tv Robert Lawson Benjamin Powell Socialism Sucks CSPAN September 28, 2019 5:15pm-6:35pm EDT
into questions of identity and snobbery and politics and partisanship when clearly there is just a sign that our young people need our support in need your help need more education and need more credentials and more skills in order to survive. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon welcome to the cato institute. i'm the director for the center of global liberty and prosperity here at cato. the title and the style of the book we are featuring today "socialism sucks" is admittedly more irreverent public-policy
books that we usually organize events around here at cato. but i can assure you the authors that we are featuring today are serious accomplished economist with decades of scholarly work in forming this publication. the subtitle of the book two economists drink their way through the unfree world gives us the flavor of their unconventional approach for a couple of academics. that subtitle didn't surprise me though. i attempt to run into ben powell and bob lawson at academic conferences around the country and around the world and inevitably they have drinks in their hands probably because we chat at event perceptions and the like but the conversation is always interesting, informative and fun.
that is also true of this new book. this is a light book about a heavy topic. so it's fortunate for two it is rather that we are featuring today the first day of the late lovell -- nobel laureate milton friedman one of the great economists of the 20th century and a champion of economic and overall human freedom. we were lucky to have known him and for some of us that had worked with him to a limited degree. i'm sure he too would agree with the title of the book though i can't recall him ever putting his opposition to socialism in quite those terms. today's socialism has gained an appeal among some americans especially young americans as a viable alternative to a market economy and a market economy
that has prevailed throughout the united states. this is so much the case leading political candidates and others openly espouse their admiration for the ideology and the policy that it implies. how much do americans really understand about socialism and the aspects of its appeal that are well-founded. one of the goals of the authors of "socialism sucks" is to disabuse readers of any idealism that they might have for the ideology by appealing to reality and direct observation that most readers can relate to rather than by relying on reams of data and other empirical hard evidence that are so in and of themselves but also in comparison to the approach they take in this book.
they achieve this by traveling to places where real socialism has been put in place north korea, venezuela for example. they also visit other countries that have experienced socialism or are set to be socialist and explain through anecdotes and observation how those systems really work. the end result hopefully is to dispose of any romantic notions of socialism. the authors felt that they needed to write such an look is a reflection of our polarized times where extreme ideology on the left and the right are having far more persuading the american public than was imaginable even a few short years ago. we will also be discussing why that is the case and what else we might do about it. let's let the authors tell their story and we will begin a hearing from ben powell and bob
lawson and comments by matt kibbe. ben powell is the director free market institute and a professor of economics in the college of business administration at celtic university. is a north american editor of the review of economics and a senior fellow at the independence institute. he is the author of a number of books including out of poverty published by cambridge university press and making poor nations rich by stanford university press. his research findings have been reported in more than 100 popular press outlets such as "the news york times" and "the wall street journal". bob lawson is a professor of practice and jerome m. full wine centennial chair in economic freedom and the director of the
center for global market freedom at southern methodist university at cox school of business. he previously taught at auburn university, k. capitol university and is the co-author of the wider set of economic freedom the world annual report that present an economic index for more than 150 countries. he also is the past president of the association of private enterprise education a senior fellow at the fraser institute and a member of the dash society. please help me welcome ben and bob. [applause] >> thank you very much in and cato for posting this. just learned that it was your earth they when i was coming on i was quite fitting i should publish the book.
that's exactly what we were going for good solid economics that communicated in a fun and entertaining way that will reach people who wouldn't otherwise read the usual academic stuff that bob and i write. the timing on it is obviously good with the popularity of socialism. he started the book over two years ago as part of the motivation was the books taking shape with the growing popularity of socialism in 2016 versus the ever prominent mike a moore tweeting out young people like socialism over capitalism to continue these things with fairness. what bob and i want to do was write a book that explained what socialism is and is not, how it functions and do it in an entertaining way. it's also the case that bob wanted to get drunk in cuba and i wanted a way to write it off my taxes. in fact thinking about it are pretty sure i told the irs would
be researching a sequel for the next two years and writing off all of my bar tabs. so it's no surprise anybody now that socialism is back in popular. a lot of focus is the non-and millennial sewer check into it but of course in the presidential debates he sayeth among mainstream democrats as well through "the news york times" had a 100th anniversary of the russian revolution called the red century. exactly one column in that year was dedicated to the economics of that system. a handful mentioned the atrocities. instead you have articles like why women had that her sex under socialism which even if true i don't know how we witness 100 million dead bodies. this was taking hold as we were doing the book and we had confusion from politicians like bernie sanders who says countries like denmark sweden and norway are examples of socialism. they are not.
