In a world where we now have three so-called "democratic" socialists in office (which is an oxymoron if I've ever seen one), you'd think the American public must be increasingly moving to the left. But you would be wrong. A brand-new Fox News poll disputes that thesis. The poll, which was released on February 13 finds that “Fifty-seven percent of voters have a positive opinion of capitalism. That’s more than twice the number who feel the same about socialism (25 percent).” How about that. (And, if you ask me, the actual figure is probably even higher because most people, especially millennials, can't even define socialism.)
So what's causing this surprisingly large disdain for socialism?
I have a few ideas...
1. Americans enjoy eating food
Like you, I prefer three meals a day, and rotten meat for zero of them. Call me petty, but this is a major issue for me.
For as much as we hear about our nation's obesity crisis, it's a problem that our friends in breadlines would kill to experience.
While no famine has ever taken place in a democracy, they're the rule rather than the exception in socialist countries. In just the 20th century alone, six of the ten worst famines were in socialist countries, as were seven of the top fifteen. I guess they all weren't "real” socialism?
Capitalism even does a better job at producing food within socialist countries themselves. The Soviet Union (which went from being an exporter of food to an importer after going socialist) eventually had to resort to opening up some agriculture to private hands. While private agriculture never composed more than 4 percent of the land mass of all Soviet agriculture, it yielded a third of the nation's total produce.
2. Americans don't want to be equally poor
While it's easy to find polls showing that the average American would prefer lower levels of economic inequality, the average American will also draw the line far before we're all equally poor.
Ironically, socialist countries do tend to have immediate short term decreases in poverty before collapsing. After Hugo Chavez came to power the Venezuelan poverty rate was cut in half from 54 percent to 27.5 percent from 2004-2007 to the cheers of socialists worldwide. And then Chavez ran out of other people's money -- and by 2014 the poverty rate had nearly caught up to where it was in 2004, and in 2018 the poverty rate skyrocketed to 90 percent. And only then did Venezuela become "not real socialism" to other socialists.
While capitalist countries have more inequality - they also have more wealth overall. The Frasier Institute's annual studies one economic freedom routinely finds that the poorest people in the freest economies are wealthier than the richest people in the least free economies.
3. Freedom of speech matters
I have a podcast that you all listen to ("The Dan Bongino Show") and I must say the job would be so much more stressful if I recorded my show under the threat of potential torture every day, fearful of criticizing the wrong person. Similarly for you, the reader, in a capitalist country you have the ability to answer a poll question from Fox News about capitalism vs. socialism truthfully. Something tells me a similar poll would generate 110 percent support for socialism in a socialist country.
It's ironic that socialism and similar left-wing ideas appeal to people who fashion themselves as "anti-establishment," when you can't have socialism without political repression.
Any college student who disagrees may want to speak with one of the tens of millions of people who have wound up in a gulag.