Tag: Socialism

Socialism Like . . . Sweden?

 

A few months ago Ricochet member @mattyvan put up a great post about Sweden, Sweden. Lessons for America? , which included an hour long documentary about Sweden’s economy. Since then we have seen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez become one of the most popular young Democrats and one of the oldest, Bernie Sanders, announce that he will run for president in 2020. With admitted socialist becoming more and more more prominent, it might be worth revisiting this topic.

While Cuba and Venezuela give us good examples of what socialism can do to a country, they do not exactly tell a happy story. So, the folks promoting “Democratic Socialism” are telling us to look to Sweden as an example of what we can do in America. The problem is, Sweden doesn’t really fit the model of what Bernie and company are trying to sell.

Member Post

 

“Yes. I do understand we’re in the middle of a Cold War.  But have you seen how many people wait in line for bread in Moscow?  It stands to reason their bread must be great.”  Young Sheldon, broadcast Feb. 21, 2019; set ca. 1989-90. “It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America lament the Democratic derailing of the Born Alive Act that would have required doctors to provide care for babies who survive failed abortions. They also defend Univison’s Jorge Ramos as he is detained in Venezuela after confronting Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro over his violent and corrupt record. And they are frustrated by Bernie Sanders offering very weak criticism of the Maduro regime while he often passionately condemns American business.

Quote of the Day: Socialism

 

“Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.” – Ronald Reagan

The problem with socialism is it requires perfect people to work. That is why it works in heaven. Of course, if people are perfect, as Reagan observed, socialism is unnecessary. And if people are not perfect in a place where socialism is implemented? Well, Reagan had the answer to that, as well. Perhaps it is no accident that the United States’s most flawed politicians are the most ardent socialists in the United States.

Member Post

 

For decades Cuban Americans have been strongly supportive of the Republican party due to US politics regarding Cuba.  These days Venezuela, another socialist paradise that has not lived up to its marketing, is in the news and the New York Times is pondering that the Democrats might lose Florida because of US politics regarding Venezuela. […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

Ah, the wonders of Democratic-Socialism. While the common people of Venezuela were reduced to eating their housepets, their socialist overlords amassed nearly a billion dollars in gold, which is apparently being sent out of the country.  About 20 tons of gold from Venezuela’s central bank was ready to be hauled away Tuesday on a Russian airline’s Boeing […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for January 23, 2019 number 209 it is the Indigenous Billionaires edition of the podcast (yeah, we’re not exactly sure what that means either). We are your poor but proud hosts, radio guy Todd Feinburg and AI guy Mike Stopa and we come to you every week with the scintillating discussion of the issues of the day that – we’re not kidding here – you’re just not going to find anywhere else.

This we we have two topics…That’s no surprise; we have two topics every week. We will discuss the intellectual and economic (and moral!) foundation of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ argument that we’d all be more virtuous if we just took a boatload more money from the filthy rich and then gave it to the poor. Why is it that the ideas of the free market that (in case you haven’t noticed) brought the world untold prosperity are after all so hard to grasp? We discuss.

Member Post

 

A retake on a Christmas classic, A Capitalist Christmas Carol tells the tale of a socialist curmudgeon named Bernie Sanders. Bernie is a Democratic senator from Vermont, whose whole governing philosophy is to gut the rich and resist the free market. Through the visits of three Spirits, he evolves into a kind, liberty-loving free-marketer.  https://anchor.fm/statesponsoredprogramming/episodes/A-Capitalist-Christmas-Carol–Ep–10-e2rmbm […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

A retake on a Christmas classic, A Capitalist Christmas Carol tells the tale of a socialist curmudgeon named Bernie Sanders. Bernie is a Democratic senator from Vermont, whose whole governing philosophy is to gut the rich and resist the free market. Through the visits of three Spirits, he evolves into a kind, liberty-loving free-marketer.  https://anchor.fm/statesponsoredprogramming/episodes/A-Capitalist-Christmas-Carol–Ep–10-e2rmbm […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

I have been reading F. A Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and as I have read it, I have thoroughly enjoyed his complete and utter destruction of the idea of central planning. I currently have just finished Chapter V, in which he debunks the notion that “democratic socialism” can exist. To paraphrase Hayek’s points, because […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

