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Trump rejects socialism at SOTU as expressionless Dems sit unmoved

The myth of kinder, gentler socialism

Postby smix » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:07 pm

The myth of kinder, gentler socialism
The Livingston Enterprise

URL: https://www.livingstonenterprise.com/co ... -socialism
Category: Politics
Published: February 27, 2019

Description: Venezuela is a socialist country. Venezuela is also a dictatorship. Currently, Venezuela has fallen into open violence and complete chaos, with the strongman Nicolas Maduro ordering troops to open fire on those attempting to bring humanitarian aid into the country. Yet, strangely, Maduro still has his defenders. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the leading declared Democratic 2020 presidential candidate and avowed socialist, refuses to label Maduro a “dictator.” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in full 9/11 truther mode, “Democrats need to be careful about a potential trap being set by Trump et al in Venezuela. Cheering humanitarian convoys sounds like the right thing to do, but what if it’s not about the aid?” Fresh Face of the Democratic Party Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has remained shockingly silent about Venezuela, except to tell The Daily Caller News Foundation, “I think that, you know, the humanitarian crisis is extremely concerning but, you know, when we use non-Democratic means to determine leadership, that’s also concerning, as well.” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., another Fresh Face of the Democratic Party, grilled U.S. envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams in an obvious attempt to stall on behalf of a gentler approach to Maduro. Why the shocking unwillingness by the socialist hard-liners in the Democratic Party to condemn Maduro and join the rest of the world in calling for his ouster? After all, we’ve been assured by Sanders, AOC, Omar and others that true socialism isn’t at stake in Venezuela — true socialism can be found in nations like Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Yet even so, these socialist Democrats can’t find it in their hearts to cut ties with Venezuela. How strange. Perhaps it’s because Sanders and his crowd understand full well that Venezuela is an excellent case study in socialism — nationalization of major industries by a centralized government, abolition of the profit motive and redistribution of resources via tyranny. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Sanders was praising the Soviet Union (he said it had “a whole variety of programs for young people and cultural programs which go far beyond what we do in this country”), Nicaraguan Sandanista Daniel Ortega and Cuba’s Fidel Castro (“... he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.”). And then there’s the inconvenient fact that the countries that Sanders himself calls socialist totally reject the label. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt launched into Sanders this week, stating, “Bernie Sanders was lucky to be able to get to the Soviet Union in 1988 and praise all its stunning socialist achievements before the entire system and empire collapsed under the weight of its own spectacular failures.” In 2015, Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen scoffed at Sanders’ dreams of a socialist utopia, noting, “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.” Here is the sad truth about socialism: Socialism drives economies into the ground in exact proportion to its prominence in the economy. Capitalism creates prosperity. It’s convenient for Sanders and company to point to the Nordic countries as models of socialism when they are obviously founded on free markets, with socialistic redistribution schemes stacked atop that free market foundation. But deep down, Sanders knows that the truer reflection of socialism lies in Venezuela, Cuba and the Soviet Union. And that’s why Sanders simply can’t bring himself to disown Venezuelan socialism, even to prop up the lie that socialism wasn’t truly tried in Venezuela.
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‘Bubblegum Socialism’ Is No Laughing Matter

Postby smix » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:23 am

‘Bubblegum Socialism’ Is No Laughing Matter
Townhall

URL: https://townhall.com/columnists/bobbarr ... r-n2543009
Category: Politics
Published: March 13, 2019

Description: There is a video of Bernie Sanders and his wife on their 1988 honeymoon in the USSR, in which a shirtless Bernie is shown singing “This Land Is Your Land” with a bunch of drunk communists. It is a vignette apparently welcomed nowadays by the Senator from Vermont, who proudly represents true, “old school” socialism. Sanders’ doctrine is a far cry from the “bubblegum socialism” eagerly embraced by many 21st century Millennials, including the Congresswoman from New York’s 14th congressional district; but it must be taken just as seriously, if not more so. Today’s socialism is no laughing matter. Socialism is socialism; and in whatever form is completely at odds with free political and economic enterprise that are at the core of our system of government. This holds true whether one considers the dry and pedantic old-school variety hawked by Sanders, or the bouncy, bubble-gum iteration gleefully spouted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And while it is easy to dismiss the latter, with its inane talk of “farting cows” or “garbage” capitalism, we do so at our peril; for the appeal of such nonsense is finding an easy mark in much of today’s American youth. With socialist Venezuela visibly dying under the burden of a dictatorial socialist government, we might properly expect that “socialism” should be getting trounced in public opinion polls; yet the concept continues to draw voters to its siren song, especially younger ones. At the most basic level, this phenomenon is actually not difficult to comprehend. For more than two generations, Americans have come of age being told that government is the solution to every one of society’s ills (real or perceived). The process of turning to government to solve every problem faced by the citizenry has created the fertile breeding ground in which today’s Millennials embrace precisely what this is -- socialism. Dismissing the antics of Ocasio-Cortez with snarky rebuttals or superficial jokes misses this key point. She is not the problem. She is merely the face of the far deeper malady infecting American culture and western civilization generally. It is a cultural problem an inch deep but a thousand miles wide. Notions of socialism now reach far into our political system and the American business sector; its tentacles have entwined the entertainment industry, and it has sucked the lifeblood from our once-outstanding educational system. Dealing effectively with socialist tropes like “capitalism is irredeemable” or that incremental change to the status quo is simply shifting around “garbage,” requires far more than the superficial sound bites many in the GOP throw back at socialism’s minions like Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kamala Harris (who claims not to be a “democratic socialist” but refuses to define even what that means to her). Rather than the easy road of responding to today’s American socialists on their level of superficiality, conservatives must define and focus on the moral superiority of capitalism. That debate begins with defining free enterprise as the very foundation of American economic and political freedom; and moves on then to asking of Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and their socialist compatriots why they prefer a system that crushes human freedom in pursuit of collective mediocrity. We must aggressively and publicly support the efforts being led currently by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make education great again. Copies of the Constitution of the United States must be distributed in schools to every student in every grade; accompanied in high school by a copy of the Federalist as required study. Policy debates among adults about the proper role of government -- whether in the context of Roe v. Wade or President Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” at our southern border – are largely wasted if not truly understood in the context of what our government is, was supposed to be, and has become. In October 1964, then-private citizen Ronald Reagan birthed a political movement and stirred a nation to action, with his nationally-broadcast speech declaring a “rendezvous with destiny.” Reagan identified the existential dangers facing American civilization (including the burgeoning growth of government and the threat from socialism’s bigger brother, communism). Drawing then on the reservoir of goodwill, patriotism and education bequeathed to us by our predecessor generations, Reagan warned that without girding for and meeting head-on the battle already looming, we would doom our children and grandchildren to a “thousand years of darkness.” Bernie Sanders was 23-years old when Reagan delivered that speech. In his heart, Sanders knows the power of words such as Reagan’s; he witnessed the Soviet Union he so warmly embraced crumble in the face of the strategy unleashed against it by the forces to which Reagan gave voice. Eloquence and reason such as uttered by Reagan, if backed by actions consistent therewith, can defeat socialism in whatever form it marches; but only if we fight it with substance and understanding – two commodities in far too short supply in this year 2019 A.D.



