Socialism is a sad irony. Socialist leaders promise liberation for the poor, but embrace kleptocracy in power. They claim to empower equality, but end up fostering impoverishment. They speak of a shared utopia, but serve a history of common suffering.
Still, a particularly pernicious characteristic of socialism is its disregard for the young.
Take the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Entering office in September 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ socialist government promised a new politics and prosperity. Trusting Tsipras, younger Greeks were instrumental to his election.
Two years later, betrayal is the Tsipras legacy. Today, the OECD records Greece’s youth unemployment rate at 47.4%.
Think on that number. Nearly half of young Greeks cannot get a job. That not just a statistic; it’s proof of socialism’s defining sickness. Sadly, Greece isn’t alone. The 8 nations with the highest youth unemployment rates (Greece is second) are all led by socialist governments.*
In South Africa, led by the corrupt betrayers of a great leader, Nelson Mandela, the ruling socialist ANC party enriches supporters with patronage deals. Simultaneously, it lets young South Africans rot in high-crime, poor-education, and no-good-job neighborhoods. This is socialism. In third place is Spain. Here, youth unemployment is a symptom of extraordinary regulations that prevent young Spaniards from accessing the job market. The politicians and unions know this, but they have no motivation for reform. This is socialism.
Perhaps most telling however is the 8th place finisher, Sweden. After all, Sweden is presented by politicians like Bernie Sanders as a citadel of utopian welfare where all fair well. But here too, as with its socialist counterparts, Sweden’s socialist governance rejects basic economics. By forcing employers to provide high-starting wages and job protections to new employees, Sweden makes the marginal risk of hiring an employee greater than the perceived marginal benefit. And in doing so it makes businesses unable to higher those who lack the skills to produce a productive return on business investment.
Sweden is presented by politicians like Bernie Sanders as a citadel of utopian welfare where all fair well. But here too, as with its socialist counterparts, Sweden’s socialist governance rejects basic economics.
This cuts to the heart of the youth unemployment issue.
In the capitalist labor markets of American and Britain, for example, regulations on hiring and firing are comparatively limited. That might seem bad, but it’s actually good. Because it reduces the risks on employers of taking on new employees. All benefit from this: the employer can pay low wages and in return the young employee gains the skills and experience for higher-wage, higher-skill dependent jobs. As I’ve explained, this is why the minimum wage is a catastrophe for young people. It puts an artificial premium on youth skills. And in doing so it forces employers to cut employees. Young workers are thus obstructed from getting their first step on the economic ladder.
Of course, by excluding young minds and fresh ideas from the economy, two further developments occur. First, the welfare rolls increase as young citizens rely on government to survive. Second, the potential of innovation and entrepreneurialism in an economy are depleted. Absent opportunity and the prospect of reward, incentives for risk-taking perish. There’s a reason that the United States is the center of new technologies and innovations. Our economic model incentivizes the pursuit of those better future enablers!
Nevertheless, American conservatives must not rest on our capitalist laurels. The risks and the realities of socialism are too great to ignore. And we must do far more to make our case to millennials on the risks of Bernie Sanders governance as proved by the realities of socialism in cities like Detroit. But we should also be clear about our moral values. The worst enemy of socialists is not eloquent conservatives, but the tragedy of high unemployment and poverty that is left in its wake.
In sum, socialism’s failure is a history of math rendering unimpeachable truth. And that’s why socialists embrace mythology. Reality is not kind to socialism.
*- While some of these nations are currently governed by conservative parties, in every case their government structures are sustainably socialist in nature (high taxes/high %/GDP government spending).
Tom Rogan is a columnist for Opportunity Lives and National Review, a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets. Email him at Thomas.RoganE@Gmail.com