Category Archive 'Socialism'
20 Feb 2019

Angry Socialism Selling Well

, ,

George Will marvels at the recent surge of popularity for the new angrier Socialism.

Two-thirds of the federal budget (and 14 percent of GDP) goes to transfer payments, mostly to the non-poor. The U.S. economy’s health-care sector (about 18 percent of the economy) is larger than the economies of all but three nations, and is permeated by government money and mandates. Before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, 40 cents of every health-care dollar was government’s 40 cents. The sturdy yeomanry who till America’s soil? Last year’s 529-page Agriculture Improvement Act will be administered by the Agriculture Department, which has about one employee for every 20 American farms.

Socialists favor a steeply progressive income tax, as did those who created today’s: The top 1 percent pay 40 percent of taxes; the bottom 50 percent pay only 3 percent; 50 percent of households pay either no income tax or 10 percent or less of their income. Law professor Richard Epstein notes that in the last 35 years the fraction of total taxes paid by the lower 90 percent has shrunk from more than 50 percent to about 35 percent.

In his volume in the Oxford History of the United States (The Republic for Which It Stands) covering 1865–1896, Stanford’s Richard White says that John Bates Clark, the leading economist of that era, said “true socialism” is “economic republicanism,” which meant more cooperation and less individualism. Others saw socialism as “a system of social ethics.” All was vagueness.

Today’s angrier socialists rail, with specificity and some justification, against today’s “rigged” system of government in the service of the strong. But as the Hoover Institution’s John H. Cochrane (a.k.a. the Grumpy Economist) says, “If the central problem is rent-seeking, abuse of the power of the state, to deliver economic goods to the wealthy and politically powerful, how in the world is more government the answer?”

RTWT

17 Feb 2019

Socialism: Back From the Death Like the Killer at the End of a Horror Movie

, , ,

Matthew Continetti associates the rebirth of Socialism and Nationalism with the death of Christianity.

If the death of the socialist idea was the most important political event of the last century, then the rebirth of this ideal must rank high in significance in the current one. Just as nationalism has reasserted itself on the political right, socialism has grown in force on the left. In the twenty-first century the two ideologies are estranged and antagonistic twins, paired in Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The Democratic victory in 2018 has elevated socialism to a height it has not reached in the United States in more than a century. Only in recent weeks, however, have defenders of democratic capitalism become aware of how great the socialist challenge really is. Only now are we beginning to formulate a response.

Take your pick of the headlines. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the most talked-about Democrat in the country. Her fellow member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Rashida Tlaib, opened the 116th Congress by saying, “Impeach the mother—.” Their comrade Ilhan Omar apparently wants to offend every Jewish American by the end of her term. The Green New Deal, Medicare For All, eliminating employer-based health insurance, marginal tax rates of upwards of 70 to 90 percent, requiring corporations above a certain size to obtain a federal charter, the expropriation of wealth, heavy inheritance taxes, free college, universal basic income, abolish I.C.E., the anti-Semitism that has long been socialism’s fellow traveler—what was once radical and marginal is now embraced and celebrated by a large and vocal part of the Democratic Party.

Why? The answer goes a long way toward explaining the resurgence of nationalism as well. In “Socialism: An Obituary for an Idea,” the essay quoted above, Kristol exhumed the ideology’s intellectual remains. He explained that the ideal of utopian socialism offered “elements that were wanting in capitalist society—elements indispensable for the preservation, not to say perfection, of our humanity.” Socialism supplied the values, aspirations, goals, mechanisms of meaning that democratic capitalism could not.

As Michael Novak observed in his 1982 masterpiece The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, what we call capitalism is really three systems in one. There is the economic system of entrepreneurship and free exchange. There is a moral-cultural system governing norms and behavior. And there is the political system of democratic pluralism and individual freedom. Socialism returns at times when the democratic capitalist trinity is out of whack, at places where the moral-cultural and political systems fail to provide answers that legitimize the economic system. Socialism is the attempt to derive from the political sphere the direction and purpose to human life that is the traditional province of morality and culture.

