Socialism Kills

In a recent Health Alert I evaluated Paul Krugman’s claim that ObamaCare is going to save “tens of thousands of lives” and the repeal of ObamaCare will lead to the death of “tens of thousands” of uninsured people.

Krugman’s bottom line: Mitt Romney wants to let people die. The economics profession on this same subject: Krugman’s claims are hogwash.

But there is something that does cause people to die: socialism. More precisely, the suppression of free markets (the kinds of interventions Krugman routinely apologizes for) lowers life expectancy and does so substantially.

Economists associated with the Fraser Institute and the Cato Institute have found a way to measure “economic freedom” and they have investigated what difference it makes in 141 countries around the world. This work has been in progress for several decades now and the evidence is stark. Economies that rely on private property, free markets and free trade, and avoid high taxes, regulation and inflation, grow more rapidly than those with less economic freedom. Higher growth leads to higher incomes. Among the nations in the top fifth of the economic freedom index in 2011, average income was almost 7 times as great as for those countries in the bottom 20 percent (per capita gross domestic product of $31,501versus $4,545).

What difference does this make for health? Virtually, every study of the subject finds that wealthier is healthier. People with higher incomes live longer. The Fraser/Cato economists arrive at the same conclusion. Comparing the bottom fifth to the top fifth, more economic freedom adds about 20 years to life expectancy and lowers infant mortality to just over one-tenth of its level in the least free countries.

What about the effects of economic freedom on the poorest citizens? In the 2011 report, the average income of the poorest tenth of the population in the least free countries was around $1,061. By contrast, the poorest tenth of the freest countries’ populations earned about $8,735. If you are poor, it pays to live where capitalism is less hobbled.

What about equality of incomes? As it turns out there is almost no global relationship between the distribution of income and the degree of economic freedom. But in a way, that’s good news. It means that the rich don’t get richer and the poor poorer under capitalism. Everybody becomes better off.

What about within the United States? Some years back the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) calculated a “predicted poverty rate” based on economic growth alone. In other words, economic growth by itself lifts people out of poverty, even if nothing else is happening. The CEA results suggest that if there had never been a welfare state (no Aid to Families with Dependent Children, no food stamps, no Medicaid, etc.) the poverty rate would be lower today than it actually is! This adds to a wealth of evidence that the welfare state is subsidizing poverty, not eliminating it.

I don’t like to get into partisan politics, because, like Milton Friedman, I believe in ideas and not politicians. But The New York Times editorial page is becoming increasingly partisan. The unsigned editorials these days are almost indistinguishable from the Obama campaign’s talking points. Far from being thoughtful, they are vehicles for White House propaganda. Many of Paul Krugman’s editorials read pretty much the same way.

So let’s consider the two political parties. Think of Democrats as being primarily responsible for the structure of the welfare state (social insurance programs) and Republicans as being primarily responsible for tax policy (including the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC] — the embodiment of Milton Friedman’s negative income tax). Which policies have been better for poor people? If you buy the CEA analysis and the work of Charles Murray, George Gilder and a host of other scholars, the welfare state has led to more poverty, not less of it. On the other hand, almost every Republican tax change has made the tax code more progressive. That is, almost every time the Republicans change the tax law, the burden of the federal income tax is shifted from low-income people to high-income people! That’s why almost half the population doesn’t pay any income tax at all.

Although to be fair, Republicans have been as guilty as Democrats in creating high implicit marginal tax rates. When low-income people calculate how much extra cash they get to keep from an extra dollar earned, their return is lower than even that of the very rich!

[As an aside, Democrats have been very reluctant to give money to poor people through means-tested social insurance programs. Whether it's food, housing, education or medical care, almost all the cash goes to a constituency that is definitely not poor. That's why it's hard to know how much anyone benefits from these programs. On the other hand, when the Republican-designed EITC delivers $1 to a poor family, the family gets $1 worth of benefit. Of course, the EITC may do other harm through its implicit high marginal tax rate, however.]

I’m not endorsing everything the Republicans have done. Rather, I simply note that under Republican policies we are likely to have less poverty.

All in all, the welfare state probably isn’t the primary reason poor people are poor. The main obstacles to success are (1) bad schools and (2) barriers to good jobs in the labor market.

