Why Socialism is Not Compassionate

November 25, 2009

What we encounter in discussing issues today with Americans, is that many think socialism is good. In fact, they think that it is distinctly compassionate, thus truly moral. In this essay we will examine why socialism—and its compadres marxism and liberalism—are in fact immoral and inhumane. Conservatism, on the other hand, not only objectively produces better results for society, but is the only moral alternative.

If this notion is foreign to you, please bear with us. Consider logically your predispositions and examine the facts as we go through the arguments.

First, let’s define our terms. Socialism is government mandated activities or government control of assets. Marxism is using the power of the state to take money from some groups of citizens and give it to other groups (“redistribution of wealth” or “social justice”). Liberalism is a broader term that encompasses both of the above. Progressivism and statism are synonyms for liberalism. Because there is so much overlap, we will use these terms more-or-less interchangeably.


1. Redistribution of wealth is not JUSTICE, it is THEFT. Contrary to liberal thought, forced redistribution of wealth is immoral. God did not give the Ten Commandments to Moses that read, “Thou shall not steal unless Congress passes a different law.” True compassion is voluntary—from the heart—and for the recipient it is challenging, personal, and spiritual. In other words, the down-and-out need more than money; they need encouragement and spiritual food. Government offers none of these criteria. Whenever wealth is redistributed, an injustice is done to at least one party. While government may legitimately encourage voluntary giving—and encourage institutions that facilitate it such as Christian organizations—it has no moral authority to force people to give by the heavy hand of the state. (Helpful book: The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky.)

2. Socialism and marxism reduce our freedoms, thus leading to tyranny. Freedom, we argue, is a legitimate moral end in itself—an unalienable right. Remember the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the foundational principle of America’s Founders. It is no less true today than in 1776. (Helpful book: Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin.)

3. When government redistributes wealth it even hurts the people it is trying to help! This is not necessarily intuitive, but observable. The welfare mess is a classic example of failed government intervention.  We have 50 years of experience which prove that oppressive utopian ideas of “compassion” only imprison the welfare class into perpetual poverty. An interesting current comparison is Texas vs. California. Texas has a conservative philosophy of government while California has taken the liberal utopian route. Texas, as of October 2009, had an 8.3% unemployment rate, while California’s unemployment rate was 12.9%—55% higher than Texas. Who is doing a better job for its citizens, including for the working class? (A book that is crucial to understanding the problem is Uncle Sam’s Plantation by black author Star Parker.) Watch this fascinating short clip of Milton Friedman on the Phil Donahue show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A.

4. Every time the government gets involved in something, in the long run it hurts the economy. Remember that the government does not produce anything. So every dollar taken out of the productive economy (or distorts the productive economy) reduces the total output of the economy. Interference in the economy either by direct action or through regulations ends up decreasing the wealth of the country rather than increasing it. Regulations add to the cost of production, lessening efficiency and raising prices—which in turn lowers demand. When this occurs, those at every income level suffer. Further, armed with the power to tax, government fosters stupid economic decisions because it is blinded without a profit motive. A recent example is how the federal government—through both legislation and Federal Reserve policy—encouraged banks to make home loans to people who could not afford them, precipitating the housing collapse. One must be blinded by pre-conceptions to fail to see that any intrusions into the economy with Soviet-like utopian ideologies are ultimately disastrous to its people. The more utopian liberalism is introduced into the system, the poorer it performs. (Important books: How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas DiLorenzo and How Capitalism Will Save Us by Steve Forbes. Also, watch this short video about how the government worsened the Depression: http://dittosrush.blogspot.com/2009/11/thomas-sowell-explains-great-depression.html).

5. Socialism reduces the incentive to innovate and produce. If we are interested in increasing philanthropy and compassionate giving, we should grow the economy as much as possible so that philanthropy is possible.Capitalism is attacked by liberals as not compassionate. Liberals have this misplaced notion that profit is immoral. The voluntary exchange of goods and services for profit is not immoral. The fact is, the profit motive is the engine that grows the economy and has produced every modern convenience. Just take a moment to think through the things in your life and ask yourself why they are there. From the food you eat to the products you use, there has been an enormous amount of entrepreneurial energy and innovation that has made these things available to you. Government, on the other hand, not only does not produce anything, it creates shortages. Milton Friedman said, “If the Government was in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand.” An example in the real economy would be government health care. It is a certainty that the currently proposed government takeover of medicine will lead to fewer doctors. In one study, 45% of doctors would consider quitting if Congress passes health care overhaul. Bright students, faced with huge costs to attend medical school, will choose other fields. Such is a logical outcome from absurd policies. If we cover more people, we would need more doctors, more nurses, more hospitals, and more clinics. Promises of universal coverage cannot overcome the reality of universal shortages—leading to poorer service and rationing. Liberalism breeds an attitude of entitlement among the slothful. But socialism actually reduces incentives for productive activity of both the classes from whom the money is taken and to whom the money is given. If a father continually takes money from a successful son and gives it to a slothful son, eventually both sons will become less productive and tainted.

6. Studies show that government is much less efficient at the same tasks as private enterprise or charity. At least one study (http://www.gerrycharlottephelps.com/2009/08/fed-govt-wastes-more-money-than-business-charity.html) showed that Government administrative costs consume 35-55% of the total expenditures. So in the health care debate, for example, if insurance companies make a 3-7% profit on sales, they are still hugely more efficient at delivering health care services than government. And unlike the profit made by private concerns, that 35-55% loss by government benefits nobody—it is essentially lost (wasted). Is there not yet enough outrage at story after story of pork barrel spending in Congress? How numbed does one have to be to fail to see that government by its very nature not only wastes money but is bent to cronyism and fraud? Of course, man’s inherent sinfulness can show up in any organization. But the government has never run an efficient system of any kind anywhere, with the possible exception of the military.

