What follows is a discussion between Liberty Nation’s Editor-in-Chief Leesa K. Donner and Economic Correspondent Andrew Moran regarding socialism, the Democrats, and the timeless, salient rhetoric of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The primary for Governor of New York is a quintessential example of the philosophic and political battle currently underway within the Democratic Party. This race between Cynthia Nixon, who is best known for her role in “Sex and the City” and Andrew Cuomo in just a few weeks typifies the struggle between the socialist and more establishment wings of the Democrats.
Thus far, Ms. Nixon has promised to increase school funding, provide additional money for mass transit and plans to do all this by – you guessed it – raising taxes. Simply put, Ms. Nixon, proudly and loudly calls herself a socialist.
As the Democratic Party attempts to recover from a slew of electoral defeats, it seems an apropos moment for Nixon and her socialist leanings to come up against another female politician and a more fearsome opponent than Governor Cuomo – Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher.
LKD: Maggie Thatcher was successful in beating back socialism in Great Britain during her tenure primarily because she pointed out its many ineffectual and illogical tenets. In her final salvo to the House of Commons in 1990, Mrs. Thatcher said:
“… what the honorable member is saying is that he would rather the poor were poorer provided the rich were less rich. That way you will never create the wealth for better social services as we have. And what a policy. Yes. He would rather have the poor poorer provided the rich were less rich.”
Indeed, this observation from Mrs. Thatcher is an enduring one. Still, in the almost 30 years since the British Prime Minister’s remarks, the liberal love affair with socialism has not abated. Worse yet, it seems to be gathering steam. Why do you think that is, Andrew?
AM: It reminds me of a person I knew in college. I asked her if she would want to take the wealth away from the rich even if none of the money was transferred to the most vulnerable in society.
She said “yes.”
Ultimately, I think it comes down to envy. Socialism is all about envy, and society has treated such a feeling as a virtue. There’s an old story about two different families working on the side of the road:
One father and son see a man drive an expensive car, and the son points out how nice the car is, leaving the father to say that one day he can have the same thing if he works hard enough. Meanwhile, another father and son see the same man and his automobile, and the son points out how nice the car is. This time, the father wails about how unfair it is that he drives an expensive vehicle and that the government should spread the wealth so that everybody can own that car.
The ladder is how society functions nowadays.
Moreover, the media’s portrayal of the prime minister was, what President Trump calls, fake news, and the way the education system generally treats conservative politicians is downright dishonest. There is this consensus that if you want to cut the size and scope of government, reduce welfare benefits that ultimately perpetuate poverty, and enhance market functions, then you detest the impecunious. This limiting of the government behemoth is viewed by the left as an effort to ensure people remain impoverished, and that conservatives like Thatcher only care about the wealthy. It’s a ridiculous argument and reaffirms the leftist groupthink. They can’t see that there is a different way to alleviate poverty by increasing wealth for everybody rather than punishing certain members of society.
LKD: Andrew, you rightfully point out this narrow way of thinking is an effective method to make those who believe that hand-outs are not the way forward for a robust economy seem merciless and immoral. As well, you bring up a not much discussed, but incredibly compelling point about human emotions in general and jealousy, in specific.
When my husband and I first moved to the Swamp more than 30 years ago, we visited a friend in Manassas, Virginia, which has a lower socio-economic demographic than Washington, D.C. We stopped by a 7-11 to purchase ice for our hostess. When my husband got out of our car – which at the time was a Jaguar – a guy reached out the window of his vehicle and offered up an extended portrait of the New Jersey state bird (aka the “finger”). It was as if he was saying, “I despise you based merely on your expensive car.” We’ve never forgotten that odd, rude behavior.
The idea that a society can make the poor richer by making the rich poorer is only valid if you believe resources are limited. To extrapolate on this theory, socialists are essentially saying that societal wealth is finite – that there is no way for the poor to get ahead unless we take as much as we can from the wealthy.
And this gets back to your emotional quotient analysis that trumps the intellectual quotient for the socialist. This economic philosophy comes down to, “I want what you have, and I want it for free.” One must wonder why these folks believe that “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine?” is a workable economic strategy?
AM: There are a few reasons for this.
Many people do not understand basic economics – or they hold a contemptible view of this subject (remember when Matt Damon slammed MBA-style thinking for the deplorable state of government education?). You can’t blame young people for this because they spent 13 years of their lives in state-run schools where drag queen story time and feelings are more important than basic arithmetic.
Millennials tend to believe that the current system is a failure. Because they graduated from college with a degree in Lesbian Dance Theory and now they’re $50,000 in debt without any job prospects, they think the entire structure should crumble, and someone else should foot the bill while they concentrate on their passions.
Snake oil salesmen, like Bernie Sanders, keep shrieking that getting something for nothing can work, only if the rich would pay their fair share. Self-deception is key here. We may inherently know that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that extracting all the money from the nation’s wealthiest households is not a practical policy. But we want to believe it, just like we want to believe that a magical man in a big red suit comes to our homes every year to drop off presents.
Socialists may say it’s selfish for wanting to keep more of your money, but they don’t think it’s selfish for wanting to take more of your money for their pet projects.
LKD: Funny that you bring up Santa Claus. The young American socialist seems to be searching for Santa to come down that chimney 365 days a year. And when he doesn’t show, they become enraged. In other words – Santa owes me, and if he doesn’t cough up the goodies for all the little boys and girls on the other side of the tracks, then he needs to be reprimanded.
But let’s take a moment to return to the good Baroness once again. Perhaps Mrs. Thatcher’s most famous line regarding our topic is, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Couldn’t the socialist argue the same point that was made earlier in this article: that money is finite? Can’t they just maintain, “We want more so get to work because it’s time to pony up.” Why won’t that work?
AM: Clearly, this line of thinking is from the central planning statist perspective. As history and the data have shown, when people are taxed more, they begin to ask themselves: Why the heck am I working so much for the government? When you take more and more from the people, it creates a series of unintended consequences for the left: people start to work less since they are expecting something for nothing (why be a sucker?), there is less capital available for risk since it’s taxed before it’s accrued, and then there are high levels of unemployment that breed an expanded welfare state.
As the great 20th-century commentator Henry Hazlitt wrote: “Taxes discourage production.” But this should be updated a tad: taxes eventually make production seem like a sin rather than a virtue.
What we have here is a modern-day version of the classic Aesop fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”
One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.
“What!” cried the Ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?”
“I didn’t have time to store up any food,” whined the Grasshopper; “I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.”
The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.
“Making music, were you?” they cried. “Very well; now dance!” And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.
The industrious ant works 24/7 to save up for times of scarcity while the arrogant grasshopper scorns him. And when those lean times inevitably arrive the socialist sees the ant as selfish and greedy but the grasshopper honorable.
LKD: As long as we are citing timeless observations we might also want to consider Proverbs 14:23: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Now there’s a saying of which the Iron Lady just might approve.