Socialism: A Youthful Passion, A National Problem
Townhall

URL: https://townhall.com/columnists/carlhor ... m-n2546176
Category: Politics
Published: May 11, 2019

Description: It is one of modern history’s more famous quotes: “If a man is not a socialist at 20, he has no heart. If he remains one at age 40, he has no head.” These words (and variations thereof) have been attributed to everyone from Disraeli to Clemenceau to Churchill. Whatever the true source, they convey a wisdom that frequently is going unheeded in America. And we risk becoming an ever more controlled and corrupt society. Consider recent survey data. This January, the public relations firm Axios released the results of a SurveyMonkey online poll of nearly 2,800 U.S. adults. Respondents were asked how they felt about capitalism and socialism. Capitalism produced a favorable response among 61 percent of all respondents, yet socialism was well-received among a sizable 39 percent. Fully 58 percent of persons ages 18-24 and 51 percent of persons ages 25-34 viewed socialism in a positive light; a positive view of capitalism among these age brackets, respectively, were 58 percent each. This survey was no fluke. A Harris Poll conducted for Axios in February of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed very strong support for socialism among Millennials (born 1980-94) and Generation Z (born 1995 and after). These combined cohorts backed universal health care and tuition-free college, respectively, by 73.2 percent and 67.1 percent. Fully 49.6 percent said they would prefer living in a socialist country. Meanwhile, a Gallup Poll released last August showed that 51 percent of adults ages 18-29 had a favorable view of socialism, but only 45 percent felt this way about capitalism. The figure for capitalism, alarmingly, was down from 68 percent in 2010. Granted, socialism comes in a variety of forms. Some are more tolerable than others. But even the big bad wolf of socialism – Communism – is getting a reprieve among young adults. According to a survey released in October 2016 by the Victims of Communism Memorial, only 55 percent of respondents born during 1982-2002 believed that Communism is, or ever was, a problem. The respective figures for baby boomers and the elderly were 80 percent and 91 percent. It may be that similar views prevailed in prior decades. After all, the impulse to “change the world” reaches full flower during young adulthood. That’s long been the case. Career, marriage, childrearing and homeownership supposedly bring the starry-eyed down to earth. But to what extent? Doubtlessly many young socialists of today will come to support capitalism. But just as likely, many won’t. Callowness can’t explain everything. One would think the events of the last 100 years would have rendered support for socialism almost nil by now, with Venezuela the latest casualty. Yet the dream lives on. Quite possibly, the survey numbers reveal not simply a replication of a classic tendency, but the dawn of an era defined by the likes of Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. Why are so many young adults today, to say nothing of their elders, warming up to socialism? I briefly offer some explanations.
First, much of our formal education system, especially at “prestige” colleges and universities, is driven by an imprimatur of faculty and administrators who lean far leftward. It’s hard to imagine many Columbia University students and recent graduates, for example, possessed of much enthusiasm for capitalism even if they work for a capitalist enterprise.
Second, radicalism, especially at the national level, is rapidly supplanting the modern liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society. Radicals, many of whom are seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president, routinely exploit public discontent over certain recent outcomes of capitalism (e.g., the 2008 stock market crash, auto industry bailouts) for the purpose of discrediting capitalism as a whole. And many in their audiences believe them.
Third, many journalists at leading newspapers, webzines, and cable news outlets are public relations agents for socialism. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., right now just might be the most photographed and quoted woman in America.
Fourth, large-scale immigration, especially by Asians and Hispanics, is creating a generation of new voters whose resentment of the white majority and capitalism are of a piece. Ethnic identity can’t so easily be disaggregated from ideology.

try-socialism.jpg

If America goes socialist, it will not happen all at once. And it won’t involve five-year industrial plans, farm collectivization, wholesale government takeovers of businesses or other Soviet-era relics. What it would involve is a gradual adoption of populist-Left hobby horses such as “free” college education, health care and day care, plus Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’ scatterbrained Green New Deal. There also would be large-scale transfer payments from whites to “people of color” under the guise of reparations. A better recipe for inefficiency, divisiveness and corruption hardly can be imagined. More than ever, economic success would be determined by political connections and an erosion of the rule of law. “We are born free, and we will stay free,” remarked President Trump during his State of the Union address in February. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” Those words caused gnashing of the teeth among those who want Trump out of office. But the debate between capitalism and socialism will be around long after he leaves. For defenders of capitalism, there is much teaching to be done. And for young America, there is much to learn.



Sen. Rand Paul: Violence Is 'Inherent to Socialism'
Townhall

URL: https://townhall.com/tipsheet/alexnitzb ... m-n2546992
Category: Politics
Published: May 28, 2019

Description: Speaking to The Blaze’s Andrew Wilkow, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) said that violence is “inherent to socialism.” The senator explained that he and his wife discuss this topic within their forthcoming book “The Case Against Socialism”: “And in it, we talk about, is it an accident that you get violence and genocide under socialism? Or is it an inevitability, is it inherent to socialism?” Senator Paul answers the question in the affirmative: “Really, is violence inherent to socialism? And I think the answer is absolutely yes.” He said that in the upcoming book they note varying levels of socialism. In a small quantity, “it’s just sort of I threaten you with a fine but there’s no real followup,” Sen. Paul explained—but he said when the government seeks to take away private property by force, that is when violence ensues: “And so the ultimate conclusion of socialism where you really take people’s property, people do resist and it becomes violent and that’s when you have the Gulag,” Paul said, pointing to history: “Whether it was Stalin, or Hitler, or Mao, Pol Pot, Maduro or Chavez, Castro—doesn’t seem to be that there is a benign socialism out there.” While people highlight Scandinavia, Sen. Paul disagreed with applying the label of socialism to the region, stating that “they point to Scandinavia, which in reality really isn’t socialism, it’s a high tax welfare state, but you still have private property. They didn’t go confiscate the property in Sweden.” Sen. Paul highlighted the pomposity of an ideology that claims the government can make better decisions for people than they can make for themselves: “Socialism, or big government, or government control of things, ultimately is the most arrogant and elitist concept you can imagine. Because it is a very arrogant concept for me to think, I know what church would be best for you, I know what school would be best for you, and I think you’re eating too many hamburgers and that you need more vegetables—all of those things are arrogant for me to presume that I know best for you.” He described the dichotomy between ideologies: “And this is what is the real difference between those who believe in liberty and those who believe in coercion, is, they think they know what’s best, and they’re willing to send a guy with a truncheon and beat you over the head if you don’t listen.” “And they say, ‘Oh, we’re not willing to do that we’re just going to fine you.’” But upon failure to pay the fine, “They’ll put you in jail,” he said, noting, “Ultimately it’s the threat of state violence, but because they presume they’re right.”
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Americans Are Still Confused About What Socialism Actually Is

Postby smix » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:44 pm

Americans Are Still Confused About What Socialism Actually Is
Reason

URL: https://reason.com/archives/2019/03/15/ ... about-what
Category: Politics
Published: March 15, 2019

Description: Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin used the motto, “Land to the peasants, peace to the nations, bread to the starving.” Sounds good, right?

