Rand Paul

Stossel: The Case Against Socialism

Rand Paul takes on socialist arguments about Venezuela, Scandinavia, and fairness.


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Even as Venezuelans starve, Senator Rand Paul (R–Ky.) notes that socialism has gained ground in the United States.

That's why he wrote "The Case Against Socialism." The chapter on Venezuelan socialism is titled, "Because Eating Your Pets is Overrated."

"You would think that…when your economy gets to the point where people are eating their pets, people might have second thoughts about what economic system they've chosen," Paul tells John Stossel.

But Stossel notes that today American socialists say, "We won't be like that." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) says, "when I talk about Democratic socialism, I'm not looking at Venezuela. I'm not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden."

But Paul debunks that myth in his book.

"It's not true that the Scandinavian countries are socialist," Paul tells Stossel.

Stossel points out that while Scandinavia tried socialist policies years ago, they then turned away from socialism, privatizing industries and repealing regulations. In fact, when experts rank economic freedom, Scandinavian countries rank near the top.

Denmark's prime minister even responded to Sanders, saying: "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy."

Scandinavia did keep socialist policies like government-run health care. Media outlets suggest that's why Scandinavians live longer.

But Paul says: "This is the trick of statistics…it started way before socialized medicine."

His book has the stats to back that up. In the 1960s, before Sweden's healthcare was totally nationalized, Swedish men already lived five years longer than American men. Now, they…still live five years longer.

Stossel says Paul's book is different from other politicians' platitude-filled books. Paul did actual research. He cites sources that back up his point about health care, comparing the life expectancy of Swedish and American men in 1960s.

Regarding Sweden's ability to pull people out of poverty, Paul credits Swedish culture, not government programs. He tells Stossel of a story about Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman:

"This Swedish economist comes up to him and he says, 'You know in Sweden we have no poverty.' And Friedman responds, 'Well, yeah, in America we have no poverty among Swedish Americans.'"

Paul confirms that with data from Swedish researcher Nima Sanandaji, who writes: "Danish Americans today have fully 55 percent higher living standard than Danes. Similarly, Swedish Americans have a 53 percent higher living standard than Swedes."

Stossel says it's good that Paul debunks these myths and warns against repeating the tragic history of socialism.

Paul gives a partial list of failures: "Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez, Maduro. It doesn't work."

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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  1. “Well, yeah, in America we have no poverty among Swedish Americans.”

    Can Rand perform some highly immoral medical procedures and bring Friedman back to life? The world needs him now more than ever. Also, robo-Sowell that will destroy anti-free market arguments for all eternity.

  2. List of state owned enterprises in Sweden

    Akademiska Hus
    Green Cargo
    Göta Kanalbolag; see Göta Canal
    RISE – Research Institutes of Sweden
    Svenska Spel
    Casino Cosmopol
    Swedish Space Corporation

    Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland are all Socialist nations because the state owns and controls the means of production. The citizens of these nations by-and-large want a Nanny and Police State to run their economies. Scandinavian nations have just enough Capitalism sprinkled in to stave off that that economic implosion Rand was talking about.

    1. Unless that’s a comprehensive list of all means of production in Sweden, then it fails to prove your point. In fact, that list represents only a very modest fraction of Sweden’s GDP.

      Note, by the way, that the USPS and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac are US examples of “state owned enterprises”. That doesn’t make the entire US “socialist” just because we also have a few examples.

      1. The definition of Socialism does not say it means only 10 out of 10,000 companies. It says state ownership and control over means of production.

        Sweden owns and controls the means of production relating to health care, for example.

        1. Then within the healthcare industry, you could say that Sweden is socialist. But you can’t say it as a universal statement unless it actually is universal.

          Again, the fact that the US government had a complete monopoly on the means of production of the tiny fraction of GDP that is the service of postal delivery did not mean that the entire US economy was socialist.

      2. Most of Sweden’s GDP is from Abba.

    2. Some Swedish production is in private hands. Given your detailed knowledge of Swedish industry, you’ve probably heard of giants like Ikea and Volvo, both privately owned. That’s why Sweden is an example of a mixed economy, just like most countries on the planet.

      1. Your link fell off.

        1. You can search the internet if you want to learn more about Volvo and Ikea.

    3. so by your definition, all governments are socialist.

      1. The definition. All states that own and control the means of production are socialist.

    4. The state definitely owns a significant chunk of the means of production in those countries.

      And in this one.

      The argument being made is that those countries are MORE socialist than the United States. People who assert that that argument is false are correct.

    5. Sweden sold off most of its industries in the mid-1990’s.
      Today, it should be considered a capitalist state with a lot of State run worthless, useless and expensive welfare programs.

