Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: Socialism Fails Every Time

People who fled Cuba and Venezuela warn Americans not to embrace socialism.

Socialism has become cool in America, under the nice name "democratic socialism."

Gloria Álvarez ‏knows better, because she's from Latin America and studied socialism there. She says: Watch out! Socialism has a clear track record of wrecking every country that implements it.

Cuba tried socialism. Things got so bad that tens of thousands fled the island on dangerous, makeshift rafts. Others paid lots of money to be allowed to leave.

Álvarez interviews people who fled. One man told her that in Cuba: "You don't see any future. Everything is care, education, nowadays they're in ruins."

Another said: "My father [a doctor] had to sell illegal meats out of his ambulance...because Cuban doctors earn less than 1% of American doctors."

Because of his experience with socialism, that man is now running as a libertarian for a Florida State House seat.

He adds: "I tell my Venezuelan friends, we warned you guys!"

After Cuba, Venezuela became immersed in socialism. For a while, things seemed to work OK thanks to the country's oil wealth; Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and used to be the richest country in Latin America.

Celebrities like Michael Moore and Sean Penn visited Hugo Chavez and praised his socialism.

Venezuelans were happy, too. A former mayor in Venezuela's capital city told Álvarez: "People were clapping so hard. They were like, 'Oh, finally there is somebody here making social justice.'"

But eventually socialism led to a mismanagement of the economy that was so bad that money started to run out. The government just printed more. So much more that it led to million-percent inflation.

Life savings were wiped out.

When businesses raised prices to try to keep up with inflation, Chavez and his successor, President Maduro, banned that.

When businesses did it anyway, they were seized by the government. This tragic video shows a shopkeeper pleading as his business is taken away. It wasn't a one-time thing; more than 30,000 businesses were confiscated.

Now, millions starve. The average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds. More than 2 million people have fled the country.

"It's like the apocalypse. It's no food. No medicine," one Venezuelan told Álvarez.

But some still defend socialism, saying that what happened there "isn't real socialism." Bernie Sanders says: "when I talk about Socialism I am not looking at Venezuela, I'm not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark, like Sweden."

But Denmark's prime minister says that's a mistake: "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy," he clarifies.

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  • Cy||

    What does a ditch of dead communists smell like?

  • CDRSchafer||

    Fresh brewed coffee for the soul.

  • Last of the Shitlords||


  • Uncle Jay||


  • Uncle Jay||


  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    God bless you John Stossel. It's so nice to have you and a couple of other real libertarians still around here.

    This content is a million times better than jive-ass fugazi asswipes like Pete MacAdoodle Suderweigel arguing for a 100% inheritance tax.

  • sarcasmic||

    "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

  • damikesc||

    Addendum: The only thing Socialism never runs out of is zeroes on their currency.

  • sarcasmic||

    The fact that socialist countries always fall back to the printing presses shows how socialists do not understand the difference between money and wealth.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    And yet some people keep insisting that the US long term national debt is not a problem, because we can always resort to printing more money if we have to.

  • sarcasmic||

    It worked for the Romans...

  • Rossami||

    In fairness, most democratic governments don't understand that difference either.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Socialism also leaves piles of dead bodies in its wake.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    And somebody has to bury those bodies. You see, state sanctioned mass murder is needed to create jobs in the glorious socialist worker's paradise. Everybody wins.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Shovel ready jobs!

  • TGoodchild||

    You set yourself up right there.

  • operagost||

    It's part of the plan. You see, remove 10% of the population, there's more for everyone who's left!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    And when that runs out, you remove 10% of the population...

  • Fist of Etiquette||


  • loveconstitution1789||

    Scandinavian nations are socialist. Their governments own and partly own companies. They control much of the means of production.

    They are also tiny homogeneous nations where their are currently enough working people to support massive welfare states. Denmark had to scale back its welfare state because there were not enough working people to cover. Scandinavian nations also had to cut immigration under EU rules to stave off their welfare state tipping points.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The EU also contributes to keeping their welfare states afloat. They simply move money around from more prosperous Socialists states to failing Socialists states, like Greece.

  • Microaggressor||

    By that definition the U.S. is socialist too. It's called a mixed economy. We're a lot more similar than we are different.

  • sarcasmic||

    The U.S. is more fascist than socialist. Companies are privately owned, but the government runs them indirectly through oppressive regulation.

  • mtrueman||

    " but the government runs them indirectly through oppressive regulation."

