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Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

Nope, the answer isn’t smoking. Or fatty food. Or 16 oz. sodas.

And it’s not alcohol, driving too fast, or standing between politicians and a TV camera.

Che Mercedes

Why is murder “chic” for some people?

In the past 100 years or so, the biggest cause of premature death has been government.

Back in 2011, while criticizing the Baltimore Symphony for using the Soviet hammer and sickle in a promotion, I linked to a website showing how many millions of people were murdered by the dictators who ruled the Soviet Union.

You’ll find similar data in this video, as well as some equally shocking numbers for other examples of democide (death by government).

I don’t know if all the numbers in the video are right. I don’t even know if the government bought 1.6 billion hollow point bullets. And I certainly hope our tax dollars didn’t help finance Pol Pot’s democide in Cambodia.

But I fully agree that government is the greatest killer of all time.

This doesn’t mean, by the way, that I think all governments are equally evil. I wouldn’t even make the claim that there’s a link between big government and democide (though that’s probably true given the track record of National Socialists in Germany and Soviet Socialists in China and the Soviet Union).

Instead, I’ll simply regurgitate some of what I wrote back in August.

…be thankful that there are some libertarians willing to raise a stink about government even if the rest of the world thinks we’re a bit odd. As we’ve seen dozens of times, most recently with the IRS and NSA, bureaucrats and politicians have a compulsive tendency to grab more power and make government more intrusive. …I’ll end today’s post by mentioning the fable of the frog that gets put in a pot of water and doesn’t jump out because the temperature feels comfortable. But then the heat is slowly raised and the frog no longer has the energy to escape when he finally figures out he’s being cooked. Well, libertarians are the ones who loudly complain when the government puts us into pots.

In other words, governments are less likely to do really awful things if there are some of us fighting when they do mildly bad things.

Don’t forget that when enough mildly bad things occur and you get economic stagnation, one result is the kind of social chaos and rioting that has occurred in some European nations.

And those are the conditions that sometimes lead to takeovers by the types of governments that do really awful things.

Let’s close with two bits of satire. First, here’s something I saw on Twitter. It’s for the statists who claim that communism is a good theory, but that it hasn’t been properly implemented.

Needless to say, I can’t see the appeal of a theory that says we are slaves to each other. But the point of this poster is that real-world communism is always about murder and oppression.

Communism in Real Life

Second, this is a good opportunity to emphasize one of the messages from the end of the video.

A common trait of dictators is that they want the citizenry disarmed.

This poster is the fourth-most viewed post I’ve ever produced. But not because I said anything clever.

Instead, people like this poster and share it with their friends because it makes a very important point about the dangers of unlimited state power.

So what’s the moral of the story? I guess the message is that small government is tolerable. Medium-sized government is bad. And unlimited government is horrible.

Actually, George Washington said the same thing with much greater clarity: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

P.S. I suppose this shouldn’t be a joking matter, but here’s an amusing look at communist efficiency from the Beijing Olympics.

P.P.S. And the fourth video at this link has some great examples of Reagan’s use of humor against communism.

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I spoke earlier today at the 2013 Liberty Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. But I don’t think anybody is going to remember my speech about the collapse of the welfare state, even though I presented lots of powerful data from the BIS, OECD, and IMF, and also shared a very funny cartoon showing what happens when there’s nothing left for interest groups to steal.

Escaped the North Korean gulag

At a normal conference, my remarks may have resonated, but I freely admit that I was completely overshadowed by the presentation of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who is the only person to have successfully escaped from the North Korean gulag.

In the future, if I ever get discouraged and think the fight for freedom is too difficult, I will watch this video and realize that nothing in my life will ever compare to the horror of living under communism. It’s not nearly as powerful as today’s first-person presentation, but the video will give you some sense of the utter barbarity of the North Korean government.

If you want more information, here is his Wikipedia entry, but I also suggest you watch this short speech by Blaine Harden, a journalist who wrote the story of Shin’s escape.

Keep in mind, by the way, that North Korea is an awful and repressive country even for the people who aren’t in the gulags. Malnutrition is such a problem, for instance, that children are stunted and the North Korean army had to lower its requirements to allow soldiers as short as 4’8″.

So perhaps now you understand why I get so upset when people in the west glorify communist thugs such as Che Guevara, or use the Soviet hammer and sickle as a cutesy marketing gimmick.

