Sorry Bernie Bros But Nordic Countries Are Not Socialist

The myth of Nordic socialism is partially created by a confusion between socialism, meaning government exerting control or ownership of businesses, and the welfare state in the form of government-provided social safety net programs. However, the left’s embrace of socialism is not merely a case of redefining a word. Simply look at the long-running affinity of leftists with socialist dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for proof many on the left long for real socialism.

To the extent that the left wants to point to an example of successful socialism, not just generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are actually a poor case to cite. Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs.

First, it is worth noting that the Nordic counties were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for the social benefits. It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such generous government programs.

Forbes

Socialism can take the form of government controlling or interfering with free markets, nationalizing industries, and subsidizing favored ones (green energy, anyone?). The Nordic countries don’t actually do much of those things. Yes, they offer government-paid healthcare, in some cases tuition-free university educations, and rather generous social safety nets, all financed with high taxes. However, it is possible to do these things without interfering in the private sector more than required. It is allowing businesses to be productive that produces the high corporate and personal incomes that support the tax collections making the government benefits feasible. The Nordic countries are smart enough not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

If the left insists on naming a system of generous government benefits combined with a free market democratic socialism, I cannot stop them. That seems unnecessarily confusing since the government is actually running no industries other than education (and meddling somewhat in healthcare). It certainly isn’t socialism. In fact, the only reason most such countries can afford those benefits is that their market economies are so productive they can cover the expense of the government’s generosity. Perhaps a better name for what the Nordic countries practice would be compassionate capitalism.

The problem using Sweden as an example of a socialist model that works? Sweden ain’t socialist

Democratic socialists like Bolshevik Bernie Sanders and Karla Marx (AOC) can no longer point to Venezuela as a socialist model that works because it failed so miserably, so they now hold up Sweden, Denmark, and Norway as their preferred examples of democratic socialism that supposedly works.

Source: The problem using Sweden as an example of a socialist model that works? Sweden ain’t socialist

The only good kind of socialism

There’s been a lot of talk about socialism in this election cycle. The people pushing for it assure everyone that they’re not talking about socialism as seen in the Soviet Union or Venezuela. Instead, they’re promoting “democratic socialism”. But what does that even mean?

Oxford Dictionaries—whose slogan is “Language Matters”—defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” It offers these terms as synonyms: leftism, welfarism, progressivism, social democracy, communism, and Marxism.

Maybe now we’re getting somewhere. Sounds precise, right? Hardly. What is meant by “the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole”? Should a convenience store have to put to some public vote the decisions about what to stock the shelves with or whom to hire for the night shift?

And what about this “regulated by the community as a whole” stuff? Have you ever known a regulatory body to be everybody in town or all 325 million people in the country? Don’t such bodies end up being some handful of people with political power?

The XYZ’s of Socialism

It occurs to me there is a form of socialism where the entire population votes on these things. My local grocery store changes how it stocks its shelves based on the votes of every person in the entire country, although most of these people vote “I don’t care”. The tally of these votes, received almost continuously, tell the store owner which stock items to keep, which to buy more of, and which to get rid of. And if enough people care about who’s working the night shift, the store owner hears about that too.

And this is perfectly democratic. It’s much more democratic than our politics are, since the voting is not restricted to an election cycle or a voting day. Furthermore, the store owner has an incentive to seek more votes, so he can make better decisions. Store owners who ignore votes wind up losing business.

So when all is said and done, the very best form of “democratic socialism” is what we call “capitalism”.

How To Successfully Debate A Democratic Socialist

From someone who did. Helen Raleigh gives her tips.

One nice gem:

DSA leadership’s stated goals are the same goals declared by murderous communists Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and many other socialists in the past , which shows democratic socialism is not that much different from what we’ve seen before.

Here is more proof. I read my opponent the following quote:

    • “We demand profit sharing in big business.
    • We demand a broad extension of care for the aged.
    • We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living.
    • In order to make possible to every capable and industrious citizen the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our entire system of public education. We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents.
    • The government must undertake the improvement of public health-by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor, by the greatest possible support for all clubs concerned with the physical education of youth.”

     

    I asked her if these statements sound similar to what democratic socialists stand for, and she nodded. Then I revealed that they were excerpts from the 1920 declaration of the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, more commonly known as Nazis.

Read A Pile Of Top Nazis Talking About How They Love Leftist Marxism

Source: Read A Pile Of Top Nazis Talking About How They Love Leftist Marxism

The Nazis were leftists. This statement is blasphemy to the academic-media complex, since everyone knows the Nazis were degenerate right-wingers fueled by toxic capitalism and racism. But evidence Adolf Hitler’s gang were men of the left, while debatable, is compelling.

[snip]

“The Road to Serfdom,” by F. A. Hayek, is one such tract. Published in 1944, it remains a classic for young people on the political right discovering their intellectual roots. A sort of academic “1984,” it warns of socialism’s tendency toward planned states and totalitarianism.

