Q & A with Author William Northwall

Q : Who is a socialist?

A : A person favoring socialism; Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others. They favor government owning, or at least controlling the means of production. Socialism has also been used to refer to expanding already available social programs and potentially raising taxes to do so.

Q : What are examples of socialism?

A : Britain post-WW II. The government owned the steel mills, the railroads, and the mines. Of course, there was the Soviet Union, and there is Cuba, North Korea, and China. Today, there is Venezuela. And don’t forget Spain and Greece.

Q : The Venezuela story is really awful, what happened there?

A : In 1950, Venezuela had the fourth highest per capita income in the world, behind only the U.S., Switzerland, and New Zealand. Around 1958, the government started interfering with the economy with price controls, higher taxes, and restrictions on property rights. Then Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. Benefiting from about one trillion dollars in oil sales during his 14 years in power, he launched massive social spending programs to secure votes. Today, the country with the world’s largest oil reserves suffers from a severely contracting economy, runaway inflation, despotism, mass immigration, criminality, disease, hunger and starvation with conditions deteriorating daily.

Q : Why does socialism fail?

A : All economic decisions are through centralized planning. Controlling all economic decisions for the millions in a country with a one-size-fits-all plan can’t satisfy the needs and wants of every individual. It is only by letting every individual pick and choose what each wants and can afford, has it proven time and again, country after country, that a free-market system is the best system of all for everyone. Anything less ends with economic distortions, waste, and worse. Leaders buying votes with massive spending programs to stay in power leads to unsustainable debt. Then there is government collapse, and then tyranny.

Q : Why do young people turn away from capitalism?

A : Some look at business people as greedy people who frequently bend the rules. When they gift charities saying they want to give back, people think they stole that wealth to begin with. And it doesn’t help when the heads of huge corporations (after laying off many) retire and take out millions. And the millennials, even if they find work, don’t pay much in taxes, yet they hear of health care insurance premiums going through the roof, and they think it only fair that the government give it to them free.

Q : What are the differences between socialism, communism, and fascism?

A : A matter of degree—socialism replaces capitalism’s innovative entrepreneurs and competition with centralized planning, while owning the means of production. Going all the way leads to communism and a tyrant in charge. When the allure of communism fades, it gives way to fascism. Hitler before, Putin today.

Read my book, Return to Capitalism, to learn more.

William Northwall Return to Capitalism

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