Heritage Foundation: Populism, socialism do not truly help the masses

Populism: The Illusion that Won't Go Away
Inevitably, corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power consume even the most benevolent of despots, proving that trading freedom for prosperity is an illusion.

As proof, look to the Index of Economic Freedom, published for the 15th straight year by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Once again it demonstrates the direct link between economic opportunity and prosperity.

To create the Index, economists spend months sifting through data to measure business freedom, trade freedom, financial freedom, property rights and levels of corruption (among other factors) to determine the exact level of economic liberty in more than 180 countries. Their findings reveal that the more free a country, the more prosperous it is likely to be.

The Heritage Foundation, like any reasonable organizations parting from the middle in America, but not falling off the far sides, tries hard to make its arguments through research and sharing facts. This particular index of theirs is near and dear to me, as the old adage goes: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Democracy and capitalism have proven, except to the blind and to those who believe a top-down (government leading and people following) society ultimately works for everyone, that a population that is able to move in freedom, to make mistakes and to vote according to their experiences in life, will do better than one that is ordered about by its government.

It hasn't worked in China, which is for one thing a crooked monetary system -- they basically invent their currency's value to compensate for any problems they see, keeping it artificially low. It didn't prove beneficial to Soviet Union citizens -- Stalin, who was Lenin's close confidant in the 1917 revolution took over and trounced anyone his paranoid mind didn't like. Extremists didn't improve things for Iraq, or Afghanistan. It couldn't have, even if it remained, in those places. 

It is not working in Latin America, which seems to repeat the same errors, generation after generation, rejecting democracy for something far less dependent on the education and betterment of all, and more dependent on fooling the poor and uneducated and keeping the educated at bay. Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, ... the list would go on.

Have a look for yourself. I don't believe democracy and capitalism are free from corruption, and I don't believe any one man's ideas, or any one party's leaders, on the whole allow us to succeed. But we're at least doing it better than a state that holds up one man, or one party, as the entity with all the answers and none of the bad ideas. I think the battle of ideas in the USA, and our willingness to NOT see socialism as a solution to the problems of our poor, undereducated, and otherwise, and providing services for them makes us one of the world's great nations.

I am like any other person who is vulnerable in bad times, and I certainly recognize my human weaknesses: I wish, in bad times, for the support of the government until things balance out for me. However, that, beyond a certain degree, these things fly in the face of what has put the US where it is. Big government best describes a socialist or dictatorship country. America should not fall from a path of democracy and capitalism for fear of hard times. 

United States information on economic freedom | Facts, data, analysis, charts and more
United States is the world's oldest constitutional democracy, and its size, culturally and ethnically diverse population, and republican form of government that reserves significant powers to the state and local levels all promote a competitive atmosphere in which a variety of economic policies and strategies can be pursued.
U.S. tax rates are burdensome. Both the top income tax rate and the top corporate tax rate are 35 percent. Other taxes include a property tax, an estate tax, and excise taxes, and additional income and sales taxes are assessed at the state and local levels. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 28.2 percent.
Regulations are generally straightforward and consistent with international standards, although concerns have been raised about the intrusive nature and cost of the 2002 Sarbanes–Oxley Act. Government interventions in financial markets in the second half of 2008, including purchase of assets and measures affecting the allocation of credit, if not rapidly undone, indicate a serious loss of financial freedom that will lower future U.S. economic freedom scores.
The debate will continue. The arguments are ridiculous on the side of socialism, for anyone truly appreciative of what freedom and liberty are. But the Perhaps Sean Penn will keep it up for the entertainment of all who are not fooled by the shallowness of his intellect in such things. What's truly shocking is that anyone, including the Huffington Post, pays homage to his words at all.

- jR

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