If Socialism Is So Great, Why Do People Flee It? Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 08 2018
The unavoidable fact is that people vote with their feet, and they consistently flee more socialistic locales in favor of places offering greater degrees of individual freedom.

If socialism works, why do people subjected to it invariably abandon it for more capitalistic destinations? 

That dynamic doesn't just apply to international migration between nations, either.  It applies with equal force to interstate migration patterns within America. 

Consider the latest news from that paragon of socialism, Venezuela.  According to Gallup this week, fully four in ten Venezuelans wish to flee the country: 

Venezuelans are fleeing their country in droves amid the chaos in their government and their streets.  More than four in 10 residents (41%) in 2017 said they would like to move to another country permanently if they could...  The past several years have been incredibly difficult for Venezuelans.  Questionable government decisions have led to a domino-effect crisis that continues to worsen, leaving residents unable to afford basic necessities such as food and housing, and without a sense of security as they walk their streets.  Now, many believe they can find better lives elsewhere. 

It might come as news to many that before Hugo Chavez and his socialist revolution, Venezuela actually stood as South America's most prosperous nation.  As even Gallup concedes, however, years of socialism have relegated it to that proverbial ash heap of failed leftist experiments.  Even such rudimentary consumer goods as toilet paper have become unavailable: 

Venezuelans are likely shocked by the rapid, downward spiral their country experienced in just a matter of years.  Their country was a powerhouse in Latin America in the 1990s.  But a decline in the price of oil, paired with questionable government decisions, sent the national economy into a tailspin - and with it, residents' sense of stability.  Now, many Venezuelans would like to leave the crisis behind them. 

And in a revelation that will have Hugo Chavez spinning even more fitfully in his grave, fully one-fifth of them would choose that great capitalist monster the United States as their destination. 

Rationalizing that reality, defenders of the softer socialism of Bernie Sanders (I - Vermont) might respond that Venezuela doesn't represent "true democratic socialism" that they advocate. 

Unfortunately for them, reality dispels that fallback position as well.  Namely, even European socialist democracies whose model they praise witness the same dynamic vis-à-vis the United States. 

To wit, the left-leaning Pew Research Center just released its annual data on global migration patterns, and the results are similarly harsh for advocates of softer socialism.  Each year, it tabulates the total number of migrants residing across the globe, and provides a user-friendly interactive map showing both origins and destinations between whatever nations one seeks to compare. 

And once again, it offers a rude awakening for advocates of "democratic socialism." 

For example, in 2017 approximately 50,000 Swedish natives called the United States home, whereas only 20,000 U.S. natives called Sweden home.  If Scandinavian socialism offers such a comparatively superior model, with its plethora of benefits and generous leave policies, why would that be the case? 

Nor is Sweden some sort of outlier. 

In 2017, 30,000 Norwegians lived in the U.S., but only 20,000 Americans lived in Norway.  Some 30,000 Danes also lived in the U.S. in 2017, compared to just 10,000 Americans who chose Denmark for its supposedly superior lifestyle. 

And what about Canada, whose benefits are often praised by American leftists?  Well, only 310,000 American natives called Canada home in 2017, whereas a whopping 890,000 Canadians called America home. 

Keep in mind that all of these nations possess populations far smaller than the U.S., so those disparities become even more vivid after a per capita adjustment. 

Indeed, according to a separate 2017 Gallup survey, fully 4% of the world's inhabitants would move to the U.S. if they could: 

Nearly 150 million people - or 4% of the world's adult population - would move to the U.S. if they could.  That figure is larger than the next four most popular destinations combined.  If everyone who wanted to move to the U.S. had their way, the country's total population would increase by almost 50%. 

And as noted above, the same dynamic applies within the United States, as highlighted by Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI): 

North American Moving Services just released its annual US Migration Report for 2017 based on household moves from one US state to another last year.  In 2017, the top five inbound US states were:  Arizona, No. 1 with 67% inbound moves vs. 37% outbound, followed by Idaho (63%-37% in-out), North Carolina (62%-38%), South Carolina (62%-38%) and Tennessee (58%-42%).  The top five outbound US states last year were No. 1 Illinois (32% inbound moves vs. 68% outbound), followed by Connecticut (38%-62% in-out), New Jersey (38%-62%), California (40%-60%), and Michigan (41%-59%). 

Notice any pattern? 

The unavoidable fact is that people vote with their feet, and they consistently flee more socialistic locales in favor of places offering greater degrees of individual freedom. 

Whether within the United States or globally, it would be helpful if more people internalized that simple lesson.