The separation of the moral and cultural from the political and economic was the crack in the foundation of democratic capitalism. “A society founded solely on ‘individual rights,'” Kristol wrote, “was a society that ultimately deprived men of those virtues which could only exist in a political community which is something other than a ‘society.’ Among these virtues are a sense of distributive justice, a fund of shared moral values, and a common vision of the good life sufficiently attractive and powerful to transcend the knowledge that each individual’s life ends only in death.”

Thus, if people do not see the fruits of the economic system as just, and if the moral-cultural system fails to satisfy people’s deepest longings, they will look increasingly to the political system to lessen the gale of creative destruction or to silence it altogether. The viability of democratic capitalism, then, depends on its moral and cultural character. “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and trust,” James Madison wrote in Federalist no. 55, “so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.”

It was Kristol’s view that the founders of democratic capitalism simply assumed that such qualities would be always present. “Capitalist society itself—as projected, say, in the writings of John Locke and Adam Smith—was negligent of such virtues,” he wrote.

    It did not reject them and in no way scorned them, but simply assumed that the individual would be able to cope with this matter as he did with his other ‘private’ affairs. This assumption, in turn, was possible only because the founders of capitalism took it for granted that the moral and spiritual heritage of Judaism and Christianity was unassailable, and that the new individualism of bourgeois society would not ‘liberate’ the individual from this tradition. It might free him from a particular theology, or a particular church; but he would ‘naturally’ rediscover for himself, within himself, those values previously associated with that theology or church.

Things did not work out as planned. The bourgeois values of honesty, fidelity, diligence, reticence, delayed gratification, and self-control that once reigned supreme have been contested for many decades by an ethic of self-expression, self-indulgence, instant gratification, and demanding the impossible. Our politics is a competition for control over what Michael Novak called the “empty shrine” at the center of pluralist democracy. The champions of Christianity and militant secularism, free speech and political correctness, meritocracy and diversity, the entrepreneurial instinct and an inflamed egalitarianism, and historical memory and limitless iconoclasm struggle for a dominance that is never fully attained.

Both the right and the left are uncomfortable with the democratic capitalist trinity. Both would rather have the empty shrine be replaced with something else. That is why you see laments for the loss of political community, as well as critiques of inequality, on both Fox News and MSNBC.

RTWT

06 Feb 2019

Bernie Sanders Looked Unhappy and Unrepentant

, ,

25 Jan 2019

Tweet of the Day

, ,

18 Dec 2018

Bert and I: On Socialism

, ,

1st sketch: 0:00 to 0:58:

Eban Robay went down to the Tremont Temple in Boston one Saturday night to hear Norman Thomas speak. Next Monday he was preaching Socialism to Enoch Turner over the back fence:

“You know, Enoch,” he was sayin’, “under Socialism a person shares everything.”

“You mean to say, Eban, that if you had two farms you’d give me one of them?”

“Ayup, Enoch, if I had two farms, I’d give you one of them.”

“You mean to say, Eban, if you had two hay rakes you’d give me one of them?”

“Ayup, Enoch, if I had two hay rakes I’d give you one of them.”

“Or if you had two hogs, Eban, would you give me one of them?”

“DARN YOU, ENOCH! YOU KNOW I GOT TWO HOGS!!!!”

——————–

Bob Bryan passed away recently at 87, and was commemorated with a posting from Bird Dog.

17 Aug 2018

“Do It For Denmark!”

, , ,

John Davis reports that the Danish Government has been reduced to begging men, via advertising from the state travel agency, to have sex with Danish women.

Denmark, however, has fallen ill to a festering infection known as “feminism.” It is the same illness that has taken hold of the rest of Scandanavia, Western Europe and the UK. Because of this gender infirmity, Denmark’s birth rate, and, its population growth, has been plummeting (as is true with most of Western Europe).

