Thomas Sowell Quotes #3

by Harley Voogd

“Where [democratic socialism and communism] differed was in whether the government officials who were to wield this power [to control the nation’s economy] should be elected by the general public, as advocated by democratic socialists, or chosen by some autocratic process, including dictatorship, as advocated by communists.*

“Although both socialist and communist governments began by replacing market economies with centrally planned economies in the twentieth century, by the end of that century most democratic socialist governments and most communist dictatorships had abandoned central planning after experiencing its results. Then, as many economic decisions were transferred from government officials to private individuals and organizations operating in markets, the rate of growth of output usually increased — dramatically in India and China. In both of these countries, this lifted millions of people out of dire poverty, as had happened in various other countries before. Despite the Marxian premise that the poor are poor because they are exploited by the rich, none of the Marxian dictatorships around the world with comprehensive central planning ever achieved as high a standard of living as was common in various market economies in Western Europe, North America or in such Asian nations as Japan and South Korea.

“Despite the indispensability of government for some economic activities and its value for some other economic functions, the limitations of its ability to carry out some more sweeping economic activities under comprehensive central planning are not simply the limitations of particular individuals who wield power, but include inherent limitations on what power itself can accomplish.”

* “Other central planners include fascists, who allowed private ownership of the means of production, but with these owners subject to government dictates. In Germany, a special xenophobic form of fascism was called National Socialism, more commonly known by a contraction of this party’s name in Germany as Nazis.”

~from Wealth, Poverty and Politics, page 257

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