Tag: Socialism

Will Democrats’ Populist Obsession with Inequality Be Their Downfall?

 

tightrope_inequality_populism_democrats_economics_2020_500x293President Obama says America’s greatest challenge is the income gap. A 74-year-old “democratic socialist” is the Democratic Party’s hottest star. And the party’s almost certain presidential nominee hedges on whether she’s a capitalist.

The party’s leaders are hardly without popular support for these stances. In a New York Times poll last summer, 83 percent of Democrats surveyed said government should deal ASAP with the income gap, with large majorities favoring higher taxes on the rich and Wall Street.

The Democratic Party clearly has an inequality obsession. But have liberals gone too far? “Yes,” Republicans would surely say, while probably adding a zinger about “class warfare” or some such.

Bernie Sanders Does Not Understand How the Economy Works (Because He’s a Socialist)

 

Bernie Sanders doesn't understand how the economy works because he's a socialistOne of my neighbors recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper lamenting that someone had stolen his Bernie Sanders sign from the end of his driveway. While I do not support Sanders — I prefer candidates who have a basic understanding of the economy — it is despicable to remove political signs. The thief is not only interfering with my neighbor’s right to political speech but also violating his right to private property. A few weeks ago someone stole a pumpkin from the end of my driveway. A pumpkin! Speaking of thievery, Mr. Sanders is a self-described socialist. Under socialism, there is no right to private property and no free speech.

Mr. Sanders does not understand how the economy works. He believes it is “rigged” in order to benefit the “billionaire class.” What Mr. Sanders does not grasp is that no one can control the economy. Socialism seeks to exert control but fails, miserably and inexorably, every time. It’s not that “real” socialism has never been tried, as its defenders often assert, but that real socialism has been implemented repeatedly and has repeatedly degraded the human condition.

One need look no further than the difference between North and South Korea for the truth. Or consider that under socialism, life expectancy in the USSR fell while in the West it rose. Or look to Venezuela, where they don’t even have toilet paper any more — that is what an economy rigged by socialism looks like. In Cuba, dissidents seeking to exercise free speech are beaten in the streets by Castro’s thugs, jailed on trumped-up charges, or killed. Indeed, more than 100 million people died under socialism in the 20th century alone.

Is The Communist Manifesto Misunderstood?

 

In college, I was surprised when an honest and charitable philosophy professor I very much admired claimed that Karl Marx is misunderstood. Marx would not have supported communism as we have known it, he told me. What was seen at the hands of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or even Gorbachev was not communism as Marx envisioned it.

Next week, Ubisoft will release the next grand episode in its popular series of historical playgrounds, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Because the overarching theme of the Assassin’s Creed series (about as philosophically consistent as Star Wars) is a conflict between the freedom-loving Assassins and conspiring Templar oppressors, the game’s setting in Victorian London will emphasize struggles for power among the classes of industrial British society.

Democratic Party: Not for Grown-ups

 
Pied_Piper2

Illustration by Kate Greenaway for Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” (public domain)

Think of today’s Democratic Party as the little village of Hamelin. A piper called Bernie Sanders toots his socialist tune, and all the little Democrats skip along behind him to … where exactly? According to the medieval legend, the Pied Piper of Hamelin led the children away and drowned them.

Why Do Scandinavia-obsessed Democrats Want to Turn the US into IKEAmerica?

 

Flags of Scandinavia - Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.In my new The Week column, I explore the Democrat/left-liberal/obsession with the mini-states of Scandinavia. Strangely there seems to be little concern or humility about the idea of transplanting their egalitarian social democracies to America. As Bernie Sanders said during this week’s Democratic debate: “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

And then there’s this exchange earlier this year with ABC News presenter George Stephanopoulos:

“In countries in Scandinavia like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, they are very democratic countries,” Sanders said. “Voter turnout is a lot higher than it is in the United States. In those countries, health care is the right of all people; college education and graduate school is free; retirement benefits, child care are stronger than the United States of America. In those countries by and large government works for ordinary people and the middle class, rather than, as is the case right now in our country, for the billionaire class.”

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First, Mark Steyn, because… brilliant. “Last night the Democrats presented themselves an an openly left-wing party, to whose base Bernie’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union appears far less eccentric than Jim Webb doing his Scoop Jackson routine 40 years too late. Bernie thinks we should be more like Denmark, Sweden and Norway – just debt-ridden […]

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Do Democrats Really Believe Americans Are Worse Off Today Than in the 1970s?

 

In last night’s Democratic debate from Las Vegas, Bernie Sanders highlighted a key bit of modern Democratic economic theory: “The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing.” Things have been going to hell since Nixon! (It always goes back to Nixon, doesn’t it, progressives?)

But things have not been going to hell for decades. Sure, the middle class – defined as households earning between $35,000 and $100,000 — probably has been shrinking. But through 2000, a New York Times analysis reveals, “the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.”

Why Millennials Support Bernie Sanders

 

150429103538-bernie-sanders-gallery-photo-5-super-169Having access to a left-leaning, reasonably articulate Millennial, I was able to ask, “Why are you guys so crazy about this Bernie Sanders fellow?” The answer basically boils down to two things.

1. Millennials perceive the current system to be corrupt and stacked against them. They have completely bought into the line that too few people control too much wealth and that they are disadvantaged as a result. They like Sanders because he is going after “the wealthy.” This is a particularly potent attraction among those who have accumulated lots of college debt and have no prospects for paying it off. The idea of the government mandating paid paternity leave and a living wage sounds great. How could more money and paid time off not be great?

