Philosophy Insights: The Open Mind With Richard Heffner- Milton Friedman: What is Actually Wrong With Socialism?

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Source: Philosophy Insights- Professor Milton Friedman

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

What is wrong with socialism? Where should I start? First I guess I’ll tell you what actually seems to work about socialism in other countries and to a certain extent in America even. Even though America has more of a pragmatic progressive approach to social welfare, instead of the welfare state approach that you see in Britain and Scandinavia where their social programs are universal instead of just for people who truly need extra financial assistance in order to pay their bills.

But there’s a flip side to what actually works about socialism in lets say Scandinavia to use as an example. If Scandinavia were a country instead of a region that includes Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and even Iceland, if you include Iceland as part of this broader Nordic region of countries, Scandinavia would be one of the largest countries in the world, especially if you throw in Greenland, as far as territory. But with only twenty-five-million people which would make a fairly small country in population.

That is important because Sweden, Norway, and Finland, are all large countries as far as territory. Sweden is almost as big as Turkey as far as land and most people I believe don’t realize that, but Sweden only has ten-million people and they’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world as far as per-capita income and over living standards and there also one of the most socialist countries in the world as far as what their national government spend on their’s people’s behalf and the amount of money the Swedish Government spends on social welfare. Turkey on the other hand as over seventy million people making it a big country as far as land and population. Why is that?

Scandinavia is deep as far as natural resources including oil and gas. Norway and Sweden, are two of the largest oil and gas producers in the world and they both have very small populations, but with a lot of territory. Because of all the oil and gas revenue that Sweden and Norway bring in through taxation and interest their government’s have in their energy sectors, they can afford to be very socialist with their people. Because even when they go through an economic downturn or slowdown they’re still bringing in all of that energy revenue.

Unlike America which is third largest country in the world in territory, only behind Russia and Canada and with the fourth largest population in the world, we’re still importing both oil and gas. We have to be more conservative with our tax revenue and expect our people to do more for themselves. Especially mentally and physically able people. That was my more positive take on socialism.

Again, what’s wrong with socialism? Where should I start? How about with the presumptions that Socialists especially in America who want America to look more like Europe tend to make.

Socialists tend to look at the world as a big complicated place and that if you let all of the people enter the world with the freedom to make their own decisions, some people might make some really good decisions and do really well, but others and perhaps a lot of other people will make some really bad choices and do badly. Leaving the society having to pick up the slack for the people who haven’t done well in the economy. So according to the Socialist you need to have a big centralized government with all of these progressive minded (as they see it) intellectuals in their central- planning offices, with the power to decide for everyone else most of those people they’ve never even met let alone know, what the people need to live well in their Socialist Utopia.

In other words a big welfare state there to take care of everyone so the people don’t have to make impossible decisions like where to send their kids to school. Where to get their health care. Where to get their health insurance. Who should take cake of their kids when the parents are working. How people should fund their retirements. Pay for their family and medical leave. And these are just examples. Perhaps even where to live and where to work.

And then Socialists will say that, “hey, it works in Scandinavia and Europe, that means it will work in America as well.” Socialists also tend to see the world as one place where there aren’t many differences economically between one country or another and that if something seems to work in country, that means it will work everywhere else. Forgetting about cultural and economic factors from one country to another.

Like the fact that some countries have deeper natural resources than others. Or that Americans tend to be a lot more individualistic and freethinking than most other countries regardless of race and ethnicity and tend to want to do more for ourselves and expect more from ourselves than Canadians and Europeans tend to.

But I already explained why the democratic form of socialism seems to work in Scandinavia. Because you’re talking about small countries as far as population, but large countries as far as territory and natural resources. Including natural resources to power their countries that so-called Progressives in America (Socialists in actuality) tend to hate and want to see outlawed in America. Like oil and gas.

The reasons why socialism wouldn’t work in America, again has to do with cultural more than anything else. Americans by enlarge (except for Bernie Sanders and his supporters and others) like being able to take care of themselves and making their own decisions and then being rewarded for those decisions when they do well. You start taxing income and production at high levels and you’ll get less of it. Because Americans will say why should they work so hard and be so productive when Uncle Sammy is going to take so much of my money from me to give to his nieces and nephews.

So what will happen is a lot fewer of Uncle Sam’s nieces and nephews will work hard and be less productive, because their annoying greedy uncle is taking away from them so much of what they produce. Which will be a drag on economic and job growth because our economy won’t be as productive. Also it would hurt our education because Americans will decide why should they work hard in school and get a good education when their Uncle Sam will pay them well not to work when they’re out-of-school with generous Unemployment Insurance checks. Which is also what you get in Sweden.

Philosophy Insights: The Open Mind With Richard Heffner- Milton Friedman: What’s Wrong With Socialism?

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About Ederik Schneider

Blogger on a whole host of subjects.
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