The View From 1776

Once Again: What Is Socialism?

The commonly used definition is wrong.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 01:22 AM
  1. Mr. Brewton:

    Your argument that a definition can be "wrong" is less than cogent. Definitions, by definition, are what the dictionary writers determine to be the common usage meaning of a word. Definitions cannot be "overruled" by some self appointed authority. You may wish to shout from the housetops that the world is wrong, but you will only make yourself hoarse.

    If the rest of the world defines Socialism as "Government Ownership of the Means of Production, you are going to find it a long row to hoe to change 7 billion minds (particularly since the readership of this blog is so exclusive).

    Part of your confusion with religion and socialism stems from the fact that in the Christian religion, the gospels are chock full of directives for social justice. In the New Testament alone there are more than 2500 verses telling us how we should treat "the poor." If you sliced out every reference to the poor, your Bible would be left in tatters.

    In fact, if we wanted to define the prime mover in the entire movement of social justice, the foremost candidate would certainly be Jesus of Nazareth.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  10:18 AM
  2. What I find surprising Tom is that there's nothing surprising here. We who try to be educated and knowledgeable, what's been happening doesn't come as some shocking revelation.
    The extreme drop of Obama in the polls shows that 53% of the electorate were either ignorant or self-delusional.
    I have a permit to carry a firearm. I have to satisfy the state that I have completed a state approved course in the use of deadly force, pass a background check and pay a fee of $100 to be able to exercise my 2nd amendment rights.
    So, I do not have a right to carry a firearm, I have a state granted privilege that can be revoked. I am then at the mercy of the lawless.
    Having said that, I want people to have a permit to vote (BTW, the "right" for the citizen to vote is nowhere in the Constitution). They must pass a course regarding the Constitution, the make-up of the government and a study of basic economics. When challenged by a law enforcement officer, I have to produce my carry permit and picture ID. The same minimum requirements need to be applied to the vote.
    Drop the Department of Education and turn the schools back to the parents of the children that attend. Eliminate all federal education mandates and regulations.
    Hopefully we'll raise a future generation of educated voters.
    Posted by AmendmentX  on  03/31  at  11:03 AM
  3. After read Mr. Brewton's posting I think he would be quite happy living in a log cabin with few comforts because without the socialism he detests there would be little of anything.

    The socialism that exists today is basically social networking, something a modern society can't live without. But I forgot, Mr. Brewton doesn't like modernity. He would rather be in 1787.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  11:12 AM
  4. #2 comment adds comic relief.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  11:22 AM
  5. "In fact, if we wanted to define the prime mover in the entire movement of social justice, the foremost candidate would certainly be Jesus of Nazareth." Oh crimeny, not this AGAIN!
    OK, Mr. Bible Misinterpreter, pay attention (for all the good it will do). Start with I Samuel 2:12-17. Eli's sons attempt to take something by force. And it's ascribed as evil. Jesus did not and does not employ the force of the Sanhedrin or the Romans to force charity.When Jesus reinstates Peter (John 21:15-17) He does NOT say "OK, so I need you to write the Feed My Sheep program, have the Sanhedrin pass it and have the Romans collect the taxes to pay for it. Got it?" When Jesus answers the question "Who is my neighbor" in Luke 10:25-37 with the parable of the Good Samaritan, there is no force involved at all. In verses 35-36, Jesus asks who was the neighbor to the victim of violence. The "expert in the law" said "The one who had mercy on him." Not "The one who was forced to pay for the victim's medical expenses and upkeep."
    And Jesus said in reply to the comment by the expert in the law "The one who had mercy on him"-"Go and do likewise".
    But, also notice in these verses, a priest and a Levite passed on the other side of the road. Kind of like the extremely small amounts given to charity by the left versus those contributions of conservatives.
    Next argument please.
    Posted by AmendmentX  on  03/31  at  11:26 AM
  6. And the lack of a cogent reply or argument in comments 3 and 4 is completely expected.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  11:28 AM
  7. I bet Am doesn't even know what cogent means.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  11:35 AM
  8. A cogent statement from Amendment X-"An ad hominem argument does not prove David Airth's point. Neither does an ad hominem argument make a point in this comment string."
    I win the bet.
    You lose.
    Hey, prove to me that you know what cogent means: argue your dissent with my points in comment 2-cogently of course.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/31  at  11:57 AM
  9. Interesting debate but, I think the problem is that we confuse a democracy with a republic and member states that from the founding on, were very regulatory but, didn't want the federal government to be the same. Since each state has different resources, needs, demographics, etc., each state met its own problems head on through their State Constitution and used the U.S. Constitution to block the Federal Government from interfering with the states working out their own problems.

