So what’s wrong with socialism?

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production;[

 

It is a system that is opposed to the rampant greed of capitalism. This mantra of profit before all else, greed and to hell with everything, is what is creating inequality, environmental destruction, overpopulation and fuelling war. There’s a better way.

 

I like democracy and having a say in what is going on.

 

Socialism is based on the idea of equality.

 

It is associated with environmentalism, feminism and liberalism.

 

They are all things I am in agreement with.

 

I’ve been listening with interest to the arguments put forward at the Labour Conference and good ones they are too.

 

An end to austerity and the vicious attacks on the poor, disabled and public servants.

 

I want an educational system for everyone – not selection and a series of grammar schools for the wealthy while the rest get the slops.

 

The nationalisation of the Post Office. How on Earth does it make sense to have thousands of cars and vans running around the countryside delivering amazon parcels instead of one streamlined, joined up service? It’s a bunch of poorly paid people being exploited for profit. We have a national system that is efficient and streamlined it’s called the Post Office.

 

The Nationalisation of the Railways. I’m sick of hiked up prices for travel. A piecemeal set of companies all in it to cream off wealth for a bunch of rich owners. I want an efficient, joined up, safe, cheap service, development and a service that provides comfort and speed. It needs to be under public ownership.

The end of Trident. Trident is a hugely expensive red herring. It can never be used and is minuscule compared with the USA and Russia (and probably China too)  It’s only reason is to give Britain a place at the top table. Well I could do without a place at the top table. The money could be spent on anti-terrorism, schools, hospitals and housing.

I want the greedy bankers and capitalists to pay more. I want a country with more equality and less greed.

I want the environment being respected and conserved. I don’t want fracking destroying our countryside and polluting the water.

I could go on. I can’t find much I disagree with.

I’m a socialist, a paid up Labour man. I believe in equality. I want capitalism curbed.

I want the Labour Party to unite and get behind the leader and get their message across. It’s time we started showing up the Tories for the bunch of greedy capitalists they are.

There is a better way – it’s the Labour way. I’m a SOCIALIST through and through.

 

Comments

John G Added May 19, 2017 - 9:13pm
There's a whole bunch of howling right wing loons here who are going to redefine your (correct) view of what socialism actually means.
The culture warriors have to maintain their illusions and their strawmen else their raison d'etre collapses in on itself.
Good luck.
Ari Silverstein Added May 19, 2017 - 9:40pm
While I agree that most socialists are appropriately associated with liberals and liberalism, it shouldn’t be associated with environmentalism and feminism.  Conservatives are equally concerned about the environment and women’s rights.  The problem is that were too pragmatic about these issues.  Take the environment, the single thing that has done the most good for the environment over the past decade has been the development of cleaner than coal fossil fuels.  All liberals see is fossil fuel and immediately decide it’s bad, how short sighted they are.  Just think of how much cleaner our environment would be if more of it replaced coal and versus the liberal approach of opposing fracking whenever and however possible. 
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 9:46pm
While I agree that most socialists are appropriately associated with liberals and liberalism
Where did the writer make that claim?
Liberals are not socialists. Liberalism is a capitalist phenomenon.
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 5:17am
Carbon Dioxide and global warming are the main problem with fossil fuels Ari. We need to develop solar, hydro, wind and other non-polluting energy production. Coal may be dirtier than gas but gas still produces CO2.
I contend that socialism is associated with feminism and environment.
Gerard Oosterman Added May 20, 2017 - 7:53am
Of course, the most successful economic and socially responsible countries have been many European countries. Especially the Scandinavian countries and Finland. Social democracies are the solution. Not perfect but better than those countries that belief in the winners take all. 
They have stood the test of time. Low crime rates. Good education. Good social entitlements.
They would never look on welfare as some kind of a 'free hand-out' but instead look upon their societies as mature enough to look after the less fortunate. They do this by paying high enough taxes to pay for those that need support such as the elderly, the disabled, the sick and even the addicts or the incarcerated.
The Swedish people even returned a Government that promised NOT to lower taxes.
It is a different world out there!
They also run far ahead in tackling climate change.
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 8:37am
I think you are spot on with that Gerard. I was greatly impressed with Denmark. They pay high taxes and have high levels of care. Children, education, the elderly, health and local services are all quality. It makes for a pleasant, friendly, caring society with a great deal more equality. I like that.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 20, 2017 - 8:49am
Opher
 
Nothing is wrong with it. I agree fully. Greetings from Europe !
 