      1. Your link fell off.

    6. From the link you gave: “They are expected to be funded by their sales, and not be given direct tax money.”

      1. sort of like the Post Office

    7. The majority of the Danish economy is in private hands.

      1. Your link fell off.

        Treason limits links to one per comment but each Scandinavian nations has state owned enterprises.

  3. We Koch / Reason libertarians must not forget our priority is #ImmigrationAboveAll. And although it might seem surprising, democratic socialists like AOC tend to be our strongest allies on issues like #AbolishICE.


    1. no. can not have open borders with a welfare state.

    2. OBL what’s your specific position on Swedish immigration? I understand your love of immigration from countries like Syria and El Salvador, but surely even you must draw the line somewhere.

  4. The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

    As always, this little disclaimer is the most completely honest thing Reason will publish all week long.

  5. “” I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”””

    Your comparison lacks diversity.

    1. That’s right. Danish is a garbage language for garbage people*

      *according to every Swede ever.

    2. The easiest retort to these idiots. Same thing when they talk about how no country in the “civilized world” has as high a gun homicide rate as the U.S. Die-hard white supremacists wish they could be so racist.

  6. Making a case for socialism, as some do, is like making a case for the Black Death.

    1. The only plausible case for socialism is that the semi-socialism we have now, the super welfare nanny state, got here by increments and has ratcheted itself in place too well to be easily removed by increments. No one wants to give up their benefits unless everyone gives up benefits, and that ain’t gonna happen by legislation.

      No, just as the Black Death wiped out all sorts of established powers-that-be, so (the reaction to) socialism might be the only way to usher in a good solid cleansing of the powers-that-be.

  7. ” I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

    This is a big relief. If Denmark and Sweden aren’t socialist, then Bernie isn’t socialist, either. There’s nothing to worry about.

    1. Unfortunately, Bernie and you also don’t understand that Denmark and Sweden aren’t socialist. You think they ARE socialist, and you can use this confusion to bring on the socialism in the US that you mistakenly think exists in Sweden and Denmark because people are that stupid.

      1. “You think they ARE socialist”

        I don’t think they are. They have private property, for example, Volvo and Lego. It’s true that truly socialist countries like USSR also had private property, but it was limited to the clothes on your back and the contents of your pockets. Bernie also knows this, I assure you. You only think you can read my mind, but in reality you can’t. I fear your faulty mind-reading skills will not be enough to stem the rising red tide.

        1. You only think you can read my mind

          If you could read my mind, what a tale my thoughts would tell.

          1. Like the kind that drug stores sell?

            1. Are those too far difficult for your reading comprehension? Would you like someone to get you a copy of Dick & Jane?

        2. “Bernie knows this”

          Oh, so when he endlessly calls them socialist even after being told to fuck off by their PM, it’s because Bernie is knowingly lying.

          Thanks for clearing that up.

          1. “it’s because Bernie is knowingly lying.”

            What a surprise! A life-long politician knowingly lying! You should get onto Twitter with this!

    2. Better tell that to Comrade Bernout


      But you are somewhat right, in your inept way; Bernie isn’t a socialist in that he’s made it very resoundingly clear that he has no intention of living the lifestyle he literally wants to force everyone else to,

      1. I have never heard Bernie advocating for what you imply, he is not advocating for everyone to earn the same wage.

        He advocates for a redistributive high tax on high earners, which includes himself. Your post is nothing but a typical demonizing lie from the RW.

        1. Maybe you should actually listen to the guy, and, y’know, look at his proposals and voting record instead of just whining that recognizing his own fucking words and actions is “demonizing” him like the lying, parroting Regressive you are.

          1. Could you please cite a proposal of his which advocates for equal wage for everyone or something similar?

            1. You gotta show me where I made that claim, first. I merely said he was a socialist, which is a fact that apparently engages you to acknowledge out loud, even though you’ve made it clear you have no understanding of what socialism is Wonder why.

        2. “I have never heard Bernie say the things he said in the link you provided.”

          No, really. Do yourself a favor and shut the fuck up.

          1. Read the article, it seems to hinge on the definition of socialism. When people say socialism, it can refer to anything from a complete command economy to some socialist programs within a free market economy.

            You libertarians refer to countries like Denmark as socialist. I’m quite sure you take issue with their prime minister saying they have a market economy, except of course for this instance where you can use it to further your dishonest argument.

            No where in there did Bernie say he wants to implement a economy where the government owns the means of production, I have never heard him say that. He merely believes in a more robust system of wealth redistribution where the rich would still be rich except not obscenely so and the poor would have the means to sustain themselves and have a good life.

            I await your angry insults, because it’s clear that’s all you have.

            1. Socialism is government ownership of the means of production. You’re just trying to rewrite the definition as you see fit because you cannot argue in good faith.