    We could cover that subject for hours but, that is what we were created as. It wasn't fair and some states evolved their cultures slower than others but, that was a far more fair way to govern than from the federal level. What we have now is much worse. It is worse because the federal government hasn't had to live within a budget. Now the nation is bankrupt and soon all people in need won't be adequately served and we will suffer greatly for a decade or decades. The time can vary greatly, depending on what kind of nation we rebuild from the rubble that will be left of this government.
    Posted by JanPBurr  on  03/31  at  12:58 PM
  10. The socialism that has emerged in America is different from the socialism that existed under communism. There is no doubt about that. And never shall the twain meet. So I don't think conservatives should get to hot under the collar because in many respects the socialism that has emerged is helping sustain conservative values.

    Nevertheless, conservatives do get hot under the collar about the socialism that is emerging in America. But they seem lost and confused in their argument against it. What made me think that is something Arthur Schleinger, Jr. wrote about the contradiction conservatives live with in their love for unfetter markets and small, small governments.

    "In economic theory, capitalism rests on the concept of equilibrium. In practice, is very virtues drive it towards disequilibrium. This is a dilemma of contemporary conservatism. The unfettered market conservatives worship undermines the values - stability, morality, family, community, work, discipline, delayed gratification - conservatives avow. The glitter of the marketplace, the greed, the short-termism, the exploitation of prurient appetites, the case of fraud, the devil-take-the hindmost ethos - all these are at war with purported conservative ideals. 'Stationary capitalism' as Schumpeter said, 'is a contradiction in terms'. "

    The socialism that has developed in America is meant to protect the gains made by the good parts of capitalism. Conservatives should learn to understand that.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/01  at  01:19 PM
  11. David, I agree there is a lot of misunderstanding about both. Social programs are not socialism. The most Conservative U.S. had social programs, like education where the community shared the cost of education for even those who couldn't pay for it. They saw the advantage of an educated workforce and population that could then better self-regulate their republic.

    The problem with what we have done in our social programs is that we bankrupted the nation by not funding the programs in the correct way. Instead of a self-sustaining funding system, we used Ponzi funding that from the beginning was destined to fail. The other thing the poor legislation did was that it kept taking more and more from the private sector for the public sector until the private sector could no longer support government without debt.

    Now, that debt has caught up. The last several decades of debt abuse by cities, states, and the federal government has placed such an "interest on debt" burden on the nation that we can't tax or grow out of the mess we are in.

    The President's 2011 budget reflects this where in just four years we go from the $188 billion this year to over 1/2 trillion for just interest on debt and close to a trillion by the end of the decade. The problem the CBO says with that projection they came up with for the President is that it is too optimistic because their model doesn't allow for real world influences on the projections and that they will be much worse.

    Socialism is best dealt with at the local level where each community can decide what they need to have a thriving and stable community that meets the needs of its people. For some things, the state level is best if all the cities and counties want the same thing. Seldom is it good at the federal level due to the demographic diversity of states and their different cultures, resources, needs, beliefs, etc.

    Too often, the Federal level requires compromise and that ends up with both liberal and conservative states not getting what they actually need and want. It isn't the social programs themselves, however, even at the Federal level but the forced compliance in funding through taxes that may hurt some states while benefiting other states. It may be due to forcing the states to have matching funds for something they don't want, like the heath care bill that now has at least 13 states suing.

    It is forcing business to pay for things they may not need or want to be competitive in the global market but, the voters don't want to pay for the programs either. Yet, instead of abandoning the program until it can be done right, the move ahead and pass legislation that makes our nation even more uncompetitive.

    I don't worry about it much anymore as when the collapse comes, virtually all social programs will collapse and we will have to rebuild from the local level up. What I do worry about is the ten's of millions of people who will be wiped out and not even have health care or unemployment or disability or other needs met.

    We can't tax or grow out of this and that means disaster for all our social programs, even the best ones. That is why the GAO has repeated warned Congress in their reports we face the loss of our standard of living. Our social programs are part of the standard of living we have. When we lose our standard of living, we also lose our ability to keep social programs going. Or, maybe it will be when we can't keep the social programs going we will lose our standard of living as they will go at the same time our other components of a high standard of living is lost.

    Whether we have socialism now or not is no longer the big concern. It is what we will become after the government can't support anything from the federal level.
    Posted by JanPBurr  on  04/01  at  03:10 PM
  12. "The socialism that has emerged in America is different from the socialism that existed under communism."
    Somehow, I don't imagine taking a different route to the top of Everest changes the view once you get there. As a matter of fact, I'd bet that the closer any climber gets to the top, the view gets closer to that of any and every other route.
    Asking any American taxpayer "Does it feel different having to pay for a different socialism or different programs than the ones that came out under communism?" would more than likely render some interesting answers.
    Posted by AmendmentX  on  04/01  at  11:57 PM
  13. All this talk about what "socialism " means, and the carping at the two major political parties, as well as vitriolic debate over single issues like health care, gun control, and gay rights are all diverting us from the one single controlling issue that could unite everyone.