i was going to insert a quote from aoc but i decided just to leave it like that. we start in sweden go to venezuela cuba russia ukraine georgiana that back in the usa by attending the largest social is gathering united states by the summer. that star briefly with sweden and get to the definition of socialism that socialism is some form of collective ownership with control over major means of production so this means abolishing private property and the major factors of production are placing of collective ownership. in practice and a large society the state ownership and/or control of those means of production. if you're going to have large-scale productions that means you were going to have some form of central planning in order to do the coordination. a lot of these young socialist like socialism from below and everyone will decide corporately
what to do. you need somebody to coordinate the diversity of economy we don't use property rights to give the profit of loss it has to be replaced with something and that something is a central plan. i will let bob talk more about socialism later. first of all sweden and these other countries are not socialists. they are highly capitalist. they'll have private property. they have contract enforcement a tolerable degree of rule of law and free trade like regulation of business. sweden has a big welfare state and high taxes. this is true of other countries as well in these interventions in the free market don't equal socialism. that's why when we go to sweden the place is beautiful but it's not socialists. when we were writing this sweden
was the most capitalist socialist and this is true of other nordic countries as well. the belgian beer even the belgian was close by the -- costs a ton of money and more than will pay in washington d.c. they were cheaper there than they were in sweden. it's a big welfare state that is dragged down sweden's growth and they are not as wealthy relative to the rest of the world but they are still a prosperous place. venezuela is at the other end of the spectrum. venezuela is dead last in the grim economic index free cuba and north korea are not ranked. venezuela is important to remember this is not the place that was always like that. the earliest year the index's 1970. in this way was among the 10 most economic free countries in the world. a long period of venezuela freedom moving away to
interventionism so it's stagnated that back in 1970 when there cat plus they were also wealthy. they were wealthier per-capita income than spain itself. that's much or by 1998 when chavez comes into power. it's more for cat was prosperous economy and you don't have to go back very far to have a successful democratic socialism that chavez came to power in a democratic election that international observers widely said was fair. putting socialist policies in place venezuela sits on the world's largest oil reserve. oil prices were high and the result his socialist policies were cutting out the core of economy. food production was plummeting in venezuela but they were using the money to import food for the population. when prices came down shortly
after chavez death deafened 2013 and by the way production also went down because the state-owned oil company remained with ownership of the means of production. production as well as prices are down but they no longer have foreign exchange. we have a crisis we see today that bob and i saw when we are there in january of 2017 firsthand. the picture on the top left corner is of the bridge that's been in the news recently were eight trucks were stopped from going into columbia. the time we were there venezuelans by the thousands every day were coming across from columbia to buy basic necessities that were unavailable in the venezuelan economy. one striking thing we saw is it wasn't typical third world poverty. what you saw across the border is people who are middle-class upper-middle-class who still had some access to money that they could use to buy goods when they crossed the border.
it illustrating what a socialist economy does those before previously prosperous in a capitalist society and you see them struggling to make ends meet on the border 12 years later. i should also say since we have the beer theme running throughout the book venezuela ran on fear. if i were a socialist that cater toilet papering beer is something we always have. what actually happened was they have a nominally privately-owned company that allocates foreign exchange and they didn't allocate enough foreign exchange import the barley to make the bear and as a result the country ran out of beer. next and i should say about the democratic socialism system. this is what i think young democratic socialists often misses the necessary connection between lack of economic freedom and a lack of political freedom. once abolish private property
you have to have control but there's always going to be stagnation. people don't like that. that means they are going to throw you out of power but precisely because you've been selected you are able to repress them so they can or you out of office in a democratic election which is exactly what we have seen with maduro. was reelected by a wide margin yet at the same time on every something like 24 pounds when your population is not getting out to eat there's no way to get reelected. instead you had state employees being ordered to reelect with the food aid stand mixer polling places. that's a necessary collection -- connection. cuba is not starving socialism. it's kind of chugging along and here i will give you for you anecdotes. it illustrates some of the
dysfunction of a centrally planned system. member state are shipping me to production hotels or means of production so you have your state-owned hotel industry. you could say at the five-star hotel but other than that the state-owned hotel. we were trying to sandbag it. this was supposedly three stars in one of bob's friend recommended the place. it looks okay in the picture from when it opened in 1979. it looks a little less nice today. when we go to her room easy out tallest building was. there were four elevators and three root of service. that's our bathroom ceiling. this is another state hotel in central havana when we stated that one later. that's the soap they kindly left us from the previous guest. that's the hole in the towel to
give us a drier cells. that's the bolts from the toilet so when you're on the seed you can slide right off. now the same industry providing logic have allowed limited property rights for the ability people to rent out their apartments for-profit. we prearranged one through airbnb which is a miracle because it's not widely available in cuba but a number of them have relatives in miami. people in miami opened on airbnb had you make a reservation through them and they called a relative in cuba and they tell them when you're coming. basically the same prices for the hotel room. as a kitchen in dinette into bedrooms that are nice and it's right downtown. we stayed at another at half that price it $25 a night in trinidad. was conveniently located directly above a bar which was great so i could chain-smoke why
cigars. the cuba trip was not fun. from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. after that i drank and chain smoked cigars and until 12:00 a.m. so that made everything all right, sort of. no incentives under the hotel no incentives on the cough fever what's missing from this picture? signs are missing because no one gives a dam with you come into their store now. they don't make extra profits by bringing in there and if you do so what you are conference up with is another lack of ready. this is a well stocked store but you could count 2000 most of the same items in that store. by the way continuing at the beer metaphor cuba they were happy they didn't run out while we were there. they are both roughly 5% alcohol roughly a half a% difference between the two and they basically tastes like a
budweiser. also private restaurants. first of all state ownership as a means of production and state ownership of restaurant that the new live that this limited freedom and they initially had the restrictions on meat and seafood. never stretch and somehow many people could be seated and lightly ignored or worked around it was good at first and because they set the right incentives there is no socialist demand economy. but they try to sell the private restaurants had 12 to 18 items items on the many and items on the menu and they all taste basically the same which is bland. cuban food in miami is delicious. cuban food in miami -- because of the ingredients but even when they have the right supply chain instead. a restaurant based on the venue of a rooftop or something like that is the food is going to be the same. i will end on a list duration
that everybody knows from the 1950s american cars in cuba. people think it's because we have an embargo in cuba but we have an embargo not in the blockades are they like to call it that. as a result they have to keep using popsicle sticks and bubblegum to make their american cars take in as a result in a country that's very poor something on the order of $3000 per-capita income. you have 1950s cars selling for 50 or $60,000. that is more like a 30,000-dollar car because it has better suspension and brakes in the mite even have ac. doesn't exist in the united states anymore. price even when incomes are low or very high. i will let bob continue with
you. >> i'm going to talk a little bit about north korea and our wives were very generous and letting us travel to these crazy places the day did say he can't die or get arrested. so we didn't go into north korea we went to the border of north korea and china of the northern north korean border where there is the river that separates the two countries and many of you have seen the satellite photo of the korean peninsula except for the capital it's essentially dark and their wonderful lights and filaments. nec china minerva sighed and china has developed quite nicely but there's this dark section of north korea. when we arrived in north korea it was dark and we got to the river and we were very excited.
