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End Authoritarian Socialist Public Policy

Opinion Editorial
April 6, 2004

By Dennis Polhill

RTD’s FasTracks boondoggle is about much more than wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and the implementation of destructive policies.  It is about increasing government control over people and redistribution of wealth.  The damage caused by similar authoritarian policies has resulted in death and impoverishment for millions.

Philosopher Thomas Sowell notes, “…(leftists)… love to say things like, ‘We’re just asking everyone to pay their fair share.’  But government is not about asking.  It is about telling.  The difference is fundamental.  It is the difference between making love and being raped, between working for a living and being a slave.”  Joseph Sobran adds, “Today, wanting someone else’s money is called ‘need,’ wanting to keep your own money is called ‘greed,’ and ‘compassion’ is when politicians arrange the transfer.”  Using words to mean other-than-their-meaning is demagoguery and serves to muddle the search for truth.  Demagogues resort to spin when facts fail to support their biases.  Coercive charity is not charity; it is Taliban-style tyranny.  Morality has no merit when force replaces “free will.”

Socialism in all its forms is a failed philosophy.  After Marx authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848, civilization was drawn hypnotically to Socialisms’ seductive false promises of plenty: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”  Abraham Lincoln countered with yet-to-be-proven wisdom, “the poor cannot be made rich by making the rich poor.”  But Lincoln’s assertion was hypothetical and lacked empirical evidence that would eventually follow.  All of the world’s nations gravitated to Socialism over the subsequent century.  Because the United States drifted more slowly, it became an island of wealth and prosperity; an aberration to the abject poverty that humans had suffered in perpetuity.

Had Lenin lived, the twentieth century might have ended differently.  Only 5 years after the Russian Revolution he recognized Socialism’s failings and advocated a return to “limited capitalism.”  Later that year a stroke denied Lenin the opportunity to act on his revelation.

Lenin’s successor lacked the courage and strength to avert peril.  Socialism requires conformity.  Stalin dealt with the nonconformists.  In “Poisonous Power,” psychologist June Stephenson estimates that Stalin was responsible for 50 million deaths.

Another version of Socialism surfaced with Adolf Hitler’s, National Socialism.  He said, “Let them own land and factories as much as they please.  The decisive factor is that the State is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers.  All that is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper.  It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community.  Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories?  We socialize human beings.”

Hitler’s preaching motivated fellow-Austrian and economics professor, Friedrich Hayek to confronted Socialist dogma in “Road to Serfdom.”  Hayek pointed out that all forms of Socialism lead to authoritarian tyranny.  Hayek elaborated, “Whoever talks about potential plenty (under socialism) is either dishonest or does not know what he is talking about.  Yet it is this false hope as much as anything, which drives us along the road to planning.”

The second half of the twentieth century ratified the views of Lincoln, Lenin and Hayek.  Korea and Germany serve as indisputable proof.  In each case a pre-existing nation was divided with each part pursuing the opposite ideological path.  With identical history, geography, culture, climate, customs, language, and ethnicity, Socialism resulted in every form of injury and imposition upon the respective populations; conversely Capitalism resulted in wealth, abundance, freedom and opportunity.  Other examples provide corroboration: Eastern versus Western Europe; Red China versus the Asian Tigers; and the Post-Soviet-Union performance of its various pieces.  Not a single feature of Socialism can be offered as superior.  Therefore, discussions about a middle ground, or trade-offs, or optimizing, are rather futile.

The experience of the twentieth century proves that no version of Socialism works.  Ongoing experimentation serves no constructive purpose.  Because a mixture that is half-poison and half non-poison is still poison, there is no yet-to-be-discovered third way.  A hybrid system that is part Socialism and part Capitalism cannot save this failed ideology.  Alternative labels, such as “progressive” or “liberal” merely distract bystanders from gaining understanding.

The significant wealth in American society works to hide the injury done by Socialist institutions, such as RTD.  Competition can and will improve regulatory-protected, tax-subsidized, State-controlled monopolies in education, transportation, and Social Security.  When these institutions are de-socialized, decentralized and de-bureaucratized, Americans will be freer, wealthier and better served.

The future is clearly in the direction away from Socialism and toward more individual freedom and more individual empowerment.


The Independence Institute
13952 Denver West Parkway, Suite 400
Golden, CO 80401

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is the President of the Independence Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute
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