Billy Roper Added May 20, 2017 - 9:08am
Socialism works better in homogeneous societies where there is less of a gap between "from each according to his ability" and "to each according to his needs", as some groups of people naturally have less ability, greater needs, and far different goals, motivations, and aspirations from one another which make any kind of common purpose impossible.
Dino Manalis Added May 20, 2017 - 9:17am
Socialism leads to too many promises and costs that burden the State and taxpayers, they still need thriving capitalism to pay their bills.  Socialism has to be limited, it sounds good, but eventually leads to empty promises.  Look at what's happening in Venezuela, Maduro has become an authoritarian who refuses to free his suffering people!
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 9:34am
Cheers Friedli!
Billy - isn't that a bit of confusion with communism? Socialism is not communism. Socialism is about more equality and fairness not 'each according to their needs etc'.
Socialism does rely on a healthy economy and high taxation to produce the excellent public services but not cut-throat capitalism. I would suggest that it might be better to compare the Scandinavian countries and their high quality of life rather than a third world country troubled by corruption.
Gerard Oosterman Added May 20, 2017 - 9:49am
Billy-Dino
Sweden had the world's largest intake of refugees per capita last year. The idea that those countries are somehow still homogenous is a bit dated.
Have you been to Scandinavia lately?
As for Venezuela. The Venezuelans are taking to the streets and will get change. They are passionate.
What happened to the passions of the people in the US? Where has it gone?
 
 
George N Romey Added May 20, 2017 - 11:02am
The US has been sold on the mantra that the "free market" cures all despite the "free marketing" on a government welfare system. 
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 11:12am
People are a little blinkered when it comes to capitalism aren't they? Yet in the US there are wealthy billionaires creaming in the profits while those at the bottom live in dire conditions. It seems that capitalism works for a minority at the expense of the majority.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 12:48pm
The essential problem with socialism is illustrated by the US VA Health System.
 
In places like NYS, where there are (and have been) a fair number of Veterans, the system works well.  There are enough users to justify having sufficient facilities and providers.
 
However, in places where there are a LOT of veterans and the situation has only developed in the last 20 years or so, as (infamously) in Arizona, the system quickly becomes untenable.
 
Unlike the for-profit (doctors and other clinicians and for-profit hospitals) or not-for profit, private institutional providers (which also exist in AZ), socialized, government run systems do not re-act quickly (or even at all) to changes in demand.
 
On the other hand, places where there is little demand for medical services (due to small or diminishing populations) may be underserved by either system.
 
BUT, they are more likely to be underserved  by a socialized system because outreach from fairly contiguous areas with a larger (or at least comparatively larger population) is likely to be a cost-center, rather than a profit-center, as in a private system.         
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 1:31pm
I'm not really sure you can compare socialism as a political doctrine with the US VA Health System.
Socialism requires more taxation to create better services and a fairer society where greed is not the motivating factor. There is no reason I can think of for a socialist country to be slow to react or inflexible. It would be dynamic with far less social problems and a happier population.
The gross inequality of capitalism results in the few prospering at the expense of the many. The inequality fuels crime, violence and despair.
Socialism is fairer. The society produced is less troubled.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 1:57pm
"Socialism requires more taxation to create better services and a fairer society where greed is not the motivating factor."
 
But "greed" or, probably more accurately, "self-interest" is an almost universal human trait and is easily quantifiable as what people are willing (or equally, or more, importantly NOT pay for).   
 
But generally, they are "slow to react or inflexible," the major exceptions being the Scandinavian Countries.
 
Why that is might be a good topic for detailed research. 
 
The often cited reason is that the populations are homogeneous, but that is changing.  My null hypothesis would be that a lot of the social goods are controlled and allocated at a local, rather than a national level.    
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 2:04pm
"The gross inequality of capitalism results in the few prospering at the expense of the many. The inequality fuels crime, violence and despair."
 
