Monday, May 29, 2006

The Faults of Socialism

There are many who, now that the bitter taste of the USSR's failure has begun to wear off, point to socialism as a viable and successful model. These proponents of socialism (by the way, where were they in 1985, for example?) argue that socialism increases standard of living, by providing citizens with a highly centralized government, that provides myriad benefits. These benefits include free healthcare, education, welfare, etc. What socialism does not provide, however, is personal liberty. Socialism by definition requires an extremely high tax rate, in order to fund its many welfare programs. It also does not allow the economy to reach its potential, as a free market system does, because socialism does not encourage competition, and thus fosters complacency.
Many believe that it is possible for a socialism economic system to exist alongside a political democracy. I argue that such a situation is impossible. I refer to a particularly poignant passage by Milton Friedman, the founder of modern economics:
"Economics arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, freedom in economic arragnements is itself a component of reedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom."
An individual's power to choose is a freedom that he or she sacrifices in a socialist system. By giving the majority of one's money to government, through taxes, the socialist is sacrificing the ability to invest that money in what he deems necessary. He is, essentially, admitting that government better knows how to spend his money than he does.
In a truly capitalist system, the individual is given the ability to invest his money how he likes. In the free market system, healthcare and education systems will exist privately, because there is demand for them. Because of this demand, there will be many choices in healthcare and education available to the individual, as opposed to the only one healthcare and education system that exists under the auspices of a socialist economic and political system. Thus, the individual's power to choose is eliminated in a socialist system, but encouraged in a free market capitalist one.
Competitive capitalism, unlike socialism, also promotes political freedom, as it separates economic power from political power and thus enables the one to offset the other. In a socialist system, the government controls the economy, so the individual has neither political, nor economic freedom.

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