Dangers of Socialism
Socialism. It is an issue that is currently at the forefront of our political debates. With a number of prominent politicians championing the ideals of democratic socialism, we hear promises including free college, Medicare for all, and a $15 minimum wage. To many, these ideas are attractive, for they appear to provide greater economic equality and justice. Despite the initial appeal, these policies are grounded in socialistic ideology. Therefore, it is essential to understand what socialism actually is.
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, Americans hold varying views on the definition of socialism. The most popular view of those who responded (23%) said that socialism means “equal standing for everybody, all equal in rights, equal in distribution.”¹ Only 17% of people identified socialism as “Government ownership or control, government ownership of utilities, everything controlled by the government, state control of business.”² Interestingly, when asked this same question in 1949, 12% of respondents attributed equality with socialism whereas 34% believed it to be bigger government.³ It is no surprise that these views have recently been flipped, for those promoting socialist ideals often argue how it will result in economic and social justice.
But what is the correct definition of socialism? In a recent report by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, socialism is determined by “the degree to which (a) the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned or regulated by the state; and (b) the state uses its control to distribute the economic output without regard for final consumers’ willingness to pay or exchange.”4 Ultimately, socialism seeks to eliminate private property and free market exchange and replace it with one-size-fits-all government-run programs. To believers in socialism, this is the only way in which to bring about an equal society that eliminates the gap between the rich and poor.
History proves that while socialism may initially sound appealing, in reality, it has grave consequences. Let’s take a look at what democratic socialism could lead to.
- Elimination of private property. Slowly, but surely, socialism seeks to remove one’s ownership of property from the individual to the state. If what is yours truly belongs to the government, they will also be the ones who can tell you how, when, or how often you can use it.
- Lack of incentive to work and contribute to society. If everyone receives the same wage regardless of one’s performance or skills, what would motivate an employee to grow in knowledge, discover ways to be more efficient, or even show up consistently?
- Loss of competition. If the government were to take over more programs, industries, and services, similar businesses would no longer be competing against each other to attract customers.
- Bigger government leads to a more powerful government. When the production and distribution of goods and services is centralized, the government has immense control over nearly every area of one’s life. Education, food, healthcare, and employment are just the beginning. Why wouldn’t their reach also include religion, freedom of speech, morality, and the Church?
- Resources owned and spent by the government. Do you trust yourself or the government to spend money that best meets your needs or desires in the most efficient way? With the waste, corruption, and impersonal nature of government, the individual is much more capable of using his or her dollars more efficiently. However, in a socialist country, this privilege is surrendered to the state.
We urge you to study the teachings of Karl Marx and the tragic results his ideology has had on a number of countries throughout history and in modern day. We must not succumb to the shiny promises made by certain politicians, but rather, we must uphold the economic principles of free market capitalism that has helped make this country great.