A Simple & Tangible Experiment in Socialism

posted by Nima

November 6, 2010 · Posted in General Economics 

Whether or not this actually occurred in real life is not so important, but I like the idea in general. A user on reddit recently posted this message:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A….

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise…..they all failed, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

I mean, it’s not “Obama’s plan” since Obama is just your average interventionist and since Congress writes the laws and not the president anyway, but even if he was, he’s not collectivizing all the means of production; that said, it IS a good experiment to convey one important aspect of the problems with socialism.

The root problem with socialism of course being the impossibility of economic calculation due to the absence of prices, as Mises has already explained 90 years ago.

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3 Responses to “A Simple & Tangible Experiment in Socialism”

  1. Eric Pearson on November 6th, 2010 9:14 pm

    I’ve been a democrat for over 38 year, and I know the “progressive movement” is the root of all evil in American politics, a “cancer” and a “virus” and a “parasite” that has “infected” both the Democratic and Republican parties.

    When Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire”, the progressives went nuts. When George Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea “The Axis of Evil” they went nuts again. Progressivism, the Americanized version of European and Asian socialism, is made up mostly of hard-core socialists and secular humanists. Progressivism does not recognize the concept of evil. It believes in the perfectibility of human nature and the promise of utopia here on earth to be brought about by the enlightened, benevolent hand of government.

    Masquerading as the savior of humanity, in reality all socialism, whether labeled socialism, Nazism, fascism, communism, or progressivism is the very essence of evil. During the twentieth century, socialism in its various forms was responsible for the slaughter of untold millions of innocent people through genocide, war, and political purges. In the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics, 60 million were slaughtered; under the Nationalist Socialists German Workers Party, 20 million; and under the People’s Republic of China, 50 million. Add to that the millions who died under Pol Pot, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and other socialists dictators, and you have an unbelievable amount of human suffering that can only be ascribed to evil.

    For those unfortunate enough to live under one of the forms of socialism, life consists of misery, oppression and deprivation. Considering the consistent failure of socialism during its hundred and fifty year history, it is difficult to understand how any sane person could voluntarily choose it as the preferred systems of government and economics. There has never been an experiment in socialism of any duration that can be pointed to as an example of a successful culture. Every time it is tried, it fails miserably. To understand this incongruity of human experience we only have to look at the recent history of our own country.

    Socialism is never presented as “socialism”. In fact, the most ardent supporters of socialist policies are offended when someone identifies them as socialists. In America, socialism is sold under the pseudonyms of “liberalism”, “progressivism” and occasionally “fiscal conservatism“. For that reason, most people who support socialist policies do so without knowing they are embracing socialism. The essence of socialism is deception. At first glance, it appears that socialist policies are motivated by the highest of human ideals, compassion, concern, caring, sympathy, etc. Socialists’ appeals are made on behalf of the poor, the children, the disenfranchised, and those who have been unfortunate in life’s lottery. The reality is that socialism appeals to the basest of human flaws: jealousy, hatred, greed and envy.

    Progressives’ most potent weapon against capitalism is class envy and jealousy. Early on, they perfected the technique of demonizing “big business”. In the late eighteen hundreds progressives discovered that if they stereotyped “big businesses” as the enemy of the very people they served, the people, in return would grant progressives political power, not only over businesses but in other areas as well. Politicians found that by blaming the “robber barons of industry” for the ills of society— and there were many— they could win votes and support for their policies by posing as champions of the oppressed.

    In the early stages of the progressive era, the targets were the railroads, oil companies, steel companies, tobacco companies, and others who were instrumental in raising the standard of living for the American People. Progressive demonization of “big business” reached a high point under President William McKinley in 1898 with the formation of the “U.S. Industrial Commission on Trusts”. Theodore Roosevelt won the Presidency in 1900 on the basis of his attacks on “big business”, and “trust busting” became the theme for his time in office. However, William Howard Taft who succeeded Roosevelt as President was even more successful, breaking up 90 large firms during his four years in office compared with Roosevelt’s 44 during his eight-year term.

    The vilification of “big business” proved so politically successful for the progressives in the beginning that they have continued to use the tactic ever since to gain public support for their policies. The “villain du jour” currently is the insurance industry. A year ago, it was the banks. It all depends on what progressive policy is being pushed at the time. By successfully blaming the banking industry for our current economic woes rather than destructive government economic policies, Congress was able to gain support for its “bailout” packages. It is now attempting the same thing with health care, blaming insurance company “greed” for its high cost in order to gain support for their “reform” proposals.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be working. The entity most often blamed by the media, and ultimately the public, for the exorbitant cost of health care is insurance company greed. The fact is that insurance companies are in general no more profitable than other companies of similar size, and a large percentage of their profits come from investments, not premiums. The real greed comes not from capitalism but from progressivism. The number one attraction of progressivism is its promise to provide the public with economic benefits they have not earned by forcefully taking from the earnings of others. This attitude is the epitome of greed.

    Deception, corruption, envy, greed, jealously, coercion, thievery and wholesale murder mark the existence of socialism in the world. Socialism in America is represented by the progressives in and out of government, primarily in the Democratic Party but extant in the Republican Party as well, only to a lesser degree. The true “Axis of Evil” in America, that threatens to destroy the most successful system of government in world history are the progressive politicians, public sector unions, and federal bureaucracies.

    In other words, for a Progressive it is better to live in safety as a slave than to live in danger with Liberty. Progressives feel they are entitled to all of the best that life has to offer whether or not they contribute to their own success. Progressives are the cancer, the plague that could eventually destroy mankind and any remote concept of Freedom. Not to mention, the world economy and America as we know it.

    Source: Washington Politics News
    Site: http://www.washingtonpoliticsnews.com

  2. J.Scully on November 12th, 2010 7:22 am

    The problem with mindless copy/pasting is that not only it promotes unoriginality of thoughts, but also advance the idea that simplification of tenet to the ridiculous point that it effectively becomes the distortion of message. Prevarication won’t take you far in life and it shows.

  3. Nima on November 12th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Thanks much. I can see the “originality of thought” erupting already from that comment. It’s always good to practice what you preach! =)

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