Don’t Mistake Libertarianism for Utopianism

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Libertarians, Liberty sympathizers, and opponents of Libertarianism alike must acknowledge the fact that Libertarianism does not purport to be a Utopian ideology or political system. Unlike the various forms of Marxism and Communism, there is no promise of everyone and everything being accounted for and taken care of by the ideological variations spread across the Libertarian spectrum. On the contrary, becoming a Libertarian is often rooted in accepting the fact that neither everyone nor everything can be accounted for or taken care of!


If one believes he can design a system that provides everyone with high-quality healthcare, education, food, housing, and whatever else, he would almost certainly reject the Libertarian principles of non-interventionism, private property rights, and laissez-faire spontaneous order. Why would he seek to dismantle the means of centrally planned civilization, as Libertarians to varying extents do, if he believes they are the keys to a Utopian world?


Though I cannot speak for all Libertarians, the bulk of us support Libertarianism for one or both of two reasons. The first is that it provides a consistent and reasonable code of conduct and ethics for government and society to follow. This code is often boiled down to 1) don’t hurt people and 2) don’t take their stuff. The second is that Libertarian principles, as they are applied to foreign policy, personal liberties, and economic policy, are believed to be the most affordable and productive for individuals and society at large. Libertarianism can be appreciated for either its morality or its utility (or both).


While Libertarians espouse that their principles would further enrich human life at both an individual and societal level, intellectually honest Libertarians do not claim to have solutions to all of the world’s problems.


For instance, Libertarians are perhaps most famous for not only wanting drugs like marijuana to be decriminalized, but for generally vying to fully legalize all drugs including potentially lethal ones. We believe you have the right to do what you want with your body, so there is no justification for prohibiting you from buying substances or applying them to yourself.


If all of the world’s drug laws were repealed, whether instantly or in a transitional method over time, it is highly probable that someone who would not have had access to a particular substance will gain access and wind up dead or otherwise harmed as a result. Libertarians would be foolish to deny this.


But the big picture is that drug prohibition automatically causes death and harm via force. As we all know, making something illegal does not make it go away, especially when it comes to narcotics. Instead, a black market is created and gives gangsters and criminals a monopoly over production and distribution. Prices rise, and the stakes get higher, so life and safety become expendable as the rewards of selling drugs begin to outweigh the risks of getting caught. Furthermore, innocent people who mistakenly or intentionally use drugs are subject to being thrown into the cages we call prisons (or worse) despite the fact that no one was victimized by their actions. And for those who don’t get caught, understanding the composition and source of the products they use becomes increasingly difficult, which bolsters the possibility of unsafe drugs being consumed and more damage being done. With a legal and legitimate drug market, drug dealers would be forced to provide knowledge about their products or risk being outcompeted by those who do, discredited by consumer critics, and charged with consumer fraud in a court of law.


Some might say that supporting drug legalization with knowledge that it could lead to deaths that prohibition would prevent shows that Libertarians are willing to sacrifice some people for their ideals.


But this logic is flawed. A sacrifice requires an actor with intent to sacrifice. Libertarians pushing for non-action cannot be accused of sacrifice because a non-action cannot be a sacrifice!


There is also an omission of all those who suffer as a result of the anti-Libertarian laws that already exist. The abolitionists are blamed for hypothetical suffering that could come about after changes are made to drug laws while their detractors ignore the actual suffering caused by the restrictive policies already in place. And as initially established, accounting for all of that suffering would be impossible anyway.


All in all, what Libertarians vouch for is a less restrictive and more individual friendly way of being governed, not a perfect world free of tragedy and trouble.


Perhaps the fundamental difference between a hypothetical Libertarian world and the non-Libertarian world we live in is that in a Libertarian world, suffering, hardship, poverty, and despair would be more proportionately experienced by individuals who make the worst decisions while in our non-Libertarian world, a less proportionate amount of suffering, hardship, poverty, and despair is felt by individuals who did not make the worst decisions.


Through redistribution of wealth via the welfare state, economic favoritism via business regulations, and arbitrarily determined restrictions on individual liberties (such as marriage and drug use), force is initiated to determine certain outcomes. Without or with fewer uses of government force, individuals would be more responsible for governing how their own lives wind up.  


