Since 1972, Gallup has polled the American people about their trust and confidence in government to solve domestic and international problems. The results, over those nearly five decades, have been lukewarm: flipping between a “fair amount” and “not very much.” For an institution that has confiscated and pickpocketed tens of trillions of dollars from taxpayers – spending the money to grant the wishes of every voting bloc in the nation – you would expect a more glowing reception beyond a shrug and a little grudging acceptance. And yet, despite the public’s phlegmatic response to the Leviathan, millions of Americans still demand that the state “do something” about health care, education, and the economy. What that something is doesn’t matter as long as our rulers look busy doing it.
Sucking Down a Coronavirus
The world has been aware of the coronavirus since January. After initially downplaying its power, the central planners have decided to act. As usual, the government has mishandled the issue, displaying the inherent failure of the state. Washington faces a shortage of testing kits, public agencies are accidentally releasing patients who tested positive for Covid-19, bureaucrats are beginning to conceal negative results, and politicians are appropriating billions of dollars – a large number of which will likely be wasted.
The opposition has pounced. Liberty Nation’s Lorraine Silvetz recently reported on the left’s handwringing over President Donald Trump and his administration’s reaction to the virus. The Democratic leadership called the White House’s handling of the matter “anemic,” while progressive busybodies are digitally shrieking about inept management at the top.
It was inevitable that, in the Swamp, the virus would become politicized. No matter what plan the administration had put forward, Trump’s detractors on Capitol Hill and in the legacy press would have found something about which to complain. The president could have personally developed a cure for Covid-19, and leftists would hold nationwide demonstrations. But this is low-hanging fruit. The real story is that the government can never do anything right – whether in Republican or Democrat hands.
Indeed, the irony in all of this is the left’s unbridled faith in the state. On the one hand, the president’s detractors are railing against the administration’s alleged inaction over the virus. On the other, they are demanding the government take over health care. Leftists will present the argument that Washington might be failing in its role to defeat the virus because the wrong people are in charge. If only the right men and women were leading the crusade, then the pandemic would cease to exist – and everybody could have free medical care.
Therein lies the fallacy that too many socialist apologists utilize: Socialism did not work in [insert country here] because it was not correctly implemented.
The Worst Get to the Top
In Friedrich Hayek’s seminal work, The Road to Serfdom, the libertarian icon writes about how the worst get to the top. It is not the public’s fear of a totalitarian government, he posited, but the “danger that it might be run by bad men.” In other words, citizens will advocate for big government if the “right” statists are in charge – even if they rule with an iron fist.
It is this naivety that ultimately leads to disastrous outcomes. The utopians will proclaim to the heavens that a specific socialist or communist platform, party, or program works in a small town halfway around in the world in the middle of nowhere. When the system crumbles, defenders of the ideology will inevitably blame the person in charge rather than the very system they profess is the cure to all our problems.
Venezuela is a modern-day case study in this statist thinking. When Hugo Chavez embraced democratic socialism – or, you know, dictatorship – and ostensibly eradicated poverty with Marxist nostrums, progressives declared that the world had stumbled upon a socialist utopia. Years later, with millions of Venezuelans on a diet comprised of garbage, pigeons, and pets, apologists will postulate that Nicolas Maduro – rather than socialism itself – is to blame for the widespread misery, suffering, and deprivation.
The Land of Milk and Honey
Greek tragedian playwright Euripides wrote, “When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” The Democratic primary season has shown us the truth in these words. Every top-tier candidate eloquently promised to utilize Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole to gift millions of Americans free stuff – magically paying for it all with soy milk and vegan chocolate chip cookies. Every debate had a spot where somebody would run through a comprehensive list of everything the state would provide, from child care to health care to free tuition. The proponents used benevolent words, such as economic justice and social equity, to sell their snake oil.
Millions of voters choose to avoid learning from economics, history, human nature, or the standard TANSTAAFL principle. With the best of intentions, they wish to repeat the mistakes of the past. By exploiting ignorance, collective munificence, and desperation, ruthless politicians desiring to wield power ascend to the thrones of socialist countries.
Read more from Andrew Moran.