Feminism has given women in Denmark an immunity from civility, and, license to openly hate and ridicule men. For example, it is not uncommon for girls to be sitting on a bus, in a group, and have them openly point to a man and discuss how unattractive he is. The Danish legal system is set up so that once a woman has “been impregnated” by a man, the man is completely disposable in divorce, and, the man’s role as a sperm donor is further degraded by requiring him to pay for the child for the rest of his life so that the impregnated woman may enjoy her fulfillment as a modern feminist.

Denmark still imposes all of the obligations of men that have survived medieval chivalry, yet, virtually sees men as nothing but completely disposable sperm donors (who are occasionally allowed to work in the Danish socialist job market).

Denmark’s feminist culture, laws and government view and treat men as nothing but disposable sperm donors.

The result is that only about 20% of Danish men are actively in the dating pool. Danish women are constantly complaining about not having enough men to satisfy their desires for sexual and social intercourse. Yet, Danish women will viciously guard their feminism, hatred of men, life plans to treat men as disposable, and the concept that men are irrelevant except to give the woman sperm, and, the child some semblance of legitimacy.

One with intellect, sensitivity, education (instead of the indoctrination that feminism requires) and human dignity might think that the solution to this problem would be to encourage women to learn something about human compassion, respect, human value beyond sex, and, the beauty of binding interpersonal relationships.

The Danish government doesn’t have any of those problems . . . . Here is the Danish government’s solution. This is just one advertisement of an intense propaganda campaign the Danish feminist government undertook to try to beg men to inseminate Danish women (for “Mom” and for “The State”).

Spies Rejser is the Danish state travel agency.

Note how the advertisement features a prominent man-hating feminist in the narrative in order to appease the fascist feminist lobby that controls the country’s social laws and norms.

Note how the advertisement relegates the man to a mere decoration and accessory and sperm donor.

RTWT

HT: Karen L. Myers.

15 Aug 2018

Socialism: A Political Solution to a Spiritual Problem

, ,

Nathanael Blake has a good editorial explaining that the yen for Socialism really amounts to a category mistake.

The surge in socialism’s popularity among young Americans has little to do with the actual merits (or demerits) of the system, or even what it actually entails. Most seem to think it means a larger welfare state and taxing “the rich” a bit more. Rather, socialism’s allure is due to the families that are broken, the communities that are atomized, and the churches that are empty — often, sadly, because they betrayed their responsibilities to God and man.

The needs and desires that are met only by faith, family, and friendship are still part of the human condition. The current half-baked socialist revival is a category error, as it attempts a political and economic solution to a cultural and spiritual problem. But part of our crisis is the loss of the ability to think clearly about such matters, as exemplified by a generation that relies on the Harry Potter books for a shared moral language. This poverty of moral imagination and expression illuminates the spiritual and cultural desolation that prior generations created and bequeathed to their children.

As people seek a political solution for their spiritual and psychological dismay and distress, we see pathologies that used to afflict religious entities become manifest in politics. The sudden popularity of ersatz socialism is not because it offers a realistic plan of improvement, but because it sounds fair and compassionate while promising to relieve anxiety over economic uncertainty. That socialism will deliver on none of these promises is beside the point.

The concerns and anxieties that beset our culture will not be addressed only by reminders of material abundance provided by free market economics. Man does not live on technological miracles alone. Wealth will not satisfy us and assuage our anxieties; affordable airfare and iPhones will not save our souls. But as we look for that which will, we must remember the bounty lavished upon us. Our unhappiness rarely results from real material deprivation, and a socialist redistribution will do little to increase the sum of human happiness.

Only by bearing our material blessings in mind will we be able to think clearly about our desires for cultural, relational, and spiritual satisfaction.

RTWT

11 Jul 2018

George Will: “If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Had Her Way…”

, , ,

George Will explains what Socialism in America would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came into power.

[I]f America had a socialist government today, what would it be like?

Socialism favors the thorough permeation of economic life by “social” (aka political) considerations, so it embraces protectionism — government telling consumers what they can buy, in what quantities and at what prices. (A socialist American government might even set quotas and prices for foreign washing machines.)

