“Dude, You’re in My Garage”: Why Socialism Blows

“It looks good on paper” is an timeless phrase used to describe an appealing abstract concept unworkable in practical application—or worse. To avoid wastes of time, money, and energy, in the real world the phrase is often heard and heeded. In the political world, however, it is seldom heard and almost never heeded. Why? Because politicians can use governmental coercion to happily waste the time, money, and energy of others—namely, you.

Simply compare and contrast two examples: In the real world, the Titanic looked great on paper, but has come to symbolize the dire consequences of human hubris; in the political world, Obama Care remains the law of the land.

Presently—alas, perpetually it seems—the quintessential example of a failed political idea said to “look great on paper” remains socialism. As previously noted, much of the misplaced faith in the concept stems from socialist politicians’ ability to finesse abstract theories and impose their real world failures upon others. (President Obama can still choose his own doctor). Obviously, it’s understandable why Leftist politicians retain their dogmatic insistence that socialism is both feasible and desirable. Less obvious is conservatives’ seeming inability to persuade vast swaths of the public that socialism is neither.

Conservatives too often play on the Left’s turf. In endeavoring to counter the Left’s lullabies about socialism, conservatives stray into the political world’s abstract arguments and talking points; and, ever a practical people, real world Americans tune out this debate and turn on Netflix. How, then, to explain to practical people the undesirability of an infeasible theory that “looks great on paper?” (After all, practical people ordinarily don’t mind “free money” as long as it is coming from somebody else.)

Typically in such conversations, conservatives start at the end by citing socialism’s failings and failures abroad: “Anybody here remember the Soviet Union? . . . No?” But, because most Americans have never experienced the ravages of socialism, this approach leaves the Left the luxury of retaining sundry, false arguments not only as to why socialism failed in other places but also as to why it could work here.

Taking a different tack, many conservatives do try to address socialism’s unworkable means rather than unattainable ends: “They’re going to give some bum your money!” This approach does prove more efficacious when applied to those practical folks who deem themselves at risk of becoming the Left’s piñata for funding a socialist spending spree; however, given the decades-long stagnation in real wage growth, this argument can expect an increasingly diminished return.

In addressing socialism’s unworkable means, conservatives are on the correct path but in too narrow a lane. Conservatives’ arguments against socialism must be enhanced by real world examples possessing concrete salience to a broader audience—and there are a plethora of possibilities. From these, I offer three that explain what socialism means to you and me.

  1. “The Man is going to pick my iTunes?” Amidst the communications revolution, no one would allow the government to program their iPod, choose their Facebook friends. or select their Twitter follows. Why in God’s name would anyone let government choose their doctors and treatments?
  2. “Dude, you’re in my garage.” Insidiously, government has rendered taxation as painless as possible by taking your money before you touch it. But money, being fungible, translates into concrete expenditures people have felt—for example, their new car. Who among us would let the government saunter up our driveway and speed off in our new SUV in the name of “social justice”?
  3. “Merge, [expletive of choice]!” Speaking of cars, the greatest argument against socialism is the humanity’s failure to merge. Be it getting in line for Kid Rock tickets, scrambling for Black Friday bargains, or rotting in rush hour traffic, practical people don’t dig ceding ground just so some jackass can get ahead at their expense. Ergo, if a socialist thinks his  ideology “looks great on paper” because everyone will be enamored of forking over their hard earned bread so all can feast in an arbitrary and illusory Nirvana of economic squalor, it’s likely that the socialist in question rarely descends from his ivory tower of abstractions.

Conversely engaged in the real world, Americans daily perform practical acts they pray will advance their pursuit of happiness by enhancing their hearths at home. Therefore, if conservatives simply provide such concrete, real world examples debunking the mountebanks and mendicants of socialism, an ever practical people will scrap it in favor of ideas that “look great on paper” and have proven their benefits in the real world:

Those written in the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution.


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21 responses to ““Dude, You’re in My Garage”: Why Socialism Blows”

  1. Private insurance tied to employers has only led to huge profits for insurance companies, drug companies, and hospital conglomerates. The people have seen nothing but increasing levels of bankruptcy. While a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, the medical bills will make you wish you were dead. Human beings deserve better than what we have in the US. The free market is not the answer, it is delusional to think otherwise.

    • Hi, Andy: I disagree. Human beings do not “deserve” better healthcare insurance. Human beings deserve that for which they pay.

      • Only to those accustomed to seeing the state as their sugar daddy.

      • Like transnational corporations and regional conglomerates that play different state governments off of one another to receive better and better corporate welfare? Or supporting massive legal and illegal immigration to suppress wages, simultaneously shrinking the tax base while creating more and more demands on the taxpayer-supported entitlements? The State is always somebody’s sugar-daddy. When it’s ordinary people, it’s called ‘welfare’, when it’s corporations and the Donor class, it’s called ‘good business strategy’. Either way, Uncle Sugar provides.

