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Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World

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Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks! Apparently we do. Because today millions of Americans—young and old—are flocking to the socialist banner and chanting, “What do we want? Socialism—the economic system that has impoverished people everywhere and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions! And when do we want it? Now!” Really? Most people seem somehow to have miss Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks! Apparently we do. Because today millions of Americans—young and old—are flocking to the socialist banner and chanting, “What do we want? Socialism—the economic system that has impoverished people everywhere and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions! And when do we want it? Now!” Really? Most people seem somehow to have missed Economics 101 and don’t understand that socialism isn’t nice, cuddly government that takes care of everything for you so that you can remain an adolescent forever. No, we’ve seen it tried over and over again with catastrophic consequences. Luckily, two semi-sober economists have toured the socialist world so you don’t have to. And they’ve come back with this stunning report: Socialism Sucks! Along the way, you’ll learn: • Why the so-called Swedish model might be attractive, but sure isn’t socialism (Sweden is capitalism with a big welfare state) • How socialist Venezuela went from being the toast of liberals everywhere—Viva Venezuela!—to being just toast • Why you never see new cars in Cuba • Why no one forgets to turn out the lights in North Korea (hint: there aren’t any) • Why American socialists have no idea what socialism really is How hard it is to find good beer—or sometimes any beer at all—in socialist countries Irreverent but honest economists Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell have all the data—and even more important, the firsthand global experience—to affirm that socialism fails to deliver on any of the utopian promises it makes and instead is very bad for your economic (and other) health. This is a book that every American who values freedom and sound economics (and good beer) needs to read.


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Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks! Apparently we do. Because today millions of Americans—young and old—are flocking to the socialist banner and chanting, “What do we want? Socialism—the economic system that has impoverished people everywhere and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions! And when do we want it? Now!” Really? Most people seem somehow to have miss Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks! Apparently we do. Because today millions of Americans—young and old—are flocking to the socialist banner and chanting, “What do we want? Socialism—the economic system that has impoverished people everywhere and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions! And when do we want it? Now!” Really? Most people seem somehow to have missed Economics 101 and don’t understand that socialism isn’t nice, cuddly government that takes care of everything for you so that you can remain an adolescent forever. No, we’ve seen it tried over and over again with catastrophic consequences. Luckily, two semi-sober economists have toured the socialist world so you don’t have to. And they’ve come back with this stunning report: Socialism Sucks! Along the way, you’ll learn: • Why the so-called Swedish model might be attractive, but sure isn’t socialism (Sweden is capitalism with a big welfare state) • How socialist Venezuela went from being the toast of liberals everywhere—Viva Venezuela!—to being just toast • Why you never see new cars in Cuba • Why no one forgets to turn out the lights in North Korea (hint: there aren’t any) • Why American socialists have no idea what socialism really is How hard it is to find good beer—or sometimes any beer at all—in socialist countries Irreverent but honest economists Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell have all the data—and even more important, the firsthand global experience—to affirm that socialism fails to deliver on any of the utopian promises it makes and instead is very bad for your economic (and other) health. This is a book that every American who values freedom and sound economics (and good beer) needs to read.

30 review for Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shane Hawk

    Short + sweet An often funny travelogue co-written by two geeky economists/professors in an informal manner. Each chapter focuses on a socialistic country and includes a brief economic history, a comment on their alcohol selection, and anecdotes about the country's economic freedom and how its policies affect the citizens' livelihood right now. These chapters herein were all written from experience as these two traveled the world to drink beer and observe their surroundings. Despite the laughs and Short + sweet An often funny travelogue co-written by two geeky economists/professors in an informal manner. Each chapter focuses on a socialistic country and includes a brief economic history, a comment on their alcohol selection, and anecdotes about the country's economic freedom and how its policies affect the citizens' livelihood right now. These chapters herein were all written from experience as these two traveled the world to drink beer and observe their surroundings. Despite the laughs and expletives, their messaging is on point and comes from a learned and well-read perspective. (Aside: both of their economic perspectives are strictly influenced by the Austrian school of economics, i.e., Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, et al.) Very enjoyable listen for a capitalist.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tulip Nandu

    Must read for all those who think WELFARE STATE AND OTHER FORM OF SOCIALISM is what drives an economy, Knew it always and would say it again, "SOCIALISM SUCKS"!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ronald J.

