Socialism is a lot like cocaine. It’s pushed by people who have an aura of self-assurance that makes others think it’s cool to hang out with them. It feels good. And it is responsible for the wreckage of lives on a scale that would make Satan envious of the achievement.The crash scene in Venezuela is the most immediate example. The election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998 ushered in a socialist regime characterized by laws redistributing land and wealth, government seizures of oil projects, nationalization of the Bank of Venezuela and the state takeover of fuel distributors.
Today, plagued by shortages, starvation and an exodus of millions of people, the collapsed nation is in a state of revolt against dictator Nicolás Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor. As these words are written, Maduro is refusing to step down from power after National Assembly President Juan Guaidó was recognized by the U.S., Canada and other nations in the region as the interim President of Venezuela.Despite a lot of publicity in the United States, including a Harvard study showing that 33 percent of Americans age 18-to-29 now support socialism, things aren’t going that well for socialists.Close to home, the tentative agreement to end the L.A. teachers’ strike may have come as a disappointment to the Los Angeles chapters of the International Socialist Organization and the Democratic Socialists of America.During the walkout, the groups issued an excited joint statement.
“As socialists we believe that class struggle is the best weapon working people have against capitalism’s cruelty and inequality,” they said. “Not only are L.A. teachers striking for pay rises, better working conditions and more frontline staff, they are also waging a social justice strike” and fighting the “rampant privatization” of schoolsBut the tentative agreement to end the strike doesn’t indicate a growing red wave of strength. The teachers’ social-justice demands won them little more than a few task forces to study issues. The union’s insistence on curbing the growth of charter schools resulted only in the right to “provide input” when a charter school seeks classroom space on a district campus.In presidential politics, Democratic candidates are leap-frogging to the left to win over the voters who supported, but didn’t manage to elect, self-described socialist Bernie Sanders. Many have come out in favor of “Medicare for All,” which Sanders previously proposed. According to an analysis by the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Sanders plan would cost the nation $32 trillion over 10 years, or it might save the nation $2 trillion over the same period.The different outcomes depend on how much doctors and other providers are paid. If all their payments are cut to the level of Medicare reimbursements, which are about 40 percent lower than fees paid by private insurers, the nation would spend less on health care.