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Economist warns against socialism

BY ARIANA WITT | APRIL 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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Yuri Maltsev saw firsthand the dangers of a socialist government — at least, the kind of socialism practiced by the Soviet Union.

Born into a world of intense government control, the economics professor at Carthage College in Wisconsin said he seized the opportunity to defect from the Soviet Union in 1989.

“I was forced to graduate from the ‘University of Marxism’ in Moscow,” said Maltsev. “Russia went through a lot of hardships, and not many people in the West know about the devastation.”

The former economic adviser for the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev spoke to a University of Iowa audience of more than 100 Wednesday, warning about the rise of socialism in today’s economic world and how he said the same trend helped to impoverish Russia.

“We don’t realize the types of crimes and lies that are created because of socialism,” he said.

Freedom of choice and human rights is a big part of any country’s financial prosperity, he said, and the current Obama administration and many before it have practiced politics that alienate the general public. He said that the parallel to the current political economic involvement in the United States relates those held by Russia for nearly seven decades.

“If you look at economic freedoms, the U.S. is still a leader, but too big to fail?” Maltsev said. “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. The Soviet Union was too big to fail.”

The U.S. government funds more than half of today’s health-care expenditures, he contended, and it echoes that of the failed Russian reform and will likely worsen the $14 trillion U.S. deficit.

“My four children already have their future mortgaged,” he said.

And though he was able to joke with the crowd composed mainly of UI students, he said he wants young people to know that socialism is not all it’s portrayed to be.

“This is a view that is appealing to young people, because it is also sold under the frame of social justice,” Maltsev said.

UI senior Jeff Shipley said he agrees with Maltsev’s take on the threat of socialism.

“We’re in a disturbing situation because the debt we have now is insurmountable and that makes me worry about the future,” Shipley said.

The economist’s views on the status of American politics drew opposition from some students.

“I think we can agree that what we have isn’t that good,” said Nathan Fritze, a UI graduate student. “But if someone is sick, they should have access to health care.”

Karen Kubby, a former Iowa City councilor, ran under the Socialist Party in early 1990s. She said many issues related to socialism are misunderstood.

“To me [socialism] means as a society we will agree on some level,” Kubby said. “We have a lot of elements of socialism in the states … some instances of a society I’d call ideal.”


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