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Author Topic: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)  (Read 7900 times)

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Offline HunterTopic starter

The positive is she's unlikely to be elected. Please, please tell me she won't be elected.

Oh no, it's very like she will.   And I'll be glad that it's not another one of those Socialist Democrats.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2010, 09:39:32 PM »
Come the next election season I'm probably going to be a bit more vocal about pointing out primaries in the US and their importance. I'm not opposed to conservative positions per se, however, having a leadership so disconnected with reality or outright malignant is not healthy for a country.

Oh no, it's very like she will.   And I'll be glad that it's not another one of those Socialist Democrats.

What is socialism, Hunter?

Offline Noelle

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2010, 09:42:39 PM »
Oh no, it's very like she will.   And I'll be glad that it's not another one of those Socialist Democrats.

...Like who? I have yet to see any signs of an impending socialist regime like all the doomsday politicians crying about Obama have predicted.

Offline HunterTopic starter

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2010, 06:06:32 AM »
"Definition of SOCIALISM
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
   b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done"


Oh, I agree that there's not a lot of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.  Both parties have strong socialistic leanings, the Democrats simply lean a bit further.  I can't tell you how many people I've talked to, particularly small business owners, who are outright disgusted with the policies of the current administration.  Case in point, one local business has a very large banner which reads: "No Obama care"

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2010, 06:40:39 AM »
"Definition of SOCIALISM
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
   b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done"

So name a democratic senator or congresscritter who has advocated government ownership of the means of production.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2010, 08:14:44 AM »
There aren't any Senators or members of the House of Representatives, that I am aware of, that have advocated complete governmental control of private industry, but there are plenty who advocate control of certain private industries.  Bernie Sanders for example, who actually is a Democratic-Socialist, wants Single-Payer which is true socialized medicine.

And I don't really disagree with you Hunter.  Democrats and Republicans alike agree that certain sectors of our country have to be controlled, owned, and operated by the government, it's just that Democrats extend that governmental control farther than Republicans do.  Not even libertarians believe that the complete absence of government-controlled sectors is wise:  you have to be an anarchist in the truest sense to buy that garbage.

What is counterproductive about the debate, however, is labeling people by which way on the spectrum they lean.  Calling Democrats Socialists because they support public takeover of certain industries is about as honest as calling Republicans Anarchists for opposing such.  Obviously I think it's fair to call someone a socialist who support a takeover of the majority -- or numbers nearing that -- of private industries in America, but there are no Democrats to my knowledge (not even Bernie Sanders) who advocate for such a position.

This debate is about government influence on the private sector and in people's personal lives.  It's appropriate, even necessary, to have such a discussion.  What isn't fair is the extent that "Obamacare" is being talked up as governmental takeover of healthcare -- it's not that at all.  It's a fairly even-handed bill that really helps private health insurance become a more productive, level-playing field and controls the cost of healthcare while not getting involved in the minutia too much.

I personally don't know how I feel about it at all.  I don't like being legally required to buy health insurance, but I understand there's a reason for it.  I also understand that sometimes laws are passed and decisions are made in order to save people's lives that may hurt others:  human life has greater value than even liberty.  Unfortunately, the same Republicans who argued so fervently for such when it comes to matters of national security can't see how that should apply to healthcare as well.

Apparently it's OK to take away our rights and freedoms to protect us from a far less dangerous threat -- terrorists -- but dying because you can't see a doctor and afford treatments is "OK."  According to a study by the American Journal of Public Health 45,000 people die a year from being uninsured -- contrast that with a total of about 3,000 who have died from domestic terrorist attack in the past 10 years.  As you can, our fears and focus are sorely misplaced.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2010, 08:50:11 AM »
There aren't any Senators or members of the House of Representatives, that I am aware of, that have advocated complete governmental control of private industry, but there are plenty who advocate control of certain private industries.  Bernie Sanders for example, who actually is a Democratic-Socialist, wants Single-Payer which is true socialized medicine.

As long as the government didn't actually own the hospitals, it doesn't own the industry. And hospitals aren't means of production, anyway - national health care is more kin to national defense than socialism. Especially as the specter of bioterrorism rises.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2010, 09:13:53 AM »
I can see the logic behind your arguments, but I think that labels are meaningless anyway.  Whether you call it socialism or argue that the criticisms should fall under a different label the actual complaints that make up the substance of opposition are the same.  I take more issue with them than anything else.  As for the specific complaints...

Myth:  Socialized medicine is the first step to tyranny/communism.
Fact:  Great Britain has had Single-Payer since after World War II.  Are they communist/fascist?

Myth:  People being able to choose what doctors they go to instead of being told where to go is good for doctors and good for patients.
Fact:  You can't exactly choose freely as is because you have to choose doctors that are within your insurance's coverage network.  That aside, there's plenty of evidence that shows that doctors do best when they examine symptoms without bias and provide the standard treatments without any "creative improvisation."  That doctor you go to, should by all means, give you the same treatment that any other would -- the only difference may be in their individual skill-level and the equipment they use.  Becoming personally involved with your doctor may lead to interjecting your opinions more than you should and creating an atmosphere without objectivity, resulting in decreased efficiency of healthcare.  Your doctor does not need to know you in order to read your chart and gather patient history in order to do their job.

Myth:  Socialized medicine leads to unreasonable rationing and death panels.
Fact:  We already ration our healthcare, we merely do it on the basis of who has the most money instead of survivability.  With the same amount of money in the pool and doctors deciding who is a lost cause and who isn't based on hard fact, more lives would be saved and there would be less human misery.

Of course, this all assumes that the system works.  That requires faith in government and electing competent politicians, which I don't think the American populace is very good at lately, though I digress, and that also brings us back to the origin of this debate:  Republicans nominated this crazy woman as the official party candidate.  What the hell is wrong with us?

Offline Revolverman

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2010, 03:14:09 PM »
Didn't the US government buy out the auto manufacturing industry in the bailout? Seems like owning the means of production. (though that was Bush...)

Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2010, 03:26:06 PM »
Didn't the US government buy out the auto manufacturing industry in the bailout? Seems like owning the means of production. (though that was Bush...)
No. The federal government extended,  essentially, a very large loan to the auto industry in exchange for a shake-up of the corporate structure and a piece of the eventual profits. They do this on a fairly regular basis for industries considered critical to the United States, either because of the size of the industry (autos) or its serving a vital function (banking, airlines). Government officials are not overseeing GM's day-to-day operations, for instance, and the government plans to sell off its stake in GM as soon as the value of said stake exceeds the money spent on it.
In effect, it's the government acting as a "bank of last resort", a term any student of economics ought to be familiar with. Its role is purely capitalistic - in a socialist state, the government would acquire the industry outright instead of piecemeal (and often not for fair value), evaluate whether its products were vital, and either dismantle it or run it with the goal of providing a social benefit (jobs, a particular type of good) rather than profits.

A government take-over of the auto industry would result in everyone being taxed $500 a year more, but getting a free Ford.  :P

Offline Oniya

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2010, 04:08:31 PM »
A government take-over of the auto industry would result in everyone being taxed $500 a year more, but getting a free Ford.  :P

Considering the average cost of an automobile these days - not a terribly bad deal.

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2010, 04:10:44 PM »
I expect they would all run on batteries that required at-home docks that no home would have.

Offline Revolverman

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2010, 05:00:10 PM »
In effect, it's the government acting as a "bank of last resort", a term any student of economics ought to be familiar with. Its role is purely capitalistic - in a socialist state, the government would acquire the industry outright instead of piecemeal (and often not for fair value), evaluate whether its products were vital, and either dismantle it or run it with the goal of providing a social benefit (jobs, a particular type of good) rather than profits.



The Government acting as a bank of last resort is closer to Mussolini's Corporatism/Fascism then Capitalism though.

Also, even if they didn't control day to day, they still had the most GM stock, making them Majority owners, no?

Offline Noelle

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2010, 05:42:12 PM »
Does everything have to be so dramatic? If we're not socialists, we're fascists. If the government isn't completely useless, they're plotting a mass evil takeover in order to destroy our country. There is really no need to keep swinging to one extreme or the other -- comparing our style of government to WWII regimes is useless and inaccurate. Any step left or right from the center of the political spectrum is "a step closer" to its extremes in either direction, but that doesn't exactly indicate how close that is.

I guess I don't understand your point. What relevance does it have if they were the majority owners? The key idea here is that the government keeps a large-scale company that's failing afloat to keep the economy from crashing and burning any harder than it already is, and then they hand it back when it's stable again. What that has to do with fascism is beyond me.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2010, 06:27:21 PM »
I think a lot of it is, a simple stating of the obvious. Things are in fact very very wrong with this country.

The one thing that gives me hope is how much the tea party and progressive movements actually have in common. The problem is they've alienated each other, so the common causes they could get steamrolled through all levels of government (transparency and accountability, to name two) are quietly brushed under the rug for those issues that divide them.

The Government acting as a bank of last resort is closer to Mussolini's Corporatism/Fascism then Capitalism though.

America's fascist risks are more apparent in the strength of the lobbying industry, here. It's important to remember that Mussolini's definition of corporatism included things like guilds and so on - 'special interests'. In moving us slightly away from that (by tossing lobbyists from panels), Obama scores points over his predecessor.

Problem is that in a recession driven by lack of demand driven by a lack of liquidity amongst the lower (bottom 80% in the US) classes,
1) The investment markets aren't trusted by the rich and
2) The banks where they store their money aren't lending and
3) The rich don't simultaneously commit to a massive act of charity and
4) The rich have a net income minus taxes and expenditures greater than GDP growth
5) Only government spending (either through acquiring debt from those same rich, taxing them more, or printing money) is going to correct the problem in the short term.

If it isn't corrected, and everyone clams up, a different currency eventually needs to take the place of the current one, and most of the rich would lose nearly everything in such a scenario (even if it wasn't violent). It wouldn't be gold, mind.

Quote
Also, even if they didn't control day to day, they still had the most GM stock, making them Majority owners, no?

It's still a temporary situation, rather than a transitional or permanent phase as is intended by genuine socialists.

Offline Serephino

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2010, 08:22:53 PM »
Didn't GM pay back all the money?  I remember hearing something on the news that they had paid it back and were reporting profits again. 

Offline Oniya

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2010, 08:26:49 PM »
Not yet.  There's supposedly a plan, but it's going to take a while.

Reuters is a safe source, right?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2010, 09:05:41 PM »
Not yet.  There's supposedly a plan, but it's going to take a while.

Reuters is a safe source, right?

They are at least paying it back.. which is better than some of the banks right? I mean a few of them are looking to figure a way to scam every way they with the money.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 09:56:59 PM »
Roughly 90% of the bailout money will be repaid; I can give you a source if you like.  Fact is, the bailout is ridiculously unpopular and it's not really justified, and it's unpopular because of popular ignorance.  Most people do not really seem to understand that the bailout was a loan, not money being given.  If you don't believe me, do an experiment.  Ask your friends, family, and neighbors whether or not it was money for nothing.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2010, 10:06:02 PM »
Roughly 90% of the bailout money will be repaid; I can give you a source if you like.  Fact is, the bailout is ridiculously unpopular and it's not really justified, and it's unpopular because of popular ignorance.  Most people do not really seem to understand that the bailout was a loan, not money being given.  If you don't believe me, do an experiment.  Ask your friends, family, and neighbors whether or not it was money for nothing.

