Why socialism is terrible

(This is part three on the differences between capitalism and socialism...)

Good intentions and $4.65 will get you a mocha latte at Starbucks.

Good intentions are used to justify socialism's control of people in a society. And I believe that most people who promote socialism are not evil, they are just not very bright and somewhat confused. They believe that having good intentions gives them the power to make decisions for other adults.

They get that impression because already we allow government to make many decisions for us and most people just go along. So if government overreaches here or there, well, it can't be that bad. Until they try to ban large sodas. You've gotta draw the line somewhere, right?

We have often heard of people referring to socialism as a "nanny state." I think it is more like a "parental state." We all have experience as children of accepting what our parents tell us because they are looking out for our best interests and we can trust them. Perhaps this experience has the negative consequence of making (some) people just as trusting of government. But think of it this way: would the parent-control model work if your "parents" were a committee? How about if there were hundreds or thousands of committee-members who could all opine about your upbringing?

The problem with "good-intentions" socialism is that you can't fight it when something you care about is curtailed. You've already accepted the state's power to regulate what should not be regulated, so that is no longer a valid defense. And, frankly, it is often the best and only defense. Once that defense is gone, the state can control almost everything. And most people will not bother to challenge it...you can't fight City Hall.

If you could weigh the benefits of doing something versus the harms, and the benefits are slightly better, many people (Bernie Sanders voters, for example) would conclude from this that such an action is therefore justified. What is not on the scale is the harm it causes to our society to promote socialist solutions and how that paves the way for more such solutions down the road. This is why, for example, I am against such things as Pay As You Throw at the Acton town dump. Even if the proponents are entirely correct that such a plan would reduce waste, it should be done in a way that does not infringe on people's freedoms. Unless it is a "life or death" issue, the government should refrain from mandating how adults lead their lives.

So like taxation (as minimal as possible to fund necessary government), the power given to politicians and bureaucrats should use the same minimalist guidelines. This protects personal freedom and gives power to people to make their own mistakes. People do learn from mistakes and while the government might prevent some harms by not controlling every little decision like when to cross the street or how large a soda to buy, the cost to society of such government control is much higher. And the potential cost...more socialism...is unacceptable.

My pet peeve is the crosswalk signals. I'm sure that statistically, they are safer. I'm sure that for very little children, they are necessary. But for the average adult, they are demeaning and dangerous...because they train adults that the government can control their actions and make their decisions...with machines, no less. (At least if it was a live policeman, you might justify that control because something unusual may be going on that requires human intervention.)

Crosswalk signals are a form of "mechanical socialism." (Wow, I've invented a new phrase!")

We have cameras at some intersections which assess fines and mail us a ticket along with a photo of our car license plate. Going through a red light is bad, but this is a terrible precedent that will lead to more government control of things that really matter.

The next step will be having robots tell us what to do, with the robots programmed by the police, under the control of our politicians, who theoretically work for us. We could have satellites that track our every movement, microphones that listen to every word, and big data that can figure out what we are doing in our own homes. Socialism could justify anything if it can "protect children" or "save lives" or whatever.

So the best of intentions are justification for socialism, and the best example of this is former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sodas.

What gives someone the power to tell another adult how they can spend their money? Honestly, it is laughable that anyone would ever even propose such an obvious curtailment on our freedom, but I guess NY has been ruled by Liberals so long that they have come to expect and accept government control over their lives. It is sad, so sad, as Donald Trump would say.

There are so many obvious problems with socialism, starting with the failed socialist and communist states around the world, the strong evidence that centrally controlled governments cannot outperform the free market, and that such systems produce inherent inefficiencies that bureaucrats are unable to correct. All of that is true and a great reason why we should stick with capitalism. But I believe the philosophical underpinnings of socialism are also flawed and they should be rejected on the small scale as well as the large.

The media is an unwitting (perhaps) abettor by convincing people of some of the benefits of socialism without disclosing the many costs. The rise of a "Bernie Sanders" is evidence of this. Anyone who supports him is either an ignorant fool or an uneducated one. I can forgive the youth but not those with enough experience to know that his solutions lead to dead-ends for our society and our economy. But the main issue I have with Bernie is not that he would transform the U.S. overnight into a "socialist paradise," (because I'm sure there would still be plenty of opposition in Congress and around the country), but that he would continue to erode our freedoms bit by bit, so that such an outcome would be possible. He would call that "progress" and that is why his supporters are called "progressives."

I think what makes a Bernie Sanders even possible is that people simply don't understand where his policies would naturally lead. We aren't the Soviet Union or China, we aren't Venezuela or Cuba. Stuff that happened or happens in those countries could never happen in the U.S. Under Bernie Sanders, they think, we would never have "socialized medicine" which would eviscerate our healthcare system, or force companies to buy "renewable energy" to "save the planet," or "tax the rich" in order to give out more welfare benefits to illegal aliens, or empower public-sector unions to further enrich their members....

Of course, all those policies were enacted or promoted by our previous president. Believe it or not, that would just be the starting point for a President Sanders.

Let me make one more point on the "large soda" ban. We all understand the slippery slope argument, but the problem with the increasing amount of socialism in our society is that government is very good at "divide and conquer." They nip away at our freedoms little by little, and typically only get strong opposition from the people directly affected. In the soda example, maybe only people who typically purchase "super-sized" sodas would be upset, and many of them might not bother to do anything because the ban would not affect them that much. But I could give a list of 10 or 100 products that the government could move to curtail or ban based on potential harm to some people, let alone some nebulous harm like increased obesity from drinking only large sodas over decades of time.

This is just one reason why I am opposed to the "progressive" push to prevent free speech by corporations. Like it or not, corporations are perhaps one of the few organized and well-funded groups who could effectively oppose the socialists. They may be doing it for economic reasons, but they are still protecting our freedoms nonetheless. So if Coke and Pepsi fight the ban on large sodas, more power to them.

Fiscal Conservatism 903
PART ONE: Why capitalism is so great: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/why-capitalism-so-great

THE VERY FIRST ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES and a list of all articles:

Introduction: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/political-philosophy-fiscal-conservatism

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