Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Socialists Love "Cards"

Socialists love cards. Health care insurance cards, food ration cards, social security cards, etc. Much to the chagrin of those Venezuelans who like to eat, dictator Hugo Chávez has recently introduced his own special card:
Presented by President Hugo Chávez as an instrument to make shopping for groceries easier, the "Good Life Card'' is making various segments of the population wary because they see it as a furtive attempt to introduce a rationing card similar to the one in Cuba.
Chavez's opponents rightly worry that his socialist policies are destroying production and these cards are attempts to introduce rationing.
Former director of Venezuela's Central Bank, Domingo Maza Zavala, said this could become a rationing card that would limit your purchases in light of the country's recurring problems with supplies.

"If the intention is to beat inflation, they should find a good source of supply for the entire market and not only for centers that are part of social chains,'' he said. "To do that, you need to encourage local production with the help of the private sector, since they cannot do it by themselves. The government cannot become the ultimate food distributor.''
In other words, they need a free market in food! According to Chávez, no one should worry:

"I have called it a Good Life Card so far,'' Chávez said in a brief statement made on the government television channel. ``It's a card for you to purchase what you are going to take and they keep deducting. It's to buy what you need, not to promote communism, but to buy what just what you need."

So, evidently, if you "need" food, this card will magically produce it. How? He does not say. And how is this different in principle from the absurd socialist schemes of the Obama-Pelosi Regime? After all, Obama and his ilk dream of giving you a universal health card, perhaps he can call it the "Good Health Card", to go along with your social security card, and if we're really lucky, a national ID card.

Why do socialists love these cards? Because these cards are the physical manifestation of their core philosophy.

At root, socialists believe everyone is entitled to the work of others regardless of their own effort. In fact, the whole socialist apparatus is just a legalized form of theft whereby the government takes products from those who made them and gives them to those who have not. Such a view is based on a distorted view of the nature of reality. In essence, the socialist imagines that goods simply exist and that their job is to "allocate resources" to those in need. For example, if someone needs a sandwich, they should get it. If someone needs brain surgery, they should get it. These products are "rights" insist the socialists. Of course, the logical question is, to paraphrase Ayn Rand, "provided by whom?" Well, that's where things get a little tricky. Because, in reality, things have to be produced, and those that produce them usually would like something in return for their effort.

Of course, in a free society, individuals trade value for value. Both sides are free not to enter the transaction if they so choose. If one wishes to give a value away for less than another would pay, that is his choice based on his own values. Fundamentally, such a system is a system of justice because each participant owns the fruits of his own labor and is free to trade based on his own independent judgment.

Such a system is anathema to the socialist. He wishes that certain forms of work were worth more than anyone is willing to pay. He is angry that man's nature requires such a system of trade and wishes things were different. He wishes those who work really hard would just give away some of their things to those who do not work as hard. He seeks to use the armed power of the state to enforce these wishes on society. However, when he implements this form of force, he finds that the goods do not get produced as readily as they once did, since men are forced to give away more than they get in exchange. In the face of decreasing supplies, prices rise so he passes a law to limit prices from increasing. Even less gets produced at the lower price. He gets even angrier that reality does not conform to his wishes. The socialist himself can not produce the goods, so he directs his anger at those who do not produce enough supply. He accuses them of selfishness and hoarding. He threatens more violence, but this only results in even less goods.

Enter the card.

To the socialist, the card is a way around reality's limitations. The socialist can not create goods from thin air, but he can create a card with demands printed on it. Everyone gets one! In this way, the card can be seen as a physical manifestation of egalitarianism. The card represents a wish - a demand against the nature of reality to give the holder something he did not earn. It is also a threat. When one waves the card, goods and services are to be produced for the waver, or else.

The card also confers a sense of control. The central planning Philosopher King needs information, data, and statistics with which to plan and herd his chattel. He needs to track his subjects, perhaps assign them each an innocuous number, control their movement, prevent them from threatening his order while optimizing the allocation of "resources."

It should be noted that these sector level cards pale in comparison with the card of all cards - fiat currency. These pieces of paper created by the government are the ultimate egalitarian dream. They cost virtually nothing to produce but entitle the holder to anything his heart desires - they can even be used to "stimulate" his herd - assuming, of course, there is anything to trade them for.

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