This does not mean that each individual would ultimately control his own fate in a Libertarian world. One could take impeccable care of his body via diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle, and still wind up with a disease he can’t survive or afford to treat. One could do all the research he’s capable of, develop a product or service that seems bound to be in demand, and work harder and more efficiently than everyone around him, and still get outcompeted by a lazy dope who just happened to have an idea fall in his lap.


A Utopian world would not allow this, but a Libertarian world would.


Utopian worlds do not allow children to go hungry, workers to be killed on the job, people to face racism, entire sectors of the economy to be replaced by machines, or unhealthy foods and drinks to be sold. A Libertarian world would.


The most important distinction between a Utopian world and a Libertarian world is that a Utopian world could never exist. The aforementioned instances of tough luck and bad behavior will always be a part of human life regardless of what laws and policies are enacted.


Libertarianism does not promise to make these unfavorable circumstances go away. It simply accepts their inevitability and tries to mitigate the consequences they bring about by way of preserving and expanding Liberty.


Libertarians should not sell their ideas as Utopian. And critics of Libertarianism should not hold it to a Utopian standard.



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Paul Discher Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:17am
1 & 2 are in conflict with each other.  After all, if we took away something like Social Security, it would hurt people.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:46am
Glenn -
A good explanation. Put simply the difference is this:
Liberalism, progressivism, utopianism, whatever damned ism they are using today, purports to assure an equality of result. As nice as this may sound it typically ends up achieving an equal result only by sharing the misery. Mediocrity. Everyone gets a trophy.
Libertarianism is about a level playing field to assure equal opportunity. The results are up to the individual and chance. There can be nothing more "fair" than that.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:51am
Paul - 
You are trapped in the "benign state paradigm".
Taking away social security would halt government theft. People would have that money (which was theirs to begin with, I might add) to use it for themselves for what I expect in most instances would yield far better results. Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme which is legitimized under state authority.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 19, 2017 - 8:27am
Paul, I agree with Burghal's response to your comment. Not taking something away anymore is not the same as taking something away. It's a bit like my explanation in the 9th paragraph about "non-action."
Burghal, well said in both comments. My goal is to get Libertarians to be more honest. We're never going to gain political power, so we have to keep our credibility. That way, our critiques of both Left and Right will be taken seriously.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jul 19, 2017 - 8:27am
The opioid epidemic has its foundations in legal over drug usage given out by doctors.  Alcohol is a legal drug.  Need to get your facts straight.  Stop making broad assumption. 
Dave Volek Added Jul 19, 2017 - 8:51am
Glen: Nice article, giving lots of philosophical food for thought.
A few months back, I posted an article or made a comment on libertarianism and got a few reponses that not all libertarians think alike. I took a quick look at Wikipedia and was a little surprised at the various differences kinds of libertarians.
For a short time, I embraced the philosophy similar to your article----until I figured out that it would be unlikely I would have been educated enough to respond to your post in a "libertarian" world. My family was too poor to pay the full cost of education for its children.
The best example of your libertarian world is Haiti. Most of the people are dirt poor, working at subsistence level jobs, incapable of rising above those jobs because there is little tax revenue to put in social programs to raise the status of these people. The wealthy in Haiti have little taxes. They pay for their own garbage collection, police services, etc. out of their own pocket. But they can afford it. The poor can't.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 19, 2017 - 9:54am
Dave, thanks for reading and for your response. I'm glad you found it philosophically stimulating.
However, I can't find anything particularly Libertarian about Haiti. Not having a welfare state is not the same as being Libertarian. Libertarianism requires both personal and economic freedom (although, as you mentioned, it is quite a diverse range of ideas). If you have high crime rates and impediments to doing business, it doesn't matter how high the tax rate is. You're not living in a "Libertarian World".
The United States established itself as a world power and bastion of innovation and wealth long before the New Deal. It is only in nations that first prosper freely that welfare states and public investment in education can eventually occur (there is no Capital in Haiti, so how could they fund public works?).
While Socialism and Socialist policies have their merits in the short term, I believe they are grossly misguided in the long run. To me, the loss in growth is not worth the benefits some individuals receive. The beneficiaries are arbitrary instead of merited. A Libertarian World would lean in the opposite direction.
P.S.-I don't see our education system as something that helped me get where I am. When I look back on my childhood and teenage years, I mostly view my public schooling as a hindrance. I should have been spending my time learning life skills, not locked in a classroom.
Mike Haluska Added Jul 19, 2017 - 11:25am
Glenn - your comment:
