Daniel Eran Dilger
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McCain vs. Obama Presidential Pop Quiz: Socialism

200810291933

Daniel Eran Dilger

This election has done little to upgrade the intellectual level of debate in this country, with both sides seeking to pander to a lowest common denominator audience by reducing everything to simple word association. Here’s a series of questions that go beyond the buzzword, in this case, socialism. See if you can answer them correctly. Hint: the answers are all TRUE.
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Socialism

McCain has promised to continue the Republican’s War on Socialism that has been led by George W. Bush over the last 8 years. Which socialist programs will McCain continue to dismantle?

 Wikipedia Commons D D1 I35W Collapse - Day 4 - Operations & Scene (95)

President Eisenhower’s Socialist Interstate Freeway System, which takes money from individuals and redistributes this wealth to rebuild failing bridges and other “critical” infrastructure across the nation, such as the I35W bridge in Minneapolis (above).

This dismantling of socialism will apparently not involve the federally financed ‘Roads to Nowhere“ demanded by Alaska’s convicted felon (R) Ted Stevens and his associate, McCain running mate Sarah Palin, as Alaska already has so much wealth that its citizens don’t pay taxes, but rather get over $3000 in windfall payments per capita from the state. For Republicans, socialism is only socialism when it benefits people who actually need it: people who God never intended to live productive, long, or liberated lives.

 Hurricane-Katrina-6

The socialist Federal Emergency Management Agency, created by a Presidential Order of Jimmy Carter, is a group that goes around rescuing people from disasters caused by God (usually for the unrepentant actions of their neighbors, such as sex). Sometimes, FEMA has cleaned up after right wing freedom fighters, such as in the case of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, where many families of injured children refused to handle their own crisis (such as could be addressed locally by the Free Market) and instead demanded that FEMA fly in to help them with socialist handouts from the government.

To get the ball rolling on killing this flagrant socialism, President W. Bush followed the advice of Grover Norquist, a Christian Coalition lobbyist for Microsoft with ties to Jack Abramoff, who said ”My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.“

President Bush courageously appointed Michael D. Brown, who had lost his job at the International Arabian Horse Association, as FEMA’s director in January 2003, and subsequently continued the cuts to shoehorn FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security. This ensured that FEMA was small enough to drown thousands in the bathtub of Hurricane Katrina (above), well ahead of Norquist’s 25-year plan.

Grover Norquist: ‘Field Marshal’ of the Bush Plan

market dumped

Socialist Security and Medicare: McCain/Bush would have these programs invest their socialism funds in Free Markets, where they’d be able to dramatically lose value (above, the NASDAQ composite), not only enabling these socialist programs to also be ‘drowned in a bathtub,’ but also providing a valuable lesson to old people who demand to get federal handouts based on the earnings the government has forced them to share with themselves in the future, rather than seek insurance from the Free Markets, where others can profit from their contributions.

For Bush/McCain, sharing the wealth with yourself is Socialism. Sharing your wealth with corporations until you have nothing left is the American Way.

 Stateoftheunion 2006 Images Health Expenditures

Socialist Health Care is something that neither Bush nor McCain have needed to scuttle, as Republicans have resisted any effort to put Americans on the same level as the socialist countries in Europe, where everyone can get willy-nilly health care without Free Market insurance companies profiting.

There are some socialist elements remaining in America however, including those socialist disability programs where perfectly healthy people are forced to ”spread the wealth around“ to pay for the congenital birth defects or accidental injuries of others, such as war veterans.

McCain came back from Vietnam with two broken arms; he didn’t dick around with his similarly crippled wife and demand government socialism payments; he dumped her and hooked it up with a new, younger, and far richer woman, with whom he could trade political favors (including exemption from prosecution for her drug offenses) in exchange for access to top dollar Free Market medicine.

That’s the American Way, and a lesson to all those people demanding support from the government to pay for the things God gave them, such as cancer. Those people should find out what caused their problems (such as Asbestos) and sue in class action cases instead of demanding federal health care socialism.

Distribution of wealth from corporations to individuals in class action suits via the courts isn’t socialism, but when the legislative branch spends money on accident prevention and proactive health, that’s a different story. Socialism!

The big difference is that lawyers can’t profit in the Free Market of the courts when the other branches of government get involved. McCain will do everything in his power as an executive to help the federal government set up a series of profit taking middle men to prevent outbreaks of socialism.

 Uploadedimages Latest News Media Sas Flags Print4Web1

Education is also a dangerously socialist idea, as it means the government is spreading around wealth to ensure that children have basic skills and understand science, something that socialists teach in place of faith, because socialists have a lack of faith.

Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act ensured that government schools were teaching children to score well on tests, a measurable function, rather than having a liberal education that might cause them to be too informed and subsequently less than patriotic in supporting the leader.

Or perhaps too well educated to support ideas such climate change doubting, faith in intelligent design, or the contempt for science that Republicans have positioned as a key platform issue in place of its former principles such as small government and fiscal responsibility.

