Do you really want Democratic socialism?

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

by Rick Jensen

Heading into the midterms, it’s a good idea to take stock of what you really want and don’t want from “your” government.

Do you want the government to actually control the day-to-day operations of major business enterprises?

Then the “Democratic Socialist” candidate is for you.

As socialism enthusiast Erlend Kulander Kvitrud writes at Medium, “ ‘Democratic socialism’ is just a straight forward way of referring to ‘a democracy, leaning towards the socialist bound of the capitalist -socialist spectrum’. It is exactly what it sounds like: A system where major corporation (sic) are controlled by the government, while the government in turn is controlled by the people. That way the people have de facto control of the major corporations, using the government as an intermediary who manage and coordinate the daily operation of these corporations.”

Sounds lovely, eh?

But who would you rather like running an auto manufacturing company — someone who worked their way up in the industry, curating their experiences into effective management and company growth, or a partisan appointee with all the business experience of a Bernie Sanders?

Ironically, Kvitrud was writing in opposition to University of Georgia Economics Professor Jeffrey Dorfman’s delightfully well-written article, “Sorry Bernie Bros but the Nordic Countries are Not Socialist.”

Kvitrud takes exception when it comes to Norway, explaining that the Norwegian government uses a number of methods to control its citizens, most notably the stock market.

The Norwegian government, he explains, buys at least a 33 percent share of stocks in the major corporations the politicians decide they want to control. With such power on the board, they can decide how the company is run.


So, what is it Dorfman wrote that is so pertinent and disturbing to socialists?

“To the extent that the left wants to point to an example of successful socialism, not just generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are actually a poor case to cite,” Dorfman wrote. “Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs.”

This part seems to be infuriating: “Nordic countries were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for the social benefits. It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such.”

Sweden offers school vouchers to all.

Could you image Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Kerri Harris embracing Sweden’s school vouchers for all? Their patrons at the National Education Association, the “Big Education” union, would pull hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars and give each one an “F.”

Dorfman states Scandinavian unions are powerful and the government does not control the outcome of negotiations. That’s an important point.  Socialists want the government to provide an equal outcome for everyone, using its taxing authority to create a workers’ paradise.

In socialist countries such as Venezuela and Cuba, these supposed outcomes are enforced through coercion, fear and violence. In the U.S, the promise is for equal opportunity, not equal outcome.

In capitalist countries such as ours, people respond to the success of others with either envy and hatred or inspiration toward success.

So, do you want equal opportunity with reasonable regulations and an economy where you have opportunities or do you want equal outcomes where your taxes are increased dramatically to ensure others have what you have and that you have what others have, or least close to it?

Dorfman points out that the Nordic countries are not all democratic socialist and that, Norwegian stock market control notwithstanding, beefy social programs would not exist without capitalism.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Your choice.

RICK JENSEN is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email