"If all of the world’s drug laws were repealed, whether instantly or in a transitional method over time, it is highly probable that someone who would not have had access to a particular substance will gain access and wind up dead or otherwise harmed as a result. Libertarians would be foolish to deny this."
is only partially true.  I support the decriminalization of drugs contingent upon:
1) Drugs distributed at no cost through clinics
2) Drug abusers encouraged to detox at no cost at these clinics
3) Strong anti-drug education in schools
I don't claim this to be a perfect or even good solution - I propose it as the best of bad solutions that causes the least harm to non-drug users.  It would do essentially the same thing that ending Prohibition did with alcohol - end the violence and crime associated with the Drug Gangs.  How many people are shot over a six-pack of beer today???
What decriminalization does is confine the harm to those who voluntarily take the drugs.  We would no longer see Police officers, shop owners and innocent bystanders (especially children) getting shot during Gang shoot-outs. 
Mike Haluska Added Jul 19, 2017 - 11:30am
Dave - your comment:
"The best example of your libertarian world is Haiti. Most of the people are dirt poor, working at subsistence level jobs, incapable of rising above those jobs because there is little tax revenue to put in social programs to raise the status of these people."
bears scrutiny.  First of all, Haiti is NOT an example of Libertarian society.  Second, show me ONE government "anti-poverty" program that eliminates or even reduced poverty.  If you want an example of a Free Market economy with comparable size and lack of natural resources as Haiti, I offer Hong Kong.  It is the most Free Market economy in the world, and has no natural resources other than a great harbor for shipping. 
Stone-Eater Added Jul 19, 2017 - 2:12pm
Thanks for educating a European about Libertarians. I think the whole thing is not too far away from 60's ideas somewhat, but more indepth and political.
Less restrictions by laws written by the elite for the elite, and more freedom to the regular Joe.
Could be that I would subscribe to it if I were an American. I sympathize with the clear view.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 19, 2017 - 2:13pm
It is only in nations that first prosper freely that welfare states and public investment in education can eventually occur 
That's the key point. Thumbs up.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 19, 2017 - 3:15pm
Now you get me confused. I'd like to read an answer from Glenn. Because as an outsider it's no easy to understand. But since the US is still a world power I like to understand the motivations and opinions of regular people. We know what the "1%" are about. These guys don't have geographical or national limits.
Mike Haluska Added Jul 19, 2017 - 4:42pm
John G -
If you actually lived in the kind of society you keep advocating you wouldn't be able to freely write in any public forum.  You can't have personal freedom without economic freedom.  The use of government to achieve personal objectives at the expense of others is by definition a form of extortion/theft.  One person/group uses the government's power of force/guns to confiscate the income/wealth of another group.
You can rationalize all you want or throw euphemisms around - theft is still theft.  And there will always be a "disadvantaged group" that the government will "rescue" until everyone is under the thumb of government.  Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Press, Religion, etc. are meaningless unless everyone has economic freedom.  The USSR had Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Press, etc. but nobody dared exercise those "rights" out of fear of being cut off financially by the government - you can't bite the hand that feeds you. 
The source of your complaint about Capitalism Free Markets is that some people have more than others - that this is not "fair and equal".  All that the government can do about income disparity is make the elitist government officials rich while making everyone else "equally miserable".
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 19, 2017 - 6:32pm
Stone-Eater, Mike's response to John pretty much echoes what I'd like to say.
If equality is the goal, then Libertarianism "doesn't work." If you have owners, then some people are going to have more than others.
The idea is that in a Libertarian World, the rich get richer and the poor get... richer. If you think about how many poor people in first world countries have air conditioning, heating, smart phones, cars, televisions, and other wealth and conveniences, then compare that to poor people in the past, you start to become a fan of Capitalism. In Socialist countries, the issue is starvation. In Capitalist countries, the issue is obesity. Which one would you rather have?
Poor people are still deprived of decent healthcare and education. Coincidentally (or not), the government plays a massive role in both of those realms. Hmmm....
Stone-Eater Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:07pm
I understand. The problem is that whatever -ism you take, on the bottom it's always Me First. That's human character. No way around that.
But people should have the choice if they want to change something for THEIR life through work or not. Whatever goals they have. And regulations are blocking that.
But then: Who makes sure that the children of successful parents are on the same level to start like the children of losers ?
They should have the same chances, right ?
THAT's my problem.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:16pm
Stone-Eater, these are impossible tasks. The reason many people work hard to acquire wealth is so that they can care for their children and leave them something when they kick the bucket. If you take away the incentive to work so your lineage can prosper, what is there to work for? To live for?
There is also a false notion that wealth stays in families forever and ever. In free countries, this is completely dependent upon generations of hard work.