I hope nobody would ever think to wear a Hermann Göring t-shirt or use the swastika in a value-neutral fashion, so why should it be okay to whitewash and/or rehabilitate communists?

P.S. I was never a fan of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, but he deserves lasting applause for seeking to protect children from the anti-western, soft-on-communism crap published by the late historian Howard Zinn.

P.P.S. Since today’s post is about a very dour topic, let’s close with a bit of humor about  the communist version of efficiency.

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Some of the world’s most disgusting and evil regimes restricted the right to emigrate, including the imposition of exit taxes designed to fleece those who did want to escape.

Given the evils of communism, you won’t be surprised to learn that the Soviet Union had such a policy. Here’s an excerpt from a 1972 story in the Palm Beach Post.

…citizens have been refused permission to leave the Soviet Union unless they pay a new tax… Nearly 500 Jews signed a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim calling the tax an illegal “ransom” and an extreme injustice. Jews trying to emigrate to Israel have been the main victims of the new tax imposed by a decree… However, the tax is applied to anyone trying to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

Not surprisingly, the Nazis also used the same approach. Here are the relevant passages from a report by the World Jewish Congress.

… nearly a third of the German war effort was paid for with money stolen from Jews according a new study about the role of the German Finance Ministry during the ‘Third Reich’. …Ministry officials robbed an estimated 120 billion reichsmarks [the equivalent of nearly US$ 20 billion today] by looting and through stringent confiscation laws. …Tax laws discriminated against Jews from 1934, while some who managed to leave Germany before the Holocaust had much of their wealth seized through an ‘exit tax’.

Unfortunately, exit taxes still exist, and I’m embarrassed to say that the United States is one of the few countries to impose such a levy.

There’s no anti-Semitic motive for the tax. Instead, politicians have imposed exit taxes because some Americans decided to emigrate to jurisdictions with better tax law.  And rather than interpret this as a sign that the tax code was too onerous and should be replaced with something like a flat tax, they decided to enact a law to ransack people as they crossed the border.

But even this reprehensible policy isn’t enough for some of the clowns in Washington. Senator Barbara Boxer, the empty suit from the formerly Golden State, has decided that basic liberties such as the presumption of innocence are an impediment to tax enforcement. As such, she’s attached an odious provision to a transportation bill that would restrict the right to travel.

"Ihren papieren, bitte?"

A bill…that could potentially allow the federal government to prevent any Americans who owe back taxes from traveling outside the  U.S. is one step closer to becoming law. Senate Bill 1813 was introduced back in November by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-LosAngeles)… Section 40304 of the legislation states that any individual who owes more than $50,000 to the Internal Revenue Service may be subject to “action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport”. … there does not appear to be any specific language requiring a taxpayer to be charged with tax evasion or any other crime in order to have their passport revoked or limited — only that a notice of lien or levy has been filed by the IRS.

The good news, at least relatively speaking, is that Boxer is only motivated by greed and statism. But the end result is still a reprehensible restriction on the liberty of people disfavored by the ruling elite.

If Barbara Boxer is any sort of example, no wonder California is such a mess, losing jobs and investment to other states.

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Like its evil twin of Nazism, communism is an utterly despicable ideology that explicitly elevates the state over the individual.

That’s actually the nicest thing that can be said about this barbaric system. If you want to begin to understand the human cost of communism, watch this short Reason TV video featuring Lee Edwards.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to mock this disgusting philosophy with humor, as Reagan did so effectively (see the fourth video at this link and the first video at this link). Or we can use jokes like this doctored image.

And we can point out that communism is so inefficient that you wind up with rationing of everything from food to toilet paper.

But let’s not forget that communism isn’t just a sad page from history. Some people are still suffering under the yoke of Bolshevik tyranny.

Here are some excerpts from a report in the Australian.

North Korea has reduced the minimum height requirement for military conscripts because the current generation facing call-up was stunted by a deadly 1990s famine, a new report says. …the military has cut the minimum height to 142 centimetres from 145 cm. All able-bodied North Korean males aged 16-17 must begin mandatory service that lasts about a decade. Women deemed fit must also serve for a shorter period in the 1.2 million-strong military, the world’s fourth largest. …North Korean boys facing conscription this year were born in the mid-1990s – at the height of the famine that devastated the impoverished communist state and killed hundreds of thousands. …UN agencies, after a visit to the North, estimated last November that three million people would need food aid in 2012. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, after a separate visit last October, said that in northern regions almost one in two children were chronically malnourished.

