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tv   Robert Lawson Benjamin Powell Socialism Sucks  CSPAN  September 14, 2019 9:51am-11:10am EDT

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labs and the different types of fentanyl. >> all previous after words are available as podcast and to watch online at [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon, welcome, everyone, welcome to the cato institute. the title and the style of the book we are featuring today socialism sucks is admitted more
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than policy books that we usually organize and bounce around at cato. i can assure you that the authors that we are featuring today are serious accomplished economists who decades of scholarly work inform this publication, the subtitle of the book two economies think their way and unconventional approach for a couple of academics, that subtitle didn't surprise me, though, i tend to run into bob lawson at economic or academic conferences around the country and around the world and inevitable they have drinks in their hand probably because we chat at the reception hotel bars and the like, but the conversation is always interesting, informative and
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fun. and that's also true of this new book. this is a light book about a heavy topic, so it's fortunate that we are featuring it today on the birthday of free can -- freedman and we were lucky to have known him and -- for some of us to have worked with us to a limited degree. i'm sure he too would agree with the title of your book so i can't really recall him ever putting his opposition to socialism in quite those terms. [laughter] >> today socialism has gained an appeal among some americans, especially young americans as viable alternative to a market economy and to this market economy that his prevailed and
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characterized the united states, this is so much the case that leading political candidates and others openly spouse admiration and policies that implies, are there 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 appeal to go -- appealing to reality that most readers can relate to rather than data, statistics and other hard evidence that our so damning in and of itself but also approach they neighboring the book.
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they achieve by traveling to places where real socialism has been put in place, cuba, north korea, venezuela, for example, along the way they also visit other countries that have experienced socialism or are said to be socialist and explain through anecdotes and observation how those systems really work, the end result hopefully is to dispose of any romantic notion of socialism. the authors felt that they needed to write such a book is a reflection of our polarized times, extreme ideologies, on the left and the right, are having far more of sway in the american public than imaginable even a few years ago, we will also be discussing why that has been the case and what else we might do about it, but let the authors tell their story and we will begin by hearing from ben
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powell and bob lawson and then by comments of matt, ben powell is the director of free market institute and professor of economic in college of business administration at texas tech university, he's north american editor of the review of economics, past president of the association of private enterprise education and senior fellow with the independent institute, number -- he's the author of a number of books including out of poverty publish bid cambridge university press and making poor nations rich published by stanford university press, research findings have been reported in more than 100 popular press outlets such as "the new york times" and the wall street journal, bob lawson is the professor of practice and jarome chair in economic freedom and director of o'neil center
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for freedom at southern methodist university at cox school of business, he previously taught in auburn university. he also is a past president of association of private enterprise education, senior fellow at the frazier institute, please help me welcome ben. >> thank you very much, ian and cato for hosting this. it's quite fitting, the publisher's original blurb,
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that's exactly what we are going for that as good solid economics communicated in fun entertaining way that would reach people who wouldn't otherwise read the academic stuff that bob and i write. so the timing on it is obviously good with the popularity of socialism, we actually started the book over 2 years ago and part of the motivation the book took shape was the growing popularity of socialism in 2016, this is the ever prominent michael moore tweeting out that young people like socialism over capitalism but confusing these things with fairness and selfishness and what bob and i wanted to do write book that explained what socialism is and his not and how it functions and that to do it in an entertaining way, also the case that bob we wanted to get drunk in cuba and i wanted to get a way to write it off my taxes and we decided title chapter, if the book does well i'm pretty sure i should tell the irs that i will be
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doing a sequel and writing out my bar tabs now until then. a lot of the focus has been on young people and millennials attracted to it but with presidential debates you see it among mainstream democrats now, "the new york times" had a year long of 100th revolution, year long, handful mentioned that atrocities and almost always it was stalin, instead you get articles like why women had better sex under socialism which even if true, i don't know how we weigh this against a 100 million dead bodies, this was the atmosphere taking hold and we have bernie sanders that says countries lick denmark, sweden are examples of socialism, they are not.