What is the biggest challenge in making bad schools better? The teachers’ unions. They are dedicated to the idea that the school system is foremost a jobs program and only secondarily a place for children to learn. Teachers’ unions have steadfastly opposed almost every reform idea that has any promise whatsoever in every city and town throughout the country. As for barriers to entry into the labor market, who is the foremost backer of minimum wage laws, Davis Bacon Act restrictions, medieval-guild-type occupational licensing laws and labor union monopolies everywhere? You guessed it: the labor unions themselves.

Yet who forms the backbone of the Democratic Party? The very same organizations that are most responsible for keeping poor people poor and closing off their opportunities to succeed in life. Further, their perverse political influence disproportionately affects minorities. That is one reason why the black teenage unemployment rate is almost 40% — double that of white teenagers! It is one of the reasons for the very large student achievement gap: black student test scores are 70% to 80% of the scores of white students.

 

Comments (34)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Cindy says:

    Education is very important for lifting people out of poverty — I really appreciate that this post encourages more education as a strategy for change. Although we certainly shouldn’t give up on the individuals who are already out of school and looking for jobs, we should understand that many of the problems they face date back to the classrooms of their youth.

  2. Vicki says:

    No music today? A funeral dirge would be appropriate.

  3. James Mule says:

    EDUCATION IS KEY.

  4. Andrew says:

    Always great stuff, John. I would also point out that the biggest single challenge to keeping the value of labor high in America isn’t the barriers to entering the workforce – it’s the fact that we bring in more than 1 million legal workers to add to the workforce every year (and they are getting most of the jobs we are creating: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/31/two-thirds-of-jobs-go-to-immigrants/). It’s simply supply and demand. I’m not saying we should zero-out immigration, I’m just saying we don’t even have a real conversation about it. Our current policies marginally increase our overall GDP, but that doesn’t mean they are good for our middle class in a new-era information economy where so many tasks are less-labor intensive.

  5. Ralph Weber REBC, GBA, AEP, CLU, ChFC, CFP says:

    John,
    What kills more poeple, socialism or fascism?

  6. Devon Herrick says:

    When I took Theories of Political Economy in graduate school, our professor told us that despots always used some pretext as an excuse why they needed to be in power. The most common excuse was lack of equity, equality among the populous, helping people who couldn’t take care of themselves not be abuse by capitalists, etc. Socialism is something that makes an interesting theory for Limousine Liberals and Leftist elites. However, socialism is a tailor-made excuse that dictators can use to control resources. Once the power elites control the resources (to make life more equitable for the masses), it’s not long before they are themselves enjoying a luxurious life. Socialism kills because it is so powerful a tool for those who want to expropriate resources from a society.

  7. Harv Randecker says:

    Socialism is a disease! Pure and simple. It limits creativity and ambition to succeed………….and now has documented evidence (thanks to youir article) that it kills! However, with the results of last night’s election where the American electorate hsa the “wisdom” to re-elect a “rock star” as their “leader” instead of someone who has fixed failing situations and could bring America back to the prominence in the world that it has always held, it simply means we have to work harder to over come the advocacy of the “powers that be”.

  8. bart says:

    In other English-speaking countries, the labor union-backed parties are appropriately named Labour (or Labor).

    In terms of health care, I guess any practical debate has now shifted from “repeal and replace” to something like “pick apart and prioritize.” PPACA has just become the status quo, in that its main elements will be in force before the next mid-term election.

  9. Ralph Weber REBC, GBA, AEP, CLU, ChFC, CFP says:

    Devon, My son is 6 foot 7 inches, and was prohibited from playing basketball in Canada in high school. He was told that he was too tall and had an unfair advantage over the short kids. He ended up playing Rugby instead.
    Equality in opportunity is good, but managed equality in outcome is evil. In order to make you equal to Michael Jordan, there is no surgeon in the world that could give you those advantages, so they would have to break both of Michael Jordan’s legs.
    Figuratively that’s what they did to my son in the name of equality.

  10. Jordan says:

    The Cato and Fraser data is interesting. I would like to see something that shows that there is no statistical correlation between economic freedom and income inequality.

