Found it on Facebook — the “Leftists always get it wrong” edition, part 3

It’s time for another installment in my “Leftists always get it wrong” series. (See Part 1 and Part 2.) Here is the typically wrongheaded poster I want to challenge today:

Bernie and free stuff

Without diving into the details, there are two central flaws with this poster that negate everything it advocates: It assumes (1) that the money Bernie wants to spend belongs to the government, not the taxpayers, and (2) that the government will spend that money better under Bernie’s aegis than you would spend it for your own benefit or that past governments have spent it for the “public good.” One needs only to look at the history of socialism everywhere to realize that, when it comes to managing money (your money, that you earned), the government (which simply took it at gunpoint) does a lousy job and that individuals make smarter decisions.

Let me turn the rostrum over to Milton Friedman:

Wherever we find any large element of individual freedom, some measure of progress in the material comforts at the disposal of ordinary citizens, and widespread hope of further progress in the future, there we also find that economic activity is organized mainly through the free market. Wherever the state undertakes to control in detail the economic activities of its citizens, wherever, that is, detailed central economic planning reigns, there ordinary citizens are in political fetters, have a low standard of living, and have little power to control their own destiny. The state may prosper and produce impressive monuments. Privileged classes may enjoy a full measure of material comforts. But the ordinary citizens are instruments to be used for the state’s purposes, receiving no more than necessary to keep them docile and reasonably productive.

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, pp. 54-55. (If you haven’t read Free to Choose, I highly recommend it.)

That quotation explains the mismanagement that invariably flows from turning citizen affairs over to the government. While a rising economy raises everyone’s standard of living, a falling one (and all socialist economies eventually fail) guarantees that everyone’s standard of living falls. Well, not quite everyone. The inner circle in a socialist party always manages to maintain the champagne lifestyle.

As an aside, when I think of individuals making these market decisions, I often think of schools of fish avoiding sharks or murmurations of starlings avoiding raptors. Each fish or bird acts on its own, but the collective wisdom (which does not come from the top down), allows for instant, inefficient responses to immediate concerns:

In the same vein, all of us should agree with one point in the poster, which is that the government should get out of corporate welfare and Wall Street bailouts. As Friedman has made clear, however, if you think that means a Bernie government will stop managing the economy, you are lying to yourself. Bernie will just provide corporate welfare to different entities.

Moreover, whenever there is lots of money involved — and government, no matter how indebted it is, always has (taxpayer) cash on hand — there will be corruption. It will just be a different rogue’s gallery. Charles and David Koch have a much better prescription, which is for government to stop putting its thumb on the scales and to leave the economy alone. Again, here’s Milton Friedman, this time explaining precisely how government drives corruption. It’s a short video (less than 6 minutes) and I urge you to watch it all:

To reiterate everything that’s wrong with that poster: Barring narrow, basic functions (national defense; controlling pandemics, epidemics, and endemics; keeping basic order; etc.), government destroys wealth and freedom whenever it attempts to gain greater control over the people, something it invariably does by taking citizens’ money and promising to spend it better than they can.