by Walter E. Williams) — … Let’s compare capitalism with socialism by answering the following questions:
It turns out that we seldom find people upset with and in conflict with computer and clothing stores, supermarkets, and hardware stores. We do see people highly dissatisfied with and often in conflict with boards of education, motor vehicles departments, police and city sanitation services.
What are the differences? For one, the motivation for the provision of services of computer and clothing stores, supermarkets, and hardware stores is profit. Also, if you’re dissatisfied with their services, you can instantaneously fire them by taking your business elsewhere. It’s a different matter with public education, motor vehicles departments, police and city sanitation services. They are not motivated by profit at all. Plus, if you’re dissatisfied with their service, it is costly and in many cases even impossible to fire them.
A much larger and totally ignored question has to do with the brutality of socialism:
In the 20th century, the one-party socialist states of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Germany under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the People’s Republic of China were responsible for the murder of 118 million citizens, mostly their own. The tallies were: USSR 62 million, Nazi Germany 21 million and PRC 35 million.
No such record of brutality can be found in countries that tend toward free market capitalism.
Here’s an experiment for you:
- List countries according to whether they are closer to the free market capitalist or to the socialist/communist end of the economic spectrum.
- Then rank the countries according to per capita gross domestic product.
- Finally, rank the countries according to Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World” report.
You will find that people who live in countries closer to the free market capitalist end of the economic spectrum not only have far greater wealth than people who live in countries toward the socialistic/communist end but also enjoy far greater human rights protections.
As Dr. Thomas Sowell says, “socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.”
Dr. Williams is a nationally syndicated columnist, former chairman of the Economics department at George Mason University, and author of More Liberty Means Less Government.