During the socialist experiment in Egypt, where I grew up, in every speech the revolutionary dictator, Gamal Abdel Nasser, would fly into a rage against what he called the corrupt rich, large owners of agricultural land and the big companies, robbing the wealth from the poor Egyptian people.
Nasser nationalized all the companies and banks; and limited ownership of the land to a few acres per family. Private enterprise was virtually gone, limited to just little stores and apartment buildings. But then even the owners of apartment buildings were demonized as greedy, and Nasser punished them by introducing severe rent control. Rents were sometimes cut by more than 400%, and stayed at that level for life. The result was that buildings were virtually abandoned by their owners, who could no longer afford to maintain them; many neighborhoods turned into slums. As no one built rental buildings any more, there was a horrific shortage of apartments for rent. In a few years, two — then three –families started living together in one apartment; some of the poor people Nasser said he loved made cemeteries their homes.
Mosques, sheikhs, and religious institutions, including Al Azhar Islamic University, all became government employees. Religion became a government business, and Islamic leaders often became the mouth-piece of the government. Eventually, the government could not escape the tyranny of Islamic Sharia law. Leaders who violated Islamic law were threatened or assassinated.
Several years after pitting the rich against the poor, everyone in Egypt became poor. Even people who had previously enjoyed money struggled to survive — except for the political class.
The president, his family, his cronies, his cabinet and military leaders became the new rich class, as well as the major employers for everyone, as unemployment was rampant everywhere else. The sons and relatives of the Egyptian president cruised around Cairo in expensive foreign cars while 95% of Egyptians stuffed themselves uncomfortably into publicly-owned buses.
What socialism does is to prevent the private sector from being the rich, and replaces it with a useless political class that understands nothing about running a business for profit. When the private sector was in charge, the economy grew; when the government was in charge, the economy declined.
Moreover, the public could no longer sue the government when there were mistakes in health or rights, whereas when the private sector controlled the economy competitively, the public was free to bring lawsuits against any corrupt practices or mistakes that had caused harm to anyone.
One would have thought this basic lesson in economics had already been resolved in the American mind and seen as evidence that socialism and communism could not work, but apparently our current administration is taking the naïve American public on a ride from which it might never recover.
Every time I listen to the president ranting against the rich millionaires and billionaires, I ask myself how educated people in America can be fooled by such rhetoric. Advocating a socialist agenda — while denying that it is socialist — is what the administration and his supporters are doing. They are being dishonest, to say the least, about what they believe.
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