Are there degrees of ‘socialism’?

I had a brief query from a friend the other day:

This is probably a red-herring but I did wonder if there are degrees of ‘socialism’ in which some degree of government ownership and control of the means of production is acceptable but with private sector ownership and incentives the dominant force. I’m thinking of the so-called ‘mixed’ economy concept.

Here in NZ we are having a debate about how we should frame objectives for the economy, with a shift away from a predominant focus on growth (in GDP) towards a ‘well-being’ framework (currently being developed by the NZ Treasury. I don’t think most economists are persuaded by this but it’s politically appealing because it appears to offer more emphasis on distributional fairness and the environment.

Well, I do go on a bit, but the question is an interesting one and important. My reply, off the top of my head, but more consideration still needed.

Interesting issue since everyone who now declares themselves a socialist doesn’t define socialism in the same way. There are plenty of “socialists” who think socialism is a heavy duty form of the welfare state. It’s fantastically costly, and in rich economies like ours, we typically allow plenty of free riding which will eventually have to be paid for one way or another. We are ruining ourselves because we think we are richer than we are, to subsidise plenty of people who ought to be contributing to their own upkeep. But once you get into the various forms of attempting to create greater equality, you are in an endless spiral since you can never create enough of it since there are always going to be income differences, many of which have no cosmic justification but just are what they are.

We already do an incredible amount of redistribution from those with high incomes to those with lower incomes. But if you take from some who earn high incomes they will provide less output to the common pool. And funny enough, if you give to people with lower incomes, they too will provide less to the common pool. Very destructive of an economy based on personal incomes related to one’s own contribution to the total. In a bygone era, most individuals felt a responsibility to remain as productive as possible for as long as possible, so we invented a system of welfare to assist those who fell by the wayside. Now there are so many who sit by the wayside picking up whatever they can, and this is now made much much worse by the increasing numbers who never intend to contribute anything but intend to be subsidised merely for existing. You can call that socialism if you like. It is immensely destructive, but since we have so much productive capital to run through it may take a while before we really notice. By then, alas, it will be too late. An inbred lack of industriousness in the midst of a crumbling economic structure is what you have right now in California which has more people on welfare proportionately than any other American state. And as rich as they are, it will not survive another decade before some kind of collapse overtakes them. Already the productive are escaping to other states. Unfortunately they are taking their welfare mentality with them.

As for the more traditional forms of socialism, virtually no government now seeks to take over the commanding heights of the economy, other than idiots like in Venezuela. There it took around a decade for the full horror to manifest itself, but now that it has, everyone has backed off from that version, at least for the time being. The version we are in the midst of is what I think of as the “crony capitalist” version, which is based on governments squeezing the last dollar of tax revenue, plus whatever they can extort from their central bank money creation process, to direct spending in a politically advantageous direction. Australia is at the start of a fall in living standards that is in large part based on the notion that all public spending adds to demand and therefore is positive. Which is augmented here by a superstitious belief that bringing in many many migrants makes the economy rich because we have to build infrastructure and housing for them to live in. Quite insane, but if you really think economies are driven by C+I+G, you cannot see the problem until the economy finally does fall apart and even then won’t understand the problem although it will be right before their eyes. The RBA and Treasury keep expecting the economy to turn around, and are ever-amazed when it does not.

Socialist anti-semites

Racist anti-semitic socialists. Lots of people once thought being a Nazi was the height of political sense. Now they are often just called Democrats. That cover was published by Rolling Stone which is designed to appeal to those who are in and with it.

Just so you know who we are dealing with:

1) Rep. Ilhan Omar: Anti-Semitic to the Bone.

Rep. Ilhan Omar is once again under fire for using an anti-Semitic trope about the “dual loyalty” of supporters of Israel.

It’s beginning to look like her anti-Semitism is embedded so deeply that she has no conscious thought about Israel and Jews that doesn’t drip with Jew-hatred.

2) After years of infighting, the Democrats may finally have found an environmental consensus in the Green New Deal. From The Atlantic in an article that supports AOC and details her green agenda. Every bit of what they support requires total control of not just the economy but the whole of society.

