Socialism for dummies

(Thomas Sowell, the Black Knight of Intellect, returns today in the form of a guest column. Give him a big hand!)

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SowellSocialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it probably will always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous.

But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or other countries that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.

The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?

But people who attribute income equality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a living standard for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

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The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

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When Senator Sanders cries, “The system is rigged!” no one asks, “Just what specifically does that mean?” or “What facts do you have to back that up?”

In 2015 the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they would have rigged it better than that.

But the very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and other ideas of the political left.

How many of the people who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage have even bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed?

More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers — sometimes known as “everybody,” with their assumptions being “what everybody knows.”

Back in 1948 when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16- to 17-year-old black males was under 10 percent.

But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 to 1994.

In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.

The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can’t move up the ladder if you don’t get on the ladder.

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue for the government. Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

None of this is rocket science. But you do have to stop and think — and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.

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(BONUS 1: A brother Black Knight of Intellect, Armstrong Williams, also addresses this issue in a piece titled Bernie’s Utopian Nightmare.)

(BONUS 2: Nicolás Maduro, president of the collapsing socialist nation of Venezuela, endorses Bernie Sanders, calls nutty Ole Bern a “revolutionary friend.”)

(BONUS 3: Ole Bern hems and haws when asked about the imploding socialist mess in Venezuela.)

(The Hacienda couple will be out of touch for a few days due to a vacation jaunt to Colima. ¡Hasta luego!)

The American voter

I AM NOT a fan of universal suffrage. Perhaps a stiff civics test is appropriate or a poll tax. That one should be a property owner sounds stupendous to me.

Tossing the “right to vote” out there for absolutely anyone to pick up is nuts and dangerous.

Here’s a lovely example of voter stupidity. They are Hillary fans, it seems, and one imagines that if a similar petition in support of Bernie Sanders’ vice presidential choice of Vladimir Lenin were offered, people would sign that too.

Mark Dice, the petition guy, not only says Karl Marx out loud repeatedly, he also states that Marx is a communist. No matter. Sounds good to these voters, all of whom should be swept up and sent to Cuba. A one-way ticket.

Silly socialism

AS ART LINKLETTER used to say: People are funny.

ArtIn the 132 years since Karl Marx died, plenty of folks still swoon for Marx’s notion of fairness and equality. Let’s look at how Marx’s ideas have played out in real life.

There are varying degrees of Marx’s nutty notions. You’ve got Communism. A little further down the scale you’ll find, with somewhat less impracticality and brutality, socialism and, of course, “social democracy.”

1. Communism. The Soviet Union collapsed after murdering millions of its citizens. Red China, also with rivers of blood on its hands, saw the writing on the wall and is shifting to capitalism while officially saying it’s still communist. Cuba, of course, is a Caribbean basket case.

2. Socialism and Social Democracy. I’ll lump these together because there’s really little difference. In this category, you’ve got much of Europe and its poster boy of Greece where able-bodied youths are running wild in the streets demanding their welfare while the economy collapses.

Another bright ray shining from the Socialist Sun is the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico where just over half of the population is on the dole and another third of the folks hold unionized government jobs.

That big, beautiful island is on the verge of sinking into the Red Sea it has excavated for itself. Blame government unions to a great degree.

Indeed public-sector unions, a terroristic arm of the socialist philosophy, are sending governments into bankruptcy all over the West. A government union job is a great gig if you can score one. Retire at 50 with 99 percent of your salary, full health benefits, etc., all underwritten by taxpayers.

Taxes are highest where social democracy is embraced, but they still fall short of the delicious benefits paid.

Today’s Democratic Party in America, more than ever under President Barry, embraces social democracy as the nation sinks into its own Red Sea. And cities run by Democrats are even worse off financially as their municipal populations also collapse into social pathologies. Related?

And the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders is looking real sweet these days to Democrats as a presidential contender. Stunning.

You have no problem finding millions of people who vote for this egregious nonsense and who call themselves socialist and “Democrats.” Yes, people are funny. Art Linkletter sure did know us.

Moral: Limited, conservative, proudly capitalist governments do not deliver this grief. They deliver prosperity and opportunities.

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw

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(Shameless self-promotion: Sick of the occasional political polemic? Head over to the new and improved Satellite Moon where you’ll find sweeter seas, photos of your Hacienda hosts, tales of gentle birdies, sometimes lovely music, nothing to offend your socialist sensibilities.