socialism-if-we-cant-all-be-rich-lets-be-equally-poor.jpg

Based on quite a few responses, I've come up with three main answers. First, a surprising number of people still are seduced by its nice-sounding promises. Second, some politicians and activists are using the term again, which gives rise to this discussion. If you ask the public anything, including the virtues of cannibalism or self-immolation, a certain percentage will like the idea. Third, many people think wanting more social-welfare programs is the same as being socialist. It is a good idea for people living in a self-governing democracy to have discussions about basic political philosophy even if the debates can become overheated in a world dominated by social media. As King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." The same ideas and temptations are always with us, so reprising musty old debates is healthy. Here goes. Regarding the first answer, some readers criticized me for bringing up the suffering in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba and Venezuela. That's not socialism, they say, but communism. Russia was known as the United Soviet Socialist Republic and all such regimes referred to themselves as socialist, but, yes, communism is an extreme example. But both rely on the transfer of power from individuals to the state. As the saying goes, any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. Socialistic governments of all types obliterate the incentive to work and invest, so they end up just taking things away. Today's democratic socialists are, quite obviously, not calling for the creation of gulags and state ownership of everything, even if some of them (see Bernie Sanders) had nice things to say about Cuba's Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. But those "bad" socialists and communists didn't call for those horrors, either. Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin used the motto, "Land to the peasants, peace to the nations, bread to the starving." Sounds good, right? Hugo Chavez didn't promise that in 10 years people would be hunting rats out of dumpsters to feed their families, but wrote into Venezuela's constitution that, "Health is a fundamental social right, an obligation of the state." As late as 2013, prominent progressive activists were still praising the country's economic miracle. Today's democratic socialists probably emulate a Scandinavian welfare state, but those countries are not socialist and are moving in a less redistributionist direction. There is indeed nothing new. Perhaps it's human nature to cheer politicians who make grandiose promises that don't pan out, while being overly critical of the flaws in a system that has created unparalleled wealth and opportunity. But can't we try to be a little wiser? Regarding the second answer, the renewed and proud use of the socialist term is what I'm reacting against. Similarly, I'm also troubled by some American conservatives, including our president, who proudly use the "nationalist" term. Christian writer C.S. Lewis described patriotism as love of country, but wrote that nationalism can lead to "a devilish form of ideological thinking that propels morally destructive powers into leadership." Left or right, terminology matters. Most of my life was set against a Cold War backdrop. My father and his family were rounded up by the Nazis. My wife's family suffered through Polish communism, so I'm more willing than many others to believe that American variants of "socialism" or "nationalism" can go too far. In the column, I mentioned the Democratic Socialists of America website, which argues that "working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs." You don't think that idea—people apparently should vote on how other people's businesses are managed—could lead to draconian results? Yes, early American socialists championed women's suffrage and an end to child labor. Socialists, however, weren't the only people pushing those policies, which aren't "socialism" as much as reforms that take hold as nations become more prosperous and enlightened thanks to industrialization and, yes, market capitalism. Regarding the third answer, some critics noted that Western democracies have passed socialistic programs such as Social Security and Medicare—and that hasn't led to gulags. True enough. Wealthy, capitalistic nations have the excess wealth to afford costly entitlements. But look at the resulting debt levels. These Ponzi schemes are unsustainable and do an iffy job providing comfortable retirements and health care for the masses. They embody many flaws of socialism, even if they have not led to disaster. That could change because Democratic socialists want to expand them much further. Polls say large percentages of Americans have a vaguely warm view about socialism. The best response is to highlight its failures in its many forms, especially as some politicians use the term in a positive way. Let the debate continue.



Stossel: Venezuela Is Socialism
Reason

URL: https://reason.com/video/stossel-venezu ... socialism/
Category: Politics
Published: March 26, 2019

Description: Media personalities claim socialism didn't cause Venezuela's collapse, but it did. Here's how.



As Venezuela collapses, many people say, "don't blame socialism." "Blaming socialism for Venezuela's riches to rags story is grossly misleading," an Al Jazeera reporter claims. John Oliver claims: "If you follow conservative media at all you might have seen it frequently painted as the inevitable dire consequences of a socialist government." Oliver blames it instead on "epic mismanagement." But John Stossel says: "Mismanagement is what happens under socialist governments. It always happens, because no group of central planners is wise enough to manage an entire economy. Even if they have good intentions, the socialists eventually run out of other people's money." In Venezuela, when their socialist government ran out of money, they just printed more. When business owners raised prices to keep up with inflation, the government often took away their businesses. Yet celebrities praised Hugo Chavez, who started Venezuela's socialism. Model Naomi Campbell visited Chavez, calling him "a rebel angel." After Chavez's death in 2013, Oliver Stone tweeted, "Hugo Chavez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned." Sean Penn told The Hollywood Reporter that "poor people around the world lost a champion." Stossel says the good news is that, unlike American celebrities, "most Venezuelans who escaped their country's socialism do understand what went wrong." In Florida, reporter Gloria Alverez talked to Venezuelan immigrants, and most of them told her socialism doesn't work. One said, "It's never gonna work." Another man explained, "It's something that breeds and leads to other misery and destruction." Stossel warns that if we don't realize that socialism is to blame for Venezuela's destruction, "other tragedies like Venezuela will happen again and again."



The Socialist Fantasy
Reason

URL: https://reason.com/2019/03/27/the-socialist-fantasy/
Category: Politics
Published: March 27, 2019

Description: Central planning always fails.
Venezuela is a disaster. Yet 20 years ago, it was the wealthiest country in Latin America. It still has the world's biggest oil reserves. It should be a happy and prosperous nation. But then Venezuela went socialist. Democratic socialist to be exact. They voted for it. Hugo Chavez promised the poor "social and economic reforms." The majority of voters believed him. So did many American leftists. Model Naomi Campbell traveled to Venezuela to give Chavez a hug. She called him "a rebel angel." Michael Moore said that Chavez used oil money to "eliminate 75 percent of extreme poverty." But now that the socialists created much more extreme poverty, I would think that progressives would realize that democratic socialism is not the route to paradise. But no, nothing convinces a dedicated socialist—or much of the media. A popular Vox video titled "The collapse of Venezuela, explained" never once mentions socialism. Instead, it says Venezuela collapsed because "oil prices plummeted in 2014 and Maduro failed to adjust." "Blaming socialism for Venezuela's riches to rags story is grossly misleading," said Al Jazeera anchor Ryan Kohls. Venezuela didn't collapse because of socialism, added comedian John Oliver. "It's a story about epic mismanagement." But mismanagement is what happens under socialist governments. It always happens. That's because no group of central planners is wise enough to manage an entire economy. Even if they have good intentions, socialists eventually run out of other people's money. In Venezuela, the solution was to print more money. That caused massive inflation. When businesses raised prices to try to keep up with inflation, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro called that "profiteering" and punished many by confiscating their businesses. The socialists claimed they would run those businesses better than greedy capitalists could because they weren't obsessed with profits. Without the "excess" profits, prices would be lower and more money would go to the poor. But pursuit of profit is what makes an economy work! I'd think the collapse of nations such as Venezuela, China, Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Cuba would have taught the socialists that. But no. In America, progressives claim that socialism is succeeding in much of Europe. John Oliver claims, "There are plenty of socialist countries that look nothing like Venezuela." Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders agrees, saying: "When I talk about democratic socialism, I am not looking at Venezuela. I'm not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark, like Sweden." But those countries are not socialist! Yes, they have big welfare programs, but their economies are more capitalist than America's. They set no national minimum wage. They impose fewer regulations on businesses. Their leaders even go out of their way to point out that they are not socialist. Denmark's prime minister went on TV to respond Sanders' comments by saying: "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy." Not only are Scandinavian countries not socialist, lately they've reduced government control of their economies. Denmark privatized the national phone system and the railroads—and sold the Copenhagen airport to a private company. Swedish economic historian Johan Norberg points out: "We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism, big government that taxed and spent heavily. (But) that's the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south." So Sweden reduced government's role, too. They privatized businesses and even instituted school choice. The progressives are just wrong. Scandinavian countries that they call "socialist successes" are not socialist, and they're moving toward more capitalism. It's astounding that the progressives keep winning votes peddling economic nonsense. At least Venezuelans who escaped their country's socialism understand now that socialism creates poverty. I asked Stossel TV's Gloria Alvarez to go to Florida to interview recent Venezuelan immigrants about socialism. Most gave answers like "I wouldn't recommend it to anyone" and "It's never gonna work!" It never will. Never. As libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote: "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement… They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office, every man but one a subordinate clerk." Until progressives learn that, tragedies like Venezuela will happen again and again.



Perils of "Democratic Socialism"
Reason

URL: https://reason.com/2019/06/05/perils-of ... cialism-2/
Category: Politics
Published: June 5, 2019

Description: The seemingly new version of socialism advocated by many on the left today has all too many flaws in common with old kind.