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i was going to insert quote of aoc, so the book, the tour that we two through, we start in sweden, venezuela, russia, ukraine and we end up back in ussa by attending the largest socialism gathering last summer, let's start briefly with sweden, let's get the definition of socialism here correct, socialism is form of collective ownership or control over the major means of production. so this means abolishing private property in and major fact os of production, preplacing with ownership, in practice in ever large society defacto control of those means of production, if you will have large-scale production, that means you will have some sort of central planning like coordination, a lot of the young socialists say we want socialists from below and everybody is going to decide what it will do, you need
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somebody to coordinate the diverse areas of the economy and when you use property right that is give you prices and profit and loss that has to be replaced with something that something is central plan, i will let bob talk more about democratic socialism later. so first of all, sweden and the other nordic countries, they are not socialists, they are highly capitalist, major factors of production, private property, good contract enforcement, basically free trade, now if they have a problem, sweden has big welfare state and high taxes, the interventions on the free market but they don't equal socialism, when we go to sweden the beer is great, the place is beautiful, it's not socialist, and bob is the coauthor of economic freedom in the world index, when we were writing this sweden ranked 20th freest in the world, ie, socialist, this is
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true of other nordic countries as well, we can have great -- in fact, sitting in front belgium beer bar, the belgium beer even though belgium is close buy, cost a ton of money and we drank some in south korea on the other side of the world and they were cheaper there than they are in sweden, and the big welfare state has dragged on sweden's growth, not as wealthy relative to the rest of the world but they are prosperous place because they are mostly capitalist. venezuela the other end of the spectrum. venezuela is dead last in bob's economic freedom index, cuba and north korea are not ranked but we can guess where they'd be. venezuela is important to remember, this is not a place that was always like that, the earliest year of index in 1970's, what we saw was long period of decline in economic freedom in venezuela, move get away from capitalism into worse and worse form of
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interventionism, stagnated, back in 1970 when they were capitalists they were also wealthy, wealthier per capita incomes than spain itself, that's not true by 1998 when chávez comes to power, but this was a capitalist prosperous economy and also you don't have to go far very far to pointing successful democratic socialism, chávez unlike the other ones came to power in democratic election that international observers widely said it was ca. venezuela sits on world's largest oil reserves, his socialists policies were cutting out the core of the economy, food production was plummeting in venezuela but they were using the revenues from oil to import food and other things to the population and give the free handouts our politicians like to talk about, once prices came down shortly after chávez's death in 2013 and by the way production also went down
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because the state-owned oil company, state ownership and control of the means of production doesn't get very good incentives for maintaining equipment in pipelines, they no longer have the foreign exchange to import necessities that we see today, bob and i see firsthand, the top picture of the bridge that's been in the news recently with the aid trucks were stopped from going in colombia, by the time we were there people were free to move and venezuelans by the thousands were coming across into colombia to buy basic necessities that were unavailable in venezuelan economy, one striking thing that we saw, it wasn't typical third-world poverty, bob and i have been to poor countries, you saw people who were middle class, upper middle-class venezuela and who is had access
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to money to buy goods across the border. i should also say since we have this theme running throughout the book venezuela ran out of beer, if i were a socialist dictator, toilet paper, beer, these are the things that we would always have. by the way that's not an election speech. they have polar, they didn't allocate enough foreign exchange, as a result the country ran out of beer. so next on -- i should just say about the democratic socialism, this is what i think young democrat socialists often miss, the necessary connection between lack of economic freedom and lack of political freedom, so once you abolish property private you have to move towarding planning and state
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control if you will have any sort of advance production and extremely inefficient and met with stagnation, people don't like that, they will throw you out of power if you let them voluntarily reelect you but precisely because you centralized the power of the economy you're able to repress them so they can't throw you out of office in democratic election which is exactly what we have seen with maduro, he was reelected last week by wide margins yet at the same time people on average lost 24 pounds, they didn't find jenny craig, when they are not getting enough to eat, there's no way you get reelected, state employees to reelect the person, they had food aid stands next to polling places, so that's the necessary connection between socializing your economy and democratic, cuba is not starving socialism, this is existence socialism and chugging along, here i will give you anecdotes from the travel rather than political economy story that illustrates some of the dysfunction of a centrally planned system, so first, state
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ownership means of production, hotels are part of means of production, you have state-owned hotel industry, so they have 5-star diplomat hotel by all reports is nice, other than that the state-owned hotels sucked. we stayed in one, it was supposedly 3 stars and one of bob's friends recommended the place, it's okay when it opened in 1979, looks okay in the exterior, exactly 4 elevators and 3 of them out of service, that's our bathroom ceiling, this is another state-hotel, hotel caribe in central havana when we stayed later, the glass that came out of cemetery bag in the room with the stain on it, that's the soap that they left us from the previous guest, that's the hole in the towel they gave to dry ourselves.
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that's the sink on toilet, when you're on the seat you can slide right off. now, the industry providing logic, allowed limited private property rights and they call them casa particulares. enough of them have relatives in miami that people in miami will put it up on airbnb and make reservation and they call relative back in cuba to tell them when you're coming, this one is in central havana. has got kitchen, dinet, two bedrooms that are nice and it's right down in central havana, it was conveniently located directly above a bar which was great, had porch too, cuba trip was not fun, at least from
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8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., after that i basically drank and smoked cigars and that made everything all right, sort of. other oddity, no incentives in the hotel, what's missing from this picture? commercial district in central havana, cubans are poor, no one gives a damn whether you come to the store or not, if you do show up at the stores, what you're confronted is utter lack of variety, well-stocked store but you can probably count 2 dozen at most distinct items in that store. by the way, continuing with the beer metaphor, cuba they had beer, they didn't run out, crystal and bucanera, they both taste like a skunky budweiser,
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that's variety of cuban beer, private restaurants, state ownership means of production, ownership of restaurants, they've been given limited freedoms to open private restaurants, restrictions on serving meat and seafood. restriction on how many people can be seated but widely ignored or worked around. they are pretty good at first. cuban sandwich in miami is a crappy ham and cheese sandwich in cuba. the supply chain and the economy isn't there to provide it. instead just pick a restaurant based on the venue of rooftop or something like that because the food will be the same.
