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America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

By: Matthew Continettifreebeacon.com

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. This never happened in America. Labor confronted capital throughout the late nineteenth century, often violently, but American democracy and constitutionalism withstood the clash. Socialist movements remained minority persuasions. When Eugene V. Debs ran for president in 1912, he topped out at 6 percent of the vote. Populist third-party candidates, from George Wallace in 1968 (14 percent) to Ross Perot in 1992 (19 percent) have done much better.

Keep this in mind when you read about the rebirth of socialism. Yes, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are household names. Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has spiked since 2016. Forty percent of Americans told Gallup last month that “some form of socialism” would be “a good thing for the country.” Media are filled with trend pieces describing the socialist revival. A recent issue of The Economist devoted the cover package to “Millennial socialism.” The current New Republic includes four articles about “the socialist moment.” In March, New York magazine asked, “When did everyone become a socialist?”

That question tells you more about the editors of New York than the country itself. As Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute has observed, views toward socialism are stable. In 2010, 36 percent of respondents to the Gallup poll had a positive view of socialism. In 2018 the number was 37 percent. In 2009, 23 percent told the Fox News poll, “Moving away from capitalism and more toward socialism would be a good thing.” In 2019 the number was 24 percent. Fifty-four percent said it would be a bad thing. Gallup found that less than half of America would vote for a socialist candidate.

Socialism is in vogue because no one is sure what it is. The classic definition of abolishing private property, a planned economy, and collective ownership of the means of production no longer applies. More people today believe that socialism means “equality” than “government control.” Six percent told Gallup that socialism is “talking to people” or “being social.” The same Gallup poll that found 40 percent of the public has a positive view of socialism, however you define it, also discovered large majorities in favor of the free market leading the way on innovation, the distribution of wealth, the economy overall, and wages, and smaller majorities for free-market approaches to higher education and health care. Americans are very bad socialists.

And socialists know it. That’s why their most prominent spokesmen frame their domestic agendas in the language of the welfare state and social democracy, even as they celebrate, excuse, or defend socialist authoritarians abroad. Sanders told NPR in March, “What I mean by democratic socialism is that I want a vibrant democracy.” Okay, then—who doesn’t? The following month he told Trevor Noah that socialism “means economic rights and human rights. I believe from the bottom of my heart that health care is a human right. … To be a democratic socialist means that we believe—I believe—that human rights include a decent job, affordable housing, health care, education, and, by the way, a clean environment.” But this is not so different from FDR’s conception of the “four freedoms.” So what differentiates Sanders from a New Deal Democrat?

The less prominent socialists are somewhat more specific. Article II of the constitution of the DSA, to which Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib belong, states: “We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.” That is closer to the traditional definition of socialism—a definition that implies a set of institutional arrangements that inevitably would limit freedom of choice.

“Our task is formidable. Democratic socialists must secure decisive majorities in legislatures while winning hegemony in the unions,” writes Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine, in his Socialist Manifesto. “Then our organizations must be willing to flex their social power in the form of mass mobilizations and political strikes to counter the structural power of capital and ensure that our leaders choose confrontation over accommodation with elites.”

Good luck with that. Before they seize control of the unions—which represent a paltry 11 percent of U.S. workers—today’s socialists will have to overcome the same barriers that thwarted their predecessors. Nowhere has “American exceptionalism” been more evident than in the fact that the United States has been the only country without a major socialist, social democratic, or Communist party. The articles celebrating the rise in DSA membership to more than 40,000 fail to mention that there are tens of millions of Republicans and Democrats. Socialist politicians, activists, and theorists neglect the shaggy-dog history of their persuasion in the United States. The historical examples in Sunkara’s book are almost entirely drawn from Europe. It’s as if history began with Sanders’s candidacy in 2016.

In fact, socialists have recognized the difficulty they face in the United States for over a century. In 1906 the German sociologist Werner Sombart devoted a monograph to answering the question, Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? Sombart noted the comparatively high and rising standard of living of American workers. “On the reefs of roast beef and apple pie,” he said, “socialistic Utopias of every sort are sent to their doom.”

American workers had won political rights earlier than their European counterparts, making them less likely to conflate civil rights with economic benefits. America’s liberal culture emphasized social mobility. The staggering racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of America made class-consciousness almost impossible. As Max Beer, an Australian socialist of the early twentieth century, wrote,

Even when the time is ripe for a Socialist movement, it can only produce one when the working people form a certain cultural unity, that is, when they have a common language, a common history, a common mode of life. This is the case in Europe, but not in the United States. Its factories, mines, farms, and the organizations based on them are composite bodies, containing the most heterogeneous elements, and lacking stability and the sentiment of solidarity.

