October 13, 2004
One of the main reasons socialism has been so alluring to so many people throughout history, and continues to gain popularity in the United States today, is that it promises to remove the burden of life's most difficult decisions. Under socialism, you won't have to choose between an education and shelter for your family. The government will provide the basic necessities for you and you will be truly free to dedicate your thoughts and labor toward more advanced things such as science, art, philosophy, recreation, etc.
I heard a campaign ad for Kerry this morning that reminded me of this fallacy. There was a quote from a senior citizen that went something like this: "I don't want to be forced to choose between food and health care." Well, duh! No one likes hard choices, but they come up from time to time. It sucks. You can either accept it, or you can have the government "fix" it and things will suck even more. Resources are limited, you see, and we can't solve every problem or provide for every need. That fact, in itself, is obvious, but the implications seem to elude people until it's too late. The tough choices never go away. When you place the government in charge, the choice is simply made for you by someone else. I don't know about you, but I don't think anyone has a better understanding of my situation than I do, and I would prefer that I was at the helm in my times of greatest difficulty.
This point was made long ago, and much more thoroughly in the Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. Go read it.