2. They think the free market has failed, and point to examples like the fellow who bought the patent for the AIDS pill and jacked up the price to $750 per pill. (They have no idea that this was enabled by Government regulation and not the free market, because Reddit didn’t tell them that.) They know Sanders is a Socialist and they don’t care. When they think of Socialism, they think of Sweden, not Venezuela. And when they think of Sweden, they think “free college and IKEA,” not 70 percent tax rates and Muslim rape gangs.

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Funny, normally the levelers known as Socialists or Communists prefer to bring the high-earners down so everyone is “equal”. This business owner in Seattle tried it the other way, making the minimum salary at his tech firm $70,000 per year. Yes, even new hires with less experience were paid at that rate, higher to start […]

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Weekend with Bernie

 

BernieBernie and Elizabeth came to Phoenix this weekend. A crowd, estimated between 2,000 and 2,000,000 filled the convention center. Imagine that! Insular as my existence is, I’m still surprised that an avowed Socialist and a faux Pocahontas populist statist could find so many enthusiastic supplicants in free-carry Arizona. Then again, the world is filled with government workers, teachers’ union members, students, and would-be artists, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

They all gathered in the whinefest I’ll call the “New Weekend with Bernie.” Sanders is markedly old and stiff, but filled with vituperous energy directed at “banks, big business and Republicans” — Satan’s trilogy of the free markets. Republicans blame the government. Socialists blame free markets. Elizabeth has obviously joined the Sanders entourage as the de facto VP candidate. Bernie, as we all can see, is one weekend away from being a recyclable mass in the mulch pile, so Elizabeth is the real heir apparent, challenging Hillary from behind. Interesting strategy.

But the really interesting thing about all this is that any pretense of free markets as a force for any good at all is condemned as vulgar, reflexively ignorant, and a kind of mass Stockholm Syndrome. To paraphase their muddled logic: We’ve all had to accept corporatism because we rely on it for everything, but this is a massive lie. Right wing corporatism, that is free markets, has no conscience. Those on the Right seek only one thing, money, and they use this money to control everything and to buy power, which gives them access to more money.

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There was an interesting article on the BBC the other day about the fact that the Finnish government provides a “baby box” to every expectant mother in the country. It contains a mattress, diapers, clothing, and various other necessities — and the box itself often serves as crib for the baby during their first year […]

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“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We just attended my elder daughter’s high school graduation (she made Salutatorian, following in my footsteps of coming in second), and they began the ceremonies […]

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   I didn’t have to look very far to find this information posted below. I think it’s important to have the conversation in the context of what is really happening, other than what people would like to believe is happening. I don’t say this with a sense of arrogance, but rather in a sense of […]

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Divvy Up the Hardware, Destroy the Software

 

6860127956_1483c85086_zLike Marx, Lenin believed that capitalism had solved the problem of production and that the state could simply expropriate the commanding heights of industry and produce wealth for the “common good.” He declared that “any literate person” was capable of managing any part of the economy, from banks to factories. Very quickly, however, he learned that running a business was far more complex than he had ever imagined. With political commissars in charge, production plummeted, people starved, and peasants rioted.

What Lenin never understood is that real wealth does not lie in the factory itself – the hardware – but in the knowledge of the entrepreneurs and managers who planned, built, and established the myriad procedures by which it is run. The real wealth lies in the software – the information and procedures stored in the minds of the people who operate the factory. Confiscating the hardware left the Bolsheviks with useless hulks devoid of the essential software that had enabled them to create wealth.

Leftists of the “you didn’t build that” mindset from Barack Obama to Elizabeth Warren are speeding us down the same dead end road that Lenin traveled nearly a century ago. They see wealth in materialistic, static terms; as something that can be doled-out until everyone is “equal.” They don’t realize that wealth is created in the software: the laws and institutions that protect the freedom necessary for individuals and entrepreneurs to work and create. Should they destroy those laws and institutions in their blind race toward their vision of equality, they will succeed only in destroying America’s wealth.

Libertarians for Socialism!

 

shutterstock_112358291I recently returned from a trip to Denmark, which is probably the most socialist country in Europe. Danes pay very high taxes and receive generous welfare benefits in return. They acknowledge that there are trade-offs, but — in general — seem happy with the deal they have voted themselves over the years. No one there pretends that they are a center-right country, or a right-right country. It’s a socialist welfare state, and everyone knows it.

Here in the US, we all feel the increasingly heavy weight of the government boot on our necks, all the while pretending that we live in a center-right free market democracy. We are in 12th place in  the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedombelow Denmark, and rated only as “mostly free.” (Canada is #6.) Every indicator is moving in the direction of a tyranny incompetent to govern, but brilliant at demagoguery and coercion.

Since the late 19th Century, the United States has steadily progressed toward becoming a massive, highly centralized social welfare state. We became a deeply unfree country while lying to ourselves and each other about the process; so long as we continue that lie, we guarantee the most dysfunctional and least free and democratic outcome.

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I came across a Time blog posting entitled “Germany’s Crushing Inequality Works on the Soccer Field” where the blogger discusses the surprising differences between the league structure of German (and Europe in general) Soccer/Football and America’s NFL: “The league has perfected a strict salary cap and a revenue-sharing plan that levels the playing field between […]

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