What A Difference 50 Years Makes

Tim Worstall quotes:

It is 50 years since the greatest misquotation of the cold war. At a Kremlin reception for western ambassadors in 1956, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced: “We will bury you.” Those four words were seized on by American hawks as proof of aggressive Soviet intent.

Doves who pointed out that the full quotation gave a less threatening message were drowned out. Khrushchev had actually said: “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.” It was a harmless boast about socialism’s eventual victory in the ideological competition with capitalism.

We all know how that turned out.

8 Responses to “What A Difference 50 Years Makes”

  • Yuppers. We know. 🙂

  • HP,

    I think it’s worth noting that while Soviet-style Communism definitely lost out (which was your point, I think), Socialism is far from dead or discredited. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, socialist countries represent a sizeable portion of the countries that are generally accepted to have the world’s highest standard of living.

    So, Kruschev was wrong, just as you state. But the success of Socialism as an ideology is still a matter of legitimate debate.

  • Not so, check out this article. In addition, things are actually worse for Europe since that article was published.

    Socialism is just like communism, a failure only in slower proportions, but then only because socialism is less collectivist than communism is. But a failure nonetheless.

  • A very interesting article indeed. Here’s the counterpoint from CSM if you’re interested:


    But isn’t the fact that there exists a point/counterpoint prove my point (that the success of Socialism is still a matter of legitimate debate)?

    Just to be fair, I suppose I should outline my opinion on Socialism. I am generally Libertarian, but I am willing to accept that the government can do some things better than private enterprise, and I make my decisions on an ad-hoc basis depending on the issue. So… I am certainly not an advocate of Socialism, but I am willing to recognize its virtues (e.g. everyone gets healthcare) together along with its failures (e.g. high taxes that damage economic growth).

  • I read the article and if there is any underhandedness going on, it’s in the article you quoted. For example, the Wall Street Journal article I quoted was printed long before many of the incidents the article mentions boosted up GDP. In addition, this is not some random spike, the difference between the US and Europe has been a long established pattern.

    But let’s also point out many things that the article leaves out. For example, yes there are many people in the United States without health insurance (a large percentage of those teenagers, btw, the very people who don’t need health insurance) but not very many people without health coverage. Basically anybody in the United States, from the illegal immigrant to the 90 year old citizen, can walk into a hospital and get emergency medical care. Health coverage is what is important not health care. In addition, a good part of the reason that health care is cheaper in Europe than in the United States is because of Europe’s price controls on medicine. The United States invents a much larger proportion of the health care inventions than sells those inventions cheaper to European countries than it does to its own citizens. The reason being that we don’t have price controls on medicine (if we did, we wouldn’t have as many inventions) and so therefore the United States in a lot of ways subsidize alot of other countries medical costs.

    Yes, Europeans get more vacation time but at what expense? It is so expensive to hire someone in Europe that those that suffer the most are the less skilled and minorities. The article forgot to mention that unemployment figures in Europe are twice, sometimes three times higher than in the United States and the differences are worse when you look at European minorities.

    I could go on and on but the point is clear: when it comes to country comparisons GDP per capita has always been the standard measuring stick amongst economists, so the mere fact that you have to start showing exceptions and differences – especially since both sides can do the same thing all day long – already demonstrates that Europeans know they are worse off than the United States.

  • I’m not absolutely sure where you were going in your discussion of healthcare/health insurance, but it sounded like you were trying to make the point that most of us can get healthcare when needed. If that was your point – I agree.

    My point was that many socialist countries have universal health coverage, whereas we do not. This is a pretty simple fact, and I assume you agree. I mentioned it in passing only to point out that, yes, there are some things about socialist systems that are desirable (I’m assuming again, that you agree with me that universal health coverage is desirable).

  • While were on the topic, it seems a bit misleading to refer to European economies as truly socialist. I know in some circles it is common to refer to them as socialist economies, but I think even then it is done so in more a derogatory fashion than in trying to define how their economy really is. Sure, they have higher government intervention and a relatively high welfare state, but that still does not make them truly socialist countries. After all, if that makes them socialist countries than the United States is also a socialist country, just on a lesser scale.

    So since were talking about countries that all have capitalism as their core, meaning that all believe in private property, competition as their core means of production, and a price system we should stop referring to them as socialist countries and instead refer to them as capitalist welfare states, or some other term. I don’t want to confuse others who don’t have such a firm grasp of the failures of true socialism and communism and all other truly collectivist regimes. When we speak of Europe, we are no longer speaking of traditional socialist regimes but a different kind of capitalism, but capitalism nonetheless.

    As far as healthcare goes, no I don’t think that the European healthcare system is superior to ours, even though it covers more people. Europeans have longer waiting lines, lower quality Dr’s, lack the amount of medical breakthroughs and technology that the United States has and many other problems that alone account for why their healthcare system is cheaper (in this case cheaper does mean lower quality, even for the poor). Nor do I want universal healthcare, instead I would prefer mandatory healthcare, see here, here and here.

  • The performance of “universal” health care systems is a joke. Citizens find themselves on long waiting lists for non-emergency care; and if they can afford it, opt to travel to the US to pay out-of-pocket for private treatment to better their lives.

    And the better doctors leave the “universal” system, relocating overseas if necessary to more profitable careers.

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