

Do you see it? When “fair” happens, everyone wants in on what’s free, standards sag, and quality suffers. Socialism degrades a nation and, in the end, does not produce the kind of “fair” anyone is after.

So, what is the alternative? Let’s go back to the original signers of the Declaration of Independence and individuals who crafted the US Constitution. They believed in two principles – self-government and freedom.

Self-government is not a nation ruled by a community. Instead, it is a belief that people control their government and governments are subject to limitations and constraints. The idea that government originates from an implied contract among people who agree to obey laws in exchange for the protection of their natural rights.

What are our natural rights? The answer is seen in the Declaration of Independence itself:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Therefore, when a government system based on “fair” is put in place it threatens our natural rights.

We’ve all grown up being taught that our country is based on freedom. We associate freedom with the ability to do whatever, whenever, and wherever we want. Most Americans’ definition of freedom is like that warm June day when you were a kid, and you ran out of school at the end of the year like a rocket ship getting shot into orbit, yelling, “I’m free!!!!”

The reality is that we have a warped view of what a country based on freedom means. Freedom is the belief that common people can govern themselves. They don’t need a king, monarch, or government to provide for themselves and their families. Thomas Jefferson said,

“The policy of the federal government is to leave its citizens free, neither aiding nor restraining them in their pursuits.”

Freedom happens when a government gets out of the way. Instead, they focus on facilitating an environment where its people make their own decisions, accept responsibility for those decisions, stoke their own passions, and follow their own pursuits while maintaining their natural rights.

The current tension over socialism in our society comes from two opposing views. The first is people who do not believe that Americans are smart enough or capable enough to know what to do with the liberty and freedom that has been purchased. The rule of law is arbitrary and based on feelings. It’s like a thief suing the homeowner who shot him while he was robbing their home. In this view, the homeowner shouldn’t have shot him and is in the wrong because laws are merely ideas, not firm rules or regulations.

The second view is people who believe God created us to be free. That it is “in our DNA” to desire independence, to design our own future and to work hard in order to provide for our own families. However, there needs to be a rule of law to guide behavior because man is inherently selfish and will make mistakes. Without the rule of law, no American can be protected from others denying our natural rights.

Which camp are you in? Do you believe in a community-led pursuit of “fair”? Perhaps you follow the founders of our country and their vision for a country based on true freedom? Leave some comments below and let’s work together to defend the freedom that our brave men and women fought so hard to protect. After all, isn’t that “fair”?

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1 comment

It is easy to want to declare “fair” when you have earned nothing. As the old saying goes, “The problem with socialism is sooner or later you run out of other people’s money”.

Frederick Ilnicki

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