I can use myself as an example here. My mother was born middle class, and my father was born poor. They worked their way up to the upper middle class.
I did not develop a real work ethic until my mid 20s. Until then, I didn't live my life in a way that would allow me to take what my parents invested in me and turn it into something greater. Now, I am fighting my way back into the middle class. My wife and I work hard, and are trying to get ourselves on solid ground, so we can give our children better opportunities. We make great contributions to society in doing so. If we were under the impression that any wealth we accumulated would be taken away, or that our kids would get the same benefits as everyone no matter what, we wouldn't work as hard.
By the way, my wife was born absurdly poor. She is from a Third World country. Her parents have absolutely nothing. Her mother lives on a few dollars a day. Yet, my wife worked incredibly hard, and now makes a great living. Her salary is roughly 8 times the average in her country.
The big picture tells a much better story than the immediate picture. :)
Saint George Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:53pm
After all, if we took away something like Social Security, it would hurt people.
Not if you hadn't taxed them previously for it. By abolishing Social Security, you would also have to abolish the payroll tax for it.
Saint George Added Jul 19, 2017 - 9:02pm
Why is it that countries with stronger socialist policies have consistently seen the highest rates of growth in living standards?
I guess because it isn't true. Propaganda usually explains boasts such as, "Our country's policies make water run uphill! It's so very convenient for us!" And ignoramuses like John G believe it.
Why is it that countries that have abolished socialist policies and adopted limited free market ones have consistently and historically seen the highest rates of growth, improvement in living standards, and increases in longevity? Former communist China is just one example.
Patrick Writes Added Jul 19, 2017 - 9:40pm
19th century here we come? 
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 19, 2017 - 10:43pm
We're freer now than we were in the 19th Century. Capitalism has spread around the globe. That's why everyone's richer, healthier, and more literate now than ever before.
Saint George Added Jul 20, 2017 - 12:00am
Logical fallacy. Human ingenuity doesn't require a capitalist overclass to exist.
It might not "require" saved capital, entrepreneurial discovery, and Knightian Uncertainty, but it correlates highly with these things, and has historically been cultivated by them. There are many reasons for this, but the simplest one to understand is that these institutions provide powerful incentives for people to innovate.
Never ignore the power of incentives.
Conversely, human ingenuity ("innovation") has low correlation with authoritarian, collectivist systems like socialism, communism, and fascism, which prevent or punish different kinds of people performing different economic functions — the entrepreneur, the capitalist, the manager, the laborer — from discovering one another and working together by means of voluntary contractual relationships for a common, profitable goal.
It is a historical fact that classical liberalism from the time of the European Enlightenment to the start of WWI (1914) encouraged unprecedented economic growth and material progress. Only those in deep denial of history can doubt this. See a standard reference work on this topic by Jonathan Hughes and Louis P. Cain:
American Economic History (8th Edition)
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 20, 2017 - 3:44am
John G, you can make things up if you want.
If it's true that "there are more people in abject poverty than ever before," it's only because of population growth. The poverty rate has been taking a beating ever since humanity and Capitalism embraced each other.
The world is getting better thanks to free trade, innovation, human rights recognition, and the rule of law. A few people lose their jobs along the way, and that stinks. But keeping those people employed would mean holding the rest of the world back via force.
I live in a third world country that is fighting to develop. The government here wastes a lot of money, but the people are incredibly resilient. It's amazing to watch what people can do when bureaucratic busybodies keep their hands in their own pockets.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 20, 2017 - 4:00am
It's not getting better for people whose main goal is to enslave everyone under Socialism.
But for those of us who want people to be free and successful (and to be free and successful ourselves), the world is getting much better. There's less violence, more abundance of food and resources, cheaper energy, higher literacy rates, longer life expediencies, better medicines, more human rights, easier and faster communication, more access to art and music, more free time, higher productivity, increased freedom for women, etc.
Some people think this is a negative. They want to control the population and make them live less fruitful lives. They think they know what's best for everyone, and when people get to decide what's best for themselves, there are a few individuals who get salty about it. Their Utopian fantasies never came to fruition, and, to their dismay, the world is better because of it.
But we can ignore those people and continue to build and strive towards greatness! :)
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 20, 2017 - 4:27am
We're moving on, John. Get on board, or get out of the way.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 20, 2017 - 4:29am
When in doubt, accuse Libertarians of being neocons.
Nice use of cognitive dissonance!
Saint George Added Jul 20, 2017 - 4:30am
It is a historical fact that classical liberalism from the time of the European Enlightenment to the start of WWI (1914) encouraged unprecedented economic growth and material progress. Only those in deep denial of history can doubt this. See a standard reference work on this topic by Jonathan Hughes and Louis P. Cain:

American Economic History (8th Edition)
Thomas Sutrina Added Jul 20, 2017 - 8:51am
St. George, European Enlightenment for me started with Luther.  What Industrial Revolution?  The 100 Year War about religions ended before interchangeable parts, latitude navigation, and machine muscle resulted the start of economic growth.  The founders of America read all the leading and passed authors of the European Enlightenment.  Interchangeable parts were in its infancy at the time.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jul 20, 2017 - 8:54am
St. George, the next batch of authors were the socialist that gave us the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, USSR, etc..  Marx ditch the principles of the Industrial Revolution in favor of gaining total control.
Dino Manalis Added Jul 20, 2017 - 9:15am
Libertarianism wants to be free from government intervention as much as possible with no belief in utopias!
John Minehan Added Jul 20, 2017 - 12:55pm
I think if you are going to be a libertarian, you have to accept a certain higher level of communitarianism, simply out of self-interest.
If government does less, and assuming that certain things need to be done to insure that society functions, then it becomes the duty of people and private institutions to do more.
However, that might also mean that things that benefit society might be done with greater efficiency and better effect.  Although I am not LDS, the effectiveness of the Social Welfare agencies of the Mormon's is worth noting.
Would it be perfect?  No, as the author points out, nothing human ever is perfect.  But there are indications that such an approach would be an improvement. 
John Minehan Added Jul 20, 2017 - 12:57pm
"Go and sell your capitalism to the Iraqis and the Syrians who are living under the kosh of your capitalist overlords you nut job."
Actually, John, that was one of the few things we did in Iraq that might have been beneficial . . . . 
John Minehan Added Jul 20, 2017 - 1:02pm
"Logical fallacy. Human ingenuity doesn't require a capitalist overclass to exist."
You could argue that the existence of a "capitalist overclass" is a sign of regulatory capture and a poorly functioning free-market system.  Otherwise, "creative destruction" would tend to re-distribute wealth.  
John Minehan Added Jul 20, 2017 - 1:10pm
The fellow in 1900 who owns a successful buggy-whip factory gets wiped out if he doesn't diversify into fan belts to give a humorous example.
People who make outsized contributions should reap outsized rewards.  It
is the only way it works. 
On the other hand, no one who has made his nut loves "creative destruction" or the unfettered free market.
You need a rule of law to balance that, but too much law and regulation ("regulatory capture") endanger the process.
Like all human interactions it is a continuing dynamic equilibrium.   
Saint George Added Jul 20, 2017 - 5:57pm
The belief in 'the free market' is a utopian fantasy.
It is a historical fact that classical liberalism from the time of the European Enlightenment to the start of WWI (1914) encouraged unprecedented economic growth and material progress. Only those in deep denial of history can doubt this. See a standard reference work on this topic by Jonathan Hughes and Louis P. Cain:
target="_blank">American Economic History (8th Edition)
Jett Rucker Added Jul 20, 2017 - 9:41pm
Government is immoral.
P. J. O'Rourke
Autumn Cote Added Jul 21, 2017 - 4:54am
I removed your most recent submission because it's against the rules to post two articles within a 48-hour period.   I made a copy, so if you don't have one, I'll email it to you.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer beat!
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 21, 2017 - 5:39am
Minehan -
To your first point above...
If you take centralized government away from the social equation that is exactly what would happen. In fact that is what happened in this country before the formation of the massive state apparatus which has been growing nearly unchecked for the past 100 years
Thomas Sutrina Added Jul 22, 2017 - 8:09am
John G., really, "When confronted with uncomfortable facts burn down a strawman. I made no such accusation. (just three statements above ) Capitalism requires a state to enforce its servitude."  If you were talking about Hitler, Mo Sa Tung, Stalin, etc. it would be a true statement.  The whole nation was a state of enforced servitude.  And yes John we can find individual capitalist that did create conditions of servitude but not even close to the three I listed and the others like them.   You do create strawmen and never actually use facts.
Saint George Added Jul 23, 2017 - 1:17pm
Fascists are capitalists you illiterate idiot.
Fascists are socialists. 
Saint George Added Jul 24, 2017 - 5:46am
I don't know who Corey is.
You should take your Tourette's meds and get a grip on yourself.
