There are two kinds of equality: equality of treatment under the law, and equality of outcomes. Only one of these is compatible with liberty, for those with liberty are free to live their lives as they wish, and as different people make different decisions, and have different skills, they achieve different outcomes. Different people with different outcomes leave different legacies for their children. If left free, we neither start, nor end at the same place, making equality of outcomes incompatible with liberty.
To the degree that people want liberty, they also want free markets, and to the degree that people want equality of outcomes, they want socialism.
The ‘problem’ with free markets, to the degree that you can call it a ‘problem’, is that free market dynamics do not grow wealth so much as they allow people to grow wealth, and people do not all grow wealth in equal amounts. As such, someone might argue that as a distribution system, free markets are ‘unfair’.
‘Fairness’ is of course subjective.
Once someone takes the subjective position that having wealth created unevenly is ‘unfair’, they look for a more ‘fair’ way to distribute income, completely ignoring the fact that wealth must be created before it can be distributed.
Free markets are driven by profit and loss, and this is a central point, as what it entails is risk. All wealth is grown through risk. Even income paid through a job is risk, as to earn income through a job, one has to make decisions regarding the acquisition of job skills, and those decisions may or may not pay off. If you do nothing to acquire job skills, you are taking the risk that either low skill labor will be worth enough to live on, or that other people will support you. Any gamble we take can go wrong, and all of us engage in risk that may or may not be profitable to us, all the time.
Government can only reduce one side of the risk equation by also reducing the other, and there is no way around that. Losses can only be reduced by reducing gains, making risk taking less rewarding and reducing the risks people are willing to take. As such, by changing the distribution of wealth to make life less risky (and more ‘fair’ in a subjective sense), life also becomes less rewarding, with less incentive to produce.
Since you cannot distribute that which is not produced, socialism always fails, and always will.
I have a number of friends who are socialists. Somehow, even though from a purely logical perspective, socialism cannot work, they want it anyway. It does not matter how often socialism fails. They always have an excuse. Bernie used to love Venezuela. Today? Bernie will not talk about Venezuela, even when asked directly. If you have not seen it already, you should watch Bernie refuse to address Venezuela here: https://www.mrctv.org/videos/bernie-hits-bump-univision-speechless-socialism-s-failures.
Bernie also endorses breadlines as a sign of progress, as you can watch here: https://youtu.be/C614BqRIH2s.
The problem with socialists is that they believe in socialism like a religion. Facts do not dislodge them. When you ask them to point to a country that became rich through socialism, they’ll point to countries that got rich through free market capitalism, and then became socialist, and the fact that they only became socialist after they became wealthy somehow does not matter to them.
Socialists of course claim the same of us – that our belief in free markets is like a religion, but we can point to countries that became wealthy through free market capitalism, as every wealthy country on Earth got wealthy that way.
The fact that Scandinavian countries keep asking our Democrats to stop calling them ‘socialist’ does not faze our socialists either (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=denmark+we+are+not+socialist&&view=detail&mid=287EDC10C9131D7A42A5287EDC10C9131D7A42A5&FORM=VRDGAR). The fact of the matter is that the Scandinavian countries pay for their welfare systems by using free market capitalism, and even then they have trouble affording it.
How does one make people understand that incentives affect behavior? Even in Scandinavian countries, where the climate has, over thousands of years, forged a culture of hard work and sacrifice, each successive generation values welfare more and work less. With more welfare going out, and fewer tax dollars coming in, the Scandinavian countries struggle – as do all countries with generous welfare systems. I just don’t get how so many people do not understand that as more and more people live off the work of fewer and fewer people, the difference between what one makes working and what one makes living off the efforts of others makes work less and less worthwhile, until there are not enough people working to support everyone. Every country with a generous welfare system sees this, including us, and somehow socialists are able to convince working people that the problem is that they are not taxed enough to pay for even more generous welfare benefits. Fewer people working means less is produced, and one would think even Bernie Sanders would understand that he cannot distribute what is not produced.
What’s worse is that should socialists win – and over time they are winning – they hurt not only themselves, but everyone else too. We all suffer already from a tax system that takes far too much of our income, and while I think we are all willing to chip in to help those who are truly in need, there is nothing morally acceptable about someone who is capable of working choosing to live off the efforts of others instead – which is what equality of outcomes is all about. Having one person living off the efforts of another is not equality; it is slavery.
Socialism is not just bad because it does not work. It’s morally repugnant.