Discussion about Israel and Socialism


Source – https://deeshaa.org/2016/07/12/ask-me-anything-the-sparrow-edition/#comment-29870

Hi Atanu,

Israel is a strongly Socialist country( with state controlled economy and conscription etc..), how do you explain the success of this country? They seem to have done well in both social and economic factors, they are also at the cutting edge of science and technology.

I remember Milton Friedman telling that he disapproved of Israel’s state controlled policies, but the country continues to do well. In this context, would you agree that the chances of success/failure of a state controlled vs a free-market economy depends largely on the geography and demography of the country under consideration?

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Anirudh,

Good question.

Let me tell you about what I call the “George Burns Syndrome.” George Burns was an American actor who lived up to a ripe old age of 100 (1896 – 1996). He smoked cigars like a chimney and drank like a fish (although I doubt that fish drink all that much.) It would be incorrect to conclude that the secret to a long life is to smoke & drink like he did. The fact is that Burns worked out regularly — daily swimming, walks, sit ups and push ups. No doubt genes also had something to do with it.

The regularities that we observe in nature always admit exceptions. The exceptions prove (where the word ‘prove’ is meant in the sense ‘test’) the rule. The rule does not get invalidated but tested by exceptions.

Socialism tends to fail to produce prosperity. That’s a regularity. Why socialism fails to produce prosperity can be analytically understood and empirically verified. The fact that Israel prospers despite being somewhat socialist (if that is indeed the case; I don’t know that for a fact) does not invalidate the analytical or the empirical fact that socialism is a bad way of organizing an economy.

Smoking and excessive drinking is bad for your health even if Uncle George lived a very long life. Perhaps if Uncle George had not smoked, he could have lived to 120, who knows. Israel is successful no doubt but could it have been even more so if it were not partially socialist?

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Thanks for the reply Atanu. I don’t find this a convincing answer, in fact it is far from convincing. But nonetheless, thank you for replying.

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