SOCIALISM.jpg

One of the most significant recent developments in left-of-center politics is the rise of "democratic socialism." Democrats are currently engaged in an important debate over whether this is a good direction for the party. They should heed prominent liberal legal scholar Cass Sunstein's warning: "Those who now favor large-scale change should avoid a term, and a set of practices, that have so often endangered both liberty and prosperity." Prominent self-proclaimed socialists include Bernie Sanders (one of the front-runners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star in the party. Some recent surveys indicate that many more Democrats have a favorable view of "socialism" than "capitalism," though others show less support for it. Even a good many politicians who eschew the democratic socialist labels have endorsed some of the radical policies associated with it, such as the Green New Deal, "Medicare for All," and federal government-guaranteed jobs for all Americans, among others. Historically, socialism—defined as government control over all or most of the economy—has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale. The experience of communist nations around the world is instructive. To avoid terminological confusion, it is worth noting that the communists saw themselves (correctly) as implementing socialism; "communism" was, on the Marxist-Leninist view, a later stage of social evolution none of these regimes ever actually claimed to have attained. The current horrible oppression in Venezuela (perpetrated by a socialist regime that generally does not claim to be communist), which has led to perhaps the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the Western hemisphere, is just the latest iteration of the same pattern. Nonetheless, current advocates of democratic socialism argue that this awful record isn't relevant to their proposals. They draw two important distinctions between their agenda and that of the socialist movements that caused such enormous suffering in other nations. First, they emphasize that these earlier experiments in socialism were undertaken by authoritarian regimes. By contrast, today's democratic socialists are committed to multi-party democracy. Mistakes and abuses of power will be curbed by electoral competition. Second, we are assured that latter-day socialists don't actually mean to impose government control over the means of production. They just want greatly increased regulation and welfare state spending. Often, their agenda is analogized to the policies of Scandinavian nations, which have large welfare states, but remain relatively prosperous and free. Unfortunately, these distinctions are not as reassuring as they might seem. The expansion of government power advocated by modern socialists is so great that it would put most of the economy under state control, even if much industry formally remained under private ownership. It goes far beyond any Scandinavian precedent. And it is unlikely that democracy can effectively constrain the abuses of such a leviathan state. It is also questionable that a government like that could remain democratic in the long run.
The Enormous Scale of the Democratic Socialist Agenda
The standard agenda favored by most democratic socialists – single-payer health care, universal free college, and a guaranteed federal job for anyone who wants one—would cost some $42.5 trillion over a ten year period ($4.25 trillion per year). This would nearly double current federal spending levels, which are projected to total just under $4.75 trillion in fiscal year 2020. Federal government spending would rise from its current level of about 20% of GDP to 35-40% or more (depending on future economic growth and levels of spending on other programs, which is also projected to rise). This does not include many parts, the "Green New Deal," endorsed by most democratic socialists. That would add another $10-15 trillion over the next decade, not counting items such as universal government-provided health care, which are already included above. In combination with state and local spending (currently around $2.8 trillion per year, though some of that comes from federal grants), implementation of the democratic socialist agenda would ensure that government spending accounts for the vast majority of the economy. State and local spending would, very likely, also increase substantially if the democratic socialists get their way. The socialist agenda is not limited to increased spending. They also advocate massive increases in federal regulation. Examples include a $15 minimum wage, greatly increased regulation of labor and corporate boards, expanded environmental regulation, expanded regulation of media and the internet, increased protectionism to keep out foreign goods, and so on. The combination of the $15 minimum wage (which even many liberal economists believe is likely to significantly reduce private sector employment) and guaranteed federal jobs would ensure that a large proportion of the work force would, over time, come to consist of direct employees of the federal government. While many enterprises would officially remain under private ownership, implementation of the democratic socialist agenda would ensure that the federal government controls the lion's share of actual economic resources. If that happens, the US federal government would face many of the same problems of knowledge and incentives faced by previous socialist regimes. It too would have to figure out how to centrally plan the vast bulk of the economy. And it too would find that government planners lack the knowledge to make such a system work, and that it creates many perverse incentives. The democratic socialist agenda goes well beyond the Nordic nations advocates sometimes cite as models. While these countries have comparatively large welfare states, they combine them with low levels of regulation and high openness to international trade. To take just one example, none of the Nordic nations have a national government-mandated minimum wage. The Nordic nations actually come close to the United States (and occasionally even outscore it) on standard measures of economic liberty. Iceland (slightly ahead of the US) and Denmark (slightly behind) were statistically indistinguishable from the US in the latest Index of Economic Freedom ranking put out by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Finland and Sweden were only slightly lower. When Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen tried to explain to Bernie Sanders that his country is not actually socialist, the latter should have listened. Indeed, what US democratic socialists advocate goes beyond the current level of government control of the economy in any Western European nation.
Democracy Can't Make Socialism Safe
Perhaps democracy will save us from any potential negative effects of bringing most of the economy under government control. If the government abuses its power or mismanages the newly socialized economy, we can just "vote the bastards out." Any aspiring American Lenin or Hugo Chavez will be voted out of office or—better still—never elected in the first place. Unfortunately, the democratic element of democratic socialism is unlikely to save us from the severe risks of the socialist part. Voters in democratic systems can and do elect dangerous demagogues. Hugo Chavez was democratically elected. Closer to home, our own voters elected Donald Trump. And he is far from the first illiberal demagogue who ever achieved political success in American history. Liberal Democrats should carefully consider what would happen if someone like Trump gets control of the levers of power in a democratic socialist state where the federal government controls most of the economy. The danger of future demagogues aside, it is far from clear that even our current crop of democratic socialist leaders is immune to illiberal temptations. Bernie Sanders, our most prominent socialist politician, has a long history of supporting authoritarian socialist regimes abroad. He and others might not be averse to using the same sorts of tactics at home, if the opportunity arose. Even when run by more conventional politicians, democracy is unlikely to be an adequate safeguard against the dangers of socialism. As Conor Friedersdorf points out, a democratic state in which the government controls most of the economy is one where unpopular racial, ethnic, or religious minorities will be at severe risk, as their personal and social lives will be far more under the control of the political majority than is the case today. Nothing in the nature of socialism somehow makes racial, ethnic, and religious prejudice disappear, or even diminish significantly. Consider the awful experience of minorities in numerous socialist nations around the world, ranging from the Soviet Union to Ethiopia. A socialist state that controls most of the economy would also make it nearly impossible for voters to acquire enough knowledge to effectively monitor the government. It would greatly exacerbate the already severe problem of voter ignorance that plagues modern democracy. In a world where most voters—for perfectly rational reasons – do not even know basic facts such as being able to name the three branches of the federal government, it is highly unlikely they will learn enough to properly monitor a socialist state. Most of the powers of government would instead fall under the control of politicians, bureaucrats, powerful interest groups, or worse. Finally, it is unlikely that a democratic socialist state will actually remain democratic in the long run. If the government controls the vast bulk of the economy, it can, over time, use its control over key resources to reward its supporters and suppress opponents. This has, in fact, actually happened in Venezuela, where the government has used such tools as its control over food resources to incentivize support for the regime, and forestall opposition. In the US, such tactics might not be immediately effective because of our greater wealth, and because judicial review would curtail them. But these constraints are far from foolproof. American socialists could, for example, break judicial resistance through court-packing, a strategy successfully used by both left and right-wing authoritarians in other countries. Ominously, even some non-socialist Democrats now see court-packing as an attractive tool to wrest control of the Supreme Court back from Republicans. Even if Bernie Sanders or some other self-described socialist becomes president, he is unlikely to be able to quickly implement the full socialist agenda, or transform the US into another Venezuela. But if left unchecked, the growing acceptance of democratic socialism on the left increases the odds that such things could happen over time. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently told his fellow Democrats that "socialism is not the answer" to the problems that ail American society. Many in the audience of activists and party stalwarts booed. But they should instead take his advice to heart.
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Socialism: An Old Dogma With No New Tricks

Postby smix » Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:28 pm

Socialism: An Old Dogma With No New Tricks
The American Spectator

URL: https://spectator.org/socialism-an-old- ... ew-tricks/
Category: Politics
Published: March 18, 2019

Description: Donald Trump knows what he’s running against, even if its proponents are deaf and blind to what they’re running for.