A recent series of conservative Pew polls indicate that the more education individuals have, the greater their demographic lead in voting for Obama. The only lead McCain had in Pew’s latest poll within education breakdowns was among whites with only high school or less education. Those people have no idea they won’t benefit at all from a McCain administration, and if they had an education they’d know better.

Donklephant » Pew: Obama Leads By 19 Among Already Voted

Obama and Socialism.

And Obama? While McCain and Palin have tried to pin socialism on Obama because he wants to end Bush’s tax breaks for the highest tax brackets, bringing them back to the rates in effect during Clinton prosperity, lower than they were under Reagan, and at the levels McCain was supporting back when he was a Maverick and not a Bush clone.

Now that McCain has flip-flopped to support the Bush tax cuts for the rich, he’s calling Obama and logically, McCain’s former self in 2000, a socialist.

Back in 2000, McCain, after being asked why a wealthy doctor should be ”penalized“ for being in a higher tax bracket, answered, ”wealthy people can afford more,“ and that, ”the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.“

When subsequently asked, ”Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?“ McCain replied, ”Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.“

McCain is now calling Obama a ”socialist“ for supporting the same level of taxation McCain himself supported in 2000, before Bush’s failed policies over the late eight years dramatically proved that lower taxation on the richest 5% didn’t result in trickle down wealth, but actually resulted in lower domestic job creation, a huge increase in American poverty, and a widening between the rich and the working class.

Like, Socialism: The New Yorker

Socialism Isn’t About Taxes.

The larger problem? Progressive taxation isn’t socialism. Instead, the concept of variable tax rates based on income comes from Adam Smith, who literally wrote the book on capitalism in the 1776 ”The Wealth of Nations,“ where he explained, ”It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.“

Overtaxed: The New Yorker

Actual socialism is when the government takes collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Taxation of any kind, progressive or regressive, is redistribution of wealth, but not socialism. Government policy decides how to redistribute wealth and services.

Bush has racked up trillions of debt that Americans will have to pay, transferring that wealth to war profiteers, the military industrial complex, oil interests, and other Republican beneficiaries. That redistribution of wealth from the majority of Americans and their children to Bush and Cheney friends wasn’t socialism, just cronyism and national theft.

Most recently however, the Bush Bailout transfered even more deficit spending to give banks another trillion dollars and in some cases, took over portions of those industries. That was socialist enough for leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to say ”Bush is to the left of me now,“ because ”Comrade Bush announced he will buy shares in private banks.“ Chávez added, ”I am convinced he has got no idea what’s going on.“

If the timing of McCain’s socialism remarks isn’t odd enough given Bush’s actions, consider Palin’s comments, made just prior to her invitation to join the Republican ticket, that ”we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.“

McCain supported Obama’s Clinton-era tax rates before he was against them. Palin distributed collective state ownership and distribution of resource wealth. And they’re screeching about socialism? How ridiculously absurd.

Chavez says Comrade Bush turns left in crisis : Reuters

Other articles on current events:

Former FCC Chair Reed Hundt: Issues the next president faces in technology
McCain vs. Obama Presidential Pop Quiz: Socialism
McCain, Palin Push Ashley Todd into Limelight. Oops.
Apple gives $100,000 to fight California gay marriage ban
Terrorist Criminal Links to the Presidential Candidates
Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin: Scandals by the Numbers
Terrorist Criminal Links to the Presidential Candidates
The Big Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Attack
Osama Bin Laden’s Dream of US Economic Collapse
You Know the Drill?
Ten Striking Parallels Between Microsoft and John McCain
Obama’s Apple, McCain’s Microsoft: the Politics of Tech
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  • Orenge

    McCain can’t talk about his policies in depth the way Obama can–because McCain knows his policies won’t work except maybe for a few corporations and the super-rich. So what does McCain do? Deceptive attacks and sound bites like “socialism.” And I’m happy to see that the voters can see right through that nonsense!

    There’s still good news for the super-rich, though: when Obama pulls the economy out of its Republican nose dive, you’ll benefit too!

  • theskeptic

    Well written Daniel. The word association politics is depressing – all the more so because both sides are playing it.

    However it seems to me (as an Aussie) that this is a “default” election. McCain / Palin are unelectable, and so Obama /Biden will automatically win. This is not good for democracy.

    (It is good to see Aussie schools at #5 though!).

  • gus2000

    You forgot about the Environmental Socialist, Al Gore, who demands that we not only share the same climate, but also inhale each others’ air.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    Ecto duplicated my story, so I tried to merge the comments and ended up deleting one and mine on accident. Argh!

    qzg { 10.30.08 at 1:54 am }

    Dan-
    Again, insightful but I just see things differently. I still say Obama is less trustworthy than McCain.
    On another note, I find it hilarious that GoogleAds has plastered McCain Ads all over your blog.”

    and my response:
    2 danieleran { 10.30.08 at 3:22 am }

    Speaking of “trustworthy,” qzg, McCain, after spending weeks branding Obama a “socialist” to the point where his mobs chant it out along with “terrorist/kill him,” just appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live tonight, and when asked “you don’t believe Barack Obama is a socialist do you?” McCain answered “No.”