              “You libertarians refer to countries like Denmark as socialist”

              Nope. You’re a liar. Libertarians are typically among the first to speak out against the lie that they are. Which I just did. And which Stossel has done on this page in the past.

              So, we’ve established that (a) you do not know what socialism or the free market actually mean and (b) you are a flagrant liar.

              “where in there did Bernie say”

              In that one, singular article? Nowhere. Elsewhere? Pretty much every time he opens his mouth. Didn’t pay any attention to anything he said during his sham campaign other than, “I’LL MAKE EVERYONE ELSE PAY OFF YOUR STUDENT LOANS!”, huh? He’s never been shy about his desire to see healthcare completely controlled by the state for one.

              “government owns the means of production”

              Oh, look. Suddenly you DO know what socialism means.

              I await your lies, feigned ignorance, contradictions, passive aggressive insults (and then whining when you get insulted back) and endless screeching about how the truth is a “RW DEMON LIE!”, because you’re sure not able to follow through on any of your arguments.

            2. So, to recap:

              “Bernie doesn’t think Denmark is socialist.”

              “Yes, he does. It’s not. Here’s proof”

              “YOU LIBERTARIANS ARE ALWAYS SAYING DENMARK IS SOCIALIST *string of contradictions, outright lies, insults and then feigned schoolmarm offense over being insulted back*”

              You should’ve just taken my advice.

        3. And no shit Bernie isn’t advocating everyone earn the same wage; he still wants to be rich. Same reason he’s such a shameless tax cheat (“which includes himself”, you fucking liar). Same reason he exempts himself from his de facto Marxist proposals to outlaw inheritance (gotta buy that third vacation manse somehow!). Same reason he takes graft from corporations like Ben & Jerry’s to try and chase GMOs out of his state.

          Like I told the other Useful Idiot, Bernie only “isn’t a socialist” in that he doesn’t want his rules applied to him. For equality,

          1. Shameless tax cheat? He’s released ten years of tax returns, I guess the IRS is making a case against him right now.

            Or more likely this is just another RW conspiracy theory, dime a dozen.

            1. By Bernie’s logic, he is. He launched the accusation at Trump, and then it came out that Bernie only pays 13% rates despite being in the top 5% of earners. But yeah, you’re right, the IRS would never get anyway get away with cheating on their taxes, even though the entire crux of Bernie’s argument is that there are too many people not paying his abstract concept of “fair share”.

              Can I take it from your “THE TRUTH IS A RW DEMON LIE” bullshit that you don’t have excuses for his other hypocrisies?

        4. Bernie is advocating for taking 6 percent of the wealth of the most successful Americans EVERY YEAR. It’s Venezuela, but on a 16-year time horizon. It ain’t Denmark.

          1. “Bernie is advocating for taking 6 percent of the wealth of the most successful Americans EVERY YEAR. ”

            A tax? Even Republicans tax the rich.

      2. “Bernie isn’t a socialist”

        And Sweden and Denmark aren’t socialist countries.

        1. Bernie is a socialist and so are denmark and sweden.

    3. That, and Bernie Sanders will never be president. There’s nothing to worry about.

      1. “That, and Bernie Sanders will never be president.”

        The great thing about American elections, you can come in second place and still win.

        1. Only if you’re the type of delusional idiot who thinks the popular count means anything.

  8. I understand the allure of libertarianism. It offers one simple solution for every problem, freedom.

    Sounds great, and it does work great for many problems. But it doesn’t work great for all problems, there are many examples of it’s failures.

    1. But surely, the problems caused by taxation and government interference will be solved if we just raise taxes and put the government in charge of everything.

      1. Nope

        The best solution is a free market economy whose excesses are tempered with some socialism.

        Your hyperbole sounds emotional, not rational. Isn’t this supposed to be Reason?

        1. “The best solution is a free market economy whose excesses are tempered with some socialism.”

          Lefty assertions are neither arguments nor evidence.

        2. Socialism is force.

          Volunteerism is volunteer cooperativism.

    2. So let’s turn to socialism?

      1. Just because one solution isn’t working 100%, it doesn’t mean you reject it entirely and move to the opposite pole.

        The failures of the free market does not mean it should be rejected entirely.

        1. Would love to hear how you can have a free market with “some” total control of the means of production by the state,

          “failures of the free market”

          But you just made it clear you don’t know what the free market is:

        2. And when socialism fails 100% of the time?

        3. Free markets don’t fail. They make scarce goods expensive and plentiful goods cheap. Some people don’t like the results and use it as an excuse to steal stuff.

    3. Of course, when something fails with freedom, there are at least other options available. When something fails with socialism there are no changes or chance for improvement, because governments are unable to admit failure.

      1. Sure there are, programs can be amended and in the end if nothing works to fix it you can go back to the free market solution.

