It is stunning to watch the encroachment of Marxist Socialism upon the American economy. Wherever it has been tried Communism/Socialism* has brought general societal decay before the system ultimately collapsed. The Soviet Union collapsed. China is furiously trying to modify its Socialism into a more workable, free-market economy, albeit heavily State-controlled. Cuba and South American Communist/Socialist nations are pathetic economic wastelands filled with innocent people suffering 30-60% inflation and enduring unending shortages of food and essential goods (like toilet paper!).
Nonetheless, America, like a nation of lemmings is running headlong to the cliff over which others have leapt and died. Perhaps no better evidence is necessary than to point to Obamacare – the nationalization (State seizing control) of 15% of the entire economy. Even without Obamacare, fully 50% of the American populace is on some sort of State subsidy (Welfare, Food Stamps, Medicare, Social Security). Our nation is mere steps away from the lemming's leap of death.
As a Christian, I bear a fascination for Israel – past, present, and certainly, future. Israel in the 20th Century was a fascinating place. A nation was born, a people group coalesced, and economic structures were invented afresh. My interest in the economic experiments of Israel began with, believe it or not, Google Earth.
The picture to the right is of a little town outside Nazareth – Nahalal. The town is purpose-built. No more than a third of a mile across you can see how the town is laid out to promote a certain culture. Houses, 80 of them, line the ring-road that connects the entire town. Small industry and agricultural structures radiate out from the house lots. Farmland lies at the outer perimeter of the spider's web. Inside the ring-road are the common areas of the little town – town hall, school, clinic, grocery, pool, etc. This town seems idyllic and quaint, 900 residents living in close cooperation if not complete harmony. That's the idea anyway, Nahalal is a kibbutz – an intentional experiment in Socialism repeated throughout Isreal.
But like every experiment, it takes time to figure out if the experiment proved or disproved the hypothesis (in this case, Socialism). I recently stumbled across a report on the Kibbutz experiment: The Kibbutz in Israeli Reality - The Rise and Fall of an Idea.
Chapter Three of this short report explains how the Socialist Ideal that inspired the initial organization of the commune ultimately led to its near-demise. As the author puts it, "The mechanisms that secured the ideological structure of the kibbutz led it slowly into stagnation." In short, the practical flaws inherent in a Socialist economy led directly to insufficient production and crippling waste. I'm struggling to keep this blog short enough to hold my readers' interest so I'm only going to share this short excerpt:
In the 80s and the 90s, with the deterioration in the economic and financial situation of the kibbutz, it became patently clear that the way to fight waste in consumption would be privatization. Proof of this was found in the early 70s, in the first attempt to create a “personal budget” which gave the member freedom of consumption in a narrow variety of products. The kibbutz learned that in each sphere in which responsibility would be shifted from the community to the private pocket, a rapid process of increasing saving and curbing waste would take place.
Instead of members receiving clothing, food, energy, use of a car and
a weekly movie free of charge and at the expense of the community budget, they
received both the money and the responsibility for using it, for purchasing the same services. The community budget decreased and the member’s budget increased by the same proportion. From that moment on individuals had to prudently manage their expenses as the money was now coming out of their own pockets. The effect of shifting the responsibility for purchasing products and services from the community to the individual was extremely impressive.
In short, when Nahalal was at the point of drowning in the futility of Marxist Socialism, they privatized (a giant first step toward Capitalism)! They put the burden of matching consumption with production back in the hands of the people who were consuming and producing!! The town wound up spending less and the citizens experienced increased satisfaction.
America's path toward greater government confiscation of private production (through taxes) and greater government control of consumption (through management of resources by laws such as Obamacare) runs exactly counter to the wisdom learned from Socialist experiments conducted throughout the world in the 20th Century. Nahalal tells the story that we'd all like to hear at bedtime… "the government interfered less and less and the people prospered more and more and they all lived happily ever after."
Clark H Smith
* Communism? Socialism? Which is it? What's the difference? Here's the way I explain it. Communism is a utopian concept, a pure daydream. Only in Heaven and John Lennon lyrics (and occasional church pot lucks) do all people share all things in common. Marxist Socialism is the "practical" implementation of Communist ideal. The State (government, and really, the ruling elite) controls levels of production and commands levels of consumption. In Socialism, there is no such thing as a free market place in which free-will consumption determines what goods and services are produced. Capitalism, in which "Greed is Good" by the way, works because it does allow a free marketplace in which consumption and production are held in tension economically, rather than politically. In Capitalism, greed drives the producer to deliver goods and services to the marketplace which satisfy consumers. In Socialism, greed is supposedly eliminated (except among the ruling elite) and so it consumer satisfaction.