  11. MarkH says:

    John, did you read the report? I’m sorry, but it kind of makes you look foolish. One, anything from the global warming denying Cato should be taken with a grain of salt. Two, did you see the top ten “most free” countries?
    1. Hong Kong – universal healthcare, strong social contract
    2. Singapore – admittedly very strong free market – but with universal government catastrophe health insurance and a mandate for individual health savings accounts.
    3. New Zealand – Single Payer Universal Healthcare!
    4. Switzerland – Almost single payer healthcare!
    5. Australia – Universal healthcare with private option!
    6. Canada – Single Payer Healthcare!
    7. Chile – Universal healthcare!
    8. United Kingdom – Single Payer Universal Healthcare!
    9. Mauritius- really? Mauritius? What can that tiny little island tell us about our system? Oh, free universal healthcare and universal higher education.
    10. The United States…

    So, the top ten in this comparison are all employing the socialist healthcare policy Krugman aspires to, and is used for all your subsequent comparisons against supposedly socialist countries?

    Who is at the bottom?
    Zimbabwe, Myanmar!, Venezuala, Angola, Congo, the freaking Central Afrian republic! Are you surprised they experience lower mortality? Do you acknowledge it probably has nothing to do with socialist healthcare policy?

    Did you read the report? Or are you just completely obtuse? I’m sorry, I follow your blog, and I like reading your viewpoint even if I disagree with it, but this seriously damages your intellectual cred.

  12. MarkH says:

    That should read “are you surprised they have higher mortality”. I’m sorry, I was still in shock that this measure of socialism you used seems to list as non-socialist Canada, UK, and New Zealand in the top ten and some of the most socialist states in the world in the top 25. As far as I can tell the economic freedom index doesn’t correlate so much with economic freedom as much as not living in a hellish, fascist/tyrannical/civil war torn nightmare. The countries I would consider as implementing socialist policies are all in the top 20 and the bottom 20 seems to consist largely of Africa. So, is the new definition of Socialism now “Sub-Saharan”? Did someone change it when I wasn’t looking?

  13. MarkHreply says:

    MarkH,
    You need to do some homework. If the leading countries on the freedom index also happen to have a single-payer health care system, then some more statistics and countries need to be collected to provide variation in that measure and in the other explanatory variables. Then you need to run some statistics and regressions to separate out the single-payer variable contribution to (growth, health, whatever you are making your point about), as compared to the other freedom measures that John is talking about. THEN you might have something to add to the discussion. I find your comment unpersuasive.

  14. Ralph Weber REBC, GBA, AEP, CLU, ChFC, CFP says:

    MarkH,
    You are misinformed, or ignoring facts. While many countries have government medicine, only 2 countries have single payer healthcare, and they are Canada and North Korea

  15. Bob Geist says:

    Ralph, facism and socialism are the same and vice versa. Remember that the Nazi party was “The National Socialist Party”. Full blown socialists are communists; Lenin considered “socialists” useful idiots. Bob

  16. Ralph Weber REBC, GBA, AEP, CLU, ChFC, CFP says:

    Bob, to coin a Bill Clinton phrase, close, but no cigar. Under communism, the government (the people) own all means of production, which under fascism there are huge “too big to fail” companies, which are highly regulated, and exist by permission of the ruling class. Those companies are actually permitted to make profit, usually giving kickbacks to the politicians. I once presented at a function with Yuri Maltsev, and he agrees with me 100% on this point, and that fascism is more sustainable than socialism

  17. Ron Bachman says:

    How many times will we hear that the government needs more money to pay for more head start, provide college loans, help the elderly, hire first responders, and build infrastucture? Every government expansion argument is like living through “Ground Hog Day.”

  18. Jackson says:

    Socialism does kill. It creates uncertainties and eneficiences that could lead to death.