The zero interest loans were.

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2010, 10:38:24 PM »
Roughly 90% of the bailout money will be repaid; I can give you a source if you like.  Fact is, the bailout is ridiculously unpopular and it's not really justified, and it's unpopular because of popular ignorance.  Most people do not really seem to understand that the bailout was a loan, not money being given.  If you don't believe me, do an experiment.  Ask your friends, family, and neighbors whether or not it was money for nothing.

Jude is promoting anecdotal evidence?  ::)

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2010, 10:45:34 PM »
There haven't been any studies on the matter that I can find.  :(  But you got me.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2010, 10:55:53 PM »
Thank you for the giggle.  :-*

Offline Wolfy

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2010, 11:29:35 PM »
Waaaaiiiiitttt....

O-o...So..Government mandating what is and is not ok...that's Socialism?...Then the whole Video Game thing that's going to congress right now over whether or not Games are protected by the first amendment or are not and can be regulated by the government...would link us to Socialism if they were found not to be protected? O-o *scratches head* O_o...my head hurts...

Offline Noelle

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2010, 02:30:48 AM »
Mandating what is and isn't okay is more of a totalitarian thing, as far as I know, but that's if you're talking in the extreme sense. The government has already mandated plenty of things (like murder, speed limits, and labor laws) that are and aren't okay based on what is viewed as best to create and maintain a healthy and functioning American society on the whole.

Socialism is more about public, common ownership and "spreading the wealth", so to speak, with major industries owned and operated by the government. Many people point to Europe's benefits system as example of commonly practiced socialism.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2010, 06:52:58 AM »
What is wrong with Socialism? I'm an army bvrat whose father was stationed all over the world. I've been in most of these nations. And there are good things about Socialism. Its odd to me most of these nations still have a free market, fair open elections with many parties and defensive militaries but have things I liked:

1. Free education K-Doctoral levels for every child based on aptitude if your low income in the Netherlands but academically gifted they send you to college its not based on ability to pay. And if your gifts are not there you learn trades in most nations Germany impressed me in that a friend was learning to be a machinist in secondary school. And had a job in his fifth year he kept after his externship earning a decent wage. I like that they are realistic in education.

2. National health care often channeled through private companies and providers.  :o (Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration are Not in the US?)

3. Social welfare programs that help the poor be comfortable if this is needed.

4. They prefer to talk to people and work with others before considering war, leaving that as the last option.

And I noticed most have people I would call very comfortably well-off to wealthy so its clearly not hurting everyone with money.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2010, 06:56:15 AM by RubySlippers »

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2010, 07:15:30 AM »
 Look at Greece if you want a strong example of the dangers of Socialism.  It leads to a burgeoning public debt which actually becomes a problem when you lack the capability to grow your GDP faster than your debt.  The United States is in great shape compared to most European states and even Canada, especially when you look at Implicit Debt, and we still do as good -- if not better -- than other states which trend further in the direction of Socialism (especially considering they don't have the world police expense we do).

Sustainability is key in government, especially in a global economy.  When you offer more social services tax increases naturally follow, resulting in businesses moving to more hospitable climates.  Lost business means lost jobs, which is a double loss of tax revenues, and more people dependent on the state.  Less tax revenue to pay for more government dependents means significantly more debt...  As you see, it's easy to cause a snowball effect and destroy your entire nation's economy.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2010, 07:38:30 AM by Jude »

Offline Oniya

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2010, 08:42:35 AM »
Most economic models, like most models of government, work rather well in theory.  The problems that exist can and will be revealed on application, especially as the group that they are applied to gets larger.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2010, 02:06:28 PM »
Look at Greece if you want a strong example of the dangers of Socialism.

Hardly. Greece doesn't have control over its own currency, so it can't devalue its currency in order to better handle its debt. It certainly has issues with socialism, but the Euro is a magnifying lens on those issues, and it's difficult to evaluate its situation without noting that.

Quote
It leads to a burgeoning public debt which actually becomes a problem when you lack the capability to grow your GDP faster than your debt.  The United States is in great shape compared to most European states and even Canada, especially when you look at Implicit Debt, and we still do as good -- if not better -- than other states which trend further in the direction of Socialism (especially considering they don't have the world police expense we do).

Sustainability is key in government, especially in a global economy.  When you offer more social services tax increases naturally follow, resulting in businesses moving to more hospitable climates.  Lost business means lost jobs, which is a double loss of tax revenues, and more people dependent on the state.  Less tax revenue to pay for more government dependents means significantly more debt...  As you see, it's easy to cause a snowball effect and destroy your entire nation's economy.

Which explains why America sucked so much when the top tax bracket was 90%.

...oh wait, America was outproducing the entire rest of the world combined. Mostly locally, too.

Mayhaps, it has to do with the fact that not everyone with brains and ingenuity is a greedy bastard and that people who get their knickers in a bind when asked to perform a social responsibility and move elsewhere or otherwise go 'John Galt'... do so, and the rest of the world (or nation) passes them by while they throw their little hissy fit?



If the top 5% of the population earns 25% of the nation's income and is responsible for 15% of the spending (roughly the current situation), that means that they are accumulating 10% of the nation's income per annum.

If that amount exceeds GDP growth, the lower classes will become poorer unless something is done:
1) They can invest in businesses, but the stock market does not hold a great deal of trust right now.
2) They can let the banks invest their savings, but banks aren't lending
3) They can let the government invest (take on debt), but people are suddenly developing a sense of pride in forcing the lower classes to suffer
4) They can get taxed and have that money circulate lower
5) They can simultaneously develop a sudden sense of charity.
6) The lower classes can, alternately, invoke a new standard of currency and suddenly the wealthy aren't, anymore.

If 1-5 don't happen, 6 will, put simply.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2010, 05:05:05 PM »
Which explains why America sucked so much when the top tax bracket was 90%.

...oh wait, America was outproducing the entire rest of the world combined. Mostly locally, too.
1)  While a 90% tax rate for the top tax bracket is punitive taxing and excessive, it is not Socialism within and of itself.

2)  Because overseas markets were completely devastated in World War II and hadn't yet caught up to American conditions, the Global Economy wasn't functioning at the time and there were no few free trade agreements.  We got by with a lot of policies in the past that simply do not work in a functional global economy where corporate transition is so easy and being rich in any number of countries is equally as luxurious because America exports every one of its greatest innovations, basically sharing the intellectual property behind them in the process.

The market produces the funds which the government sustains itself off of, policies which are openly hostile to the market will eventually effect the bottom line.  I'm not saying you can't raise taxes on the rich and businesses a little -- you can, we should, and we have to regulate too -- but the amount of sweeping change that a push toward real Socialism requires is very destructive.

It isn't that Socialism falls apart because it fundamentally can't work, that's not what I'm arguing.  If you could somehow get businesses to be OK with operating on smaller profit margins and convince the rich to tolerate a higher tax rate, thereby lessening the wealth accumulation of the upper class, then it would function just fine.  That's just very unlikely if not impossible in the world we live in.

Ending free trade agreements could cause a fundamental shift in the dynamic, but if you'd want to survive as a Socialist country after that, it means getting ready for the Iron Curtain (at least economically).  I think it's a step backward, not forward.  The Global Economy, in its current state, is more of a transition than anything.  Where we are headed is another point of contention, I'm sure.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2010, 06:18:28 PM »
1)  While a 90% tax rate for the top tax bracket is punitive taxing and excessive, it is not Socialism within and of itself.

If enacted at the same level today, it would only impact those making $65 million or more per year. It is most certainly not excessive, it only occurs after reinvestment expenses after all. If you're going to sit on a huge pile of cash, use it or lose it.

Quote
2)  Because overseas markets were completely devastated in World War II and hadn't yet caught up to American conditions, the Global Economy wasn't functioning at the time and there were no few free trade agreements.  We got by with a lot of policies in the past that simply do not work in a functional global economy where corporate transition is so easy and being rich in any number of countries is equally as luxurious because America exports every one of its greatest innovations, basically sharing the intellectual property behind them in the process.

This doesn't address my point. The land they were holding doesn't disappear, neither do their workers or the skillsets of said workers. Letting those skills atrophy (like we are doing now) is a far worse situation.

Quote
The market produces the funds which the government sustains itself off of, policies which are openly hostile to the market will eventually effect the bottom line.  I'm not saying you can't raise taxes on the rich and businesses a little -- you can, we should, and we have to regulate too -- but the amount of sweeping change that a push toward real Socialism requires is very destructive.

The government defines the currency and prints as much as it wants. This printing - a unit token representing an amount of labor to be exchanged for in the future - is our currency. Its value is determined by its ability to be exchanged for value. We don't have taxes to leech off the market, we have taxes to prevent runaway inflation.

If that system breaks down, then the the rich have nothing. They go from being wealthy to being worthless.

Quote
It isn't that Socialism falls apart because it fundamentally can't work, that's not what I'm arguing.  If you could somehow get businesses to be OK with operating on smaller profit margins and convince the rich to tolerate a higher tax rate, thereby lessening the wealth accumulation of the upper class, then it would function just fine.  That's just very unlikely if not impossible in the world we live in.

It happened before. You're singing one tune now, but ten more years of this will change a lot of opinions. People seem to have this implicit assumption that the poor will just up and let their families starve without complaint.

Some of them - Buffet, Gates, Grove, Immelt - are quite acutely aware of this and are trying to do something about it. But the normal methods by which they could act have been completely and utterly disrupted, so they have to intervene by directly building manufacturing here again.

So they are.

Quote
Ending free trade agreements could cause a fundamental shift in the dynamic, but if you'd want to survive as a Socialist country after that, it means getting ready for the Iron Curtain (at least economically).  I think it's a step backward, not forward.  The Global Economy, in its current state, is more of a transition than anything.  Where we are headed is another point of contention, I'm sure.

We're not in a transition depression, so I'm not sure what sort of transition you are referring to. The economic crisis is now and always was a liquidity crisis - the poor don't have money to spend. An economic transition is where one sector of the economy is rising as it disrupts another sector faster than it can rise - that isn't happening.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2010, 07:29:47 PM by Vekseid »

Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2010, 07:13:09 PM »
The Government acting as a bank of last resort is closer to Mussolini's Corporatism/Fascism then Capitalism though.

It's certainly not capitalism, but it is NOT fascism. The government acts as a bank of last resort in virtually all countries around the world - find me one country without a national Reserve, for instance. Yes, these agencies generally limit their function to finance, but only because finance is a complicated and vital industry. You can bet your bottom dollar there's similar bailouts for manufacturers in countries where those industries are vital, regardless of the countries' nominal allegiance to capitalism, socialism, etc.

Claiming that government "last resort" actions are close to fascism is like saying vegetarians are Nazis, because Hitler was a vegetarian!

