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Democratic Primary Voters Turn to Socialism

March 13, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Outside the media and political circles that follow her every
move, few probably noticed or cared when Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez
pronounced capitalism “irredeemable.” But what are we
to make of the refusal of former Colorado governor John
Hickenlooper — supposedly the moderate in the Democratic
field — to admit that he was a capitalist? Speaking on
MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, Hickenlooper turned
aside several direct questions about whether he was a capitalist
before allowing that “some aspects” of capitalism, like
small business, “probably work.” And what about the
fact that 77-year-old avowed socialist Bernie Sanders is in a
statistical tie for the Democratic nomination?

Perhaps that’s because Democratic primary voters have a
surprisingly favorable view of socialism. According to the latest
Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, Democrats prefer capitalism to socialism
by the slimmest 51-49 percent margin. That’s a long way from
President Obama, who just four years ago pointed out that
“the free market is the greatest generator of wealth in
history — it has lifted millions out of poverty.”

Of course there is ample reason to be suspicious of the
combination of cronyism and government intervention that has
replaced free-market capitalism in recent years. But this new
affection for socialism represents a profound misreading of
economics, history, and the human condition.

As long as the party
keeps lurching left, Trump’s reelection prospects will
improve.

For most of recorded history, humankind was horribly,
desperately poor. Then, about 300 years ago, human wealth suddenly
began to increase exponentially. The reason for this sudden and
wonderful change was the advent of modern free-market capitalism.
And while those at the top of the income ladder undoubtedly saw
major gains, those who benefited the most from this increase in
wealth were those at the bottom.

In her groundbreaking book Bourgeois Equality, Deirdre
McCloskey points out that in the era before modern free-market
capitalism, great civilizations, such as Periclean Greece or Song
Dynasty China, sometimes saw a temporary doubling of national
income per capita. Such gains were considered extraordinary. But
compare that to the fact that since 1800, developed countries like
Sweden or Japan have seen a 3,200 percent growth in per capita
income. And with that growth came all sorts of associated benefits,
including longer life expectancies, a better-educated citizenry,
expanded civil and political rights, and reduced poverty. Studies
measuring inequality over time against indexes of economic freedom
(adjusted to exclude exogenous factors such as educational levels,
climate, agricultural share of employment, and so forth) show a
small but statistically significant reduction in
inequality in countries with high economic-freedom scores.

What has been true worldwide has been true for the United States
as well. Consider that by most measures …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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