    But surely they run the government through their bribes. And these 'oppressive regulations' are written by and enforced by people from the industries they target. This has been called regulatory capture, and may not receive much attention in Reason, but widely recognized elsewhere. Oligarchy is the word you can use to describe such a system. The few governing the many. Say what you want about Fascists or Socialists, at least they have ideas outside their own self betterment they cling to. Oligarchs, not so.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "But surely they run the government through their bribes. And these 'oppressive regulations' are written by and enforced by people from the industries they target. This has been called regulatory capture, and may not receive much attention in Reason, but widely recognized elsewhere. "

    If the industries were calling unilaterally calling the tune, then NO regulations would have ever been enacted in the first place.

  • mtrueman||

    "If the industries were calling unilaterally calling the tune,"

    I think banks and insurance companies probably have more weight in the oligopoly than industry at the moment. And it goes without saying they're also lucky enough to be given the ability to write and enforce their own regulations.

  • sarcasmic||

    Some of these regulations are supported by big companies because they make it expensive to enter the market, but plenty more are written by asshole bureaucrats who use their power to run the businesses they regulate. Either way the effect is that businesses have to constantly be asking permission and obeying orders from the government, and can always be shut down on the whim of some asshole whose ass isn't sufficiently kissed.

  • mtrueman||

    "Either way the effect is that businesses have to constantly be asking permission and obeying orders from the government, and can always be shut down on the whim of some asshole whose ass isn't sufficiently kissed."

    That's oligarchy for you. Understand though, that larger outfits are exempt from this. Exxon is not going to be shut down on the whim of some bureaucrat, however much of an asshole s/he may be.

  • Microaggressor||

    Regulatory capture is one of Reason's biggest hobby horses. It's one of the biggest justifications for libertarian policy - deregulate the rules designed to benefit the most influential corporations, helping small businesses and consumers simultaneously.

    It's not complicated, unless you're a socialist, then, life must be complicated being wrong all the time.

  • mtrueman||

    "Regulatory capture is one of Reason's biggest hobby horses. "

    No, deregulation is one of their hobby horses. Regulatory capture barely rates a mention in these pages. And 'deregulation' is just a meaningless catch phrase like 'school choice' or 'gun rights' that Reason likes to bruit about. Rest assured, however much deregulation takes place, there will still be regulations and they will be written and enforced by those from the very interests which are the targets of regulation.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    so·cial·ism | \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm
    1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

    2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
    b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

    3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

    This is the definition, so the USA does have ObamaCare, Medicare, Medicaid, Amtrack, and the FDIC to be a bit Socialist.

  • Hank Phillips||

    ALL of this was accomplished, as Milton Friedman delicately pointed out, by Socialist party spoiler votes that elected practically zero politicians but caused the Kleptocracy to go communist to stave off unemployment--among looter politicians.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I used to read Pravda while SDI demolished the initiation of force. The Soviet Union, in its communist press, truthfully called itself a "mixed economy." The difference between communists and republican-democrats is a measure of degree, not kind.

  • sarcasmic||

    Scandinavian nations are socialist. Their governments own and partly own companies. They control much of the means of production.

    That is true in the case of Norway, but not the others.

  • loveconstitution1789||

  • Ricardo Vacilon||

    Norway, where 60% of GDP is produced by government-owned corporations, is what Venezuela would have liked to have been. Apparently, there's something unusual about the way the Norwegian government manages its corporations.

  • Zeb||

    It's also worth noting to US socialists that Scandanavian countries, the UK and many others significantly backed off their attempts at socialism because it failed miserably.

  • loveconstitution1789||


    Scandinavia had massive welfare and Socialist states and cut them back. They are still Socialist but these nations have migrated to more market economies.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Some of them also receive oil royalties. Which works well relative to a small population.

  • Aloysious||

    Stossel looks a bit different today.

  • BioBehavioral_View||

    "The problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists." - Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

    Excerpt from the novel, Retribution Fever —
    In the name of "humanitarianism and social justice", the self-anointed will continue trying to destroy the most humane and just system ever devised by mankind — individualistic capitalism and its companion, positive control, operating in a democratic republic based upon a written constitution protecting life, liberty, and property as well as the pursuit of happiness. Their alternative always had been collectivistic socialism and its companion, negative control, based upon a fluid, "living" constitution oppressing life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness while claiming to protect them.

  • J2Hess||

    Novelists can write whatever they want no matter how limited their wisdom and understanding. Unless regulated, capitalism tends towards monopoly, welfare for the plutocrats.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Dead thread fuck score=D-

  • LarryA||

    Actually, there is a huge difference between pure socialism and democratic socialism.

