George Will explains what Socialism in America would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came into power.
[I]f America had a socialist government today, what would it be like?
Socialism favors the thorough permeation of economic life by “social” (aka political) considerations, so it embraces protectionism â€” government telling consumers what they can buy, in what quantities and at what prices. (A socialist American government might even set quotas and prices for foreign washing machines.)
Socialism favors maximizing government’s role supplementing, even largely supplanting, the market â€” voluntary private transactions â€” in the allocation of wealth by implementing redistributionist programs. (Today America’s sky is dark with dollars flying hither and yon at government’s direction: Transfer payments distribute 14% of GDP, two-thirds of the federal budget, up from a little more than one-quarter in 1960. In the half-century 1963-2013, transfer payments were the fastest-growing category of personal income. By 2010, American governments were transferring $2.2 trillion in government money, goods and services.)
Socialism favors vigorous government interventions in the allocation of capital, directing it to uses that far-sighted government knows, and the slow-witted market does not realize, constitute the wave of the future. So, an American socialist government might tell, say, Carrier Corp. and Harley-Davidson that the government knows better than they do where they should invest shareholders’ assets.
Socialism requires â€” actually, socialism is â€” industrial policy, whereby government picks winners and losers in conformity with the government’s vision of how the future ought to be rationally planned. What could go wrong? (Imagine, weirdly, a president practicing compassionate socialism by ordering his energy secretary to prop up yesterday’s coal industry against the market menace of fracking â€” cheap oil and natural gas.)
Socialism, which fancies itself applied social science, requires a bureaucracy of largely autonomous experts unconstrained by a marginalized â€” ideally, a paralyzed â€” Congress. So, an American socialist government would rule less by laws than by regulations written in administrative agencies staffed by experts insulated from meddling by elected legislators. (Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s office displays two piles of paper. One, a few inches high, contains the laws Congress passed in a recent year. The other, about 8 feet tall, contains regulations churned out that year by the administrative state’s agencies.)
Socialism favors vast scope for ad hoc executive actions unbound by constraining laws that stifle executive nimbleness and creativity. (Imagine an aggrieved president telling, say, Harley-Davidson: “I’ve” â€” first-person singular pronoun â€” “done so much for you.”)
Today’s American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets “on the right side of history” (an updated version of after “the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.