Like many youths, I was ensnared by the promises of socialism when I was young.
In retrospect, I credit it in no small part to the fact that most of the teachers I had while in high-school (that part of life when one is most susceptible to peer-pressure and societal conventions) tried (it's now clear to me) to instill socialist values into us.
... most of the teachers I had while in high-school tried to force a socialist worldview into the students.
As I grew up and saw more of life I think the part of my brain responsible for logic couldn't accept being relegated to second place anymore.
I credit two main things with my having "changing sides", as it were.
On a practical level, I couldn't subscribe to socialism any longer due to having started working. When you start working you come to realize how difficult it is to produce value and how much work should be honoured.
The thought of giving away things earned by others (which is what income redistribution -one of the basic tenets of socialist thinking- means) suddenly caused in my stomach a physical sensation close to nausea. My current position is that people should keep what they earn.
The thought of giving away things earned by others suddenly caused in me a physical sensation close to nausea.
On a more intellectual level, I was once hit with a question (maybe in a book or asked by another person, I don't remember) that shook the foundations of my worldview.
It was common sense to me that there was a fixed amount of wealth in the world. Therefore it was clearly unfair, for me at that time, for some to have more while others have less.
It made perfect sense to me to think that the existence of the rich was the cause for others being poor. If there are no rich people thee are no poor people, makes sense, no?
I was asked If some need to be poor if others are to be rich, how come the entire world (as a whole) grew richer over the last centuries? In other words, if wealth is always taken from some by others, shouldn't there be some considerable area on Earth where life was much worse than, say, in the 1700s to account for the fact that all over the world quality of life has gotten tremendously better since then?
The world economy is not a zero-sum game. There's not a fixed amount of wealth in the world. Some do not need to become poorer if others become rich.
I think that, after being asked that question it lingered in the back of my mind for some time before it finally came to me.
Today I know that economic growth benefits everyone even if it seems that only the rich get to benefit.
A simple example would be to consider productivity gains in a farm that produces rice: when new, more efficient ways of harvesting, processing and transporting rice are found, the farmer indeed gets more money for that (why shouldn't he?) but all of us, who consume rice, will also benefit because this farmer will probably try to lower his price slightly so as to have a larger market share, which will in turn cause all his competitors to also do so if they want to remain in business.
The end result is that the rice on supermarket shelves will be cheaper for us, the consumers. In fact, we have all become richer for it since part of the money that would be spent on the rice will now be spent somewhere else.