    We can debate how much the government should spend on particular goodies and hand-outs to favored groups until the cows come home. Each cause du jour is heart-rending in its well advertised need for succor.

    But we should agree that the government cannot keep piling up debt, creating money to spend out of thin air, and flooding the world with U. S. Bonds that will, like a flock of angry buzzards, come home to roost on our and our children's heads.

    It's simple arithmetic--tax receipts must exceed spending--you just subtract one from the other. Unless there's a surplus of receipts we are bankrupting the nation. Requiring a balanced budget would apply a rational basis to the debate over government programs. They would have to be rationed to stay under income. That would force us to make reasonable decisions about how much to spend and where to spend it.

    If we keep on spending above our means, with an open checkbook for Congress and the FRB, there will be no rational limit to what is proposed. It's time for a balanced budget--not a move to do so in 5-10 years, but now! Accross the boards cuts might be needed until revenues grew, but we must bite the bullet.

    Otherwise, by the time the cows come home to roost, the foreign vultures will be dumping all over us.

    I will bet dollars to donuts that Jay or David will retort that this crisis was caused by Bush II and that it will take years to get back on track, and that Obama is moving us in that direction, so we must increase spending to increase receipts. Well, we have been doing that for decades. The national debt has been rising steadily through good times and bad. Bold action is needed if we are to survive in the modern world economy. And the first requirement is to restore financial sanity by prudent budgeting.
    Posted by bill greene  on  04/04  at  09:09 AM
  14. Bill,

    I am afraid you win your bet, dollars or donuts, take your pick. (Dollars would be less fattening.)

    Yes, "Bush II" (shorthand for the Bush administration, of which he was the figurehead and mouthpiece) was heavily implicated in the downturn in the economy. His unfunded tax cuts for the rich and unfunded wars contributed to the financial chasm.

    The seeds of the housing crisis may have predated his reign, but by virtue of his being in power for the last eight years prior to the collapse, tradition confers upon him the responsibility for the crash - much as Obama is getting the heat for not "fixing" the problem quick enough, merely by his presence in the White House.

    And yes, Bill, you must have noticed that last month the economy finally added some jobs after several years of heavy job losses. So, Obama is moving us in the right direction.

    And yes, again you are correct, that we liberals understand that the Herbert Hoover approach of trimming federal spending at this moment would take us back to a recession/depression.

    You are right an almost all counts. Since the economy is beginning to turn the corner, prudent budgeting should be a goal for the coming year.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/05  at  05:58 PM
  15. Don't forget the mistakes during Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson that all led to this crisis. Bush II was a minor player as he was just a puppet like this President.

    Tax cuts or tax increases have very little to do with anything since we passed the point of no return long ago. Democrats held control for 40 years straight so why did they pass the budgets under both party's presidents that they did. Why did they pass legislation that couldn't be funded.

    Well the American people asked those questions and threw them out in 1994 only to find republicans were also puppets of the elite that control both parties and then they threw them out and got even worse because each decade gets worse since both parties use the same flawed economic and monetary theories.

    The economy is not turning any corner. It is in the eye of a storm that will last years. Only stimulus spending that is making things worse is even creating an illusion of recovery. The President's own budget projections reveal this.

    Here are his deficit projections

    Page 150

    Deficit ...

    Notice that by the end of the decade they are going back up to over a trillion.

    Here are his GDP growth projections

    Table S
    Posted by JanPBurr  on  04/05  at  11:43 PM
  16. Now, as bad as the President's projections are, the CBO which created the projections say they are way too optimistic because they can't factor in the real world. In their report to Congress they said some things like this.

    CBO report
    The Long-Term Budget Outlook

    page 15

    The systematic widening of budget shortfalls projected under CBO
    Posted by JanPBurr  on  04/06  at  12:06 AM
  17. Thank you, Jan, I think. I had hoped that my alarm about the future debt and deficit probabilities might be inflated--but you have burst that bubble--

    Those White House figures you so clearly lay out are terrifying. How did the media get away reporting the health care bill would help? If ever there was a time to cut the size and spending of government it is now.

    Typical of today's liberals, Mr Jay's idea is that: "prudent budgeting should be a goal for the coming year." That has been the line from both parties for many years, and I could win another donut from Jay betting that it won't happen--not next year, not the next.

    Those numbers make our country's future look like a plane in a death spiral heading faster and faster to a very hard landing. There's no need to place blame--We must just do something to stop the hemorraging!
    Posted by bill greene  on  04/07  at  08:00 PM
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