A cautionary tale 4

This is a fictitious story, circulating on the net. No such professor – unfortunately – exists. No such brilliant strategy for teaching the danger and absurdity of socialism was put into execution (as far as we know).

But it’s an excellent cautionary tale.


An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A …. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a ‘D’. No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that “socialism” would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

The professor chalked up these 5 sentences on his blackboard to drive the lesson home:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Posted under Commentary, education, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 11, 2014

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This post has 4 comments.

  • WmarkW

    Communism doesn’t work for the above reason.
    Welfare does work because $1 doesn’t have the same utility to everybody.
    If you make food a state-paid right, you haven’t disincentivized the people who want more out of life than food.

    The biggest problem with welfare is moral hazard. If we knew that taking care of unskilled single mothers and their kids wouldn’t motivate the birth of any additional ones, we’d make sure they were. But what to do when it starts empowering the birth rate of those who don’t see any better life than that.


      You are right, Mark…Communism cannot work without borrowing a key piece of it’s existence from Capitalism….the value of an exchange. Without this one axiom of Capitalism, Socialism turns into slavery.

      Most every Socialist that I’ve ever debated goes mute when I submit Emerson’s essay on compensation to them.

      I tell them it must be genuinely delightful to live in a fantasy “bubble!”

      Welfare is the bane of a successful life. it can turn a once productive human being into a needy zombie. If the person is unconscious, they won’t stand a chance of getting out of the welfare “ride” with a shred of human dignity.

    • liz

      Welfare is a parasite which will kill its host by growing too large, as it has all ready done.
      Not to mention the fact that we still have the same amount of poor as we did when we started the “war on poverty”, because 75 cents of every dollar is spent on the “administration” of that “war”, not on the poor themselves.


        And this very action is how the administrators get into power, and get rich doing so.

        If the administrators could somehow spend even more money on welfare’s recipients, they would cause them become even poorer.

        Most of these folks haven’t developed the capacity for any more than they’ve already allowed into their lives, so they will throw away any extra down to their own personal level of capacity.
        Or as the gambler would correctly state, “Easy come, easy go!”