Pope Francis declares that capitalism doesn’t work, and that Europeans need Muslim immigration to make up for declining birth rates. He calls unjust employers “bloodsuckers” and unbridled capitalism “the devil’s dung.”
– News report
Comedy-mystery film “Nice Guys” deals with homicidal maniacs hired by American auto makers to kill clean-air activists.
– News report
One might expect a public statement by the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics to deal with religion. If Christian Europeans are having too few children, why not inspire them to have more, rather than import followers of a hostile religion who do not share their values? If some employers treat their employees shabbily, why not teach them compassion, rather than condemn the whole capitalist system? After all, many socialist leaders also have acted cruelly – so why doesn’t the pope also condemn socialism? Perhaps there is a clue here.
One might expect a comedy-mystery film to deal with the Mafia, or drug cartels, or violent street gangs, or extremist Muslim terrorists. Instead, the film asks viewers to imagine that American auto makers hired psychopathic killers to eliminate clean-air activists in gruesome ways. We are confronted daily by real crime and real terrorism. Why not deal with them in an entertaining manner, rather than invent unbelievable anti-capitalist scenarios? Perhaps there is a clue here, too.
In both cases, leftism seeped in and corrupted the basic message. Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto in 1848 and Das Kapital in 1867. Yet his disciples consider themselves “progressive.”
As Margaret Thatcher taught us:
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.
And as Milton Friedman added:
It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.
Socialism seemed to work for a while. In the half-century following World War II, Western Europe received American financial aid. And American military power provided a protective shield that enabled Western Europeans to spend little for defense − less than half of what Americans spend, in relative terms.
Western Europeans spent their earnings on themselves, while they depended on Big Daddy (America) to protect them, and they depended on Big Mommy (their governments) to take care of them when they got sick, or got sick of working. Like teenagers, they insisted that they were independent, while they depended on others for essential needs.
But teenagers eventually are forced to grow up, while pseudo-teenagers are not. Europeans are having too few children for their societies to survive. With too few young workers to contribute to their pension and health-care funds, they are forced to import immigrants – who often do not share their basic values.
Their governments promise to take care of them when they become sick or grow old. And America promises to protect them from external threats. So Europeans no longer have practical reasons to have children. But there is a deeper problem. Most Europeans lost their religion. We can argue about the reasons – watered-down religion, leftism, radically secular education, the horrors of World War II, whatever. In any case, Europe’s magnificent cathedrals are largely empty. But its mosques are filled. The Muslim immigrants are having children, while native Europeans are not.
With a social-welfare system to take care of people, and without religion to give people hope for the future, why should they have children? Why not enjoy themselves while they can? There could be no stronger way of expressing lack of confidence in themselves and in their future than a refusal to have children. What stronger vote of “no confidence” could there be?
Karl Marx sat in the reading room of the British Museum and wrote about capital and labor − neither of which he had any personal knowledge of. He came from an upper-middle-class family, but he was unable to support his own wife and children. He thought about money constantly because he always needed it, so he narcissistically assumed that economics was everyone’s primary motivation. He was irreligious, so he narcissistically assumed that religion was unimportant to everyone.
American “liberals” hold up Western Europe as their model. The European socialist system seemed to work for about 50 years, but many Europeans realize that it is no longer working. Without children, they must import young workers to pay into the system, but many immigrants are actively hostile to democratic values.
A century ago, progressives dreamed of a socialist paradise. Then they saw the hells that Stalin, Mao, Kim, Ho Chi Minh, and Pol Pot constructed, and still they dreamed. The Soviet Union collapsed in a heap, and China evolved into a system that is best described as fascist, and still the dreamers dream.
Some Europeans are finally realizing their error − perhaps in time, perhaps not. But we Americans are moving rapidly in the opposite direction. Why? The Europeans of the past were truly progressive − they were trying something new.
But what of Americans today? We are trying something that has already proved to be a failure. It failed in Russia. It failed in Eastern Europe. It failed in China. It failed miserably in North Korea. It failed horribly in Cambodia. It failed sadly in Cuba and Venezuela. It is failing in Western Europe. In what possible sense is it “progressive” to adopt a system that is outmoded and a proven failure?
No, the economic policies of the Democratic Party are backward-looking, even reactionary. Bernie Sanders doesn’t just look old – he thinks old. The fact that many young people support him is evidence not of Sanders’ forward-looking policies, but of his followers’ leftist-slanted education.
Why do the self-anointed American “elite” believe they can do right what everyone else did wrong? Narcissism. They believe they are so intelligent, so gifted, so educated that they can make socialism work. But socialism hasn’t worked not because it was done incorrectly, but because it is inherently unworkable.
Europeans look back nostalgically on the days when their kings ruled powerful empires. But our heritage is freedom, not subservience. What’s our excuse for allowing the central government to control everything from what light bulbs we buy and what toilets we use to what health care we can receive – or not receive?
True, the excesses of capitalism invited this decline into socialism. The incompetent or corrupt bankers, corporate executives, and labor leaders can blame themselves. But in response to incompetent doctors, we do not tear down the hospitals – we fire the incompetent doctors.
Let us restructure the failing industries. Let us examine the curricula of business schools. Let us discover how men who never attended business school built great industries, while business-school graduates brought those industries to ruin.
● We can investigate how people who knew how to adjust a carburetor built General Motors and Chrysler, while graduates of prestigious business schools tore them down.
● We can study how people who walked the factory floor knew what was going on, while people who sat in committee meetings looking at PowerPoint presentations lived in a dream world.
● We can consider that the same type of clueless dilettantes who almost ruined our industries are now taking charge of socializing our health care.
● We can inquire why seemingly intelligent people believe that business people will hire more employees if the government takes even more of their profits and buries them under even more burdensome regulations.
● We can wonder why seemingly educated people believe that politicians who run up huge deficits and pass bills they don’t read can manage the economy of 323 million Americans.
● We can analyze how produce dealer A. P. Giannini built the Bank of America by loaning money to men with calloused hands, while graduates of prestigious business schools wrecked great banks by loaning money to people who couldn’t pay it back.
● We can examine how people who knew how to add and subtract built great financial institutions, while people who boasted about computer modeling and “algorithmic investing” brought these institutions to the brink of collapse.
● We can ponder why seemingly intelligent, educated people are, like Esau, willing to trade their birthright for a bowl of soup. At least Esau got a bowl of hot lentil soup. But we are trading our hard-won inheritance of freedom for a bowl of socialist soup that was cooked 150 years ago – and is really sour and cold.
The picture at the top of this column shows a general in fancy dress, leading his troops while sitting on his horse backward. The caption reads, “Forward, march!” Clearly, we have grown sick of leaders like that, and are searching for a leader who at least can distinguish forward from backward – and who resembles the head of the horse rather than the rear end.
Whatever we do, at least let us be honest about it. Let us not call moving backward to failed policies “progressive.” It’s a crime to deceive others. It’s suicidal to deceive ourselves. And it’s really infuriating to let “progressive” propaganda seep into every aspect of life, even religious sermons and comedy-mystery films. No wonder many people are feeling angry, frustrated, and defiant – and will vote accordingly.
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