  19. Bob Geist says:

    Ralph, I agree with the distinction of socialism and fascism, but they are both the same in that they are both totalitarian control of market prices and franchising sales and production, ie., cartel formation. The fascist state is a corporate/state cartel and the socialist an everything/state cartel. When confined to medicine, ObamaCare is a corporate/state cartel creation law. A local VP creating a huge ACO soon to merge with an HMO speculates that within the decade there will be a US oligoply of 4 massive ACO-HMO “national health service” corporate/state cartels [BTW possible thanks to waivers of FTC anti trust, and CMS anti fee splitting and anti self-referral patient protection laws]. These US cartels would then have the same power as the socialized NHS/state cartels abroad. So totalitarians run one kind of cartel or another. I think we agree in that there are variations of totalitarian cartel models–to call them socialist or fascist might be splitting hairs. Bob

  20. Ralph Weber REBC, GBA, AEP, CLU, ChFC, CFP says:

    I agree Bob. In fact, I spoke about that in my book MediCrats. I also talked about it in my blog today: http://www.medibid.com/blog/2012/11/what-does-obamas-re-eleciton-mean-for-healthcare/

  21. Blake says:

    After last night’s elections, it seems most Americans needed to read something like this prior voting. It blows my mind how misinformed and fooled most civilians were to re-elect someone that has broken our entire economic system and has no realisitc nor reliable plan to fix it. Krugman and Obama, let’s see how many tens of thousands of lives you will actually save in the next four years…

  22. Robert says:

    Oh, Krugman…haven’t we been over this already?

    (beating dead horse)

  23. Alex says:

    I think that rather than addressing Krugman, maybe we should ignore him. Then the little troll will crawl back under the rock he crawled out from.

  24. seyyed says:

    means testing many welfare programs seems like the right thing to do-saves costs and gives it to those that need it the most

  25. MarkH says:

    Ralph says:

    MarkH,
    You need to do some homework. If the leading countries on the freedom index also happen to have a single-payer health care system, then some more statistics and countries need to be collected to provide variation in that measure and in the other explanatory variables. Then you need to run some statistics and regressions to separate out the single-payer variable contribution to (growth, health, whatever you are making your point about), as compared to the other freedom measures that John is talking about. THEN you might have something to add to the discussion. I find your comment unpersuasive.

    Let’s look at what Goodman says:

    What difference does this make for health? Virtually, every study of the subject finds that wealthier is healthier. People with higher incomes live longer. The Fraser/Cato economists arrive at the same conclusion. Comparing the bottom fifth to the top fifth, more economic freedom adds about 20 years to life expectancy and lowers infant mortality to just over one-tenth of its level in the least free countries.

    Now let’s list these top 20% countries:
    Lithuania 24
    Panama 23
    Japan 22
    Germany 21
    Luxembourg 20
    Austria 19
    Cyprus 18
    Hungary 15
    Estonia 15
    Denmark 15
    United Arab Emirates 14
    Slovak Republic 13
    Finland 11
    Bahrain 11
    United States 10
    Mauritius 9
    United Kingdom 8
    Chile 7
    Canada 6
    Australia 5
    Switzerland 4
    New Zealand 3
    Singapore 2
    Hong Kong 1

    And now the bottom 20 %
    Zimbabwe 141
    Myanmar 140
    Venezuela 139
    Angola 138
    Congo, Dem. Rep. of 137
    Central African Rep. 136
    Guinea-Bissau 135
    Congo, Republic of 134
    Burundi 133
    Chad 132
    Algeria 131
    Niger 130
    Nepal 129
    Mozambique 128
    Sierra Leone 126
    Ethiopia 126
    Ukraine 125
    Senegal 124
    Togo 123
    Gabon 122
    Syria 121
    Côte d’Ivoire 120
    Argentina 119
    Burkina Faso 118
    Benin 117

    Then, like the geniuses they are, look at the methodology of Cato, they rate these countries on Size of Government, Legal System & Property Rights, Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation, Credit Market Regulation, Labor Market Regulations, and Business Regulations.

    Then let’s evaluate John’s claim, socialism kills. The policies Krugman advocates will increase death because they will decrease prosperity.

    I’m sorry, who is making the more exceptional claim here? Who has failed to perform adequate regression analysis?

