Socialism just ain’t what it’s cracked up to be

By Barry Farber

Can we get real about this new enthusiasm for “socialism”?

Decades ago there was a famous advertising campaign in which the makers of Packard automobiles urged the public to “Ask the man who owns one!” I want to borrow that theme and urge Americans to “Ask the people who live under socialism!” Rather than try to define a line between socialism and communism, let me just speak of this exciting newcomer to America’s political system with the understanding that I’m referring to all collective economies, from the absolutist brutalitarian communism that held Albanians in slavery until 1991 clear over to the benevolent Scandinavian versions where nobody disappears in secret police custody never to be seen again.

Scandinavia is not a bad place to start. A lot of Danes, Swedes and Norwegians are angry with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for referring to their economic systems as socialist. The means of production in those Scandinavian countries are in private hands. You could even say Scandinavia practices the American way, but with higher taxes and broader welfare. The Swedish pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 featured a huge sign over the entrance that said “Sweden: Land of Free Enterprise”!

I understand but will not excuse the efforts of pro-socialist Americans to steal Scandinavia for their nefarious aims.

The Mother of all Walls had to be the Iron Curtain the socialists found necessary, slicing Europe in half to keep the great masses living under socialism from escaping to freedom. Do you recall anybody trying to sneak into the Soviet Union or its satellite states?

During the anti-communist uprising in Hungary in 1956, 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West. There is no record of any Hungarian in the West using the turmoil of the revolution to sneak into Hungary so as to enjoy the comforts of socialism!

Cuba proudly calls itself a communist state. It’s troubling that this communist neighbor doesn’t elicit more outrage from our free and freedom-loving Americans. Nobody seems to know or care about the staggering number of Cubans who’ve risked their lives – and lost their lives! – in those hazardous attempts to cross the Florida Straits in unseaworthy little boats in desperate endeavors to escape the blessings of socialism.

The news is full of people fleeing socialism and doing their best to relocate in some land of economic freedom, where free enterprise is practiced. If the unmistakable stories of the many millions of those who vote with their feet hoping to begin life anew in freedom don’t get to you, then you’re un-gettable. Or maybe the “four-nation test” will convince you.

Finland and the Soviet Union began their national lives simultaneously at the end of World War I. Despite losing a war to Russia and paying many millions of dollars in reparations, Finland quickly became a prosperous nation and a dramatic embarrassment to the Russian socialists whose standard of living collapsed.

West Germany and the communist East Germany likewise started out at the same time. The capitalist West Germany quickly became the strongest economy and the strongest republic in Europe, while East Germany became a basket case.

South Korea and North Korea also started out together after War World War II. At night you can literally see the border that separates South Korea from North Korea, because the South is all lit up and the North is all lights out.

British-owned and run Hong Kong was for many years an Asian economic jewel, while mainland China was a primitive failure – until Beijing got smart and ditched the communist economy and simply kept the communist label on the country while embracing a really raucous and successful modified capitalism, whereupon the standard of living soared.

And have you heard what folks in Moscow say about communism? “What would happen if communism took over the Sahara Desert?” The answer:”For three years, nothing. Then they’d have to start importing sand!”

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