A Tour of Economic Systems

Jessica Cuevas

On the evening of September 23rd, the LEAP Center took four students to see the authors of Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World, Benjamin Powell and Robert Lawson, in College Station. This event, sponsored by the Texas A&M’s Private Enterprise Research Center, was held in the Annenberg Auditorium.

Powell and Lawson gave a presentation of the impact socialism has on our everyday lives. They started by defining socialism as a “collective ownership of means of production” and then proceeded to discuss why the countries they visited are or are not socialist.

To our amusement, their reoccurring theme was about the quality of beer or lack of beer in each of the countries. Sweden had good beer, Venezuela had run out of beer, Cuba had beer but only two types of which they did not like the flavor, Korean beer was toxic, Chinese beer was good, and Georgia (the country) has better wine.

The first of the countries was Sweden, which they deemed not socialist since they had private property and a free market.

Next up, was Venezuela which they titled as “starving socialism” ever since Hugo Chavez came into power. Where we also learned that all Venezuelans must travel to Columbia to purchase just about anything.  However, Venezuelans are not allowed to travel by car but must walk on foot across the border.

Cuba was deemed subsistence socialism since all state-owned buildings, such as hotels, stores, and restaurants (even the private ones) operated at the minimum and lacked options due to their limited chain of supply.

We even learned that their 1950s cars sell for 15K, which is absurd and unreal since those cars no longer exist in the United States. It is hard to imagine that an 80-year-old car could be worth much of anything if it isn’t an antique in prestige condition, but for Cubans, a car like that is their most valuable asset.

Korea was categorized as dark socialism, China as fake socialism-trying to be totalitarian while having economic freedom, Russia and Ukraine as hung-over socialism–by which they mean that private property was reestablished and operates without a central plan but still suffering the effects from socialism, and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia is capitalist.

Their presentation was followed up with a short Q&A session…

…and as they wrapped it up, we walked up to them and thanked them for this amusing but informational presentation. They were even kind enough to allow us to take a picture with them.

We then continued our night by strolling the beautiful grounds of the Bush Center where we saw President George H.W. Bush’s Presidential Library…

… a sculpture dedicated in his honor, the rose garden and presidential pond, the Bush Family’s Gravesite…

…and the inspirational quote on one of the exterior walls of the Presidential Library.

With the night still being young, we ventured on to a nearby local restaurant, Tanaka Ramen. Our dinner consisted of their chicken and beef bun…

…Tempura Brussel Sprouts…


…Tanaka Chicken, Tanaka Classic, and the Tanaka Spicy Miso.

It blew the mind of at least one LEAP Ambassador…

While we all enjoyed our bowls of ramen, we could not leave without having some of their delicious mochi treats.

The most popular flavor was mango out of our other two options, chocolate, and red bean.

It was a great treat on a night that was also a treat, for reasons of fellowship, food, and education.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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