    In pure socialism the socialists have a revolution. Once in power, they set up free and open elections where the people get to vote to keep screwing the economy up, or else.

    In democratic socialism people get to voluntarily vote to screw the economy up, once. Then the people get to vote to keep screwing the economy up, or else.

  • Len Bias||

    "In pure socialism the socialists have a revolution. Once in power, they set up free and open elections where the people get to vote to keep screwing the economy up, or else."

    Has this ever actually happened? Or do you mean this is the theory?

  • Longtobefree||


  • loveconstitution1789||

    I know you're too dumb to see the links that show all the companies that are wholly are partly owned by Scandinavian nations.

    Its makes them Socialist. They are also giant welfare states.

    Denmark has cut way back on state controlled companies and welfare. They still have both.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    PB you're too stupid to understand these things.

  • mtrueman||

    To entrepreneurs, if you've ever wanted to engage in unregulated extraction of natural resources like minerals or tropical timber, now's your chance. Venezuela is your destination. Hitherto protected tracts of forest and Indian reserves are now open for business. Take money and guns, leave the lawyers behind.

  • Angelique||

    It is good to remember that Cuba and Venezuela were not precisely libertarian paradises. In fact their system was such that socialism seemed a reasonable propostion at the time.

    The trick is not to decry how bad socialism is, but to avoid putting your society into a position where it looks good.

  • ||

    The trick is not to decry how bad socialism is, but to avoid putting your society into a position where it looks good.

    Nobody starts out their 5-yr. plan with a detailed explanation about killing 5 million Ukrainians. The trick is to recognize socialism while it's still in its infancy and smother it with a pillow.

  • sarcasmic||

    The problem with socialism is that it appeals to human nature. Socialism works for family units. Extending it to the masses doesn't work.

  • Angelique||

    Honey the trick is not to try changes in society by putting in charge people whose only expertise is in debate societies. They expect their manual to work, and when it doesn't, well, it is the fault of traitors and saboteurs, ergo..

    It happend like that in the French Revolution. People got elected because they were good speakers at their clubs. The defiitive history of the French Revolution would have been the one written by the late Laurance J. Peter.

    This is why I shudder about the idea of Libertarians in charge.

  • sarcasmic||

    This is why I shudder about the idea of Libertarians in charge.

    Why? Libertarians tend to be shitty speakers. Maybe that means they'll do a better job than good ones.

  • Angelique||

    Because they are well versed on theory, but have no practical experience on how things work. That is ALWAYS a bad sign.

    As Rayburn said to Johnson when this one praised the intelligence of Kennedy' staff "Lyndon, they might be as bright as you say, but I would feel better if any of them had ever run for dogcatcher somehwere"

    Theory is very fine, but things happen in an ideal plane where nothing unexpected happens. Reality is full of surprises, and people who cannot even imagine that surprises happen will tend to make bad decisions when they do.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Because we expect people to have their own manual, and blame themselves if it doesn't work out?

  • Paloma||

    Hugo Chavez was a charismatic speaker and personality. However, he only debated by pointing a machine gun.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Is this finally the right time to discuss my plan to euthanize all the progtards?

  • Longtobefree||

    Please be sure to use a politically correct cover; like maybe you are going to reduce CO2 emissions by prohibiting liberals and lawyers from exhaling. Be clear that it is only a 5 year trial, so there is no need to be concerned.

  • Qsl||

    The sense I get is most calls to revolution/change (outside of a few cranks) are aspects of the society that don't work well, and the form usually highlights whatever corruption is overt at the time, albeit often with a very vulgar reading of whatever the central conflict is. Calls for socialism is often a rail against oligarchy while calls for capitalism is often against authoritarianism, etc. Not to mention any snapshot of a country gives a distorted view of where they are at in a given moment. Sweden (for example) is a mostly failed socialist state moving towards market reforms. To just call them socialist denies their history and why they are moving in the direction they are (just as much as the US is moving in a more socialist direction).

    Add to that inertia of the state, and what could have been simple adjustments to keep the people happy enough never happen in time (if at all), and the irritations tend to be ignored until they spiral out of control and people are out with pitchforks demanding an over-correction.

    And so it is with the US, with the refusal to address the rising discontent assures me it will be an autocratic socialist hellhole within a few generations.

  • Robspierre||

    I'm not sure I understand present concerns about Socialism growing in influence in the US. I offer the ongoing SCOTUS debacle as an example. Kavanagh and Garland have voted the same 93% of the time, When Kavanagh wrote the opinion, Garland agreed 96% of the time. Sounds like an idealogical war to me!

