A young writer named Brad Polumbo, current college student and contributor at Red Alert Politics, has a great piece up at the Washington Examiner deconstructing the love of socialism by his contemporaries, an affection he says is complicated by the fact that “most young people who support socialism on the surface can’t even define the word properly.”
That assertion is taken from a 2010 New York Times survey that Polumbo says found that only 16 percent of people in his generation could properly identify the correct definition of socialism.
[T]he actual definition of socialism is as follows: “a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state,” meaning essentially that socialism requires near-complete government control of the economy. Still, ask the typical supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for an example of a socialist country they look up to, and they’ll likely incorrectly name free societies such as Sweden or Denmark.
They’re wrong. Denmark, for example, is a capitalist, market-based economy, albeit one with a larger welfare state and higher taxes than the United States. But actually, the sum regulatory, trade, and business climate in Denmark and Sweden is more free-market friendly than in the U.S., according to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom. During a speaking appearance at Harvard in 2015, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen corrected Sanders supporters who use Denmark as an example of socialism, insisting that his country was “a successful market economy with freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.
So let’s be clear what we’re talking about: actual socialist countries include desolate dictatorships such as Venezuela, North Korea, and, to some extent, China, as these are some of the only examples of countries where the government directly controls the economy. Young people don’t seem to realize that when they tell a pollster that they support socialism, what they’re really saying is that they’d rather live in a country styled after Soviet Russia than in a free-market society such as the U.S. or Denmark.
That’s an incredibly astute observation from someone so young, who is likely pressured daily to agree with most of his cohort that socialism — with its promises of free college, free health care, etc — is the shiny new future.
But Polumbo is absolutely correct. As much as millennials like to answer any criticism of the Ocasio-Cortezes of the world with a wry smile and a strong statement that socialism just hasn’t been tried in the “right way”, the truth is that it absolutely has. Many times. And it has always failed and led to loss of liberty and life.
When it starts to feel like the future belongs to the willfully ignorant, it’s more than a little encouraging that there are young Polumbos out there, standing athwart history, yelling “Stop!”