The View From 1776

The Liberal Bucket Has a Gaping Hole In It

      http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/the_liberal_bucket_has_a_gaping_hole_in_it/

Liberalism can’t carry its own water.  Tested on its most basic claim to superiority, liberal-socialisism fails dismally.


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Despite liberals’ claim to superior wisdom, everywhere the real-world results of liberal-socialism fall far short of predicted results.  Liberal-socialism is such a leaky bucket that, before you can get from the well to the house, all the water has drained out.

Liberal rhetoric centers on “fairness” and “helping the little guy,” both presented in PR terms as moral issues.  This is rank hypocrisy.  And, from an economic viewpoint, it is destructive mendacity. 

Look instead at reality.  Because liberalism is an atheistic, secular, and materialistic ideology, it has to stand or fall exclusively on its material results; it has to be more efficient and more productive than the individualistic, Judeo-Christian ethos on which the United States was founded. 

Liberals’ chatter about “fairness” is hypocrisy, because there is no moral content in liberal atheism.  “Fairness” in practice is nothing more than arbitrary allocations of tax revenues, based on buying the maximum number of votes; the masses will always happily take something that appears to be free. 

Liberalism is, as Darwinism proclaims, a morally relativistic world view without right or wrong.  It is a world view without standards of decency, in which the most degraded imaginable forms of hedonism are welcomed as “freedom.”  It is a world in which women can murder their infants as a right of “privacy.”  It is a world whose heroes are people like Teddy Kennedy, the Hero of Chappaquiddick.

Liberal-socialist theory sounds deceptively logical.  The only reality is material things that can be touched, seen, heard, tasted, or smelled; the rest is Judeo-Christian, unscientific ignorance.  That means that only material factors can influence human conduct; forget about moral codes.  A government of collectivized political power can regulate the materialistic factors of its economy and thereby control the productivity of its citizens and maximize social harmony.

Liberal-socialist theory further asserts that free-market competition produces waste by encouraging an unnecessarily large array of products and by spending on middle-men like advertisers and wholesalers.  The profit motive encourages capitalist entrepreneurs to build speculative, unnecessary production facilities with money that ought to be in the hands of socialistic state-planners.  Don’t worry about about technological innovation; remember that Al Gore invented the internet.

State-planners, in contrast to selfish, profit-driven businessmen, are concerned only about the public welfare.  In addition, they are more intelligent and better informed about the “laws” of human behavior, which enables them to eliminate unnecessary products and to employ existing production and distribution facilities more efficiently.  Thus, according to theory, liberal-socialism is more efficient and more productive than free-market individualism.

Unfortunately for liberals, there is an inescapable inconvenience.  So far, it hasn’t worked that way.

As an example, let’s take a look at Sweden, the darling of liberal-socialists, the best that the world of liberal-socialism has to offer.  Sweden was apotheosized by Pulitzer-Prize-winning liberal columnist Marquis Childs in his 1930 best-seller, “Sweden: The Middle Way.”  The book influenced Franklin Roosevelt’s decision in the 1932 election campaign to promise imposition of socialistic state-planning in the New Deal.

Sweden’s experience suggests that the heaven-on-earth of liberal-socialism’s materialistic political and social order is, in practice, not a boost to productivity, but a disincentive to work and to produce goods and services.  According to its own government statistical studies, the average Swedish citizen in 1999 had a comparative income 40 percent lower than his American counterpart.? Worse, productivity is so much lower in Sweden that the gap is increasing each year. 

This should be no surprise.  Aristotle noted about 2,300 years ago in his “Politics” that when everything belongs to everybody, nobody feels the need or the responsibility to take care of it.  Socialism begets the mindset that “they” will do everything for you; just worry about getting your entitlements.

According to a New York Times report published September 24, 2002,
“A government report this month showed that one in 20 Swedish workers were on sick leave for more than a week last year, double the European Union average, and that paid sick leave averaged nearly 25 days, up from 14 days in 1998.  An average of 430,000 Swedish employees, 10 percent of the country’s work force, is on sick leave at any given time.