    McCain is a complete douche bag liar. Palin is just a Chatty Cathy doll that says the same crap every time her string is pulled. They’re both untrustworthy, dishonest, hypocritical frauds.

    This can’t really be argued, so I’ll have take your “I see things differently” as blind credulity, unless of course you can point out anything that might actually defend their completely disingenuous campaign to divide America and stir up hate they don’t even believe.

    McCain knows Obama isn’t a socialist or terrorist or any of the other things he’s desperately branded Obama with over the last several weeks. His spellbound worshipers believe it all, and some are ready to kill Obama and others have physically attacked Obama’s people over these lies. McCain is no better than any of the shock radio liars of the extremist right wingnut gallery.

    Note that this isn’t about differences on the issues, it’s about extremist misinformation McCain’s campaign is throwing around that he knows is not true. Do we need another Nixon Watergate/Reagan Contragate/Bush TortureWMDKatrinagate type president?

  • WebManWalking

    Are you going to vote for the A student or the D student?

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    When Obama is sworn in, I think they should hang a banner across the front of the White House reading “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.”

    Because on the one hand, it’ll be true. On the other hand, Bush is leaving behind one hell of a mess to clean up.

  • Pingback: Life is a State of Mind : The Triumph of Socialism()

  • http://spacecynics.wordpress.com Thomas

    Keep writing, Dan. I’ll finally see Atlas shrug in my lifetime.

  • wombatty

    Your citation of Smith is a bit misleading. In the passage you quote (page 286 on the google books copy), Smith was talking explicitly about property taxes:

    A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be any thing unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

    Obama’s talk of spreading the wealth is in the context of income taxes. What did Adam Smith have to say about income taxes? He called them ‘absurd and destructive’ (p. 322).

    If direct taxes upon the wages of labour have not always occasioned a proportionable rise in those wages, it is because they have generally occasioned a considerable fall in the demand for labour. The declension of industry, the decrease of employment for the poor, the diminution of the annual produce of the land and labour of the country, have generally been the effects of such taxes. In consequence of them, however, the price of labour must always be higher than it otherwise would have been in the actual state of the demand: and this enhancement of price, together with the profit of those who advance it, must always be finally paid by the landlords and consumers.

    A tax upon the wages of country labour does not raise the price of the rude produce of land in proportion to the tax, for the same reason that a tax upon the farmer’s profit does not raise that price in that proportion.

    Absurd and destructive as such taxes are, however, they take place in many countries. In France that part of the taille which is charged upon the industry of workmen and day-labourers in country villages is properly a tax of this kind. Their wages are computed according to the common rate of the district in which they reside, and that they may be as little liable as possible to any overcharge, their yearly gains are estimated at no more than two hundred working days in the year. The tax of each individual is varied from year to year according to different circumstances, of which the collector or the commissary whom the intendant appoints to assist.

    [Are you seriously suggesting that restoring the tax rate to the era of Clinton Prosperity, and lower than it was under nearly all of Reagan’s terms, is some kind of new theory advanced uniquely by Obama (particularly given that McCain 2000 also favored that)? Also, do you agree that income tax in general has been “absurd and destructive” in the US? The world has changed since 1776, but the concept of progressive taxation (in a society that taxes income rather than property on a federal level) has hardly caused the affects Smith predicted. In 1798, the US was taxing property (houses, land and “slaves”). Are you advocating a return to that? The point is that progressive taxation is not a hallmark of socialism or anti-capitalists. Smiths’ criticism of French taxes is quite obviously related to flaws outside of simply being income tax. Reread that last paragraph.

    It’s also asinine to repeat the “spreading the wealth” talking point that McCain has tried to affix on Obama after saying the same thing in his own campaign, back when he was actually a maverick and not just a figurehead fronting the Republican party machine’s right wing fringe.]

  • Per Grenerfors

    I found this piece informing, entertaining and brilliant on the whole. Great job, Daniel.

    Accusing a presidential candidate of being “socialist” in America is just so out of place. Those who actually believe this crap should come over across the Atlantic to get a load of some real lefties. Would you believe that we have members of parliament who are openly communists? Where I’m from, being liberal means that you’re right wing. It’s funny how some things differ from place to place.

  • Rolling Ball

    Although Adam Smith is considered the originator of modern economics, his thoughts have been challenged successfully and unsuccessfully by many equally intelligent and brave people. We need to tread carefully when referring to Smith’s work in the context of current economics and functioning tax policies.

  • PhilipWing

    Nice, clear article, Daniel.

    Since my copy is on loan, I’ll paraphrase a favorite book:

    Wealth is a Result!
    Strengthen the Roots!

    – “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” – T. Harv Eker

    Redistributing wealth, as Obama has so clearly stated, without changing the fundamental principles of the people to whom you give this wealth, will keep them in the same financial position as before they got their gift.

    Two of my downlines are in poor financial health. To one family my wife *has* distributed some of our wealth. Instead of solely using it to pay their mortgage and other wealth building options, they spend it on furniture, electronics (like memory from Best Buy instead of OWC), etc. With the other, if we did distribute some of our wealth, they *would* invest it in themselves.

