Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Millennials Wanting to Live in a Socialist Country Is Like Wanting to Go to School at Hogwarts

 

Maximum concern would be warranted if 70 percent of millennials said they were likely to vote for candidates who supported Chavismo or Maoism or Marxist-Leninism. But more than two-thirds of that generation saying they are “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to vote for a generic “socialist?” Not so much.

And certainly I wouldn’t read the results of a new YouGov/Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation survey as Axios does: “Young people’s political views often change as they grow older, but their support for socialist ideas and leaders is a sign that the old rules of politics are changing fast.”

Expressing preference for life in a “socialist” country is a bit like wanting to live in Thor’s Asgard or on Wonder Woman’s home island of Themiscyra. (Or go to school at Hogwarts.) This is true even if one charitably interprets “socialism” as humane democratic socialism and not the more brutal, repressive variety seen in Cuba, Soviet Russia, or Venezuela (the latter also being a prime example of destructive populism). Good luck finding such a place.

Given other polls similar to the YouGov one — as well as the continuing popularity of Bernie Sanders and rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — a recent JPMorgan report tried to determine how “democratic socialism” works in the real world. Its conclusion: “A real-life proof of concept for a successful democratic socialist society, like the Lost City of Atlantis, has yet to be found.” The report defines democratic socialism as an economy with high taxes and high spending, inflexible and trade-protected labor markets, and vast state intervention throughout the private sector far beyond what American business experiences.

What about Scandinavia, the go-to, real-world example of socialism done right? Well, at least that’s been the exemplary case since pointing to Venezuela has become an embarrassing exercise for all leftists other than blinkered ideologues and Sean Penn? The Nordic nations, after all, do tax and spend a lot — including universal, taxpayer-funded, and publicly managed health care systems. Don’t they qualify as democratic socialist? From the report:

While Nordic countries have higher taxes and greater redistribution of wealth, Nordics are just as business-friendly as the US if not more so. Examples include greater business freedoms, freer trade, more oligopolies and less of an impact on competition from state control over the economy. And … while Nordics raise more taxes than the US, the gap usually results from regressive VAT/consumption taxes and Social Security taxes rather than from progressive income taxes. The bottom line: copy the Nordic model if you like, but understand that it entails a lot of capitalism and pro-business policies, a lot of taxation on middle class spending and wages, minimal reliance on corporate taxation and plenty of co-pays and deductibles in its healthcare system. … Nordic countries [are] firmly rooted in capitalism and free markets.

The only national example that comes close to meeting the JPMorgan test is Argentina, a country “which has defaulted 7 times since its independence in 1816, which has seen the largest relative standard of living decline in the world since 1900, and which is on the brink of political and economic chaos again in 2019.” It’s had a tough century, as these two charts illustrate:

What millennials might be saying is that they would like an economy that generates sustainable, broad-based economic growth with a wider safety net, and not the sort of capitalism seen from 2007 through today where a nasty economic shock was followed by years of mediocre economic and wage growth. Also, a hard pass on a federal student loan program that is, according to a recent AEI report, “needlessly complex, fails to offer an effective safety net for borrowers in financial difficulty, and distributes the largest benefits to borrowers who need them the least.”

Published in Economics
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There are 17 comments.

  1. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If by the headline you mean “We know it is not real but it would be AWESOME if it were!”, then yeah. But the headline is only accurate if nerds like me think Hogwarts is real, and could go to school there if the old white dudes weren’t so mean.

    • #1
    • October 28, 2019, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. LC Member
    LC Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I mean I want to go to school at Hogwarts, but I’m also not delusional.

    • #2
    • October 28, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. HeavyWater Inactive

    I think Matthew Continetti has it correct in “From Woke To Broke.”

    “The fact is there is no more money. Period,” says Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.

    She’s talking about the teachers’ strike that has paralyzed her city’s public schools — enrollment 360,000 — for the past week. The public employee union is demanding more: more money for salaries (only eight states pay teachers more than Illinois), more support staff (Illinois ranks first in spending on administrators), more teachers per student. Their cause has attracted national attention. Elizabeth Warren joined the picket line.

    Which is ironic. Lightfoot is not some stingy Republican. Nor is she a centrist Democrat like her predecessor Rahm Emanuel. She’s as progressive as you can get. But she now finds herself in the same position as many of her political brethren: facing criticism for failing to reconcile the contradictions in the left’s agenda.

    • #3
    • October 28, 2019, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    James Pethokoukis: What about Scandinavia?

    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA. A tiny country with homogeneous population, low immigration, and a tradition of high education is the opposite of the USA. If we try to move to a Nordic model, we would actually move to a South American economic model. 

     

    • #4
    • October 28, 2019, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. SParker Member

    DonG (View Comment):
    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA.

    The main hangup is that, while lot of us wouldn’t mind going to Hogwarts, we expect to get a scholarship. There was a quote from a guy looking at his premium when the ACA was having its embarrassing rollout*: I supported it, but I didn’t realize I’d be paying for all of it! There’s a justice argument for a progressive taxes, but the illusion that it’s always someone else on the hook is a flaw. The Nordics put their money where their mouth is.

    *not having a tradition of competent, efficient, accountable civil service would be a hindrance as well.

    • #5
    • October 28, 2019, at 7:25 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Reformed_Yuppie Inactive

    SParker (View Comment):

    DonG (View Comment):
    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA.

    The main hangup is that, while lot of us wouldn’t mind going to Hogwarts, we expect to get a scholarship. There was a quote from a guy looking at his premium when the ACA was having its embarrassing rollout*: I supported it, but I didn’t realize I’d be paying for all of it! There’s a justice argument for a progressive taxes, but the illusion that it’s always someone else on the hook is a flaw. The Nordics put their money where their mouth is.

