The Socialist Phobia of Scarcity

Well, my daughter's Brooklyn wedding went off without a hitch on May 21st, and the world didn't end.  That was fortunate, as it would have spoiled a wonderful event. 

My new son-in-law is an enthusiastic member of ISO, the International Socialist Organization.  He is on the verge of a Master's in Political Science, with the goal of becoming a college professor.  With his philosophical bent, I think it's a slam-dunk.  Prestigious universities appear to value extreme radical leftism over all other qualifications for their faculties, so I expect he will be a very successful propagandist for young mushy minds.

Per my wife's strict admonitions, I avoided all potentially incendiary topics of discussion in his presence before the wedding.  The happy couple departed on their honeymoon while my wife and I dog-sat for them in their Brooklyn apartment. 

After their return from a lavish tropical paradise getaway, I spent the evening chatting with my new son-in-law.  We threw back a few Beefeater and tonics, and both of us felt our constraint melt away.

I calmly expressed my curiosity about his membership in the International Socialist Organization. 

He explained that ISO believes in the philosophy of Trotsky and Lenin in the establishment of a workers' paradise.  Their mission is the destruction of capitalism and the imposition of a global socialist government.  Capitalism is inherently evil, he stated, as it exploits and oppresses workers and steals their wealth. 

I retorted that government is the primary source of oppression and exploitation, and the greatest danger exists when markets are in collusion with government.  The result is the socialist economic perversion known as "crony capitalism".

We began to get louder and louder, and I feared waking my wife and daughter.  "Are YOU oppressed?" I asked.  He surprised me with an emphatic "Yes!  I have been oppressed all of my life."

At this, I belly-laughed uncontrollably.  It's amazing, I opined, that a pitiable victim of wretched corporate oppression could return from a week of snorkeling and surf & turf at a posh resort in the Virgin Islands to their upscale apartment and watch their brand new 60 inch state-of-the-art 3D TV.

After the continued ratcheting up of rhetoric we agreed to a truce, both of us acknowledging that our stimulating debates were ultimately enjoyable and enlightening.  Time for another B & T.

Later, I thought about my son-in-law's concept of an all-powerful Wall Street sucking the cash out of workers' pockets, leaving them destitute.  I can understand the propensity of some to portray bankers, CEOs, and hedge fund managers as insatiably greedy boogeymen.  But the idea that a small group of people amassing great wealth means that there is less left for the rest of us is patently absurd to a free market thinker. 

Part of socialist angst may be due to class envy, but I believe most of it is based on the phobia of scarcity.

If you are a socialist, chances are you believe that there is only a limited amount of wealth in the world.  People are impoverished only because rich capitalists are hoarding it.

You probably also believe that global natural resources are scarce, the world's water supply is drying up, and irreplaceable species are becoming extinct.

This irrational fear of scarcity is what drives the socialist advocacy for abortion of the unborn and euthanasia of the aged and infirm. 

As it turns out, the "population bomb" has thus far been a dud.  Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book of the same name predicted mass starvation and global social upheavals by the 1980s.  Although this never happened, it has not deterred true believers. 

Just as the followers of Harold Camping haven't lost faith after his May 21 end of the world prediction fell flat (it's now October 21, 2011), Ehrlich and his followers are ever faithful to the cause.  In fact, in 1999 Ehrlich said the book was too optimistic about the future.

The irrational fear of vanishing species drives extraordinary, some would say self-destructive, behavior through regulatory action.  Fear of extinction of the little Delta Smelt has caused government regulators to shut off the water supply to California's San Joaquin valley, costing thousands of jobs and farmers' lost livelihoods.  Approximately 12% of America's food production has been devastated as a result.

If you are a conservative and an advocate of the free market, it is likely you believe in abundance.  You believe wealth is not limited, but rather can be created and multiplied.  You don't need to grab your piece of the pie from someone who has more than you.  You know that everyone can have more as the pie grows bigger.

You believe that natural resources exist for the purpose of supporting and advancing mankind, not to be in competition with humans for the Earth. 

Water is not disappearing from the planet.  There is the same amount now as there was billions of years ago.  It exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas, and it recycles, refreshes and renews itself. 

Species come and go.  New ones are created as fast as old species die out.  In fact, Darwin's theory of natural selection demands that weaker species disappear in order to make the ecosystem stronger.  Ultimately, many of the extraordinary measures taken in the cause of protecting the environment may in fact be endangering it.

The free market conservative has faith that as long as man is free, wealth and natural resources will be abundant and mankind will thrive.  The socialist believes in the power of government to forcibly redistribute wealth and resources, control the population and the environment, and micromanage mankind into a heretofore unseen utopian society.  Never mind that all previous attempts at this have been abject failures, frequently resulting in the mass murder and death by starvation of tens of millions of socialist citizens. 

Oppressive government regulation kills the golden goose of abundance, and transforms the phobia of scarcity into a self-fulfilling prophesy.  If the self-destructive irrationality of socialism is not a psychotic mental disorder, perhaps it is at least a serious neurosis.

Andrew Thomas blogs at

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