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.
Yeah, it’s “creepy” when media companies mold and twist the news we see to please their political masters. Worse, it’s chilling when governments take the logical next step to promote speech they favor and punish speakers who anger them.
Because when politicians tell us that they’re trying to make the world a better place with censorship, that’s the fakest news of all. But here’s a bit of real news: when government officials suppress critics, they do so only to help themselves.
For the past two weeks, Reason, a magazine dedicated to “Free Minds and Free Markets,” has been barred by an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York from speaking publicly about a grand jury subpoena that court sent to Reason.com.
The subpoena demanded the records of six people who left hyperbolic comments at the website about the federal judge who oversaw the controversial conviction of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht. Shortly after the subpoena was issued, the government issued a gag order prohibiting Reason not only from discussing the matter but even acknowledging the existence of the subpoena or the gag order itself. As a wide variety of media outlets have noted, such actions on the part of the government are not only fundamentally misguided and misdirected, they have a tangible chilling effect on free expression by commenters and publications alike.
Yesterday, after preparing an extensive legal brief, Reason asked the US Attorney’s Office to join with it in asking that the gag order – now moot and clearly an unconstitutional prior restraint – be lifted. This morning, the US Attorney’s Office asked the Court to vacate the order, which it did. We are free to tell the story for the first time.
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