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #32 on: September 24, 2010, 07:50:04 PM »
The majority of Americans aren't starving though.  The majority of people are just fine; look at the Tea Party for instance.  They're screaming bloody murder but if you look at Demographics they're actually better off than the average citizen.  The people who are yelling the loudest and actually seem like they're on the verge of revolt are not those who are actually suffering.  Compared to other nations, we're still very affluent and stable.

This citizen uprising that you hint at reminds me of the inevitable proletariat revolution that Marx claimed was coming.  It never really happened, and the only events that even mimicked it basically ran in complete opposition to his theory:  whenever Communist revolutions took hold they simply transitioned back into typical power dynamics where the Proletariat leaders became the Bourgeois Elite.  Nothing really changed for the better.

I understand that the wealth of the rich only counts for something because the rest of society pretends it does.  That's why there's such intense fear of Communism/Socialism in the United States as well, it's been implanted in the culture by the rich and powerful by social and governmental campaigns that spanned the entire 20th century.  That does not mean that the rich are the only people who stand to lose if such a fundamental shift ever occurred.

For all the faults of Capitalism it's been a very effective engine of technological progress, and even Marx had to admit that it was an incredibly efficient scheme.  No other system has ever really been shown to actually work.  Look at China and Russia, and even Greece:  everything eventually defaults back to Capitalism in the end because it seems to be the best method for dealing with our imperfect world.  Capitalism isn't without its faults, but isn't that more of a reflection of what we have to work with than its failings?  We can do our best to guard against the failures we see coming with regulation and government intervention while keeping the market free enough to operate, and that's what the Democrats really support, not a shift to Socialism.

Scarcity is the fundamental problem of economics.  It's a dilemma that technology and sociological change will lessen with time.  Think about the human condition of 1000 years ago, and it's quite evident that they already have reduced the impact of scarcity.  Capitalism serves as a reasonably effective, albeit imperfect solution for the time being.  The transition we're undergoing is one of unification, sophistication, and elevation of the human race.  And if you consider the rate of progress, it's actually quite speedy.

Here's a simple example to tie up my thoughts:  imagine a group of staving orphans living across the street from a very rich man.  He never gives to charity, they are on the verge of death because they do not have enough food.  Is he responsible for this?  To me, it's quite obvious that he's not so long as his personal wealth was not acquired to their detriment.  What killed them is the fundamentally cruel composition of our world, not the fact that he has barrels full of apples that could've saved their lives in his wine cellar.  Hating the rich for being rich while other people suffer makes no sense to me.  Government's role is to make sure that the rich and powerful don't unfairly exploit other people in the process of amassing their fortune (i.e. he would be guilty if the orphans had no food because he bought their facility and started running it like a for-profit business).

There are those who are guilty of such things in the United States, I vote Democrat because they're set on stopping such abuses.  I also vote Democrat because they sometimes force the rich to do things which are good for them longterm that they don't have the foresight to see that way (i.e. raising taxes to create a healthcare policy that will make the US more able to compete globally).  This isn't Socialism, it's oiling the engine of Capitalism and keeping it functioning properly.  Left completely to its own devises, Capitalism is like a runaway train car.  It goes faster and faster without moderation until it runs into the wall and explodes.

Sadly, this is an ideology that even Republicans should be able to get behind, they certainly have in the past.  I believe I'm simply expressing progressivism, aka Glenn Beck's Boogieman.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2010, 12:13:22 AM »
The majority of Americans aren't starving though.  The majority of people are just fine; look at the Tea Party for instance.  They're screaming bloody murder but if you look at Demographics they're actually better off than the average citizen.  The people who are yelling the loudest and actually seem like they're on the verge of revolt are not those who are actually suffering.  Compared to other nations, we're still very affluent and stable.

Citizens never improve their situation with violence unless they have massive extragovernmental support. I mentioned that it wouldn't necessarily be violent and I would point out that of the two political powers seeking a major overhaul of how this country operates - or at least claim to - it's the progressives who by far have more focus and organization. The Tea Party is barely coherent, and is a frequent target of fraud.

Quote
This citizen uprising that you hint at reminds me of the inevitable proletariat revolution that Marx claimed was coming.  It never really happened, and the only events that even mimicked it basically ran in complete opposition to his theory:  whenever Communist revolutions took hold they simply transitioned back into typical power dynamics where the Proletariat leaders became the Bourgeois Elite.  Nothing really changed for the better.

I was actually referring to FDR's New Deal.

Quote
I understand that the wealth of the rich only counts for something because the rest of society pretends it does.  That's why there's such intense fear of Communism/Socialism in the United States as well, it's been implanted in the culture by the rich and powerful by social and governmental campaigns that spanned the entire 20th century.  That does not mean that the rich are the only people who stand to lose if such a fundamental shift ever occurred.

I wouldn't care to see communism here myself. The issue is, people who are suffering become very vulnerable to charisma. The accusation of Obama being Hitler-like doesn't come out of nowhere, it's the reaction of a genuine and valid fear of a charismatic leader taking a country desperate for one off of a cliff. A charismatic leader gets enough of a majority behind him and anything can happen.

Fortunately or not, he has affected rather little actual change, despite his campaigning.

Quote
For all the faults of Capitalism it's been a very effective engine of technological progress, and even Marx had to admit that it was an incredibly efficient scheme.  No other system has ever really been shown to actually work.  Look at China and Russia, and even Greece:  everything eventually defaults back to Capitalism in the end because it seems to be the best method for dealing with our imperfect world.  Capitalism isn't without its faults, but isn't that more of a reflection of what we have to work with than its failings?  We can do our best to guard against the failures we see coming with regulation and government intervention while keeping the market free enough to operate, and that's what the Democrats really support, not a shift to Socialism.

Scarcity is the fundamental problem of economics.  It's a dilemma that technology and sociological change will lessen with time.  Think about the human condition of 1000 years ago, and it's quite evident that they already have reduced the impact of scarcity.  Capitalism serves as a reasonably effective, albeit imperfect solution for the time being.  The transition we're undergoing is one of unification, sophistication, and elevation of the human race.  And if you consider the rate of progress, it's actually quite speedy.

You're referring to the trend that basic needs count for something like ten percent of this nation's labor right now and shrinking?

Quote
Here's a simple example to tie up my thoughts:  imagine a group of staving orphans living across the street from a very rich man.  He never gives to charity, they are on the verge of death because they do not have enough food.  Is he responsible for this?  To me, it's quite obvious that he's not so long as his personal wealth was not acquired to their detriment.  What killed them is the fundamentally cruel composition of our world, not the fact that he has barrels full of apples that could've saved their lives in his wine cellar.  Hating the rich for being rich while other people suffer makes no sense to me.  Government's role is to make sure that the rich and powerful don't unfairly exploit other people in the process of amassing their fortune (i.e. he would be guilty if the orphans had no food because he bought their facility and started running it like a for-profit business).

Is he letting his land lay fallow while they starve?

That's part of the idea behind extreme tax brackets. Wealth is a token defined by society, and if he (and in the modern case, his banks too) does nothing but stick it under his bed, it's putting deflationary pressure on the outside world and that sort of thing leads to nasty surprises for people who think they have everything. Again, and I've said this before in the thread - it's not always violence. In the US, violence is not generally the way improvements get made, even.

Quote
There are those who are guilty of such things in the United States, I vote Democrat because they're set on stopping such abuses.  I also vote Democrat because they sometimes force the rich to do things which are good for them longterm that they don't have the foresight to see that way (i.e. raising taxes to create a healthcare policy that will make the US more able to compete globally).  This isn't Socialism, it's oiling the engine of Capitalism and keeping it functioning properly.  Left completely to its own devises, Capitalism is like a runaway train car.  It goes faster and faster without moderation until it runs into the wall and explodes.

Sadly, this is an ideology that even Republicans should be able to get behind, they certainly have in the past.  I believe I'm simply expressing progressivism, aka Glenn Beck's Boogieman.

Honestly, I imagine he'll switch his tune eventually when his current audience starts going deaf to him. Anyone who speaks to a couple million people has visible impact, and it can sway a few percentage points on occasion, but this doesn't change the aging factors of his audience and those of his fellows.

Offline Asuras

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2010, 09:53:27 PM »
First, "socialism" is defined in many different ways. I suppose that the dictionary definition speaks of "government ownership of the means of production" which practically means excluding private enterprise from certain areas of the economy. In the US the common understanding is broader, encompassing government economic regulation in general, whether it's taxes, state-owned enterprises, or regulations. But I frankly don't care what it's called.

I ascribe to a utilitarian mentality - if the cat catches mice (to go off a Chinese saying) I don't care what color it is. The economic order should establish the greatest good for the greatest number over the long term. I don't give a lot of credence to arguments about "Does the government have the right to do this or that" or "This person had a right to this or that." What rights people have over their property should be determined exclusively by whether or not giving them such a right improves the welfare of the nation.

So for instance if a factory is polluting a local community and causing harm to the community, that won't be reflected in the owner's income unless the government steps in and taxes the factory for its pollution. That's called an externality. The government ought to step in and tax them for it. If the law makes the company pay for the harm it does to the community, then the company will effectively be making the decision "Does our business do more harm or good to the community?" That is good law.

Maximize opportunities so that people's talents aren't wasted. Subsidize education, health care, and housing. Provide affirmative action to counter prejudice. Get people on their feet so they can work as productively as possible. Provide strong law and order in their communities so they can do these things.

But at the same time I think that the profit motive is extremely valuable and in general the capitalist ideal can be trusted. People strongly respond to it and they work for it. The government should strive to make the profit motive and the national interest identical and it can work toward this through regulation.

So the government shouldn't impede the profit motive - punishing lenders (which currency devaulation does) or borrowers arbitrarily, for instance. It shouldn't take ownership of a company or an industry unless there are sound reasons for doing so.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2010, 06:59:03 AM »
I have a different view any government has a prime duty to provide for the wants of all their citizend poor or rich. For me that includes freedoms but also real wants - minimal standards of housing, clothing, food, medical care, access to education and employment.

If we have homeless people and working poor struggling to get health care the government is not doing its job. And the government has a duty to fairly tax if needed to provide these wants but also should not unduly waste the money.


Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2010, 08:42:22 AM »
Do you mean needs, or at the very least, a guarantee of a minimum standard of living?

Just handing out candy is not going to fly.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2010, 12:11:05 PM »
I agree that if government can afford to, it should provide for people who cannot provide for themselves, I have a feeling this is a mainstream view even, but the devil is in the details.  There are people who are perfectly capable of working and providing for themselves that get government assistance, and it only takes seeing one or two of those people to lose your faith in the system on an emotional level, even if statistically things are just fine overall.  Unfortunately people are easy swayed by anecdotes.

I think mostly people would agree that if you can work and you choose not to, the state has no obligation to help you.  We only need to help those who cannot help themselves, everyone has the choice to survive but is choosing not to take it.

Then there is the question of what "surviving is" and just how forgiving/helpful we're going to be as a society.  Vekseid often talks about the debt traps people can find themselves into and how that can ruin their life, and I agree completely, but it all goes back to regulation.

If the government does its job in creating effective regulations, then the rest should be easy.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 07:40:10 PM by Jude »

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2010, 11:54:43 PM »
I don't think  you can call providing services as socialism. After all we have public education which was promoted by our founding fathers especially Ben Franklin because private education was too expensive for the common man. At the time health care was not but is today.


Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2010, 02:01:10 AM »
We don't have socialism in America.  An oversized government that regulates too much--and often the wrong things at that?  Yes.

Although quite frankly, I think we're in more danger of corporations co-opting government and using it as a puppet than we are with some sort of government takeover of industry a la Marxism.  I would say fascism is a far more likely "runaway government" outcome in America than socialism or communism.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2010, 04:20:55 AM »
We can thank the Constitution for not having fallen into it already. For all the idiocy being paraded about now, I am noticing that a lot of smart people are getting their act together politically and it gives me hope for the long run.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #41 on: September 29, 2010, 01:00:56 PM »
We don't have socialism in America.  An oversized government that regulates too much--and often the wrong things at that?  Yes.

Although quite frankly, I think we're in more danger of corporations co-opting government and using it as a puppet than we are with some sort of government takeover of industry a la Marxism.  I would say fascism is a far more likely "runaway government" outcome in America than socialism or communism.

I think that what you're afraid of has already happened, although we're not (yet) at the stage of actual fascism. It seems to me that the terrible disconnect between the people and their elected representatives that we see in the US and (to a lesser degree) Britain is a consequence of the Anglo-American model of capitalism. Basically, government is largely serving the interests of the corporations, and especially the banks and other financial institutions, rather than the interests of the general population. Unfortunately, the 'tea party' programme, if enacted, would only make things worse.

Its interesting (and instructive) that the citizens of countries that actually are significantly socialist- Sweden and the Netherlands for example- seem to be markedly less negative about their governments than folk in the US or UK.

Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #42 on: September 29, 2010, 01:13:52 PM »
I don't understand how the americans people can believe that the democrats are socialists, in my opinion the democrats are capitalist just like the republicans but not to the same extent. I myself am a socialist and I can't understand that anyone can talk agings it without feeling bad about it (just my opinion I'm not trying to pick a fight with you or be rude to you in any way, it's just my opinion).

 Capitalism is a ideal based on greed, privatisation of everything that can be private, hospitals, dentists, schools and only the individual in mind, Socialism is an ideal that wants to give all people free he altcare, free denial care, free school and have a strong state controlling it, not greedy corporations all controlling one part of it.

I just can't get my head around it, don't people have any empathy or a conscience, Capitalism that gives the few rich percents of a country's population more money while the working class and singel moms work like animals for minimal waders to be able to afford to take their kids on vacation or get them in to a descent collage. Don't every person have the same social rights? don't every child have right to a good education? Should parents work like animals to be able to afford to send their children to a good collage?

Free social care, free schooling, free health care, no privatisation and help to the working class that keeps a contry on its feet. It's not giant corporations like Mc Donald's or Coca Cola that keeps a contry on it's feet's it's a strong and supported working class that does.


Its interesting (and instructive) that the citizens of countries that actually are significantly socialist- Sweden and the Netherlands for example- seem to be markedly less negative about their governments than folk in the US or UK.


I'm from Sweden and for the last 90 ears have we mainly have had a socialist leaning government, and look at the results! Sweden have great health care, free denial care until you are 21, schools that are controlled by the state and that does not cost you a singel krona (our currency) and you can get anywhere in life with that education. although our government have lost it's roots and have gone more and more to the right and started to privatised some of our health care we still have a good social structure on our contry.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #43 on: September 29, 2010, 02:27:46 PM »
All true, but you've left a few things out. Sweden is also extremely safe (murder rate roughly a fifth of the US), and has much better voter participation- 86% vs 54% in US general elections. The superior health care system is less expensive (9.2% of GDP vs 14.6% for the US), but delivers much better results- Life Expectancy is 80.9 yrs in Sweden, 78.2 in the US; Infant Mortality is 3.2 vs 6.3 (yep, thats right- babies in America are almost twice as likely to die before their first birthday than babies in Sweden- shocking, isn't it?). Sweden has an exemplary record on civil liberties, while America pretty clearly does not. Sweden is also more tolerant of minorities. For example, same-sex marriage is legal there, LGBT couples have the same adoption rights as anyone else, and the Swedish constitution bans discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. And...oh yeah...Sweden is even more socially mobile than the US.

For the very wealthy, the US is a great place to be- the country is essentially run in their interests. But for the remaining 90% or so of the population, Sweden is a far far better place to live. Ditto The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark etc. Sweden is a better place to live than my own country (the UK) too. So much for the evils of Socialism.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #44 on: September 29, 2010, 02:38:51 PM »
I'm from Sweden and for the last 90 ears have we mainly have had a socialist leaning government, and look at the results! Sweden have great health care, free denial care until you are 21, schools that are controlled by the state and that does not cost you a singel krona (our currency) and you can get anywhere in life with that education. although our government have lost it's roots and have gone more and more to the right and started to privatised some of our health care we still have a good social structure on our contry.

Bear in mind most American conservatives cannot (or don't bother) to distinguish between the Nordic model of socialism (which does actually have a dynamic private sector) and the dismal state socialism once practiced by the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where the Bureau of Non-Home Meals runs storefronts and sets the price of a half-moldy cheeseburger at $1.50 and if you complain the secret police come to take you away.  These two models are quite distinct, yet the Tea Partiers lump them together.

I am a supporter of regulated capitalism (the means of productions are privately owned, but with public regulation and oversight).  The way I see it, the American economic model has five major shortcomings:

1) The wealth is no longer going to those who actually produce value.  One of the major talking points of free-market economics is that capitalism rewards those who produce goods and services of value, thereby encouraging them to produce more.  But with multimillion-dollar golden parachutes to CEOs bailing out of failed companies, and billions going to banksters who create phony (or at least rather questionable) "securities" like collaterized debt obligations and securitized mortgages, this incentive to produce is broken.  And in the meantime, the wages of the working class--people who undeniably produce value--have been stagnant or in decline for well over a decade now.

2) We have embraced free trade at all costs, rather than fair trade.  The free-market crowd claims competition is best, and for the most part I agree.  But the point the lassiez-faire crowd misses is that competitions have rules that all who compete must follow.  America has every right to tariff goods from countries that manipulate their currencies, bust unions, have lax or no environmental safeguards, and so forth.  We need to withdraw from WTO, GATT, NAFTA and so forth.

3) We have allowed our infrastructure and civic institutions (like our education system) to decline.  Whether it's gas pipelines in urban centers exploding, bridges collapsing, or student test scores falling, America has been underinvesting in infrastructure and education for quite some time now.  This is already exerting a drag on our output, and it's just going to get worse until the underinvestment is addressed.

4) We have allowed an excessive disparity in wealth to develop between rich and poor.  I differ from most Swedes in that I believe there is value in the rich being rich and those who produce being able to prosper...but there is a point of diminishing returns, and clearly America passed it some time ago.  Even Henry Ford, one of the richest industrialists of his day, recognized that the working class had to be reasonably prosperous for industrial capitalism to function.  After the "Reagan Revolution," we lost sight of that and figured that the more rounds of golf played per capita in the millionaire class, the more society as a whole would prosper.  Wrong.  We need to work at reducing the gap between rich and poor to a more productive level.

5) Much of the wealth and power America has today was built on the exploitation of non-renewable energy resources.  The trouble with market economics is that its view is myopic.  We aren't looking ahead, to the day that is no longer far distant when we're going to be looking at a permanent shortage of crude oil and coal.  Long ago, we should have begun taxing oil and coal and increasing levels, to get the market to put a premium on them and encourage development of sustainable, renewable energy resources.  At this point, we are going to need more direct government involvement to steer the economy away from these fast-dwindling resources, and to perfect permanent replacements, like wind, solar and thermonuclear fusion.

Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #45 on: September 29, 2010, 02:46:17 PM »
Old School Gamer -
You make some points but I cant get over "We have embraced free trade at all costs, rather than fair trade"
Fair trade is the human choice, it's ok to pay a bit more for a product if you know that those extra dollars goes to preserve the rainforest, help the survival of the tiger or helps a school in Africa to recruit more teachers to teach the poor children of Africa !

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #46 on: September 29, 2010, 03:35:37 PM »
Hmm....I can't see that withdrawing from international trade agreements would benefit the US. More likely start a huge trade war, leading to further economic dislocation and decline.

The root of the problem is maybe the underlying worldview- the fundamental assumptions that most Americans seem to make about the way that things are. One of these assumptions is that free market capitalism is somehow 'natural' and that attempts to regulate it are somehow 'unnatural'. Which is of course pure unadulterated nonsense. Modern-day Capitalism is the product of history, just like all other socio-economic systems; free markets are no more or less 'natural' than regulated markets. The systems that we create reflect the values that we choose to prioritize, and the interests of those who hold positions of power. The US is geared almost completely to prioritizing short-term economic gain over everything else, including long-term investment. It is also geared towards serving the needs of the few and (at best) ignoring the needs of the many. Welfare in the US is mainly corporate welfare- bailouts for banks, pork for special interests, foreign policy objectives to suit the oil lobby. And this corporate welfare is paid for by ordinary citizens.

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #47 on: September 29, 2010, 11:37:58 PM »
While we did indeed create the free markets, capitalism is indeed the most natural thing in the world.  Why?  Because in our hearts, just about every human being is incredibly self centered, and out only to benefit himself and those he cares about.  Capitalism plays off of this fact by incentivizing working hard and being better then everyone else, thus boosting production by harnessing our own inherent avarice.  Indeed, a lot of the social programs that are in decline short-circuit this basic principle, and thus tend to fail when put up against their private counterparts.  Just look at most private schools, a capitalist program, vs public schools, a socialist program.  They outperform their counterparts in just about every conceivable way.

This isn't to say that complete deregulation is a good thing.  People are by nature avaricious, and so they will try to take advantage if they can.  The capitalist system only works if there are options, competition.  If one company gets to be so big that there is no competition, or if there is collusion, where they are working together, then they will cut costs wherever they can to make a profit, thus hurting their workers and the people who need their products.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #48 on: September 30, 2010, 12:55:21 AM »
Monopolies aren't the only danger of capitalism:  the prisoner's dilemma highlights another.  When everyone competes, there isn't always a winner.  Sometimes everybody loses.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 01:30:14 AM by Jude »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #49 on: September 30, 2010, 03:18:34 AM »
While we did indeed create the free markets, capitalism is indeed the most natural thing in the world.  Why?  Because in our hearts, just about every human being is incredibly self centered, and out only to benefit himself and those he cares about.

Hardly. People have a natural inclination to altruism for the most part. It's only in times of desperation or delusion where that changes.

Quote
  Capitalism plays off of this fact by incentivizing working hard and being better then everyone else, thus boosting production by harnessing our own inherent avarice.  Indeed, a lot of the social programs that are in decline short-circuit this basic principle, and thus tend to fail when put up against their private counterparts.  Just look at most private schools, a capitalist program, vs public schools, a socialist program.  They outperform their counterparts in just about every conceivable way.

Have any studies accounted for economic and family factors? People tend to buy their schools, which has an enormous impact.