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it's about 1950's american cars in cuba. then people think, well, it's because we have embargo in cuba that they are stuck with american cars, we have embargo and not blockade. no one is stopping kias from going to cuba swept cuban government. and as a result in a country that's very poor per capita income, something on the order of $3,000 per capita income, you have 1950's cars selling for 15, $16,000 when they are traded. the renault in the picture is a 30,000-dollar car, better suspension of brakes and might have ac, doesn't exist in the united states, they don't give this to high school kid anymore. price even when incomes are low that goes high.
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i will stop with that and let bob continue the tour with you. >> okay, so i will talk a little bit about north korea and our wives were very generous in traveling in crazy places but they said you can't do or go to crazy places. prison. we didn't go to north korea, we went to the border of north korea and china, northern north korea border which there's only a river that separate it is two countries. many of you have seen satellite photo of korean peninsula, the north, except for the capital is essentially dark and south, of course, is the wonderful lights and elements of light going every direction and you see china on the northern side, china has developed quite nicely dark section of north korea, when we arrived in north korea it was dark and we got to the river we were excited, we will see north korea, it's right
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across the rivers, 100 yards away and it's -- it's dark over there. nothing over there, the guide book says there's a city, we were worried that maybe we went to the wrong city because there didn't appear to be anything on the other side of the river. that satellite photo wasn't photo shopped, it's actually real and you can stand on the chinese side and look over to complete darkness, the chinese side meanwhile it's not shanghai or beijing by any means but substantial modern prosperous chinese city with sky scrapers and lights and all the modern things. so that was north korea and here you see the dark picture, the upper left over there north korea and we wake up in the morning, oh, a few hundred thousand people live tong north korean side of the border but at night they are empty. as we went up and down the river
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and at one point i remember thinking because there were chinese patrol boats, chinese navy coast guard and i was very happy to see them which is a strange feeling really because if our boat, ferry is on the river and breaks down and drifts to the north korean i would hope the chinese navy would get us before we got to the wrong side of the border but this is typical what you would see, broken down homes, we went into some farming areas and everybody we saw working in the fields was like 19th century, hand tools and animals to drag piles and things, one guy we saw and he had a diesel tractor, looked ancient and you could hear the chug of the diesel, the sound they make of old diesel engine, incline on the farm field and he was -- but he just couldn't make
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it up, you could hear, i really felt sorry for the poor guy, he gave up and the tractor roland backwards -- rolled backwards. you look direction with highways, tractor trailer trucks, the contrast between the two as you can see north korea, the chinese side of the river and then in the river. we do nauk the book about the tragedy that's going on there. irony is if you go back to the end of the korean war, the korean war did create massive damage to the entire country but if anything the northern side was the prosperous, the northern side was the industrial prosperous side of the peninsula, the south was backward farmers and, of course, reversed today.
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south korea is one of the richest countries in the world. immediately upon landing you realize when you see signs for the gap and gucci and all the western brands this is not socialist company, these are private firms making profits, people are busy, the beer is good again, it's fake socialism, we do take time to talk about the history of chinese socialism and it is, in fact, sort of a schizophrenic place. today they are trying to have economic freedom for a large portions of their country and as a result of that economic freedom china has developed quite rapidly and people have
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gotten quite prosperous in general at least compared to old days but trying to be a totalitarian political regime as we have all seen and ben and i attended a conference, it was a really weird thing, we were talking about austrian economists in beijing which was -- how cool was this? it was still with locals, chinese academics and journalists and to remind us all the chinese communist party is still in charge, the very next day, the very next morning, padlocked the doors with chains and the conference was called off, so china is trying to do this dance now where they are giving away the freedom to engage in commerce and better your condition and prosper and have profits but also they're trying to control their thoughts and their minds and their political freedoms and we
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suspect this is not sustainable path, there you go. quickly as i mentioned, russia, ukraine, that's standing in line, standing in line popular thing to do in old soviet union, you still have to stand in line to see lennon, you get a line, there's still soviet art, we call this hungover socialism, there's no socialism anymore, there's no central plan, there's no private property, reestablished for the most part but hung over, they are still suffering the after-effects, they haven't moved russia and ukraine towards economic freedom, the former soviet republic of georgia is a capitalist country. georgia is now in the top 10 highest ranked countries in the world, this is me flipping the bird to stall --in
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georgia is a great wine country and in soviet times they made lots of really bad wine, the central planners in massive of acreage, they made french-style wine, terrible but the entire soviet world was supplied from georgia with wine. today all those field have gone, they just let them go but the georgians are bringing back their own local grapes, own local, old fashion style of making wine, georgia is becoming mecca, worldwide mecca for people who want to enjoy unique wine that literally don't exist in the rest of the world, georgia's success, what they call the rose revolution, we talk about that, in terms of the signaling of the new country, the new way of doing things in georgia, that's the police station, police stations are
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always out of glass to signal transparency, we don't literally mean transparency when we say that usually but georgians took that literally and lastly talk about the chicago conference, we went to socialism conference in chicago, built itself as the largest gathering of american socialist and when we arrived ben and i stood out not because we were wearing blue blazers, come on. no one caught the joke, i was really angry that no one thought it was funny. we found a lot of confusion, same confusion that ben talked about, a lot of kids who were leftist kids who saw the world, they saw injustice in the world in various ways and they wanted to do something about it and somehow or another they thought socialism would be that thing, we should get rid of private
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property and others would say, no, why would we do that, the kids at socialism conference calling each other conrads -- comrades were unclear on what socialism was. talking about the beer thing, running metaphor for us to talk about, back in u.s. today, capitalist, brewery in illinois, bar tap is raise fist with red star on it and all of the labels for beer, a couple dozen variety of wonderful craft beers, co commi-themed. we thought that was an ironic thing. the kids who were drinking was that is great, stalin is on a
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label. to close up, new release on category beer. how about that? [applause] >> an educational organization turning next generation onto values of liberties, he's an executive producer at blaze tv where he produces liberty podcast as well as deadly documentary series of dangers of all flavors of authoritarianism, in 2004 matt could be found at freedom works where he served as president for 11 years, he's the author of various books most recently new york times best seller don't forget people and don't take their stuff.
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matt, at the end of the book there's a discussion with matt about what -- how to interpret the appeal of socialism in the united states and matt was very involved with tea party movement and so he's 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 and he can help us understand what is going on in the country. >> great to be here and i should start by pointing out that these two economists, they're not just teller guys, if you go through academic words, you might think so but a serious amount of hands hands-on work was done and i'm counting this work in a number of beers and a number of hangovers we actually diddia podcast about a month ago, my
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podcast where we did comparison of american craft beers and we had a north korean beer which he smuggled back i -- e lit all of the slide show that you just saw, steams pretty stark and obvious that socialism doesn't work in practice, we have a history of the left, 100 years of really horrible experiment, managed to kill 1 and 4 cambodians, how do you do
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that? you have to try really hard and you have to have an ideology that's so dysfunctional to shut down any sort of conceivable market and yet when i post these videos, when you guys post these videos someone from socialism of america will say that's not socialism, that's oligarchy, that's state capitalism, that's fill in the blank, there's also sorts of work around as to why it was hugo chávez and nicolas maduro are not socialists but doing something else, you get so frustrated because it seems like logic, economic, none of this sway and runs about 50-50, young people are saying i want socialism more than capitalism, what do we do with this, i
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recently reread as i want to do, old essay by fredrik because when i don't know what to do, what would hyac do, communist to the left and fascist to the right, he's thinking that the darkest days of liberalism and free markets are here and that we are never going to recover and he's trying to figure out how -- what to do about the rise of socialist sentiment called intellectuals in socialism, please read it, t a short read and give you a chance -- sense and he's dealing with all the same stuff we are dealing with today. and there's a couple of points that he makes that i want to tease out, the first is and ben's crazy quote aside, he says to take intellectual opponents
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seriously and all of us have participated in sharing memes and we like to make fun of alexandria ocasio-cortez or some other socialist democratic socialist saying things that we know are obviously not true, but take them seriously, he would also say in the same essay and i feel like he's talking about mitch mcconnell that just because you're criticizing socialism doesn't mean that you have any idea what a critique of socialism is. mitch mcconnell famously a couple of weeks ago considered himself the grim reaper of any legislation proposed by democrats that was socialist, i'm not sure that's good messaging, i think if i'm 20 year's 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?
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who am i going to choose? we should think about that and take seriously. i happened to believe that young people as alluded to if you ask them whether or not the government should own means of production and did a poll about this a couple of years ago, the answer almost categorically is hell no, that's a stupid idea. so they are talking about something else, when they put the qualifier democratic socialism, socialism that -- that seems to suggest in the narrative of alexandria ocasio-cortez a belief in community, a belief in people at the local level working together to solve problems and respecting each other and somehow that process is a way that we can solve all of the problems, go back and watch original viral video that got her elected to
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congress. you will find yourself agreeing with her probably all the way up until the last minute of that video, 90% through you're nodding your head yes, she's railing against crony capitalism and washington, d.c. who don't give a damn on her folks back home, she's talking about the sense of community and she uses the word dignity a lot, community, dignity, bottom up, peaceful cooperation, these are not socialists concepts, but that's what we believe which leads me to my third point and the most important in the essay and hiyac say that they were abo craft a vision that imagined a utopian future that was better than the status quo, something big, something beautiful, the promise that just around the
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corner we could do something better together than we've ever done before and the critics and i will go back, at cato i can pick on mitch mcconnell, no one protests? mitch mcconnell when he criticizes socialism, he's doing what hiyac, sounds like he's defending the status quo, all the wall street bailouts, permanent wars, whatever it is that you see in washington that you find repugnant, the critics of socialism here in washington, d.c. generally identify as what they're against, they are against aoc but what are they for, are they for free markets and peaceful bottom-up cooperation, i'm not sure, if we want to win the next generation, we have to imagine something utopian, something beautiful, something bigger and better than
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we have seen in the past which brings me to beer. look at that, ipa from our friends, fellow libertarian, he actually applies libertarian principles to production of beer, if you go to any grocery store anywhere in america and you go to the beer section, that beautiful cooler, it is a shrine to free market capitalism, which you are going to choose there. you can't do that in venezuela. ben suggested this, you can't get even crappy warm beer in venezuela, so maybe there's something about that, anybody here that's into craft beer, if you go to local producer i'm sure at the brewery that you
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referenced, it's a beautiful place, started by entrepreneurs, people that are thinking about entrepreneurship in the way that he thought about it when entrepreneurship is imagining alternative future even as people laugh at you and if you know anything about the craft beer industry, the triple hop double ipa's, most people make fun of that stuff and the rest of us are waiting in line 6 hours in line to buy a four-pack, that's the beauty of creating something that's never been done before and they come together in cooperation and hang out and have sense of belonging and community and all driven by the entrepreneur and right in free capitalist society to create something and share it with his neighbors. maybe that's the metaphor, we always use downward slope and demand curves, you know, if you're a real libertarian like me and hanging out with your
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friends you start arguing about the nonaggression principle and things that normal people have no idea what we are talking about, but if you don't understand the beer metaphor, there's probably something wrong with you. you probably are not going to be helped by anything we have to say so we will write you guys off but the rest of the world particularly young people, young people that are flirting with the idea of democratic socialism, let's connect with them with those stories and i have to say as final thought, where you talk to young socialists in the united states, it would be easy to make fun of them, it would be easy to troll them, it would be easy to take a picture of the most ridiculous person in post it on instagram and say, these guys are silly, you were listening, you were trying to understand where they were coming from, if we do that and we explain the beauty of liberty and freedom, i think
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this generation, the generation flirting with democratic socialism will prove to be the most libertarian ever. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much. we have time for questions, if you have a question please raise your hand and when you're called on wait for the microphone, identify yourself and your affiliation and make a brief question. so do we have questions? we will take question right here on the front, we need microphones, please. we will take the gentleman in the white shirt here in the second row. >> all right, thank you. it seems to me in most cases when there's strong disagreements it's a question of semantics, people using the same
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word with totally different definition, so you are using the classic marxist definition of socialist and if you look at young socialists they are using a different definition n capitalism everything is owned by somebody, if you step on out of your property and somebody else owns their property, you have public speech, parks, that's socialism, my question who gets to define the term, is it carl mark, bernie sanders, who define what is socialism is? >> well, i think language is spontaneous order, it's incumbent upon us to become clear when we use our words and communicate effectively, i think the young socialists, bob said many of them don't identify with abolishing private property, i think a lot of them thinking aspirations and goals rather than means of achieving them like in the last chapter in the book, one of the things while we
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are at the socialist conference we heard talks on immigration antiwar, antiimperialism, black lives matter and police brutality, yeah, we basically with you, this is a problem in the united states so we need to do better, we need to be more proimmigration and antiwar and roll back the police in the united states, it's just kids saying and the answer is socialism, i'm like whoa, whoa, the answer is freedom and voluntary system, what that's referring to. >> we use the term socialism, the title of the book, but in the book we take -- define in classical way, there's no black and white, there's socialism in the united states, we have public cools, that's big federal government owning and centrally planning the education for for most of the country, that's where the economic freedom and
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that's continuum of one end from the spectrum more socialism, the venezuelas of the world and the cubas and on the other the more capitalists ones, you stop being capitalist and start being socialists, there's a lot of socialists in every nation and so we do in the book we use the index and it's really the shades of gray that of something like index can give us that i think really helps move the conversation, having said that, since socialism is the buzz word of the day, we thought it was important to make that the focal point of the book. >> by the way, this is why listening is so important because these buzz words like capitalism and socialism, i generally don't even like to use the words because they have so much baggage that you may be talking with someone and may not be hearing what you try to say, i like to focus on sort of simple human values, base
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language because i think that's where there's a lot of connection with young people even though when it came to those two words we might find ourselves on opposite side. >> yes, the question in that row, the gentleman in the blue shirt, please. >> thank you, retired member of the service. if you can help us understand when we hear a candidate like bernie sanders saying he's for democratic socialism, help me understand what -- what does he mean if you know what that means and what should we think of when people say i'm on a social welfare state? >> i think when you hear bernie and others that they don't see socialism in the way bob and i define where most government owns means of production, however bernie and aoc and rest of them do want to march you
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down that road and that's the shades of gray that bob is talk about, the index of whether it's moving to medicare for all or socializing the healthcare industry, that's one more means of production that's being moved, that doesn't mean that the government will own wal-mart but if you move to elizabeth warren, she wants to government, somebody else on the board of directors of the companies. thinking about the continuum is really what the debate is from candidates, nobody who will nationalize means if they're elected. >> question here in the front. >> i'm a reporter with voice of america's korean service and i have to ask you about north korea. you said north korea right after the korean war superior, do you think socialism was the reason behind that and the second
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question i understand that north korea trying to imitate growth path, do you think it's a viable option for them? >> so, i mean, the chinese peninsula, occupied by japan for many, many years and korean peninsula was run by the chinese and so it was sort of dictatorship but it was mostly private-property kind of system so what the reality was, most of the electricity, most of the heavy industry that existed in korea was on the northern side, not as a result of socialism but sort of the conditions that were present there, but i would applaud north korea moving in the chinese direction, i mean, just because you can't have all of the freedom in the world doesn't mean some freedom is not going to help, millions, hundreds of millions of chinese people are living dignified,
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comfortable material existence because the chinese government let's them engage in trade and markets and that should be something that we applaud. now the fact that china hasn't gone as far as down the road of freedom that we would like is regrettable, i think that would be great for the koreans, right now they are on the edge of starvation so moving towards a -- a opening up markets of the type that is happening in china or vietnam is absolutely a great idea for north korea and i hope they do it, i hope they move all the way to freedom but if they can't move all the way, at least a little way. >> i will follow up on that, one very quickly answer the first part of your question, yes, this is like the global example of one place, one people, one language, one history, one culture and you change one factor, your economic system, you get socialism in one and capitalism in the other, that's a national experiment and shows what capitalism and freedom
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would do for people versus state controlled. second terms i agree with bob entirely, moving in vietnamese direction would boost incomes, one caveat and i wanted to draw this out about china for people n china you have vast differences in economic freedom across regions of china, coastal cities and enterprise zones who add economic freedoms, here is what is interesting within china, defacto now you have freedom of movement so you have -- over a billion people and free migration with income differences and freedom differences between rural interior provinces and coastal cities that are not unlike differences between latin america and united states today where you see immigrants who want to move to get the productivity of the place rather than the productivity of the people and that type of big growth a lot of china's growth has been fueled of internal migration of going to freer places, something of north korea scale is unlikely to get that part of dynamic, but like bob said move in the direction, it's important to actually outreach with the book on this to point
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out, you know, freedom of movement, free trade and labor is part of the free market system too. >> the internal migration in china is probably the largest mass migration in our times and by far. question in the back, there in the corner. yeah. >> victims of communism and regarding the rising popularity of socialism how much of that do you think is like result of short-term and left against trump like the membership and how much of it do you think is longer-term trend that's here to stay? , thank you. >> ly start it off that socialism is clearly going to be a defining campaign issue going into 2020, may not necessarily
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be a good thing for those who would love to understand the difference between however you define trumpism versus what alexandria ocasio-cortez and seemingly almost all of the democratic candidates for president seem to be spousing, so part of it is partisan and part of the opposition to it is also partisan but i also think going back to an earlier question, there's a similarity in a lot of ways between the attraction of a candidate like rand paul, outsider, a iconic left, someone raging against the machine, someone taking on the republican establishment and bernie sanders a couple of years later, he was attracting that same cohort of young people and i don't think it had a lot to do with ideology, i think it was a sense that that guy is
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authentic, that guy, he's angry about the same things i am, the wall street bailouts and the permanent wars and mass incarceration, i just described both of those candidates, of course, they have very different policy conclusions. i don't think this is about a shift in ideology, i think it's -- i think it's sort of a cultural -- those guys seem cooler and i will say it again to pick on mitch mcconnell one last time, on the cool factor, aoc, mitch mcconnell, you do the math. >> here in the second row. [inaudible]
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>> federal government owns and not only means of production but nationalization of people and people don't have choices and who does not have choice? and what do you think about that socialism is public slavery and athat's why they were disposing millions of people the way they did, they were liability. >> thank you.
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>> okay, we will take question in the third row there, the gentleman in the white shirt. >> my question is -- >> we will take one question and identify yourself, please. >> you mentioned -- >> can you please identify yourself? [inaudible] >> you said a hundred million dead bodies, are you talking about those who have been killed, destroyed by uss, western countries all over the world in vietnam and middle east, in africa, and all over? and why don't you just -- why do you close your eyes with what the capitalists not in the sense of equal opportunity but the
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sense of what they are doing all over the world, why venezuela has gone to this situation is because of -- because of what the u.s. is doing to him or russian countries including cuba, including iran, north korea, not only because of that reason? >> okay, thank you. first this book is on socialism sucks, i would love to have it be successful for it to be fascism sucks, i sympathize with you and i will not call ta capitalism killed the people that you mentioned, capitalism is voluntary among consenting adults -- >> if i could just add i can't remember the book, the number, 100 million that we generally
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use doesn't involve war and if you add war into that you get a much bigger number and, of course, all sorts of ideologies and we -- we are not generally supportive of authoritarians killing people. >> you and everybody else in this room are invited to many forums at the cato institute where we have scholars criticizing u.s. abroad which has nothing to do with the free market model, next question, gentleman over there, please. >> i'm just curious you didn't mention israel -- >> could you speak up a little bit, please? >> you didn't mention israel, is that just an aberration in your
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thought process as successful socialist enclave? >> yeah, i would be happy to take that, private socialist excerpts on a small scale have had some limited success and probably the israeli have been the most successful, although they haven't been greatly successful, one of the things that ben mentioned that is critical is large scale production, an iphone, that kind of scale of operation is very difficult to imagine in this sort of socialism from below model where you've got a network of small worker-run democratically democracy kind of enterprises, in fact, the israel y kabutz have been economic failure, most of them evolved in home owners association really, the reality is that that kind of operation
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is not been all that successful i think for good economic reasons but, you know, the wonderful thing about capitalism, proper capitalism is we invite people to -- invites anyone to make whatever managerial style for operation you want so all of the types of things perfectly legal and allowed within capitalist and i applaud and if they have superior, so much the better. i don't think they are actually frequently very much superior but that's empirical question. >> just related to that too, neither bob nor i run family like a market economy, we run something along the lines according to ability and according to needs but that family, right, is an island of socialism interacting in a world of capitalism with everywhere
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else and when you scale up from the family, you start getting the bad incentive problems first and then if you try to scale, that's where the information problems completely break down but i will mention one of the kabutz experience, the pill -- pilgrims, they had rights, it was distributed by need and here you've got religiously group of people who have gone to new world, big family, in it together and it's not really advance material production, it's basic production they have to do and the nice thanksgiving story and feast, that wasn't the end of their starving, they continued to starve for two more winters, until plantation and history that he wrote in 1647, describes we created private
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property and all of a sudden and i'm paraphrasing, all the idle hands become industrial and women and children went to the fields and never used to the it before, that's incentive in small scale like that. >> yeah, anybody who has family can identify with that problem, you know how much money my kids owe me? wewe have a question way in the back, please. [laughter] >> a lot, a lot. [laughter] >> thank you. rick, government cost crisis, the two-party system is based on single-round voting, how much will -- if the republicans don't make the free market argument convincing enough, then for a lot of people there's one
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alternative so how much do you think the two-party system is responsible for the situation? >> i will take a stab at that. i think you're in this -- this awesomelyily process that we are going through right now where everything is shifting back to end user and the one place that isn't happening is in politics, we still have two parties and on a lot of days from a libertarian perspective it's hard to tell the difference if you look at things that we used to care about like spending and -- and executive authority and there's red versus light, red pill and blue pill i think it's wrong, i don't think it's about that at all. i think the real measure is authoritarian on the bottom to have scale, up towards this
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thing i was talking about earlier where we get the cooperation and dignity and liberty and all the beautiful things that happened when we work together, so, you know, is there a difference and adolf hitler, i don't think so in practice and i reject that sort of left-right thing. we have to get outside of politics if we want to connect with people, once we join the 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 political fight, i think everybody loses. >> question in the back there in the aisle, please.
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>> robert anthony peters, filmmaker think tank, wondering if there's anything that you found out that socialism does better whether it's product or services? >> propaganda. >> no. [laughter] >> i'm thinking about giving a nonsnarky answer, when we were interviewing people, we were interviews a man from belarus, come on, i know you're a free market guy, you have to pick something, if you think back prior to 1991, what one thing was better for you, he pauses, nothing, nothing was better for me, russian army sent me to siberia. that was the answer he gave me, so that's what i will give you. >> you know, misery lost company and it's the same for a reason,
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iek -- like older americans they look back at great depression, the great depression was terrible time but we were all in it together, well all sort of suffered collectively and nostalgia almost for that, so i mean, if there's -- this is backward complement, if socialism does one thing well, sort of throws everybody into the sort of horrible existence but there's certain commodore among people that are suffering from it, that's as good as i will get to, robert, sorry. >> i think hugo chávez's daughter and nicolás maduro love socialism, very lucrative. >> the people's romance and it's people wanting to have a elective experience of us doing it together and he comments that
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people who are more libertarian have a harder time making nonaggression, the collective experience which by the way, i think, important why we have substitute collective experience for politics which means things like professional sports where they're all in it together, much happier to be member of red sox nation than political identity. also works out better that my sports nations are better than bob's. >> in the 10 second while ben was blabbing on i came with a better answer. [laughter] >> so when we were in cuba one of the things that you find out about cuba is liveliness of the local, every restaurant and bar you go to, you get out of tours, you go to central havana, wonderful music and people singing and dancing and, you know, but the plumbing is all falling apart and the buildings are crumbling but this is
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actually a hallmark of socialism, they've leveled wages so much, basically you make the same a plummer as if you're a musician, do the math, folks, who wants to be a plummer, you get oversupply and we ran -- it's like almost everybody you meet is from soviet times in georgia or ukraine, like everybody, what did you study in college, physics, people with any integrity would have tried to avoid political science or economics, they said, math doesn't have any ideological overtones so they massively overproduce physicists, mathematicians and chess play erstwhile they were underproducing plumbers, people that can fix brick that's falling down and things like that so you get weird imbalances
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my question is, if that are to implement reforms for tee green economy they would have to delve into reel complex issues such as >> and these could prove unpopular in ukraine so for the hungover socialist countries you talked about, how would you hemmed they start implementing reforms so implement them and sustain the reforms. >> i think you need to do what
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georgia did. they were in the exactly the same situation in 2004 when they that the rose revolution. in fact, in many ways georgia's situation was bleaker than what currently exists in ukraine. and they elected a libertarian leader, and they quickly handled all these issues. i think the thing is quick. you don't get time to dilly daly rained bows there's going to be opposition. give you a calm of examples, police corruption was one of the worst problems in georgia. they fired 35,000 police officers in a day. as a country of four million people so this would be the with lent of firing every cop in washington, dc. like tomorrow are no police officers. of course crime went down when you fire the cops because the cops were the criminals. and in a span of 12 to 18 months, year and a half, they
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tackled pensions, tackled the byzantine tax estimate they gout rid of all tariffs. a laundry list of things. and the opposition almost didn't have a chance to gather itself. eventually they dead and refoe formed slowed down and stalled, but they have stuck. it's now -- we're ten years out now. more than ten years out. and the new government which is not a libertarian government by in means in georgia, they have not a undone the libertarian reforms in georgia so my advice is look at georgia as a great example of history can be done. but doing it quick. i think real leader is willing to take the hits because women khris criticized from day one but the government stuck with it. >> we have time for one or two more questions. we'll take a question here.