W.E.B. duBois, a somewhat heterodox socialist,  might disagree.  as he said, "The Talented Tenth rises and pulls all that are worth the saving up to their vantage ground. This is the history of human progress . . . ."
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 20, 2017 - 3:34pm
John
 
Mr. duBois was probably a feudal socialist...
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 3:43pm
Very pragmatic in his actions. 
Mircea Negres Added May 20, 2017 - 4:09pm
I lived for the first 12 years of my life in the Socialist Republic of Romania, then spent the following 2 years in a morally bankrupt neo-communist parody of democracy which nearly destroyed the country over the next 20 years. I came out of that firmly believing that the only good communist is a dead one and while the extremes of today's capitalism haven't been great either, it's still preferable to living under communism. However, that's not to say the social democratic system doesn't have merits- give people freedom with responsibility, encourage business development while strengthening social protections and promote a culture in which tolerance is a way of life are good ideas which have worked in a number of European countries. The case of Great Britain is slightly different, though as I understand it, some things (like rail transportation) worked better when the government ran them than they do today in private hands, so perhaps the answer lies in policy tweaking and cleaning the administration, as well as looking at what effects the now malfunctioning systems are having on the people in order to come up with the necessary fixes. The thing is Britain's political and business systems have been locked for ages in a corrupt symbiotic relationship and while that state endures, the people will continue to reap nothing but misery while the fat scum at the top get plenty of cream.
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 5:42pm
The VA's problems stem in no small part from underfunding. But it produces less over prescription, less catastrophic medical misadventure.
And no bankruptcies.
When the insurance company centered private system can achieve anything like that you may have a case.
 
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 5:46pm
Socialism requires more taxation
Not necessarily but it will tend to be the case. Taxation does not pay for government services. It is merely the means by which government removes its own money from the system.
Government spending pays the taxes and creates the savings (government debt) of the private sector.
 
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 5:58pm
"The VA's problems stem in no small part from underfunding. But it produces less over prescription, less catastrophic medical misadventure."
 
The VA's big advantages are: 1) data, as they have access to the participants' medical records both in the VA system and in the military, which can often go back to that person's late teens; and 2) a patient census that is used to the more "institutional" standard of treatment.
 
The "underfunding" is part of the fact that it does not respond to market forces. 
 
It can't grow where the demand is increasing, as in AZ, where the major reported problems occurred. 
 
The deaths that the scheduling problems caused in significant numbers might seem pretty "catastrophic" to those concerned.
 
  
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 6:13pm
The "underfunding" is part of the fact that it does not respond to market forces. 
The underfunding is a purely arbitrary political decision.
Nothing to do with your religious beliefs.
It can't grow where the demand is increasing, as in AZ, where the major reported problems occurred.
Why not?
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 6:22pm
It was the trade unions, and the socialist movement that grew out of them, that forced the capitalists to be fairer. Under socialist policy we saw wages increase and working conditions improve; we saw health care for the poor through the NHS and a fairer society.
Capitalism gives the strong and wealthy all the advantages and keeps the mass of people poor. It is in the wealthy elites best interests to pay little and maximise profits. They want a desperate mass of poor people to exploit for profit.
All social rights have been well fought for. Nothing has been given freely. Britain has a strong history of fighting for social justice - way back to the Swing Riots, Peterloo and the Suffragettes.
The media, owned by the wealthy, put out their propaganda to convince and brainwash the population.
I would like to see a fairer society with less extremes of wealth and good public services to create a level playing field. At present the extremes are far too great. In a civilised country nobody should be able to accumulate billions and nobody should be starving on the streets.
Socialism would address that inequality.
J. Riddle Added May 20, 2017 - 7:43pm
"Conservatives are equally concerned about the environment and women’s rights."
 
In the U.S., that's certainly not the case (extensive data available if necessary).
opher goodwin Added May 20, 2017 - 7:55pm
As far as I can see all conservatives care about is themselves and how much money they can cream out of the system. The environment is being trashed by greed. A fast buck is the only criteria. Equality for women is not even close.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 9:22pm
"'It can't grow where the demand is increasing, as in AZ, where the major reported problems occurred.'
Why not?"
 
Because everything in the VA system is "a purely arbitrary political decision."  
 
The VA is NOT set-up to respond to demand in an economically effective way, so as to make a profit (or, as in the case of a private not-for-profit, either not lose money or create sufficient surplus to fund its own activities).
 
At the end of my time in the 1st Cavalry Division, then-MG Eric Shinseki became the CG.  I found him to be both a very able and a very decent man. 
 
