“”We tried socialism,” says Palmer. “We ran the experiment. It was a catastrophe. Worst environmental record on the planet.”
In China, when socialist leaders noticed that sparrows ate valuable grain, they encouraged people to kill sparrows.
“Billions of birds were killed,” says Palmer.
Government officials shot birds. People without guns banged pans and blew horns, scaring sparrows into staying aloft for longer than they could tolerate.
“These poor exhausted birds fell from the skies,” says Palmer. “It was insanity.”
I pointed out that, watching video of people killing sparrows, it looked like they were happy to do it.
“If you failed to show enthusiasm for the socialist goals of the party,” Palmer responds, “you were going to be in trouble.”
The Party’s campaign succeeded. They killed nearly every sparrow.
But “all it takes is two minutes of thinking to figure, ‘Wait. Who’s going to eat all the bugs?'” says Palmer.
Without sparrows, insects multiplied. Bugs destroyed more crops than the sparrows had.
“People starved as a consequence,” says Palmer. “People confuse socialism with…a ‘nice government’ or a ‘government that’s sweet’ or ‘made up of my friends.'””
“Many Chinese lakes and rivers are bright green. Fertilizer runoff created algae blooms that kill all fish. A study in The Lancet says Chinese air pollution kills a million people per year.
Wherever socialism is tried, it creates nasty pollution.
In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin wanted cotton for his army. His central planners decided it should be grown near the Aral Sea. They drained so much water that the sea, once the fourth biggest inland lake in the world, shrank to less than half its size.
“Soviet planners caused catastrophic environmental costs to the whole population,” says Palmer.
I push back. “That was then. Now the rules would be different. Now the rule would be: ‘green.'”
“All the time we hear socialists say, ‘Next time, we’ll get it right.’ How many next times do you get?” asks Palmer.”
“Capitalists destroy nature, too. Free societies do need government rules to protect the environment.
But free markets with property rights often protect nature better than bureaucrats can.”
“Capitalism also protects the environment because it creates wealth. When people aren’t worried about starving or freezing, they get interested in protecting nature. That’s why capitalist countries have cleaner air.
Also, capitalists can afford to pay for wild animal preserves.”
“the Pilgrims attempted collective farming. The whole community decided when and how much to plant, when to harvest, and who would do the work.”
“Soon, there wasn’t enough food.”
“no one wanted to work. Everyone relied on others to do the work. Some people pretended to be injured. Others stole food.”
“Young men complained they had to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.”
Strong men thought it was an “injustice” they had to do more than weaker men without more compensation.
Older men thought that working as much as young men was “indignity and disrespect.”
Women who cooked and cleaned “deemed it a kind of slavery.”
The Pilgrims had run into the “tragedy of the commons.” No individual Pilgrim owned crops they grew, so no individual had much incentive to work.
Bradford’s solution: private property.
He assigned every family a parcel of land so they could grow their own corn. “It made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been,” he wrote.
People who had claimed that “weakness and inability” made them unable to work now were eager to work. “Women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn,” wrote Bradford.
The Pilgrims learned an important lesson about private property.
Unfortunately, people keep repeating the Pilgrims’ mistakes.”
“With Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva’s narrow victory over president Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil—the two-time former president defeated the incumbent by a 1.8 percent margin (50.9 to 49.1)—the Latin American left has completed its strategic dominance over the region’s seven largest countries.
In the 2000s, much was made of Latin America’s so-called “Pink Tide,” which began with Hugo Chávez’s first electoral victory in Venezuela (1998) and da Silva’s first term in Brazil (2002–2006). There followed an unprecedented rise of left-wing governments across the region. However, there were still important holdouts at the time; Mexico and Colombia didn’t veer left at all; Chile maintained its post-Pinochet social democracy; Peru’s original “Pink Tider,” Ollanta Humala, initially scared the markets in 2011 but proved to be mostly moderate in power.
By late 2022, however, hard leftists—often in cahoots with local communist parties—had handily won the last elections in each of these countries and in Argentina, which returned to Peronist Kirchnerism in 2019. Bolsonaro was the last right-winger standing”
“According to Marx, history unfolded in a grand series of stages, each defined by its dominant mode of economic production and each specifically arising to replace the one that preceded it. “In broad outlines,” he wrote in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, “ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production can be designated as progressive epochs in the economic formation of society.” Capitalism, in other words, was a historically necessary step in human progress.
The great revolutionary forces unleashed by capitalism, Marx thought, would in turn form and shape a self-aware proletariat class that would ultimately lead humanity into a glorious communist future. But that would happen only after capitalism had worked its magic. “No social order ever perishes,” Marx maintained, “before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed.””
“Marx not only welcomed capitalism’s creative destruction of feudalism and slavery; he recognized and even championed capitalism’s essential role in human advancement. With free labor on the march, Marx argued in his 1861 essay “The North American Civil War,” the peculiar institution faced ultimate extinction “according to economic law.””
“”I know that some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” then-Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen commented in 2015. “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security for its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”
“So, what is the catch you might ask. The most obvious one, of course, is the high taxes. The top income tax in Denmark is almost 60 percent. We have a 25 percent sales tax and on cars the incise duties are up to 180 percent. In total, Danish taxes come to almost half of our national income compared to around 25 percent in the U.S.””
“Chile’s draft constitution is even longer than Venezuela’s, which was redrafted by Hugo Chávez’ administration during his first year in office and set the stage for the country’s socialist revolution, descent into dictatorship, and ensuing economic collapse.
Venezuela has had 26 constitutions in a little over two centuries. In general, the practice of scrapping and rewriting constitutions helps to explain Latin America’s relentless political turmoil.
A constitution provides legal stability and predictability—like a computer operating system. Tampering with any foundational code creates security holes that are easily exploited by political opportunists looking to amplify their own power and overturn the established order.
Even if Chileans reject the new constitution—and, thankfully, polls indicate that they probably will—Boric can choose to start the process again with the election of yet another constitutional assembly to draft yet another version.
That could bring years of chaos, economic stagnation, and legal uncertainty. Now that Latin America’s free market experiment and “economic miracle” may be coming to an end, hopefully, the rest of the world can learn from the experience of Chile once again: Beware leftist pipe dreams.”