When it comes to preventing socialism, diversity really is our strength.

The two-party system marginalizes small, independent parties and accommodates rising tendencies and programs within preexisting electoral coalitions. Most important of all, the Constitution decentralizes and diffuses power, making it extremely difficult to expand drastically the power of the state in the name of social justice.

In 1967, Daniel Bell offered an additional explanation for the weakness of American socialism: “At one crucial turning point after another,” he wrote in Marxian Socialism in the United States, “when the socialist movement could have entered more directly into American life—as did so many individual socialists who played a formative role in liberal political development—it was prevented from doing so by its ideological dogmatism.”

All of these various obstacles remain in place. In January, Gallup found that 77 percent of Americans are happy “with the overall quality of life in the U.S.” Sixty-five percent are satisfied with the “opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard.” Fifty-three percent like the “influence of organized religion.” We have the best employment situation in half a century. Real disposable income continues to rise. Last year the Congressional Budget Office reported that all Americans have enjoyed an increase of post-tax income since 1979. “It’s doubtful that most Americans would prefer to revert to the world as it was in 1979,” wrote Robert Samuelson, “a world without smartphones, the Internet, most cable television, or laparoscopic surgery,” and with the Soviet Union.

The United States is far more heterogeneous than it was 40 years ago. The success of identity politics and “woke capitalism” underscores the difficulty of making the sort of class-based appeals Sanders learned at meetings of the Young People’s Socialist League. Americans put their familial, racial, ethnic, and religious attachments ahead of membership in an income or occupational group. Besides, some 70 percent of America considers itself middle class.

One of the reasons the socialist and socialist-curious candidates in the Democratic primary have been arguing against the Electoral College and for expanding the Supreme Court is they understand the challenge the Constitution poses to their dreams. The type of centralization and bureaucratic administration socialism requires is incompatible with a system of federalism, checks and balances, and enumerated powers. Fortunately, structural change is extremely difficult in our vast and squabbling country. It was meant to be.

The self-defeating tendencies toward radicalism and sectarianism are also visible. Expanding government to provide more resources to the poor is popular; eliminating private and employer-based insurance is not. Protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions is popular; abolishing air travel and declaring war on cows is not. More money for teachers is popular; freezing support for charter schools, as Sanders called for this week, is not. DSA member Doug Henwood writes in the New Republic of a split emerging within the organization between “Bread and Roses” and the “Socialist Majority Caucus.” The narcissism of small differences has doomed such movements in the past.

Note also that Sanders has faded in recent weeks after Democratic voters encountered a viable non-socialist alternative in Joe Biden. Ocasio-Cortez’s favorability is underwater. Medicare for All polls well with voters in the abstract—when they assume it means simply more of the current Medicare program—but support falls as soon as they hear about the conformity and control it will entail.

The good news is America contains antibodies against socialism. As Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks wrote in 2000, “Features of the United States that Tocqueville, and many others since, have focused on include its relatively high levels of social egalitarianism, economic productivity, and social mobility (particularly into elite strata), alongside the strength of religion, the weakness of the central state, the earlier timing of electoral democracy, ethnic and racial diversity, and the absence of feudal remnants, especially fixed social classes.” The title of Lipset and Marks’s book is It Didn’t HappenHere. And as long as we uphold and defend the political and cultural elements that make America exceptional, it won’t.


School Vouchers Aren’t Welfare for the Rich

By Christian Barnard • Reason

“Do School Vouchers Only Benefit the Wealthy?” asks an article this month in Governing. Like too many headlines, the implication is that school choice is a scam that disproportionately benefits wealthy students who already live in high-performing districts. The Governing story suggests that Arizona’s education savings accounts (ESAs)––publicly-funded savings accounts that parents can use to pay for private school tuition or other education services for their children––rarely help out those who authentically need assistance, favoring already-privileged children instead.

The article cites a 2017 report from The Arizona Republic which found that 75 percent of the ESA money went to students leaving districts that had an “A” or “B” ranking, and only 4 percent of the money followed students opting out of districts rated “D” or lower.

But these numbers hardly even hint at the full story. Arizona’s ESA program can only be used by specific groups of disadvantaged students. In fact, Arizona Department of Education data from 2017 reveals that 82 percent of ESA recipients were students with special needs, from military families, or students from D/F rated schools. Continue reading


Trump Announces E.U. Has Granted Trade Concessions

By Jack Crowe • National Review

President Trump announced during a Wednesday press conference that his meeting with European officials yielded key trade concessions, including an increase in American soybean and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe, and a commitment to work toward eliminating non-auto tariffs entirely.