Thus, his "telling it like it was" on the manning levels for OIF I in 2003 was not a surprise.  It was a competent professional's judgment and it was delivered with a competent and ethical man's awareness that doing so could not help but to be deleterious to his career.
 
However, as VA Secretary, GEN (R) Shinseki, apparently unilaterally, decided to shift the organizations priority away from health care and towards the problem of homelessness among veterans. 
 
That is a legitimate need.  However, it did not really fit the organization's limitations and capabilities.
 
This shift happened from the start of his tenure.  This shift was questioned from the start of his tenure.  However,  he was only removed from the position almost 6 years later after enormous, fatal problems occurred in Arizona.
 
Now, I am very critical at how ineffective boards of large organizations are in removing CEOs and C-suite Executives who fail to perform.  
 
Boards, themselves, which in the US are intended to oversee the long term strategy of corporations (especially publicly traded corporations), are often wrong-headed or unaccountable in those decisions.  (Particularly with boards of financial institutions deciding to capitalize the institutions with speculative instruments like high yield/"Junk" Bonds in the 1980s and derivative instruments in the 2000s, responding credulously to the blandishments of sales forces).
 
Boards are often slow to respond to fraud (ENRON and the post-Hank Greenberg AIG are prime examples).  BUT, if a CEO of a public company made the kind of change in direction that GEN (R) Shinseki made in the VA, their Board (and stock analysts, share holders and institutional investors) would put that CEO on a short leash. 
 
Carly Fiorina was fired 2 1/2 after the unsuccessful Compaq merger, despite keeping her company profitable, not almost 6 years after implementing a strategy that internal and external stakeholders thought was wrong headed.
 
As I mentioned, Boards have a poor track record in detecting fraud.  So long as ENRON earrned (or appeared to earn) massive returns, no one questioned how its business model (which was novel at the time) could work. 
 
After the highly competent Hank Greenberg left AIG, no one questioned how a unit of AIG was putting AAA ratings on derivative instruments (and Greenberg should get a share of the blame for not having worked out a better succession plan).
 
BUT, in Secretary Shinseki's case there was no fraud.  There was just an obvious error that should have been called long before it was.
 
Human beings are flawed. 
 
We are greedy, we want more than we deserve based on our contributions.  If we don't get what we want, we sulk and are disruptive.  Very few people do the right thing because it is the right thing, rather than out of fear of punishment or hope for a reward.
 
Because of this, if there is no objective standard, no iron law of profit and loss, it is easy to make very bad decisions, even if you are a good person or made that decision for the best of reasons. 
 
"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent." Louis D. Brandeis
 
"The world presents enough problems if you believe it to be a world of law and order; do not add to them by believing it to be a world of miracles." Louis D. Brandeis
 
 
 
              
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:03pm
You're talking about failure of political oversight and bad management, not economic reality.
The VA is NOT set-up to respond to demand in an economically effective way, so as to make a profit (or, as in the case of a private not-for-profit, either not lose money or create sufficient surplus to fund its own activities).
Government services are funded with government money. They should never be judged on a financial basis. And nor should a 'profit' ever be a goal.
The issuer of the currency can hardly make a 'profit' in the currency units that it itself creates out of thin air anyway. So that's just nonsense.
Human beings are social animals. Capitalism rewards the psychopaths that you'd have us believe that all or most people are.
I feel sorry for you that capitalist conditioning has made you so cynical about your fellow man.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 10:28pm
You are obtuse.
 
These government-run systems not only aren't efficient, they CAN'T be efficient in the way a for-profit (or even a private-not-for-profit entity) not only CAN BE but MUST BE.
 
Lady Thatcher was correct when she said, "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money."
 
That isn't bad just because of it being "other people's money" but because they "traditionally make a mess," a mess that "traditionally" adversely effects those who have no other options.
 
Both Milton Friedman and Robert Heinlein are credited with the concept of "TNSTAAFL"  but it is both absolutely true and why Socialism never seems to work, out side of some limited situations in Scandinavia, where extremely local approaches provide a rationalizing influence.     
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:40pm
"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money."
LOLz. This is a study in the economic illiteracy of Thatcher. Currency issuing governments don't use 'other people's money'.
She also said "there is no such thing as society". No great thinker there.
 