One question:
For whom do you shill?
Mike Haluska Added Jul 24, 2017 - 8:58am
John G - your allegation:
"Why is it that countries with stronger socialist policies have consistently seen the highest rates of growth in living standards? "
Right - based on the United Nations "ranking system"?  The only "ranking system" that matters is how people vote with their feet.  Given a choice of any nation on Earth to immigrate to, it is NO CONTEST which nation leads in immigration.  You and your ilk measure "living standard" by how much "Free Stuff" the government doles out after confiscatory taxes.
Free, independent, personally responsible people gravitate towards a government and economic system like the United States.  Parasites like you and your ilk gravitate towards "Cradle to Grave" socialist hellholes always on their way to bankruptcy. 
Thank God working class American people finally stood up last election and loudly said "ENOUGH"!!!  $22 Trillion in debt from 6 decades of irresponsible socialist Welfare State programs and more crime and poverty is evidence enough of what happens when the government tries to mix free enterprise and socialism.  The largest budget item has become ENTITLEMENTS - not legitimate government functions.
The Good News is there are several still functioning "Socialist Paradises" out there for you to relocate to.  So go sell "Crazy" someplace else - we're all stocked up here after 60 years of the Welfare State!!!
Mike Haluska Added Jul 24, 2017 - 9:03am
John G - your drooling:
"Capitalism requires a state to enforce its servitude."
only reinforces my assessment of your mental capabilities.  A system which regulates every aspect of the people's lives, denies private property rights, confiscates almost all income and provides 3rd World services to the general public . . . THAT'S ENFORCED SERVITUDE . . . THAT'S SOCIALISM!! 
Thomas Sutrina Added Jul 24, 2017 - 11:50am
Mike H, and Saint George, you did such a good job addressing John G. that I am speechless.
Mike Haluska Added Jul 25, 2017 - 9:58am
John G - your points:
 a) The neocons are arch capitalists and
 b) they didn't do it on their own. 
deserves a response. 
If there is such a thing as an "Arch Capitalist" I would be proud to be called one.  I believe in free and open cooperation among all men regardless of race, economic status, religion, ethnic origin, etc.  In a free Capitalist society nobody cared that Tesla was from Eastern Europe, Carnegie was from Irish family, Vanderbilt was a prize fighter and started as a dock worker, Jobs was a Jewish kid who built his computer in his garage with his Polish best friend, etc.  
In a true Capitalist society:
     - there are no arbitrary barriers to success or pursuit of your dreams.
     - nobody is forced to do business with anyone
     - the government acts as a referee, not a picker of "winners"
     - advancement is based on merit - not who you know in government
     - the only way to better your own situation is to serve others first
As far as "they didn't do it on their own", that is true of any society or economic system.  They did use their own ingenuity, desire, wits, hard work, dedication to gain the cooperation of others - unlike socialist systems in which a central authority dictates every aspect of life.
Capitalism was never proposed as a guaranteed "cure" for poverty - just a potential way out of poverty for those willing to work hard and sacrifice.
Socialism guarantees "equality of outcomes" and simply spreads the poverty around so that everyone (except the elite political class) is EQUALLY MISERABLE.
The primary difference between you John G and myself is that I don't want to impose my beliefs on you.  If you want to live in a "socialist paradise" go ahead and relocate to the one of your choice - I won't lift a finger to stop you.  You on the other hand want to end the system we live in and force me to live under your standards.  There is no comparable nation to America I can relocate to.  So I will fight you and your ilk who want to ruin the greatest idea and achievement of mankind - America with every fiber of my being and intellect.  As will many others who value personal freedom, not authority to a central government.  
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 25, 2017 - 10:04am
John G is having a rough go of it...
Mike Haluska Added Jul 26, 2017 - 3:50pm
John G - I don't know how you believe:
"I don't know what labour owning the means of production has to do with 'enforced servitude'."
The "people" of Cuba, USSR, China all own the "means of production".  Are the workers "in charge" in any of these countries?  Do all of the workers get together to set their wages, hours, benefits, etc. or does the "all-knowing, all-compassionate" Politburo dictate those things?  Do the workers get to choose which factory they work at?  Who decides what is made and where it goes?  You're a fool if you think this isn't "enforced servitude"!  What you haven't learned is the effect of Human Nature on the implementation of "everybody owns (X)" whether X is a factory, park or transportation system. 