    I feel like I’ve taken a train to crazy town. Do you guys understand what is happening in countries like Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Congo, Syria, Mozambique and Myanmar? Do you guys think that maybe the burden of things such as the total absence of public health resources, an overwhelming HIV/AIDS burden (some of these are the countries with the highest rates in the world), civil wars, and roving gangs of child warriors might need to be figured into the Cato regression before you assume it’s the “socialistic regulations” shortening the people’s lifespan?

    I don’t need to do a regression, because I’m not making the outrageous claim. You can’t say socialism kills, then point to a bizarrely under-detailed study that does regression on some 8 variables, and ignores things like actual disease burden, and civil war, then state that the difference between the top 20 and the bottom 20 is regulation when they’re the countries with more HIV, more wars, fewer doctors, and fewer resources than any of the others on the list.

    MarkH,
    You are misinformed, or ignoring facts. While many countries have government medicine, only 2 countries have single payer healthcare, and they are Canada and North Korea

    It depends on your definition of single payer. And since North Korea doesn’t actually provide anything to it’s citizens, it shouldn’t be on that list with Canada if you’re going to be that strict. That is, unless of course you also believe them when they show you all the food they make too when Western visitors arrive.

    I think you must expand single payer to describe Canada, UK, Cuba and New Zealand even though each has differences in organization and application. Countries like Japan and Sweden could be included too. It’s not really a black and white distinction. Many countries have the government as the exclusive payer for healthcare, but with variable options in additional private insurance, private hospitals and payment etc. Are you sure you weren’t reading the word “universal” as single payer or something? Because looking at my list I only included UK and Canada and New Zealand, and it’s true, single payer is the minority of public health systems worldwide. Most are some kind of mixture of public and private payers.

  26. August says:

    Thank you MarkH.

    I agree that conclusions drawn by comparing the top and bottom of the economic freedom index do no support the claim that ” the suppression of free markets… lowers life expectancy and does so substantially.”

  27. John Goodman says:

    MarkH:

    Isn’t it obvious what the bottom 20% lacks? They lack capitalist institutions. If they had them they would not have civil wars, roving bands of children, etc. They lack the rule of law — which is fundamental to a free society. That is why they are not free societies.

    I really don’t understand what you are trying to say.

  28. Wanda J. Jones says:

    Hey, dedicated commentators: What a lot of fun. But!!!!
    I get a little tired of invidious comparisons of many foreign countries done with an obvious aim of making the US look bad. If the independent variable is the presence or absence of a state-managed, tax-supported health plan, then there should be controls for other variables that could explain longevity and health status. To compare the US with Mauritious is ludicrous.

    The other thing not explored is how well socialistic health plans are operating. I don’t call it success if there is a large amount of out-migration seeking timely, high quality medical care, a large percentage of emigration of medical professionals, a high average age of medical and hospitals facilities, and the relative levels of performance of the medical care itself. Note that there is insufficient data to do this, so people fall back on the data they have. Like measuring color-blindness using only grey, yellow and lime green.

    The US has to do what it is led to do by virtue of its size, history, population profile, cultural history, sub-strate of advanced science, production of a medical and health workforce, and…..! freedom to innovate and be rewarded for that innovation. We have that aced.

    Now that Obamacare is on its way to being implemented, all of us who observe the healthcare system should set ourselves a serious task: to discover early evidence of externalities produced by this law, and determine which data lines need to be tracked. Sorry, but this is going to get bloody, and the traditional healthcare economists will pronounce and pronounce without seeing the danger signs that are visible within a living, breathing healthcare system. Just one, single solitary factor to be tracked will illustrate this; 1) the delays experienced by people who do not recognize that their symptoms are treatable, 2) who do not seek healthcare early, 3) who miss finding the right doctor in the first try, 4) who has to be referred around the block before a definitive diagnosis is obtained, and 5) those that do not get a current, modern course of treatment for their condition and 6) those who do not follow-up on their care plan. There are no data for this, yet this is the quicksand area on the moor that drags down hundreds of thousands of people a year. Why do we assume that just being in the hospital for 3 days makes the hospital or its health system responsible for the patient’s who9le health status? Tell me!!

    Obamacare is too complex to be implemented smoothly. there will be constant mistakes. And there will be blame in only one direction–from the government to the provider. What is the organization that has had the single largest financial obligation in the last 47 years? Why do we think they are within their rights to lay so much blame at the private sector?