I have no idea whether the Green New Deal will result in a federal climate law two or five or 10 years from now. The proposal clearly has momentum on the left. Since early November, I’ve seen the Green New Deal talked about as a story of Democrats in disarray, or as another example of the party’s turn toward socialism. Both analyses miss the mark. The Green New Deal is one of the most interesting—and strategic—left-wing policy interventions from the Democratic Party in years.

3) Rep. Tlaib Blows Up Cohen Hearing: It Was a ‘Racist Act’ for a Republican to Bring a Black ‘Prop’. Vile from head to toe, Tlaib goes beyond merely anti-semitic.

During today’s House Oversight Committee’s interrogation of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, Tlaib suggested that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is a racist for bringing a black “prop” to the hearing [that is, she described Meadows’ black advisor as tokenism and only there to provide cover for the Republicans].

There is also a rundown here: Pelosi/Schumer Protect Jew Haters in Congress.

You think such sickening mindsets and policies cannot gather a majority? Nazis and socialists don’t get to take over because they promise to ruin the countries they are governing. They do, of course, and that is inevitable with socialism, but in the meantime there are a lot of lessons that get to be learned the hard way. Look at the picture from the cover of Rolling Stone and then compare them with this video of all the young, idealistic Nazis of the 1930s.

Socialism: promising prosperity but delivering poverty

“Need to put pencil to paper to tell what it will do to the economy.”

More here: Larry Kudlow: ‘We Have to Put Socialism on Trial’. But the point made is that no matter how good things are no one is fully satisfied. There is always a struggle and there are always others doing better than we are. Envy and dissatisfaction are everywhere and universal.

If logic worked, there would no longer be a single socialist in the world. So why are they still there and growing in number? Irrationality is rife, and there are many in the world who to advance themselves see leading the masses as their only way to power and wealth.

At the centre are the entrepreneurs who guide the individual units of a capitalist economy through their moment-by-moment attendance to the businesses they run. This is a passage about Tolstoy in an article on the novel that has great relevance:

In one essay, he retold a story about the Russian painter Bryullov, who corrected a student’s sketch. “Why you only touched it a tiny bit,” the student exclaimed, “but it is a completely different thing.” Bryullov replied, “Art begins where that ‘tiny bit’ begins.” Tolstoy elaborates:

That saying is strikingly true not only of art but of all life. One may say that true life begins where the tiny bit begins—where what seem to us minute and infinitely small alterations take place. True life is not lived where great external changes take place—where people move about, clash, fight, and slay one another—it is lived only where these tiny, tiny, infinitesimally small changes occur.

“All of life” includes the lives of those who run a business. Socialists argue that a central plan can replace the individual attendance of those who own, run, manage and earn an income from running a firm. But there, too, each of those “tiny bits” affects the whole. That is also part of why socialism must fail.

What is capitalism?

There is an interesting thread at Powerline on the question What is socialism? The central aim of socialism has always been to rid ourselves of the capitalist system. And what, exactly, do these socialists wish to get rid of? Certainly not the phenomenal flow of goods and services that a capitalist economy provides. If socialists promise anything, they promise that there will be even more for everyone, so it’s not getting rid of the bounty that a properly managed economy brings that they seek.

What the actual aim of socialists has always been is to get rid of the capitalists. But why the wish to rid ourselves of the capitalists who open, own and run the businesses that create the goods and services we consume? Why the resentment against the very people who make this abundance possible? That is the issue, and it is at the heart of the divide between the socialists on the one side and those who support the market mechanism and free enterprise on the other.

Why do socialists see no role for the entrepreneurial class? This is a true puzzle since no socialist has any idea how to run an economy from which capitalists have been removed. No socialist economy, in which its capitalists have been discarded, has ever succeeded. Every such economy has been immediately plunged into poverty. Every economy without an entrepreneurial class of independent individuals to run its businesses, to produce and sell inputs to each other, and to sell consumer goods to everyone, has become impoverished. All this is known with a perfect certainty, yet socialism retains an allure that large proportions in every market economy are unable to resist. Against all the evidence of more than a century of socialist experimentation, there is still somehow the belief that you can replace capitalism with a socialist system and maintain living standards. Some people really do not learn from history.

As a first approximation, the problem that capitalism leads to is the wealth earned by those who have no obvious merit and desert to those who wish to see the market system replaced. Why can’t the government do exactly what the owner of a business does, and without having to receive such a large amount of money.