7. Socialism rewards failure.  Consider the takeover of General Motors. There have been hundreds of automobile companies that have failed in our history. Every once in awhile, the free enterprise system purges itself of the losers, only to be replaced by more efficient producers that have a better model how to deliver more goods and services that consumers want to buy at a price they can afford. It is suicidal for society to resist this trend. A key tenet of investing is to cut your losses and reinvest in more promising things. In an investment portfolio, nursing your losers leads to a stagnant portfolio of trash. One may think, at first glance, that it is compassionate to save jobs by government interference. But in the long run, the economy is held back by government interference, hurting everyone. Check out this article which explains how even our prized anti-trust laws and the progressive income tax tend to reward the inefficient producers and slow growth: http://mises.org/daily/3856.

8. Socialism and marxism ultimately lead to financial destruction. The U. S. budget death spiral in which we now find ourselves places us at a very serious risk of economic collapse. See our blog entry below entitled “U. S. Budget Death Spiral.” As Margaret Thatcher said, “Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money.” Let’s just consider the centerpiece of the liberal socialist agenda—Social Security. It is a madoff/ponzi scheme. It taxes workers to pay for those retired. There is no actual “Social Security Trust Fund”—even though this term is still commonly used. The liabilities of the Social Security system are unfunded promises to pay retirees. Together with Medicare, these transfer payments are by far the largest item in the federal budget, and are the primary reason why the federal government is on the brink of bankruptcy. The Social Security tax burden hits the low income worker’s budget the hardest. And studies show that if workers were to put what they pay in taxes instead into a conservative personal investment account over their working lifetime, they would have substantially more income at retirement! And they would own the account and thus have something to pass on to their heirs. See http://www.socialsecurity.org/reformandyou/you.html.

9. Liberalism destroys the Rule of Law. America’s Constitution is quite clear that there are specific enumerated powers of the federal government, and all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states (or to the people). Thus the states are free to have health care programs, the federal government is not. The liberal agenda in legislation and court rulings has openly ignored the Constitution. Considering federal health care legislation, there is absolutely no authority in the Constitution to force people to buy something they do not want—yet our legislators couldn’t care less. When the Rule of Law is destroyed, despotism takes over. The result is predictable: If history is any judge, in time the Constitution will completely crumble into shambles and the United States of America will dissolve. History proves that the yearning for freedom always pushes man to demand the freedom that he is convinced is a God-given right.

10. Liberalism not only breeds hatred but indeed contributes to people’s deaths. Because liberalism is a relativistic worldview, some people are ultimately expendable. We see this in every leftist government, but often fail to make the connection to this ideology at home. Liberals attack conservatives as being self-centered, money hungry, and uncompassionate. But who are more likely champions of the innocent unborn and the elderly? The current health care debate should heighten the awareness of who is concerned about the almighty dollar over human rights. It is the liberals who are willing to cut back on mammograms for middle-aged women to save a few dollars. It is the liberals who would cut Medicare to seniors to save money. It is liberals who want free abortions, taking the lives of millions of innocent unborn children. We ask: who are truly compassionate and who are the hypocrites? Further, liberalism pits one class of citizens against another. It especially fosters hatred, envy, and covetousness toward the successful rather than admiration and inspiration. Bitterness filters down in an organization too. I ask you to consider how you are treated by government employees such as those behind the counter at the Post Office or tax office compared to most for-profit business. In which setting are you more likely to get more personal warmth and upbeat, caring service? Ironically, socialism is inherently heartless, while capitalism is inherently caring for the customer. Remember that a business’s survival depends on the satisfied customer. Related to this in an important way, liberalism also often discourages faith in God or creates new gods suitable to a pre-conceived ideology. (Helpful book: Godless: The Church of Liberalism, by Ann Coulter.)

Objection Considered: The socialist may object to these arguments by saying, “But wait. People have rights.” For example, in the current health care debate, we hear that people have a right to health care. But this is incorrect. Health care is not a right. It is a good/service—like food, clothing, shelter, or insurance. And the way to distribute these things that is the least expensive to the consumer with the best quality is through private enterprise. The free exchange of goods and services is the most moral and the most effective means of distribution. America’s Declaration of Independence is an historic document that philosophically defines rights. Rights are God-given to personhood. They cannot be created by government. In particular, life is a right. A good or service is not a right.

Indeed, America’s Declaration of Independence explains that liberty—that is, freedom from government interference—is also a right. So liberals who say that something like government health care is a right in fact have it backwards. Government interference into health care tramples on liberty and thus tramples on our rights! It is an abrogation of our rights.

Summary: Conservatism is constructive. Liberalism is destructive. We are not arguing that government has no role to play in society. We are arguing that there are usually constitutional solutions in the free market that are much more effective while being morally upright.

For a discussion of how Christianity influences government and society, see our website: http://www.faithfacts.org/christ-and-the-culture/the-bible-and-government and also http://www.faithfacts.org/christ-and-the-culture/The-Impact-of-Christianity.

Here is a good link, The Answer to Socialism:  http://www.doczero.org/2010/02/the-answer-to-socialism/

One comment

  1. In Objections Considered, I would suggest that the reason health care is not a right, is that health care presumes that someone else is doing the “caring”. Thus, for health care to be a right, the health care worker must be compelled to provide it. Back in olden times, we called that slavery.

    Now, you might be able to argue that access to health care is a right – i.e. that government cannot prevent citizens from purchasing health care – but so far no one is proposing that such should or is happening.

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