Democratic Socialism Isn’t Free

Watch this 90-second video

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. The guy in the video has no clue. Marxist-Leninist Communism is not Democratic Socialism. Hiding the truth behind invoking the “red menace” meme is not fair. If you want to see Democratic Socialism in action lets talk about Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, and Holland. BTW all these Countries are also Constitutional Monarchies with freely elected Parliaments and Prime Ministers, Finland is also Democratic Socialist but no Monarchy, only a Parliament and Prime Minister. All of these these countries have a standard of living the equals or exceeds the U.S.

    • Jon,

      1. You missed his point. Have you read Marx & Engels? “Democratic” socialism is a way point on the material dialectic. It’s the tyranny of the majority.

      2. Comparing the USA to e.g., Sweden is trickier than it looks on the surface. In 2009 Rory Cooper noted:

      • Our Index of Economic Freedom shows that Sweden has some of the lowest scores worldwide in fiscal freedom and government size. The wealth tax has been abolished, but taxes are still a huge burden. The top income tax rate of 57% is one of the highest in the world. Total government spending is still more than half of GDP. The labor market’s inflexible regulations have caused the labor freedom score to dip below the world average.
      • In 1970, Sweden was the world’s third-richest nation, but it fell in the rankings to #18 as the welfare state expanded. And these statistics don’t even accurately measure living standards, such as per capita disposable income, where Sweden falls even further in the rankings.
      • Indeed, Swedes had less per capita disposable income than the average Western European in 2006 and also trailed the U.S., Canada, and several Pacific Rim nations. And, although the official jobless rate is about six percent, independent estimates suggest the real unemployment rate is between 15–20 percent.
      • Sweden requires mandatory paid sick leave where the government pays sick workers 80% their salary while on leave for an indefinite period of time. However, abuse is rampant and at any given moment, 10% of Sweden’s workers are on sick leave, and over three-fifths tell pollsters that they take the leave when they have no health problems.
      • President Obama campaigned on a tax plan that would give us a higher top rate than Sweden’s 57%. And these sorts of tax rates clearly slow the economy, which is why Sweden cut their taxes from the punitive 1970’s level of 87%. Currently, only 6 of the top 30 industrial nations have a tax rate for all levels of government combined that adds up to more than 55%, and Sweden is one of them.
      • Comparing European nations between 1995 and 2004, the average income grew by 29% in Sweden, 37% in EU-15 countries, and 72% in Britain. The income of the poorest 10% of the population grew by only 10% in Sweden, compared to 59% in Britain. The worst off were better off where the labor market was freer.
      • But there are some bright spots in Sweden. For example, they eliminated their “Death Tax” while America’s remains at a staggering 45% rate. President Obama and Congressional leaders have delayed scheduled cuts to the death tax, and have proposed keeping it high.
      • While corporate tax rates haven’t been cut in the United States in over a decade, Sweden recently cut theirs from 60% to 28%. High tax rates deprive companies of both the means and the incentive to take advantage of new market opportunities or technological changes that can improve productivity. Most advanced countries in the world have responded to new global economic realities by slashing corporate tax rates. The U.S. stands almost alone in having resisted such cuts, and our corporate tax rates are now among the highest in the world.

      3. (As a classical liberal) I define freedom as the relative absence of external constraints. Democratic socialism brings more civil restraint on free speech, religious liberty, association, and commercial activity, not less.

      4. I’m an Augustinian. I don’t trust you or anyone else with more authority to regulate my civil life and commercial activities. Putting more authority in the hands of depraved people doesn’t make them less depraved or less apt to abuse their authority and power.

      5. All forms of centralized political organizations are driven by an essentially pagan eschatology: If we just give more of our liberty (as defined above) to x (a larger, more intrusive government), then Y (utopia or an approximation of it) will occur. History says that’s not true.

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