north korea is right across the river 100 yards away and it was dark over there with nothing over there. we were worried. the guide looks at there's a city over there and we were worried we are in the wrong city because there didn't appear to be anything on the other side of the river. when we woke up there was a substantial city over there. that satellite photo is photoshop. you can literally stand on the chinese side and look over into complete darkness. the chinese side meanwhile is not shanghai or beijing by any means but it's a substantial modern prosperous chinese city with lights and advertising and all the modern things. so that was north korea and you can see the dark picture. the upper left over there is north korea and we. up in the morning and we see oh there are 200,000 people living on the north korean side of the border.
as we went up and down the river at one point i remember thinking because there were chinese patrol votes navy and coast guard and i was very happy to see them. it's a strange feeling because if our little ferry on the river if it breaks down and drifts to the north korean side i really would hope the chinese navy would come and get us so we don't end up on the wrong side of the border but this is typical of the broken down homes. in the totally and we went upriver to a farming area and everybody we saw they were using hand tools and animals to drag plows and things. there was one guy we saw in the field and he had a diesel tractor. it looks ainge and and you know that showed that they make those old diesel engines. there was a little inclined on the farm but he just couldn't
make it up. eventually and i really felt sorry for the poor guy. he eventually gave up and the tractor rolled backwards. a very sad situation. meanwhile on the chinese side you are seeing with tractor-trailer trucks by. the contrast between the two as you can see in north korea is really start. again there's the chinese side of the river. we do talk in the book a lot about that the irony is if you go back to the end of the korean war and the korean war did create massive damage to the entire company but if anything the northern side was prosperous. the prosperous part of the planet so it the south was the backward farmers and of course it's reversed today.
income statistics in socialist countries are really almost meaningless in a lot of ways but the income in the north is a couple hundred thousand dollars per person and south korea is now the worst country in the world. segueing over to the china side we see beijing and shanghai and the title of this chapter immediately upon landing in relays you see signs for the gap in gucci and all the western brands and so forth this is not a socialist company. these are private firms make your profit and the beer is good again. it's a fake socialism and we take the time to talk about the history of chinese socialism. it is in fact sort of a schizophrenic place. today they are trying to have economic freedom for a large portion of their country and as a result of that china has
developed quite rack up -- rapidly and people have become quite prosperous and general at least compare compared to the old days but it's also still trying to be a totalitarian political regime. ben and i attended the conference and it was a really weird thing. we were talking about ayn rand and fritter kayak the nobel prize winner in beijing. how cool is this? we are tying about ayn rand and hayek in beijing at a conference and it was local. chinese academics and journalists but to remind us all the chinese communist party is still in charge. the next morning that showed up from the government padlocked the doors with chains and the conference was called off. china's trying to do this dance now where they are giving away their freedom to engage in commerce and better your condition and prosper and profit but also they are trying to control their thoughts in their minds and their political
freedom. we suspect it's not a sustainable path that they are on. quickly ukraine and that's a standing in line. standing in line was a popular thing to do in the old soviet union. you still have to stand in line if you are owing to see lenin. they don't charge for lenin's tomb prices are low and sure enough you get in line and there still some soviet art but we call this hung over socialism. there is no central plan. there is no private property that has been reestablished for the most part but they are still suffering the aftereffects and russia and ukraine have it move toward economic freedom of the country that have is the republic of georgia is really now cat host country and the economic freedom index georges in the top 10 highest -ranked countries in the world. stalin and his home town of lori
drinking some wine. in terms of the alcohol theme georgia is a great wine country and in soviet times they made lots of really bad wine could central planners plowed over massive amount of acreage. they planted french grapes and they made french wines cabernets tasted terrible that the entire soviet world was blind for today all those fields are gone. they just let them go to seed the georgians are bringing back their own local grapes and their own old-fashioned non-french style wines in a different style of making the why. if you're a wine snob george is becoming a worldwide mecca for people who enjoy unique wines that literally don't exist in the rest of the world. george's success what they call the rose revolution we talked about that. in terms of the signaling of the new country the new way of doing
things in georgia they have a police station. police stations there are is made of a western georgia to signal their transparency. we don't literally mean transparency when we say that word usually a georgia took it literally. last i will talk about a chicago conference. to the socialism conference in chicago that bills itself as the largest gathering of american socialist. when we arrived ben and i stood up not because we were wearing blazers but because we are middle-aged. no one caught the joke. i was really angry that no one thought that was funny. and we found a lot of confusion. we talked to a lot of kids who were left as kids who saw injustice in the world in very as wave and they wanted to do something about it and somehow or another they thought social must have good thing.
