A couple of days ago, I was having an online debate with a young friend and two of his friends – him, I know – he is the son of one of my good friends but I don’t really know the other two other than they are his good friends and we have exchanged ideas a few times. Any time they think they need the perspective of a crusty, grumpy old guy, I usually get the call.
They have all had Ivy League or northeastern corridor college educations, all are in graduate school right now. Apparently for their entire college careers, they have been spoon fed a diet of collectivism, socialism and Marxism. Of course, it has been cloaked as legitimate debate, but they are solidly on the left.
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s call them Peter, Paul and Mary.
They were trying to sell me on the idea that capitalism just didn’t make sense as a economic theory in this modern world and that some sort of communism was going to be necessary if mankind was going to continue to prosper.
I asked them what they thought this communist system would provide in liberty, freedom and self-determination. Of course, the stated that economic systems have nothing to do with those things, those are social constructs. My reply was that, as a classical liberal, I cannot differentiate between social and economic systems because both are intertwined and to have liberty in one requires liberty in the other.
Oh, no, I was told. Under a communist system no one has to worry about an income or any social need because all the wealth of the nation would be divvied up equally and we would have time to pursue all of our dreams. We all get an equal share and an equal vote about what happens.
After I finished biting my tongue, I said, “Do you know that you guys are really demi-communists?”
“What is a demi-communist?” they asked.
Well, I said, “The prefix “demi” as two meanings, it means half or half-sized and it also means something that is slightly inferior. The second describes President Obama…a demigod…
You guys are demi-communists because you only ever look at half the picture, I guess you could more accurately be called “output” or “outcome” communists because you are only concerned about dividing up the output of any state, you are never concerned about the input.”
“Take Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats getting behind raising the minimum wage or these progressive city governments like Seattle that are mandating a “living wage” that is substantially higher than the prevailing minimum wage. They never address where that money is coming from, as Obama says, to “give America a raise” – they just assume that businesses will just increase the wages out of their profits, if they are actually making any. The Dems are only concerned with the output side of the equation, not the input – that’s what I mean.”
“Let’s talk a little about the input side,” I said, “What is it that you want to do for jobs to help pay for this redistribution?”
Peter said he was going to law school, Paul was in accounting and Mary wanted to be a doctor.
“OK,” I replied, “In a true communist economy, you do realize that what you want to do and where you want to do it is not your decision, right?”
“What do you mean?” asked Mary.
“I mean that if there is an oversupply of doctors in a certain area, you will either have to give that dream up or be sent to a place where there is a shortage of doctors. You are not free to choose.”
“That doesn’t happen”, said Paul.
“Paul, if the government owns all the means of production, who do you expect to work for? The only job you will be able to do is to count bushels of wheat at some little farm collective in North Dakota…and who cares if you want to work in New York City because it won’t matter. Marx’s idiom of “From those according to their ability to those according to their needs” is not just about money or grain, it is about people, too. In a communist economy, central planning means that people are the property of the government and are treated as assets to be planned and used just like domestic cattle.”
Peter was quiet because he was beginning to get it.
“Lady and gentlemen, this is what I mean by calling you ‘demi-commies’. Paul, as an accounting student, you should know about double entry accounting – the old T accounts – when you debit something, something else has to be credited to maintain the accounts in a balanced state. You guys want to focus on “giving” people things, what people are “owed” and that forcing the “haves” to share their wealth with the “have-nots” but you never look at what such a system would mean to you and what you want to do.
Most demi-commies think that their lives, dreams and desires would never change, that you could just keep on doing what you want to do. That is simply wrong. Every attempt at communism at a national level has brought everybody down and brought no one up. Sure, everybody is equal but they are equal in misery, not prosperity. Every communist country in history has been plagued with food shortages and mismanaged national assets to the point that productive industries are ground into the dirt.
Given, you are too young to really know what the USSR or East Germany was like but if you want to see the ripening fruits of communism, just look to Venezuela.”
And with that, the online discussion went dead.