    In the Foreword by Tom Woods, and in the book too, they point out how everyone was praising Venezuela until it went to hell, then the line became “it’s not real socialism.” Where is real socialism? Why is it that every country praised, from Cuba to North Korea, in the early days ends up killing and starving massive amounts of people? They point to Sweden as a model, but Sweden isn’t socialist! Robert Lawson publishes the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, so he’s fam In the Foreword by Tom Woods, and in the book too, they point out how everyone was praising Venezuela until it went to hell, then the line became “it’s not real socialism.” Where is real socialism? Why is it that every country praised, from Cuba to North Korea, in the early days ends up killing and starving massive amounts of people? They point to Sweden as a model, but Sweden isn’t socialist! Robert Lawson publishes the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, so he’s familiar with the countries they visited on their drunken tour of the unfree world. This book is a rollicking read of various socialist and former socialist/communist countries, including some great economic analysis of why these places suck. From Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea (though they visit the South and China, not the North), and Russia to the Ukraine and Georgia and finally back in the USA at a socialist conference, where they ask, “How can so many American, particularly millennials, view socialism so favorably? Answer: they don’t understand defining characteristic, which is state ownership of the means of production. Rather, they define it as a more radical brand of progressive or leftist beliefs. Social justice = socialism. The Cuba visit was particularly interesting. The food is all the same, which isn’t really equality, it’s just sameness. The hotels were shitty, unless you stayed in private places where the owner had an incentive to take care of customers. Since everyone earns the same wage, Cuba has great music. It’s easier to be a musician than a plumber, or some other dirty job. There’s no prices to allocate resources, so people gravitate to what’s easier. About 70% of Cubans work for the state, average salary of $25 per month. A car from 1959 sells for $15,000 (Russian Ladas and Moskvitches sell for $8-10,000). Where are all the boats?, the authors ask. Miami. The lack of autos means lack of traffic fatalities, inflating their life expectancy numbers. There’s an amusing look at the New York Times’ Red Century series, including the installment, “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism. Really? Just plain stupid. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and LOL at times.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Koskella

    I wish all the socialist sympathizers would read this one, it's nothing like what most people think.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Recommended for any libertarian who loves beer!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Gardiner

    The core tenant of socialism is the abolishment of private property in favor of state ownership of the means of production. In other words, the government should own the factories, the farms, the grain and steel etc., instead of individuals. Socialism holds that the government should centrally plan the economy (the state dictates the prices of everything and portions out resources). This is in contrast to a free-market economy where there is no central planner and prices are set based on what peo The core tenant of socialism is the abolishment of private property in favor of state ownership of the means of production. In other words, the government should own the factories, the farms, the grain and steel etc., instead of individuals. Socialism holds that the government should centrally plan the economy (the state dictates the prices of everything and portions out resources). This is in contrast to a free-market economy where there is no central planner and prices are set based on what people are willing to pay for a good or service. This book takes takes a travelogue journey through socialist countries (Cuba, Venuzeula, North Korea etc.) showing how socialism has ruined their nations. The book ends in the United States as they visit a Socialist conference where they take in the sessions and talk with attendees. The biggest aha moment for me was their conclusion that most Millenials who claim to be socialists in North America don't actually know what socialism is. Instead, they are just social justice warriors who sense inequality and want to fix it. They're more far-left progressive than socialist. The most encouraging thing was learning about the Rose Revolution of Georgia. Was encouraging to hear of a leader who took a socialist-leaning nation and transformed it into a free-market economy within a decade (this happened in Nov 2003). Highly recommended read. Though, just a warning that some of the language and humor is crude.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Moss