The owner of a business will typically make far less than any number of star athletes. But those athletes have a demonstrable skill that most people do not have, allowing them to excel at whatever particular sport they play. Everyone can see it, few others can do the same, so there is no resentment at the millions athletes are paid.

Same again for rock stars and actors. Everyone can see what they do, and admire their ability, fame and celebrity. The same in a way goes for doctors, who may be neither famous nor celebrated, but have a skill set everyone depends on and are willing to see rewarded for what they do.

Let us look even more closely at these categories. Whether one becomes a sports star or entertainer, there is an apprenticeship through which their in-born talents are developed. But whatever talent these people have cannot be distributed to others. A football player’s stock in trade is playing football. An actor’s skill is in acting. The skill that has made them wealthy and famous cannot be spread through the entire population. They are just what they are and are unique to the individual.

But those who own, run and manage businesses have no obvious talent visible to the vast bulk of the population who understand little of what is required to run a successful business. Few appreciate it. Many think they could have done the same had they made the effort. And anyway, why should someone own and control millions of dollars worth of assets, even if they did accumulate all of it themselves by building a profitable enterprise?

But there is even more to this resentment than just this. It is the “intellectual” classes – the media, public sector and academia – who are peopled by individuals who had done best in school, who had graduated at the top of their class. Here they are, the smartest people in the country, yet earn ordinary incomes. Meanwhile, these business morons, who couldn’t finish a sudoku, or have no idea who Foucault was or what he wrote, here they are earning large incomes running a factory making bricks or producing shoes.

Capitalism is an ingrained feature of a political system that prizes freedom, in which each of us makes decisions for ourselves about many things in our own lives, which includes how we will earn our incomes. Some individuals will decide to earn those incomes by running a business.

Socialism in contrast is a system where the people who got the highest marks at school think they will make those business decisions instead, even though they are often the first to be put up against the wall.

Capitalism is a system in which those who run businesses have to go through the same process in getting to the top as do athletes, by overcoming the enormous competition of others to achieve their goals by being the best at what they do.

Socialism is instead a system in which the non-talented, without any of the necessary gifts for management, get to run our economies because so many others resent the incomes received by the people who are able to run profitable businesses.

Capitalism is how an economy runs if no one is running it. People just get on and produce, sell and buy.

This is what socialism is: replacing the owners of businesses, either with managers employed by the state, or with government-appointed overseers who direct what the business should do.

In all of the different variants on a socialist system, there is a central plan that each of the state managers must follow. No one in an enterprise reacts to the market, that is, to the demands of people who wish to buy the product, or to changes in the structure of supply. They just follow the plan as best they can.

The people who formulate these plans have no means to make the system work, although they think they do. But by the time everyone, including themselves find out how useless they are at running an economy, they are entrenched behind a row of guns and cannot be removed.

Here is an observation from the Powerline comments thread that captures important parts of these issues.

In its most basic sense, “socialism” is CONTROL. Control of the economy, control of society, control of YOU. This is the basic nature of all modern “socialisms” – communism, fascism, progressivism, liberalism. Socialism is the enemy not of “capitalism” – that’s just a Marxist label – but of free markets, a free society, a free people. But it’s worse than just control; it’s invariably very poor control. It doesn’t work. Nobody’s smart enough to dictate every aspect of an efficient economy, and nobody’s honest enough to be trusted to even try. But, poor quality or not, the surveillance and control/police state are vital components of any socialist system; it can’t even theoretically work without control.

Socialists will be our ruin.

Post-natal abortion (infanticide)

NORTHAM: If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Here’s the backstory and commentary via Rush Limbaugh. But the video of the Governor of Virginia interviewed on radio demonstrates beyond all doubt that this is exactly what he said. The subsequent wish to clarify and explain has arisen only because of the fire this has lit, but not even remotely within the mainstream media.

I have only gone back to this, which is from January 30, because I have met people who have never heard a word of this, and will not believe it could possibly be true. I suspect it would not undermine their support for the left and the Democrats since there are more important principles at stake – don’t ask me what. The only evidence that the left is perfectly aware how barbaric this is comes from the fact that this kind of information is already hard to find on the net. If the Governor of Virginia is mentioned at all, it is only because when he was 25 years old in the 1980s he appeared in a photo either in blackface or wearing a KKK bedsheet when he had just graduated from med school, since which time he has been a paediatrician.