These government-run systems not only aren't efficient, they CAN'T be efficient in the way a for-profit (or even a private-not-for-profit entity) not only CAN BE but MUST BE.
Why? Until you come up with some rationale that says that government dollars being spent into the private sector is somehow 'inefficient' in economic terms, it's just an assertion based on your quasi-religious faith in capitalism.
I don't care what David Rockefeller's pet shill said. The man was a fraud who helped destroy quite a few economies. TINSTAAFL is a nice sound bite for the economically illiterate to latch onto.
Socialism has worked everywhere it has been allowed to work.
 
Gerard Oosterman Added May 20, 2017 - 10:41pm
John Minehan;
Not just Scandinavia. Also tiny Holland, that enjoys an export market twice that of the UK and the second largest producer of agricultural products in the world is proof that social economies work very well.
. And then Germany, a huge economy, France and others?
In fact I would say that the present US is proof that free swaggering republican (liberal) capitalism does not work at all.
Paying taxation is a good thing and should be encouraged not demonised.
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:57pm
Both the Soviet Union and Red China, although questionably socialist, oversaw massive improvements in living standards unmatched by anything ever in the western capitalist world.
When the USSR collapse under the idiot Gorbachev and adopted western capitalism overseen by the Harvard pointy heads, massive poverty and the death of 5 million people ensued rapidly.
Chavez' Venezuela, Sandinista Nicaragua both saw dramatic improvements in popular welfare until the USA crushed them.
Now living standards in the capitalist west are declining, future generations are looking down the barrel of poverty and services and infrastructure allowed to fizzle and rot while the oligarchs are making off like bandits.
Oh yeah, capitalism is a runaway success. If you're a capitalist.
And none of you clowns are.
TaraElla Added May 21, 2017 - 3:16am
Socialism is OK, as long as it is done in a liberal way (democratic, no infringement on free speech, and allowing for free trade).
On the other hand, dressing up 'radical social justice theory' as socialism is deceptive. I hope we see less of that in the future.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 3:22am
Socialism is OK, as long as it is done in a liberal way.
Socialism and liberalism are incompatible, Tara/Autumn/Dino.
Liberals are the petit bourgeoise that serve capitalists.
 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 21, 2017 - 7:32am
"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money."
 
The yawn argument. What means "other people's money" ? The one who says that hasn't understood the philosophy of socialism. If he'd have, he would have realized that this system (in theory) is a system of togetherness. No OTHER'S.
 
Although human character makes it wishful thinking.
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 7:51am
"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money."
The Tony Blair government, ostensibly socialist though most would see it as watered down Thatcherism, certainly was effective financially. That government operated in the black for most of two terms - unlike the Tories with their more Capitalist policies.
There is a myth circulated about the effectiveness of socialism. Could that be because 'all' the media is owned or controlled by capitalists, wealthy people with vested interest?
Socialism is about social justice and equality. History demonstrates clearly that Capitalism siphons money from the bottom to the elite at the top. It results in an unhappy land of 'haves' and 'have nots'. Socialism taxes the rich more to provide better services for everyone and thus reduces the inequality. It nationalises key industries so that they are not overpriced to produce profits for wealthy investors. The profits are ploughed back into improvements in service.
I would prefer to live in a fairer, more just, society which respected the environment and all people, is tolerant and caring. That can only happen under a socialist government.
Bill Kamps Added May 21, 2017 - 12:15pm
Well like any ism, it all depends on the details.  Socialism as practiced in Europe is not so bad, socialism as practiced Venezuela is a disaster.  Yes we can say what is happening in Venezuela isnt socialism, and to be strict it probably isnt really what is happening in Europe either.
 
Capitalism siphons money from the bottom to the elite at the top
 
All systems do this. The Communists did it, the Cubans do it, the Chinese do it, the list goes on and on.  ALWAYS the powerful and those in control live better.  All are equal but some are more equal than others.  This is not a problem with the ism, this is a human problem, in that people are drawn to power and money, and people in power feel like they are the exception that deserves to be treated better.   No ism fixes this.
 
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 1:30pm
But some isms do a better job of it than others don't they Bill?
Perhaps it is time, in a civilised world, for there to be a fairer system?
Socialism has a bad name because the rich and powerful control the message. They run the media and they don't want more equality.
The idea of socialism is sound. It now needs to be put into practice properly with adequate checks and scrutiny and a democratic basis. Then it will function well.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 21, 2017 - 2:05pm
Could that be because 'all' the media is owned or controlled by capitalists, wealthy people with vested interest?
 
