Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Capitalism: Put a Fork In It, It's Done.
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By ColdWarBaby
With, without and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
If you put a cat in the oven, does that make it a biscuit?

So, let me get this straight:

When working people are stricken with hardship caused by circumstances completely beyond their control, natural disaster, costly medical emergency, job loss, disabling injury or the complete collapse of the economy, which they have supported by their labor all their lives, they should not be assisted by the government, which exists solely by their will and at their expense, because that is socialism and that is EVIL and would hurt everyone.

However, if giant corporations and financial institutions, which exist for the sole purpose of making a very few individuals extremely wealthy, should find themselves facing a catastrophe, involving insolvency, loss of profit and total failure, all precipitated by their own fatal flaws, psychopathic avarice, blind self-interest and terminal stupidity, the government should use taxes, paid by the worker described above, to provide massive welfare payments to said corporations and institutions because that is the free market and that is GOOD and would help everyone.

Is there anybody out there who does not understand this? It should be perfectly clear. The market, which sucks the life and vitality from everyone and everything, except a small number of insiders, should be left alone. It will magically fix everything as long as no one interferes with it. There is, in fact, far too much regulation being applied even now to what is a perfect, self-regulating, self-correcting, omnipotent, invisible force of total benevolence. As long as no one interferes with the market in any way, everything will be absolutely wonderful, someday.


So, get a grip people. Settle down in your cozy cardboard boxes. Make yourselves at home under the freeway overpass. Run for mayor of your tent city. Everything will be fine, eventually.

I promise.

In many third world countries there are small, guarded communities of the wealthy minority. They are gated and protected by armed sentries. They have electricity, hot and cold running water, cable television, high speed internet service and all the comforts that wealth can provide.

The rest of the populace lives in varying degrees of poverty, from shabby apartments for those fortunate enough to secure actual jobs, to squalid shanty towns populated by people who have no access to potable water or adequate nutrition.

This, it would seem, is the goal that has been set by the capitalist rulers of amerika. Oases of wealth and opulence populated by the fortunate few, guarded by the likes of Blackwater and supported by the slave labor of the remaining populace surrounding them in an ocean of poverty.

But really, that will just be a transition phase. It won.t be long before the market corrects. Soon everyone will be lifted by the invisible hand. All ships will be raised on the rising tide of free market prosperity, at some point.

Trust me.

Capitalism: Put a Fork In It, It's Done

From Rio Rancho, New Mexico

What is Socialism?

You can't turn on the television or radio lately without hearing someone expound about how the United States is becoming a socialist regime. People who live in the U.S. may or may not realize it, but when people in Europe hear us say things like this, they mostly think we have gone completely mad. (They often think this about us anyway, but the anti-socialism rhetoric just seals the deal.)

Why the gap in perception? First of all, many, many free countries in Europe have for years had Democratic Socialist parties that are actually seen as fairly moderate within their various political arenas. So the hysterical American cry of "Socialist" sounds weird to them. It would be as if we went around trying to whip up outrage by shouting "Moderate!" It's just silly.

Secondly, all modern European countries already have some level of government-sponsored health care (one of the possibilities that causes the biggest "Socialism!" outcry from U.S. right wingers) as well as many other government-sponsored programs that promote the public welfare and establish a social safety net for all. These programs have been in place for years, and yet the people who live in these nations do not consider themselves socialists; they see their economies as free market, capitalist systems just like we see ours.

Third, several humane and perfectly functional countries in Europe actually are socialist countries and have been for years, and they don't see a single thing wrong with that. Sweden, Denmark, and most of the other Scandanavian countries have actual socialist governments. Their citizens pay more taxes than we do. They also have more provided for them by their governments than we do. While we can engage in various debates about how right or wrong that is and what the effects on personal initiative may or may not be there, the point here is that none of these countries has 1) a grey, totalitarian lifestyle, or 2) serious human rights abuses and violations. Rather, they are lovely, friendly, caring places to live. They might not be everyone's cup of tea--maybe not your cup of tea--but the don't look like 1984 either.

You just don't see lots of stories about the brutality of Scandanavian regimes and the bloody repression they foist on their hapless citizenry. No, actually, they are so liberal about sex and drugs and just about everything else that even Americans who think of themselves as open-minded are rather shocked when they discover how tolerant they are. Yet life goes on in Scandanavia: the people are happy, the government is functional, and nobody is getting worked up about any of it--at least not over there.

What is Socialism anyway? You definitely get the sense from the listening to the American right that they certainly don't know, and neither it seems do most other Americans. Or maybe the political right does know, but are deliberately distorting the facts in order to get media attention.

Wikepedia defines Socialism this way:

"Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation."