we said you think we should get rid of private property and some said oh yeah and others have why would we do that? we are unclear on what the definition of socialism actually is. i will close in talking about the beer theme. beer became a running metaphor to talk about it. there's a brewery in illinois called the revolution brewery. their bar cat is a raised fist with a red star on it and all of the labels for their peer they have a couple dozen varieties of wonder will craft beer. they are all themed marketing but the irony is that we are sitting there in chicago drinking at revolution brewery and it is a private for-profit brewery and it makes a better for-profit. in any of the socialist countries in the world. we were just drinking and we thought stalin is on the label.
just to close up the book is done pretty well. we are the number one new release in the category sphere. how about that? so there you go. thanks a lot. [applause] >> thanks very much guys. now we will hear from matt kibbe who is the community organizer of free the people and educational organization turning the next generation onto the values of liberty. he is an executive producer of plays made it where he produces liberty rod casts as well as a documentary series of the dangers of all flavors of authoritarianism. he is a founder for matt kibbe freedom works where he has served as president for 11 years. he's the author of various books most recently "new york times" bestseller don't hurt people and
don't take their stuff. at the end of the book there's a discussion with matt about how to interpret the appeal of socialism in the united states and map was very involved with the tea party movement and so he has always had his finger on the pulse of political sentiments in this country and that's what he discusses at the end of the book so he can help us understand what is going on in the country. >> yes great to be here and i should start by pointing out that these two economists are not just ivory tower guys. but a serious amount of hands-on empirical work was done and i'm counting this empirical work in the number of beers and a number of hangovers. we did a podcast about a month
ago. might podcast kibbe on liberty where we did the empirical comparisons of american craft beers and we had a north korean beer which was smuggled back legally. we have some core life from venezuela which not ironic he is made in florida because they can't produce it in venezuela anymore and the north korean beer were so undrinkable the even ben ported out. that does not happen. you have to ask yourself with all this empirical evidence about socialism failing and all of the slideshow you just saw it seems. stark and pretty visceral. seems. obvious that socialism doesn't work in prep this. we have history of the last 100 years of really horrible experiments. pol pot managed to kill one in four cambodians in less than four years. how do you do that?
you have to try really hard and you have to have an ideology that is so dysfunctional as to shut down any sort of conceivable market and yet when i post these videos and you guys post these videos someone from socialism america will say that's not socialism. that's all a. that state capitalism. that's phil on the blank. there all sorts of workarounds as to why it was that mao was not a socialist or hugo chavez were not socialists. they are doing something else and you get so frustrated. because it seems like logic, economics empirical evidence, none of these things seem to hold sway as young people as you pointed out in the beginning of the talk are now sort of conflicted. he runs about 50-50. young people are saying you know what socialism i want that more
than capitalism. what are we to do with that? i recently reread as i am often doing an old essay by frederick hayek read when i don't know what to do i ask myself what would hayek do? it turns out he wrote an essay in 1949. he's literally commonest of the left and fascist to the right. he's thinking the darkest days of liberalism and the free market are here and we are never going to recover and is trying to figure out what to do about the rise of socialism. it's called intellectuals and socialism. please read it. it will give you a sense possibly with a few exceptions that was written yesterday. you are dealing with the same stuff that we are dealing with today. they are a couple of points that he makes. the first is and ben's crazy quote aside he said to take your intellectual opponent seriously
and all those that are dissipated in sharing memes on facebook where we love to make fun of bugs and we have ocasio-cortez or some other democratic socialist saying things that we know are obviously not true. hayek would say take them seriously. he would also say in that same essay and i feel like he's talking about mitch mcconnell here that just because you are criticizing socialism doesn't mean that you have any idea what it cogent critique of socialism actually is. mitch mcconnell famously couple of weeks ago declared himself the grim reaper of any legislation proposed by democrats that was socialist. i'm not sure that is good messaging. i think if i was 20 years old and i'm trying to decide between mitch mcconnell the grim reaper or aoc happy warrior for democratic socialism who are you going to choose?
who am i going to choose? we should think about that and we should take hayek seriously. but i happen to believe that young people as was alluded to if you ask them whether or not they believe the government should own the means of production the answer almost categorically as hell no. that's a stupid idea so they are talking about something else. when they put that qualifier democratic socialism, socialism that seems to suggest in the narrative of alexandria ocasio-cortez a belief in community, belief in people at the local level working together to solve problems and respecting each other and somehow that process is the way that we can solve all the problems. go back and watch. her original viral video that got her elected to congress.