One aspect of the book can shock the conscience. Hayek describes Nazism as a “genuine socialist movement” and thus left-wing by modern American standards. Indeed, the Austrian-born Hayek wrote the book from his essay, “Nazi-Socialism,” which countered prevailing opinion at the London School of Economics, where he taught. British elites regarded Nazism as a virulent capitalist reaction against enlightened socialism—a view that persists today.

[snip]

The left believes the opposite. They distrust the excesses and inequality capitalism produces. They give primacy to group rights and identity. They believe factors like race, ethnicity, and sex compose the primary political unit. They don’t believe in strong property rights.

They believe it is the government’s responsibility to solve social problems. They call for public intervention to “equalize” disparities and render our social fabric more inclusive (as they define it). They believe the free market has failed to solve issues like campaign finance, income inequality, minimum wage, access to health care, and righting past injustices. These people talk about “democracy”—the method of collective decisions.

By these definitions, the Nazis were firmly on the left. National Socialism was a collectivist authoritarian movement run by “social justice warriors.” This brand of “justice” benefited only some based on immutable characteristics, which perfectly aligns with the modern brand. The Nazi ideal embraced identity politics based on the primacy of the people, or volk, and invoked state-based solutions for every possible problem. It was nation-based socialism—the nation being especially important to those who bled in the Great War.

As Hayek stated in 1933, the year the Nazis took power: “[I]t is more than probable that the real meaning of the German revolution is that the long dreaded expansion of communism into the heart of Europe has taken place but is not recognized because the fundamental similarity of methods and ideas is hidden by the difference in phraseology and the privileged groups.”

[snip]

Yet the evidence the Nazis were leftists goes well beyond the views of this one scholar. Philosophically, Nazi doctrine fit well with the other strains of socialism ripping through Europe at the time. Hitler’s first “National Workers’ Party” meeting while he was still an Army corporal featured the speech “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?”

The Nazi charter published a year later and coauthored by Hitler is socialist in almost every aspect. It calls for “equality of rights for the German people”; the subjugation of the individual to the state; breaking of “rent slavery”; “confiscation of war profits”; the nationalization of industry; profit-sharing in heavy industry; large-scale social security; the “communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low costs to small firms”; the “free expropriation of land for the purpose of public utility”; the abolition of “materialistic” Roman Law; nationalizing education; nationalizing the army; state regulation of the press; and strong central power in the Reich. It was also racist and anti-immigrant.

[snip]

It wasn’t only theoretical. Hitler repeatedly praised Marx privately, stating he had “learned a great deal from Marxism.” The trouble with the Weimar Republic, he said, was that its politicians “had never even read Marx.” He also stated his differences with communists were that they were intellectual types passing out pamphlets, whereas “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun.”

It wasn’t just privately that Hitler’s fealty for Marx surfaced. In “Mein Kampf,” he states that without his racial insights National Socialism “would really do nothing more than compete with Marxism on its own ground.” Nor did Hitler eschew this sentiment once reaching power. As late as 1941, with the war in bloom, he stated “basically National Socialism and Marxism are the same” in a speech published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Nazi propaganda minister and resident intellectual Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary that the Nazis would install “real socialism” after Russia’s defeat in the East. And Hitler favorite Albert Speer, the Nazi armaments minister whose memoir became an international bestseller, wrote that Hitler viewed Joseph Stalin as a kindred spirit, ensuring his prisoner of war son received good treatment, and even talked of keeping Stalin in power in a puppet government after Germany’s eventual triumph. His views on Great Britain’s Winston Churchill and the United States’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt were decidedly less kind.

Lots more at the link.

Should doctors profit from medicine?

I recall a conversation on the Rush Limbaugh show many years ago. A medical school student called in to explain why he was in favor of socialized medicine. He wanted to make sure that everyone who needed medical care could get it.

Rush had an answer for that. He suggested that once he completed his training, he should give his services away for free.

“What?”

The tone of the kid’s voice spoke volumes.

It seems people become doctors expect some form of reward for all the work involved.

Stephen Green offers this:

Regarding my earlier post about socialized medicine, Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ RBJ commented:

People are self-nterested, not virtuous. I want really smart people to go into medicine because they want to make money to provide for a good life for themselves and their families.

Take away that financial incentive, and the best and brightest will find other things to do. Meaning the quality of doctors and nurses, et al., will go down.

And before that, BobB59 said, “Will they acknowledge the inevitable doctor shortage with that plan? I’m not holding my breath.”

Indeed.

This all goes back to my oft-stated belief that modern progressivism is a form of high-tech feudalism.

Under the old feudalism, there were serfs who worked the land, lords who lorded over them, ladies who tended to the lords, etc. Everyone knew their place and remained in their place, forever.