Quote
This isn't to say that complete deregulation is a good thing.  People are by nature avaricious, and so they will try to take advantage if they can.  The capitalist system only works if there are options, competition.  If one company gets to be so big that there is no competition, or if there is collusion, where they are working together, then they will cut costs wherever they can to make a profit, thus hurting their workers and the people who need their products.

It's my experience that the avaricious trait accounts for a tiny fraction of the population. Even less so amongst those who actually drive invention and production. But they exist, so they have to be accounted for.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #50 on: September 30, 2010, 04:45:58 AM »
While we did indeed create the free markets, capitalism is indeed the most natural thing in the world.  Why?  Because in our hearts, just about every human being is incredibly self centered, and out only to benefit himself and those he cares about.  Capitalism plays off of this fact by incentivizing working hard and being better then everyone else, thus boosting production by harnessing our own inherent avarice.  Indeed, a lot of the social programs that are in decline short-circuit this basic principle, and thus tend to fail when put up against their private counterparts.  Just look at most private schools, a capitalist program, vs public schools, a socialist program.  They outperform their counterparts in just about every conceivable way.

This isn't to say that complete deregulation is a good thing.  People are by nature avaricious, and so they will try to take advantage if they can.  The capitalist system only works if there are options, competition.  If one company gets to be so big that there is no competition, or if there is collusion, where they are working together, then they will cut costs wherever they can to make a profit, thus hurting their workers and the people who need their products.

This is a fine example of the sort of erroneous thinking that I referred to in my post above. People do indeed have selfish desires. They also have altruistic/ co operative desires. The societies that most closely approximate our 'natural' condition, the condition in which we evolved, are hunter-gatherer tribes. And guess what? They're always organized to promote co operation and limit competition, which is perceived as being damaging to the social group.

Societies can be organized in such a way as to promote and encourage our co operative instincts. They can also be organized to do the opposite- promote and encourage competition. Capitalism is an example of the latter, and it is undoubtedly successful in terms of creating economic growth. The great thing about the Scandinavian model is that it harnesses this growth in the interests of society as a whole. Whereas the Anglo-American model is a purely exploitative one- the rich get rich, and screw everybody else.

As far as the alleged superiority of private schools goes, that may well be an artifact of their selectivity and the socio-economic status of their intake. Once you account for these facts, the picture is not so straightforward. For example, their record in maths education may well be worse:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226093423.htm




Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #51 on: September 30, 2010, 06:51:55 AM »
Indeed, the default state seems to be egalitarianism not because of a "why can't we be friends?" attitude but because it's essentially a "share or die" situation. Not only that, but as you go on, groups of people start to act like a single aggregate organism, with individuals not only forced to make sacrifices for the group, but often willing to do so. I've seen it argued in both textbooks and articles that the social animal is man's ground state - the place at which he is most comfortable and most healthy.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2010, 08:41:56 AM »
Indeed, the default state seems to be egalitarianism not because of a "why can't we be friends?" attitude but because it's essentially a "share or die" situation. Not only that, but as you go on, groups of people start to act like a single aggregate organism, with individuals not only forced to make sacrifices for the group, but often willing to do so. I've seen it argued in both textbooks and articles that the social animal is man's ground state - the place at which he is most comfortable and most healthy.

Absolutely. Well said.

Its also worth pointing out that where competition does occur in 'primitive' societies, it is competition in the interests of the group, the reward for which is status. For example, young males might compete for the role of 'greatest buffalo hunter' (or whatever), but the meat of the buffalo that get caught is always shared out among tribe. This is sort of analogous to the Nordic model, where high fliers get the status (doctors and managers are held in high regard), but are also taxed very heavily. And just as the hunters in a 'primitive' society are happy to (in effect) work for status, so are the professionals in Sweden, the Netherlands etc. Its noteworthy that these countries usually fare pretty well in international comparisons of economic competitiveness; if it really was all about personal economic gain then they'd be very uncompetitive indeed.

Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #53 on: September 30, 2010, 11:19:15 AM »
Indeed, the default state seems to be egalitarianism not because of a "why can't we be friends?" attitude but because it's essentially a "share or die" situation. Not only that, but as you go on, groups of people start to act like a single aggregate organism, with individuals not only forced to make sacrifices for the group, but often willing to do so. I've seen it argued in both textbooks and articles that the social animal is man's ground state - the place at which he is most comfortable and most healthy.

You make a great point here; we are social creatures and as a social creature we are willing to "take one for the team" in order to help our fellow human beings.


This isn't to say that complete deregulation is a good thing.  People are by nature avaricious, and so they will try to take advantage if they can.  The capitalist system only works if there are options, competition.  If one company gets to be so big that there is no competition, or if there is collusion, where they are working together, then they will cut costs wherever they can to make a profit, thus hurting their workers and the people who need their products.


You state that company's will only, as you put it "cut costs wherever they can to make a profit" witch basically is fire people, redusing their wages, making them work longer to be able to produce more and not giving them any health insurance, when their is no compilation. I say that they will do it even if they are not the dominating company, they see a way to make more money and get even richer they will take it no mather what. If it means firing people or reduce their wages to basically nothing they will do it.
And that is the weary essence of capitalism; make more money for the individual not for his fellow men but for him self.

Salamander-
Your example of buffalo hunters is a great one and your post shows how a socialistic society should be build, by making the people that have more money then others should pay higher taxes, Sweden had a wealth tax (but our current government took it away) with were: all that makes more then 40.000 SK (SK=our currency) had to pay an additional tax on those money, still keeping them wealth but by taking that extra money and spending it on the social welfare the social standards of Sweden held/holds a weary high standard.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #54 on: September 30, 2010, 11:22:16 AM »
Wasn't it Sweden that rated highest on worldwide standard of living polls? And also were found to have one of the smallest gaps between the poorest class and the richest class? And that even the wealthier folks liked it there?

I believe it's been shown again and again and again that people are happier when 5% of the country doesn't hold 90% of the wealth.

Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #55 on: September 30, 2010, 11:33:09 AM »
Wasn't it Sweden that rated highest on worldwide standard of living polls? And also were found to have one of the smallest gaps between the poorest class and the richest class? And that even the wealthier folks liked it there?

I believe it's been shown again and again and again that people are happier when 5% of the country doesn't hold 90% of the wealth.

Yes I think it was Sweden that was in the top, but I'm not sure. As for the class differences, Sweden's true back bone working class are all in the middle class (sounds a bit confusing but I hope you get it) because the working class standrad has been steadily improved since the 1930's.
The wealthiest in Sweden are not close to the wealthiest in the USA, not by a long shot. And that is because of the wealth tax, they still reamins wealthy but the standards of all of Sweden improves.

As for your last point I couldn't agree more you nailed it  :-)

Offline Oniya

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #56 on: September 30, 2010, 11:56:27 AM »
Yes I think it was Sweden that was in the top, but I'm not sure. As for the class differences, Sweden's true back bone working class are all in the middle class (sounds a bit confusing but I hope you get it) because the working class standrad has been steadily improved since the 1930's.
The wealthiest in Sweden are not close to the wealthiest in the USA, not by a long shot. And that is because of the wealth tax, they still reamins wealthy but the standards of all of Sweden improves.

As for your last point I couldn't agree more you nailed it  :-)

If it's not the top, it's right up there.  I'm guessing you mean that the working class, man-in-the-street Swede enjoys a life similar to what we in the US consider middle class: homeowner, car in every garage, chicken in every pot, holidays at the shore (or where-ever you want to go to).  Maybe a little debt month-to-month, but nothing crippling.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #57 on: September 30, 2010, 02:13:39 PM »
Some great posts from Trieste, Loke and Oniya. Just to add a couple more tidbits of information, and ask a question.

I checked out the website for the World Economic Forum, which produces an annual comparative index of international competitiveness. The US comes out as number 4 in the world; number 3 is....Sweden. Three other European Social Democracies also make it into the top 10- Finland 7th, Netherlands 8th, Denmark 9th. Germany (considerably more socialist than America, but not to my mind a real social democracy) is 5th. This demolishes any sort of argument along the lines of 'you need to be unequal to be competitive in the modern world'. Not true at all- countries can be highly egalitarian and highly competitive. Oh...and in case you're wondering, Switzerland comes out as the most competitive country, and Singapore is 2nd.

My second tidbit is this study here:

http://current.com/1ajm74c

The salient points:
- In the US, the top 20% of the population owns 84% of the wealth, which leaves only 16% of the wealth for 80% of the population. In Sweden, the top 20% owns 32% of the wealth- an absolutely enormous difference from the American situation.
- Americans grossly underestimate the level of wealth disparity in their society. The mean estimate for the proportion of the wealth owned by the richest 20% of Americans was 59%.
- A staggering 92% of the Americans in the study preferred the Swedish wealth distribution to the American wealth distribution.

Reading that study has given me some hope. Maybe Americans will eventually wake up and realize that their current social model sucks, and that there are better alternatives on offer. Unfortunately, looking at the progress of the tea party and their ilk, it seems a long way off.

Finally, a question: The Swedes aren't just socialists, they're godless socialists. Sweden is generally reckoned to be one of the most atheist countries in the world, perhaps even the most atheistic. The US, on the other hand, is a deeply religious nation, and religion (and religious rhetoric) plays an important role in politics. Is there a link here? To what extent, if at all, is religion the opium of the American masses?


Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #58 on: September 30, 2010, 03:23:52 PM »

My second tidbit is this study here:

http://current.com/1ajm74c

The salient points:
- In the US, the top 20% of the population owns 84% of the wealth, which leaves only 16% of the wealth for 80% of the population. In Sweden, the top 20% owns 32% of the wealth- an absolutely enormous difference from the American situation.
- Americans grossly underestimate the level of wealth disparity in their society. The mean estimate for the proportion of the wealth owned by the richest 20% of Americans was 59%.
- A staggering 92% of the Americans in the study preferred the Swedish wealth distribution to the American wealth distribution.

Reading that study has given me some hope. Maybe Americans will eventually wake up and realize that their current social model sucks, and that there are better alternatives on offer. Unfortunately, looking at the progress of the tea party and their ilk, it seems a long way off.

Finally, a question: The Swedes aren't just socialists, they're godless socialists. Sweden is generally reckoned to be one of the most atheist countries in the world, perhaps even the most atheistic. The US, on the other hand, is a deeply religious nation, and religion (and religious rhetoric) plays an important role in politics. Is there a link here? To what extent, if at all, is religion the opium of the American masses?



My world just shook "In the US, the top 20% of the population owns 84% of the wealth, which leaves only 16% of the wealth for 80% "... I'm speechless and furious, how the ******** can you people call your self freedom fighters !!! you're basically a nation populated by slaves ! No wonder 92% wants a social system where they have right to basic ethnically rights and a social safety net ! Have your government no empathy, conchies or emotions or all you all Vulcan's !?!

And yes we are a very atheistic but of the population of 9,5 million, half a million is Muslims that's because we don't have a forced religion or even a state religion and we don't make our 5 year old kids swear to god that they will love and fight for their country. Also we don't believe that all Muslims are extremists and terrorist's.