you will find yourself in ring with her probably all the way up until the last minute of that video. 90% sure you are nodding your head yes because she's railing against crony capitalism pages railing against insiders in washington d.c. who don't give a dam about her folks back home. she's railing about incumbents for life which is talking about that and she uses the word dignity a lot. community, dignity, bottom-up, cooperation are not socialists concepts. that's what we believe which leads me to my third in the most important in the hayek ethic. hayek says that the reason that socialist in 1949 have had so much sway with intellectuals in the popular opinion is that they were able to craft a vision that imagined the topi in future that was better than the status quo something big, something
beautiful the promise that just around the corner we can do something better than we have ever done before. and the critics and i woke go back and cato i can go back to mitch mcconnell is that right? anybody protest? mitch mcconnell when he criticizes socialism is doing what hayek wants. it sounds like he's just sending the status quo all the wall street bailouts and all the wars. whatever it is used in washington that you find so repugnant the critics of socialism here in washington d.c. generally identified as with bargains. they are against aoc but what are they for? are they for free market or are they for that bottom-up corporation? are not sure that they are but all of us if we want to win the next generation we have to imagine something utopian, something beautiful, something bigger and better than we have
seen in the past which brings me to beer. that is an ip a from our friends at the flying dog brewing jim caruso fellow libertarian who applies his libertarian principles to his production of beer but if you go to the grocery store almost anywhere in america if you go to the beer section that beautiful cooler it is a shrine to free-market capitalism. the holy place. things get a little bit quieter there. if you try to figure out which double dry hopped triple ip a you are going to choose you can't do that in venezuela. you can't get even warmbier in venezuela. so maybe there's something about that in anybody here that send to craft beer if you go to your local producer i'm sure this is
true at the brewery that you reference it's a beautiful place it was started by entrepreneurs people that are thinking about entrepreneurship in the way that he thought about when he said on to partnership is imagining a future he even of people laughing and if you know anything about the craft beer industry owes triple hops most people make fun of that stuff. most of us are waiting in line for six hours. that's the beauty of creating something that's never been done before and they come together in cooperation and they hang out and they have a sense of belonging and community. it's all driven by that entrepreneur and his free-market capitalist society to create something and to share with his neighbors. maybe that's the metaphor. maybe beer is exactly what we are trying to talk about. we always use downward sloping
and the men curve and if you're a prolific taurean you start argument the nonaggression simple and people have no idea what we are talking about but if you don't understand the beer metaphor is probably something wrong with you. you probably are not going to be held for anything we have to say so we are going to write you guys out but the rest of the world particularly young people who are flirting with the idea of democratic socialism lets connect them with those stories and i have to say this final thought the final chapter when you talk to the young socialist in the united states it's easy to make fun of them. would be easy to troll them and easy to take a picture of the most ridiculous person imposed on instagram. but that's not what you did. were apathetic. you were listening and trying to understand where they were coming from. if we do that and we explained the beauty of liberty and
freedom i think this generation, generation flirting with democratic socialism will prove to be the most libertarian ever. thank you. [applause] >> thanks very much matt. we have time for questions. if you have a question please raise your hand and when you are called wait for the microphone. identify yourself and your affiliation and make a brief question. do we have questions? we will take a question right here in the front. we need a microphone please. this gentleman in the white shirt. and thank you. i am semiretired and seems to me in most cases there are strong disagreements. the question of semantics using
the same word with a totally different definition. if he used definition of socialism and you look at young socialist they are seeing a different definition. in capitalism everything is owned by something. you are in somebody else's property and they can control whatever it is and you have public streets and parks and stuff like that come that socialism. my question is who gets to define the term fixes that karl marx or bernie sanders? who defines what socialism is? >> languages a spontaneous order so it's incumbent upon us to declare the meaning when wayne user were to make sure we communicate effectively. young socialist many of them don't identify with abolishing private property. a lot of them think in aspirations and goals rather than achieving them.
