If you missed it, John Stossel wrote a brilliant piece at Thanksgiving, detailing the failing of socialism as it applied to the pilgrims in the new world. You can read it, here.
In a follow-up to that piece, he has written a sequel that really carves out a solid argument against the ideology that many progressives see as a panacea to everything that is wrong with capitalism.
I recommend reading both essays in their entirety. But if I had to pick one part that really makes the entire idea of "for the common good" seem flawed, it would be this:
(Emphasis is mine)
I believe in sharing. But when government takes our money by force and gives it to others, that's not sharing.
Now, you may have somewhat of a problem with my emphasis here. You may ask yourself, how does the government take our money by force?
When we earn and receive a paycheck, take a look at the withholdings. Pay close attention to the section on the check stub that says, federal tax. That is the amount that the federal government has taken from us, before we even see a dime of our earnings. It's the law. And if you really want to see where the force comes in, try being an independent contractor where no tax is withheld, and don't pay the taxes on those earnings.
Let's continue (again, emphasis is mine):
And sharing can't be a basis for production -- you can't share what hasn't been produced. My point is that production and prosperity require property rights. Property rights associate effort with benefits. Where benefits are unrelated to effort, people do the least amount necessary to get by while taking the most they can get. Economists have a pithy way of summing up this truth: No one washes a rental car.
This all boils down to incentive. Without it, human beings will be human beings.
Take a good look at the experiment in New Harmony (Indiana) in the 1800s and you will see that pure socialism failed on the smallest of scales. Imagine the outcome of such measures, should they be applied on a macro level. The USSR and China are the two that quickly come to mind. Both failed miserably under socialism and both now sport free market economies, with much greater success.