What I want to focus on here is the idea that socialism encompasses a broad set of economic theories of social organization. In other words, unlike being pregnant, you really can be "a little bit socialist" and many, many countries are. In fact, the U.S. is such a country, and has been for nearly 100 years. Based on the second half of the definition, the part that names a socialist system as characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation, the U.S has been that kind of country for the entirety of its existence.

So, what's going on here? Why all the hysteria?

Meat Packing Plant in Chicago circa 1900
Meat Packing Plant in Chicago circa 1900
American Socialism

Socialism became a more formal part of American political language at the turn of the 20th century, when many authors and political activists were drawing attention to the horrendous conditions in slaugherhouses, factories, coal mines, and other Industrial Era enterprises that left workers impoverished and the butt of inhumane and degrading treatment unnecessarily.

Chicago journalist Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906 to expose corruption within the American meatpacking industry that resulted in dangerous working conditions and a substandard food supply. These conditions were real, but today Sinclair's novel is more broadly interpreted as a socialist critique of unfettered capitalism. The Jungle uses the brutal conditions within the packing plant and slaughterhouse as a metaphor for unregulated free enterprise.

But, surely Upton Sinclair was unsuccessful in provoking actual systemic change within the U.S. government, right? Wrong. The public outcry that followed the publication of The Jungle led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Food and Drug Administration. Radical lefty organizations, huh? Well, at one time they were considered so.

Now, I admit, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't been too helpful lately (peanut butter anyone?), but for years our food supply was indeed made safer because of this government entity created in response to the activities of a muckraking 19th century socialist novelist. It is the gutting of the FDA as a regulatory agency (another meat metaphor, sorry...) by the Bush administration that has created a contaminated food supply once again in the 21st century. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

Other evil socialist agencies within the U.S. government include Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, the public school system, unemployment compensation, and most recently, the U.S. Treasury Department, which is now apparently in the business of supplying government money to huge multinational financial corporations in the hope of preventing a global financial meltdown.

All of our current trouble is arguably caused by the repeal of financial regulations that were put in place after the Crash of 1929. That crash, which preceded the Great Depression, convinced the entire nation that unfettered financial markets, left to their own devices, go stark raving mad with greed. The U.S. banking system worked just fine for nearly a century under sane, necessary regulation. Then, in 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act (put in place during the Great Depression to prevent another meltdown) was repealed under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, sponsored by Phil Gramm and his good friend John McCain. I don't think I have to go into what happened next.

Even so, we still hear this nonstop demonization of socialism, as if it is akin to eating babies, as if we haven't ALWAYS had aspects of socialist thought and policy within our governmental structure and had them work well.

I wonder why?

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the only Democratic Socialist in the U.S Senate. Scary, isn't he?
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the only Democratic Socialist in the U.S Senate. Scary, isn't he?
Who Benefits from Demonizing Socialism?

Statistics show that 80 percent of net income gains since 1980 have gone to people in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, boosting their share of total income to levels unseen since before the Great Depression.The average CEO paycheck has gone from about 80 times that of the average to worker to over 400 times as much.

In fact, the top 300,000 Americans together enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group receives about 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half, nearly doubling the income gap since 1980. Twenty-two percent of this country's wealth is held by one percent of the population, and that is a recent development that roughly coincides with the deregulation of financial markets.

In other words, deregulation coincidentally caused an obscene amount of money to trickle up (not down) into the coffers of the very richest people in the country, and there aren't very many of them either. Although it is frequently argued that Obama's repeal of the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250K amounts to some kind of nefarious "redistribution of wealth" that will kill initiative and hurt business, there is no actual historical evidence for this claim. In fact, there is historical evidence to the contrary.

During the Clinton years, people in the top one percent of all households in the U.S. paid about 60% in income tax (not counting all the various deductions and tax shelters available to them), and the U.S. government ended that era with a budget surplus and a booming economy. During the 1950s and 1960s, one of the best eras ever for the middle class and for American prosperity in general, the tax rate for those same top few was an astonishing 90%. The economy by any measure was flourishing during those years. By contrast, deregulation has led to a destabilzed economy, greater poverty, and the near erasure of the American middle class.

I submit that the demonization of this word "socialism" today is a media tactic used by a small, obscenely wealthy group of corporate apologists to get ordinary people to vote against our own interests and form extreme opinions that actually result in our continued impoverishment and exploitation. I think it is also clear that this group exploits a kind of nationalistic religiousity to get uncritical people to embrace of the demonization of sane fiscal and social policies that would actually directly benefit them. This manipulation of the Christian right worked well under the Bush administration.

It's hard to know how well it religious nationalism working now for the people trying to hold onto their ill-gotten recent gains. It might not matter, since our economy is now so destabilized a total meltdown looks all but inevitable.

But please. Enough of the "Socialist" boogeyman.

Who owns the media? Who owns almost everything at this point?

Not socialists. That much we know for sure

By pgrundy


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posted by u2r2h at 5:50 AM


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