    Fun little book. It's a nice blend of experience, theory, and history. Two main themes run throughout this book, first, socialism is a particular thing whose meaning has been lost (the authors try to carefully refocus that meaning: Sweden isn't socialist and Venezuela is, for example), second, the more toward the capitalist side of the spectrum the better the beer (okay, not beer specifically, just wealth and choices, which happens to impact beer). Anyone can travel to a socialist country and de Fun little book. It's a nice blend of experience, theory, and history. Two main themes run throughout this book, first, socialism is a particular thing whose meaning has been lost (the authors try to carefully refocus that meaning: Sweden isn't socialist and Venezuela is, for example), second, the more toward the capitalist side of the spectrum the better the beer (okay, not beer specifically, just wealth and choices, which happens to impact beer). Anyone can travel to a socialist country and develop any narrative they want. It's easy. As a matter of fact, in the chapter titled "Conclusion: Back in the USSA" the authors write of a socialist lecturer who made the argument that Venezuela's downfall is the fault of capitalism. Capitalism! Nevermind the fact that the likes of Sean Penn, Bernie, and Co. had been cheering on the very Venezuelan socialism that predictably led to its current demise. Apparently for socialists, when their ideas hit the fan, it's not the type of socialism they advocated, actually, it's not even socialism at all. So, in order to steer clear of this opinion-based rhetoric (aka, newspeak), the authors expertly weave economic theory (often referring to the likes of Mises) and history into their narrative, giving powerful explanation to their experiences--transcending mere opinion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I read this book to see if these two economists could give me some insight into why young people (I'm in my fifties) are so gung-ho about socialism. I'm NOT an academic and I'm NOT a social scientist; I'm a "regular" person who, knowing some history (the evils of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, etc.), can't fathom why anyone would eschew the United States' economic system (open markets with the freedom to create, devise, sell, earn) for a socialist system. Lawson and Powell insert their academic research a I read this book to see if these two economists could give me some insight into why young people (I'm in my fifties) are so gung-ho about socialism. I'm NOT an academic and I'm NOT a social scientist; I'm a "regular" person who, knowing some history (the evils of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, etc.), can't fathom why anyone would eschew the United States' economic system (open markets with the freedom to create, devise, sell, earn) for a socialist system. Lawson and Powell insert their academic research and real life experiences in socialist countries to explain the differences between capitalism and socialism in a common-sense manner. In answer to my question regarding many peoples' desire for a socialist government, the authors surmise that "socialist" politicians "convince young people that 'social justice' equals socialism, that true pro-choice, pro-immigrant, pro-environmental activists should be socialists and repudiate private property and embrace collectivization or state ownership of the means of production." So, these people are equating social activism with socialism. Ouch! Aren't our kids learning the difference between these things in school?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    This was fun and did a pretty good job of describing the problems of current and former socialist countries have. It typically boils down to the fact that collective ownership of the means of production always fails to improve people’s overall wellbeing. Sounds like it will work in speeches, but never does. The authors also point out two things that most people don’t notice. First, what the left thinks of as socialism (ala Nordic countries) isn’t really socialism but is relentless capitalism wit This was fun and did a pretty good job of describing the problems of current and former socialist countries have. It typically boils down to the fact that collective ownership of the means of production always fails to improve people’s overall wellbeing. Sounds like it will work in speeches, but never does. The authors also point out two things that most people don’t notice. First, what the left thinks of as socialism (ala Nordic countries) isn’t really socialism but is relentless capitalism with a large welfare state. Second, is that people think socialism will promote social justice. There’s no evidence of that. This was an easy and engaging read, but it just scratched the surface on how bad socialism really is. People think their lives will improve and they end up like all the socialist countries that have gone before.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim Holder

    “Democratic” socialism The authors do a very good, and entertaining, job of discussing why socialism doesn’t work. Although some might immediately assume anyone unhappy with the thought of socialism is a right wing nut job, that is definitely not the case from what I understood. They are far more interested in how and why economies work than in particular political positions. In fact, they seem to specifically avoid focusing on plotical positions whether it is that of Ocasio-Cortez or Trump. Both “Democratic” socialism The authors do a very good, and entertaining, job of discussing why socialism doesn’t work. Although some might immediately assume anyone unhappy with the thought of socialism is a right wing nut job, that is definitely not the case from what I understood. They are far more interested in how and why economies work than in particular political positions. In fact, they seem to specifically avoid focusing on plotical positions whether it is that of Ocasio-Cortez or Trump. Both authors obviously have a much better understanding of economics than I do, but they write about it in a fashion that even I can mostly understand it. They also like beer so I appreciate their taste for that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blake

    Loved the facts the story but weak premise for these two. I kind of wonder when these two fellas going to grow up and be men and quit acting like college bar flies themselves. At least that a bit how they came off in the book The book did give us some great facts about how socialism suck. Which that part was interesting. As well as the some progression of what will likely happen when it is followed. Kind of scary if you ask me but hey I want my liberty and freedom as they do. Certainly feel like Loved the facts the story but weak premise for these two. I kind of wonder when these two fellas going to grow up and be men and quit acting like college bar flies themselves. At least that a bit how they came off in the book The book did give us some great facts about how socialism suck. Which that part was interesting. As well as the some progression of what will likely happen when it is followed. Kind of scary if you ask me but hey I want my liberty and freedom as they do. Certainly feel like a couple of guys who are looking to use anything they can in order to right off their taxes a couple big drinking trip. Away from thier family while one clearly is looking for who knows.. a strip club. Ok that seemed harsh clearly it’s written for a millennial aged.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roy Goble

    The main point of this book is important -- people don't really understand socialism and have forgotten just how bad the system is. But the authors often slip into cliches about American socialists that undermines their message. They end up preaching to the choir because others will tune them out. Still, I really enjoyed the adventures they had, and wish they'd spent more time on their visits to socialist countries (and the beer).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Edward Shuman

    Fun way to learn about socialism Authors are able to exp!ain socialism in a way that most readers should understand. For professors they are very good at writing a book that is easy to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Snow

    A grand tour Bob and Ben your the world and expose the grim legacy of socialism at a personal level by meeting people who have lived under it. Well worth a read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl905

    Very informative and interesting!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    Excellent read with a healthy dose of humor. Now more than ever we must teach young people that social activism and a socialist economy are mutually exclusive.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amora

  18. 4 out of 5

    Randy Sandke (Consignment)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Salvador González Salas Duhne

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Hill

  21. 4 out of 5

    p mihm

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  24. 4 out of 5

    John DeGratto

  25. 5 out of 5

    Drew Mackay

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  27. 4 out of 5

    henry m pliske

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devin Buehler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christian Cederberg

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Brodić

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