I think Tolstoy might concede to expanding his point: All happy countries are alike, while each unhappy country is unhappy in its own way. Consider America and Venezuela, for instance. Both are unhappy in their own way…and in their own dumpsters. While ours have commenced exploding, theirs have become cafeterias. There are lessons in both conditions. Perhaps the most surprising of those being that the measure of a people’s happiness can be found in the state of their refuse bins.
And while our detonating dumpsters are certainly suboptimal, tonight I want to focus on those in Venezuela. The situation there appears to be deteriorating faster than Hillary’s motor system, and is generating images even more repulsive as a result.
It’s all really quite unfortunate. Before Hugo Chavez squatted over the countryside, that country had the highest standards of living in its neighborhood. Now the top occupations there are mercenary and line stander. Life has become so dire that empty-eyed wraiths even plunder the zoos to find sustenance in gorilla briskets. At least Harambe died with dignity.
But dignity is now a luxury good in that destitute land. Public coffers are so dusty that the state is struggling to even pay for its own currency. Money costs money, you know. And with high triple figure inflation, new bills are likely to become a primary import staple. Of course the country still sits on a sea of raw petroleum, but how many days in a row can a man stand to eat that? More days than muslims can go without killing, but still no one’s calling them Barrels of Peace.
Anyone reading about Venezuela’s misery will note an extremely frequent remark in the comboxes. This being something to the effect of Socialism Kills. The sentiment is repeated so often (though less probably at Salon.com) that it almost seems a reflex gesture. This lead me to wonder whether there are additional national misery metrics beyond just the blast radius of a country’s dumpsters. Specifically as they pertain to the continuum between socialism and capitalism. This site was extremely useful in addressing that.
Socialism and capitalism are chameleon terms, often taking on the colors of their user’s background. Whether one is used as positive or pejorative is typically a function of the speaker’s fiscal politics. And while they are terms that embody more philosophy than finances, there are figures to roughly approximate the general extent of that philosophy in different countries. Probably the most obvious of these is the percentage of GDP consumed by government. Whatever else they may advocate, capitalists and socialists will always scurry to the low and high sides of this scale.
The first number I was keen to record was Venezuela’s government spending/GDP, since obviously death and deprivation reside at levels more intrusive than this. That figure was 38%. Which is quite a relief until you see that America’s is 38.9%. And now things don’t sound felicitous at all. I call the lemurs!
If we we jettison from consideration city and micro states, along with those countries at war or similarly in process of being helped by America, what follows are the 10 most socialist and capitalist countries.
1. North Korea (100)
2. Cuba (65)
3. Greece (60)
4. Slovenia (60)
5. Finland (58)
6. Denmark (57)
7. France (57)
8. Belgium (55)
9. Sweden (53)
10. Italy (51)
1. Democratic Republic of Congo (13)
2. Sudan (13)
3. Nigeria (13)
4. Guatemala (14)
5. Bangladesh (15)
6. Central African Republic (15)
7. Madagascar (15)
8. Iran (15)
9. Sierra Leone (16)
10. Turkmenistan (16)
I never realized when conservatives talked about unleashing the animal spirits of capitalism it was supposed to be taken as literal. Now note the 10 highest GDP per capita countries.
1. Kuwait (38)
2. Norway (44)
3. Switzerland (34)
4. United States (39)
5. Saudi Arabia (38)
6. Ireland (41)
7. Netherlands (47)
8. Australia (36)
9. Austria (51)
10. Sweden (53)
Ireland is per capita richer than Germany? That’s what it says, though whatever it is about socialism that’s killing Venezuela, its effects seem to be largely depleted by the time they reach foreign shores. In fact, 40% government seems to be about the going rate for wealthy locales. As an aside, the average government consumption in the 10 poorest countries is mid-20s.
Though an indictment of capitalism would only be facetious using strictly these figures. Outside the Kims and Castros, socialism appears very favorable because it’s generally the form of society white people prefer.
Capitalism looks poor in comparison because Africans and Amerinds aren’t competent enough to stand up and maintain the institutions that subsequently vacuum tax dollars from the till. This aside from the fact that their perpetual Kleptocrats will tolerate very little competition for resources from government agencies. And no matter how individually profligate he may endeavor to be, one man is nothing before the spending might of a modern bureaucracy.
But for sake of meaningful analysis, here’s some direct comparisons:
Austria (51) and Switzerland (34) offer a good one. These contiguous states are very similar aside from a dramatic difference on the soc-cap scale. This should be something quite noticeable when crossing the border. Yet in broad scale, it isn’t. They are both peaceful, prosperous, first-tier societies. Though the more capitalist Swiss income is higher than more socialist Austria’s.
You will see nearly identical results in comparisons between Ireland/Uk, France/Germany, and Australia/New Zealand. All similarly situated and desirable countries with significant soc-cap disparities. Yet most would hardly know the difference without looking closely. Clearly soc-cap isn’t determinative within normal boundaries. Though direct wealth comparisons do favor the more capitalist country in every instance above.
Here’s another comparison for sake of diversity. Malawi (49) and Tanzania (20) are also bordering states with enough similarities as to be indistinguishable from a safari’s vantage point. Both are obviously desolate shitholes. And (again) despite roosting on opposite ends of the soc-cap scale, they produce essentially congruent results. In Tanzania’s case ($2,667 per capita income), socialism must kill even when it’s extreme capitalism. Though as with previous examples, socialist Malawi is relatively even worse.
I did find one comparison where the pattern broke. Looking at the contiguous states of Angola, Zambia, and the DRC, the most socialist by a wide margin (Angola) was also by far the wealthiest. I fear one day we’ll be equally wealthy.
So here are the conclusions:
1. It’s almost comical how many perfectly good insults get wasted arguing about political and economic systems, when so much outcome is correlated with demographics.
2. Socialism doesn’t kill until it gets extreme. Capitalism doesn’t kill until it gets black.
3. In most relevant comparisons, capitalism favors higher mean (though not necessarily median) income. The distinction is not trivial.
4. Venezuela has other problems.
5. Whether philosophically committed to socialism or capitalism, your best place to start is with several million white people. The proof is in the dumpsters.