Mises Wire

Millennial Candidates Embrace Socialism, while Venezuela Chokes on it

Franklin Bynum was unchallenged and won the Democratic nomination to become a criminal court judge in Houston. Mr. Bynum is an avowed socialist and he’s not alone in that conservative state. At least 16 other socialists appeared on the ballot in primary races across Texas.

Socialism has oozed out of college classrooms and into the ballot box. “Yes, I’m running as a socialist,” Mr. Bynum told the New York Times. “I’m a far-left candidate. What I’m trying to do is be a Democrat who actually stands for something, and tells people, ‘Here’s how we are going to materially improve conditions in your life.’”

Wanna be Judge Bynum is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which is growing by leaps and bounds after Trump’s election, even in conservative states.

The NYT reports, “D.S.A.’s membership has increased from about 5,000 to 35,000 nationwide. The number of local groups has grown from 40 to 181, including 10 in Texas. Houston’s once-dormant chapter now has nearly 300 members.”

Texas, a hot bed for socialism? Who would have thunk it?

“We want to see money stop controlling everything. That includes politics,” said Amy Zachmeyer, 34, a union organizer who helped revive the moribund Houston DSA chapter. “That just resonates with millennials who are making less money than their parents did, are less able to buy a home and drowning in student debt.” 

Ms. Zachmeyer’s student loan payment burden of $1,000 a month convinced her to become a socialist. Good grief.

Don’t worry about a blue wave, worry about a red (commie) wave.

Unsurprisingly, the NYT recently featured an opinion piece by Jason Barker entitled, “Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!” Just a few paragraphs in, Associate Professor Barker gets off this doozy of a paragraph,

educated liberal opinion is today more or less unanimous in its agreement that Marx’s basic thesis — that capitalism is driven by a deeply divisive class struggle in which the ruling-class minority appropriates the surplus labor of the working-class majority as profit — is correct. Even liberal economists such as Nouriel Roubini agree that Marx’s conviction that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself remains as prescient as ever.

It gets better, while millennials struggle under the weight of student loan payments and underemployment, Barker writes,

The inroads that artificial intelligence is currently making into medical diagnosis and surgery, for instance, bears out the argument in the “Manifesto” that technology would greatly accelerate the “division of labor,” or the deskilling of such professions [doctors, lawyers, and well, all jobs].

The good philosophy professor then throws Black Lives Matter and the MeToo movement into the Marxist class struggle bucket.

Of course, accelerating the division of labor is a good thing. Jörg Guido Hülsmann explained,

The economic incentives springing from the division of labor explain the origin and nature of human societies. The basic economic laws that here come into play are therefore the starting point of [Ludwig von] Mises’s entire social philosophy, just as it has been the starting point of the greatest social philosophers before him.

Professor Hülsmann continues,

Plato pleads for a division of labor and gives three reasons:

  1. there are natural productive differences between the individuals, which make one person a better tailor, while another one might be a better farmer, and so on;

  2. the daily exercise resulting from specialization improves the workmanship;

  3. many jobs need to be done at the right moment in time and therefore require permanent availability of some person charged with this task.

Meanwhile, today’s young socialists believe they’ve stumbled on to something new. However, Mises proved years ago that socialism must fail because the price of goods cannot be calculated in a government controlled economic system. Mises student Murray Rothbard wrote,

Socialism is that system in which the State forcibly seizes control of all the means of production in the economy. The reason for the impossibility of calculation under socialism is that one agent owns or directs the use of all the resources in the economy…. there is no possibility of calculation anywhere in the production structure, since production processes would be only internal and without markets. There could be no calculation, and therefore complete economic irrationality and chaos would prevail.

If Mr. Bynum and Ms. Zachmeyer want proof, they can look to Venezuela. That country’s government has practiced socialism for years and the result is a 9,000 percent inflation rate, empty shelves and grinding poverty. The country saw its economy shrink 16 percent last year and is expected to shrink 15 percent this year.

According to The Independent, “It is estimated that 10 percent of the population has emigrated. Almost two thirds of all households have at least one family member living abroad. And among those 3 million migrants are young and competent workers who have escaped from a country that sinks deeper into crisis.”

Market Mogul reports,

Price controls have made private business unprofitable, meaning as governments have struggled to maintain imports through dwindling funds, Venezuelan farmers are unable to meet the shortfall, put off by price controls that make their business wholly unprofitable.

In a state of complete dysfunction, Venezuelans are going hungry, to the point of illness and malnutrition. The Washington Post estimate that 11.5% of children under 5 suffer from “moderate to severe malnutrition”, with 48% “at risk of going hungry”. International groups offer aid, but Venezuela is not a charity case, according to its benevolent quasi-dictator Maduro, and such aid is rejected.

That’s what socialism looks like. Implementation of Marx’s ideas make nobody happy, other than spoiled millennials who aren’t suffering under it.

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