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    Redistributing wealth, as Obama has so clearly stated, without changing the fundamental principles of the people to whom you give this wealth, will keep them in the same financial position as before they got their gift.

    Um, reducing someone’s tax burden does change their financial position. That’s what Obama is getting at. He’s not saying he’s going to take Donal’d Trump’s money and cut a check to Joe the Plumber. It’s not like that at all.

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    Oh wait. That’s what you were saying isn’t it? I’m slow. Need coffee.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    it hasn’t been pointed out very clearly, but both McCain ($2500 health care subsidy) and Obama (saving credit, college credit, and other elements) are refundable, which means you cam get them even if you have no tax liability. So there is distribution in effect. However, people aren’t getting handouts to spend frivolously at BestBuy, they’re getting motivation to improve their capacity to be successful.

  • rhall112003

    Hi Dan,

    As a long time reader of your site – AND as a conservative – I’ll start by saying that this is a great piece. While I certainly don’t share your political views, I share your level of cynicism towards this race.

    A couple of points:

    “McCain has promised to continue the Republican’s War on Socialism that has been led by George W. Bush over the last 8 years.”

    Since when has George W. Bush sought to fight Socialism? He has presided over the largest increase in the size and scope of the federal government since LBJ. Sure, he has made many overtures about the power of a free market economy, but when did he actually fight to achieve that? Before being re-elected to his second term, he ran on a platform of heavy reform; most notably (in my view) tax reform. He managed to assemble a bi-partisan panel to review several options, one of which was a national retail sales tax (which I support). While FairTax advocates such as myself were wanting a road to radical change, all we ended up with was some suggestions about how to “simplify” the tax code and some feel-good talking points about economic growth.

    All this talk about ‘Socialism’ is a concern to me, because as a conservative, I believe government should provide basic services but stay out of my business. The problem with McCain isn’t that he doesn’t have the ‘guts’ or the ‘experience’ to lead – it’s that he just isn’t a conservative, and never has been. Since he beat Mike Huckabee in the primaries, he has been doing his best to re-invent himself as real conservative. Picking Sarah Palin as his gun-toting, corruption-fighting sidekick was a good move (for him), because it rallied center-right populist Republicans (those regular folks the Republican establishment doesn’t want to think too much) who would otherwise stay at home behind him.

    Ann Coulter (yeah, I know…) wrote an article back in January called “‘Straight Talk’ Express takes Scenic Route to Truth”. Right off the bat, she states, “John McCain is Bob Dole minus the charm, conservatism and youth. Like McCain, pollsters assured us that Dole was the most ‘electable’ Republican. Unlike McCain, Dole didn’t lie all the time while claiming to engage in Straight Talk.” It is unfortunate that once the primary season ends, pundits on both sides of the political spectrum mostly cease any meaningful form of party-reflexive analysis. Ann’s piece here is worth a read, however, as it mostly reinforces what you’ve been saying about McCain.

    Her original article is viewable at: http://townhall.com/columnists/AnnCoulter/2008/01/24/straight_talk_express_takes_scenic_route_to_truth

    I know I’ve bounced around but the bottom line, in my view, is that we need real dialog about what actually qualifies a person to be president, beyond the constitutional mandate. In that discussion, we ‘the people’ must be able to have an honest and accurate assessment of each candidates’ past associations and decisions, with each candidate being willing to actually tell the full truth about such things. Neither side has ever fully told the truth. Since you mentioned that both sides have been “seeking to pander to a lowest common denominator”, it would be great if you did a companion piece showing how Obama’s rhetoric has numbed meaningful debate about his policies.

  • bergump

    Dan, I can’t agree more with many of the political ironies you point out in this election. But unless we learn some little known history of the current monetary system and change it, it would be folly to think putting one party in power will remedy its ills. The battle over who controls the currency is the only real issue here and has been going on since this nations founding and long before. Some of our forefathers understood this and fought those entanglements that sought to divide and control us. I can’t emphasize enough our need to learn this. Only one candidate Ron Paul has even addressed it and now he has endorsed Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party to carry the torch. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and some key world leaders saw and spoke of this. Any political shuffling that fails to address our current debt based monetary system, is doomed to failure. We must educate ourselves and have the resolve to unite our country behind this main issue. Get “The Money Masters” video (themoneymasters.com), and other supporting books that cover this sobering but untold history. The power struggle has gone back and forth at least eight times in our countries history and it’s time we get the power back. Our future depends on a solution so simple yet more radical than what is being offered by the two parties.

  • iphonedanny

    Been reading you for a long time. Brilliant writer and opinions on everything you write about.
    Politics? Not so good. Not your candidate or position. How you write about it.
    Sorry.

  • comanche

    Daniel,

    As always, I appreciate your entertaining posts, even when I couldn’t disagree with them more. Rather than making this a post about McCain vs Obama, let’s stick to the topic raised: socialism.

    First what is socialism, really. Second why would it be considered scary?

