#162 Voting for Socialism

Voting for Socialism | The Christian Economist

Fox business anchor Charles Payne famously said, “You can only vote for Socialism once.”  Another common quip is “You can vote your way in, but you’ll have to shoot your way out.”  Well, 86 US Congressional Representatives just voted for it.  Fortunately, 327 voted against it. 

The seeds of Socialism are sown in free market capitalism.  That’s why socialism is like the blob that ate New York City, and the Phoenix that continually arises from its own ashes.  Because, in a relatively free society, you are free to advocate for socialism.  But in a socialist totalitarian society, you can’t advocate for free market capitalism.  Economists make the assumption that people are reasonable and will make self-interested votes in favor of themselves and their neighbors having freedom that makes them all richer.  As I often quip to Ginger: “There you go, thinking again.”  Look, it’s pretty clear: Socialism feels good, capitalism thinks good. 

 The latest evidence of the freedom to be stupid is the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Congressional Resolution #9—a resolution “denouncing the horrors of socialism.”  Ok, the resolution passed, but the vote was 327–86, with every Republican and 109 Democrats in favor. Are you feeling safer now? Less threatened? Less worried about the direction of Uncle Sam’s Big Government policies? 

Let’s see, so 86 Democrats used their freedom to seek less freedom.  Uh-huh.  Kinda makes you wonder about them, doesn’t it?  Here’s even a stranger application: Folks are taking the Trump tax cuts and using that money to advocate for higher tax rates.  If you gave them a bat, would they beat themselves over the head with it?  This makes economists do what I call the “Freshman fake,” it’s kinda like your dog when you speak to her as if she were human, and she gives you that “huh” look.  Economists assume that people act in their own self-interest.  Why would US congressional representatives use their freedom to vote for less freedom? 

 One of my favorite quips is, “65% of college students would vote for a Socialist.  After visiting with my co-author Sergiy Saydometov, that number drops to near zero.”  That’s because Sergiy lived in a socialist economy in the Ukraine until he was 11.  And that’s why he’s substitute lecturing in my class this week.  Students were assigned to ask him questions about life in a socialist economy.  When I get back in the classroom next week, I think it will be void of socialists.  Maybe they need to invite Sergiy to visit with the 86 congressional reps who voted for Socialism.  

We assume that the four million folks who illegally crossed the southern border of the US in the last two years were acting in their own self-interest.  They were fleeing Socialist economies for what’s left of our capitalist wealth.  There’s more about that in podcast # 133 titled South America turns Socialist.  There’s more support for that basic idea in podcast #131 Abraham and Wealth Migration, where I point out how people vote with their feet.   


No Utopia 

That’s a subtitle in my little book Economics and the Christian Worldview.  The reason Christians don’t camp on either end of the simple Socialist – Capitalist spectrum is that monopolies occur on both ends.  That’s because of the fallen nature.  Fallen businesspeople buy up their competitors on the right end of the spectrum, and fallen politicians grant monopolies on the left end.  So, the Christian favors a point in the middle somewhere.  And, I tell my Sophomores at Dallas Baptist University, they have seen significant movements along this spectrum in their short political lives:  George Bush was relatively on the right end.  Barack Obama moved us left, then President Trump moved us right, and President Biden is moving us left.   



If you believe in the fallen nature, you want an economic system that pushes against it.  Free market capitalism does that.  But, to avoid camping on the right end, we favor some kind of antitrust activity that keeps us off that far end of the spectrum.  I’ve produced two podcasts on antitrust, #89 Antritrust and the Fallen Nature and #33 Ending Discrimination, because competitive rivalry is the critical policy that pushes against the fallen nature.  


Private Property 

So, are you enjoying owning that computer that you’re using to watch this podcast?  Or, would you prefer to be governed by the hopes and dreams of the World Economic Forum, where they promise, “You’ll own nothing.  And you’ll be happy.”  Hmm, interesting that they have issued a statement with two declarative statements like that.  Think about it: Both statements begin with the phrase, “You will.”  And, they think they can define what makes all 7.7 billion of us happy.  That’s just a sample of the power exercised by socialist economies.  

