America’s Poor Are Right to Reject Socialism

April 5, 2019

By David Flemming

Andrew Torre recently made the rather astonishing claim that it is not the common man that has denigrated socialism – since he would benefit by it – but the wealthy minority that doesn’t want its wealth tampered with, and the common man has foolishly swallowed the propaganda.” Torre claims true socialism, is “not Stalinist,” but “advocates that people equitably share in the wealth, as they equitably share in the political realm through their vote.”

Let’s take Torre’s argument to its logical conclusion. Say 51% of Americans agreed to redistribute the wealth equally to everyone. 9 in 10 of us might benefit from such a “democratic redistribution” at first, but not for long.

It is easy enough to imagine a future where the wealth is evenly distributed to all Americans. But to get to that future, the changes we would need to make would be catastrophic.

In such a future, we can’t distinguish between hard workers and lazy workers in our brave, new egalitarian world. Such a system would have to provide “economic security” to those “unwilling to work,” as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so eloquently put it in her Green New Deal. This situation mirrors the one in Venezuela currently, and the one that occurred in Russia a century ago.

For a few years after the 1919 Russian Revolution, so long as you were members of the Proletariat class, you happily accepted the farmland and property confiscated from the wealthy by the Communist Party. But once these poor farmers began turning over all of their crops to the party, and receiving whatever handout the Party deemed appropriate, they stopped working so hard. This forced the party to lay down quotas enforced at the point of a gun. Even the threat of violence was not enough to increase production from those “unwilling to work,” and millions of Russians died from starvation.

History is replete with countless such wealth confiscation schemes that benefited the majority for a few years, but which saw living standards for all fall drastically in the decades following. If American millenials were to overthrow our current system, my generation could live it up for a few years on stolen wealth. But we would make our children and our children’s children pay dearly for that choice.

America’s wealth is not sitting in storehouses, inviting envious workers to take it. It is fueling philanthropy, funding products that make everyone’s lives easier, and creating the conditions for even the poorest Americans to earn incomes Torre might consider ‘excessive.’

Unlike Torre, who has beheld the benign excesses of capitalism, one woman has seen the wounds of socialism firsthand. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a Vietnamese immigrant recently called capitalism “the system that built us the greatest nation and the greatest economy in the world…it is not the moment to undo the whole system and embrace something (socialism) that Americans have spent blood and treasure fighting to save other countries from.”

93% of 2012 American adults with parents whose lifetime incomes were in the bottom fifth of lifetimes incomes earned higher incomes than their parents. Does Torre really think poor Americans are gullible enough to bet their children’s futures on a system designed by an enlightened few that lacks feasibility in the real world?

At its worst, capitalism fosters consumerism. At its best, capitalism brings millions out of extreme poverty.

At its best, socialism means lower qualities of living. At its worst, socialism creates the conditions for dictators like Stalin to come to power. Far from being “foolish” for rejecting socialism, America’s poor live with more wisdom than Torre could possibly imagine, making the daily sacrifices necessary to push their children ahead.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert April 5, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Bernie Sanders is the quintessential socialist. He has produced nothing of value his entire life, yet is convinced he should be in charge of the greatest country in the free world.


William Hays April 6, 2019 at 2:58 am

I have been told that ‘Brooklyn Bernie the Bolshevic’ produced some dyn-o-mite weed up in Greensboro. Wonder if he ever paid any taxes on his gains.


Ted Robinson April 6, 2019 at 1:07 am

“Socialism is perverse.” said Charles Krauthammer. No truer words spoken. And yes, Bernie Sanders is nothing more than a worthless twit, a charlatan. Why do Vermonters think he is so wonderful? Sanders is ok with communism, I mean socialism as long as he is in the politbureau with his three dachas and Audi sports car. Non of that proletarian suffering for him.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...