Hope that that answered your question Salamander and thanks for sharing this information to me if you need moor for an answer just ask and I will answer I'm just to PISSED OF at the moment 

Offline Noelle

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #59 on: September 30, 2010, 04:13:50 PM »
Salamander, your post reminds me of an article I read recently. While it's not 100% relevant, I do think the point it tries to make is interesting in regards to what people are convinced they're voting for (a la dishonest advertising/reporting/general ignorance of politics in general with no real desire to find out) versus what they're actually getting (things that don't really benefit them).

Problem is, America has always had a large emphasis on the individual over the collective. That if you work hard, you will succeed and get what's coming to you. There's value placed in individual wealth -- hell, even the average "roadmap" of a person's life is marked by what they own. First you own your own apartment. You upgrade a few times, then you go after a house. You go after a bigger house. You fill that house with stuff that's yours and do things in said house as you want. You own your own car, you go the places you want to go, you have the freedom to travel as you please. Individual success is highly prized, which I would argue largely contributes to the overall mentality, especially in regards to welfare.

By all means, those who work hard deserve to be rewarded, they deserve to get theirs for their successes, but to view things like taxes for social services as a "punishment" is what holds a lot of people back. They are short-sighted; all it means to them is a slightly smaller number on their paycheck and an image of some overweight woman with twelve kids laughing all the way to the bank. Admittedly, taxes suck. I've worked enough shitty jobs that I know that without them, I'd have more to myself come payday, that it would be easier to make ends meet. But they're a necessary evil, they contribute to maintaining our quality of life and improving the country we live in.

A lot of the same people at the places I've worked who bitch about welfare don't realize that I, a person working hard at their job, no kids, trying to climb higher on the employment ladder, have benefited greatly from welfare services their tax dollars have paid for. I think it makes a huge difference when you see somebody who has truly used the system as it was meant to as opposed to all these horror stories of "welfare queens" and the like. When I don't need a service, I don't use it. When I use a free service, I try to give something back to it, even if it's only a $10 donation to Planned Parenthood because I want that service to be able to continue both for myself and others in the same situation. You never know what misfortunes will befall you, no matter how rich you are. You don't shit on what could very well save you someday.

Socialist has become a dirty word in the US largely because people don't understand it. Any hint of government involvement prompts a red-scare-style OMG UR A SOSHULIST accusation, it's practically like a witch hunt.

Anyway, to end this tl;dr, it's entirely possible that European-style socialism won't work in the US. You have to adapt things to suit the needs of the population, but that doesn't mean positive elements of socialism won't work at all. Things as they are really aren't working out for us, it's just a matter of convincing people to stop crying about things they have no clue about and get them to look at the real facts of the situation. Socialism is not the end of the world. Government intervention doesn't mean we're all going to be controlled drones someday. Helping those who are struggling to help themselves will improve our overall standard of living in the country.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #60 on: September 30, 2010, 04:38:50 PM »
Wow Loke, with those kind words and encouragement it’s amazing we are not all socialists by now.  Noelle is right to say that socialist policies would have to be adapted to the culture of those in the United States and made to fit into our notions of right and wrong.  A lesson to those around the world from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is the detriment of trying to make one’s belief system and values fit onto another culture and country.  The United States illustrated, quite gloriously, in their failure that such a methodology does not work especially when dealing with concepts like democracy.  There are certainly steps that must be taken by a populace before they are ready to do other things.  To say “moving forward” is extremely arrogant and ethnocentric.

Keep in mind the youth of the United States as a country and its need to learn and grow.  Powerful the United States may be, there is a lot of growth in a short amount of time.  We have made strides in some areas, fallen short in others and in whole made mistakes as any other nation has done in the past.  I do not say this is an excuse to escape criticism or to evade our faults.  As any good American does I criticize my own country just as anyone else, but I do ask that people keep certain ideas in mind before calling us a country of slaves. 

I understand being upset by those numbers since they upset me each time I see them, but keep in mind that you are talking about a person’s nation and culture.  People on these forums have fought for the country you call “a nation populated by slaves !”  If your sentiment is to be disrespectful and belligerent, then by all means I do apologize for this rebuttal of your statement.  Though I would also encourage you not to make remarks on this particular forum.

Offline Oniya

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #61 on: September 30, 2010, 04:41:55 PM »
And yes we are a very atheistic but of the population of 9,5 million, half a million is Muslims that's because we don't have a forced religion or even a state religion and we don't make our 5 year old kids swear to god that they will love and fight for their country. Also we don't believe that all Muslims are extremists and terrorist's.

If you're referring to the Pledge of Allegiance, you might be interested to know that it was a) originally written by a socialist minister (Francis Bellamy), and b) only gained the words 'under God' in 1954 (as a reaction to 'the Communist threat').  Bellamy's daughter objected to the revision.  The words 'under God' have also been challenged by students and their parents who follow an atheist Path, or object to the implication of a national church.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #62 on: September 30, 2010, 05:16:48 PM »
Folks, let's keep the debate civil, ok? If you're getting hot under the collar, put the keyboard aside for a bit.

Offline errantwandering

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #63 on: September 30, 2010, 09:21:21 PM »
Guess I'll continue being the lone cynic/libertarian in this conversation.  Here goes.

People do have incredibly noble, altruistic impulses, this is true...but I do think that it is wrong to assume that people will usually behave altruistically.  Yes, incredibly primitive societies did cooperate splendidly together, that was because if they didn't they would starve.  Pretty much as soon as we had a surplus of food, we started trying to find ways to steal other people's food, and get more food then everyone else.  Look in any ancient civilization that did rather well, and you will see a great deal of oppression and barbarism.  Even societies that are held up for their philosophy and reason, like the ancient Greeks, practiced slavery and were constantly fighting with each other.  The Egyptians, the ancient Israelites, the Chinese, the various African tribes, all were warlike, all enslaved others, all struggled constantly to be the best.

Even now most socialism only works on a fairly small scale.  Yes, Switzerland and Sweden are very well off, but their populations are much smaller, making it a lot easier.  Trying to implement it on a very large scale has historically always failed.  That isn't to say that capitalism won't fail historically, it hasn't existed on a large scale for all that long, historically speaking, but I'd give better odds to a system that counts on people being greedy rather then a system that believes that people will act in the interests of their fellow man.

This brings me to my second point, actually.  While socialism is commonly held at a moral high ground, personally, I find it highly immoral.  Socialism amounts to government sponsored theft, plain and simple.  I work hard for my money, and taking it from me to give to someone else, essentially at gun-point, because that is what I'll eventually face if I don't pay up, is extortion and theft.  That isn't to say that I don't think we should help one another and work for the common good, I think that we absolutely should.  What I find despicable is being forced to give up my money in order to accomplish something that someone else says is for the good, rather then choosing to give my money where I feel that it will do good.

As a final point, not all Americans hate Islam, or think every Muslim is a terrorist.  I'm a pretty good example of that.  I'm pagan, but couldn't really care less about what someone else believes, so long as they do me no harm.  Loudmouthed bigots are the most entertaining to watch, so they get the most airtime.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #64 on: September 30, 2010, 09:47:04 PM »
Guess I'll continue being the lone cynic/libertarian in this conversation.  Here goes.

"Woe, woe is me, the lone sane man" has no place in here, so please leave it at the door in the future.

People do have incredibly noble, altruistic impulses, this is true...but I do think that it is wrong to assume that people will usually behave altruistically.  Yes, incredibly primitive societies did cooperate splendidly together, that was because if they didn't they would starve.  Pretty much as soon as we had a surplus of food, we started trying to find ways to steal other people's food, and get more food then everyone else.  Look in any ancient civilization that did rather well, and you will see a great deal of oppression and barbarism.  Even societies that are held up for their philosophy and reason, like the ancient Greeks, practiced slavery and were constantly fighting with each other.  The Egyptians, the ancient Israelites, the Chinese, the various African tribes, all were warlike, all enslaved others, all struggled constantly to be the best.

It's generally wrong to assume things about people, but these are not assumptions. They are facts. Look up nearly any anthropological work you'd like about egalitarianism in early societies and they will tell you the same thing. It's an established fact that early societies cooperated, and they considered it required. It is also a fact that people in more egalitarian cultures are happier with their lives than people in situations like the US. That's just the way it is, man. Look it up.

As far as ancient civs, they were warlike and competitive, except for all those times that they worked together. They would compete with one another (Athens and Sparta had their share of competition) but would cooperate when another, larger enemy (Marathon, anyone?) threatened. When Persia (who was not 'one of us') came along and threatened, Athens was very quick to call for Sparta, and the only reason Sparta didn't go right away was because of a religious observance. As soon as the religious observance was over, they were right there for their fellow Greeks. Why? Because if Persia romped and stomped all over Athens, they would likely come for Sparta next.

Humans are generally smart enough to recognize when it's really better to work in groups than try to go it alone because they don't want to share the goods. And the people who don't recognize situations like that don't really matter much to the species, because they tend to get selected out preeeeetty quickly.

Even now most socialism only works on a fairly small scale.  Yes, Switzerland and Sweden are very well off, but their populations are much smaller, making it a lot easier.  Trying to implement it on a very large scale has historically always failed.  That isn't to say that capitalism won't fail historically, it hasn't existed on a large scale for all that long, historically speaking, but I'd give better odds to a system that counts on people being greedy rather then a system that believes that people will act in the interests of their fellow man.

This brings me to my second point, actually.  While socialism is commonly held at a moral high ground, personally, I find it highly immoral.  Socialism amounts to government sponsored theft, plain and simple.  I work hard for my money, and taking it from me to give to someone else, essentially at gun-point, because that is what I'll eventually face if I don't pay up, is extortion and theft.  That isn't to say that I don't think we should help one another and work for the common good, I think that we absolutely should.  What I find despicable is being forced to give up my money in order to accomplish something that someone else says is for the good, rather then choosing to give my money where I feel that it will do good.

As a final point, not all Americans hate Islam, or think every Muslim is a terrorist.  I'm a pretty good example of that.  I'm pagan, but couldn't really care less about what someone else believes, so long as they do me no harm.  Loudmouthed bigots are the most entertaining to watch, so they get the most airtime.

Socialism is just one way to bring about egalitarianism, and it can fail pretty heftily. However, the fact remains that being more equal with your fellow man makes people happier. You can do it a few ways. You can limit incomes, limit how much people make, and pay them close to the same amount no matter how much work they do - which failed in the USSR. Or, you can tax people who make more money so much that their take-home pay is similar to people who make less but are taxed at a lower amount. This seems to work well for countries that have a wealth tax.

The thing is that the U.S. really should be multiple countries, or at least independent principalities. You could move the northeast on its own, the southeast on its own, let Texas secede already and then maybe make another country or two out of everything west of the Mississippi. Were that to happen, I think that the populations in most of each area would be much happier. As it stands, the U.S. comes from so many varied backgrounds and whatnot that it's difficult to figure out what to compromise on, let alone what that compromise should be.

Offline errantwandering

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #65 on: September 30, 2010, 10:09:23 PM »
Apologies if I gave the impression of being the "lone, sane man" in the room.  I actually found it more amusing then anything, but I'll do my best to watch my tone in the future.  No one that knows me has ever accused me of being "sane".