    Socialism can be defined technically (say, using the definition of Marx as the transition between the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of “true” communism.) As the Oxford dictionary notes: “The term ‘socialism’ has been used to describe positions as far apart as anarchism, Soviet state communism, and social democracy; however, it necessarily implies an opposition to the untrammeled workings of the economic market.” So, by that note, anything that moves away from the “untrammeled workings” of capitalism could be called socialism. Is Obama socialist by that standard? Absolutely, yes. Is McCain? Possibly. (About the only one who wouldn’t probably be called socialist for certain is Palin, and now you understand something about her popularity on the far right!)

    Most people, however, use it to refer to any system which strives to “level the playing field” economically. How could that be a bad thing? What was it about the answer Obama gave to “Joe the Plumber” that made it scary? On the surface it doesn’t seem a bad thing.

    You might be surprised to know that “the right’s” objection to a reasonable sounding “socialism” is principally the same as their objection to Gore’s environmentalism. It all has to do with “who controls.” If “who controls my destiny” is “me” then that is practically the definition of “liberty.” Whenever the government is given power to control, the likelihood of it abusing that power is almost inevitable, NO MATTER WHO IS IN OFFICE. There is an important quote that says, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    Under George W. Bush, there are many on the left who fear that their liberty has been assaulted. (If it truly had been, would Daniel be able to make the post he has? There are lots of blogs more vitriolic that what Daniel has posted here. In a truly totalitarian government as some claim has come to pass under George Bush, do you think for a minute that such stuff would be allowed?)

    The fear of socialism on the right is that ecomonics make it more difficult for free people to exercise other freedoms. If you control the money, there are a lot of other things you can control. For example, my Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called ‘Mormon’ Church) opposes Proposition 8 in California (a constitutional amendment defining ‘marriage’ to exclude homosexual relationships). Many are suggesting that because the church has made a stand, it is acting as a political organization, not a church, and is therefore no longer worthy of tax-free status. However, the church makes no bones about the fact that it considers the issue a moral one. If an administration that is hostile to religion becomes promenent, they will effectively be able to silence major portions of the population by threatening them with the IRS. Talk about a loss of freedom of expression!

    Environmentalism constitutes a similar threat–particularly when it is made to seem that without major governmental imposition, we can’t fix the problem. It may very well be used as a blunt instrument to bludgeon unpopular professions or sentiments, that is, to take away people’s liberty. The reason those on the right doubt the veracity of a human cause to global warming is NOT because they are in the pocket of big (implicitly bad) business, but because it smells fishy. In fact it smells suspiciously like a faith-based religion, with only questionably scientific foundation (I must note that I believe we should do all we can to live lightly on the earth *individually*, and I personally try to do so.)

    Socialism, the more formal Soviet kind, or Obama’s soft informal kind, or possibly even McCain’s ignorant socialism, always says that it seeks for the good of others. What is doesn’t mention is that this will take place at the expense of liberty. That is true whoever gets to the White House. Use your vote to guard your liberty, however you view it threatened, or you will certainly lose it.

    Thanks for listening!

    Todd

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    I think you’re overcomplicating the issue.

    The Republicans are calling Obama’s tax plan socialist because Obama suggested that it would spread the wealth, but spreading the wealth is the purpose of all taxes — it is not the chief tenet of socialism. Socialism’s key goal is egalitarianism, and shifting the tax burden towards the rich is not egalitarianism. For this reason, Obama’s tax plan cannot be described as socialist, and neither can Obama.

  • Joel

    I always find the American dislike of Socialism strange. In the rest of the world, having universal health-care and a safety net for life’s unpredictable events is seen as a good idea. In the US, its seen as threatening the American Way of Life.

    An interesting aside: Recently I was discussing taxation with an American friend. We realised that if he lived in the UK he would have a better quality of life, and less of a tax burden, both direct and indirect (including health insurance).

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    I always find the American dislike of Socialism strange. In the rest of the world, having universal health-care and a safety net for life’s unpredictable events is seen as a good idea. In the US, its seen as threatening the American Way of Life.

    True socialism tends not to work, but universal healthcare is not socialism. The American political right wing — which believes that capitalism is the best solution to every problem because it encourages competition which drives down prices and increases quality and choice — just likes to describe universal healthcare as socialism because it sounds scary and anti-American, and because the notion of universal healthcare threatens the corporate base which keeps the right in power. But the problem is that the US doesn’t practice capitalism at all. We practice greed. We allow corporations to run rampant in dangerous, unregulated ways, and allow industries critical to the well-being of our citizens to place profits before the common good. Worse, these corporations and industries are allowed to use their huge profits — profits earned mostly from the middle class — to influence our government through lobbying. The end result is a system which fails to fulfill its promise. If our system of capitalism worked, every American would be able to afford full healthcare coverage for life, for any illness, regardless of age, no matter what, no exceptions, no deductibles, no denials, no mazes of bureaucracy. Instead we have a tangle of sleazy insurance companies in business to make a profit. Think about that for a second. What this means is that whenever an insurance company pays for a medical procedure or a drug prescription they are losing money, so naturally their drive is to cover as little as possible. In other words, where healthcare is concerned, capitalism fails by not being humane. So what’s the solution? Socialized healthcare. Not socialism, mind you, just socialized healthcare. Big difference.

