At the very moment we succeeded in banishing a deadly affliction from our country, in other words, people began eschewing the measures that made this medical miracle possible.
Socialism, too, is having an American renaissance. As with measles, if it’s allowed to spread, the result will be needless human suffering.
A generation after the fall of the Soviet Union, young Americans have forgotten, if they ever learned, what happens when a citizenry allows itself be enraptured by the promise of communal ownership of a national economy (“Socialism Is Back, and the Kids Are Loving It,” page 55). Such regimes have failed whenever and wherever they’ve been tried, engendering misery, starvation, persecution, and wasted human potential on a massive scale. At this very moment, hyperinflation and desperate shortages of food, medicine, and power are ravaging Venezuela (“Man-Made Disaster in Venezuela,” page 75), a previously rich country that had every intention of forging a better, smarter socialist future for the 21st century.
The new wave of young ocialists are quick to insist they have a different, gentler vision—as the Democratic Socialists of America’s website puts it, one in which “working people” run things “democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.” But that is a hoped-for end state, not an implementable program. The concrete policies most modern socialists propose—high confiscatory taxes and aggressive wealth redistribution, free college, publicly provided universal health care (and, often, the abolition of private alternatives)—are far more likely to wreak devastation on the well-being of Americans than they are to finally achieve utopia.Each of these policies does violence to the market-based system of free exchange and private property rights that has underpinned the greatest expansion of human flourishing in human history. Whatever its faults, that system has brought us everything from air conditioning and aspirin to cheap flights and Netflix, all while lifting billions out of abject poverty around the world…
What unites the left’s flirtation with socialism and the right’s move toward nationalism is the willful discarding of long-understood, dearly learned truths about how to make the world a better place. Like the death count when parents stop vaccinating their kids, the fallout from these developments may not be instantaneous. But bad ideas can be hard to contain once they get going, and the results are not likely to be pretty.
A primary care physician by training, my passion is researching and writing about maintaining patient-directed choice in medical care, supporting independent physicians, promoting free-market healthcare solutions and seeking sustainable fiscal policy in healthcare.
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