    Everybody–please be eyes and ears on the effects of Obamacare. We have to head off the worst if we can.

    I’m generally dismayed.

    Wanda J. Jones, President
    New Century Healthcare Institute
    San Francisco

  29. MarkH says:

    John Goodman says:
    November 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    MarkH:

    Isn’t it obvious what the bottom 20% lacks? They lack capitalist institutions. If they had them they would not have civil wars, roving bands of children, etc. They lack the rule of law — which is fundamental to a free society. That is why they are not free societies.

    I really don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    I think all I can say now is Oh My Freaking God. You have equated “socialism” to absence of the rule of law. The title of your article is socialism kills. Your evidence of the failure of socialism seems to be countries from the junkheap of post-imperial Africa, run by monsters, child killers, and petty tyrants beholden to whoever they can sell the resources of their countries to for their own personal enrichment.

    The proof that market freedom prevents these abuses is the comparisons of these victims of history to the top 20 countries according to this very unsophisticated model, which include the most socialist countries in the world! In an article in which you posit that the healthcare advocacy of Krugman will literally kill people, you cite a study that shows that countries with universal healthcare (including the three single payer nations in the top 10!) do better in lifespan and infant mortality than countries that have no infrastructure, no government, no civil society, no doctors, no hospitals, and incredible public health threats like malaria and HIV.

    And you still don’t get it? Krugman is advocating policies that exist in all of Cato’s top 10 countries according to their bogus economic freedom index, including the US post-ACA. You say the proof Krugman is wrong, is this study which actually shows it’s these countries that are doing better than the bottom 20, because they are more economically free, even though they’ve all engaged in the policies you despise for the last 3-6 decades. Every single country in their top ten has universal healthcare. Every single one.

    Of course, the reason the countries in the bottom 20 are doing poorly has little or nothing to do with their lack of capitalist institutions, and everything to do with exploitation of resources by foreign instutions, the history of imperialism, and fundamental failures of civil governance, education, and public health. You need to read a history book man. Or at least get on Wikipedia and read about what’s happening in these places.

    I’m just embarrassed for you now. You’ve actually written some interesting posts on this blog. Don’t dig in here, just admit it’s a bad study. It doesn’t show what you think it shows. Or at least admit, you don’t know a goddamn thing about Africa. Or admit that a study studying 8 variables can’t possibly make valid assertions about why the US is the US and Sierra Leone is Sierra Leone. It’s more complicated than monetary policy and banking regulations.

    90% of the countries in the bottom 20% are in sub-Saharan Africa. When I think of sub-Saharan Africa, I don’t think their problem is socialism, or lack of capitalist institutions, or governance period. The problem, if anything, is either the total lack of government, or governments run by freaking madmen. It’s interesting that the one country in subSaharan Africa that is in the freedom top 10, Mauritius, has universal free healthcare (of very high quality) and universal public education. Aside from being hysterically flawed as a study, it also has the virtue of showing the exact opposite of your assertion that socialism or the policies that Krugman advocates kills.

    I feel like I just lost about 20 IQ points for having to explain this. Is this whole post a Poe? Am I being punked?

  30. John Goodman says:

    Okay,the term “socialism” was misleading — but intentioanlly so. I can only do so much with titles. What sub-Saharan Africa lacks are capitalist institutions. African development was the high school debate topic a few years ago and at the NCPA’s Debate Central you will find all the major studies of this topic reviewed and summarized.

    Africa’s problems are not caused by the West. Africa’s problems are caused by the inability of so many countries there to immulate the institutions of the West.

    As for Krugman, he doesn’t explicitly advocate a tribal mentality, but he definitely endorses “tribal ethics” and completely rejects the Jeffesonian notion that you have a right to pursue your own happiness.

  31. MarkH says:

    I assume you mean emulate, but your word choice is oddly appropriate too. But I still have to disagree with you that the problem with Africa is the absence of capitalist institutions.

