The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the freedom to thrive and not just exist. Human beings can survive with a socialist or totalitarian government, but they cannot thrive under such tyranny. Capitalism with its free-market economy is the only system currently on earth where human beings can prosper.
Carmen Alexe escaped Communist Romania during the Cold War because she was seeking individual freedom. She blogs about “free markets, individual freedom, and personal responsibility.” She published an article titled “I Grew Up in a Communist System – Here’s What Americans Don’t Understand About Freedom.” She begins her article by describing her native communist Romania as a “country in which the government owned all the resources and means of production.” She says that government “controlled almost every aspect of our lives.” This control included such things as education, jobs, hot water, and language.
The Socialist Republic of Romania was not a true communist country because there was a small portion of privately-owned property. However, there was enough “heavy central planning and the application of a totalitarian control” over the citizens of the country to gain the title.
Alexe says that “there were shortages everywhere” even though the country was “rich in resources.” Shortages meant standing in line for necessities and hoping that there was food left when one arrived at the front of the line. “Food, electricity, water, and just about every one of life’s necessities were in short supply.” She says that the government-owned retail stores “were either half-empty or full of products that were ugly and of poor quality.” The black-market entrepreneurs were blessings in the eyes of the Romanians because they provided items that were more popular, such as Wrigley’s chewing gum, Swiss chocolate, fruity lip gloss, French perfume, and jeans. “The grocery stores were not any better.”
After sharing more information such as the above, Alexe changes her tone and begins to extol the benefits of capitalism – “the one system that had the most dramatic effect in elevating human civilization.”
The layman definition of capitalism is the economic system in which people and businesses engage in manufacturing, trading, and exchanging products and services without government interference. A free-market capitalist system works in a more efficient manner when not tampered with by government or central bank intervention in the credit markets, monetary policy, and interest rate fixing.
Private property and private property rights are at the core of capitalism. When in school [in Romania], we learned that private property makes people greedy and is considered detrimental to society. Private property was associated with capitalism, the system that our textbooks claimed failed.
Alexe continues extolling capitalism and how it “advances private property.” She writes about how the “free market attracts capital” and how “capitalism helps us be better individuals.” She admits that America is not a “truly free-market capitalist system” even though the rest of the world “refers to the American system as being a capitalist one.” The United States does “maintain stronger capitalist traits than most” other countries, but “Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, and a few other nations … lead the way in economic freedom.” She ends her essay by telling us “what America needs.”
Aside from better economic and legislative policies, what America needs is a more intense appreciation of individual freedom and capitalism. Such a crazy idea is not acquired through public schools or becoming a public servant.
Young people don’t need more years of schooling with more worthless college degrees and student loans in default. America needs more entrepreneurs and businessmen. It needs more people with drive and ambition, more self-starters, more innovators, more people who are willing to take chances.
It starts in our own backyard, in our home, in our small group, in our community. It starts with loving, involved, and dedicated parents who’d instill the values of personal responsibility and delayed gratification in their children.
It continues with an education that entails both theory and hands-on practice in environments conducive to learning how to think independently and how to acquire life- and work-skills.
It evolves into a purpose-driven life rich in learning and experiences. And this may be just the beginning of attaining the intellectual maturity to perceive the value that free markets and individual freedom afford most of us.
I found Alexe’s article interesting for several reasons. Several years ago, I read a book titled Red Horizons – the True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus’s Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa. This article by Alexe supports the information in Red Horizons. The one bit of information that I strongly remember about the book is the difficulty or impossibility of having a private conversation. There were electronic “bugs” everywhere listening to the conversations of the Romanian citizens. They were in centerpieces on the tables in restaurants. They were through the homes – which were owned by the government. The government knew what took place in all conversations and even the sounds of the bedroom.
Socialist, communist, and totalitarian governments are so involved in controlling their citizens that they cannot or will not do anything that helps them. This is one reason why there are so many shortages in such countries and why black markets are so successful there.
What I do not understand is how anyone who grew up in America or even lived here for a period of years can think that socialism is a better economic system than capitalism. I believe that the people desiring socialism in our nation are either stupid, or they have ulterior motives about controlling Americans. If AOC and Bernie Sanders are any indication of the believers in socialism, I think that I go with the first description. However, I believe that they are being used by people of the second description.