“According to another study, carried out for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise by the research firm Temo, 62 percent of the employees interviewed said they had taken sick leave when they were not really sick and that they felt there was nothing wrong in doing so.

“.....The government pays a benefit equal to 80 percent of a person’s salary during sick leave, no matter how long, and an additional 10 percent in what is called “contract insurance” for the first three months.  This public outlay has grown to $5.3 billion annually from just over $2 billion in 1998.

“Getting a doctor’s certificate often takes just a phone call.  The Temo study showed that physicians routinely approve sick leaves solely at a patient’s request.

“......when the government made benefits more generous, people took more days off.  In 1998, Prime Minister Goran Persson increased the government’s benefit from 75 percent to 80 percent of salary, and the average number of days spiked upward each year thereafter, from 11.1 in 1997 to 24.4 in 2001.”

Sweden’s unemployment rate of 5.6 percent (in August, 2004) was not high compared to other socialist countries like Germany and France, which push into double digits.  But Sweden’s percentage of GDP allocated to welfare-state benefits is among the highest in the world, so any increase in unemployment and reduction in tax revenues immediately impacts the gargantuan Swedish welfare-state budget.

The problem is so severe that, in 2002, Sweden began a program to coax the long-term unemployed back into the work force.  Under its program, workers are paid 85 percent of their regular wages if they agree to take a twelve-months’ sabbatical and let unemployed people get training in their jobs.  The hope is that some long-term loafers might discover that working for a living is not entirely bad.

Whether this program works or not, it does not increase production of goods and services, the sole criterion upon which liberal-socialism can be judged.

The Swedish government’s tax burden on its citizens is almost 51 percent of the GDP, approximately twice as high as the 25.4 percent in the semi-socialist United States.  In plain terms, the socialistic government arrogates the prerogative of deciding for you how you should spend your money.  It takes most of your income as taxes, then gives it back, less administrative costs, in the form of standardized welfare benefits available to anyone, without regard to merit.

This explains why so many Swedes go into long-term unemployment or, when they work, fail to show up on the job an average of one day a week.  Young Swedes told New York Times reporters that they did so, because everyone gets paid more or less the same wages, no matter how well or how poorly he performs, so there is little incentive to work hard.  Moreover, with just about the highest tax rates in the world, Swedes have very little discretionary income left to spend on personal entertainment, so why not just take time off from work?

Yes, but what about the social benefits of “cradle-to-grave” welfare coddling?  Even there, performance of materialistic liberal-socialism is not what liberal theorists lead one to expect.  According to the Spectator.UK, Sweden’s crime rate is the highest in Europe, despite the liberal dogma that crime is purely the result of an inadequate welfare state.

Mona Charen, in her August 15, 2003, column wrote about the “health gap” between former members of the Soviet economic bloc and other, less socialized Western countries.  Hungary, she noted, ranked first in the world for the rate of cancer deaths among men and women in 2000, according to the American Cancer Society.  For men, the other Eastern European countries held the second through seventh places

“What’s interesting,” she wrote, ” about this [Washington Post] story (aside from the obvious) is that it so casually acknowledges a reality that was, until very recently, hotly denied by the kinds of people who write for The Washington Post.  I refer to the fact that in all ways , including quality of life and very much including health care, the communist countries were vastly inferior to the free West.

“During the Cold War, liberals were always telling us that while the communist states certainly could not claim to have political liberty, they had outperformed the harsh, capitalist West in terms of social services.  The communist health care systems were very much lauded and admired.  Why, in the Soviet Union, they gushed, health care was “free” and nearly all of the doctors were women. A two-fer! “

For those with eyes to see, what emerges is that liberal-socialism amounts to eating your seed-corn.  Your stomach is full today if you eat everything you already have, but tomorrow there will be no new corps to fill your belly. 

It is a snap-shot theory that assumes all economic conditions are fixed, that intellectual planners merely have to move people and productive facilities around as if they were checkers on a checker-board.  It makes no allowance for real-life reactions of real people to socialism: self-centered greed or passive resistance.

Liberalism is, in the final analysis, an artificial and savagely destructive world view that sooner or later will impoverish its religious adherents and sap their patriotic will to defend their nations.


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