Joel Belz: Already there

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 5th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Winston Churchill once said the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

It seems the latter has powerful advocates these days. Here’s WORLD founder Joel Belz.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: If you’re one of those worry warts who’s concerned that our nation is headed down the slippery slope to socialism, I’ve got news: You may be too late.

You may think that the November 6th mid-term elections were something of a tie. After all, the Republicans gained a seat or two in the Senate. And the Democrats took the House and a few more governor’s chairs.  

But a full-page ad in our local paper caught my attention. The same attractive ad also ran on the back of the first section of USA Today. It was a political tract for a comprehensive socialistic lurch away from everything American.

The ad is not so much the expression of a party as it is the political statement of a single person. Tom Steyer is a 61-year-old California billion­aire. He’s a hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and environmental activist.

I’ve not talked to Steyer, but I doubt if he minds our calling him a socialist. He is blunt in telling us how his thinking has changed through the years.

I’m quoting now—“I grew up believing the point of our country was to be free—to fulfill the promise that everyone could make a good life for themselves. But over time, I saw big corporations buy our democracy and set the rules for the sake of their profits, not for the common good. Corporate lobbyists rigged the system, leaving the majority of Americans walled off from their dreams.” End quote.

Steyer says it’s time to set aside our focus on freedom, and focus instead on people’s rights. He proposes five:

1) The right to an equal vote;

2) The right to clean air and water;

3) The right to learn;

4) The right to a living wage; and

5) The right to health.

Not a bad list, in one sense. Other things being equal, the world would be a better place with all these benefits assured to every human.

But where on Steyer’s dream list do we find a basic right to life itself? And what about the crucial “roots for rights” found in the First Amendment—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion?

The fact is, most of Steyer’s “rights” will be impossibly costly to fulfill. And don’t expect 330 million people to volunteer their wealth to cover the venture.

But a disturbingly high proportion of those 330 million people seems ready to volunteer each other’s wealth. And that’s the heart of socialism.

Last month’s election suggests a new era is here. We would be wise to do our homework and educate our neighbors on socialism’s destructive record.

Unlike Tom Steyer, I think freedom remains as relevant as ever.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) In this April 2, 2018, file photo, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is interviewed on Cheddar on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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