Yep. Bottom line !
Bill Kamps Added May 21, 2017 - 2:36pm
Opher, since forever the rich and powerful have controlled the economy, and the laws.  Whether it was with kings, and serfs, or now with governments and corporations.  I think it is very difficult to keep out the influence of the rich and powerful from any system.
 
Socialism with its enforced "fairness" is challenging because who will decide what is fair?  The risk is it getting perverted like in Venezuela or Cuba.  The chaos of capitalism it preferable to the situations like those.
 
In some small places like Norway, it seems to work where you have a small homogeneous, relatively wealthy population.  Then you can get a consensus on what is fair.  However on a larger scale we have not seen it work yet, and we have seen this idea of equality and fairness perverted such that it almost becomes prison like.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 2:42pm
All systems do this. The Communists did it, the Cubans do it, the Chinese do it, the list goes on and on. 
Nonsense. You don't know what you're talking about either economically or politically.
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 2:59pm
Bill - that is not really true is it? The long fight for social justice forced both suffrage for all people, better workplace conditions and a fair wage against the ferocious opposition of the wealthy establishment. Out of that struggle came Trade Unions and out of them came the Labour Party. When gaining power the Labour Party brought in beneficial social changes (eg. the National Health Service) against huge opposition from the wealthy establishment.
If it wasn't for these socialist movements the capitalists would still be keeping people working in terrible conditions for appalling pay. I suggest you read the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Robert Tressell. It clearly shows the terrible working conditions people were forced to work in before socialist action forced them to change.
The people hold the power. They exerted it in France, Cuba and Russia with varying degrees of success. 
Power only resides with the Rich while the poor are bought of, misinformed, disunited or mislead. When people have had enough they force change.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 6:17pm
>Socialism is OK, as long as it is done in a liberal way
 
Socialism — whether "International Socialism" of the Soviet, Chinese, Cuban, Cambodian, or Vietnamese variety; or "National Socialism" of the German variety — is responsible for destroying more lives, hopes, and property in the 20th century alone than were destroyed by all religious wars put together since antiquity. The numbers are known and easily available to anyone not in denial over the issue.
 
Samuel Johnson once quipped that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The truth is that socialism is the last refuge — and the first— of a power-luster. People who croon, "Sure, Russian Marxian socialism was gruesome but, still, it made some improvements in the average Russian's standard of living", are no more intelligent than those who claim, "Sure, German Fascism under National Socialism was gruesome, but still, it built the Autobahn!"
 
Um, so what. Both systems destroyed well over 100 million lives. That one of them built a big highway and another built a big hydroelectric facility in no way excuses them from being organized murder.
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 6:57pm
Peter - none of the examples you put forward are socialist. Communism and socialism are different things. The fascism of Hitler and tyranny and madness of Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao were examples of dictatorship not socialism.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 7:25pm
>Communism and socialism are different things.
 
Marx used both terms interchangeably. He should know.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 7:29pm
And Marxist Russia always referred to itself as the "Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics."
 
If you want to grasp the difference in thinking between socialism and liberalism (i.e., capitalism), read Thomas Sowell's excellent book on the topic, "A Conflict of Visions".
 
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 7:33pm
>examples of dictatorship not socialism
 
Real socialism IS dictatorship.
 
The so-called "socialism" of Scandinavia is not socialism at all. It's basically a "hampered market economy", i.e., capitalism with lots of intervention by government. That isn't socialism . . . though it can lead to socialism incrementally as each intervention fails and requires yet more intervention. See, "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich Hayek.
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 7:35pm
Communism - a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.
Socialism - a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
Quite a difference. For the State to regulate what happens is quite different.  Socialism is about fairness and equality. Communism is a much more structured and controlled system. It is a matter of degrees.
A socialist country would nationalise key industries - power, rail, water and produce a taxation scheme that limits the income at the top while producing excellent public services for everyone - health, education, police, social services. A communist country would control everything and dictate the pay and conditions for everyone.
 