The passages above illustrate evil on so many levels, including famine and militarization. Imagine how awful it would be to be trapped in a sinister place like North Korea.

This is why I am so quick to attack institutions, ranging from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Mercedes-Benz, that demonstrate moral blindness to the evils of communism.

By the way, even though I freely admit it’s unfair, I can’t resist adding this link revealing who the head of the Communist Party has endorsed for 2012.

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Along with many others, I complained a couple of days ago that Mercedes-Benz was morally bankrupt for using the image of a notorious racist, communist, and murderer as part of a marketing gimmick.

Well, the company has backed down. We won. It’s only symbolic, but let’s enjoy a small victory.

Here are some excerpts from a Foxnews.com story.

Daimler AG, the German company that manufactures Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, called its promotional use of an image of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara a “thoughtless” and “stupid” decision that was not intended to offend people. …In a statement sent to FoxNews.com, Daimler said it “was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused.”

That’s probably not the most heartfelt and sincere apology ever issued, but it will have a positive impact. Somewhere at Daimler AG, there’s a marketing executive that is going to lose a bonus (and maybe even a job). Other people in the fields of advertising and public relations will have seen the backlash and be much less likely to make similar mistakes.

And perhaps a few people who were ignorant will actually learn a bit about history and begin to understand the evil nature of communism.

I doubt this will have any impact on the empty-headed kids who wear Che t-shirts, but you can’t have everything.

From a personal perspective, the best thing about this episode is that I’ve been attacked by a water-carrying apologist for totalitarianism.

In my line of work, one way to measure whether you’re doing a good job is the degree to which you get criticized by bad people.

Being called a “dickhead” by this tool may be even better than the time a left-wing British columnist called me a “high priest of light tax, small state libertarianism.”

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I hope my car doesn’t break down anytime soon. I’ve already sworn I will never buy a car from General Motors or Chrysler, and now I have to add Mercedes-Benz to my personal boycott list.

Mercedes Spokesman Glorifies Totalitarian Murderer

Maybe I’m being naively dogmatic, but I refuse to patronize a company that uses a mass murdering communist and racist like Che Guevera as a marketing ploy.

It’s not like I would ever spend a lot of money for a car anyhow, but even if somebody deposits $10 million in my bank account, you can rest assured that I won’t be cruising around town in the MB Guevera C230, the MB Hitler E350, or the MB Mao GL450.

Michael Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation says it much better than I can.

There’s something about Che Guevara that convinces older European men that they will become cooler through association with his “brand.” We saw that again yesterday when Mercedes-Benz Chairman Dieter Zetsche launched a new car under a banner picture of Guevara. …Che Guevara, not to put too fine a point on it, was a psychopath whose sadistic lust for blood was not easily quenched. He killed for pleasure. He had, moreover, little time for youthful rebellion and none at all for individualism. Lastly, Che Guevara was a racist who specifically held blacks in contempt. I think about this often when I see deluded young African-Americans wearing a t-shirt with his likeness. But a German born a handful of years after 1945 really ought to have known better. Much has been written about how Guevara executed men and boys in prison in the early revolutionary years in Cuba, disposing of such bourgeois niceties as trials. …Speaking of blacks he said: “The ***** is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.” Yes, quite a model that Che Guevara. You’d buy a car from him, wouldn’t you? What will Mercedes-Benz come up with next? The Baader-Mienhof super coupe?

Almost exactly one year ago, the Baltimore Symphony used the Hammer and Sickle emblem of the Soviet Union to promote an event. That was disgusting, but at least the event involved the work of a Soviet-era composer.

Mercedes-Benz, by contrast, is using the image Che Guevera because the amoral executives of the company think this will help sell cars to an amoral public.

Please don’t buy anything from a company with that cavalier attitude about human decency.

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Because of his semi-frontrunner status in Iowa, Ron Paul is now attracting some negative attention, including the fact that he received a $500 campaign contribution from an avowed racist.

