Misery Of Pure Socialism

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a “Commentary” by Antony Davies and James R Harrigan under the title “Misery of Pure Socialism”.  Both writers are sitting professors at two different universities.  One wonders, however, whether these gentlemen have been paid to write commentaries such as this.  Hmmm.

In the body of the piece, the writers equivocate over how a country that tries “pure socialism” or “pure capitalism” would fail to satisfy their respective populations.  But it is the opening paragraphs, the second to be precise, that one gets the drift of their message.  The authors warn of socialism’s ills with reference to Venezuela, North Korea, China, and Russia.  Look how bad those economies are, the writers say.


First, those cited countries are also authoritarian states with huge restrictions on what an entrepreneur can do.  Second, where is reference to Germany, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, France, etc where socialism is far more present than in the US, yet seem to be doing quite well.  

The authors make reference also to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who recently upset a long term sitting New York Representative on a socialist program).  Ms. Cortez advocated for “Medicare for all”.  So, hmmm, maybe there is a motive behind this unscholarly commentary.

The word “socialism” simply scares the wealthy.  The knee jerk reaction is the masses are going to take my wealth in order to provide medicare for all.  Now remember that the wealthy 1% make over $450,000 per year and the really wealthy reside in the 1/2 of 1%.  Do you know any of them personally?

It is well known that the US ranks worldwide about 23rd in terms of healthcare.  The US spends the most per capita (2x) and delivers (on average) mediocre healthcare outcomes (Mayo Clinic and a few other teaching hospitals excepted.  These institutions provide unparalleled healthcare at huge cost).

US capitalist corporations have pretty much deep six-ed “defined benefit” pension plans and a growing number are trying to “de-risk” their bottom lines by outsourcing pension obligations.  These companies see the “de-risking” as protecting their shareholders and not turning their former employees out in the cold.  Hmmm.

In European social democracies the government insists that companies pay into government funds in order to cover their healthcare and retirement obligations.  Businessmen are the same the world over and if given the chance a German CEO will de-risk too.  

Healthcare and Pensions are not single variable notions. Without proper oversight bad things can happen.  Healthcare providers can turn profiteer and shortchange the customer.  Pension boards can make poor investments and fail to achieve returns they have promised.  But, in the sunlight of public disclosures, this is more difficult to occur.

Most important, socialism and capitalism are economic theories.  Venezuela and North Korea may employ socialism but key decisions are made by an authoritarian leadership interested in their own well being, not of the general population.  If these are failed States, it is because they are authoritarian not because they embrace socialistic policies. 

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One Comment on “Misery Of Pure Socialism”

  1. Deborah Baird Says:

    Food for thought.

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