Socialism favors maximizing government’s role supplementing, even largely supplanting, the market — voluntary private transactions — in the allocation of wealth by implementing redistributionist programs. (Today America’s sky is dark with dollars flying hither and yon at government’s direction: Transfer payments distribute 14% of GDP, two-thirds of the federal budget, up from a little more than one-quarter in 1960. In the half-century 1963-2013, transfer payments were the fastest-growing category of personal income. By 2010, American governments were transferring $2.2 trillion in government money, goods and services.)

Socialism favors vigorous government interventions in the allocation of capital, directing it to uses that far-sighted government knows, and the slow-witted market does not realize, constitute the wave of the future. So, an American socialist government might tell, say, Carrier Corp. and Harley-Davidson that the government knows better than they do where they should invest shareholders’ assets.

Socialism requires — actually, socialism is — industrial policy, whereby government picks winners and losers in conformity with the government’s vision of how the future ought to be rationally planned. What could go wrong? (Imagine, weirdly, a president practicing compassionate socialism by ordering his energy secretary to prop up yesterday’s coal industry against the market menace of fracking — cheap oil and natural gas.)

Socialism, which fancies itself applied social science, requires a bureaucracy of largely autonomous experts unconstrained by a marginalized — ideally, a paralyzed — Congress. So, an American socialist government would rule less by laws than by regulations written in administrative agencies staffed by experts insulated from meddling by elected legislators. (Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s office displays two piles of paper. One, a few inches high, contains the laws Congress passed in a recent year. The other, about 8 feet tall, contains regulations churned out that year by the administrative state’s agencies.)

Socialism favors vast scope for ad hoc executive actions unbound by constraining laws that stifle executive nimbleness and creativity. (Imagine an aggrieved president telling, say, Harley-Davidson: “I’ve” — first-person singular pronoun — “done so much for you.”)

Today’s American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets “on the right side of history” (an updated version of after “the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.

RTWT

29 Apr 2018

Boy, Were We Ever Right to Declare Independence!

, ,

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

That prediction proved wrong, of course. After WWII, Labour offered them free health care and they’re slaves now.

Kira Davis explains why Alfie Evans’ parents could not be permitted to take their child to Italy for treatment the British National Health Service could not provide.

Some years ago I watched a documentary on the design and building of the Berlin Wall between East Germany and West Germany. It included extremely rare clips of interviews with the architects (I was shocked to learn there was actually a deliberate design to that monstrosity).

I searched high and low for the film, but was unable to locate it. If any reader has any clue where to find it please do let me know…I’ve been desperate to watch it again.

In one clip, an aging (former) East German Wall architect spoke briskly about the strategy of his designs. Although the interview was conducted during what must have been the last years of his life, he still seemed deeply resentful that he was being asked to defend the wall’s erection even after the fall of the Eastern Bloc. I’ll never forget what he said in that interview – it made the hair stand up on my arms.

With great sincerity – almost pleading with the interviewer – he said, “We had to build the wall. Too many people were leaving for the West and you need people to make socialism work. We had to build the wall to keep them in so they could see how great socialism was, so they could see that it works.”

As I can’t find the clip, you’ll just have to take my word for it (or not). The point is – this man and his comrades felt that the only way to sell people on their socialist vision was to force them to live in it. Those leaving were just too stupid to understand that it was the best thing for them.

This is exactly the point in the ruling by the NHS and the courts to forbid their free citizens from leaving the country. If they are allowed to flee the heart-wrenching consequences of socialism, then others will want to do the same. How can a socialist system work without the cooperation of everyone? And how can you force people to participate in that socialist system when they discover that system may kill them or their loved ones?

You build a wall.

Great Britain doesn’t yet have a wall to keep its citizens in, but the courts have built one with the law. Just as East Germany could not tolerate the massive loss of defectors who were leaving with their training, intellect and tax dollars, Great Britain’s healthcare system cannot tolerate the defection of those who might find better healthcare somewhere else.

After all, how would it look if Alfie were allowed to leave England (allowed to leave a free country! Even to write the words feels absurd!) and then found a successful treatment in another country?

