By Doug Farmer  

Socialism, once discredited with the collapse of Communism, is now being both reborn and dying yet again.

It is being reborn in the delightful person of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly-elected congresswoman from New York City.

At 29, young, thin, incredibly photogenic and without any real responsibilities, Ocasio-Cortez is able to say what we want to hear … What’s not to like? Her claim that every study confirms healthcare will be cheaper when the government takes it over comes to mind. Except there has never been such a study or a government program winning the J.D. Power award for customer service or customer satisfaction. The government doesn’t worry about going out of business.

Socialism is dying with the speed of light in Venezuela and its capital, Caracas. Margaret Thatcher used to say, “The trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” If that quote didn’t sound so clever, it would be taken more seriously, but Venezuela proves its accuracy.

The government slowly, and almost completely, has assumed control of everything. In return it has promised various entitlements to almost everyone. What the government controls has steadily become less productive as people realize their individual efforts will not affect them personally. And the entitlements further discourage personal efforts. As a worker said in communist Poland, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

With Venezuela running out of other people’s money, inflation roars at a million percent and prostitution is the fastest growing industry as mothers desperately try to feed their children. The most effective method of sex trafficking is starvation.

But the dream of socialism endures cloaked by any number of slogans. “We can do better.” “The richest nation on earth can (fill in the blank).” “A nation that can put a man on the moon can (another blank).” “Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.” “If Jesus were alive today, he would be a Socialist.”

But would he? Winston Churchill observed Christianity was based on what is mine is yours, and socialism is based on what is yours is mine. One is based on a generous heart and the other on a taking called “nationalization.” One is ennobling and empowering. The other, in the final analysis provided currently by Venezuela, is embittering and a burden to the human spirit. The Polish worker was not ennobled for pretending to work nor was the government credible for pretending to pay. Even the Robin Hood legend begins with the act of robbery.

While socialism sounds like Christianity applied to governments, it is actually the reverse.

A generous impulse only has meaning if done with your money, your time. It has no meaning if you take your neighbors’ money or time. Pope John Paul II used to speak of the dehumanization of the worker if his time was taken and his production unused. The same is true for your neighbor.

Pray that Ocasio-Cortez is not leading us on the road to Caracas.

Doug Farmer has worked at Park Bank since 1981 and spent 15 years on the State of Wisconsin Banking Review Board. He’s lived in La Crosse since 1971. You can reach him at douglas.farmer@helloparkbank.com.

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