How much further left is it possible for the Democrats to drift……..?
In the most recent election, people chose Trump because he advocated something different from the sterile, arid, commonplace truisms of Clinton and Obama. More war, more greed, more banker’s bailouts, more chaotic undermining of the free market via crony capitalist rent-seeking… Little wonder the Democrats have had to do some soul searching.
So what have they come up with instead?
The cuddly, cantankerous grandpa sage Bernie Sanders is now accompanied by a charismatic, charming disruptive force known as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Pay close attention to the socialistic attributes of the countries outlined in the article China, Vietnam, Russia and Cambodia. AOC has ascribed to in her winning speeches.With her charming smile and magnetic personality, AOC (as she is affectionately, or half-affectionately kn
own by allies and critics alike) definitely represents a break from the status quo that so many Americans, on all sides, are so sick and tired of.
Is there ever anything really new under the sun?
Let’s not forget that socialism is intended to undermine the idea of private property and free enterprise. Capitalism is commonly considered a ‘God that Failed,’ in a memorable words of a book that was actually directed towards the criticism of the horrific Communist experiments that have blighted our world many times since the early 20th century.But while capitalism has its imperfections, its irregularities and frustrations, history has shown time and time again that socialism in any form not merely does not improve upon capitalism and free markets, but is actually worse in many regards!
Capitalism is often blamed for all manner of terrible evils: ecocide, gender inequality, racism, just to name a few.
But one only has to look at a quick cross-section of ‘actually existing socialist countries,’ past and present, to realize the credentials of socialist countries on these issues is far from wonderful. Clearly, some ethnic minority individuals from Russia and China would strongly disagree with the view that capitalism is the root of all evil, including racism. The “One Child Policy of China” is clearly misogynistic, as is the “Two Child Policy” of Vietnam. During the Cultural Revolution, homosexuals were openly and brutally persecuted, as also under the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. And China’s environmental record is actually doing much worse on the environment than Western countries, so often criticized and indeed demonized as perfidious hotbeds of ‘predatory capitalism.’
Of course, it might then be objected that these are extreme and undemocratic socialist countries. So, why not give non-extreme democratic socialism a try?
But this is still not a viable option.
First of all, the widely-touted Nordic countries, especially Denmark and Finland have not always been able to sustain the same rate of socialist intervention. These are countries whose social programs are founded upon a market baseline: while the market is not entirely free, it is capitalism that creates the wealth of these countries, not socialism. And as these socialist policies continue over time, the dynamism and creativity of the markets risks being serious deterioration. The more money goes from corporations and hard-working taxpayers towards subsidies and welfare, the less there is to play with. This is basic mathematics. Little wonder, then, that the Nordic model has hit serious difficulties. How long will it be able to survive?
Secondly, the welfare state, as Milton Friedman famously argued during the Cold War, is endangered by precisely the very same open borders policies socialists commonly advocate. How so? Well, let’s look at today’s situation and reflect carefully on the fundamental incompatibility between very liberal immigration policies and very generous social programs.
First, Illegal immigration pushes poorer Americans onto welfare, while illegal immigrants work at low wages and do not pay taxes. Over time, the welfare burden becomes unsustainable, while there are no more taxes being paid in by these immigrants than there might be by American workers.
Second, illegal immigration pushes down wages, reducing the circulation of money in the local economy, this is very important and rarely stated. This, in turn, has a deleterious effect on the economy more broadly, and ultimately on tax revenue.
Third, such low wages, which result less income tax among the less well off, shift the burden onto those with more money: which again, risks undermining the kind of wealthy and prosperous economy needed for welfare.
Now, we can debate about whether some of the things just mentioned are good or bad things, like shifting the burden of taxation away from low-paying workers onto corporations, but even if we agree that it is deeply problematic to demand low-income workers pay income tax, all I’m trying to do here is to simply point out the radical inconsistency of these two competing goals: open borders versus the welfare state. Regardless of your views on what welfare policies should or should not exist, it’s simply impossible to square the circle of open borders and generous social programs. Communist dictatorships may well reject open borders, but democracies (or indeed, constitutional republics!) who are toying with the idea of socialism are going to have to decide if it is truly possible to have high levels of illegal immigration, or even a non-meritocratic system for legitimate migrants, and the welfare state as well: I have to be clear that the Democrats are taking a fundamentally self-contradictory position here, which simply cannot be reconciled.
Third, there is an old saying that once you get the head of the camel into your tent, it’s very difficult to prevent the entire camel making himself at home, like this visual. Going down the slippery slope into more and more socialist policies has the potential to bring about the utter ruin of a country: not just material bankruptcy, but also the spiritual and moral bankruptcy of our very best values of all.
Of course, we do sometimes see whole countries move further away from socialism, as has happened in the UK twice, and it is possible to see countries regress ever further away; today’s China, under Xi Jinping, is moving away from the relative liberalization of the markets from the 1980’s on wards, into an ever more autocratic, authoritarian and even downright totalitarian regime. Will Xi Jinping be allowed to become the new Chairman Mao, an even more brutal and callous leader than Deng Xiaoping of the Tiananmen Massacre? Or will the Chinese Communist Party eventually tire of him and push him out and force an early retirement, as domestic and international grievances continue to accumulate over time?
Nobody knows; but given the uncertainty around the seeming eternal pendulum swing between socialism and free markets, between the politics of envy and the politics of self-reliance, between the spirit of control and regulation and the spirit of liberty and self-regulation, it would appear wise that we do not let ourselves go any further down the slippery slope of ‘democratic socialism.’ Otherwise, our children and grandchildren may well find that we have to choose between the democratic liberties of our constitutional republic and the fool’s gold of our future socialist paradise. God forbid!
Let’s not be complacent! Are the Democrats committing political suicide? Well, they are trying to tap the younger and more energetic voters out there, and it is working, so it’s no exaggeration to say anything can happen!
We need to do the very best we can to stand up for our values, because ultimately, free markets and individual liberty are the only way people can truly be free and equal. Because this is the only path that honors the intrinsic, inherent, God-given dignity of the human individual.