It would be an abject embarrassment to a government that holds up their socialist healthcare as one of the wonders of the Western world. Not only would they be forced to admit that their own doctors and bureaucrats were wrong for denying this baby life-saving measures, but they would then have to deal with hundreds, maybe thousands of other citizens fleeing the bondage of NHS algorithms for a chance at swifter, more modern healthcare.

For some bizarre reason, a nation that boasts figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, a tiny island nation that was once so powerful and broad it was said that the sun never set on the British empire…for some inexplicable reason that nation has chosen to hang its pride and joy on socialized medicine.

If you think I exaggerate just look up the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.

To release this child to the care of any other nation would be to admit failure, and heartless bureaucrats who will never have to watch young Alfie struggle for air or dehydrate to death have decided that their misplaced pride is more valuable than the lives of their citizens.

RTWT

Little Alfie Evans died yesterday.

They aren’t allowed guns. They aren’t allowed to hunt with hounds. They get tossed in jail if they give the finger to a traffic camera or say something really politically incorrect. Soon, they won’t be allowed to own knives.

I’m buying extra fireworks for the Fourth of July this year.

12 Nov 2017

California: Doing Less Well Than Mexico

, ,

Fifth Generation Californian Steve Baldwin says good-bye to the Golden State, refuting in the process all the liberal boasting about California’s prosperity under Leftism.

[L]iberals like to claim California socialism is working by pointing to the much heralded statistic that “California’s economy is the 6th largest in the world” as calculated by the state’s Department of Finance. Indeed, California’s $2.62 trillion economy is larger than that of France, Canada, Brazil, Russia, and Italy. However, that GDP stat does not factor in California’s cost of living, which is 36.2% higher than the national cost of living. As Carson Bruno writes in Real Clear Markets, “using the cost of living adjusted data from the International Monetary Fund and adjusting California’s GDP data provides a better snapshot of California’s economic standing in the world. Doing so shows that California is actually the 12th largest economy — a drop of 6 spots — and actually puts the state below Mexico.”

Moreover, as Bruno points out, Silicon Valley “accounted for 50% of California’s private industry real GDP growth.” In other words, without a few dozen mega profitable high-tech Silicon Valley firms such as Apple, Google, and Facebook, California’s GDP would be significantly smaller.

However, as economic blogger Richard Rider points out, the aggregate GDP statistic is really not a good indicator of a state’s economic health, especially since one industry appears to be propping up the “6th largest economy” myth. California has over 39 million people, more than any other state, so a far more accurate assessment of its economy, Rider writes, would be per capita GDP as compared to the rest of the country. After adjusting the GDP figures to account for the cost of living (COL), the Golden State ends up with a paltry 37th place ranking within the U.S.A., with a $45,696 per capital GDP. Even rustbelt states, such as Michigan and Ohio, have a higher adjusted per capita GDP. Despite Silicon Valley’s high-tech giants, California barely squeezes past impoverished New Mexico. Rider also reports that when one looks at per capita GDP stats for the rest of the world, California ranks 19th, but those stats don’t factor in the COL data; if they did, California would be even further down the rankings internationally.

One should not also assume that high-tech companies are a permanent feature of California’s economy. Already, the extremely high cost of living in Silicon Valley has, since 2016, caused more Silicon Valley employees to leave the state than it has attracted. With a few high-tech companies having left California for other states such as Virginia, Texas and North Carolina, it’s only a matter of time before this turns into a flood.

But it’s not just Silicon Valley employees fleeing California; it’s productive — and job-creating — citizens from all over the state. As Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox wrote in the Mercury News last April, “the largest group of outmigrants tends to be middle-aged people making between $100,000 and $200,000 annually.”

