Here we go again. We would be a great embarrassment to the men who signed our Declaration of Independence which we celebrate today.
It appears that every generation has to have its little flirtation with socialism. It doesn’t seem to matter that it never works, and never provides for the basic needs of its people or even that it inevitably leads to war and oppression. Each generation convinces itself that socialism has only failed in the past because its leaders were corrupt or villainous, and that with caring and righteous leadership like their own, it will bring a workers paradise just like Marx promised.
But I am optimistic that this will be a brief dalliance, much like my generation’s fling with Jimmy Carter. My optimism springs from the naivete and incompetence of the current crop of socialists. Now, Joe Stalin was a socialist. He, and his successors were ruthless enough to force his people to stick with the experiment long after it was clear it had again failed. Of course he had help from Adolf Hitler, who provided the external enemy which is required to get people to accept the regimentation and hardship necessary to keep the dying body of a socialist economy staggering forward at its crippled pace. If an external enemy does not exist, one must be conjured up.
But Obama and Pelosi and Reid are not in Stalin’s league. They are trying to create an external enemy in the form of Anthropogenic Global Warming, but that bogeyman has never had much credibility and is rapidly losing it ability to frighten the masses into submission. Their attempts at nationalization of industry are equally inept, seizing control of dying industries instead of prospering enterprises, and then mismanaging those. Most people have better sense than to steal a lame horse just because its easier to catch.
They also lack Stalin’s willingness to be unpopular. They would rather be loved than feared. Socialism is based on force and domination of the individual, and our current crop lacks the stones to carry that off.
So, based on the utter incompetence of these time-warped hippies, I am confident this turn down the wrong path will be a short one. But why do we keeping making the same mistake?
I think it may be that previous generations of socialists did one thing right, from their perspective, and that was gaining control of education. The keys to understanding how the world works are history and economics ad it is clear that even college graduates do not get that education.
I admit to that failing myself. I managed to avoid the subject of economics until I was in my 50’s and it was not until I read Free to Choose by Milton Friedman that the world began to make sense. Economics is not about money, it is about human behavior. Politics is about what people say, economics is about what they do.
The next few years are going to be a rough ride, and some freedoms will be lost that will be hard to regain. But failure of this experiment in socialism is assured, and this one will not take more than a few years to collapse under the weight of history and the incompetence of its leaders.
But what do I have to do to keep my grandchildren from having to repeat this process?
Perhaps that is what we Libertarians should direct our energies toward, letting go of trying to educate the public on the Constitution and theory of government until we have brought economics more into the public eye. Because until the voters understand the basics of why free enterprise works and why socialism does not, they will continue to place their trust in a charming Marxist every 30 years or so as the memory of the last painful lesson fades.
So, I suggest that Libertarians educate themselves in the economics of Liberty, and carry that knowledge to the public whenever the opportunity arises, instead of just waving our copies of the Constitution. The men who wrote our Constitution understood Adam Smith just as thoroughly as John Locke, and we should do the same.