Very few people think Paul is biased, but read this article by Steve Horwitz, my grad school classmate. Since I’ve written both supportive and critical posts about Paul, I think I have some credibility in saying that it is a fair summary of the issues.

Not surprisingly, other GOP presidential campaigns would like voters to disqualify Paul on the basis of unsavory associations, and I certainly agree that Paul showed very bad judgment. Normally it’s a good thing that he’s not a typical politician, but this is one of those cases where it undermines the case for freedom – as Steve explains in the article linked above.

But if sauce for the goose is supposed to be sauce for the gander, shouldn’t we also be upset that the head of the Communist Party in the United States has – for all intents and purposes – endorsed Barack Obama? Here’s some of what Sam Webb, an apologist for totalitarian mass murder, wrote earlier this year.

Communists don’t agree with either one of these views. In our view, the differences between the two parties of capitalism are of consequence to class and democratic struggles. Neither party is anti-capitalist, but they aren’t identical either. Differences exist at the levels of policy and social composition. And despite the many frustrations of the past two years, the election of Barack Obama was historic and gave space to struggle for a people’s agenda. …We don’t have any illusions about the Democratic Party, but we don’t have any illusions about the Republican Party either. Furthermore, we are also aware of the undeniable fact that no other party besides the Democratic Party stands a chance of beating the GOP next year.

It goes without saying that these unwelcome expressions of support should not be used as evidence that Barack Obama is a communist or that Ron Paul is a racist. It’s not the fault of politicians that they sometimes receive support from nutjobs and morons.

My only complaint is that there’s not a level playing field. There’s lot of coverage of a loathsome person who supported Ron Paul, but I’m not aware of anybody paying attention to Sam Webb’s expressions of support for Barack Obama.

Yes, racism is evil, and we should be suspicious of people who get support from racists. But communists have butchered tens of millions of people. Shouldn’t we be equally skeptical of politicians who attract support from these evil people as well?

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I’ve previously posted about the communist government of Cuba cutting taxes and the CEO of Coca-Cola saying that communist China has a more business-friendly climate than the United States.

Having grown up during the Cold War, I still have a hard time believing my eyes when I read stories like these.

But those examples pale into insignificance compared to this story. A member of China’s political elite, which presumably makes him a member of the Communist Party, has a better understanding of economics than the Presidents of France and the United States.

Sure, that’s not saying much, but read what Jin Liqun, the head of China’s sovereign wealth fund, said about the European welfare state.

If you look at the troubles which happened in European countries, this is purely because of the accumulated troubles of the worn out welfare society. I think the labour laws are outdated. The labour laws induce sloth, indolence, rather than hardworking. The incentive system, is totally out of whack. “Why should, for instance, within [the] eurozone some member’s people have to work to 65, even longer, whereas in some other countries they are happily retiring at 55, languishing on the beach? This is unfair.

Astounding. There’s also a video at the link.

So let’s think about what this means. The communist elite in China recognizes the importance of incentives and understands the corrupting influence of welfare on the human spirit (they would like this cartoon). Heck, even Castro admitted that communism was a failure.

Yet politicians here in America still want to make government bigger and create more dependency.

I guess it’s time for me to unfurl the hammer and sickle.

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I went to the website of a local radio station last night to check the weather forecast and was somewhat startled to see an advertisement for a performance of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. But what shocked me wasn’t the music, but rather the use of the Soviet hammer and sickle, which represents a regime that murdered nearly 62 million people between 1917 and 1987.

Is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra really oblivious to the monstrous nature of Soviet Communism? Would they feature a swastika in an ad for concert featuring the music of a German composer who produced works in 1938? I hope not, just like I can’t imagine an architecture exhibit on the work of Albert Speer featuring a swastika (other than in a way designed to connote evil). Nothing positive should be associated with horrid regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into a simple ad. And perhaps I’m so nauseated by vacuous college kids inadvertently celebrating butchery by wearing Che t-shirts that I’m overly sensitive. And maybe there’s even a benign explanation for using the hammer and sickle in this specific case, though I can’t imagine what that might be.

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I’m not sure if “killing two birds with one stone” is the right phrase in this situation, but…

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I’m not serious , of course, but it is rather ironic that Raul Castro is cutting the tax burden on small business at the same time that Obama is pushing for higher tax rates on small business. Reuters reports on the latest in supply-side communism.