    The catalyst here: Democrats are high on fumes from the bottle rocket up their keeyster, aka Soros money. The common theme amongst behavior exhibited is ANARCHY, not Socialism. Dems are recruiting for an idealogy no one is openly promoting ; oddly Republicans personally targeted are not identifying root cause. Some mouthpiece types need to give some historical perspective on Anarchy as a movement, and how few can potentially benefit... as much as George Soros has in the places he has severely damaged the quality of life around the world for personal greed.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Soros fights against authoritarianism."

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    And you're showing what a mindless thrall you really are.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Oh really?

    Show me where Soros advocates shrinking the U.S. federal government back down to the level that existed in the first second that James Madison's signature dried on the Constitution.

  • MJBinAL||

    Seriously? You are even more crack addled than I first imagined.

  • damikesc||

    So, do you finally admit that the Nazis are actually Socialist?

  • Angelique||

    The operative word in Nazis was Nationalists. Nationalism is a very nasty ideology that predates socailism and will survive it.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The sockpuppet has never read Mein Kampf, nor the NSDAP platform, not the Enabling Act speech before the Reichstag which is on Wikipedia in English and German. Hitler was elected by voters 96% Protestant and Catholic:

  • Azathoth!!||

    'Nationalist' isn't part of NSDAP.

    'National' is.

    There's a difference.

    The 'ist' is attached to 'Socialist'

  • Azathoth!!||

    Easier to write 9.051 billion for leftist propaganda.

    And more truthful!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Isn't PB just the biggest disingenuous piece of shit?

  • MJBinAL||

    Yeah, all his causes SOUND good ... it is when you look at what they are actually DOING that the picture becomes more clear.

    Developing Democracy ( and promoting Socialism)
    Supporting Educations (and promoting Socialism)
    Defending Human Rights (and sowing discord while promoting Socialism as the cure)

    Yeah, If there was justice in the world someone would put a SAM up the ass of his jet by now.

  • TJJ2000||

    Soro's and most Socialists don't seem to recognize the line between freedom and socialistic entitlements.

    A good example is the double set of Civil Rights Act -

    1866; Gave African Americans all the same Freedoms granted to U.S. Citizens ( property, individual rights etc.. ) Passed by Republicans; protested by Democrats

    1964; Forced property owners to cater to African Americans thus loosing property rights and freedoms to choose who they could remove from their OWN property and who they would cater too.
    Passed by Democrats; protested by Republicans

    When Soros spends to "defend human rights" he spends to increase ENTITLEMENTS.
    When Soros spends on "education" he spends on increasing the socialist education ENTITLEMENTS.
    When Soros spends on "developing democracy" he spends on increasing socialist countries.
    When Soros spends on "public health" he is spending on socializing public health.

    Yes, there is a difference between having the right TO PURSUE happiness and legally demanding it through ENTITLEMENTS that take rights from others.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Socialism (and it's ugly cousins Marxism and communism) is for the people, not the socialist.

  • Robspierre||

    The devil is in the details. For instance, does Dr Fords outing qualify as a line item in his support for women? But let's stick to macroeconomic benefits ole George has graced his good earth with. Try this game: DuckDuckGo Soros with the name of any/every country. This pair is a favorite of mine as I lived there when George so typically worked his magic: Soros, Malaysia. Keep the game entertaining by leaving Soros, Hungary for last. Don't cheat and add antisemitic...

  • esteve7||

    Socialism isn't a good idea implemented wrong, it's a shitty idea in theory and an evil idea in practice

  • ||

    Wow. Those scenes where the government is stealing businesses

    Makes you want to literally beat the crap out of Penn and Moore. I'd like to see how those two assholes would react if that happened to them.

    Pure ignorant evil.

  • ||

    Pampered Western socialists really need to knock it off with the 'interstate business' crap.

    They have no idea what they're advocating. Stay the fuck away from Ocasio-Cortex and her ilk. Susan Sarandon isn't going to give two shits if the system fails since she has the means to just go away.

    'We need to distribute equally' is one of those vague, nefarious terms people need to stop and really ponder.

    What they mean is exactly what you see in Venezuela and Cuba. All funnelled into the hands of the dictators.

    Moore called Chavez and 'interesting' man. He called a wicked thief 'interesting'.

    He's the worst kind of human being. He's a socialist from afar but has become fabulously wealthy off the system he looks to 'fix'.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Socialism only works if you're one of the ruling elites in a socialist state.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Observe that the gal Stossel found, Gloria Álvarez, is not a Republican Nazi bimbo. This is the real individual rights--even for women--laissez-faire individualist Libertarian that is the opposite of all Bandana Republic communism and Banana Republic fascism. And guess what? She has pretty good command of at least two languages!