Progressivism “works,” such as it does, under the conceit that there are doctor-units who perform medicine, business-units who provide goods and services, teacher-units who teach, student-units who learn, etc. And — this is the vital bit — all those units perform their assigned tasks, and will continue to do so, regardless of incentives.

When all those person-units don’t conform to progressive wishes, that’s when progressives turn nasty. Which is in most instances pretty much right away.

But don’t worry, comrade. You will be made to conform. In the end, you will love Big Brother.

 

The Questions Stephen Colbert Should Have Asked Democratic Socialist “Rock Star” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Foundation for Economic Education

Source: The Questions Stephen Colbert Should Have Asked Democratic Socialist “Rock Star” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Here are other questions Colbert did not ask, and those who support socialism aren’t asking either:

Do you believe only socialists are “moral”?

Do you think other people are opposed to proper housing, jobs, and healthcare and block simple solutions because they are not as caring as you?

In his book The Law the 19th Century French economist Frédéric Bastiat exposed the false premise behind those who think government is the only way to achieve social and economic ends:

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

Generative Questions

A generative question is something that points us to the unknown and stimulates further inquiry. Here are a few generative questions that Colbert could have asked:
What are the conditions under which human beings flourish?
Why does power corrupt?
Why until recently in human history did each generation live in poverty, much the same as the generation before?

….

Ocasio-Cortez, Stephen Colbert, and millions of Americans leaning toward socialism have no knowledge of the economic problem. Invincibly ignorant, they assume the problem away by embracing the idea of redistributing other people’s money.

If you don’t know what the economic problem is, there is no possibility of discovering solutions to the problems you see. With a willingness to explore questions, more knowledge will be discovered. Freedom, not simplistic answers based on coercion, promotes voluntary human cooperation and creates economic progress, raising the well-being of all.

You Can’t Deny that Venezuela is a Socialist Calamity – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

Source: You Can’t Deny that Venezuela is a Socialist Calamity – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

 

….

Economists have long understood the dynamic at work here. Marx and other socialists thought that those in charge of the planning process, and for Marx that was the whole community, could rationally determine what to produce and how best to produce it in the absence of markets, exchange, and prices. Since Mises’s famous essay in 1920, however, we have known that doing so is not possible.

Genuine market prices are necessary for people be able to make determinations of value in anything larger than a household. Without prices, there is no way to know, not just what people value but (more importantly) how to make what they value using the least valuable resources possible.

In other words, rational production decisions are impossible without market prices, and market prices can’t exist without exchange and therefore there has to be private ownership, especially of the means of production.

But what happens when those given the power to make such decisions realize they cannot achieve their perhaps well-intentioned goals? The power does not go away. More often than not, the first reaction is precisely what we’ve seen in Venezuela: crack down harder on producers for not living up to impossible demands and ration goods to punish consumers for “hoarding.” And when that doesn’t work, go to more draconian authoritarianism, and do whatever it takes to hold on to power.

After a while, these exercises of brute power have consequences. They attract those with a comparative advantage in exercising such power (and perhaps those who have a high consumption value for doing so) into positions of power. Marxism is not Stalinism, but the inability of Marxian socialism to live up to its promises creates the conditions that make Stalinism possible and likely. In other words, Stalinism is an unintended consequence of Marxian socialism.

In addition, as state control becomes more clearly ineffective, people start to work around it by establishing distorted forms of market exchange. Bribery of politicians and bureaucrats, threats to producers, cronyism, and nepotism all become the ways of getting things done. Scarce resources have to be allocated somehow, and markets are like weeds in that they will grow in the cracks left by the failures of planning.

Intellectual Negligence

To the outside world, corruption and poor implementation caused socialism to fail. But that gets matters completely backward: corruption and ineffective political actors are not the cause of socialism’s failure, but a result of that failure. When you make real markets illegal and when your attempts at planning inevitably fail, what you get is the bribery and corruption of black markets. Once again, these are not what Marxism intends, but they are an inevitable unintended consequence.

My Childhood as a Renegade Entrepreneur – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

Source: My Childhood as a Renegade Entrepreneur – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

It’s Only Fair If Everyone Profits

One day, the administration decided to host a club fundraising festival where each club was allowed to sell one item purchased from a grocery store at lunch in order to raise funds for its club—the only time they ever broke the cafeteria monopoly.

I left campus to purchase 150 burgers from Wendy’s for $1 each. I then sold them for $5 per burger on campus, and gave away a free Arizona Iced tea with the burger, which undercut the two other vendors selling Arizona Iced tea.

We eclipsed the rest of the fundraising group that day by over 200 percent and the school accused us of cheating and being greedy.

They confiscated most of the funds and distributed it among the other students to make it more “fair.”

At last the truth had come out in full. It had taken almost eighteen years but I had the answer they had never given me before: my teachers hated the free market.

The administrators regarded commerce as dirty. They didn’t see the value I created for students who wanted something better than cafeteria food for lunch. They saw value that had been acquired at the expense of others.