Cuba unveiled on Friday a new tax code it said was friendlier for small business, signaling authorities are serious about building a larger private sector within the state-dominated economy. The new system, outlined in the Communist Party daily Granma, greatly increases tax deductions… The tax redesign comes as the government has begun slashing 500,000 workers from state payrolls and preparing to issue 250,000 self-employment licenses to create new jobs in President Raul Castro’s biggest reform since taking office in 2008. …The new tax system enables the self-employed to deduct up to 40 percent from income for the cost of supplies, compared to just 10 percent under the old one. Formerly, small businesses simply paid a graduated income tax. Now they will also have to pay a 10 percent sales tax and 25 percent social security tax, but both are deductible at the end of the year.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to views tax issues through the prism of class warfare. This video explains why class warfare tax policy is misguided, and it includes the footage from the 2008 campaign where Obama basically said that he didn’t care whether his proposed tax increase on capital gains led to lower revenue.

The politics of hate-and-envy may be emotionally satisfying to some on the left, but there is strong evidence that high tax rates damage small business. And even though Obama apparently doesn’t think this means much, there is also lots of evidence that the so-called rich won’t wind up paying much additional tax because they can easily adjust their behavior. I guess the real question is why so many statists are consumed by disdain and resentment.

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Here’s a story for the better-late-than-never file. Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro confessed that communism doesn’t work and that his nation’s economic system should not be emulated.

Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba’s communist economic model doesn’t work, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues since stepping down four years ago. The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel’s brother Raul, the country’s president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba’s 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows. Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba’s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore” Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

Too bad Castro didn’t have this epiphany 50 years ago. The Cuban people languish in abject poverty as a result of Castro’s oppressive policies. Food is harshly rationed and other basic amenities are largely unavailable (except, of course, to the party elite). This chart, comparing inflation-adjusted per-capita GDP in Chile and Cuba, is a good illustration of the human cost of excessive government. Living standards in Cuba have languished. In Chile, by contrast, the embrace of market-friendly policies has resulted in a huge increase in prosperity. Chileans were twice as rich as Cubans when Castro seized control of the island. After 50 years of communism in Cuba and 30 years of liberalization in Chile, the gap is now much larger.

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Hugo Chavez is a palpably evil thug, and he confirms this status with a new proposal to issue cards that almost certainly will be used to ration food. Left-wing despots claim that their policies put “people above profits,” but they never can explain why people (especially the masses) have much higher living standards in countries where “capitalist greed” runs rampant.

Presented by President Hugo Chávez as an instrument to make shopping for groceries easier, the “Good Life Card” is making various segments of the population wary because they see it as a furtive attempt to introduce a rationing card similar to the one in Cuba. The measure could easily become a mechanism to control the population, according to civil society groups. “We see that in short-term this could become a rationing card probably similar to the one used in Cuba,” Roberto León Parilli, president of the National Association of Users and Consumers, told El Nuevo Herald. “It would use more advanced technological means [than those used in Cuba], but when they tell you where to buy and what the limits of what you can buy are, they are conditioning your purchases.” Chávez said Tuesday that the card could be used to buy groceries at the government chain of markets and supplies. …In theory, the government could begin to favor the import of products to be sold through the government chains and have more control over the type of products purchased and the people buying them. Jaime Suchlicki, director of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, said that Venezuela’s current problems of scarce supplies are very similar to those Cuba faced when Fidel Castro introduced the rationing card. “The card emerged when goods began to become scarce,” Suchlicki said. “The government had seized many companies that did not work because the government managed them poorly. Then they decided to distribute groceries through those cards.” And although the cards were introduced as a mechanism to deal with scarcities, Suchlicki said, they later became an instrument of control.

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The news that China has surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy has generated a lot of attention. It shouldn’t. There are roughly 10 times as many people in China as there are in Japan, so the fact that total gross domestic product in China is now bigger than total gross domestic product in Japan is hardly a sign of Chinese economic supremacy. Yes, China has been growing in recent decades, but it’s almost impossible not to grow when you start at the bottom – which is where China was in the late 1970s thanks to decades of communist oppression and mismanagement. And the growth they have experienced certainly has not been enough to overtake other nations based on measures that compare living standards. According to the World Bank, per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power parity) was $6,710 for China in 2009, compared to $33,280 for Japan (and $46,730 for the U.S.). If I got to choose where to be a middle-class person, China certainly wouldn’t be my first pick.