      • What you are complaining about is not the fault of the market, but rather the coercive state. The state will dangle off sets when demanding business support their agenda. Years of Progressive demands from the state and the business community you end up with corruption in the form of corporate welfare.

      • The market can’t exist without the state to protect and manage it. Gangster capitalism is the only capitalism. We are just currently allowing a much higher margin of gangsterism than formerly. Medical insurance is racketeering-a protection racket. Doctors are a similar racket- a medieval guild that controls the number of providers and regulates prices to the extent possible in cooperatition with insurance and hospitals.

        Markets are the God that failed. Your golden calf has no justice and plenty of capriciousness.

      • Thanks for your left wing Marxist lesson for the day. Please tell me where your ideology has ever worked….anywhere?

      • Only for those who have never looked that the details of how socialized health care actually works out.

        At best it’s ‘more equal’ for more people, though not of course those at the top who are ‘much more UNequal’ than under free market insurance/health care schemes. At worst the vast middle has close to no care that actually costs anything or requires skill because there’s no money to pay anyone skilled.

        What’s care like in Cuba or Venezeula these days? How ’bout the UK where they’ll kill someone who is ‘going to die anyway, soon’ if they need his bed?

        The problem is that most imagine that socialism means that ‘someone else’ pays more of the costs. The truth is that a non-wealthy YOU cannot afford to get more than what’s close to free because there’s nobody available to provide it.

        The U.S. already has the geometry that would make that happen. We have a low cost socialized care scheme — Medicare/Medicaid and a full-market cost private care scheme. This works — sort of — because the private setup subsidizes the low cost one quite substantially. If we go with single payer then the free market system essentially disappears then the subsidy goes away too: Do you think the federal government will (say) double the Medicare payment rates to health providers?

        They won’t: Maybe there’ll be a small uptick at the start but the result will be a dramatic cut in provider incomes and guess what they’ll do? So then we have a greater provider shortage which will mean increasing rationing …

        America isn’t exempt from the laws of economics. We’ve had a wonderfully effective AND LOW COST system, forever, because we allowed those laws to work for us. If we now say “Naw … the politics of health is more important” then politics is what we’ll get and health will suffer.

    • Dude, that’s a false narrative. The rise in health care bankruptcy is often not tied to catastrophic cancer diagnosis, but rather due to people who are unable to pay even a modest amount for their own health care and end up filing bankruptcy to avoid having to do the hard work of paying what they owe. The average amount the majority of those who file bankruptcy is between $25,000-50,000. The free market is and always has been the answer.

      • The real issue is that medical costs are becoming increasingly expensive and only those in the upper income brackets can pay them nor can they pay the premiums, particularly now that they’ve gone up due to Obamacare. This is really nothing new.

      • Mammon is your god. How ruined do people have to be, how financially violated, before that last bill from some tangential provider forces them out of solvency into the streets? Shame on you.

      • Try for some intellectual honesty by countering with a fact based argument and spare me your juvenile insult. To wit:
        “High-deductible insurance plans requiring consumers to pay more out-of-pocket costs are a challenge for many households.”

        “The DOJ reported that 90 percent of filers had medical debt of less than $5,000. Of those reporting medical debts, those debts accounted for only 13 percent of total unsecured debt. The DOJ summarizes the evidence against Himmelstein and colleagues’ thesis as follows: “The conclusion that almost 50 percent of consumer bankruptcies are ‘medical related’ requires a broad definition and generally is not substantiated by the official documents filed by debtors.”

        Taking these surveys under consideration, we observe that although medical costs have risen sharply over four decades, medical debt remains a small part of the overall burden of those filing for bankruptcy.”

        The shame is on you for making such ignorant and unintelligent remark. This is how myths and disinformation get disseminated by jerks like you who are woefully uninformed.

    • Andy, I think you’re misinformed when it comes to the free market. Suggesting that people ”deserve free healthcare” is failing to realize that healthcare is a service, and like any service, you must provide something in return for that service. Healthcare is a privilege, not a right. By demanding healthcare, you’re essentially trying to subordinate the individual to your will. Someone put in countless hours, spent lots of money, and made many sacrifices to be in a position to be able to provide you with the healthcare you receive. It is immoral to demand anything form anyone, period. The free market – capitalism – is the most moral economic system there is. Besides all of the great gifts that have been given to the world as a result of the free market, it is in direct accordance to human nature- our inherent desire to want to pursue our own self-interest. However, the genius of capitalism is that it channels self-interest into altruism. Who are the bleeding hearts of capitalism? Entrepreneurs, those who create better goods and services for all of us to enjoy. One does not become successful in the free market if they don’t consume themselves with the needs and demands of others. In the free market, profit is gained through voluntary trade between producer and consumers- it is consensual. While pursuing their own self-interest, entrepreneurs benefit all of us. Also, in the free market competition is what incentivizes producers to constantly innovate and come up with and/or enhance existing goods and services. There is no greater system in the world than capitalism. It is precisely why you have the luxury to use the device you’re using to slander it, which is an unrivaled amount of irony. Lastly, if you’re going to use compassion as a guiding light to economic policies, good luck to you. Socialism is an immoral and evil theory. To suggest that you get to steal people’s labor from them, demand services, and penalize the wealth to do while rewarding the less fortunate is the infantile mentality that serves as the driving force behind socialism.

