THE UNITED STATES IS SLOWLY MOVING toward socialism. However, although socialism—and its advanced form, Communism—have never worked, the naive in the U.S. pursue it anyway. Socialism doesn’t work because the State finally runs out of other people’s money. Then everyone, except the elites running the government is reduced to poverty.
Socialism runs out of money because it contradicts human nature. God has designed us to pursue our best interests. Another way to say this is, we will do what the state incentivizes us to do. Socialism incentivizes people to work little and spend the income produced by the hard-working minority. By contrast, capitalism motivates everyone to work—and work hard. Capitalism convinces me that diligent work is in my best interest. If I don’t work I will starve. No one else will take care of me. An even bigger motivation is the hope that my hard work will ultimately produce an abundance.
Socialism fails because people ultimately do what the state incentivizes—little or nothing—and eventually, everyone runs out of food and money.
The Pilgrim Fathers are an interesting case study. I am reading The Mayflower by Philbrick. The author recounts how the Pilgrims, after arriving at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, practiced socialism for the first two years. They almost starved. Knowing that the crops would be shared equally, there was little incentive to “go the extra mile.’ The men worked in the fields half-heartedly, while the women stayed home and cared for the children. At harvest time the meager crop was distributed equally no matter how much effort the hungry mouth had contributed.
However, the Pilgrim fathers were realists. Realizing that their economic system was failing, in the third year they reverted to capitalism.
In April, Bradford had decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew. The change in attitude was stunning. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before. In previous years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home. “The women now went willingly into the field,” Bradford wrote, “and took their little ones with them to set corn.” The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism. Although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower (p. 167). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
From this point forward there was food for all with a growing surplus.
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. At the root of all socialist experiments is a failure to accept the reality of human sinfulness. Because the Pilgrims understood human nature, they quickly adjusted their approach and ultimately prospered.
Are we smart enough to do this? We have the dismal experience of Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Eastern Europe, Viet Nam, etc. before us. Can we learn from their experience? Only time will tell.