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The Greed of Socialism

Bryce Dunio ’22, Opinion Columnist

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On August 13th, 2018, a Gallup poll was released with startling results: 57% of Democrats and left-leaning independents viewed socialism positively compared to 47% viewing capitalism positively – a 10% difference. The Democratic opinion on capitalism and socialism have been quite similar over the years, with 56% positively viewing capitalism and 58% positively viewing socialism just in 2016, but the difference jumping from 2% to 10% cannot be ignored. Politicians embracing socialist policies are consequently gaining unexpected traction across the US, including political giant Bernie Sanders and the “future of our party” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as DNC Chairman Tom Perez calls her. It is apparent that the US’ political left is making a general shift to the left, guided by the aroma of socialism, and that, as Perez said himself, socialist policies are the likely future of the party. Although I personally believe socialists derive their beliefs from a place of extreme compassion and sympathy for the disadvantaged, the system they advocate for is a prescription with fundamentally immoral beliefs and ideas.

A prominent socialist idea is that a difference in wealth can entitle one individual to the fruits of another individual’s labor. This idea fuels socialist rhetoric on a plethora of issues, the biggest arguably being the wealth gap. The true issue with the wealth gap, however, is that it isn’t an issue at all. No political party questions that poverty is a serious problem and that we must continue pursuing the end of it. Why is it then that socialists place so much focus on those at the top? 

Someone like Bill Gates certainly hasn’t oppressed anyone, despite being listed by Forbes as the 2nd richest person alive. In fact, Gates employs over 131,000 individuals across the world through Microsoft alone according to Statistica. All of Microsoft’s employees work there voluntarily and are able to leave anytime they want, while the consumer can voluntarily choose to purchase electronics from Apple or Google if they do not prefer Microsoft. This seems quite like the opposite of oppression, but to socialists it seems this amount of economic freedom is oppressive and greedy.

To advocate for the redistribution of wealth in society, especially on individuals like Bill Gates, is to advocate for theft – even if the majority threatens to punish those who won’t comply with the seizure of wealth. Whether one personally steals someone’s wealth or votes on doing so with a group, it is still the same immoral theft. To think anyone is entitled to Bill Gates’ wealth other than Bill Gates is truly greedy and envious. Solving poverty simply isn’t as easy as seizing Bill Gates’ wealth and giving it to the disadvantaged, nor are any other problems our nation faces. This is in no way meant to be an argument against necessary taxes, as I enjoy driving on paved roads quite thoroughly, but rather the redistribution of wealth in society to pursue equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.

The greatest irony of our gradual turn to socialism is just how great the world actually is when mixed economies allow the free market to boom and the business to flourish. Our World in Data is an organization that, as its name creatively states, presents our world and its history through the use of graphs and statistics. 

One graph, specifically focusing on absolute poverty, shows how those living with less than $1.90/day dropped by ~35% from 1980 to 2015. Thankfully wages in the United States passed this amount decades ago, but it was not through someone like Bernie Sanders that our living standard has become among the best in the world. 

It was through the power of human ingenuity, freedom, and the free market that we have made such strides, rather than embracing the very collectivist thought that has time and time again ended in disaster and hardship.

If a child tries to put metal in an electrical outlet and is told it inevitably ends badly, the child either learns this the easy way or the hard way. America is that child and socialism is that metal. We can continue to ignore the failures of socialism found in nations like Venezuela and the USSR, claiming that they just “didn’t do it right,” or we can acknowledge the immoral, unfair, and greedy nature of socialism. 

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The Greed of Socialism