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  • Campus Communism: Principia Exposed

    4/6/2010 12:31:24 PM Posted by Roger Custer

    By Ron Meyer, Principia College

    Courtesy of Human Events

    As a college student, I constantly hear about how college is supposed to be a trial Meyer1place for new ideas. New ideas like communism. A student government experiment at Principia College has produced some humorous and rather predictable results.

    Last year, my student government decided they were going to try this new idea called "Go-Bikes." Basically, the school would have community bikes where any student could take these labeled bikes wherever they needed to around campus. In theory, it looked like it would make student life much easier.

    At first, the students loved the bikes. On our large campus, it nice to not have to walk or buy your own bike in order to travel from the dorms to class. Even though they were used bikes, everything seemed to work for the first few weeks. 

    Then the horror stories started... 

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    • Readers' Comments

    • This has got to be one of the most ridiculous posts on this blog, yet. Again, we see a hard-core free-market cheerleader using a single purely anecdotal and personal experience to denounce an entire school of economic thought, and simultaneously prop up another. It is the very definition of a straw-man argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man I've experienced and participated in no less than three bike-share programs in my lifetime. And in fact, those programs worked because people took MORE responsibility for the common good, instead of concluding that everyone should own a bike for personal use. These programs included a bike maintenance shop run by volunteers, commitments by the student body to report problems and put in volunteer hours, and, of course, funding provided by student's tuition. And no, the schools that had these programs never decreed that any student wishing to buy his or her own bike with their own money is not allowed to, or need share it with others. In my personal and purely anecdotal experience, when a group of people set up the proper institutions and practices, they can create a system of beneficial collectivist action and behavior. So, I agree with your one coherent line of argument, that the answer to your school's bike program shouldn't be to purchase new bikes. But rather than offer constructive criticism, i.e., offering ideas to make a bike-share program actually work, you refute the idea outright. What is so wrong with the stated goals of a bike-share program? In fact, you seem to have thought it a good idea in the beginning: "At first, the students loved the bikes. On our large campus, it nice to not have to walk or buy your own bike in order to travel from the dorms to class. Even though they were used bikes, everything seemed to work for the first few weeks." And, if you don't think there is much wrong with those stated goals, how about offer some solutions to make it work? Also, when you criticize social systems, make sure you understand the terminology. The bike-share program would be closer to socialism, not communism.
      Posted by Simon on 04/08/2010
    • "Campus Communism" was not written to be a master thesis on why communism always fails. It was designed to be a satirical and anecdotal example of how collectivism doesn't work. I thought the USSR had already provem that communism is a terrible idea... I suppose you're right, my college could have tossed in endless amounts of time and money to keep the program afloat. When you have access to other people's money, why not spend it? The fact is that collective goods are not maintained well by the people using them. You can keep fixing the bikes, but to what end? You cannot continue to defy human nature. Following your reasoning, if students like free bikes, the program was successful. The government could give me free donuts, and I would be happy. This doesn't mean it is the government's place to provide me donuts. Finally, the program was communist because the property was controlled by the community. In case you don't know, communism is a more specific branch of socialism in which the property is communal. Call it what you wish, collectivism is not an efficient or logical way of running anything.
      Posted by Ron Meyer, Author on 04/09/2010
    • So you used one example of a presumed failed collectivist experiment on your campus to assert the preposterous claim that, "collectivism is not an efficient or logical way of running anything." And so my response wasn't meant to be a master thesis on why communism always works, but, merely to disprove your claim that it never does.
      Posted by Simon on 04/12/2010
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