There is a daily blogger who appears in my medium.com feed almost every day, because many months ago I made the mistake of commenting on something he’d written. It was a mistake because his daily columns are easily some of the worst examples of “economics” in existence. Occasionally I tweet out this trash with a […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

November 7: National Day for the Victims of Communism

 

On 7 November 2018, Americans dug through election results, slung and deflected stones, and fretted over the future of our country, or not. Almost all of us, including the White House press scrum, failed to note the day’s solemn and deadly significance. But, President Trump did not forget, and he had something to say,  worth our reading.

Presidential Message on the National Day for the Victims of Communism
Issued on: November 7, 2018

On the National Day for the Victims of Communism, we honor the memory of the more than 100 million people who have been killed and persecuted by communist totalitarian regimes. We also reaffirm our steadfast support for those who strive for peace, prosperity, and freedom around the world.

The Problem with Soft Socialism

 

The political landscape in the United States continues to become ever more divisive—and ever more incoherent. The Trump administration is engaging in a major program of deregulation and lower taxation at home, while pursuing tariffs and a trade war abroad. Simultaneously, a growing fraction of the Democratic party is moving left from liberalism to progressivism to democratic socialism. Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren proudly call themselves democratic socialists and advance a vision for the country in which well designed regulations mitigate what they regard as the corrosive the effects and embedded inequality of the capitalist system. They rightly dissociate themselves from the brutality and totalitarianism of the socialist regimes, from the Soviet Union to China to Cuba to Venezuela; their hope is to achieve a state-dominated economy in a benign democratic form.

But how exactly does a socialist economy operate within a democratic system? As if on cue, this question is addressed by President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors in a timely new report, “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.” Its conclusion is that socialism cannot succeed even in democratic societies. The Report makes its case in part by showing how once prosperous nations like Cuba and Venezuela have become economic basket cases as formerly democratic institutions gave way to totalitarian rule.

The Council’s Report quickly provoked indignant responses for its “bizarre” juxtapositions of mass atrocities with market distortions. But even if the two issues are rigidly separate, Democratic socialists still have to explain why a system that has failed whenever it has been tried can succeed under their tutelage. To borrow a grandiose phrase from Marx, the internal “contradictions” of socialism doom it to failure. To see why, start with some definitions of socialism. As the Council notes, the Oxford English Dictionary defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” A somewhat shorter definition speaks of socialism as “collective ownership of the means of production,” in contrast of course with a regime of (bourgeois) private property. This latter regime, according to Marxist theory, “is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.” More modern democratic socialists tend to soften the claim for state ownership by speaking, as does the democratic socialist journalist Meagan Day, of “pooling society’s resources to meet people’s basic needs.”

Providing a Service People Want Isn’t “Exploitation”

 

A Harvard survey last month found that a slim majority of millennials reject capitalism, and with the quality of media reporting about business and the economy, it’s not hard to guess why. (Not to mention the pitiful state of economics education in public high schools.) The Washington Post published a story today that perfectly illustrates the extent of the problem in a single sentence.

The story is about single women in China who have passed their early 20s without a husband, which they say brings shame to their families and have turned to “love markets” as a last resort. Turns out that some entrepreneurs have started companies to help these women find husbands. These are more than dating websites. The companies train the women in man-finding techniques and search cities to help them locate eligible men.

Edward L. Glaeser addresses the challenges of convincing skeptical millennials and younger Americans about the merits of capitalism in the Manhattan Institute’s 2018 James Q. Wilson lecture.

Young people in the United States are moving steadily to the left. A recent Harvard University poll found that 51 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 don’t support capitalism. The trend is visible on the ground, too. Phenomena driven largely by millennials—such as Occupy Wall Street, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and, more recently, the wave of Democratic Socialist candidates for state and federal office—are all signs of an intellectual shift among the young.

Reflections on the Prague Spring and Socialism

 

I had a terrific time on the flagship podcast this week—thanks to Peter, Rob, James, and the Blue Yeti for having me on. Here are some further thoughts I had hoped to articulate on the podcast as well as others prompted by the podcast.