    The fundamental ideas of capitalism are sound, and both John McCain and Barack Obama support them. But capitalism is not a solution to every problem. Pure capitalism is uncaring and cruel. It needs rules and regulations to keep it in line. When these rules are not enforced, as is typical in the US, capitalism breaks down and the people suffer.

  • bergump

    I hate to sound redundant here folks but this capitalism/socialism debate is in fact two wings on the same bird. The financial elite have created this academic seesaw tug-o-war only to distract from the real issue at hand. The power brokers profit either way since they oversee both and play one against the other.

    There are some well thought out arguments here on both sides but the discussion never moves beyond to see what is really going on. Yes we need competition and free markets, but government by its nature is a socialist institution that handles our common interests not met by private industry. To simply argue one point over another just illustrates that we haven’t caught on the great scheme to defraud this country of it wealth and freedom. Until we break free with the knowledge of how the system is working against us, we will be forever trapped and enslaved to these same old tired arguments.

    Do yourselves a favor and read “Creature from Jekyl Island” and many other good sources on this topic. “The Money Masters” by Bill Still is also considered one of the best resources on the subject by experts. Also get “Money as Debt” video. Word is slowly getting out but we haven’t reached critical mass yet.

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    You make our current situation sound rather dire and hopeless. In reality, we have the good fortune to live in a wealthy nation and have the freedom to do pretty much anything we want at any time so long as we don’t hurt anybody else in the process.

    I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. They’re too complicated. It’s nearly always true that the simplest explanations tend to be right ones. So what’s more likely? That there’s a great scheme to defraud this country of its wealth and freedom, or that we occasionally elect morons?

  • wombatty

    First, my point stands. You cannot cite Smith in support of a progressive income tax; he explicitly rejected such taxes. And yes, I do agree that they are ‘absurd and destructive’. Smith’s basic point was that taxing labor discourages it – imagine that. This is an easily understood concept – the more costly something is, the less of it you get.

    [Before you get too excited about things, recall that progressive income tax was advocated by Republican hero Teddy Roosevelt in 1907: “a graduated income tax of the proper type would be a desirable feature of Federal taxation.”

    Also, while you can talk abstractly about taxes and supply and demand, how does the government function when Republicans exempt themselves from taxes while spending trillions to pave roads to their favorite restaurants in Alaska and roll down blood red carpet security for their oil companies to profit in the Middle East? You can’t just borrow and spend forever based on the idea that taxes will raise the price of goods. ]

    This is also why raising the minimum wage puts low-skilled workers out of work. The government increases the cost [to the employer] of unskilled labor, so employers hire less of them and lay existing ones off. It’s either that or raising prices – and that can go only so far.

    [When you speak of employees as consumable widgets, it makes Jesus cry.]

    Jefferson’s view:
    A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
    — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

    I never understood how taking money out of the productive sector (private industry) and transferring it to the unproductive sector (government and its dependents) is supposed to be good for the economy. It’s illogical. In rewards indolence and punishes industry.

    [Yes it’s a great idea on paper to funnel money to the slave who invests it best as in the parables of Jesus, but when you end up with an uneducated, impoverished populace surrounding your palace, you’ll end up without a head. A functional society, rather than the Republican fantasy of a return to feudalism, is why America’s government exists. You may not care about anyone but yourself, but that doesn’t make your simplistic theories credible.]

    Yes, times have changed (for which the Founders provided an amendment process). The biggest change in government has been that it has transgressed the limits placed upon it by the constitution (e.g. the 10th amendment). If not for this, government would need (or waste) nearly the tax dollars that it does.

    [Compare your fantasy idea of where the government spends its money (on poor beggers’ welfare!!!) with where it really spends its money: on unnecessary and poorly run wars, on deep subsidies to highly profitable businesses, on bailouts to failed business cronies, and in paying enormous medicare costs based on a system of institutionalized insurance fraud. You are worrying about problems that do not exist instead of facing reality.]

    In regard to this, Jefferson said :

    I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power not longer susceptible of any definition.
    — Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, February 15, 1791

    Lastly, to refer to ‘spreading the wealth’ as a talking point is what is asinine. Those are Obama’s words, and it is legitimate to point them out. The recently uncovered 2001 interview makes clear that he believes in achieving ‘redistributive change’ via ‘breaking free of the essential constraints placed upon government by the Founders’. Given that, any oaths he has taken to ‘uphold and defend the constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic’ are dishonest.

    [This is ridiculous. The purpose of government is to spread wealth to solve problems in the nation’s interest, whether educating the populace, dealing with disaster, lifting people from poverty or unemployment due to factors outside of their control, building infrastructure, and protecting the nation. To suggest that Obama is dangerous because he recognizes that is the height of absurdity. To congratulate McCain for jackassedly suggesting that he will freeze everything but military and veterans benefits (which I realize you’re not doing) is just as stupid.]

    Don’t get me wrong – McCain is a tool and I don’t like him (Thompson was my guy). However, McCain does have one virtue – Obama is so much worse.