    *not having a tradition of competent, efficient, accountable civil service would be a hindrance as well.

    The Norwegians also have massive oil wealth that they use to offset some of their spending. On a per capita basis they functionally have two states of Texas pumping out crude daily. They are also the second largest exporter of natural gas (behind only Russia) and supply about a quarter of the gas to the EU. To put that in perspective they represent ~2% of total global oil production but have ~.07% of global population. So sure, you can have a generous suite of government programs when you’re swimming in money and you limit immigration. 

    • #6
    • October 28, 2019, at 9:39 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. HeavyWater Inactive

    DonG (View Comment):

    James Pethokoukis: What about Scandinavia?

    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA. A tiny country with homogeneous population, low immigration, and a tradition of high education is the opposite of the USA. If we try to move to a Nordic model, we would actually move to a South American economic model.

    The Scandivanian countries are free market economies, with a generous welfare state funded, in part, by high taxes on the middle class, including a Value Added Tax (VAT), which is sort of like a National Sales Tax.

    Aside from Norway, which gets a lot of oil money from its oil reserves, the average American enjoys a higher standard of living than the average Scandinavian, in terms of per capita spending power.

     

    • #7
    • October 29, 2019, at 2:05 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. I Walton Member

    Scandinavians in the US are much richer than Scandinavians there. I believe they were relatively richer in Scandinavia before their extensive welfare state. However, these comparisons don’t mean much as they are tiny as well as homogeneous. They are small enough to undo some of their welfare distortions and are doing so. The US is simply too big and too heterogenous to centralize its economy, and once centralized it won’t be undone peacefully. All we have to do is look at the outrage at Trump from Washington politicians and bureaucrats because of his modest reforms. Does anyone really think the outrage is because of his tweets?

    • #8
    • October 29, 2019, at 4:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SParker (View Comment):

    DonG (View Comment):
    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA.

    The main hangup is that, while lot of us wouldn’t mind going to Hogwarts, we expect to get a scholarship. There was a quote from a guy looking at his premium when the ACA was having its embarrassing rollout*: I supported it, but I didn’t realize I’d be paying for all of it! There’s a justice argument for a progressive taxes, but the illusion that it’s always someone else on the hook is a flaw. The Nordics put their money where their mouth is.

    *not having a tradition of competent, efficient, accountable civil service would be a hindrance as well.

    Similarly, the people that support “socialism” always think they’ll be the ones on the politbureau, and not be the kulaks sweating in the fields.

     

    • #9
    • October 29, 2019, at 4:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Old Bathos Member

    Does everyone in a socialist country get a pony? I would like that.

    • #10
    • October 29, 2019, at 8:24 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Does anyone really think the outrage is because of his tweets

    I think the general outrage and dislike of the man predates his ability to enact any “reforms”. Didn’t they hold a large rally against him shortly after the election before his inauguration? Not that I think people are indifferent to his “reforms”, but there was and is plenty to hate without them. 

    The problem is that Socialism doesn’t actually mean a concrete and specific thing, and neither does capitalism. It means a whole bunch of things to different people. As Confusious noted so long ago the first step to political reform should be the rectification of terms. Until then confusion will reign and thus ground is easily opened up to people who shamelessly just say things without thinking. People like Trump or AOC. 

     

    • #11
    • October 29, 2019, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Does anyone really think the outrage is because of his tweets

    To eat or to ride? 

    • #12
    • October 29, 2019, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Reformed_Yuppie (View Comment):
    The Norwegians also have massive oil wealth that they use to offset some of their spending. On a per capita basis they functionally have two states of Texas pumping out crude daily. They are also the second largest exporter of natural gas (behind only Russia) and supply about a quarter of the gas to the EU. To put that in perspective they represent ~2% of total global oil production but have ~.07% of global population. So sure, you can have a generous suite of government programs when you’re swimming in money and you limit immigration. 

    I read a story about New Mexico. They have gobs of money coming in from oil/gas revenue. It is good and the Lefties in charge love the tax revenue, but they feel guilty about facilitating death by climate change. 

    In related news, the University of Texas is about to have the world’s largest endowment, which gets $1B/year in annual oil/gas revenue. Yesterday I voted to increase the allowable annual spend from about 1% to about 2%. Budgeting is easy, when you are Jed Clampett.

    • #13
    • October 29, 2019, at 10:18 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I wouldn’t put this all on millenials. The socialist ringleaders among the presidential candidates are senior citizens.

    • #14
    • October 29, 2019, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Full Size Tabby Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    James Pethokoukis: What about Scandinavia?

    It is not clear that the Nordic model can be scaled up to a country the size of the USA. A tiny country with homogeneous population, low immigration, and a tradition of high education is the opposite of the USA. If we try to move to a Nordic model, we would actually move to a South American economic model.

     

    People do keep ignoring those differences between Scandinavian countries and the USA. With historically low immigration, Scandinavian countries also have long-standing cultural histories (work ethic, thrift, neighborly responsibility, etc.) that are so embedded in the fabric of society that they propagate mostly automatically to subsequent generations. 

    • #15
    • October 29, 2019, at 11:57 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. ShaunaHunt Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Does everyone in a socialist country get a pony? I would like that.

    Only if they want to eat it!

    • #16
    • October 29, 2019, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Many Americans think that Sweden is more socialistic than it is, probably because in the 1970’s they were. Just as pre-Thatcher England found that socialism leads to economic stagnation at best and walked back from it (largely thanks to Mrs. Thatcher), so has Sweden, to great results. Yes, both of those countries have a wider welfare state than the U.S., but decades ago they also had a lot more government-run industry and they learned that that doesn’t work. If only Bernie Sanders and friends could learn from those who have tried it. 

    • #17
    • October 29, 2019, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • Like