As for the health of the baby, this was also discussed at the link:

A tweet here from an MD and MBA, Omar Hamada . “I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt. I’m a Board-Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies. There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third-trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes,” all kinds of conditions that might require delivery, but, “Abortion, no.”

The “consent” of two doctors is the kind of formality that is all pretence. How a baby can get to full term and only then at the ninth month discover some deformity is so improbable that it is just said to confuse the debate. At least till now, and possibly for a bit into the future, that there is something radically wrong with the child remains the cover story for murdering babies.

And if you are looking for another take on this same thing: Modern philosophy, untethered from morality, is just nihilism in fancy dress. There you find:

The reality is that, without a moral construct, philosophy is simply a way to intellectualize whatever outcomes one prefers. That’s why Peter Singer, an endowed philosophy chair at Princeton University, can argue that parents should have a 30 days period after their baby is born to decide whether or not to kill the baby, a position even more extreme than that espoused by the average abortion-obsessed Leftist….

When I raised Singer as an example of the selfish, morality-free nihilism that passes for modern philosophy, the other people involved in the conversation were quite sure that I was making things up in order to justify my arcane, impractical conservative views. Then, when I offered to send them links proving Singer’s viewpoints, they hastily declined that offer. They did not want to know.

The reality is they do not want to know. They think being on the left, and being able to self-identify as socialists or some such thing, makes them nice people. In actual fact, it turns them into monsters, but self-satisfied monsters.

WE DON’T EVEN KNOW THE HALF OF IT: AND HERE IS SOME OF IT.

Planned Parenthood kept aborted babies alive to harvest organs, ex-technician says

Pro-life group releases 7th undercover video

In an undercover video released Wednesday, a former technician for a tissue-harvesting company details how an aborted baby was kept alive so that its heart could be harvested at a California Planned Parenthood facility, raising more legal questions about the group’s practices.

Holly O’Donnell, a former blood and tissue procurement technician for the biotech startup StemExpress, also said she was asked to harvest an intact brain from the late-term, male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion.

StemExpress supervisor “gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. And I can’t even describe what that feels like,” said Ms. O’Donnell, who has been featured in earlier videos by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group that previously had released six undercover clips involving Planned Parenthoodpersonnel and practices.

David Daleiden, the video project leader, said the undercover footage and interviews show that fetuses are sometimes delivered “intact and alive” before their organs are harvested.

The federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 says that when a child is born alive, including having a beating heart, he or she is a legal person and has a right to lifesaving medical care.

More at the link if you can stand it.

2019 Battle Lines: Capitalism and Growth (L-N) versus Socialism and Degrowth (ALP)

The story is from the US and about them but applies to us just as well: 2020 Battle Lines: Capitalism and Growth (R) versus Socialism and Degrowth (D). Here is much of the article but there is more at the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG9N4ZP5MQA

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a character familiar to anyone who has spent substantial time on campuses in the past two decades

She’s a walking, talking social justice warrior soundbite machine, someone whose knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. Social media, where she excels, is perfect for shallow but woke wisdom.

At one level, she is the gift Donald Trump and Republicans could not have hoped for in their wildest dreams. Her wacky Green New Deal is so preposterous in many of its details and in its totality, it is a caricature. It’s a prime example of what I call Progressive or Parody?, where it’s “very hard to distinguish progressive political and social positions from parody.”

That four of the leading Democrat presidential candidates (Harris, Warren, Booker, Gillibrand) rushed to co-sponsor or endorse the Green New Deal will be a theme Republicans will drive home from today through Election Day 2020. That these four kneecapped themselves as General Election candidates is Ocasio-Cortez’s greatest accomplishment (for Republicans) so far.

At another level, though, Ocasio-Cortez should be taken seriously precisely because she is a character familiar to anyone who has spent time on campuses in the past two decades. She represents an ignorant ahistorical adoration for socialism that has captured a significant portion of the Democratic Party. Socialists like Ocasio-Cortez are the energy in the Democratic Party, which explains why presidential candidates immediately jumped on her bandwagon.

Capitalism versus Socialism is one battle line for 2020. Whether or not the ultimate Democrat nominee endorses the Green New Deal, the Green New Deal will be made to be the Democrat platform whether Democrats like it or not. Let’s have a vote on Capitalism versus Socialism.