    [McCain is a virtue free douchbag liar with zero principles, and zero platform. He doesn’t believe in anything. He’s a complete fraud, and even wingnut Neil Cavouto called him out on that.]

  • bergump

    We have been blessed beyond measure and relative to the world we still have good fortune but it is being threatened. I too thought this was just a theory until I witnessed such overwhelming historical evidence (3.5 hrs). Just 30 minutes into the presentation convinced me. Never before have I encountered history presented so well and so interesting. I have to say it was one of the few documentaries that changed my view forever.

    I don’t mean to sound bleak, just want to awaken others. If we can enact true monetary reform, we once again can become a model for the world and reach the potential our framers envisioned.

    I do have a 50 page text file transcript of this documentary if you are interested but viewing the video is even better.

  • comanche

    Friends,

    First, Marsviolet, I disagree that taxation by definition is socialist, that is, to help people. The idea of the original founders was to keep taxation as a power the states had (not the fed) for their operations—not for the “welfare” of their people (except in the broadest sense). The fed was supposed to run exclusively on excise taxes, just to manage the day to day operations, NOT to bailout large banks, or even to provide for people’s needs. As Albert Camus said, “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” Instead, let me take care of my needs, and let’s educate all people to do so. There will, of course, be those who can’t, but I believe they would be a vast minority if all else were equal.

    etc.

    Here’s a “what if”: I’m thinking this would be my economic platform, if I needed one. It is totally unrealistic, of course, but tell me what you think.

    To protect the liberty of all people:

    1. Corporations don’t make money; people who own corporations make money. Therefore all gains not reinvested in a corporation for future gain are part of the taxable income of the owners or shareholders. Do away with the present tax structure and shelter of corporations.

    2. Tax should be both “progressive” and “fair.” The only tax that (relatively) fits both is “flat.” The problem with all current proposals of “flat tax,” they are beholden to existing structures and programs, so the flat rate is artificially high. However a flat tax by definition is progressive because the poor pay less than the rich.

    3. We have social programs now that will be very hard to rein in. So, I propose a constitutional amendment that limits all taxes exceeding 20% of income, period. (Exception: in time of declared war.) I would also favor some kind of constitutional way to keep the federal government from operating in the red (no pun intended) nor make new money out of nothing.

    5. Eliminate _all_ exceptions, exemptions, deductions, etc. The only possible alteration would be to identify how many people a particular income was spread among and tax the divided income rather than the individual income. That just seems fair to me.

    I don’t have the figures, nor any easy way to get the figures, but I’m guessing that if _every_ income was taxed with no exemptions something in the range of 5% to 10%, we would have more than enough. The whole system would be arranged to encourage more productivity, and the amount collected would, over time, soar. No one could say they were being treated unfairly, because there would be no one paying differently than anyone else. In the case of the poor, a small income would be a small burden, but not an insurmountable one, and yet the poor person could say they supported the government just as much as the wealthiest.

    I know my “economic conservative” roots are showing, but help me see the error of my ways.

    Thanks!

    Todd

  • comanche

    Oh! and Begrump, did I miss the link? I’d like to view that (or read it) some time.

    Todd

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    Marsviolet, I disagree that taxation by definition is socialist

    Well good, because I never said that. I said the purpose of taxation is to spread the wealth. That’s how it is today. It doesn’t matter what it meant 250+ years ago, because we’ve already ruined it.

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    The best solution would be to get rid of the Federal Reserve and go back to some sort of “gold” standard, but of course it’s far too late for that.

  • comanche

    Marsviolet, I think you’re picking nits. Anyway, I don’t think taxation *by definition* is to spread the wealth. To me, it *does* matter what it meant 250+ ago because people are people. They were then and they are now. Technology, communication, etc., etc, does not change the fact that there are charitable, generous, people, and greedy tyrants. It was that reality that the constitution was meant to protect and guide us, and I don’t think those fundamentals have changed. If they have, then we’re off track.’

    I guess that’s why I’m a conservative, huh. ;-)

    Todd

  • comanche

    Marsviolet, I can’t disagree with you on the gold standard (or something very like it). When governments can make money ex nihilo, it grants them far too much power.

    Todd

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    I don’t think I’d call you a conservative. If the scale were linear, I think it would begin at liberal, with conservative in the middle, and end at liberal again. Two vastly different liberal agendas, yes, but still liberal.

    It’s kind of sad that the notion of returning to the original design is seen as so extreme, though.

  • comanche

    Marsviolet,

    You’ve helped me understand! I’m not a conservative. I’m a liberal! (liberally conservative!)

    Thanks! ;-)

    Todd

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    Exactly! Take Lincoln. Probably the most famous Republican ever, yet clearly liberal in his thinking. I guess it goes to show how modern Republicans have basically bastardized their party’s good name.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    @ bergump: regarding Ron Paul, the Fed, and the Constitution Party:

    Paul is a thoughtful, likable, charismatic speaker. His ideas about the Fed are as convincing and plausible as conspiracy theories about 9/11 being planned by Bush. Watching one sided propaganda is not a very good way to develop an accurate, balanced view of things however.

