Does Liberalism Work?

In my opinion, conservatism–i.e., freedom–is superior to liberalism–i.e., state power–on philosophical and moral grounds. But then there is the added argument that freedom, unlike socialism, actually works. We have seen this repeatedly: e.g., Jimmy Carter failed, while Ronald Reagan succeeded. Donald Trump (by no means a perfect exemplar of conservatism, but still, a sponsor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) succeeded, while Joe Biden failed.

In recent years, we have seen an exodus from blue states to red states, as Americans vote with their feet for lower taxes, competent rather than corrupt government services, less regulation, and–above all–thriving economies, the result of the above factors.

Liberals can’t defend New York, California or Illinois, the Big Three of left-wing policy. They are basket cases, rapidly circling the drain. But, starting with Barack Obama, liberals have held up Minnesota as the lone shining example of blue state success. To the point that Minnesota’s utterly mediocre and decidedly un-photogenic governor, Tim Walz, is seriously thinking about running for president.

So, what is the story? Is Minnesota really the proof that liberal policies can succeed?

That narrative is one that my organization has been addressing for the last eight years. The short answer is, No: Minnesota, like California and other left-wing states, is a failure. Every year, more people leave Minnesota than move into the state, the most basic measure of a state’s vitality. Our schools have gotten worse, and are now below average. Minnesota, once a safe place to live, is now above the national average in serious crimes, as measured by FBI statistics. And Minnesota’s economy is in a downward spiral.

This can be measured in many ways, but let’s just take this post by my colleague and good friend Martha Njolomole, who grew up in Malawi, an African socialist country, and knows whereof she speaks:

According to data released on Friday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in the last quarter of 2023, Minnesota’s real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent. Nationally, however, GDP grew at 3.4 percent. Minnesota’s rate of growth was the 38th highest in the country.

For the whole year, Minnesota’s real GDP in 2023 grew at 1.2 percent from 2022. However, nationally, real GDP grew at 2.5 percent — more than two times Minnesota’s rate of growth. Minnesota’s 2023 GDP growth rate was the 8th lowest in the country.

Minnesota also lagged on income growth.

Much more at the link. But the bottom line is, Minnesota is a bottom-feeder among the 50 states. We have seen this over and over for the last eight years. It isn’t just the overtly pro-freedom states like Texas, Florida, Utah, South Carolina and Tennessee who are doing better than left-wing Minnesota. It is pretty much every state, the only exceptions being those who are just as far gone to the left.

Which makes one wonder: at what point can we say that liberalism has definitively, once and for all, failed, so that, like communism and socialism, it can never again be taken seriously as a policy alternative?

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