An influential objection to socialism is that the potential combination of political and economic power in the hands of state authorities it allows would likely endanger democracy. William R. Allen, the “Midnight Economist,” recently provided an example of this concern in one of his radio broadcasts entitled, “It Has Happened in Monterrey.” He reported that an outspoken publisher in Monterrey, Mexico, whose views were opposed to those of the incumbent political party, had been unable to obtain all the newsprint he had ordered from government-controlled suppliers, with the result that his newspaper’s circulation appreciably diminished. Generalizing from this case, Allen argued as follows:

How can the right to own private property guard against coercion and thereby protect political freedom? It is more difficult to take issue with government policies when most of the means by which people earn their incomes are owned by the government. Government ownership combines economic and political power; such concentrated power reduces economic options of individuals and increases the likelihood of government intimidation. In contrast, a free-market, private-property economy separates economic from political power, with one tending to offset the other. When property rights are privately owned, they are more widely dispersed among competing individuals and institutions, and one is more assured of finding a means of economic livelihood if his views or lifestyle strongly diverge from those which are politically favored. 1