Part OneThe Robin Hood myth
The primary reason most people embrace socialism is its promise to take care of the poor and make the rich pay their fair share. Many see socialism as being like Robin Hood. I have to disagree with this assessment; the fictional character Robin Hood did not use government taxation as a means of wealth distribution. In fact, in the story, he was fighting back against a government that was overtaxing the people. Socialists, use high taxes and government force as a means of artificial wealth distribution.
One of the greatest and most dangerous aspects of socialism is its dependence on an all-powerful government. Governments can be wonderful servants, but they are always cruel masters. The larger and more centralized a government grows, the more inefficient it becomes. This is not my opinion this is a verifiable historical trend. From ancient powers like Rome, to present powers such as the United States, centralization and increase in powers leads to greater inefficiency.
For a government to carry out the programs of a socialist system, it will have to increase its size, thus becoming more inefficient. Because of its inefficiency, it is unable to carry out these programs as well as other charities could. We saw this in the many Communist nations. Under Stalin, and Mao, tens of millions of people starved in peacetime, while their governments were exporting gain to other nations.
Religions and private charities
Because of the inefficient nature of large government, religions and private charities are far more efficient at providing for the needs of the poor. The less tax burden a government places on the people, the more they are able to give to these organizations. In nations were socialism has become the norm charitable donations are significantly less.
Even if the governments were able to function at desired efficiency socialism would still do great harm to society and the individual. It also robs those that receive of a sense of gratitude. They become as spoiled children who expect everything handed to them. This is why people are rioting in Greece. It also robs everyone of the growth that can only come by giving freely. This growth is an essential part of every major religious tradition. The Christian Apostle Paul wrote:
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. - 1COR 13:2-3, KJV
Charity is something that can only come from individual choice. It cannot be created artificially from any outside force. This is why socialism fails.