Yes, ancient peoples did work together when they had to in order to survive.  They worked together to avoid starvation, and often teamed up together to fight a common foe.  As soon as was necessary, however, they were right back at war.  Sparta and Athens worked together to fight Persia, but were constantly at war with each-other.  Sparta actually worked with Persia as well, in order to fight against Athens.  Each country did all that it could to advance itself, though cooperation if that was the most efficient course, and by less altruistic means when it wasn't.

One thing we absolutely agree on is that the US is too big and should be divided.  If it were in chunks, then everyone would be much happier, and could do their own thing, instead of constantly fighting about whether or not their way is best.

Offline Noelle

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #66 on: September 30, 2010, 10:33:10 PM »
Quote
This brings me to my second point, actually.  While socialism is commonly held at a moral high ground, personally, I find it highly immoral.  Socialism amounts to government sponsored theft, plain and simple.  I work hard for my money, and taking it from me to give to someone else, essentially at gun-point, because that is what I'll eventually face if I don't pay up, is extortion and theft.  That isn't to say that I don't think we should help one another and work for the common good, I think that we absolutely should.  What I find despicable is being forced to give up my money in order to accomplish something that someone else says is for the good, rather then choosing to give my money where I feel that it will do good.

What makes it theft, exactly? You're living in a country that makes demands of you every single day. I would challenge those who look at taxes like punishment to live in a society where people can actually pick and choose where their money goes and see how many of our public needs go unfulfilled. I'm mad at the cops for giving me a speeding ticket, why should I pay them? I'm no longer in school and I don't plan to have kids, why should I care? I don't drive anywhere, I'm not going to pay into road maintenance. See where I'm going with this? Picking and choosing means certain areas start to suffer tremendously and our overall quality of life goes down with it, and what do we do then?

We invest in certain public things because they keep us stable. They benefit the public at large and keep things running smoothly. You pay taxes because the government has to tax you. They're not selling lemonade on the White House lawn to pay for the things that are maintaining our standard of living. The disparity starts to come in how others view the importance of investing tax dollars in...the people in general. The disagreement in America is whether or not the actual citizens are as much of a public concern as our transportation infrastructure, military, public safety, education, etc. The answer to me seems obvious, but I understand that others view it differently.

Calling it 'theft' and 'extortion' in of itself is a gross exaggeration. If threat of imprisonment due to failure to pay taxes is extortion, then we're being coerced and told what to do every single day of our lives so that we don't murder, steal, rape, harass, or assault one another. We're being extorted into obeying speed limits and obtaining permits and following health codes because it's for "the common good". What makes those okay to live with but not things like welfare? There are so many things that have been picked and chosen for you already.

Fact is, I work hard and pay taxes, too. They're taking money from my paycheck as well as yours and millions of others. I have used government-sponsored services before because I couldn't afford them despite the fact that I work hard. Working hard is no longer a valid excuse because it's simply not enough. There are companies out there offering $8 an hour who think that working 40 hours a week with that kind of wage will get you by. Everybody works hard for their money, not everybody is getting what they need. That is our present woe in America. Leeching should never be acceptable, I think everyone across the board can agree that if you're capable of working and you're not, you're a detriment to the system and shouldn't be using up those resources, but as things are now, people who are struggling to get by are not being taken care of by the private sector as it is. There seems to me to be a catch-22 going on; "the people" (the private sector) aren't sufficiently caring for those who are struggling, but the government can't intervene because that's too "socialist". What do you want, exactly?

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #67 on: September 30, 2010, 10:49:20 PM »
Apologies if I gave the impression of being the "lone, sane man" in the room.  I actually found it more amusing then anything, but I'll do my best to watch my tone in the future.  No one that knows me has ever accused me of being "sane".

Sorry, sorry. I misread your tone as one of woe and frustration instead of amusement. Mea maxima culpa.

Offline Asuras

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #68 on: September 30, 2010, 11:09:32 PM »
Quote from: Trieste
As far as ancient civs, they were warlike and competitive, except for all those times that they worked together. They would compete with one another (Athens and Sparta had their share of competition) but would cooperate when another, larger enemy (Marathon, anyone?) threatened. When Persia (who was not 'one of us') came along and threatened, Athens was very quick to call for Sparta, and the only reason Sparta didn't go right away was because of a religious observance. As soon as the religious observance was over, they were right there for their fellow Greeks. Why? Because if Persia romped and stomped all over Athens, they would likely come for Sparta next.

And what about that whole Peloponnesian War thing? Or when Macedon and Rome came to visit? Did the Greeks all work together those times?

Quote from: Trieste
The thing is that the U.S. really should be multiple countries, or at least independent principalities. You could move the northeast on its own, the southeast on its own, let Texas secede already and then maybe make another country or two out of everything west of the Mississippi. Were that to happen, I think that the populations in most of each area would be much happier. As it stands, the U.S. comes from so many varied backgrounds and whatnot that it's difficult to figure out what to compromise on, let alone what that compromise should be.

As a Texan and a New Yorker, I'd be perfectly happy to see what the the rest of you do with Texas oil and New York finance squeezing you without federal restraint.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #69 on: September 30, 2010, 11:11:05 PM »
I'm sorry, Asuras, but I couldn't actually find your on topic point amongst the sarcasm. Perhaps you could elucidate it for me... or perhaps make one in the first place. :)

Offline Asuras

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #70 on: September 30, 2010, 11:32:40 PM »
Quote from: Trieste
I'm sorry, Asuras, but I couldn't actually find your on topic point amongst the sarcasm. Perhaps you could elucidate it for me... or perhaps make one in the first place. :)

Happily.

You said:

Quote from: Trieste
As far as ancient civs, they were warlike and competitive, except for all those times that they worked together. They would compete with one another (Athens and Sparta had their share of competition) but would cooperate when another, larger enemy (Marathon, anyone?) threatened. When Persia (who was not 'one of us') came along and threatened, Athens was very quick to call for Sparta, and the only reason Sparta didn't go right away was because of a religious observance. As soon as the religious observance was over, they were right there for their fellow Greeks. Why? Because if Persia romped and stomped all over Athens, they would likely come for Sparta next.

If I may summarize, you are contending here that Greek city-states bound together when threatened by a foreign opponent. I oppose this by pointing out three examples:

Quote from: Asuras
And what about that whole Peloponnesian War thing? Or when Macedon and Rome came to visit? Did the Greeks all work together those times?

You contended the following:

Quote
The thing is that the U.S. really should be multiple countries, or at least independent principalities. You could move the northeast on its own, the southeast on its own, let Texas secede already and then maybe make another country or two out of everything west of the Mississippi. Were that to happen, I think that the populations in most of each area would be much happier. As it stands, the U.S. comes from so many varied backgrounds and whatnot that it's difficult to figure out what to compromise on, let alone what that compromise should be.

I responded:

Quote from: Trieste
As a Texan and a New Yorker, I'd be perfectly happy to see what the the rest of you do with Texas oil and New York finance squeezing you without federal restraint.

You are right that I responded sarcastically because the vast majority of Americans do not advocate secession so I treat this idea as ridiculous, as most of this country properly does.

What I meant to highlight, and I regret that I was not clear enough, was how the removal of Texas and New York and their resulting freedom to impose tariffs, quotas, regulations and other trade restrictions would impact other states. I am interested in knowing how other states would feel if Texas were given total freedom to tariff oil, and what other states would feel if New York were given the right to freely embargo funds held in New York banks. (for instance) I think that if you contemplated these things you would feel differently about the dissolution of the United States.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 11:34:07 PM by Asuras »

Offline Trieste

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #71 on: September 30, 2010, 11:40:01 PM »
If I may summarize, you are contending here that Greek city-states bound together when threatened by a foreign opponent. I oppose this by pointing out three examples:

Yes. I'm not sure if you missed it, but we were discussing it in the wider context of egalitarianism and socialism and wealth disparities and whatnot. You can name a million examples of when people didn't work together and I can name a million examples of when they did. However, I have made my arguments in the context of the wider discussion, and presented a point.

So I ask again: What is your point?

What I meant to highlight, and I regret that I was not clear enough, was how the removal of Texas and New York and their resulting freedom to impose tariffs, quotas, regulations and other trade restrictions would impact other states. I am interested in knowing how other states would feel if Texas were given total freedom to tariff oil, and what other states would feel if New York were given the right to freely embargo funds held in New York banks. (for instance) I think that if you contemplated these things you would feel differently about the dissolution of the United States.

While I'm certain you didn't intend it, you're being arrogant and condescending in your previous post. The fact that you don't agree with me doesn't make my opinion ludicrous, thank you.

As to the specifics of splitting up the US into countries, you can feel free to make a thread if you want to discuss it in depth; my intention on mentioning it was related to the previous statement that wealth-leveling (via a system like Switzerland's, for instance) worked in smaller countries but did not work in the U.S. because it's so big. My response was that I really don't think that anything works in the U.S. because it's so big. Again, while I only meant to graze the topic, if you find it that interesting you can feel free to open up a new thread.

Edits made to correct spelling and clarify some syntax. Trd. X_x
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 11:42:57 PM by Trieste »

Offline Asuras

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #72 on: October 01, 2010, 12:25:44 AM »
Quote from: Trieste
Yes. I'm not sure if you missed it, but we were discussing it in the wider context of egalitarianism and socialism and wealth disparities and whatnot. You can name a million examples of when people didn't work together and I can name a million examples of when they did.

Yeah, I'd be the first to agree that "cite by arbitrary example" is a poor way of going about history and statistics. But what was is this about:

Quote from: Trieste
They would compete with one another (Athens and Sparta had their share of competition) but would cooperate when another, larger enemy (Marathon, anyone?) threatened. When Persia (who was not 'one of us') came along and threatened, Athens was very quick to call for Sparta, and the only reason Sparta didn't go right away was because of a religious observance. As soon as the religious observance was over, they were right there for their fellow Greeks. Why? Because if Persia romped and stomped all over Athens, they would likely come for Sparta next.

If you want to argue that we can "name a million examples of when people didn't work together and I can name a million examples of when they did" then we should argue about statistics to find those "millions". You haven't argued any. On the contrary, you've argued exactly what you deny - a singular and irreproducible example of Greek city-states fighting against one foreign invader once upon one time.

Quote from: Trieste
While I'm certain you didn't intend it, you're being arrogant and condescending here. The fact that you don't agree with me doesn't make my opinion ludicrous, thank you.

As to the specifics of splitting up the US into countries, you can feel free to make a thread if you want to discuss it in depth; my intention on mentioning it was related to the previous statement that wealth-leveling (via a system like Switzerland's, for instance) worked in smaller countries but did not work in the U.S. because it's so big. My response was that I really think that anything works in the U.S. because it's so big. Again, while I only meant to graze the topic, if you find it that interesting you can feel free to open up a new thread.

You're advocating secession and the dissolution of the United States. That deserves skepticism, right?