in the last chapter of the book one of the things we do we have heard talks on immigration, antiwar anti-imperialism black lives matter and police brutality. we basically agree with you. this is a a problem in the united states and we need to do better. we need to be more pro immigration and antiwar and rollback police denied states. and the answer is socialism. womack the answer is freedom and the voluntary system like matt was referring to. >> we used the word socialism but in the book we defined it in a cut away. there is no black and white. not a zero-sum road. their socialist united hates and we have pulled schools as the government central planning the education system for most of the country. that's the economic freedom
index. to continue them from one end of the spectrum. social is is the venezuela is of the world than the cube then the other end of the spectrum is more capitalism. not a bright line between when you stop being caplis and start being socialist. there is a lot of ruin in every nation but there's a lot of socialism in every nation. reason index and its the shape than index can give us but it helps move the conversation. having said that socialism is the buzzword of the day and it's important to make that point for the book. >> by the way this is why listening is so important because these buzzwords like capitalism and socialism. i generally don't like to use the words because they have so much baggage that you may be talking to someone and they may not be hearing what you are trying to say. i like to focus on simple human
valves -- value space language because i think that's where there's a lot of connection with young people to know when it came to those two words we might find ourselves on opposite sides >> a question in that row a gentleman and a blue shirt please. >> i'm a retired member of the foreign service. i wonder if you can help us understand what should we think of when we hear a candidate like bernie sanders say democratic socialism. help me understand what should we think that when people say i'm want a social welfare state? >> i think when you hear bernie and others say they don't mean real socialism that's the way bobby knight define the term of the government owning most of the means of production however
bernie and the aoc and the rest of them do want to margie down that show to serfdom and that's the shades of gray that bob was talking about in the index. whether it's moving to medicare for all or socialist in the health care industry we have one more meet the production and that means the government's going to the own walmart but if you listen to elizabeth warren she wants a board board of directors these private companies. thinking about the continuum is what the debate is in the candidate. nobody is going to nationalize production. >> a question here in the front. >> a reporter with voice of america. asking about north korea, he said north korea bread after the korean war -- do you think socialism is the reason for that in the second question is i
understand north korea's right now giving an option to imitate china's economic growth path. you think it's a viable option for them? >> so the chinese peninsula was occupied japan for many years and the korean peninsula was owned by the chinese so it was sort of a dictatorship but it was mostly private property system. so the reality was most of the heavy industry that exists in korea was on the northern side. it wasn't a result of socialism. was a result of the conditions that were present there. i would applaud north korea moving in the chinese direction. just because you can have all the freedom in the world doesn't mean some freedom is not going to help. hundreds of millions of chinese people are living dignified
comfortable material existences because the government lets them engage in trade a market that should be something we applaud. the fact that china hasn't gone down this far to the road of freedom is regrettable but i think i would be great for the koreans. right now they are on the edge of starvation so moving towards opening up of markets of the type that have been in china or vietnam is absolutely a great idea for north korea in the hope they do it. hope they move all the way to freedom but if they can't move all the way maybe a little way. >> i will follow up on that. just very quickly to answer the first part of your question yes. this is like the global example of one place, when one people, one language one history when culture. you are changing one factor your economic system. you have socialism on one of cat was among the other. that's a national experience
shows side-by-side what freedom will do for people versus state control. the second thing and i agree with bob entirely moving in the chinese are three and air of reform and one caveat in china you have vast differences in economic freedom should in coastal cities and rhizomes. within china you basically have freedom of movement so you have over a billion people and free migration with income differences in freedom differences between rural provinces in coastal cities that are not unlike latin american united states today. you want predictive any of at the placer than the productivity of people and a lot of china's growth has been fueled by internal migration. something on the north korea scale but like bob says moving in that direction. think it's important to point
out freedom of movement and free trade in the free market system two. >> the migration of china's largest mass migration of our time by far. >> a question about please. there in the corner. >> how much of it do you think it's a longer-term transit? >> i will say first the fact that socialism is clearly going to be a defining campaign issue going into 2020 may not
necessarily be good things for those of us who would love for people to fully understand the difference between however you define tropism versus what alexandria ocasio-cortez and seemingly almost all of the democratic candidates for president seemed to be espousing so part of it is partisan and part of the opposition to it is also partisan. i also think going back to an earlier question there's a similarity in a lot of ways between the attraction of the candidate like ron -- ron paul and iconoclast some in it was raging against the machine someone was taking on republicans establishment and bernie sanders a couple of years later. he was attracting that same cohort of young people and i don't think it's had a lot to do with ideology. i think it was an ethos.
he gives a sense that guy is up then take. that guy is angry about the same things that i am the wall street bailout mass incarceration. of course they have very different policy conclusions. i don't think this is about a shift in ideology. i think it's sort of a cultural, those guys seem cooler and again i will say it again about mitch mcconnell one last time. the cool factor aoc and mitch mcconnell you do the math. >> here in the second row. [inaudible]
[inaudible] >> who owns you under socialism? the government owns you. it's not only in the means of reduction that the mass importation of people and people who don't have choices. what do you think about that and socialism is another form of public slavery and that's why they were disposing of knowing that people the way they did. people were not only an asset but also a liability. >> i agree completely. you are part of the means of production which means people are means and not an end. the huge problem for any ideology that puts people as the means and not the ultimate end.
