Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hoarders and Wreckers: How Socialism Ends

I like to compare political party supporters to soldiers in an army. That's because I experience that government is always about war.

It's not that hard. Governments fight foreign wars -- or at least border wars; that's just what they do. So the war is always about forcing the neighbor state to recognize the borders, or to submit to the adjustment of the borders in favor of our side. Governments also fight domestic wars. They descend on the productive sector and force it to cough up revenues, because social justice. These revenues are then distributed among the government's supporters.

Yes, of course these monies do wonders by helping the poor and educating our children. But stripped of "narrative" we are talking about taking money from the "other" and giving it to people that vote for our side.

Take Obamacare. Recent polls show that Democratic supporters say that they have benefited from Obamacare; Republicans say they have not. Here's Byron York on a recent Gallup Poll:
Looking just at those who said they have been affected by Obamacare, 27 percent of Democrats said they had been helped, while 15 percent said they had been hurt. 
Well, that's the way it's supposed to be! That's what Democrats vote for. But the rest of the nation isn't so happy:
Among independents, the numbers were almost the opposite: 16 percent said they had been helped, while 27 percent said they had been hurt. And among Republicans, just 4 percent said they had been helped, while 40 percent said they had been hurt.
I'll bet you wouldn't see numbers like that on Social Security and Medicare. That's the problem with them. Even though they are going to bankrupt the nation people still support them because they want to continue to get their checks from the government.

Here's my point. Once you sign on to the government's entitlements you are hooked. Everyone in America is hooked on Social Security and Medicare because almost everyone would take a hit if they were wound up and reformed into real savings programs.

But things are much worse for the average rank-and-file Democrat. Scratch a Democrat and you'll likely find someone with a government job. Or on welfare. Or getting some crony subsidy from a Pentagon contract or a crony green subsidy or a climate-change research grant. So if you try to cut any government program an angry wail will go up from the Democrat rank-and-file and the gentry liberals.

The result? Democrat politicians absolutely refuse to cut spending, calling it "austerity," and Republicans are hesitant to cut spending because the cuts will energize the Democratic opposition and may cost them their seats.

So the government stumbles on, trying to square the circle and appear to fix things, or fix things indirectly so that people don't notice.

The end game is what we see in Venezuela. From Instapundit:
SOCIALISM ALWAYS ENDS THE SAME WAY: Venezuela seizes warehouses packed with medical goods, food. It always starts with hope, change and social justice, and it ends with assaults on the “hoarders and wreckers.”
Think of the Venezuelan government as an army. It is marching to final victory over social injustice. But on the way it must keep its soldiers fed and content. It does this, like any army, by requisitions. It starts with taxes and nationalization of the oil business and continues with minor expropriations of unpopular corporations.

Then it gets into inflation and price controls and rationing.

Now the thing about a real army in a real war is that the generals know they need to get the war over as soon as possible, because the army takes resources away from the productive sector to feed its war machine. At some point the army exhausts the economy with its requisitions. At some point there is no more money. If you are in the predatory war business you want to get the war over, disband the army, and get the people back to normal productive work.

The progressive political army can never so this. It must keep upping the ante to keep its supporters happy. It eats its seed corn because the more that it extracts from the economy to give to its supporters the less is left to the businesses in the economy to make products and services and create jobs. But it can never tell its supporters to ease off on their demands, because the basis of its support is the hand-outs to its supporters.

So it all ends in an economic collapse and default with the government screaming at "hoarders and wreckers." The poor lose their benefits and their jobs, if any, and the widows and orphans lose their government bonds. Inflation destroys the savings and the wages of the middle class. Only the rich, who own real or productive assets, are left with anything, and if they have any sense they get the hell out before the government thugs come and expropriate their wealth.

The solution? Keep the government out of everything that isn't related to genuine war needs: defending against foreign enemies and domestic criminals. Because the human appetite for free stuff is unlimited.

And don't get seduced by William James and his "Moral Equivalent of War." That's the problem. Our progressive overlords are into moral equivalents of war on everything from saving our kids to saving the planet. But the failure of government education and green energy will not make them sadder and wiser. They will just think up something else. Because if we can go to the moon...

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