The Success of Socialism: Part 11 — Leaky roofs

And the article, from International Business Times:

Bleak photos of daily life in poverty-stricken rural villages in North Korea

Ed Jones captures a world far from the gleaming skyscrapers, wide boulevards and pretty traffic policewomen in the showpiece capital.

By David Sim | Updated December 1, 2017 15:53 GMT

AFP photographer Ed Jones has been capturing everyday life in North Korea for several years. As one of the few Western journalists allowed to enter the secretive state on a regular basis, his access has generally been restricted to what the regime wants the world to see: Pyongyang’s wide boulevards and pretty traffic policewomen and the country’s regular choreographed mass propaganda events venerating its leaders past and present.

However, he recently took a trip along North Korea’s eastern coast up to the Chinese border, photographing the harsh realities of life in the poverty-stricken rural villages along the way. His photos show a world far from the gleaming skyscrapers in the showpiece capital. People wheel bicycles along unpaved roads; children pull handcarts loaded with firewood and animal feed; and farmers wash vegetables in polluted streams.

People walk through the town of Kimchaek on North Korea's northeast coast (Ed Jones/AFP )

People walk through the town of Kimchaek on North Korea’s northeast coast (Ed Jones/AFP )

This is just one of the photos, but, to me, it’s the most significant one. The significance isn’t the people depicted, but the background: dozens of private homes for the Korean people, and every single one of them looks like it has a roof that leaks.

The roof is the second most important part of any home, trailing only the foundation. If your roof leaks, everything else in the home will be slowly — or not so slowly — ruined. Yet this most basic of needs, one which is of simple technology, is apparently in short supply in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. If you look closely at the photo, almost all of them look like they’ve been patched with scrap material, whatever the locals could scrounge up, and put up haphazardly.

This is what socialism has wrought. It’s not just the barely sane Kim Jung-un; the damage and squalor seen in the photographs clearly predates his succession. Figures are sketchy, but estimates are that the DPRK spends between a fifth and a quarter of its GDP, estimated to be between $30 and $40 billion, on the military.

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense estimated the cost of the first 31 ballistic missiles Kim Jong Un test-launched from when he took power in late 2011 until July last year at $97 million. It put the price of each Scud at $1 million to $2 million; each Musudan from $3 million to $6 million; and each submarine-launched ballistic missile at $5 million to $10 million. Up until July last year, Kim had launched 16 Scuds, six Rodongs, six Musudans and three SLBMs.

Including the launch this month of its first ICBM, North Korea has conducted 11 tests, launching 17 missiles, so far this year.

North Korea’s total defense spending is believed to be around $10 billion a year, or somewhere between a fifth to a quarter of its gross domestic product (about $30 billion to $40 billion).

That’s a matter of heated debate. But the $2 billion it made in exports in 2015 would not begin to cover it. North Korea is also believed to have relied on foreign currency sent by tens of thousands of laborers dispatched abroad, as well as exports of illegal weapons and cybercrime.

Its military-spending-to-GDP ratio far exceeds any other country, but in monetary terms it spends much less than its neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, and its budget is absolutely minuscule when compared to the United States.

That’s something of an apples and cobblestones comparison: much of defense spending in the Western democracies goes to wages and benefits, while North Korean soldiers are paid dirt. We have noted the poor condition of the recent North Korean soldier who defected, and how he was infested with parasitical worms. And now The Washington Post has reported, almost incidentally, that, to the Medivac crew which took the defector to a hospital, he “appeared malnourished.”

Think about that. We’ve long known that the nation’s subjects outside of the capital were subsisting on barely more than grass and acorns, and that 41% of the population is undernourished, and the International Food Policy Research Institute has found that a quarter of North Korean children suffer from acute anemia and nore than that show signs of stunted growth and that “compared to developing countries China and Mongolia, children are three times more likely to be developmentally challenged.” But defector Oh Chong Song was a North Korean soldier stationed at the Demilitarized Zone, a high priority assignment. Though rations for soldiers are meager enough, and corruption is rampant, soldiers along the sensitive DMV should be among the better fed.

And this is what the socialists and the ‘Bernie bros‘ want to bring to the United States! Oh, that’s not what they think, of course: to the socialists, their policies will make everybody well-to-do in the Western sense. They’ll all live in upscale urban apartments and have their Starbucks every morning, on the way to their six-hour-a-day well-paying professional jobs, with their beautiful secretaries there, smiling, everyday.1

Alas! despite their fevered imaginations of how great America would be under socialism, we happen to have examples of where socialism, in one form or another, was put into practice:

  • The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which ultimately collapsed;
  • The People’s Republic of China, which abandoned socialism for a capitalist economy, which then took off to become second largest in the world;
  • Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, and is now in almost complete collapse;
  • Cuba, a land of poverty and totalitarianism; and
  • North Korea.

The equality promised by socialists has turned into equal poverty; only a small minority live better than squalor, and that small minority is, of course, the people with guns.2

The truth of socialism, as revealed by its history, is that the Bernie bros and their ilk wouldn’t have those upscale urban apartments, but would be sent out in the fields, because that’s where the food is grown, and they’d be needed to work the crops. Socialism means poverty, and socialism means totalitarian control. Nowhere has it been tried with any different results.
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  1. Hillary Clinton blamed, among other, the ‘Bernie bros’ for her defeat, saying that they were “more than a little sexist.” She wasn’t the only one to make that claim.
  2. No socialist nation has ever allowed its subjects to keep firearms.

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