In a statement that went viral on the Internet in the beginning of March, world chess champion and Russian politician Garry Kasparov commented that he was “enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of socialism and what it really means … Talking about socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism.”
Kasparov is entirely right. It’s often the argument of Sanders's supporters and socialists in general to look toward the Scandinavian nations as model welfare states. Yet when Sanders pointed to Denmark as a model for socialism, the Danish Prime Minister himself rejected Sanders’s characterization and expressed Denmark’s commitment to free markets. Nations like Denmark and Norway have a history of wealth for decades before they established their welfare states — it was the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century that paved the way for such welfare to be established in the mid-20th century. For the British, centuries of capitalism and imperialism allowed them to amass the wealth required to establish their own welfare state.
What’s more, it’s misleading to compare the healthcare systems of Europe to the single-payer system that Sanders proposes. For instance, in Sweden the system is entirely decentralized — municipal and county governments provide and distribute healthcare on their own terms, rather than a centralized national service. This is a recognition of the fact that individuals in different regions have disparate needs that a national service would be too broad to address. It’s also interesting to note that increasingly, county councils in Sweden are purchasing services from private healthcare providers. In fact, this is a trend throughout Europe: Privatized healthcare is on the rise. Meanwhile, European nations continue to be plagued by high taxes and low purchasing power. With any luck, these governments will soon witness the superiority of privatized healthcare and education, and we will see the defeat of outdated and disproven Keynesian economics within this century.
“But look at the United States system,” the socialist cries. “Healthcare and education are so expensive!” It’s a common fallacy of socialists to presume that because a capitalist system is imperfect, a socialist system will be better. There is no reason to think that a government monopoly, which is always inefficient and has no incentive to improve, would be able to treat its citizens better than companies that must fiercely compete for customers and thus offer the best service they can. It’s especially ironic when one considers how little regard for human life socialist regimes have had in the past — one need only recall the U.S.S.R., China, North Korea and Cuba. Or when one looks at economies collapsing by the weight of their socialist systems — Greece, Venezuela and most likely the entire European Union in due time. Socialism is fundamentally flawed because of this lack of incentive and always leads to decline in the end.
Many of the supposed faults of capitalism that socialists point to are actually failings of socialism as well, twisted to hide their true cause. The Great Depression, for instance, was not a failure of free markets, but a result of the manipulation of interest rates by the Federal Reserve, one of the greatest economic mistakes of our nation. The price of university has risen so far because of government guaranteed student loans, and soon that bubble will pop just as the housing bubble did in 2008. The cost of healthcare in the United States, too, is a symptom of the heavily over-regulated market of drugs and hospitals that pass on their costs to the consumer. In the end, every supposed failing of capitalism can be traced back to a government policy or overregulation in an industry. The treatment for this, as Kasparov noted, is not more government, more regulation or more expenditure. It’s deregulation, it’s cutting superfluous government programs and departments, it’s successfully ridding ourselves of the Federal Reserve that plagues our economy and drives down the value of our dollar.
Socialism is a juvenile concept that operates under the false assumption that everyone should receive entitlements regardless of the contributions they provide to the economy. It removes competition, increases inefficiency and prices, and is both economically and psychologically stifling. Free market capitalism, on the other hand, is the ultimate creator of universal success and wealth. Every drop of socialism added to an industry dilutes the effectiveness of that creation. Only in rejecting and combatting socialism and socialist ideas can you secure your liberty and the prosperity of your nation. After all, preserving economic freedom is not only a moral imperative — it’s the only system that works.
Aviv Khavich is a School of Engineering first-year student majoring in electrical engineering and computer engineering.
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