By Judge Jim Gray
June 7, 2016—I love the idea of Socialism—as long as it’s voluntary.
In fact, socialism is the fundamental basis of family, religious and community life, which is to say that our families and various support groups are designed for us help take care of each other. And this care is often expanded upon by various voluntary charitable organizations and foundations. So not only are these approaches basic to the human experience, they are much more effective than government.
But to impose socialism upon others involuntarily is contrary to liberty. Having said that, I still believe that we should implement what I call a safety net for our people that utilizes incentives for the recipients to earn the extra dollar, not because we have to, but because we want to.
Now please don’t get me wrong, I was in the Peace Corps—I care about people. But, although certainly not my favorite personally and socially, Henry Ford’s observation that “Any people who feel they can prosper by relying on the government should talk to the American Indian” really should control the conversation. Not only is involuntary socialism based upon getting something for nothing, it simply is not effective.
For example, many of the pilgrims that arrived in the New World based their new life upon the socialistic concept of “From everyone according to their abilities, to everyone according to their needs,” with the result that many of them starved to death. But when they changed their approach to one based upon a strong work ethic and private property rights, they began to thrive.
So from both a conceptual and practical standpoint, socialism doesn’t work.
Witness the difference between the economic success of West versus East Germany, South versus North Korea, Chile versus Venezuela, and China before the use of the free enterprise system versus afterwards. For me, whether at the point of a gun or through government, to demand that you will use your resources to support other people is fundamentally wrong. In fact, you could be bleeding on the street, and I would have no legal obligation to help you, unless I helped to cause your injuries. But I will because I want to—and so do most other people.
Also, the voluntary system has the added benefit that the recipients of the assistance are more likely to be appreciative when they receive it instead of seeing it as an entitlement. So, once again, it is liberty that accomplishes these beneficial goals, not socialism.
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