In Part 4 of this series, I listed some of the practical problems with socialism. In this installment, I focus on a fundamental flaw with socialism that liberals simply ignore. As the left continues to advocate for the nationalization of banks, automobile manufacturers, insurance companies, healthcare, education, and energy production, left-leaning politicians are ignoring incontrovertible evidence that socialism simply will not work in an environment of global competition. Socialism is a bad idea in a world where the ability to compete in the global arena is so large a factor in determining a nation’s quality of life. For evidence of this fact, one need only look at the situation that now exists in Europe as a result of socialist government policies and the socialist mindset of the people.
Britain is not alone in being held back in the battle of the marketplace by its socialist policies. Because of their socialist economies, European countries are like sprinters who must drag an anchor behind them as they race against fleet, unencumbered sprinters from India, China, Japan, and Korea. In spite of this, America is blindly following the lead of its hapless European counterparts. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried and yet left-leaning politicians continue to promote socialist policies in the form of bailouts, handouts, and entitlements. What these politicians refuse to acknowledge is that socialism fails because it is inherently flawed, not because Europeans have failed to effectively apply its principles.
“According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average working American spends 1,976 hours a year on the job. The average German works just 1,535—22 percent less. The Dutch and Norwegians put in even fewer hours. Even the British do 10 percent less work than their trans-Atlantic cousins. As revealing as they are, these figures actually understate the extent of European idleness because a larger proportion of Americans work than do their counterparts in Europe. Unemployment rates in most Northern European countries are also markedly higher than those in the United States. Then there are the strikes. Between 1992 and 2001, the Spanish economy lost, on average, 271 days per 1,000 employees as a result of strikes. For Denmark, Italy, Finland, Ireland and France, the figures range between 80 and 120 days.” (Nial Ferguson, The New York Times, December 12, 2008). Consider how these facts play out in the global arena. While Europeans are idle, workers in Japan, China, India, and Korea are producing. To make matters worse, even when they are working Europeans are less productive than their Asian competitors because of their poor work ethic, an attitude synonymous with, and fostered by socialism.
A free-market economy works—even if imperfectly—because it appeals to and rewards many of the positive elements of human nature (i.e. thrift, diligence, self-reliance, self-discipline, responsibility, accountability, delayed gratification, hard work, initiative, ambition, foresight, perseverance, and innovation). Socialism does not work because it appeals to and rewards the counterproductive elements of human nature (i.e. sloth, laziness, dependence on others, envy, irresponsibility, and lack of ambition). A free-market economy rewards those who pull the wagon. Socialism rewards those who ride in it. Those on the left who deny this inherent flaw think socialism will work simply because they want it to.