“We have agreed today to work toward zero tariffs, zero tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said, reciting a joint statement crafted with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. “We will also work to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans. The European Union is going to start almost immediately to but a lot of soybeans, they’re a tremendous market, to buy a lot of soybeans from our famers in the midwest primarily.”

“The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas from the United States and they’re going to be a very big buyer. We’re going to make it much easier for them but they will be massive buyers, so that they will be able to diversify their energy supply,” he added.

Continue reading


President Trump’s Economic Recovery Proves America’s Freedom Still Has A Chance

By Adam Mill • The Federalist

Recently, Jesse Kelly wrote a worthy article forecasting the United States’ decline and eventual suffocation in the quicksand of socialism. He correctly notes that as government gets bigger, freedom must get smaller.

Kelly clearly fears a socialist America will follow the failures of Greece, Venezuela, and every other country that has followed a welfare state model to its logical conclusion. While he is absolutely right that economic failure and socialism are inexorably related, he is not correct that the United States is on an unstoppable path to this oblivion.

Take cheer, Kelly: we have reason to be optimistic as a result of President Trump’s brief but dazzling experiment with cutting taxes and regulation. While government is growing, it’s not growing fast enough to crowd-out all freedom. One byproduct of the Trump boom is that economic growth is actually outpacing growth in government spending. The government’s share of gross domestic product has fallen to Continue reading


Boom — Jobs Aplenty as Economy Steams Ahead

By Washington Examiner

The economy is booming. Even the New York Times, no fan of the president, decided that “splendid” and “excellent” were appropriate adjectives to describe Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These showed the nationwide unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent. If it improves yet further, it will hit lows not seen since the 1960s. The unemployment rate among black people fell to 5.9 percent, an all-time low, which makes one wonder how many African-American voters might think twice about voting against the incumbent Republicans in the midterm elections. The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point, but remains below 5 percent. Before President Trump took office, that stat could only be said of one month since the statistics bureau began tracking it in the 1970s.

The good news is not confined to the fact that there is an abundance of jobs. Wages are rising, too. For the first time Continue reading


U.S. Economy Has Its Growth Mojo Back

By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily

T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” but when it comes to America’s fiscal picture, nothing could be further from the truth about this April. The latest government numbers confirm that last month was a blockbuster for growth, federal revenues, and deficit reduction.

One of the key principles of Trumponomics is that faster economic growth can help solve a multitude of other social and economic problems – from poverty, to inner-city decline, to lowering the national debt.

We’re not quite at a sustained elevated growth rate of 3% yet, but the latest economy snapshot tells us we are knocking on the door. The growth rate over the last four quarters came in at 2.9% — which Continue reading


U.S. Back At No. 1 Competitiveness Ranking

By Investor’s Business Daily

Economy: Have Donald Trump’s policies had a big impact on the U.S. economy and its competitiveness? The answer, we think, is an obvious yes. Now comes a new report, based mainly on “hard” data, that confirms that.

The report comes from the IMD Competitiveness Center in Switzerland. Each year it ranks countries by 256 different variables to come up with its global competitiveness rankings.

For 2018, there was a surprise: The U.S. leapt three places to take over the top spot in global competitiveness — just ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. That jump was based on its “strength in economic performance and infrastructure,” ranking first in both areas.

That this is so shouldn’t shock anyone with any knowledge of what’s going on in the economy.

Since Trump took office, GDP growth has Continue reading


Frontiers of Freedom Statement on the U.S. Postal Service’s Latest Losses and the Administration’s Opportunity to Transform the Agency

By Frontiers of Freedom

Washington D.C. – This week, the U.S. Postal Service released its financial report for the midway point of the 2018 fiscal year, which detailed yet another distressing loss of $1.3 billion. After monitoring the Postal Service’s financial mismanagement for years, Frontiers of Freedom expressed its continued concern about the agency’s direction.

“The latest losses posted by the USPS offer yet another indicator that the organization and its governing bodies have neglected to offer meaningful solutions to avert a likely taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service,” said George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom.

Landrith further discussed the Trump Administration’s work to address the beleaguered agency: “The new Postal Task Force to be led by Secretary Mnuchin offers a promising step towards implementing structural changes that the USPS needs. It is imperative that the Task Force identify the right path forward. Any serious proposal will ensure that the Postal Service fixes its deteriorating letter mail service for all Americans and becomes a sustainable operation well into the future. But making minor course corrections at this point will not get the job done. The problems at the USPS are serious enough that real and bold reforms are required. There is no time to waste.”

As Frontiers of Freedom notes, the Postal Service’s ability to provide reliable and efficient mail service to all, and especially for those in rural communities, is a significant point of concern. A recent report by the USPS’ regulator found that the Postal Service failed to meet its performance objectives for every single service included within First-Class Mail.