old-dog-bernie.jpg

When people like Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez extol the virtues of socialism it reminds me of Dorothy Parker’s pun, “You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.” Parker’s quip had nothing to do with politics, of course. It was about religion. This, ironically, renders it uniquely applicable to the recent resurgence of public interest in this hoary collectivist doctrine. The belief that replacing free market capitalism with socialism would result in a more equitable society requires a leap of faith. Unlike belief in Christianity or Judaism, for example, it requires blind faith combined with illiteracy in history and economics. Whereas the religions noted above thrive after two millennia of critical examination by civilization’s greatest minds, socialist dogma can’t survive a cursory perusal by a first-year economics student. This is why its increasing number of vocal advocates in Congress must camouflage its true implications with shopworn shibboleths — Sanders’ preferred method — or incoherent word salads — the strategy necessarily employed by the improbably obtuse AOC. But bromides and balderdash won’t cut it in 2020 if the Democrats offer socialism as an alternative to the successful capitalist policies deployed by President Trump. Indeed, if the Democrats haven’t realized it yet, Trump is already running against socialism. It is not a coincidence that he has responded to the increasing visibility of proud socialists like Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders by explicitly stating in his SOTU address — and later at CPAC—that “America will never be a socialist country.” Trump knows that AOC, as Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez said last summer, is “the future of our party.” He also knows that Sanders, nominally an Independent, is essentially tied with Joe Biden for the lead among the herd of prospective Democratic presidential candidates. With AOC as the face of the party and Sanders as a plausible Democratic presidential nominee, the electorate is likely to be responsive to Trump’s characterization of his opposition as socialist. And there’s more good news for the President. Just as the DNC chairman declared AOC the future of the Democratic Party, Gallup found that a solid majority of Americans favor capitalism over socialism. The survey showed that the public favors the former over the latter by 56 percent to 40 percent. Little has changed during the last six months. A Fox poll conducted in February found that registered voters favor capitalism by an even wider margin:
Capitalism is far more popular than socialism, according to a Fox News Poll of registered voters.… Fifty-seven percent of voters have a positive opinion of capitalism. That’s more than twice the number who feel the same about socialism (25 percent).… By a 25-point margin, more Republicans (72 percent) than Democrats (47 percent) have a positive view of capitalism.

In other words, despite the overwhelmingly positive press received by the nation’s two most prominent socialists, most voters aren’t sold on it. Even the Democrats favor capitalism over socialism by 47 percent to 38 percent. The left would respond to this inconvenient reality by pointing out the millennial trend toward a positive view of socialism. Recent surveys show that significant pluralities of Americans under the age of 30 have a positive view of socialism. But do these millennials really have any idea what socialism is about? Or are they simply virtue signaling? Lee Edwards at the Heritage Foundation points out the following:
A 2016 Gallup survey found that 55 percent of those 18-29 had a “positive image” of socialism. But 90 percent were favorable to “entrepreneurs” while 78 percent favored “free enterprise.” How can a group be 55 percent socialist and 78 per cent entrepreneurial?Either through cognitive dissonance or plain ignorance.

The answer is the latter, of course. They are told by their professors and the “news” media that blindingly obvious failures of socialism are the result of improper implementation and venal politicians. They are disingenuously encouraged to embrace the belief that socialism is a happy combination of our own welfare state and a nebulous form of “democratic socialism” as it is purportedly practiced in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark. But does this view of socialism or Scandinavia have any connection with reality? The answer, according to University of Georgia professor of economics Jeffrey Dorfman, is “No.”
Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes.… [A]s evidence of the lack of government interference in business affairs, there is the fact that none of these countries have minimum wage laws.… Workers are paid what they are worth, not based on government’s perception of what is fair.

The reality of socialism is that it has failed miserably everywhere it has been imposed. Poor implementation and venal politicians certainly accelerate these inevitable failures, but that is incidental. Socialism is the economic equivalent of the perpetual motion machine. Countless charlatans have attempted to patent the latter, but they have a 100 percent failure rate because they ignore the laws of physics. Likewise, socialism has a 100 percent failure rate because it ignores the laws of economics. As Mark J. Perry, professor of economics at the University of Michigan and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, succinctly puts it:
The strength of capitalism can be attributed to an incentive structure based upon the three Ps: (1) prices determined by market forces, (2) a profit-and-loss system of accounting and (3) private property rights. The failure of socialism can be traced to its neglect of these three incentive-enhancing components.

Market forces can’t be evaded by socialism any more than the laws of physics can be eluded by a perpetual motion machine. There is no evidence that any attempt to do so has ever succeeded in either case. The belief that it is possible to successfully replace capitalism with socialism requires blind faith that can’t be justified by experience or theory. It is merely leftist dogma, and it has failed to learn any new tricks in the last two centuries. A trip to Venezuela will confirm this. By all means, share your findings when you return… if you live.
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Understanding the appeal of democratic socialism key to defeating it

Postby smix » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:40 pm

Understanding the appeal of democratic socialism key to defeating it
Orange County Register

URL: https://www.ocregister.com/2019/03/23/u ... eating-it/
Category: Politics
Published: March 25, 2019

Description: In their race to save an unpopular president and their lack of a positive agenda, many Republicans and conservatives increasingly identify the rise of “democratic socialism” as their ultimate, if you will, Trump card. Given the fact that most Americans, particularly older ones, still favor capitalism and are less than enthusiastic about expanding federal power, this approach might work. But conservatives, in or out of the White House, underestimate the intrinsic appeal of the resurgence of neo-Marxism at their own peril. Already more Democrats have a favorable view of socialism than capitalism. Some millennials — soon to be the nation’s largest voting bloc — even see neo-Marxism as “hip” and even “sexy.” These same urban hipsters, as opposed to working class ethnics, elected the left’s political stars like Alexandria Ocosio Cortez. Bizarrely socialism even appeals among the educated young workers so coveted by tech firms. This rise of woke progressivism represents a threat both to the right as well as the super-affluent gentry left.
Ignore socialism’s appeal, at your own peril
I grew up in an atmosphere where socialist ideas were taken seriously. My paternal grandmother was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, and a strong supporter of Norman Thomas ( my paternal grandfather was a successful dress manufacturer and Republican). My maternal grandfather, a union window washer, spoke openly of the class struggle as if he was still in Russia. Socialism’s appeal stemmed, as it does today, from the failures of capitalism. Until the 1950s, working class people in most industrial countries suffered harsh conditions, crowded into bleak city apartments or isolated in hardscrabble smaller communities. For them, what many conservatives deemed as “socialism” — social security, the GI bill, the New Deal infrastructure program — was seen as helping expand the middle class. The experiences of the working class were very real. My mother was raised in the slums of Brownsville, Brooklyn, and my maternal mother, a seamstress, lived her last years in union housing in that fair borough. Even though most of us were from middle class families, we naturally embraced expanded social democracy, if not of the Norman Thomas variety, certainly that espoused by President Harry Truman, California’s Pat Brown and even President Lyndon Johnson.
A historical perspective
Conservatives often link today’s socialism with the massive failure of the Soviet Union and the Maoist regime in China. And to be sure, some of today’s firebrands have long demonstrated sympathy to dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and for Rep. Ilhan Omar, even a soft spot for anti-Semitic radical Islamists like Hamas. But even the most addled firebrands know they can’t sell third world despotism, much less sharia law, to the average American. Generally our new socialists pitch European welfare states as their model, with much higher taxes and greater regulation of private businesses. The shapers of modern democratic socialism, such as Michael Harrington, whose The Other America, exposed the vast extent of poverty in early 1960s America, favored a similar system but favored decentralization over of the oppressive Soviet regime. Remember this was a time when most northern European economies were stronger than ours. In recent decades, some of these countries, notably Sweden and Germany, have adopted a more free-market approach as a means of reviving their economies.
What’s the matter with the new socialists?
With rampant inequality and shrinking middle class, the case for socialism should be stronger than any time since the Depression; many, if not most Americans, certainly would not object to taxing the uber-wealthy much more. But socialism’s leading messengers, reared in the ideological hot-houses of elite universities, also constitute the wealthiest and whitest of America’s political tribes. Not surprisingly the neo-socialists carry attitudes ill-suited for capitalizing, as did Donald Trump, on the mass middle and working class disaffection. All too often they adopt the intersectional, and sometimes openly anti-American, agenda incubated throughout our culture and educational system. Their obsessions with racial redress, including reparations and open borders, seemed ill-suited to winning over most working class voters, something that more seasoned socialists, like Bernie Sanders, recognize. Worst of all, the much hyped Green New Deal would spell disaster for millions of blue collar workers, as the AFL-CIO recently pointed out, particularly those who work in the construction, energy, transportation, farming and manufacturing industries. The original New Deal, recently excoriated by Ocasio Cortez, was about improving the lives of ordinary Americans, not forcing them to downgrade their ambitions , give up meat, live in small apartments and perhaps not even have children. Having never studied the history of the Soviet Union, the new democratic socialists seem oblivious, unlike Harrington, George Orwell and other 20th century social democrats, about the dangers implicit in the centralization of economic and political power. But it’s not just the ditzy left-wingers who need a history lesson. Those on the right, with all their fulsome defense of capitalism, need to be reminded that free markets need to create increased opportunity as well as the better living conditions. Our increasingly hierarchal, and feudal, capitalism all too often fails this test. My fellow capitalists, please remember that only a broadly inclusive version of capitalism can exorcise the ghost of socialism.
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What Is Socialism?

