Steve Forbes: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, others think socialism is the future – they're dead wrong

Is America experiencing a socialist moment? Given the current political environment, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

The Green New Deal – a comic book collection of absurdist ideas to combat global warming – would devastate the economy with unprecedented government controls. Yet it has been endorsed by numerous Democrat presidential candidates. So, has the idea of a total government takeover of health care; Democrats sugarcoat (oops, sugar is a no-no, so let’s use the word disguise) this form of socialism by dubbing it Medicare for All, even though this program currently offers a robust private insurance option.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., one of what is becoming a stadium full of presidential aspirants, made clear that the private health insurance industry would be rendered illegal. Another White House wannabe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposed a bill last year that would impose radical government oversight of corporate governance, part of a move to effectively take over businesses without the inconvenience of buying out shareholders. And hardly a day goes by without new schemes for higher taxes such as a 70 percent income tax rate and a wealth tax.

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This hostility to capitalism was on display in New York City where local politicians led by avowed socialist Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., gleefully led the charge to scuttle a deal with Amazon that would have brought in 25,000 new jobs where the average pay would have been an eye-popping $150,000. Ostensibly they objected to the tax credits for Amazon, even though this would have been money New York wasn’t going to get unless Amazon was there and would have been vastly exceeded by the taxes – income, sales, property and other exactions – generated by Amazon’s presence. But make no mistake: the real motivation for Ocasio-Cortez and other leftist activists was a loathing of free enterprise.

Most ominous, and hardly given much attention, was how all these socialist programs would be paid for in addition to growth-killing new taxes: Ocasio-Cortez let the cat out of the bag when she casually tossed out the idea of simply printing more money. In a documentary I helped produce, "In Money We Trust?" now being shown on public television, we underscore the truth of Lenin’s observation that the best way to undermine the existing social order was to debauch the currency.

As John Maynard Keynes said about the resulting inflation:

“There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose.”

The disturbing trends seem to confirm the declaration of a Washington Post columnist: “It’s time to give socialism a try” as if we should ignore the ugly experiences of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela.

Fortunately, as these socialist nostrums are being put forth, Americans are waking up to their true nature: a horrific loss of liberty and the opportunity to get ahead and a precipitous decline in our standard of living. They are right to be concerned.

Medicare for All. The way single-payer systems control medical costs is through rationing: agonizingly long waits for surgeries and for needed treatments of diseases like cancer. In Britain, for example, bureaucrats have formulas for deciding who gets life-saving remedies. If you need kidney dialysis and you are in your 60s, you will never get to the front of the line; you will be left to die. In addition, government control of health care severely curtails research for new pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Europe was once a font of new drugs. No longer.

Higher taxes. Socialists confuse wealth with cash as if Bill Gates sits on a vast pile of money. The bulk of the wealth of “the rich” these socialists want to plunder are assets such as stocks, bonds, factories, software, etc. Tank the economy as the Ocasio-Cortezs of the world would do and the value of these assets would plummet, if not disappear. These taxes would also destroy the creation of savings and capital. Without the investment capital makes possible, we stagnate.

The Green New Deal. Airplanes? Ground ‘em. The combustion engine? Consign it to the Smithsonian. Where would the juice come from for electric vehicles? Why windmills and solar energy, even though any projection based on reality shows that the world will be getting most of its energy from fossil fuels for decades to come. Get rid of cows, as if their flatulence is a greater danger than that which comes from so many of today’s politicians.

Americans are increasingly waking up to the threat. A new Fox News poll of about 1,000 registered voters found that 57 percent have a favorable view of capitalism compared to only 28 percent who have an unfavorable view. As for socialism, only 25 percent had a favorable view of it vs. 59 percent who held an unfavorable view.

These numbers should be reassuring to anyone who recognizes the remarkable benefits of our free-market system, which is the greatest engine for innovation, opportunity and prosperity. Socialism does nothing to lift people out of poverty except for its rapacious rulers. In the past generation, by contrast, thanks to capitalism, one billion people around the world have escaped dire poverty. That’s 137,000 people a day.

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Socialism is all about the government controlling our lives. Free child care, for example, would ultimately mean government telling us how our children are to be raised.

While most Americans are recognizing the truth about socialism, we cannot be complacent. We must vigorously fight socialism’s falsehoods. As President Trump said in his State of the Union address: “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

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