Conspiracy Theorist: 2/23

Real populism

Mark Luedtke

You don’t have to take my word for it that the US is a socialist country and has been since progressives took over both parties at the beginning of the last century. Take it from avowed socialist, senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Speaking of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Sanders said, “And, by the way, almost everything he proposed was called ‘socialist.’ Social Security, which transformed life for the elderly in this country was ‘socialist.’ The concept of the ‘minimum wage’ was seen as a radical intrusion into the marketplace and was described as ‘socialist.’ Unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, strong banking regulations, deposit insurance and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or another, as ‘socialist.’ Yet, these programs have become the fabric of our nation and the foundation of the middle class.”

Socialism is government ownership of the means of production, so Sanders is right about those programs being socialist, but he’s wrong about the consequences. Those programs, along with thousands of others, prolonged the Great Depression and have since dragged our economy down, trapped people in poverty, created a class of ultra-rich plutocrats and are wiping out the middle class.

Socialism always creates a two-tiered society: prosperity for those with access to government’s coercive power and impoverishment for those without. There are no exceptions, not even Scandinavia.

As advancing socialism exacerbates income inequality in the US, I can’t help but laugh when people call Sanders populist. Socialism is the antithesis of populism. Because the power of coercion corrupts, governments with the power of coercion can only be corrupt and counterproductive to the interests of everybody but the handful of people with access to that power.

Either the people have power or rulers have it. Socialism transfers all power to rulers. Libertarianism is the philosophy where the people retain all power.

I don’t know if Sanders repeats the myth that socialist policies created and sustained the middle class because he really believes it or is just saying it to gain power, but we have socialist schools to thank for miseducating so many Americans about socialism. The American middle class has existed since the colonies. It was created by the accumulation of capital in an environment of tremendous economic freedom. Americans raced across the continent, outpacing government parasites and building the middle class. Capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution greatly expanded the middle class in America, enabling the huge, parasitic progressive government that followed. Americans’ high standard of living in the 20th century was a product of capital accumulation and happened in spite of government, not because of it.

As government grew, it put an ever greater burden on the economy, causing capital accumulation to slow, stagnate and finally to reverse. Our standard of living is falling today because of capital consumption caused by over-burdensome government. You can see that trend in economic growth statistics for the last century.

While foolish Americans advocate socialism, the advance of capitalism is lifting people out of poverty all around the world.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter predicted capitalism, because of its success, would lead to socialism. Matt McCaffrey writes, “[Schumpeter’s] basic argument goes like this: an entrepreneurial market economy generates tremendous growth and increases living standards. Ironically though, it becomes so prosperous and innovative it loses sight of the source of its wealth, and even becomes hostile toward it. Entrepreneurship enriches society so much that people forget how necessary and how fragile the market economy really is. They even start to believe that markets—and the [classical] liberal social order that supports them—are inferior to government bureaucracy and central planning. Eventually, society embraces socialism.”

In this primary season, Llewellyn Rockwell makes a similar point by contrasting politics and capitalism. Of politics, Rockwell writes, “…we should spurn what the establishment would have us celebrate. Politics operates according to principles that would horrify us if we observed them in our private lives, and that would get us arrested if we tried to live by them. The state can steal and call it taxation, kidnap and call it conscription, kill and call it war.

“And yet we are taught to fear capitalism, of all things. But what, after all, are capitalism and the free market? They are nothing more than the sum total of voluntary exchanges in society.”

Only in upside-down world could authoritarian socialism be construed as populist while voluntary capitalism and libertarian philosophy are demagogue.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Mark Luedtke
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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