Postby smix » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:45 am

What Is Socialism?
American Thinker

URL: https://www.americanthinker.com/article ... alism.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 14, 2019

Description: The word socialism has been around for quite a while. It would seem that everything should already be transparent with the meaning of this word. Alas, every new generation of troubled hearts constantly refers back to the notion of socialism in an attempt to excavate more sense out of the concept than has already been revealed theoretically, practically, and historically. The modern meaning of socialism often runs along the lines that it is a politico-economic theory in which the means of production, wealth distribution, and exchange are supposed to be owned and regulated by the community as a whole. The above-mentioned characterization of socialism emphasizes its important economic features; however, it cannot be considered a comprehensive definition. The wording implies a narrow understanding of socialism from the point of view of materialist and positivist currents of socialism but does not fully encompass features exhibited in anti-materialist, anti-Cartesian, and Kantian members of the socialist family. What is the purpose of socialism? The great minds of antiquity often dreamed of a community or state that would be the epitome of fairness, justice, and prosperity. Such objectives could be traced to religious texts, folklore, mythology, and the earliest philosophical tractates. The ancient Hellenic philosopher Plato described in his "Politeia" how the essence of the ideal state is "worthy of the gods." He envisioned a perfect society ruled by philosophers who did not have private possessions or families in order to eliminate any temptations from personal enrichment and distraction from public affairs. In his imaginary state, it is not the individual who has the real value, but the human society; thus, he advocated for complete subordination of the individual to the collective. The latter condition is nothing more than the collectivization of consciousness. Plato crystallized a picture of the fair and harmonized human society, which had not been and could not be created by societal evolution, thus it had to be built according to a predetermined plan. This plan included such measures as abolishing private property, collectivizing individuals, governing through elites, and raising the moral foundations of society. Remarkably, many generations of prominent socialists, including Karl Marx himself, recognized Plato's description as the genuine socialistic society and entertained ideas of incorporating some of his provisions, including the most controversial ones, into their own theoretical works. Since Plato's celebrated work, the development of socialist thoughts has revolved around two main subjects of socialization: private property and consciousness. The materialist camp of socialists builds its theoretical provisions on the idea of the elimination of private ownership of the means of production, creating instead socialized property on the level of the whole community or a significant part of it. For example, guild socialists sought to collectivize factories and plants to work for the benefit of the individual guilds. Social Democrats preferred to subdue a significant chunk of private property to the state directly or indirectly throughout the wealth redistribution schemes and regulations. Communists stand on the position of complete expropriation of private property in favor of the state. The representatives of anti-materialistic, anti-positivist socialism, such as Italian fascists and National Socialists of the Third Reich, closely followed Plato's way of reasoning and directed his activity on the socialization of individual — i.e., the subordination of the individual to the collective. They also appreciate the notion of elites' governing people as Plato envisioned. Communists, likewise, had their say on the issue of the collectivization of individuals. They suggested that the process of the socialization of means of production and wealth redistribution would be performed under the supervision of the proletarian dictatorship, and communal ownership of the material wealth would lead eventually to the collectivization of consciousness. Different degrees and subjects of socialization in conjunction with various methods of governing and wealth distribution have created a multitude of socialist currents. Thus, anarchists stand for a minimal scale of the economic planning that occurs sporadically between voluntary associations of toilers. Communists insist on comprehensive government planning at the global level. The rest of the socialist currents fall between these two extremes. The problem of wealth distribution is one of the central themes of socialism. After all, socialization was thought of as a means for achieving an ultimate goal: a fair wealth distribution among people. Thus, some currents of socialism stand for an equal wealth distribution among people. Communists propose, as the end goal, distribution according to any needs; Social Democrats correlate distribution with a personal labor contribution but introduce various equalizing policies. Thus, we are ready to unveil the general notion of socialism. Socialism is a set of artificial socio-economic systems that embody a lofty aspiration of people to achieve a just and prosperous society, which is characterized by a degree of socialization of property and consciousness, scales of economic planning, and wealth redistribution and imposed onto the community by the revolutionary or governmental elites without the consent of the population. One can object that sometimes, socialists gain power through the democratic election procedure. Unfortunately, as a rule, the masses have no idea what they are voting for in a sense that socialist policies lead to entirely opposite results of the ones proclaimed. People react to the populist and emotional appeal of socialist slogans. Therefore, people's consent is not genuine, but is manipulated by the skilled politicians of the Left. A precise description of any theoretical or institutionalized socialist ideology can be derived from the general definition because it incorporates the most important, distinctive factors of envisioned societies. Indeed, if we dial the knobs of the "socialization of property and consciousness, scale of economic planning, and wealth redistribution" to their maximum values, we will arrive at the essence of communism. That is: Communism is a man-made socio-economic system that embodies a lofty aspiration of people to achieve a just and prosperous society. It suggests a full socialization of private property, complete collectivization of consciousness, worldwide economic planning, and wealth redistribution according to any needs and imposed onto the community by the revolutionaries without the consent of the population. The generalized definition emphasizes the main paths to socialism that have been known since antiquity. Regardless of peculiarities of different flavors of socialism and an intraspecific struggle among various socialist currents, all of them are artificial creations that run contrary to the evolutionary process of societal development. Indeed, history shows that socialism has not occurred naturally, but instead was forced upon society by revolutionary elements. The implementation of socialistic ideas of different kinds by various nations has falsified the concept of socialism. Unfortunately, social experiments were conducted on living, unsuspecting people, accompanied by death and suffering of millions of innocent souls. Notwithstanding, unbridled maximalists negate numerous facts of the failed implementation of the socialist idea by the previous generations. They put the burden of the failures on the careless implementers of the past rather than on the futility of the undertaking because of the fallacy of the idea itself. The truth is, socialism is the dead end of the evolution of humanity. It has to be avoided at all costs.
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Warren Buffett: I'm a 'card-carrying capitalist,' rejects US embrace of socialism

Postby smix » Sun May 05, 2019 7:32 pm

Warren Buffett: I'm a 'card-carrying capitalist,' rejects US embrace of socialism
Yahoo Finance

URL: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/warren-b ... 17708.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 4, 2019

Description: At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting — dubbed Woodstock for Capitalism — chairman Warren Buffett dispelled any doubts about his commitment to the free market democracy. "I'm a card-carrying capitalist,” the legendary investor told shareholders on Saturday. “I believe we wouldn't be sitting here except for the market system and the rule of law on some things that are embodied in this country,” Buffett said. “So you don't have to worry about me changing in that manner.” Buffett’s remarks appeared to push back against a groundswell of anti-capitalist sentiment, and come amid a wide ranging debate about whether a free market democracy is working for everyone. Several of the proposals floated by 2020 White House contenders involve massive government intervention in vast sectors of the economy. Against that backdrop, a number of wealthy individuals have also suggested that capitalism is in crisis, or in dire need of root-and-branch reform.
A rejection of socialism
With an estimated net worth north of $80 billion, Buffett is frequently mentioned alongside Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates as one of the wealthiest men in the world. However, he’s has supported progressive-leaning policies and backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections. Most recently, he teamed up with Bezos’ and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on an initiative to lower health care costs. In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer, Buffett also bemoaned the growing problem of income inequality—a hot topic in the burgeoning field of Democratic presidential candidates. Yet at Berkshire’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) shareholder meeting, Buffett rejected the idea that the world’s largest economy could eventually turn socialist, as some have posited with the rise of politicians like Queens congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, is one of the top contenders in the crowded Democratic primary. "I don't think the country will go into socialism in 2020 or 2040 or 2060,” said Buffett, whose thoughts were echoed by his longtime business partner, Charlie Munger. “I think we’re all in favor of some kind of government social safety net in a country as prosperous as ours," Munger told the audience. "What a lot of us don't like is the vast stupidity with which parts of that social safety net are managed by the government."
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America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