    While I’m not an economic expert and don’t fully understand (or have even examined in depth) the details of the inner-workings of the Fed or the possibility of elite cronyism that may have put it in place, the fact that idea is being pushed by the Constitution Party is reason enough to dismiss it as being of the same level of nonsense as Scientology.

    The CP is an open effort to turn the US into a white Christianist theocracy (a white Taliban). Their official policy stance includes abolishing public education, Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, elimination of the minimum wage, and supports the war on drugs, as long as we don’t take anyone’s property or guns while waging it.

    They oppose AIDS research because “under no circumstances should government continue to subsidize activities which have the effect of encouraging perverted or promiscuous sexual conduct.” So, while they are anti-abortionists, they have no interest in saving the lives of unborn children that are infected by HIV through no fault of their own, or children or others who may contract HIV through medical treatment, and so on.

    Despite representing white Christianism, they have a religious persecution complex reflected in their platform policy: “We assert that any form of taxation or coercion (including incorporation and 501(c)(3) status) on churches and other religious organizations is a direct and dangerous step toward state control of the church.” That means churches can violate their tax exemption rules by campaigning, and if the IRS revokes their tax free status, it’s somehow the IRS that is to blame for their violation of the law.

    Ron Paul supports the Constitution Party. He is therefore a douche bag that cannot be respected by anyone who is rational and intelligent. The Constitution Party is connected to the Palin’s AIP, and its members see Palin as being Queen Esther (a righteous plant in government that will empower them to rise up and slaughter their enemies. [read the Book of Esther in the Bible].)

    Then again, if you’ve been hoodwinked to think that US government policy is meaningless apart from the all important outlawing of Abortion (seemingly unaware of how well Prohibition worked to stop alcohol consumption), then by all means destroy the country and push America back into the 13th Century where we can all address each other with surnames related to our role in the new fiefdom.

    I’d be Dan the Writer.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    @ comanche:

    Defining words so broadly that they begin to lack any real meaning defeats the purpose of having words. If “socialism” is bad, it can’t mean soup to nuts to evil. That’s like redefining “totalitarianism” to mean “governed by someone you have some disagreements with.” It’s simply ridiculous to assert.

    Also, while I can’t agree with much of what you wrote, there’s one idea that is just so absurd I have to point it out: “Under George W. Bush, there are many on the left who fear that their liberty has been assaulted. (If it truly had been, would Daniel be able to make the post he has?)”

    So in your view, rounding up people based on Minority Report precrime hunches, then holding them for years without any charges, torturing them, and then admitting that we have no reason to continue holding them but that we can’t send them home (because they would be killed, as is the case with the most recently publicized group of Chinese militia people who were never any threat to the US) but we’re also afraid to release them in the US, so we’re just holding them in perpetual prison based on false pretense, is all A-OK in Utah because I, as a white man in California, can blog about my ideas.

    Exactly how many how many Americans can be spied upon without warrants and innocent people can be tortured to death in US death camps for every article I write?

  • sfx2000

    Daniel – trying to figure you out, because I agree with you on your Mac commentary – you’ve done some good work there, a bit biased, but needed sometimes.

    Have a hard time with your political comments – and perhaps the forum you have created is dimished – but this is a blog, and you’re entitled to your own opinion.

    I will disagree with you about McCain – as a registered Dem in SoCal, Obama’s proposed policies scare the hell out of me. Redistributing the wealth – I’m in the window that he’s talking about, and this right here, ain’t right. McCain is less scary, but Palin is one hell of a concern there, with her far right views, and she would be a, quite literally, a heartbeat away from the top step.

    please, stick with your earlier commentary, that’s what most of us appreciate your site for.\

    [Go to http://taxcut.barackobama.com/ and discover how much – exactly – your taxes will rise. Because making stupid choices because of panic induced by fear mongers is the reason we’ve had 8 years of a declining economy under the Republicans. Don’t be duped again. ]

  • http://www.markalanthomas.com marsviolet

    There are no conspiracies. Human nature guarantees that conspiracies will fail due to greed and the fundamental human need for conflict.

  • comanche

    Gee. It looks like I made Dan mad. I’ve never been called “f—ing ignorant” before, nor had my religion maligned. I should probably take these as a complement.

    I think bigotry is alive and well in America. But it’s not black vs. white anymore…its red vs. blue.

    Nelsonart: thank you for your balance. Your closing statement sums my feelings perfectly and is probably all I should have said: “I have a lot of concerns with Obama’s policies and associations.”

    Others here have shown similar reasonableness. Thank you.

    I think I’m done here. Best wishes, Dan. I enjoyed your Mac columns, anyway.

    Todd

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    Comanche:

    If you’ve never been roundly criticized before, that certainly explains why you don’t realize that you are ignorant or that your religion, first published as a work of fiction by Joseph Smith before being republished as a belief system (in identical fashion to Scientology) is ridiculous.

    When your invented fantasy of what’s going on (such as saying nothing bad is happening at GitMo and we should all just assume the best) gets presented as an opinion that takes itself as equally worthy to the opinions of people who aren’t blinded by religious ignorance, it is frustrating and angering.

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