Previous policymaking and management practices have proven insufficient for correcting the Postal Service’s course and the Administration must now seek new drastic changes to ensure a genuinely accountable and sustainable operation.


Why Socialism Doesn’t Work, as Learned by a Waiter

By Rob Knowles • The Association of Mature American Citizens

“In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy.” – David Horowitz

I had a topic in mind for today’s piece, and was set on writing about it when my roommate came home from his new job as a server. Our subsequent conversation blew me away because despite my roommate’s ardent support of Democrats, and Bernie Sanders specifically, he made an inadvertent argument against socialism.

I sat on our big red couch in awe as he said the following (not exact wording):

The job is really nice. The only annoying thing about it is that our tips are pooled. It kind of makes you wanna work less hard because you’re not getting your tips directly.” Continue reading


Millennials like socialism — until they get jobs

By Emily Ekins     •     Washington Post

Millennials are the only age group in America in which a majority views socialism favorably. A national Reason-Rupe survey found that 53 percent of Americans under 30 have a favorable view of socialism compared with less than a third of those over 30. Moreover, Gallup has found that an astounding 69 percent of millennials say they’d be willing to vote for a “socialist” candidate for president — among their parents’ generation, only a third would do so. Indeed, national polls and exit polls reveal about 70 to 80 percent of young Democrats are casting their ballots for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

Yet millennials tend to reject the actual definition of socialism — government ownership of the means of production, or government running businesses. Only 32 percent of millennials favor “an economy managed by the government,” while, similar to older generations, 64 percent prefer a free-market economy. And as millennials age and begin to earn more, their socialistic ideals seem to slip away. Continue reading


Socialism’s Bloody History Shows Millennials Should Think Twice Before Supporting It

Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the power to distribute society’s goods and services. History shows those who have this power abuse it in horrific ways.

by Stella Morabito     •     The Federalist

Nikolai Bukharin was executed by shooting in Moscow on March 15, 1938. He had been revered as a giant of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, as one who even worked side by side with Vladimir Lenin himself. Alas, Bukharin’s Marxist chickens had come home to roost by the time he was shot like a dog during Josef Stalin’s reign of terror. His execution marked the pinnacle of Stalin’s show trials of high-level officials.

You see, Bukharin invested in building a political system that inevitably puts the reins of power into the hands of just a few strongmen who end up calling all the shots. It’s a system in which suspicion and the smell of treason tend to hang in the air.

Socialism, by the way, is just such a system. This is the case whether you call it by any other name, whether communism, utopianism, or collectivism. Oh, go ahead and slap some lipstick on that pig and call it “democratic” socialism or “progressivism” or “communitarianism.” Continue reading


Free Markets Are Moral and Superior


Yellen’s Job Puzzle: Why Are 20-Somethings Retiring?

Americans are increasingly foregoing paychecks due to disability, school or retirement

by Kasia Klimasinska

How come more people are retiring in their early 20s? Why are middle-age men becoming stay-at-home dads? What’s keeping women out of the workforce other than illness, kids or school?

Those are some of the questions raised in a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report that shows changes over the past decade in why people stay out of the labor force. Finding answers is key for the Federal Reserve as it maps the contours of a job market that’s becoming harder to predict with the aging of the baby boomers and shifting household priorities.

Here’s what the bureau found, broadly: Thirty-five percent of the U.S. population wasn’t in the labor force in 2014, up from 31.3 percent a decade earlier. (You’re considered out of the workforce if you don’t have a job and aren’t looking for one. That’s distinct from the official unemployment rate, which tracks those out of work who are actively job hunting.)

Drilling down into the numbers reveals more about the shifts in the reasons some people forego a paycheck. In all age groups, for instance, more people cited retirement as the reason for being out of the labor force, and it wasn’t just older people. Continue reading


U.S. drops to 16th on ‘economic freedom’ list, behind Canada, Chile

By PAUL BEDARD     •     Washington Examiner

The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.

The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.

The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation. Continue reading


Why Liberals Hate Uber

By Rich Lowry     •     RealClearPolitics

Grandmothers may know best, as Hillary Clinton has put it in tweets, but judging by her latest economic speech, they don’t necessarily get or like Uber.

The ride-sharing service is synonymous with the new efficiency and convenience enabled by information technology, and is anathema to regulators and entrenched interests everywhere. Add to the list of its critics the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Hillary Clinton didn’t mention Uber by name but warned about the disruption caused by it and other companies in the so-called sharing economy. Her husband wanted to build a bridge to the 21st century; Hillary worries about the downsides of “advances in technology and expanding global trade.” Continue reading


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