First, an important addition to the lesson of the Prague Spring. The program of the Prague Spring reformers, “socialism with a human face,” was saddled with a central contradiction. On the one hand they wanted to grant more autonomy and freedom to societal groups and managers; on the other, they had no intention of giving up the “leading role of the party.” So the allowance for the use of prices and profits would always be subordinated to the central Plan of the party and societal groups would also remain subject to the judgment and ultimate control of the party. But most reformers thought it would be good enough to end censorship, allow social groups to form, and allow opinion to operate freely. Then the party could allow a resuscitated society to feed it knowledge and thus prod it to respond with better policies. But either the Communist Party has a special knowledge of history’s logic and direction and thus deserves its leading role or it doesn’t. Václav Havel, in an essay published in April of 1968, saw the problem quite clearly. He argued that communist error must no longer count more than noncommunist truth. “If this is not done,” he wrote, “it means that communists are a special breed of superhumans who are…right even when they are wrong, while noncomunists are…wrong even when they are right…If communists have a guaranteed right to be wrong on occasion, then noncommunists must have a guaranteed right to be right; everything else is pointless.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Trump administration for rolling back the burdensome EPA clean power plant regulations and giving the states more flexibility in how they deal with emissions.  They also unload on CNN and other media outlets for reporting on tearful reunions among family members living in North and South Korea after nearly 70 years, blaming the separation on the Korean War rather than a brutally repressive communist regime in North Korea.  And they shake their heads as President Trump takes to Twitter and muses about pulling security clearances based on what former national security officials say about him on cable television.

Elizabeth Warren’s Surreptitious Socialism

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren has long been openly contemptuous of American business.  She proved it yet again last week by publishing a dangerous and uninformed screed in the Wall Street Journal outlining a proposal that, if implemented, will shake markets to their roots. Like many proposals for radical reform, her Accountable Capitalism Act would destroy the institution she says she to want to save. The bill’s central provision tells the whole story: all corporations whose annual revenues exceed $1 billion dollars would be required to receive a federal corporate charter to remain in business. Those charters will come with conditions attached, to force corporations to pay due attention not just to their shareholders, but to their employees, suppliers, and their local communities.

Warren believes the federal government can attach whatever conditions it wants to the charters it issues, and she further claims that it should act to reverse the purportedly dangerous trend of top corporate officials making cash distributions to their shareholders instead of plowing those proceeds back into their own businesses. Her intellectual nemesis, no surprise, is Milton Friedman, who in a seminal 1970 article argued that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

The most obvious problem with Warren’s proposal is that it would likely lead to the largest flight of capital from the United States in history. Foreign investors will see little reason to put their wealth at the mercy of some crusading federal board that can override a company’s board of directors. Current covered American corporations would have powerful incentives to dump assets or relocate overseas. Make no mistake about it, her proposal calls for the outright confiscation of wealth through the nationalization of corporate boards that would be forever beholden to political figures. Surreptitious socialism turns out to be her way of saving capitalism. And for the worst of all reasons.

Quote of the Day: Socialism

 

“Socialism is the Axe Body Spray of political ideologies: It never does what it claims to do, but people too young to know better keep buying it anyway.” – Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit)

Yes, I am hitting socialism again. It needs to be hit after that odious meme about the difference between fascism (one flavor of socialism) and communism (another flavor of socialism – and indeed what socialism was called before the communists demonstrated by example socialism’s shortcomings, and communism had to be renamed socialism) hit the interwebs recently.

Democratic Socialism: An Unscientific Observation

 

I think right-wingers like me can be forgiven for hearing the phrase “democratic socialism” and immediately thinking of mass starvation, genocide, and scores of millions of casualties in horrific autocratic regimes. That is, after all, the legacy of collectivism in the 20th century — something you probably didn’t learn in school if you’re under 50 since it doesn’t seem to be taught anymore.

On the other hand, there’s some plausibility to the progressive complaint that socialism can exist in other forms, and that the democratic part of democratic socialism tempers — or perhaps obviates entirely — the need for the brutality and authoritarianism we associate with socialism’s application.