“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”
— President Donald Trump, State of the Union Address February 5, 2019
Venezuela is a real-time example of the failure of socialism. Promises of prosperity frequently lead to poverty for the masses and all-too-often opens the door to brutal dictators.
Nicolas Maduro is such a ruler and we sadly see daily reminders of how far he is willing to go to maintain his power. More than 3 million people are part of the exodus from Venezuela, with another 2 million expected to leave by the end of the year.
Once one of the most prosperous countries in this hemisphere, Venezuela’s economy is falling apart. The socialism promoted by Mr. Maduro is hurting the people of his country. More than 9 out of 10 people live in poverty and the average citizen there has lost more than 20 pounds through malnutrition and deprivation.
Defenders of socialism dismiss Venezuela as an anomaly, but there are plenty of other examples: Cuba, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and North Korea to name a few. And who can forget the collapse of the Soviet Union or the fall of the Berlin Wall?
Where is the similar list of failed democratic republics supporting free enterprise?
Sadly, many liberal politicians still embrace socialism. Bernie Sanders was for socialism before it became cool on the left as it is today, and many of his advisers view Venezuela as a model. Scary.
Socialism has failed over and over again. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it best, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”
She was right then and even more so now. No matter how much the government taxes the “wealthy,” there will never be enough to cover all of the costs connected with socialism.
Take the so-called Green New Deal. One group estimates the cost of the plan over a decade to be between $51 trillion and $93 trillion.
That would be on top of the federal government debt that already exceeds $22 trillion. The share of that debt for a child born today in America is $67,000 (more than double the average amount of student loan debt). Our kids and grandkids will pay the bills, and they will not have enough money to cover the costs of those bills.
Plus, socialism is not fair.
Again, Prime Minister Thatcher summed it up well when responding to a member of Parliament complain about “income inequality” saying, “The honorable Gentleman is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich.”
She was right — yet again.
It increasingly seems that socialists and liberals (Democrats) are not so concerned about improving the lives of the poor as they are in taking from the presumed rich. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax is a prime example. She doesn’t just want to impose a tax on income. She wants to tax again what many saved up after being taxed on income.
That would be like telling a straight-A student that she has to share her grades with the other students. Most would agree that is not fair. So, instead of stealing her high grades, we should be focused on how we can help the other students improve their own education and get good grades.
Rather than imposing policies that weaken and shrink the economy, what about doing things that strengthen and grow it? Then, we can help people improve themselves with the education and skills that they need to succeed. That will help them get and then keep good-paying, family-supporting jobs.
President Ronald Reagan said it well on June 29, 1981:
“It’s time that we found ways to make the American economic pie bigger instead of just cutting an ever smaller pie into more but smaller slices. It’s time we welcomed those Americans into the circle of prosperity to let them share in the wonders of our society, and it’s time to break the cycle of dependency that has become the legacy of so many federal programs that no longer work — indeed, some of which never did work.”
In America, we know that true freedom and prosperity do not come from the clumsy hand of the government. They come from empowering people to live their own lives and control their own destinies through the dignity that is born of hard work. As I’ve said before, that’s why we celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th, because in America we celebrate our independence from the government and our dependence on it.
That’s why we, the United States of America, will never be a socialist country.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him @ScottWalker.