Recent polls, articles and opinion pieces describe the rise in popularity of socialism.
The Democratic Socialists claim that their ranks are growing. There have been recent high-profile political victories by socialist candidates in various parts of the United States.
Among millennials, there is a certain coolness about socialism. Young people are attracted to it because they think it brings people together.
My personal experiences with socialism have shown me how devastating it can be with regard to the quality of life of real live people. In my native country, it brought people together in misery.
I was born in Venezuela and spent a good part of my childhood there. When I was a child, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America — and that’s according to the World Economic Forum. Going back to 1950, it was the fourth wealthiest country in the world on a per capita basis. Today, it ranks 132nd.
So what happened? The simple answer is socialism.
Here’s a personal anecdote from friends in Venezuela on the failures of socialism. When the socialists came to power, farmers in Venezuela had been given a production quota by the government. Every year they failed to meet the quota.
Finally, the government said to the farmers: If you meet the quota, you can keep everything you produce above the quota.
You can guess what happened. They haven’t missed a quota since. The more you tax someone, the less production you get. Personal gain, profits and the work ethic go hand in hand. Pretty simple economics. And on top of that, socialism teaches a disrespect for property rights.
Today, I live in West Virginia with my husband and five children. I represent the 16th district in the West Virginia state Senate. The roots of socialism in West Virginia go back to the 1930s. In 1934, the per capita income in West Virginia ranked 30th. Prevailing wage was enacted in 1937. As more and more socialist-style policies were enacted over the years, West Virginia eventually sank to last place in per capita income.
So what happened to West Virginia? The simple answer is socialism.
I am proud to say, that under Republican leadership, West Virginia has rejected the socialist policies of the past and is beginning to move in the right direction. We have done away with a significant number of those policies and are working to roll back more of them.
As a result, West Virginia had the fastest growing economy in the United States in 2017. And family incomes are on the rise.
Ironically, both Venezuela and West Virginia are rich in natural resources. And both have proven that socialism destroys wealth and prosperity. As a former school teacher, I believe that these are the types of lessons that need to be taught in our schools. I don’t want our children to learn about the devastation of socialism from first-hand experience.
I want them to understand that individual freedom and free markets are the principles that lead to prosperity. That way, they can avoid the mistakes of the past and reap the benefits. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.