Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
Contemporary progressives claim that socialism is the preferred model for a humane society. The underlying premise is that government should be empowered to redistribute wealth from haves to have-nots. The justification is always explained in terms of “compassion” and “fairness” for the less fortunate of society. Redistribution of wealth is used to promote egalitarianism, and taxation is the mechanism by which most western governments pursue their socialist policies. Radical or revolutionary governments frequently resort to outright collectivism to achieve the goal, creating a system more properly known as communism. But the difference between socialism and communism is only one of degree. At their core both systems require overt intrusion into market economies by the heavy hand of government for the purpose of establishing social equality. Property rights are abolished as the program degenerates into a spoils system whereby Peter is robbed to pay for Paul’s indolence. The dependent population quickly becomes a political constituency willing to support any politician promising more benefits. It’s a short hop to the welfare state where work is discouraged through ever more onerous taxes, and dependency is encouraged through ever more generous subsidies. The entire program eventually becomes a system based on institutionalized theft.
The more intrusive the hand of government in the market, the more distortion is caused within the economy. Distortions cause inefficiencies, and inefficiency leads to an overall fall in economic production. Unemployment begins to rise. More people find themselves dependent on government relief vis-à-vis contributing to the overall society through gainful employment. Unemployment rates of 10% to 15% in Europe mask the true face of the problem. Add those who take advantage of other generous benefits, such as disability, early retirement, and ordinary welfare, to the oversized bureaucracy necessary to regulate and redistribute wealth, and you quickly create a system where nearly half the population is by one means or another dependent on government for their daily bread. The dignity of hard work and the rewards of increased material prosperity are replaced by dependency and idleness at a base level far below the former mean. The only equality that ensues is the equality of poverty. And yet, it’s a human tendency to take advantage of something for nothing when the opportunity presents itself. A great many people are content to live a marginal existence provided it requires no effort, than to pursue material abundance and earned leisure through hard work. Socialism saps the spirit of a nation turning its citizens into a coddled and complacent population.
The error in socialist theory is to assume that one part of a population is willing to labor for decreasing rewards while simultaneously accepting the burden of supporting those who contribute naught. Eventually such a society reaches a tipping point. Workers stop producing because they realize the futility of laboring for less. The statement of a worker in the Gdansk Shipping Yards during the era of Solidarity sums it up: “We’ll continue to pretend to work as long as the government pretends to pay us.” Atlas shrugs. The system goes belly up. Despite repeated failures, Europeans embrace socialism. Today Europe is facing economic stagnation combined with a demographic crisis. New workers are not filling the ranks because birth rates have fallen below replacement levels. Few Europeans want to be burdened with raising children as they pursue lives of ease and leisure. One might conclude that socialist decadence is a one way ticket to demographic and cultural suicide.
The final step in the socialist agenda is to eviscerate a nation’s military and divert the money to social programs. When economic output lags, it becomes impossible to support both a welfare state and a strong military. Europe has chosen welfare. The combined militaries of Europe, excepting the Brits, amount now to nil. This might explain Europe’s current policy of appeasing Islamic fascism. The Europeans no longer have the means, much less the will, to fight a threat that is existential. The leadership of Europe hopes to hold power until they become willing collaborators with a new power. Islam if necessary. This is not an exaggeration. A British Labor M.P. offered the other day that Europe needs to come to terms with Islam so that Muslims might fill the ranks of the working class allowing for the continuation of the welfare state. What this amounts to is an admission that Europe wishes only to die in peace.
The populace that buys into the belief that one has a right to consume without producing deserves the fate of those who embrace decadence: extinction. Rome knew a similar fate. In A.D. 456, as the Vandals approached the city, despite a fair quanity of available weapons, the able youth of Rome refused to man the walls. The rest, as they say, is history. This is the ultimate price of decadence. Europe will die. America stands on the cusp. How will we answer?