Listening to news reports of Bolivia's leftist president Morales announcement that he is nationalizing his country's oil and natural gas reserves and industries got me thinking again about socialism, and why it is so unnatural to the human experience.
Leftism in general, and socialist-collectivism in particular is rooted in the desire for equality. Supporters of leftist principles have a strong drive for equality. Not equal opportunity— equal outcomes. Leftists don't care at all about equal opportunity; they only care that when all is said and done, everything and everyone is equal. That is why socialism is so appealing to the Left.
Socialism is often described by free-market supporters as inefficient, and a good metaphor of that inefficiency would be a machine. A socialist machine is extremely inefficient because no matter how much energy or effort is put into the machine, it ouputs the same amount of work. Never more, and over time, ususally less. You could fill it's tank with rocket fuel or with water, and still it would run at the same speed. Since the machine can never increase its output, which would mean inequality of outcomes, there is also no incentive to improve the machine.
It is terribly inefficient, and serves poorly the need for which it was intended, but is satisfying to a leftist because each input fuel or effort would result, in the end, in an equal outcome. The rocket fuel, despite its volatile nature, is of no more value to the machine than the water. Equal outcome. A perfect machine to a socialist.
Another metaphor of the inefficiency of socialism would be a simple vending machine. The socialist vending machine would accept any currency, in any denomination or amount, but would dispense the same product in the same amount for each transaction. Input is irrelevant; outcomes are equal. A perfect machine to a socialist.
Most humans are simply not wired for thinking like this. Like the posts below, most of us expect that better efforts should be rewarded with better results. Free-market capitalism delivers equal opportunity, but also rewards those who strive for better results. Socialism, conversely, provides incentive to provide as little effort as possible since the reward for effort will be the same with high or low effort. Over time, society suffers under socialism because no one strives for excellence, and consequently, advancements in technology, medicine, etc. are notachievedd. Capitalism, on the other hand, builds a better society because those willing to put forth more and better effort are rewarded with better results. Society gains because most people see the potential for personal and societal gain, and they therefore put more effort into their work.
You'd think that such obvious shortcomings of a political-economic system would dissuade anyone from pursuing it, especially considering the colossal failures of repeated so often in the 20th century, yet the movement is once again gaining a foothold in South America.
Socialism has never, and will never work.
[Edited for spelling and clarity—JZS]
Free Market Capitalism versus Socialist Collectivism
The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions
Bolivia Nationalizes Petroleum