Indeed, California has done everything possible to make it difficult for businesses and employers to produce goods and services. California now has the highest state income tax rate and the highest state sales tax rate in the country. Our gas tax rate is fourth-highest, but if you add in the 10-12 cent “cap and trade” cost per gallon, we have the highest gas tax in the country. Based on 2014 numbers, California’s single-family residence property tax is the eighth highest in the country with the median homeowner property tax bill 93% higher than the average property tax bill for the other 49 states. As for the state’s corporate income tax rate, it is also eighth in the country. And let’s not forget our small business tax, a minimum of $800, even if no profit is earned.

Overall, the Tax Foundation ranks California as fifth worse in overall tax burden, but the state is especially hostile to its high earners who start businesses and create most of the jobs. Indeed, the top 1% pays 50% of all state income taxes. Moreover, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranked California as having the worst anti-business climate in the country; the American Tort Reform Foundation ranks the state as the “worst state judicial hellhole” in the U.S. and the national Chamber of Commerce rates California as having the fourth-worst business climate.

If California is such a prosperous state as liberals claim, why does it have the highest poverty rate in the nation? According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate is 23.4%, which is 17% higher than second place Nevada. Indeed, while California has 12% of the nation’s population, it is home to 33% of the nation’s TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients, more than the next seven states combined.

What’s clear is that the producers are leaving the state and the takers are coming in. Many of the takers are illegal aliens, now estimated to number over 2.6 million. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that California spends $22 billion on government services for illegal aliens, including welfare, education, Medicaid, and criminal justice system costs. Liberals claim they more than make that up with taxes paid, but that’s simply not true. It’s not even close. FAIR estimates illegal aliens in California contribute only $1.21 billion in tax revenue, which means they cost California $20.6 billion, or at least $1,800 per household.

RTWT

19 Jun 2017

Recurring Cycle

, ,

12 Jun 2017

Kotkin on California’s Feudal Socialism

, ,


San Francisco Bay area from Grizzly Peak

Joel Kotkin admires the contradictions inherent in California’s Socialism.

The oligarchs of the Bay Area have a problem: They must square their progressive worldview with their enormous wealth. They certainly are not socialists in the traditional sense. They see their riches not as a result of class advantages, but rather as reflective of their meritocratic superiority. As former TechCrunch reporter Gregory Ferenstein has observed, they embrace massive inequality as both a given and a logical outcome of the new economy.

The nerd estate is definitely not stupid, and like rulers everywhere, they worry about a revolt of the masses, and even the unionization of their companies. Their gambit is to expand the welfare state to keep the hoi polloi in line. Many, including Mark Zuckerberg, now favor an income stipend that could prevent mass homelessness and malnutrition.

Unlike its failed predecessor, this new, greener socialism seeks not to weaken, but rather to preserve, the emerging class structure. Brown and his acolytes have slowed upward mobility by environment restrictions that have cramped home production of all kinds, particularly the building of moderate-cost single-family homes on the periphery. All of this, at a time when millennials nationwide, contrary to the assertion of Brown’s “smart growth” allies, are beginning to buy cars, homes and move to the suburbs.

In contrast, many in Sacramento appear to have disdain for expanding the “California dream” of property ownership. The state’s planners are creating policies that will ultimately lead to the effective socialization of the regulated housing market, as more people are unable to afford housing without subsidies. Increasingly, these efforts are being imposed with little or no public input by increasingly opaque regional agencies.

To these burdens, there are now growing calls for a single-payer health care system — which, in principle, is not a terrible idea, but it will include the undocumented, essentially inviting the poor to bring their sick relatives here. The state Senate passed the bill without identifying a funding source to pay the estimated $400 billion annual cost, leading even former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to describe it as “snake oil.” It may be more like hemlock for California’s middle-income earners, who, even with the cost of private health care removed, would have to fork over an estimated $50 billion to $100 billion a year in new taxes to pay for it.

In the end, we are witnessing the continuation of an evolving class war, pitting the oligarchs and their political allies against the state’s diminished middle and working classes. It might work politically, as the California electorate itself becomes more dependent on government largesse, but it’s hard to see how the state makes ends meet in the longer run without confiscating the billions now held by the ruling tech oligarchs.

RTWT

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Socialism' Category.











Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark