Patrick Lencioni on the Two Core Problems with Socialism
Recently, he has started The Simple Wisdom Project, which is intended to be “a source of perspective and common sense about topics relating to family, faith, and life’s daily challenges.”
His latest monthly article discusses socialism. He writes it in response to a reader who “wanted to understand why socialism is a bad thing, especially in the context of the Christian commandments to love thy neighbor, care for the poor and avoid materialism.”
The short article is well worth your read. Here are a few key excerpts.
Socialism doesn’t work:
First, it just doesn’t work. At least not for very long. That’s because people are flawed and, outside of a family, a religious order, or a small group of friends, they will not continually work hard for the ‘greater good’ if they do not receive the fruits of that work themselves. As an economics major in college, I learned that this theory had a name: ‘the free-loader effect’. It is the natural tendency of people to do less and less work when they realize that they won’t see a proportionate increase in what they can get for it.
Over time—and this is an inevitable consequence of the free-loader effect—socialist societies experience decreasing productivity, risk-taking, and innovation, along with increasing tax rates, promises of government programs, and expectations from citizens about what they can get from those programs. When the economy inevitably falters under its own weight, those expectations cannot be met.
Socialism diminishes the dignity of human beings:
The second reason why I believe socialism is such a bad idea is very much related to the first, but much more important to me as a Christian: it diminishes the dignity of human beings. In socialist societies, individuals grow increasingly dependent on the government for their well-being, and less and less confident that they are capable of and responsible for themselves. This is an inevitable recipe for cynicism, fatalism and depression.
Socialism advances through a subtle, “slow creep”:
… socialism does not usually spring up over night. Instead, it creeps. Little by little we grow accustomed to new and higher taxes (“it’s just a one percent increase in the sales tax”), more government programs (“how can I vote against free ‘fill-in-the-blank” for children?”), and the false lure of getting something for nothing.
What should we do if we really want to be compassionate and make a difference?
So what are we to do if we want to act on our desire to do good and make a difference? Work hard. Create jobs. Treat our employees with dignity and love. Give generously of our money and our time to good charities and directly to those in need. And demand that our government compassionately provide effective programs and services for those who are truly incapable of providing for themselves.
But we should never, ever, support a program, a tax or a proposal that makes us feel good but ends up making the lives of the people we are supposed to be helping, and the society in which they live, more difficult and dependent.