Political activity is heating up for the oncoming presidential election.

A very crowded field of Democrats is in full campaign mode trying to determine who would with the primary election and face President Donald Trump in 2020. Some of these candidates are socialists and are aggressively promising a better country by leveraging the wonders of this ideology.

Socialism is very appealing during our modern times. It promises a miracle solution based on fairness, inclusion and compassion to help people who deserve it by taking things away from people that have too much. It aligns very well with the political correctness movement and is particularly attractive to our younger generation of voters.

These voters were not alive to witness the aftermath of World War II and the Cold War and might be forgiven for not knowing the horrors of socialism. Prosperity tends to create societies to become complacent and ill-informed that take for granted the freedoms and choices we have fought for and have come to enjoy by embracing a free-market system.

A capitalistic system is by no means perfect, and even a well-regulated free-market system creates winners and losers, and not always in a fair fashion. That being said, economic indicators as well as social metrics consistently prove that a free-market society enjoys far more benefits in terms of wealth and liberties than any other option out there.

We are fortunate to live in a country with vast human and natural resources that create wealth and opportunities for those who want to pursue them. Some aspects of our system can — and should — be improved in terms of cost and accessibility to health care and education as well as rising the standard of living of all citizens. But the best chance to resolve these challenges is under the framework of capitalism.

It will be foolish for America to fundamentally destroy the desire and ability of its people to generate wealth and enjoy freedoms by trying a flawed system that has never worked and that inevitably will bring suffering and destruction to those who try it. Churchill once said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

I grew up in South America when the majority of continent enjoyed peace and prosperity. Most of the regimes had adopted capitalism, and the economic machines were performing well due to advances in agriculture and manufacturing coupled with generous revenues from rich natural resources, primarily petroleum. Countries were able to invest in ambitious infrastructure projects as well as in health and education at an accelerated pace. Sadly, corruption, fraud and poor governmental decisions created an environment of dissatisfaction where opportunities became harder to find.

In the mid-2000s, the main leftist party exploited ignorance and discontent. Ecuador and several other Latin American countries bought the ideas communism and democratically elected a socialist regime during the so-called Citizens’ Revolution. The country was misled into believing that the government could be a better administrator of people’s wealth and somehow convinced to give this ideology a try. What’s there to lose, right?

What happened in the next 10 years completely changed the foundation of the country and sealed the fate of the new generations to come, most of them too young to comprehend that their future had been pawned by inept and disingenuous bureaucrats.

In a matter of just a couple of years, the new administration had spent all the combined savings that nation had collected since becoming a country in the 1830s. The regime quadrupled its size with an insatiable appetite for more control and regulations that added no practical value.

For reference, in 2006, the central government had a structure of 10 ministries and departments; by 2017, it grew to 36, according to my analysis of government data. The percent of GDP consumed by the government approximately quadrupled during the first nine years. The country went into path of self-destruction as it was spending more money than it was making creating a scenario of uncertainty, unsustainability and generalized mediocrity and poverty.

The government elites pillaged the country’s wealth and innocence to unprecedented and irresponsible extremes, even getting a decade’s worth of advanced payments from China for the oil and gold that was still underground so they could continue their immoral and criminal shindig while they could.

This system removes the motivation and desire of the people to work hard for something, and eventually the government dries up everyone’s wealth. If socialists would understand economics, they would be capitalists.

Folks who believe in socialism are quick to point out to Sweden as an example that the system works. This kingdom indeed has a high standard of living where the government provides free health care and education and a very generous welfare package to all it citizens. What people don’t necessarily know is that this mega-welfare state is able to provide such liberal benefits because it has a robust free-market economy that generates wealth and therefore taxes, some of the highest in the world.

People in Sweden can expect to pay 57 percent of their income in the top income bracket plus a 25 percent value added tax on most items they purchase. Thus the government can keep a majority of many people’s earnings in order to afford those handouts. And since NATO subsidizes their nation’s defense, they can divert national security funds into welfare programs.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and other prominent politicians have been quite effective at promoting the idea of democratic socialism as a scheme to share and re-distribute the wealth of people. Perhaps the prefix “democratic” is used to soften the impact of “socialism” and its dangerous nature. Capitalism is the true representation of democracy, and no, we don’t need to call it democratic capitalism, as democracy is the inherent ingredient of capitalism. A free-market economy cannot exist without democracy.

Socialism simply fails to understand human nature. Human beings are greedy, selfish, self-centered beings. When put in a position of great power, they will likely abuse that power, even if their original intentions were legitimate. This is why socialist regimes end up as dictatorships or totalitarian systems. A country might happily and naively vote itself into socialism, but it will have to fight and spill blood on the streets to get out. Venezuela is a living example of this tragedy.

The founders or America studied history. They understood that empires fall apart because their governments get too powerful. As such, they cleverly put as many roadblocks to prevent that from happening with our nation, too. The purpose of the three branches is to spread out power evenly, creating checks and balances and enabling the people to self-govern their own lives. The point is to spread out power, not centralize it.

Socialism is too dangerous to be considered. It should not be contemplated as a social experiment or something we should try to see what happens. The destruction and misery that it brings are very real, and the ones who will have to pay the bill are the young generations of Americans, our most precious asset. The U.S. once understood the dangers of socialism; evidently we need to re-learn some lessons, and quickly.

Juan Macias lives in Savage with his wife and two daughters and he works as an engineering manager for a defense company in the Twin Cities. He actively participates at the local government and is interested in education and STEM activities within the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District.

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