  • Fred G. Sanford||

    Sorry Bernie, but Denmark and Sweden aren't socialist countries.

  • J2Hess||

    Stossel is so reliably confused, it's kind of reassuring.

    Where's the 'democratic socialist' who is advocating a planned economy? None that I've heard of. Instead, they call for:

    1) Expansion of the safety net.

    2) This should include an expansion of Medicare as an alternative to the increasingly expensive private healthcare system.

    3) Expansion of regulations, not to replace the market, but to make sure the market works for workers and communities as well as CEOs and stockholders. Before you go all lazy fair on me, remember that markets are based on a foundation of state regulations securing private property, contracts, controlling fraud, controlling externalities, etc.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    "Where's the 'democratic socialist' who is advocating a planned economy? None that I've heard of."

    Then you haven't been paying attention to the DSA themselves.

    Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.

    "Large businesses we'll have to confiscate and be run by the government, but maybe we'll only give the small ones to 'workers' (or more likely their unions) to manage."

  • MDP||

    Socialism is the opposite of democracy. Don't people understand that?

  • renewableguy||

    There are many successful social policies in other countries. This knee jerk reaction to the S word is a little over the top. There are countries with free college education, socialized medicine and other assortments of services. In very successful countries economically.

  • Henry Buttal||

    No Cuba, no Venezuela and just overlook all the people killed or forced into work during the cultural revolution in China, never mind any other collateral damage.

    Wasn't even a good source, and still didn't support your position...

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Don't bother with dipshit....paid, dead thread fucking troll.

  • con_fuse9||

    Who's the troll?
    You mean the post that do a lot of name calling but don't address the arguments at all?

  • mjerryfuerst||

    This nonsense from Stossel keeps getting posted. Just an insignificant itsy-bitsy radical minority wants a socialist state even remotely close to what Cuba and Venezuela

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    The nonsense is from fucktards like you who claim socialism works.

  • con_fuse9||

    Ah yes, the name calling. You convinced me.

  • DrZ||

    Socialism will not fail next time it is tried. Trust me, it just wasn't implemented correctly in the hundreds of times it has been tried in the past.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    She doesn't understand nuance. There is a big difference between European (modern) socialism and fucking Guatamala socialism, give me a fucking break.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Cuba is a dictatorship. Venezuela was a soft dictatorship. If you want to criticize socialism you have to address the success of Scandanavian coutries, Germany, and England. Those countries are falling apart and we're winning! Right? LMFAO

  • ATK||

    The best case for Socialism for America was when he pointed out that "The average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds." Given our obesity crisis, this could be for us.

  • con_fuse9||

    Unfortunately this is all the straw-man argument.

    Every form of government, when taken to extremes is bad. Yep every form. Democracy, with majority rules, needs a Bill of Rights to limit government powers. Captalism requires commerce rules to prevent the robber-barrons of the 1900s. etc.

    So are all socialistic programs bad per se? (and what makes them 'socialist'?)

    Lets take health care. About 56% of the people are covered by plans from their jobs. The rest are medicare, medicaid, Obama care and a few out their pay their own or have none. Isn't that socialism?

    What about public education? Fire department? Police? Paving of roads? Hurricane/disaster relief?

    And then you have to ask, how much of Cuba's problems are because of economic sanctions from the USA?

    Bottom line, the article (didn't even bother to watch the video) puts up a straw-man's argument where the term "socialism" isn't even defined. This is just stupid name calling.

    I expect more from Stossel

  • XM||

    A nation becomes socialist the second the government pays even a cent for healthcare and education?

  • Dominator Astronaut||

    This is shockingly dumb.

  • Dominator Astronaut||

    This is shockingly dumb.

  • Angelique||

    We say in Spanish "La ignorancia es atrevida" "Ignorace is bold"

    I do not think that Mr. Stossel knows much about Latin America, and its history. He is not aware of the hatred of the US in many quarters (John Lukacs said taht Fidel Castro hated the U.S. and became a Communist out of it, and a few years earlier he would as easily became a Nazi). He has not heard of the curse of easy riches that afflicted Venezuela, nor how Cuba's economy was not allowed to diversify and was tied to a single commodity. All he knows is taht at some time they took up socialism, but has no idea what drove people to it.

    And he has no idea of the power of nationalism that brought forth people like Peron.

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