    The problem Africa generally is post-colonialism, although there are so many countries, and so many different problems it’s hard to adequately generalize. With centuries of colonization, the irresponsible management of resources, the drawing of lines by foreign powers without respect to the internal historic groups that are included or divided, and then the abandonment by those powers without a transition to an internal government. Most of the worst nations were the colonies of the French, Belgium and the Portuguese who, unlike the English, did not have any pretense of trying to govern for the eventual improvement and transition of power to the people. Most former English colonies, like us, or in Africa Egypt or Kenya, have done pretty well with Zimbabwe a notable exception largely due to 15 years of civil war and independence, the criminality of Mugabe, and fundamental economic divisions with white colonists holding 70% of the land. Part of that reason the English usually did better is the formation of capitalist instutions like banks, but also basic government and infrastructure.

    It’s not that these nations lack capitalist institutions, but institutions of government period. It isn’t a matter of socialism, and you absolutely can’t say socialism kills, because before you have socialism you at least need something resembling a government, rather than random warlords, or tyrannical crooks like Mugabe who just loot their nation’s resources for their own personal profit while refusing to invest any of their nations wealth in the people. Mugabe isn’t a socialist for chrissakes.

    As for Krugman, he doesn’t explicitly advocate a tribal mentality, but he definitely endorses “tribal ethics” and completely rejects the Jeffesonian notion that you have a right to pursue your own happiness.

    I think this is another extraordinary assertion that requires some form of citation.

    What has happened in this post? You titled it “socialism kills”, criticized a Nobel Prize-winning economist with a shoddy study comparing the economics of wildly disparate countries based on a very limited set of variables, which actually appears to show the opposite of what you think it does.

    Now you’re trying to dig out by saying it’s because Krugman has “tribal ethics” and almost offensive statements seemingly denying the very real exploitation of a continent by foreign powers for centuries and the after effects in the post-colonial era. It also seems to disregard things like the spread of AIDS from its apparent origin in Congo, internecine and religious conflict, cold war support of various dictators who were kept in power specifically to prevent Africa from developing socialist institutions. If anything, capitalism, and largely external capitalist influences like Europe and the US, is the source of many of the lasting negative problems in many African nations. Read about the resource curse of Sierra Leone. Or how about our own intervention with Patrice Lamumba in Congo, an independence leader the CIA plotted to kill after he sought Soviet support, our the CIA’s use and possible collaboration with Charles Taylor. Or look into the background of the Rwandan genocide, and the role of Belgium in creating the Hutu underclass. The Wests fingerprints are all over Africa’s problems, and the reason was our desire to exploit their resources, in a very real way, capitalism, or greed, was to blame.

    Your reasoning for your views of Africa seems to be based on a debate, which by the way, is not available on debate central, the link appears broken, so I can’t rebut it.

    I think you should cease commentary on this. Follow Lincoln’s advice, and maybe study up on the history of the nations in Cato’s bottom 20 before you put your foot further in your mouth.

  32. Zilla says:

    Look at how many people suffered and died under Mao vs how many saw their lives improve when China embraced just a tiny bit of the free market. Leftism is a dead end.

    Great article, John, I have it linked at my (admittedly partisan) blog:
    http://marezilla.com/2012/12/dont-care-anymore/

  33. Jeff says:

    Thank you, MarkH, for your reasoned, informed rebuttal of these outrageous claims!

  34. Bob Geist says:

    John, Kudos for your original article. Socialism does kill. Socialism is command and control of both state marcoeconomic and micorenomic markets for some alleged “greater purpose”. The Soviet, Nazi, Chinese and Indian socialist “experiments” all failed economically and those 3 totalitarian states killed maybe up to 100,000,000 people by some estimates. The Chinese totalitarian state survived by introducing capitalism while the other two imploded both econmically and politically. The Indian state deregulated in 1991, but its democratic culture has not been able to overcome decades of Nehru’s socialist mindset. The other thriving states of the world all adopted capitalism in some form bringing more people out of poverty in a shorter time than had ever happened in history before. When poverty decreases, population health improves and lives are saved. Quite the opposite of the socialist killers and their phony democratic facades and forms of elite klepto capitalism with unabashed state cartel command and control of their nation’s economic sectors. I hope this pedantic piece brings to a close any argument about the supposed socialist nirvanas of the past–their killing record is clear. Best wishes to all, Bob