At another level, it’s not just Capitalism versus Socialism. In listening to a 2015 audio of Mark Levin, I heard a term I had not heard before: Degrowth.

What is Degrowth? An academic association devoted to Degrowth describes it as follows:

Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.

Watch this video promoting degrowth, and it sounds a lot like the Green New Deal.

___

And in Oz, these people have already blown up power stations and are dead set on a socialist-green agenda. There’s a lot of stupidity around. I just hope there isn’t that much, but we shall see soon enough.

The media is more dishonest than anyone can imagine

I received this note which really is astonishing:

Regarding SOTU: Did you notice at about the 1 hour 21 minute mark of USA Today’s SOTU broadcast they edited out the word “never” when Trump put down Socialism? USA Today used their 2 second delay privilege in “live” broadcasting to black out “never” so it sounded like Trump said “the US will … be a Socialist state”.

Watch, it’s just like he says – start at around 1:19:

It’s not a glitch. They really cannot bear the thought that the United States may not become a socialist country. They are not just dishonest, but evil.

I had put this version up since it was the first one available at Youtube. But they added afterwards the various so-called “fact checks” that attempt to counter the points the President made. They are the most vile liars imaginable, worse than the Soviet press who lied because of the threat of the gulag. These people do it because they are dishonest, and clearly wish to actually see the US, and the rest of us, become socialist tyrannies.

How does one deal with people this ignorant?

Ignorance double plus with an extra dash of stupidity: POLL: Socialism Popular Among Democrats.

A Gallup poll released on Sunday shows 57-percent of democrat respondents view socialism positively.

For comparison, 16-percent of republicans polled had a positive outlook on socialism.

In the same poll, young Americans are more-likely to favor the political ideology than those who are older.

To which may be added:

Ocasio-Cortez Calls Trump Racist…
Says She’s Creating Another Sweden, Not Venezuela… 

She is actually too ignorant to know what she’s creating, but she is young and Democrat so she represents her demographic. Such as here:

Julian Castro cites 90 percent tax
on rich in defending Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez on tax hikes
Washington Examiner, by Naomi Lim    Original Article
Likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro agrees with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that tax rates on some of the wealthiest Americans should skyrocket. “Oh, I can support folks at the top paying their fair share,” Castro told ABC News´ “This Week” on Sunday when asked directly whether he could endorse the high-profile New York Democrat´s idea. The Obama-era Housing and Urban Development secretary, who is expected to officially announce he´s running for the White House this week, made the comments after Ocasio-Cortez caught flak for suggesting people earning more than $10 million could be taxed between “60 or 70 percent.”

Speaking of Castro, this is a different Castro, but no doubt from the same ideological family: Grandson of Fidel Castro shares his life of luxury aboard yachts and more on Instagram.

There is no reasoning with these people. I wouldn’t even mind if they got their wish and they had to live in the world of their own creation, but they intend to take the rest of us along with them into the new Venezuelas they are creating.

It’s such a new world out there

So much going on in America at the moment. Start with this:

DC UGLY: New Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Goes off on Trump: We're Going to 'Impeach the Motherf*cker!'
Video... 

And then there’s this:


PELOSI IN CONTROL…
Won’t rule out indictment, impeachment…
Speaker botches speech…
CNN Takes Her Out For Ice Cream…
PEW: Christians ‘overrepresented’ in Congress…
Paul Ryan exits at 12% favorability…

Not to mention this:


Ocasio-Cortez’s Radical Mandate for Govt Control…
Gender-based justice, Reparations, Universal income, Medicare for All… 

Venezuela Economic Collapse Has Lessons for America’s Socialists…

But it’s that last one I like the best since these are the lessons from Venezuela, and this is from Bloomberg!

Socialists in the U.S. should take note — if there’s a right way to do socialism, this isn’t it. Instead of cautious policies like those of Bolivia, Venezuela’s leaders chose to ignore the menace of hyperinflation, nationalize private businesses across the economy, and muck up the smooth operations of PDVSA. The result was predictable — one of the worst self-inflicted economic catastrophes of the century so far.

That’s right, if you want to introduce socialism, don’t do it like in Venezuela, do it like they did in Bolivia! If you thought the 20th century was bad, just wait till you see what happens now.