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Ivan Pon­gracic, pro­fessor of eco­nomics at Hillsdale College, is set to appear Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. EST on Fox Business Network’s “Stossel With John Stossel” program, where he will discuss Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I‑Vt., demo­c­ratic socialism from his per­spective of growing up under a com­munist gov­ernment.

“He was rec­om­mended to us by a fre­quent guest of the show, so we looked into him, liked what we saw and invited him on,” Stossel’s Exec­utive Pro­ducer Michael Ricci said in an email.

Pon­gracic was born and raised in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, which was the second-largest city in Yugoslavia and is now the capital of Croatia, while the country was run by com­munist dic­tator Marshal Tito, who prac­ticed socialist demo­c­ratic eco­nomics, the same eco­nomic system favored by Sanders, the 2016 U.S. Demo­c­ratic pres­i­dential can­didate.

“It was a demo­c­ra­t­i­cally socialist economy in the truest sense of the term. They had worker man­agement where the workers con­trolled the fac­tories, and the workers would demo­c­ra­t­i­cally decide what the factory would do,” Pon­gracic said. “This was dif­ferent from the rest of Eastern Europe, which had gov­ern­mental central planning bureaus dic­tating what was to be done.”

Although Sanders shares the same eco­nomic policy as the former Yugoslavia, Pon­gracic said they are com­pletely dif­ferent in reality. He said the way Sanders’ sup­porters emphasize the demo­c­ratic aspect of the policy is disin­genuous in that it implies a system where the people choose to have their property taken and given to the gov­ernment.

“Demo­c­ratic socialism is in reality some­thing like Yugoslavia or Venezuela — that would fit quite well. They have had gov­ernment taking over more and more, nation­al­izing, social­izing, but have shortages every­where, with bread lines,” Pon­gracic said. “Sanders keep talking about Nordic coun­tries as an example of socialism, and I think that’s dead wrong.”

Under Tito, Yugoslavia thrived, according the Pon­gracic. Until 1980, the year Tito died, the country had a high standard of living, people were content, and although there were no free elec­tions, the gov­ernment tol­erated free speech.

“It wasn’t a bad time, actually,” Pon­gracic said.

After 1980, it became clear, however, that the socialist system was not sus­tainable. Yugoslavia was receiving large sums of money from the West, being an inde­pendent com­munist country — that is, being uncon­nected to the USSR and a buffer between East and West Europe. As the money dried up, the state began to col­lapse.

“I got to witness the slow-motion col­lapse of socialism, at least in the early years, in Yugoslavia. It made a big impression on me. I remember power outages of all sorts, waiting in line for coffee, detergent, and even milk,” Pon­gracic said. “You would have to wait for hours some­times.”

Pon­gracic recalled trav­eling to nearby West­ernized coun­tries bor­dering Yugoslavia, such as Austria, Germany, and Italy for their toy stores and musical selection. He said the con­trast between the market economies and Yugoslavia’s socialism were unbe­lievable.

“You go to a Western toy store and ‘wow.’ Heaven on earth. By 13, I was getting into music, and you could get every­thing you wanted in the West,” Pon­gracic said. “Not so in Yugoslavia.”

Pongracic’s family left Yugoslavia in 1984, the year of the Sarajevo Winter Olympics. He remembers the country’s rough shape, as rep­re­sented by the lack of elec­tricity throughout the country to the point where the Yugoslavian gov­ernment was rationing elec­tricity among its cities to save up for the Olympics.

According to Pon­gracic, gov­ernment offi­cials divided cities into three parts and turned off elec­tricity for eight hours in one of the sec­tions every third day. Pongracic’s section would lose power from 2 – 10 p.m.

“We lived on the 20th story of a building, and every once in awhile, I would have to carry my bike up the stairs when I returned home. Boy, was I cursing the commies then,” Pon­gracic said with a laugh.

His family fled Yugoslavia to the U.S. in 1984 due to his father’s intu­ition regarding the col­lapsing country. His father worked as a public auditor in the gov­ernment of the Yugoslavian state of Croatia and, according to Pon­gracic, observed the rot in the system before anyone else.

“He ingrained into me that socialism is a system that is rotten and cannot aid people or create wealth,” Pon­gracic said.

In the weeks leading up to Pongracic’s family’s flight, his father warned his friends of Yugoslavia’s col­lapse, but according to Pon­gracic, they all laughed and didn’t believe what he was saying was pos­sible. Then, in 1991, Croatia, Slovenia, and then Bosnia col­lapsed, leading to the downfall of the entire nation and con­firming Pongracic’s father’s pre­diction.

Pon­gracic said his goal for his “Stossel” appearance is to teach viewers about the lesson Yugoslavia can teach the U.S. about socialism.

“To some extent it’s preaching to the choir, but the choir should know the gospel so they can preach the truth,” Pon­gracic said. “I think that’s the purpose here. I’m not really sure that most pro-market people know how to respond to Sanders.”

Pongracic’s intimate history with socialism resulted in his modern embrace of free-market eco­nomics, inspired also by his father’s friendship with Russell Kirk. His col­leagues believe his under­standing of socialism from the point of view of a victim is valuable in his role as a teacher of market eco­nomics.

“The fact that his family lived under a planned economy and expe­ri­enced it directly gives him an outlook nobody else would have had,” Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics Gary Wolfram said. “Markets are the only systems capable of pro­ducing wealth for the masses, but we tend to forget that.”

Pon­gracic cer­tainly will never forget the impact socialism had on his life, and although most of his mem­ories are dark ones, of the problems with com­munism, he does have at least one memory of the Western supe­ri­ority over Com­munism from within Yugoslavia.

“The U.S. hockey team, who defeated the Soviet Union in 1980, returned to Sarajevo in 1984 for the Winter Olympics that year,” Pon­gracic said. “They did not do nearly as well, but we shared a flight out of Yugoslavia with that team, which was pretty cool.”