  2. Conservatism is dead. A total failure.

    What has been conserved? Aside from the 2nd Amendment – and then only because of the power of the NRA – so-called Conservatives have rolled over on every important issue for twenty years.

    Nationalism is the future, not cucked Reaganism. As soon as we chuck the rest of these failures on the scrap heap next to George Will, the better.

  3. I see the former Congressman’s point but he misses the real point – “conservatives” really aren’t. What is touted as “conservatism” is actually a right wing of progressivism whose leaders don’t want to address or change anything, they just don’t want to be in charge. This is particularly true of the The National Review and Weekly Standard crowd, who are made up to a large extent of East Coast Jews whose views are actually neocon. They hate Donald Trump and those of us who put him in office. They actually prefer socialism, but they want it to be their socialism. Note that very few of their contributors are from or live in states that actually supported Trump and Republicans in the recent election.

  4. But we will not fail with socialism like all those other countries did. Instead of raising your taxes, we will raise your neighbor’s taxes to provide you with free health care. Or even better, we will raise your boss’s taxes to pay for your free health care. And you will get to keep your doctor! But we cannot include Congress or other members of the ruling class in the single payer system because that would not work, you know, or something. I don’t think the math would work…

    • In reality you want to externalize the costs of socialism, to get the benefit of a social structure, without paying for it. Normally nations that do this have a state religion that enforces these structures; in the US we outsourced this to entrepreneurs. for this reason the Rand fantasy has erupted like chicken pox, giving freeloaders an excuse to pretend that there is no cost to maintaining a national feeling or a common set of values. The least common denominator is worship of wealth, a la Mammon in the bible, and for that we shall pay dearly as a nation and as a people.

  5. Just an Aussie browsing by with no stake in this debate – the whole US politic is one political spectrum to the right of Australian politics. Our main ‘right-wing’ party is the Liberal Party, which is roughly equivalent to the moderate wing of the US Democrats, and our main ‘left’ party is the Labour Party, an alliance of democratic socialists and what you guys used to call the ‘old left’, with 1/3 of the pre-selections appointed by the trade unions. The US political landscape is so alien that it’s hard to know where to stand, e.g. it’s genuinely difficult for us to comprehend how anyone in a first world nation could ever have to worry about not being able to afford the best medical treatment.Or, for that matter, that you might not be able to choose your doctor. We just take it for granted that you can choose whichever doctor you like, and that they can prescribe any treatment you need at negligible cost.

    ….but that itself always raises a question for me when I see these articles. Australia is now significantly wealthier than the US on a ‘per person’ basis (higher GDP/capita AND higher median wage). How is that possible, when economically we’re an entire political party to the left of you?

    Normally I use this to troll – I’ll start off by agreeing that socialism necessarily results in poverty, then I point out how many times higher our minimum wage is, our ‘unfair dismissal’ laws, socialised healthcare/education/etc, and that sets up the ‘troll’ conclusion of “well, the only logical conclusion is that we are just THAT MUCH genetically superior to you. Only creatures of godlike strength and grace could overcome our socialist economic handicap, and only the greatest of them could thrive despite it!”

    But I’m also genuinely curious – most Americans, including conservatives, KNOW that the other first world nations operate economically to the left of America. And most Americans, including conservatives, are well aware that a lot of those nations, including Australia, are now more prosperous than the US – it was the centre-piece of your most recent national election. So what am I missing?

  6. Thaddeus, in Canada we have single-payer healthcare and it has nothing to do with the government choosing our doctor. It only means that the money to pay for healthcare comes from government funding. We patients choose our own doctor. In “socialist” Canada no one would even consider letting anyone, let alone the government, drive our car out of our garage. Socialism Canadian-style, means that all the citizens of Canada have healthcare equally because the government and the people who elect government believe that universal healthcare is essential in order for all citizens to live a healthy long life. We believe that everyone who lives in Canada should have enough food, clothing, housing, healthcare and other essentials (such as heat for homes) and we elect government officials to carry out that mandate. Our socialism is not an ideology or an abstraction because we do have healthcare for all our citizens and they live longer and healthier lives than places without single-payer healthcare.

    What, Thaddeus, are you afraid of? If you give everyone the chance to live a healthier life, then you will be happier for it and you will not have to give up your doctor, your car or your “hard-earned bread.” Come and visit us for yourself.