When "everybody" owns something, "nobody" takes care of it.  Human Nature and common sense tell you that if you are one of the 1.4 Billion people of China, your "ownership" is so insignificant as to be meaningless.  If you don't own something, you don't care for or work hard for it as if it were your own.  When you rent a car and go through a mud puddle, do you take it to the car wash first before you return it?  If you burn a hole in the carpet with your cigarette do you point it out to the Rental Car manager? 
Saint George Added Jul 26, 2017 - 11:58pm
The USSR and China were poor examples at best of socialism because of that failure. Despite that they both managed far greater and faster improvements in the standards of living for their populations than any capitalist country achieved in the same periods.
Completely wrong. In fact, living standards in both communist Russia and communist China declined compared to pre-communist eras. The only difference was that in both countries, poverty was more evenly distributed.
Glenn Verasco Added Jul 26, 2017 - 11:59pm
Incredible, John G. Just incredible.
Millions died under your policies. It was when China opened up to the world and scaled back your policies that Capitalism was able to bring tens of millions of impoverished Chinese into the middle class.
Starvation is essentially non-existent in Russia and China, which was not the case when you were having your way.
What your ilk does is assume that everyone is willing to do as you say (aside from some nameless, faceless villains that you believe in) and that everyone is just wonderful and happy to obey you and your system.
In reality, not everyone is lovely. That's why your ideas don't work. When you remove incentives, and instead guarantee living standards, you open the door to the dictators who outsmarted the Socialist dreamers and used your system against you.
You may think you have good intentions, John. But what you are fighting for is mass death.
By the way, my history teachers taught me the lies you are spreading, especially in college. I did my own research to figure out that you are all propagandists that can't accept reality.
Saint George Added Jul 27, 2017 - 12:01am
In fact, it was only when Lenin temporarily implemented his New Economic Policy — allowing peasants to own small plots of land, grow what they wanted, and more importantly, ask whatever selling price they wished — that food production increased, and the peasant class progressed economically from the time of the revolution.
Saint George Added Jul 27, 2017 - 2:55am
An astonishing, bald faced lie.
Most of what the USSR achieved in terms of economic progress was all provided by western aid, especially from the U.S. That's all been documented and never refuted.
As for communist China, see "Economic Growth in Communist China" by Colin Clark. E.g.,
". . . in no post-war year have the Chinese people had as much to eat (per head) as they had even in the 1930s" [i.e., before their fall into communism]
"In a country as poor as China, food inevitably represents the largest component of national product. The official figure for the harvest of 1957 of 185 million tons . . . would appear to have a credible basis. After deducting some 15 million tons for seed and fodder, this represented about 1.5 lbs of grain (or its equivalent in potatoes) per head of population per day which sufficed to feed the country at a little above subsistence level, but left little margin to feed draught animals, or to produce meat, eggs or milk. In 1958, a year of unusually good weather, when the official claim, even after the revision, was still 250 million tons, the best independent estimate for the actual harvest . . . is now 200-210 million tons. This was followed by a sharp decline in agricultural output—officially attributed to the weather."
Economic Growth in Communist China
Colin Clark
The China Quarterly
No. 21 (Jan-Mar. 1965) pp. 148-167
Mike Haluska Added Jul 27, 2017 - 4:41pm
John G - your claim:
"Despite that they both managed far greater and faster improvements in the standards of living for their populations than any capitalist country achieved in the same periods."
is so Frakkin' full of holes it's astonishing you made it!  You call the mass executions of tens of MILLIONS of Russian and Ukrainian peasants and dissidents by Stalin and the tens of MILLIONS brutally murdered during Mao's "Cultural Revolution" mere "blips on the socialist record"???  Both of these psychopaths mad Hitler look like an amateur!!!
Done with replying to your bullshit - go sell crazy somewhere else!!!