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Capitalism is Spontaneous Natural Order, Socialism is Just Some Bully’s Orders

Capitalism is Spontaneous Natural Order, Socialism is Just Some Bully’s Orders

In a half-century of writing, I figure I’ve quoted at least several thousand people. Occasionally, I’ve even quoted myself, but never have I chosen some of my own remarks and turned them into an article.

As they say, there’s a first time for everything. And probably a last time as well. I’m closing in on 70 and promise not to do this again for another 70 years. It’s not an exercise in vanity, for I cultivate diffidence as a virtue. I just want to share with readers a few thoughts they may have missed the first time around.

Virtually everything I’ve ever written anywhere dealt in some way with the economics, history, or ethics of liberty. You will see plain evidence of that in this collection. If it prompts any reader to think, “Hey, you forgot this one!”, please feel free to add it in the comment section. I am keenly interested in anything I ever wrote that stuck, that made a lasting impression, or that changed the way you understand the world. If I get enough of them, I may include them in a future book, and give you the credit. Thank you!

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Capitalism is what happens when you leave peaceful people alone. Socialism is what happens when you don’t. Capitalism is spontaneous, natural order. Socialism is just some bully’s orders.

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“Progressivism” means never understanding economics, never taking responsibility for the disasters you create, never shedding the hate and envy you feel for those who create wealth, and never having to say you’re sorry for ruining the lives of others, many of whom never asked for your “help” in the first place.

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Government ought to be small enough that you have to go look for it, rather than it always looking for you.

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My take on socialism is this: Socialism only seems to work when you don’t fully implement it, when you keep enough capitalism around to pay socialism’s bills, at least for a time. It’s the difference between milking the cow and killing it. Socialism has no theory of wealth creation; it’s just a destructive, envy-driven fantasy about redistributing it after somebody else creates it.

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It constantly amazes me that defenders of the free market are expected to offer certainty and perfection while government has only to make promises and express good intentions. Many times, for instance, I’ve heard people say, “A free market in education is a bad idea because some child somewhere might fall through the cracks,” even though in today’s government schools, millions of children are falling through the cracks every day.

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Collectivists see the world the way Mr. Magoo did—as one big blur. They homogenize people in a communal blender, sacrificing the discrete features that make us who we are.

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Have you ever noticed how statists are constantly “reforming” their own handiwork? Education reform. Health-care reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. The very fact they’re always busy “reforming” is an implicit admission that they didn’t get it right the first 50 times.

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In politics, the connection between what you pay for and what you get is problematic at best. This is another way of asserting that your vote in the marketplace counts for so much more than your vote in the polling booth. Cast your dollars for the washing machine of your choice and that is what you get—nothing more and nothing less. Pull the lever for the politician of your choice and, most of the time (if you’re lucky), you will get some of what you do want and much of what you don’t. The votes of a special interest lobby may ultimately cancel out yours. “Politics may not be the oldest profession,” observed a very wise person, “but the results are often the same.”

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The progressive intellectuals and their followers are in awe of what they think they might accomplish with government power. They might benefit if they stopped to smell the roses. Like the rest of the natural world, what real life in a free environment accomplishes despite government power is much more awesome.

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The soul-crushing misery, the mass exodus to get out, the endless broken promises endemic under socialism simply cannot be dismissed as the failures of a few bad people. There’s something rotten in the system itself. Indeed, the very ideas from which it springs are rotten. At socialism’s core is end-justifies-the-means, moral relativist, anti-individual and collectivist rubbish. Bad people are everywhere, but nothing brings them forth and licenses them to do evil more thoroughly than concentrated power and the subordination of morality to the service of a statist ideology. That is the essence of the socialist vision, the iron fist within the velvet glove that belies all the happy talk to the contrary.

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Fishing is one of my favorite hobbies, though it bears strong similarities to socialism: First, you offer something for nothing to the gullible and unsuspecting. Then you hook ‘em. Then you reel them in. Then you eat ‘em.

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If countries embrace democratic socialism and stay afloat, their longevity is always explained not by the socialism they adopt, but rather, by the capitalism they have not yet destroyed. And the more a country drowns itself in democratic socialism, the more the democracy part evaporates in the face of concentrated state power. Venezuela, anyone?

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The unintended consequences of government subsidies are famously bad but it’s actually the intended ones that deserve the most scrutiny and scorn. Behind every one subsidy are ten snake-oil salesmen lining the pockets of their pin-stripe suits.

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The only thing socialism has ever done for poor people is to give them lots of company. Socialism irons out the business cycle by eliminating the “boom” part.

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As babies, we’re all welfare statists. We want it now, we don’t care who pays for it, and scream until we get it. But we should leave all that behind with the diapers before we reach voting age. If you want to live in a free society, you must grow up.

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To be called “a common man” is no compliment because it’s not commonness that makes me who I am, but my uncommonness. I relish the best, the heroic, the man or woman who carves himself out of the rock of commonality. No matter how many times other people may tell me how or what I should think, I will think for myself. If that means coming to conclusions no one else agrees with, so be it. I’m especially eager to stand apart from the crowd when the crowd is wrong.

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Thanks for reading! If you’d like more quotes on similar subjects by a multitude of people, see the “Quotes” section of my website, www.lawrencewreed.com.

Lawrence writes a weekly op-ed for El American. He is President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Atlanta, Georgia; and is the author of “Real heroes: inspiring true stories of courage, character, and conviction“ and the best-seller “Was Jesus a Socialist?“ //
Lawrence escribe un artículo de opinión semanal para El American. Es presidente emérito de la Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) en Atlanta, Georgia; y es el autor de “Héroes reales: inspirando historias reales de coraje, carácter y convicción” y el best-seller “¿Fue Jesús un socialista?”

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