Mark Hendrickson, reporting on the afore-mentioned Congressional vote in The Epoch Times, asks, “What can we make of the fact that 86 Democratic members of Congress voted against a denunciation of socialism?”  All reasonable people, among them, my students who visited with Sergiy this week – understand and acknowledge how destructive socialism has been.  Mr. Hendrickson says we should be tempted to ask a simple question: “Are those representatives who refrained from condemning socialism ignorant or evil? Are they somehow blind to the overwhelmingly voluminous historical evidence of socialism’s grim and deadly consequences?” 

Oh….ignorance or malfeasance is the way Ginger and I phrase it.  We should be patient with non-Christians, because they have a different view of the world than we do.  Perhaps we should have the same patience with people who are ignorant about Socialism.  Let’s assume that’s correct. 

In the introductory lecture of my Macro class at DBU, I present part of a paper I wrote with Sergiy.  These two slides conclude the mini-lecture about the evils of Socialism: In just one country, China, it killed about 60 million people in just a few years.  Then in the following 20 years, the Chinese freed 665 million people from destitution-level poverty.  They only cracked the door of free market capitalism.  For a view of where they’re going now, I will refer to you podcast #155 titled Not the Chinese Century 


Deadweight Loss 

Last week, I explained to my sophomores how taxes cause something called deadweight loss.  It really makes no difference if I’m holding the pen or Joe Biden or Janet Yellen, the lines go the same direction.  Two points: First, it makes no difference who you tax: The supplier or the demander.  And second, as you increase taxes, deadweight loss increases.  Deadweight loss is the quantity supplied and consumed that NO ONE gets, when you raise taxes.  And, when you draw the supply and demand curves, it makes no difference if the person holding the pen is the author of my textbook Gregory Mankiw, Dave Arnott, Joe Biden or Janet Yellen.  The lines go the same way, and they show that as you increase taxes, society gets less stuff.  That’s what Sergiy explained to my class this week.  For those of you who could not attend, you’re welcome to notice what’s happened in Venezuela in recent years.   

If you look at our federal debt, you realize how decades of Uncle Sam pouring massive amounts of money into healthcare has caused prices in that industry to balloon and has become a major contributor to the national debt.  In class this week, we noted that the largest government expenditure is on healthcare.  That government spending, by driving prices higher, made health care less affordable, thereby creating a need to increase federal spending on welfare even more so that poorer Americans can access it.  You noticed the upward spiral of costs?  You can apply it to my industry of higher education just as easily.  Government support drives the cost up, not down.  


The Eighth Commandment 

The government has no money.  It must take before it can give.  Every program, from school debt forgiveness to school lunch, has to be paid for by dollars that are forcefully extracted from citizens.  Speaking of school lunch, it’s not a free lunch, because there IS no free lunch.  It all gets paid for by somebody, and that somebody is the taxpayers whose money that has been earned in a system of economic justice, gets extracted from them.  That’s stealing.  In Biblical Economic Policy, we listed it as the third of Ten Biblical Commandments of Economics.  So why do we allow ANY taxation?  Because it’s a fallen world, and we need tax dollars to push against the fallen nature.  

 And here’s the strange part about it: In a relatively free market, you are free to give more of your money to the government.  Go ahead.  If you think the government can make better use of your money than you can, give it to them.  You can even earmark it: For healthcare, education, or agriculture.  Go ahead.  Is this REALLY the day you discover that you can overpay your taxes?  The government WILL TAKE your money.  But Socialists are not happy with that freedom.  They want to take away YOUR freedom to keep YOUR money.  See how it always returns to power? 

 That’s why, perhaps the most common phrase I utter as The Christian economist is the following: The intersection of Christianity and Economics is freedom.   



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