This is not to sneer at the positive changes in China. Hundreds of millions of people have experienced big increases in living standards. Better to have $6,710 of per capita GDP than $3,710. But China still has a long way to go if the goal is a vibrant and rich free-market economy. The country’s nominal communist leadership has allowed economic liberalization, but China is still an economically repressed nation. Economic Freedom of the World ranks China 82 out of 141, just one spot above Russia, and the Index of Economic Freedom has an even lower score, 140 out of 179 nations.

Hopefully, China will continue to move in the right direction. As Jonah Goldberg notes in his Townhall column, it is good for America to have China become a more prosperous nation.

Yes, technically, China’s gross domestic product is now slightly ahead of Japan’s. But GDP is a gross statistic. It doesn’t tell you nearly as much as you might think. In a very real way, China is still poorer than Japan. It’s also poorer than Tunisia, Ecuador, Gabon, Kazakhstan and Namibia. …China still has enormous problems, many of which aren’t reflected in its GDP growth rates, and without democracy, a free press and the rule of law, we can’t know what all of the problems are until they explode (and neither can the Chinese). But all of this misses the most important point. Economic “competitiveness” is a con. It assumes that when other countries prosper, America loses. That’s nonsense. If the average Chinese worker were as rich as the average Japanese worker, it would be an economic windfall for the United States. Conversely, if China’s economy imploded tomorrow, we would “gain” competitively but suffer economically. The cult of competitiveness is just a ruse used to justify the ambitions of economic planners and the pundits who worship them.

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Jeff Jacoby righteously – and rightfully – condemns the moral perversion that allows people to overlook the barbaric cruelty and oppression of communism.

If Jose Saramago, the Portuguese writer who died on Friday at 87, had been an unrepentant Nazi for the last four decades, he would never have won international acclaim or received the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. Leading publishers would never have brought out his books, his works would not have been translated into more than 20 languages, and the head of Portugal’s government would never have said on his death — as Prime Minister José Sócrates did say last week — that he was “one of our great cultural figures and his disappearance has left our culture poorer.” But Saramago wasn’t a Nazi, he was a communist. And not just a nominal communist, as his obituaries pointed out, but an “unabashed” (Washington Post), “unflinching’’ (AP), “unfaltering’’ (New York Times) true believer. A member since 1969 of Portugal’s hardline Communist Party, Saramago called himself a “hormonal communist’’ who in all the years since had “found nothing better.” …the idea that good people can be devoted communists is grotesque. The two categories are mutually exclusive. There was a time, perhaps, when dedication to communism could be absolved as misplaced idealism or naiveté, but that day is long past. After Auschwitz and Babi Yar, only a moral cripple could be a committed Nazi. By the same token, there are no good and decent communists — not after the Gulag Archipelago and the Cambodian killing fields and Mao’s “Great Leap Forward.’’ Not after the testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Armando Valladares and Dith Pran. In the decades since 1917, communism has led to more slaughter and suffering than any other cause in human history. Communist regimes on four continents sent an estimated 100 million men, women, and children to their deaths — not out of misplaced zeal in pursuit of a fundamentally beautiful theory, but out of utopian fanaticism and an unquenchable lust for power. Mass murder and terror have always been intrinsic to communism. “Many archives and witnesses prove conclusively,’’ wrote Stéphane Courtois in his introduction to “The Black Book of Communism,’’ a magisterial compendium of communist crimes first published in France in 1997, “that terror has always been one of the basic ingredients of modern communism.’’ The uniqueness of the Holocaust notwithstanding, the savageries of communism and of Nazism are morally interchangeable — except that the former began much earlier than the latter, lasted much longer, and shed far more blood.

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This Reason.tv video reminds us about the horrors of totalitarian oppression. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a tremendous victory for freedom and could be Ronald Reagan’s greatest accomplishment.

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The socialist paradise off the coast of Florida is having a slight problem with toilet paper. But since the Cuban government has a hard time providing any basic necessity, that is hardly a surprise. What is remarkable, though, is that there are some people who think that it is a good idea to put politicians and bureaucrats in charge of health care:

Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said on Friday. …Cuba’s financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat. “The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,” an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

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