>> we will take a question in the third row the gentleman in the white shirt. >> we will take one question please and identify yourself. could you please identify yourself? >> you said 100 million dead. are you talking about those who had been killed and destroyed by the cia and western countries. in the middle east and africa and all over and why don't you just close your eyes to cat was not in the sense of equal
opportunity but a sense of what they are doing all over the world. venezuela has come to the situation because of what the u.s. is doing in the western country including cuba and including iran. >> okay, thank you. so first i would love to have it the successful enough for the sequel to the fascism. but i sympathize with you and agree that i would not call it capitalism. capitalism is voluntary interaction among consenting adults what we have described as imperialism of collective states which bob and i are on board with you and would oppose. >> i can't run with the author but there's a book and the number is 100 million that we
generally use. it doesn't involve wore an if you had were into that you get a much bigger number and of course all sorts of ideologies that centralized government power has killed also to people and were. we are not generally supportive of authoritarian killing of people. >> you and everybody else in this room are invited to her many forms of the cato institute where we have scholars criticizing u.s. abroad which has nothing to do with the free market model. thanks. the gentleman over there please. >> i'm just curious he didn't mention israel. >> it could you speak up just a little bit please? >> you didn't incheon the people in israel. is that an aberration in your
thought process as a successful socialist enclave? >> i would be happy to take that you know private socialist experiments on a small scale have had some limited results in the books have been the most successful although they haven't been graced -- greatly successful in one of the things that ben mentioned which is critical which is large-scale production and iphone that kind of scale of operation is very difficult to imagine in the socialism from below model where you've got sort of a network of worker democracy enterprise. in fact the israelis although they have had staying power have mostly been economic failures. most of them have evolved into homeowners associations really. the empirical reality is that
kind of operation has not been all that successful and you can include economic reasons but the wonderful thing about capitalism is we invite people, it invites anyone to make whatever managerial style or operation you want. communes, worker run corporate as all of these types of things are perfectly legal and allowed within a capitalist society and i applaud the experiments. he if they are successful they are truly superior so much the better. i don't think they are frequently very superior but that's an empirical question. is related to that neither bob nor i run our family like a market economy. if we run it something along the lines of each according to his needs but that family is an island of socialism interacting in a world of capitalism everywhere else.
that's what makes a function as soon if you scale up that very small family you start getting these bad incentive problems first and then if you try to scale up bigger bets where your information breaks down. no mention one of these experiments in our own history at the plymouth plantation in the pogroms where they had coming up property rights and everyone is supposed to work and produce in the field together and it was distributed by knee. here you've got religiously homogeneous peep -- group of people who are like a big family in it together and it's not really advanced material production. spacek production and they start for years and years. a nice thanksgiving story were they planted corn and had a big feast that was in the end of their starving. they contend the start for two more winters until william bradford's the history that he wrote in 1647 describes we
create private property and i'm paraphrasing but basically women and children went to the fields they never used to do a before and as an incentive. >> anybody who has family can identify with that problem. you know how much money my kid so me? we have a question way in the back. a lot, a lot. >> i have the blog. the two-party system is around voting. if the republicans don't make the free market argument convincing enough for a lot of
people there's just one alternative so how much do you think the two-party worse party is responsible for this situation? >> i will take a stab at that. i think they are in this awesomely democratized and decentralized process that we are going through right now where everything is shifting back to the accuser and the one place that isn't happening is the politics. we still have two parties and on a lot of days from a libertarian perspective it's kind of hard to tell the difference if you look at things that we do care about like spending and executive authority and war and those kinds of things. but i think this whole idea that there is a left versus right there's a red pill and a blue pill i think it's simplistic and wrong. i don't think that's what it's all about it all. i think the real measure is the door tearing his mom the bottom
of the scale towards the thing i was talking about earlier where we get to cooperation and dignity and liberty and all the beautiful things that happen when we work together. is there a difference between pol pot who was a nationalist and adolf hitler who was also socialist? i don't think so in practice and i reject that left and right thing. we have got to get us out of politics if we want to connect with people. once we join our political team the other side that we are trying to convince stops listening but if we focus on values and things that we share and agree upon that's how we connect. if it comes down to a political place i think everybody loses. >> a question in the back there in the aisle.
>> robert anthony peters. just wondering if there's anything you guys found that socialism does better with its products or services? >> p ganda? >> no. >> i'm thinking about giving a snarky answer and i'm doing my best here but also when we are interviewing people i remember we were interviewing a man from belarus and he said i think in the ukraine we were interviewing him and i asked him i know you are free market guy but you've got to pick something. you think that prior to 1991 what one thing was better and he pauses, nothing, nothing was better. the russian army beat the siberians. that was the answer he gave me so that's what i will give you. >> you know missouri loves company is a safer reason and just like older americans my
grandparents generation they look blissfully back to the great depression. the great depression was a terrible time but we were all in it together and we suffered collectively and there's a certain nostalgia for that. this is a backward complement. if socialism does one thing well it throws everybody into this horrible existence that there is a certain camaraderie under the people suffering under it or that's about as good as i'm going to get paid him by the way there's winners and losers under socialism i think nicholas modderas simon -- daughter it was a very lucrative situation. to follow up on bob's comment economist dan cline called the people's romance and it's people
who have a collective experience of doing it together. people who are more libertarian have a harder time in a collective experience. which by the way i think it's important why we have substitute collective experience for politics which means things like the national sports where we are all in together. i'm much happier to be a member the red sox nation than some political identity. it also works out better than my sports nation. >> while ben was blathering on i came up with a better answer. when we were in cuba would have when the thing things you find that cuba is the livelihood of the locals, the music is wonderful. every restaurant and bar you go to especially if you go to central havana wonderful music and people singing and dancing. but the plumbing is all falling
apart. the buildings are crumbling but this is actually a hallmark of socialism. basically you make the same if you're a plumber is if you are a musician. do the math folks. who wants to be a plumber? is a terrible job so everyone wants to be a musician. you get an oversupply. it's almost like everybody is from soviet times in georgia or ukraine. what did you study in college? physics. people with any integrity would try to avoid political science or economics and math doesn't have many ideological overtones. a massively overproduced physicists and mathematicians in chess players and gymnasts while they were massively under producing plumbers and people that can fix bricks that are falling down and things like that. get these weird imbalances but you could say look at all the great art.