        This is something I always find curious about libertarians’ criticism of socialist government solutions. If they fail as implemented, that means they are an utter failure and must be scrapped. But you don’t feel the same about capitalist businesses. If a business is failing, they are permitted to make changes, even fundamental changes, to achieve success. This is even considered a strength of the system, and I agree. But you don’t allow the same for government programs. They must succeed 100% the first time or this proves they are failures which must be scrapped and privatized.

        1. That’s because Capitalism is voluntary and not rigidly authoritarian. Throughout history, the only solution socialists come up with for their failures is yo kill everyone who says it isn’t working.

  9. I especially like Chapter 27 “If No One Has to Work, No One Will”, which also explains why Chapter 19 “Socialism Becomes Authoritarianism” because no one is working to provide the goods the elite want to confiscate.

    If it weren’t for the government indoctrination in government schools, politicians promising to provide for you (while ignoring they must take it from someone, or they’ll claim they’ll get it from “the rich” who won’t be rich long), and ignorant people believing them, Paul wouldn’t have to write the book.

    Speaking as a US citizen who has lived outside the US, US citizens have no idea how much freedom we have, and the prosperity it provides, compared to elsewhere. Here’s a recommendation when you travel abroad: go to a grocery store and see if you can get what you want at prices comparable to the US. You’ll find far fewer choices, poorer quality in most cases (with exceptions), and higher prices.

    1. That and security guards. Yup stores in many other nations have security guards in the liquor isle and at the entrance/exit to keep undesirables from stealing.

  10. If the brainless proggies in American want “fairness,” then they should move to Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea where the ruling elitist filth are more than willing to show them what “fairness” means.

    1. At least there’s 100% literacy and full health coverage in those places!

      1. Don’t forget infant mortality being wiped out. No baby has ever died in Cuba. The UN asked Castro and he said so.

  11. It’s not even “coercion”…

    If the DNC wants Socialism — They can start a socialist membership club… NOTHING AT ALL IS STOPPING THEM WITH TODAY’S LAWS…

    If the GOP wants Capitalism — ALL Socialistic laws stop them… BUT No Capitalist laws will stop any citizens from implementing their “socialist” foundation with VOLUNTARY support.

    One can be a persons choice; the other is a NO Choice option.

    1. .. The whole purpose of “socialism” IS to take away FREEDOM.

  12. I can’t believe we’re still having this discussion.

  13. In pretty much all real-world countries, socialism isn’t an “is/isn’t” question, but “how much.” Richard Epstein’s ideas in “Takings” provide a decent basis for gauging that. He holds that “ownership” is a bundle of the decisions/options for the use of something. Suppose you own a store. As the owner, you can decide if you want it open on Sundays or not. If the government forces you to close on Sundays, then for purposes of that specific decision, the government has usurped ownership. Likewise if you own some land and they tell you you can’t build a house on it. Formally taking away title, such as with nationalization, is just the degenerate case where *all* decisions are usurped.

    Based on that, “how socialist” is a question of what portion of all the decisions to be made with all the property in the country are made by the government. That’s sort of what the Frasier and Heritage indexes of economic freedom surveys look at.

  14. yes, most if not all big economies are mixed. socialism = bad cannot be empirically proven because a pure version (uncorrupted by corporatocracies/military-industrial complexes/imperialist bomb-and-sanction-wielding imperialists) doesn’t exist in the wild. closest we have are small-scale somewhat sheltered coop centric examples like mondragon et al and more recently cleveland, preston model and the like.

    1. …and these seem like they may have some legs (not perfect of course but glimmers of hope)

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  16. I thought that case was already decided, since socialist countries failed so spectacularly. ppsr search

  17. Why not interview the book’s ghostwriter? Paul didn’t write it, just as most politicians don’t and his daddy didn’t write his newsletters. Libertarians call this sort of misrepresentation “fraud,” as in “no force or fraud.”

  18. Karl Marx would not have been surprised at the “failure of socialism”. A key point of Marxist theory is that the emergence of a classless society where the means of production are socially owned requires the conditions created by developed capitalism. These conditions did not exist in places like Russia, China

    There are three main conditions: (1) machines, robots and computers doing the cruddy work and so creating the prospect of work becoming something people would want to do for its own sake without financial inducement; (2) a high level of productivity creating the prospect of cooperating over a shared increasing abundance rather than scrambling over each other to avoid sharing poverty; and (3) most people being proletarians (wage and salary workers) rather than peasants.

    These pre-conditions are progressing well in the developed countries. However, achievement then depends on the emergence of a rebellious proletariat willing to take up the opportunity presented and proceed to expropriate the capitalists, and create work and life conditions under which people would want to cooperate. That’s the subjective, unpredictable part!

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  20. Thank You for Telling I, There hasn’t been anything New Invented or Created in a long time,… By konome.me

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