Postby smix » Sun May 26, 2019 10:42 pm

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism
The Washington Free Beacon

URL: https://freebeacon.com/columns/americas ... socialism/
Category: Politics
Published: May 25, 2019

Description: It's our Constitution and our culture
The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn't quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. This never happened in America. Labor confronted capital throughout the late nineteenth century, often violently, but American democracy and constitutionalism withstood the clash. Socialist movements remained minority persuasions. When Eugene V. Debs ran for president in 1912, he topped out at 6 percent of the vote. Populist third-party candidates, from George Wallace in 1968 (14 percent) to Ross Perot in 1992 (19 percent) have done much better. Keep this in mind when you read about the rebirth of socialism. Yes, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are household names. Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has spiked since 2016. Forty percent of Americans told Gallup last month that "some form of socialism" would be "a good thing for the country." Media are filled with trend pieces describing the socialist revival. A recent issue of The Economist devoted the cover package to "Millennial socialism." The current New Republic includes four articles about "the socialist moment." In March, New York magazine asked, "When did everyone become a socialist?" That question tells you more about the editors of New York than the country itself. As Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute has observed, views toward socialism are stable. In 2010, 36 percent of respondents to the Gallup poll had a positive view of socialism. In 2018 the number was 37 percent. In 2009, 23 percent told the Fox News poll, "Moving away from capitalism and more toward socialism would be a good thing." In 2019 the number was 24 percent. Fifty-four percent said it would be a bad thing. Gallup found that less than half of America would vote for a socialist candidate. Socialism is in vogue because no one is sure what it is. The classic definition of abolishing private property, a planned economy, and collective ownership of the means of production no longer applies. More people today believe that socialism means "equality" than "government control." Six percent told Gallup that socialism is "talking to people" or "being social." The same Gallup poll that found 40 percent of the public has a positive view of socialism, however you define it, also discovered large majorities in favor of the free market leading the way on innovation, the distribution of wealth, the economy overall, and wages, and smaller majorities for free-market approaches to higher education and health care. Americans are very bad socialists. And socialists know it. That's why their most prominent spokesmen frame their domestic agendas in the language of the welfare state and social democracy, even as they celebrate, excuse, or defend socialist authoritarians abroad. Sanders told NPR in March, "What I mean by democratic socialism is that I want a vibrant democracy." Okay, then—who doesn't? The following month he told Trevor Noah that socialism "means economic rights and human rights. I believe from the bottom of my heart that health care is a human right. … To be a democratic socialist means that we believe—I believe—that human rights include a decent job, affordable housing, health care, education, and, by the way, a clean environment." But this is not so different from FDR's conception of the "four freedoms." So what differentiates Sanders from a New Deal Democrat? The less prominent socialists are somewhat more specific. Article II of the constitution of the DSA, to which Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib belong, states: "We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships." That is closer to the traditional definition of socialism—a definition that implies a set of institutional arrangements that inevitably would limit freedom of choice. "Our task is formidable. Democratic socialists must secure decisive majorities in legislatures while winning hegemony in the unions," writes Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine, in his Socialist Manifesto. "Then our organizations must be willing to flex their social power in the form of mass mobilizations and political strikes to counter the structural power of capital and ensure that our leaders choose confrontation over accommodation with elites." Good luck with that. Before they seize control of the unions—which represent a paltry 11 percent of U.S. workers—today's socialists will have to overcome the same barriers that thwarted their predecessors. Nowhere has "American exceptionalism" been more evident than in the fact that the United States has been the only country without a major socialist, social democratic, or Communist party. The articles celebrating the rise in DSA membership to more than 40,000 fail to mention that there are tens of millions of Republicans and Democrats. Socialist politicians, activists, and theorists neglect the shaggy-dog history of their persuasion in the United States. The historical examples in Sunkara's book are almost entirely drawn from Europe. It's as if history began with Sanders's candidacy in 2016. In fact, socialists have recognized the difficulty they face in the United States for over a century. In 1906 the German sociologist Werner Sombart devoted a monograph to answering the question, Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? Sombart noted the comparatively high and rising standard of living of American workers. "On the reefs of roast beef and apple pie," he said, "socialistic Utopias of every sort are sent to their doom." American workers had won political rights earlier than their European counterparts, making them less likely to conflate civil rights with economic benefits. America's liberal culture emphasized social mobility. The staggering racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of America made class-consciousness almost impossible. As Max Beer, an Australian socialist of the early twentieth century, wrote,
Even when the time is ripe for a Socialist movement, it can only produce one when the working people form a certain cultural unity, that is, when they have a common language, a common history, a common mode of life. This is the case in Europe, but not in the United States. Its factories, mines, farms, and the organizations based on them are composite bodies, containing the most heterogeneous elements, and lacking stability and the sentiment of solidarity.

When it comes to preventing socialism, diversity really is our strength. The two-party system marginalizes small, independent parties and accommodates rising tendencies and programs within preexisting electoral coalitions. Most important of all, the Constitution decentralizes and diffuses power, making it extremely difficult to expand drastically the power of the state in the name of social justice. In 1967, Daniel Bell offered an additional explanation for the weakness of American socialism: "At one crucial turning point after another," he wrote in Marxian Socialism in the United States, "when the socialist movement could have entered more directly into American life—as did so many individual socialists who played a formative role in liberal political development—it was prevented from doing so by its ideological dogmatism." All of these various obstacles remain in place. In January, Gallup found that 77 percent of Americans are happy "with the overall quality of life in the U.S." Sixty-five percent are satisfied with the "opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard." Fifty-three percent like the "influence of organized religion." We have the best employment situation in half a century. Real disposable income continues to rise. Last year the Congressional Budget Office reported that all Americans have enjoyed an increase of post-tax income since 1979. "It's doubtful that most Americans would prefer to revert to the world as it was in 1979," wrote Robert Samuelson, "a world without smartphones, the Internet, most cable television, or laparoscopic surgery," and with the Soviet Union. The United States is far more heterogeneous than it was 40 years ago. The success of identity politics and "woke capitalism" underscores the difficulty of making the sort of class-based appeals Sanders learned at meetings of the Young People's Socialist League. Americans put their familial, racial, ethnic, and religious attachments ahead of membership in an income or occupational group. Besides, some 70 percent of America considers itself middle class. One of the reasons the socialist and socialist-curious candidates in the Democratic primary have been arguing against the Electoral College and for expanding the Supreme Court is they understand the challenge the Constitution poses to their dreams. The type of centralization and bureaucratic administration socialism requires is incompatible with a system of federalism, checks and balances, and enumerated powers. Fortunately, structural change is extremely difficult in our vast and squabbling country. It was meant to be. The self-defeating tendencies toward radicalism and sectarianism are also visible. Expanding government to provide more resources to the poor is popular; eliminating private and employer-based insurance is not. Protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions is popular; abolishing air travel and declaring war on cows is not. More money for teachers is popular; freezing support for charter schools, as Sanders called for this week, is not. DSA member Doug Henwood writes in the New Republic of a split emerging within the organization between "Bread and Roses" and the "Socialist Majority Caucus." The narcissism of small differences has doomed such movements in the past. Note also that Sanders has faded in recent weeks after Democratic voters encountered a viable non-socialist alternative in Joe Biden. Ocasio-Cortez's favorability is underwater. Medicare for All polls well with voters in the abstract—when they assume it means simply more of the current Medicare program—but support falls as soon as they hear about the conformity and control it will entail. The good news is America contains antibodies against socialism. As Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks wrote in 2000, "Features of the United States that Tocqueville, and many others since, have focused on include its relatively high levels of social egalitarianism, economic productivity, and social mobility (particularly into elite strata), alongside the strength of religion, the weakness of the central state, the earlier timing of electoral democracy, ethnic and racial diversity, and the absence of feudal remnants, especially fixed social classes." The title of Lipset and Marks's book is It Didn't Happen Here. And as long as we uphold and defend the political and cultural elements that make America exceptional, it won't.
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Socialism Will Be a Central Election Issue

