Economics is not a ‘hard’ science in the same way as physics or mathematics. However, economics directly affects ordinary people more than most ‘hard’ sciences.
That is seen whether one is discussing a wealthy nation, such as the United States, or an impoverished country in the third world. The everyday person’s politics are often confined by necessity to economics.
Thus economics is extremely important to the lives of each of us and our loved ones. It is to everyone’s advantage to understand the essential views of economics from both the Left and the Right.
Leftist Economics Exemplify Marxism
Economic theory has many labels. Capitalism, free enterprise, and market economics are some names of the general system favored by conservatives on the Right. Marxism, Communism, Socialism are the Left’s idea of good economics.
The basis of leftist economics is found in the economic and political views of Karl Marx. Modern Socialism and Communism trace their roots to his work as a political and intellectual revolutionary in 19th Century Europe.
In 1847, Marx and his compatriot Fredrick Engels wrote the iconic work which birthed Communism, “The Communist Manifesto.” In short, this formed the marching orders of Communism.
The more important book came much later. The first volume of “Das Kapital” was written by Marx in 1867 containing the philosophy of Communist thought.
It was there that the economic theory of Communism came to full flower. As Marx grew older he focused his thought on Capitalism and what he perceived as its inherent evils.
Marx believed that a Capitalist system was comprised of a class of poor workers who were being exploited by the elite rich. The solution was a state-mandated and enforced “Robin Hood” approach.
That is, the state would take from the rich and give to the poor in order to eliminate both classes and make society economically equal. In the famous words of Marx,
“From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”
It Looks Great ‘on Paper’
As a hypothesis, Communism looks great…’on paper.’ The problem which persists to the present is the refusal of acolytes to admit that, in practice, Communism has failed every time it has been tried.
The most recent victim to the terrible results of Communism in practice is the beleaguered nation of Venezuela. Though it is not ‘officially’ under a Communist ‘party,’ the government is unabashedly Socialist, which is a gentle way of saying they are Communist.
Socialists are unable to see that it is the philosophy itself which is unworkable. The most recent example of such is being demonstrated in the devastated nation of Venezuela. The annual inflation rate recorded last month in that country was an astounding 46,305%!
Whether under the late Hugo Chavez or his successor, Nicolas Maduro, the destructive pattern continues. What was once the wealthiest nation in South America is now impoverished and in economic freefall.
Venezuelans are fleeing the nation because of shortages of, well, everything! From groceries to medicines, is almost completely gone.
This has forced many who haven’t yet left to turn to the black market for simple food to eat. That is if they have any money left to purchase it.
For the many unfortunates who cannot afford the ridiculously inflated prices, there is a ghastly alternative.
Aside from chubby dictator Nicolas Maduro and his fellow elites, the Venezuelan people are running out of food and medical supplies. In their starving desperation, citizens have resorted to breaking into zoos to slaughter and eat the also malnourished animals; buffalo, pigs and horses are top choices on the menu.
The destructiveness of the Marxist economic/political ideal goes far beyond even a starving populace. The errors inherent in its theory have produced a death toll far beyond anything else in world history.
The Grisly Death-toll of Leftist Economics
Leftist economics became center-stage as the Communist revolution in Russia exploded in 1917. Since that time, under various names, Socialism of one form or another has killed more people than any other event, natural or man-made, in history.
Understand that Socialism has various pedigrees, but the same evil end. The Nazi party in Germany was officially known as the “National Socialist German Workers Party.”
Together with Germany’s National Socialism, the Communist Socialists such as the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Communist China have racked up a body count of over 150 million people!
The obvious question this brings to mind is why. Why has Leftist economic practice failed so miserably, and caused such misery?
My layman’s analysis pins down two large reasons for this. One is that governments are not producers of wealth. When the state controls the economy, as in Socialism, it can only control what wealth is already present.
The goal of Leftist economics is to forcibly redistribute wealth in order to eliminate the economic differences between classes in society. In short, to ‘level the playing field,’ economically.
This means that those who potentially could produce wealth as innovators or business owners have no incentive to do so. After all, if they cannot reap rewards for their efforts, why expend the time, energy and money.
Secondly, Leftism fails because it doesn’t account for the baseness of human nature. It requires a belief that people are basically good; a fatal fallacy refuted by God’s Word and history.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 [ESV]
Marxist-type systems require a blind faith that the sinful nature will not sabotage the goal of redistribution. In other words, it requires people in high authority to be trusted with doling out all of everyone else’s money.
One of the best presentations about this phenomenon was given many years ago by noted economist Milton Friedman. In this short video excerpt of an interview with former TV host Phil Donohue, he presents a clear case against Socialism and for Capitalism.
The Creep of Leftist Economics in Modern America
Leftism has been on a steady creep into American society and politics for many decades. The primary venue where this asserts itself economically is in the progressive income tax system of the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.
Noted economist Walter Williams characterizes the income tax in personal terms of morality.
Surely if a private person took money from one person and gave it to another, we’d deem it theft and, as such, immoral. Does the same act become moral when Congress takes people’s money to give to farmers, airline companies or an impoverished family? No, it’s still theft, but with an important difference: It’s legal, and participants aren’t jailed.
In more recent times, the calamity of Obamacare has been an example of how the state is at best incompetent as well as immoral when trying a socialistic approach to health care.
America herself received a prime example of a Socialist incompetence during the rollout of Obamacare beginning in 2011. The Federal government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars trying and failing to build the healthcare website. Many pointed out at the time that there were a lot of people who could have done it better for a lot less.
Obamacare came under much-deserved criticism both before and after it was implemented. In part, because of that, it has been repackaged under a new label, “Medicare for all.”
This is but one of many forces pushing the free-enterprise Capitalism element out of the economy. However, it may be the most costly of all and risks virtual bankruptcy of the nation.
As the president rightly notes, this is another attempt at a government takeover of health care which would be disastrous. This must be opposed vigorously both at the ballot box and in society.
The only system which honors individual work is a free enterprise Capitalist system. The freedom of the individual is the basis on which God approaches humanity as well.
Unless the person chooses to follow the LORD, He will not force them to do so. Nor does He endorse human beings forcing their will upon others except where a violation of another’s rights is involved.
It is unwise to adopt a system in contradiction to His will. I pray we soon realize that the Left’s economics is very unwise and destructive.
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Top Image courtesy of Petras Gagilas’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Kevin Steinhardt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Garry Knight’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of joshua_putnam’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of See-ming Lee’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Jay Oyakawa’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published at TIL Journal
I am a retired pastor and freelance writer. I have been married to my bride, Linda, for 34 amazing years. We have two children, a son Thomas, and a daughter Rebecca. I strive to be the best husband, father, writer and servant of my LORD Jesus possible.
I write about all kinds of subjects with a continuing interest in religion, politics, science, culture and sports.