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>> thank you very much. i'm todd. my wife call me meet me . i have question but the happiness quotient. you can be happier in a less developed society than in some cases in a more developed society. did you see that facet and i think you did ill lewd to it when you talk about music and art and so on, things you saw in cuba you felt worriedal. >> so, i'll -- you felt were yesterdayal. i completely agreed with you some people can be happier in a let developed society to a degree but we have to realize most of he things we care about with quality of life come with he development. life expectancy, i infant mortality, literacy. they go in the same depression but some people would be happier with less of a level of economic development and more something
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else. the happiness survey stuff is junk science. the equivalent of me getting punched in mike tyson getting punched in a nose and then asking us both how much did that hurt and adding that together and averaging. if everything has a different scale it's meaningless. >> just quickly. it is a mistake to equate happiness or satisfaction with material well-being. actually good example is in the history of socialism, the soviet union, when it was created in 1917, was -- the soviet people, the russian people got richer very quickly, and the forced industrialization in fact brought russia into a more modern industrial capacity grew and so forth but it -- they
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developed in a very real way, killed 50 million people but they -- the country developed and people got richer, and a lot of material ways, but i don't think too many of them were happier. so is goes both ways. you can delve and have happy developing but you can develop in a way that creates a lot of misery along the way. the means matter a lot. >> having said that, it is also true that the happiness literature finds that as countries grow richer people get happier. >> doesn't mean it's not junk. >> that may be so but the actual literature does find that if you are willing to take that literature seriously. we'll take one more question. from the front here. >> wait for the microphone, please. >> when you think about it,
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socialism is a silly idea. this is not what i say. this is what -- [inaudible] -- in personal information. and he was saying this because when he was in his he was a romantic socialist. nevertheless, say he was in 1950 or '40s. now looks like people have become interested again in the idea of a socialism. why? because socialism appears to our reason or because appears to our -- appeal to our emotion. if i remember what bus staff people. what kind of people become interested in socialism? and he says, people who cannot find his place in modern
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civilization, and then they tend to become socialist and what is the purpose? destroy the institution we have. in other words, destroy the civilization, and he said there is no answer for that. so what do you think if there is no answer -- he said the cause is because most people are indifferent to this problem. and he says the only thing we can do is be patient, don't panic, but keep on tolerate, keep on -- so i wonder if you have any answer to gustav's pessimism. >> so, this is related to the happiness question as well. recently alexander ocasio cortez said her generation had never known authentic prosperity, which those of us that crunch number and i think bob lawson
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could help us with this, but by any conceivable measure we're 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 it, she grew up watching wall street get bailed out, she heard generation grew up saddled with 20, 50, $100,000 worth of college debt. and there's a lot of reasons why from her perspective things could suck, even though things are the best they've ever been. so, appreciating the context of where people are coming from, i think is part of the key of understanding why they think socialism might be better, but i don't think it's about economics at all and i don't think most people process the world they live in through economic calculation, facts and figures she also famously said it's more important to be morally right than factually correct, and we
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all laugh at that, but she's making sort of a values based point about how a lot of people that are attracted to her sort of ideas process the world. so, understanding where the other side is coming from and not just hitting them with that the lose supply and demand is probably the first step towards making that connection. >> well, i'll just say pragmatically, we wrote a book -- we used the law of sly some demand, drink beer and talk to people who are willing to listen and learn some economics and history along the way. >> nice plug. >> at a become event. >> the book is available on amazon right now, socialism sucks, lawson and powell. >> thank you very much. we have run out of time. thank you for joining us and i'm looking forward to your your
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next book will be nationalism sucks. join us upstairs for lunch and beer. cheers, everybody. >> you're e you're watching booktv on c-span2. booktv television for serious reader its. >> programs to watch out for this weekend. journalist ben westoff reports on the labs in china manufacturing fentanyl. supreme court justices neil gorsuch and beginnings begins -- ruth bader ginsburg reflect on their careers and jeff merkley of oregon provide his fit hand can't -- conditions of migrant families at the southern border. check your program guide for more schedule information. >> now, on to the event you're here for. carrie goldberg is the kind of attorney he wish we


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