I'll make a thread when I have time.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #73 on: October 01, 2010, 07:27:33 AM »
Hmm...The conversation has moved on a tad since I last posted here. The idea of dividing up the US strikes me as a bit of a red herring here. As well as being pretty unworkable- the US has a highly integrated economy, and its geographical and economic diversity is surely one of its great strengths. Historically, this diversity has allowed Americans to cope with localized economic busts and booms by moving- from the dust bowl to California in the 30s; from the South to the industrial Midwest during WW2; from the then 'rustbelt' Midwest to California, Texas and Florida in the 70s and early 80s. It seems to me that a break-up would do far more harm than good.

The objection that socialism is somehow 'immoral' and that libertarian capitalism is a more moral order is one that I've heard before, and it needs answering. The fundamental conceptual error here is this: individual efforts are being viewed outside of their social context; and yet it is only within the context of society that those efforts have any meaning. Money, for example is a social fact, not a brute fact of nature like a mountain or a disease. Money only exists because people collectively agree that it exists. When people stop agreeing that something counts as money (think: Germany in the early 20s; present-day Zimbabwe), then the money-token ceases to have value. And gold is no better by the way- it also only has value because people collectively attribute value to it. Gold is a token too.

Making money is only possible because society agrees to view some sort of token as 'money', and instantiates institutions (banks, stock exchanges, deeds of ownership etc) that allow money to be made. The set of economic institutions that any society has is a product of its history and culture. There is nothing inevitable or 'natural' about any particular set of such institutions- they are all historically contingent, and they only continue to exist because society as a whole continues to accept them. For a lone man on a desert island there is no money and no money-making.

So what of the entrepeneur, the guy who has his own business and employs other people? He plays a useful social role- without him there would be a few more unemployed, and his products wouldn't be available to consumers. He deserves our respect, and he deserves a good standard of living- I wouldn't say otherwise. Without the prospect of respect and renumeration, its unlikely that he'd have put in all of those hours, or risked his savings to start up the business. Incentives are important, and societies that don't have them are liable to stagnate.

Nevertheless...the fact remains that our entrepeneur only has money because the rest of society recognizes those 1s and 0s on his bank's computer as being something significant. He only owns his business, his house and his car because the rest of society has recognized the deeds of ownership that he has as being meaningful. He can only do business at all because of the laws that society has enacted, and the other economic institutions that society has created. Without the rest of humanity, the entrepeneur has precisely nothing. The idea that his wealth was somehow created solely by him is, I'm afraid, pure fiction. His wealth is a social creation, just like the laws and institutions on which it depends.

So, is it really moral for the entrepeneur to keep everything? Surely not. Surely the moral and just course of action is to recognise reality as what it is, and say that he owes society some of that money back. He depends completely on the efforts of others, and it is only right and proper that this should be repaid. And the more he makes, the more he owes- a wealth tax and/ or graduated income tax seems like a sensible way forward here. How much of his money should go to the rest of society is a practical issue rather than a matter of philosophical principle. Myself, I'd say that the important question is this: What kind of society do you want to live in? And I would prefer to live in a society in which people receive decent health care, the streets are reasonably safe, the gap between wealth and poverty isn't a chasm, there is a high degree of social mobility, and everyone has a stake in the social order. All of which describes Sweden rather well, but not (alas) the United States.

Incidentally, I think that Loke went way too far in describing Americans as 'slaves'. Plainly this isn't true. The US has largely free and fair elections. It also has reasonable civil rights- they used to be better before the Bush security state was enacted post-9/11, but its still a mainly free country. However, its also a country which for whatever reason is governed mainly in the interests of the wealthy, the result of which is a staggering huge gap between the rich and poor. And as well as being very unequal, its also (contrary to the popular mythology) a place with very poor social mobility. If someone is born poor in America, then its statistically very unlikely that s/he will be able to escape from poverty. If s/he is born rich, then rich s/he will remain. Even the UK, home of the legendary British class system, apparently has more social mobility than the USA. For a modern industrial state with a divisive and increasingly ossified class system don't look at Europe- look at the USA.

So I guess the question is this: why do Americans tolerate this situation? Internet access is the norm, so all of the facts that we've been discussing are available to the vast majority of US citizens. And Americans are an educated bunch- their school system functions a lot better than their health care, and their universities are rightly held in high regard the world over. The religious right is part of the answer, the tradition of individualism is another part, and perhaps a political system that requires large amounts of money for elections is important too. All the same...it doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. Whats especially bizarre is that the most important popular movement right now is the tea party, which seeks changes that would make the whole situation worse rather than better. But perhaps things will change. I live in hope.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #74 on: October 01, 2010, 07:53:43 AM »
May I speak for POOR people, I earn usually around $13k a year that puts me among the working poor so I want my perspective here.

Class income levels to me ,in Florida and my area, Middle Class would be $40,000 a year per person to for a family $100,000 a year for income. Below that the Lower Class and over that the Upper Class from the comfortable to uber-rich. So if a couple earning $250,000 a year and will pay more in taxes your talking about from my view comfortable upper class so they can afford it. The arguement $250,000 to me as Middle Class is not something I or more poor can fathom.

As for what I want from the government - to take care of my needs I can't afford working right now that is Health Care. And to make sure everyone gets minimal support if things go bad for them of essentials for life and to make sure there are jobs for everyone including the light skilled (means to me manufacturing and other jobs not requiring more than High School diploma or provide education to be employed - both). They are failing that to me save for passing Health Care reform. So for me socialism as in Sweden is better they seem to get it we are a people, well-off make money on me so they have a moral obligation and duty to pay taxes so their workers make them their money. Its odd Sweden have wealthy people and those low income there seem to be employed and don't have homless people on the streets. They and other nations get it.

And I'm not worried about an armed rebellion but a non-violent one the poor finally voting in our best interests that may be the difference in Sweden if the poor vote they get a say, they matter. You ignore them their politicians I suspect would lose their jobs. We need that here.

Offline Loke

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #75 on: October 01, 2010, 08:02:11 AM »
I'm sorry and I apologies if I have offended anyone with the slave comparison like Salamander pointed out.

But the point of that was that, 80% of a population on 310,370,000 only have 16% of the wealth. And if my math/calculator is correct 62,0740 000 owns 84% of the wealth while 248, 296 000 people have 16% of the wealth.
And if you break it down even more the difference's only gets bigger, and thus making it look like the 20% have it all while the rest have nothing.

Again I'm sorry I was just pissed of/furious 

Ruby Slippers -
You make some great points In your post and I have to agree that the situation between Sweden and the us in different, In Sweden the working/middle class has more of a say in poletics then in the us and ever since the 30's have we focused on building up a good social society and health care, something that the us have not.

Offline Jude

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #76 on: October 01, 2010, 08:43:42 AM »
I think helping the working poor gain access to the basic necessities is an admirable goal and certainly something that government should be doing.  I don't even have a problem with the rich being taxed in order for this to occur -- the majority of the country agrees that a higher tax rate for those making over $250k a year is probably necessary in order to balance the budget and continue providing social services.  I'm not for something like the 90% that it was under Eisenhower, but closer to 50% (I think after the Bush Tax Cuts it'll be around 39%, and something a bit higher would be ideal).  It will benefit the entire country to have more consumers of the products which the poor will use the subsidization to purchase, so the only people who really lose out are the rich and they're making more than enough to survive as is.

Where I disagree with some basic principles of Socialism is the support for the lazy poor.  If you can work, but choose not to, I don't think you deserve even a dime from your fellow citizens.  Our policies should be aimed at making it easier for people to get jobs, supporting those who do work, and taking care of people who are incapable of supporting themselves/shouldn't have (people with extreme disabilities, certain medical conditions, and the elderly).

We've definitely moved in this direction thanks to the work of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress, but what I find really depressing is how this has been perceived by the public.  It's hard to deny that Republican policies were pro-business and the wealthy (Bush Tax Cuts, TARP, deregulation) while Democratic policies have been aimed at the poor and lower middle class.  Both of these philosophies seemed to have failed the nation if approval ratings are any indication, because the Middle Class makes up the biggest chunk of the electorate, and nearly everything that is done is done at their expense or in no way benefits them.  The Tea Party was born as a direct result from this.

I personally feel that Democratic politics make the most sense.  Of course the Democrats are trying to help the people that actually need it, those who are firmly in the Middle and Upper Class don't really need help.  My guess is that those in the Middle Class who are not happy with what they have are in revolt because they're being told by Conservative scare mongers that it isn't possible to help the disadvantaged and unfortunate without their quality of life being taken from them.

I think that this recession is defined by the anxiety of the Middle Class over a perceived treat to their current standard of living, not any perceptible dip in that standard.  People are still surfing the internet, watching TV, and using their cell phones, they're simply afraid that off in the near future they won't be able to afford that lifestyle anymore, and that's what is driving the political and economic paranoia that's keeping consumer spending down and fueling the feeling of gross political disenfranchisement.

Socialism is simply the narrative that has been adopted to paint an apocalyptic future for individual liberties and economic progress as a result of Democratic achievements.  There are those who are telling this story because they truly fear it as a possible outcome (which I don't think is realistic at this point in time), but I have a feeling that a small minority of influential politicians, lobbyists, and social commentators are disingenuous prophets who are motivated by a desire to protect the interests of the mega-wealthy.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 08:55:33 AM by Jude »

Offline Serephino

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #77 on: October 01, 2010, 09:30:11 PM »
I won't disagree that there should be something put in place to prevent lazy people from taking advantage of the system.  That's mainly what's wrong with it now.  I knew a 'Welfare Queen'.  She claimed she couldn't work because she couldn't sit or stand for long periods of time, yet while I was visiting her son sitting at a computer desk was about all she did.  How these people work the system I'll never know, but they use up all the resources so that there's nothing left for those of us that need it.

This is a bit of a rant, but it's also relevant I think.  I'm bi-polar, my worst symptom being anxiety.  It's bad enough that I do receive disability for it.  I tried working; it wasn't pretty....

Anyway, with proper treatment it may be possible for me to work.  Am I getting proper treatment?  Nope!  Thanks to Bush's Medicare 'fix' that's a pretty high premium considering what I'm getting, and I don't get much for it, so I don't have it.  The state says my benefits are too much for Medicaid.  Medicare part A is mandatory, so even if I were to find a low cost insurance plan I could afford, they won't take me because I'm technically insured.  Part A only covers hospitalization by the way, with a co-pay of $1100 per day.   

I'm stuck.  The government is doing the bare minimum to make sure I'm not homeless and starving, which I won't complain about too much...  But what bugs the hell out of me is that no one is willing to actually treat my disability and get me back to work because that would be Socialist, and that's a dirty word!  One would think sending me to a decent psychologist for a little while would cost less in the long run than keeping me on disability the rest of my life.       

I do agree that the US is too big in order for European systems to work.  Something else would have to be done.  Perhaps the states could shoulder some of the responsibility with national oversight.  Why not tweak the Medicaid system a little to function as public health care?  I wouldn't mind paying a premium I could afford as long as it did me some good. 

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Socialism or lack thereof in the US (split from Christine O'Donnell)
« Reply #78 on: October 02, 2010, 08:10:41 AM »
http://www.tampabay.com/news/perspective/how-americans-spread-the-wealth/1125343

Just posting this to note what people think is the case of the wealth distribution and what it actually is in the United States, I note that the ideal spread people think is fair is shockingly like - Swedens.