Postby smix » Tue May 28, 2019 1:08 am

Socialism Will Be a Central Election Issue
American Greatness

URL: https://amgreatness.com/2019/05/24/soci ... ion-issue/
Category: Politics
Published: May 24, 2019

Description: A recent Gallup poll generated some surprise with the headline-grabbing result revealing 43 percent of Americans think socialism is a good thing. People should be surprised, as the poll itself is somewhat misleading: upon closer reading, we learn that 1 in 4 respondents define socialism as meaning social equality, while only 17 percent define it in the more traditional definition of government owning the means of production. There’s a problem with all of this, which is a larger problem in our society: how are we even to debate ideas and their merit when we can’t even be sure we’re defining terms the same way? The truth is while American Millennials and their younger brothers and sisters tend to have less of problem with socialism, it’s clear many of them aren’t entirely clear about what the word means. This is yet more proof of the failures of our education system as it is disingenuous about what socialism actually is and what it has done to destroy nations and economies and peoples’ lives. The kind of control socialism brings breeds societies with stagnating economies, government control of your private life, and worse. You won’t hear that message from the failed ideologues with tenure at the indoctrination camps of higher learning, or the politicians on the campaign trail, but that has been the result of socialism in every country it’s been tried. While the younger generations might be confused about what socialism really means, however, those proposing it and pushing it inside the Democratic Party know exactly what they’re talking about. Medicare for All is socialist healthcare— a complete government takeover the health industry in this country. The New Green Deal is environmental socialism—an especially coercive socialism that would annihilate the U.S. economy. Democrats know full well what they’re doing, and they’re banking on the ignorance of a not insignificant percentage of the American people to succeed. Which is staggering. We can see the results of government run healthcare abroad in Great Britain, where the National Health Service allows citizens to die before receiving care. The waiting list for care is expected to grow to 5 million by 2021. Meanwhile in the United States, veterans are committing suicide in parking lots of Veterans Administration hospitals after repeatedly being failed by their government healthcare providers. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) insists however, the problems at the VA are a “myth.” The families of those left behind might disagree. But this is the terrible result of government control: fraud, delay, failure, and worse. In many ways, that’s 2020 is going to be about socialism versus capitalism, as an unabashed capitalist in Donald Trump takes on whatever socialist-loving nominee Democrats offer up (because at some level, all of them believe in more government intervention and government control of major industries in this country). Is America going to continue to unleash its economic potential or will it be undone by reverting to more government intervention and regulations? But it’s about even more than the economics of it all. It’s a debate about who gets to make life’s decisions for the individual. Will the American people choose a system of government that is limited in size and scope, that leaves most of life’s decisions to the individual? Or will it choose a socialist system based on the premise that government knows best, not you. You don’t know how best to order your life, where to live, what products to buy, which doctors to visit, what your children should learn, where you should worship, what you should read, even what you should say. Your bureaucrats and politicians are the experts and they will decide for your “good,” no matter what. But do Americans really want a system of government that decides who their doctor will be? Or what kind of healthcare one gets and when? Even if one gets to go to college and where, or how much one actually makes and even how one gets to spend that income? Because when government is big enough to give everything to everyone, it is big enough to take everything away, and compel, by force, outcomes and behavior. This choice, about what path we will take as Americans, is truly what the 2020 elections are about.
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America is prospering. Forget socialism and let the free market do its thing

Postby smix » Tue May 28, 2019 2:20 am

America is prospering. Forget socialism and let the free market do its thing
The Sacramento Bee

URL: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/californ ... 53904.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 25, 2019

Description: America, President Donald Trump vowed during his State of the Union in February, “will never be a socialist country.” Well, we have some good news and some bad news about that. First, the bad news. A new Gallup poll finds that four in ten Americans are favorably disposed to socialism in “some form.” Just over half – 51 percent – say they believe socialism “would be a bad thing” for the country. That’s a pretty slim majority. The usual caveats apply, of course. Gallup surveyed 1,024 adults, as opposed to registered or likely voters, the most reliable sample group. And the poll was conducted by phone across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with a bias toward cell phone users. So, who knows? When in doubt, cast a cold eye. For example, Gallup found 47 percent of the people it surveyed would vote for a socialist candidate for president. In other words, nearly half of Americans would vote socialist in 2020. Seriously? Self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is currently pulling around 18 percent of Democrats nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average. He’s trailing former Vice President Joe Biden – no socialist, he – by 20 points or so. And the respondents have an unorthodox understanding of what socialism means. The conventional definition of socialism is, in so many words, state control of the means of production, redistribution of wealth and the abolition of private property. According to Jacobin magazine’s “The ABCs of Socialism,” socialism isn’t just more government: “It’s about democratic ownership and control.” You know – just like they have in Venezuela. But according to the Gallup survey, one in four respondents have a fairly milquetoast view of socialism, associating it with “social equality” – about as vague as it gets. For a concrete example of what extreme social and economic inequality looks like, spend a weekend in San Francisco – a city awash in unimaginable wealth and where the sidewalks are dotted with human excrement. Just 17 percent of Americans cited the classic definition of the term, which is either an indictment of the public schools or an endorsement of the age-old American knack for taking ideas from abroad, homogenizing them and repackaging them for mass consumption. Gallup also found that the Americans it surveyed are split on how best to describe the U.S. economy. Is it a “free market”? Government-controlled? Something in between? About one-third of respondents said the U.S. is generally a free market, while 40 percent said the economy either “leans toward” or is “mostly” government-controlled. Just 25 percent said it’s an “equal mix.” Come to think of it, that sounds about right. Easy rhetoric about the dangers of “unfettered capitalism” aside, reality is always more complicated than even the best designed poll can capture. The Heritage Foundation, a right-leaning think tank in Washington D.C., has published an Index of Economic Freedom for a quarter century. In that time, the U.S. had fallen steadily in the global rankings, rebounding this year to 12th place (“mostly free”), our best showing since 2011. Our income taxes are lower than they were a couple of years ago, but we have higher tariffs (Heritage doesn’t like those). The Trump administration has repealed some expensive regulations, but states like California still make it difficult to do ... well, just about anything. By Heritage’s lights, Canada is freer economically than we are. Canada! Now, the good news. Unemployment just hit a 50-year low. The official unemployment rate stands currently at 3.5 percent, which as recently as a few years ago, nobody thought possible. “Real” unemployment – the “U6” unemployment category in the Labor Department’s charts, which tracks discouraged and “marginally attached” workers, along with part-timers – is 7.3 percent. We haven’t seen a number like that since 2001. “Job openings recently surpassed the number of unemployed by 1.3 million,” the New York Post reported last week. “And it’s starting to trigger bottlenecks.” Put another way, we don’t have enough qualified workers to fill all of the jobs. As problems go, that’s not a bad one to have. The reason? When labor is tight, wages rise. Who needs a $15 government-mandated hourly minimum wage when the market is doing the job quite nicely, thank you very much. For the average American worker, a 4 or 5 percent raise is well within the realm of possibility by the end of the year. Progress comes in fits and starts. Some parts of the country are thriving while others are still struggling. Vast swaths of the nation’s interior are grappling with an opioid addiction crisis. Millions of young Americans are saddled with terrible student loan debt. Millions of others – perfectly able-bodied people – have given up work entirely. Many of them haven’t heard the good news. But the signs are encouraging. What a shame it would be to throw away the old American engine of prosperity for a system that promises freedom from want and manages to deliver only mediocrity and misery.
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