>> any other questions? right there. >> hello my name is greg and recently ukrainian parliament had elections where a party won the majority. they were libertarian and largely reformists. my question is if they are reformists for the ukrainian economy they would have to deal with complex issues such as privatization of land and companies. this has proven very unpopular in ukraine. the hung over socialist countries you talked about earlier how would you recommend reform so they can sustain the
reform? >> i think you need to do what georgia did. georgia was in exactly the same situation 2004 when they have their revolution. in many ways georges situation was bleaker than what currently exists in ukraine. they elected a libertarian leader shaka staley and they quickly handled it picked the thing is you don't get time to dillydally around. to give you a couple of examples police corruption was one of the worst problems in georgia. they fired 35,000 police officers. it's a country of about 4 million people so this would be the equivalent of firing every cop in washington d.c.. of course the cops were the criminals and in a spam of 12 to
18 months about a year and a half day tackled the byzantine tax system and got rid of all their tariffs. they do the laundry list of libertarian laundry list of things. the opposition didn't almost have a chance to gather itself. eventually they did in the reform slowed down and eventually were solved. now we are 10 years out in the new government which is not a libertarian government by any means they have not been done those libertarian reforms in georgia so my advice is look at george is a great example of how it's being done but doing it quickly and having a real leader who is willing to take the chance. he would be criticized from day one that the government would be stuck with it. >> we have time for one or two more questions.
we will take a question here. >> thank you very much. i have a quick question about the happiness quotient and abstract idea but it can actually be happier in a less developed society then you can be in some cases in the more developed society. i think he did allude to it when you talked about music and art and so on. >> i will try them out to be two different answers. the first part i completely agree with you some people can be happier in a less developed society to degrade but we also have to realize most of the things we care about quality of life come with that development whether its life expectancy infant mortality and literacy. all of these going the same direction. some people are happier with less economic development.
that said the empirical literature and the happiness survey stuff is all junk science. the equivalent of me getting punched in the nose and mike tice and getting punched in the nose and asking us on a scale of one to 10 how much did it hurt and averaging the answer. everybody has a different scale of pain. >> just quickly it is a mistake to equate happiness with material well-being. actually good example is the history of socialism. the soviet union when it was created in 1917, the soviet people the russian people got rich, they got richer very quickly. in fact industrialization brought russia into a more modern industrial capacity and so forth but it's in missouri to
people. they killed 50 million people but the country developed and got richer and a lot of material ways but i don't think too many of them were happier. so it goes both ways. you get developed and be happy and you can also develop in the way that creates a lot of missouri along the way. the means matter a lot. >> it's also churned the literature finds as people grow richer people get happier. the actual literature does find that if you are willing to take that literature seriously. we'll take one more question. >> wait for the microphone please.
>> when you think about it it is a silly idea. i was told in a personal conversation. he was sort of a romantic socialists. nonetheless in the 1950s or 40s it looked like people have become interested in the idea of socialism. why? because socialism appeal for reason because of the appeal to our emotions. i remember what gustav le bon said. he said people who cannot find a
place in modern civilization like socialism and what is the purpose? .. the main thing we can do is be patient, don't panic. i wonder if you have any answer to ãbpessimism? >> this is related to the happiness question as well. recently alexandria ocasio cortez said that her generation had never known authentic
prosperity. and i think bob lawson could help us with but by any conceivable measure we are living in the most prosperous most opportunistic most beautiful times in the history of the universe but understanding the context for which she can say something like that she grew up watching wells wall street to build up. there's a lot of reasons why from her perspective things could suck even though things are the best they've ever been. appreciating the context where people are coming from i think as part of the key of understanding why they think socialism might be better but i don't think it's about economics at all.
she was making a values-based point about a lot of people with her ideas process the world. understanding where the other side was coming from and not just hitting them with the laws of supply and demand is probably the first step toward making that connection. and pragmatically since we were ending on this what bob and i did was we wrote a book. we use the law of supply and demand we did drink a lot of beer and try to talk to people willing to listen and might want to be entertained but learned economic and history along the way. >> nice plug. >> where can we buy this book? >> is available on amazon right now "socialism sucks". >> am afraid we run out of
time. thank you for joining us. i'm looking forward to hopefully your next book will be "nationalism sucks" please join us upstairs for dear. thanks everybody. >> sunday night on q&a as the house launches a formal impeachment inquiry into president trump hear from james banner editor of the book "presidential misconduct" and one of the historians who worked on a report commissioned by the house judiciary committee back in 1974. on the impeachment inquiry into president richard nixon. turning to his friend van woodward member of the faculty. to be commander-in-chief of the project preparing such report. which was unprecedented. as van said the introduction to
the original volume. >> 1974. >> he asked three people to be his field generals and they identified and recruited about 12 historians to write one, two, three scratches that many presidencies. and i was chosen to be one. we had eight weeks to do it, it was the day before facts, before email, before ãbthe telephone and mail.we managed to do it in eight weeks and submitted it, professor woodward submitted it to john door and that's the last we heard of it. six weeks later the president resigned. >> watch sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span q&a. [inaudible background conversations]