Late-night talker Stephen Colbert thinks Halloween is a good example of socialism. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that socialism is more tricks than treats.

“On Halloween, kids literally go door to door to get free candy from the neighbors because the kids don’t have it and the neighbors do,” Colbert said. “That’s socialism.”

In reality, socialism would be the homeowners association collecting everyone’s mandatory candy “donation” and passing it out equally. Plenty of my neighbors don’t participate each Halloween. Those who do give out a wide range of treats, from full-size candy bars to a few tiny Tootsie rolls. There are even spoilsports giving out dental floss and toothpaste. And people come to my neighborhood from other neighborhoods looking for more candy.

But there is a warning about socialism to be learned from Halloween. There are always stories about unattended bowls of candy, with notes to “take just one,” that are plundered by a few isolated tricksters.

In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump pushed back at demands that we adopt more redistributionist policies to “spread the wealth around,” as President Barack Obama advocated. Instead, Trump said — to great applause — “we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

One lawmaker sitting on her hands during that applause was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who asserted, “I think he’s scared” of socialism.

Of course he is! Anyone who isn’t already afraid of socialism should look at the Green New Deal that Ocasio-Cortez has introduced. In 10 short years, she wants to completely move us from the fossil-fuel and nuclear sources that generated more than 80 percent of our electricity in 2017 to renewables that generated only 17 percent. She wants every building in America renovated — from the Freedom Tower in New York City to your house — to meet her energy-efficiency demands. She seeks to diminish the number of planes, cars and even cows.

The Green New Deal expands beyond the environment to include government-run universal health care and even “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” Unwilling!

This Green New Deal could cost trillions, and radically affect peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Even if it goes nowhere, the enthusiasm for it tips the hand of the liberal caucus.

Of course this makes President Trump scared about the prospect of socialism in America.

Look what socialism did to Venezuela. Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro turned what was once the wealthiest country in South America into a dystopian state where crime is high and supplies are low. Energy production in this oil-rich country is down. Zoo animals are being eaten while the military is physically blocking humanitarian aid from crossing the border.

Yet socialism remains popular among American liberals. There are those who claim Venezuela is not “real” socialism, and they hanker they can do it correctly in the United States. But it’s already failed here.

For the last nine years the Panera Bread restaurant chain operated several Panera Cares locations across America that had no set prices. Customers could pay as much or as little as they liked. The expectation was that the richer clientele would subsidize poorer patrons. On Feb. 15, the last Panera Cares location closed. Panera management said the model is “no longer viable.” Other charities sent their needy over. People who weren’t needy took advantage of it. Security concerns became an issue. Panera will remain charitable, but in a more controlled manner.

Socialism doesn’t work — not even on Halloween. Free markets foster the innovation that promotes prosperity. That’s what President Trump is promising to resist.

David W. Almasi is vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which dedicated to free-market solutions to public-policy problems. It’s headquartered in Washington, D.C. He wrote this originally for InsideSources.com