Some People Just Get It

Here is another gem I discovered from Ronald Reagan’s radio broadcasts. This one is from April 13, 1977 and was published in Reagan’s Path to Victory: The Shaping of Ronald Reagan’s Vision: Selected Writings. It is entitled:

Student Letter
Are you worried that perhaps our sons and daughters are being led to believe that socialism offers advantages capitalism can’t match? I’ll be right back.

Economists (at least the good old fashioned kind) have written countless books and essays trying to explain that a free market economy is superior to the collectivism of Karl Marx. There really shouldn’t be much of an argument with all the examples we have for comparison. everywhere there is a socialist nation there is a failure to meet the needs of the people of that nation except by calling on capitalist neighbors for outside help. Still it is the socialist world that is expanding while the free world grows smaller.

Well how would you like to feel a little better about the whole thing. I received a letter a couple of weeks ago that brightened my whole day. Paul A. Leonard, a sophomore at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn. wrote to tell me he had listened to some of these broadcasts. Then he wrote, “In view of your support of free enterprise, I thought you might be interested in an experiment that I recently conducted in my history class. Fifteen volunteers were selected with an eye to an approximate balance of athletes and non-athletes, boys and girls. The volunteers were not informed of the purpose of the experiment.

The first day a socialist-like system was set up. The subjects were informed that they had ‘volunteered’ to do pushups, in return for which they would be given candy.”

Now, pushups and candy? What do they have to do with socialism? Well, Paul Leonard explained to the 15 volunteers that they would do pushups with a limit of 30 on how many anyone would have to or be allowed to do. For every five pushups they would get a piece of candy. And here is where the political science comes in. The total number of pushups accomplished by the volunteers would be divided by 15 (the number of volunteers) and each would receive a piece of candy for every 5 pushups. Those who could do 30 and those who couldn’t get off the floor once would share equally in the candy.

Four managed to do the maximum and the over all average was 16.2 pushups so everyone received 3 pieces of candy. That was half the experiment – the socialist half. The next day was capitalism’s turn. The volunteers found they were going to do pushups again – same limit, no more than 30 and the same reward, one piece of candy for 5 pushups. Just one difference – they were capitalists this time – no averaging. They would each get one piece of candy for every 5 pushups that each one was able to do. In other words there was an incentive for each one to do his or her very best.

The average of 16.2 on the socialist day went up to 21.2 more than a 30% increase in productivity and this time almost half the volunteers, 7 not 4 did the maximum of 30.

I gathered from Paul Leonards letter that he really wasn’t too surprised by that. If I could deliver a personal message to Paul, sophomore at Mayo High, it would be “Congratulations Paul, you’ve demonstrated that you understand the difference between the magic of the free market system and the idiocy of Karl Marx. There are some pretty eminent PH’Ds in economics who can’t figure that out.

Written 35 years ago it is a message we need to remind the current generation about the act that socialism is the wrong way. Suddenly we have models talking about being a proud socialist and fitting right in with President Obama’s directions for the country. It seems that it is suddenly okay to be the communist is the group. What are we thinking?

We have the longest lasting and most successful free country in the history of the world and we have people putting it down and apologizing for it. Forget that Mr. President, you should be ashamed. I am proud to be an American. Yes our country is screwed up sometimes, and yes our government has taken a number of wrong turns. But we have done more to bring freedom to the world than anyone else.

For those who call us the ‘Great Satan’ and who say that all our progress has brought with it  a wealth of evil things, there is some truth to that. How is it that they do not see or condemn the evil in their midst what with terrorism, honor killings and so much more. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Let’s look to the solutions and stop dwelling only on the problems.

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