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 7:47pm
What countries call themselves and actually are is two different things. Russia and China never achieved communism. They operated as dictatorships. Mao said that in his little red book. He claimed that with such a large population it was a necessary stage. Perhaps China is now progressing towards communism?
But that is by the by.
Peter - are you really suggesting that the rampant capitalism as seen in the USA is the best way forward? A system that creates a split society? The richest country in the world funneling money into the pockets of billionaires while people live in fear and abject poverty under flyovers? A country that is controlling the world economy for its own ends? A country that is causing immense global destruction of the environment and extinction of animals through its lust for resources to keep pumping the machine? Is the bottom line the only consideration?
Or is it possible that there might just be a better, fairer, less destructive way?
Is capitalism working? The world is in a right mess. The US is in a mess. Who is profiting?
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 7:58pm
>Socialism - a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
 
There is no way the means of production can be owned "by the community as a whole". That's a meaningless phrase, which probably explains why it has never existed and can never exist in practice. Individuals can own the means of production in common with one another under a contract; capitalism already has that. But "ownership" means "the right to EXCLUDE others from using the property." In practice, "community ownership" always means, "some people IN GOVERNMENT own, control, and distribute the property, supposedly 'in the name of the community'." 
 
In classical Marxism, "communism" was supposed to be a way-station en route to "true socialism". First, the "dictatorship of the proles" in which government owned all means of production and distributed goods and services "according to the individual's needs" (and somehow, government officials and high-ranking Party members always seemed to have greater "needs" than others); then, after people have been duly "socialized", communism will "give way" to socialism, and the State itself will "wither away." Read Lenin's "The State and Revolution."
 
Socialism, thus, even under "scientific Marxism", arrived at by the "scientific method of Dialectical Materialism", always had a vague, Utopian quality to it that even Marx himself couldn't answer when acolytes of his would ask, "So, what exactly will this final, beautiful phase of Socialism look like?" His answer: "Don't ask. We can't know. History will simply move according to the materialist laws of dialectics and will change of its own accord from a government-run dictatorship of the proletariat to pure socialism." The dummies believed it, though most of it is explainable by two common psychological states: 1) envy ("I hate the fact that my neighbor is more successful than I am, and can afford better food, better housing, better clothing, better healthcare, better education, etc. We need a system that brings him down to my level!"; and 2) power-lust ("I agree with the guy who hates his neighbor out of envy. If only **I** were in power and in charge of things, I could cut that uppity neighbor down to size!").
 
That's the socialist mindset in a nutshell — where it belongs.
 
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 8:01pm
Here's a good summary of what I am referring to.
socialist
1. (Noun) A person who embrace some or all of the ideas of Marx.
Common political agendas include:
Redistribution of wealth (from rich to poor), social security, free education & healthcare, strengthening of labour unions.
Socialists usually have less orthodox opinions than communists, though a person can be both. A socialist will usually distance himself from communist dictators like Stalin, and instead claim loyalty to the original ideas of Marx and Lenin.
Unlike a communist, a socialist need not to be an atheist.
2. (Verb) Attributed to a country said to have a socialist system. This is often confused with communism, which according to Marx is a system where true equality exist, and the state have been made unnecessary. Most socialist agree that no country have had a truly communist regime.
1. "He is a socialist, not a communist."
"Why?"
"He doesn't support dictators like Stalin."
2. The socialist party favour better healthcare over tax cuts.
opher goodwin Added May 21, 2017 - 8:10pm
Peter - it is not about envy at all. It is about fairness, equality and justice.
Everybody deserves quality health care, good education and social support.
This is about addressing a system that is grossly unfair, where people die, starve and suffer in a country which is so rich it could solve all those problems at a stroke - except that the powerful elite load the dice. Their grotesque level of greed causes the problems.
Fernando Alcoforado Added May 21, 2017 - 8:25pm
Opher Goodwin, on your article "So what’s wrong with socialism?”, I have to say that from the 1990s the Marxist left, born in 1848 and seized power in several countries, has lost its way. The failure to build socialism in the Soviet Union and in the countries of Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, etc. demonstrates that the old socialist project is no longer feasible and a new project of socialist society will have to be elaborated. It should be noted that the old socialist project as it was constructed in the Soviet Union and in other countries became state capitalism, with political power exercised despotically and corruptly by a new bourgeoisie (state bourgeoisie or Nomenclature). The proletariat on behalf of which the socialist revolution was carried out did not exercise power and the population did not participate in the decisions of governments. Real socialism came to an end and there was no popular reaction to fight in its defense and to maintain it which demonstrates the immense frustration of the people by not meeting their expectations.

In an article published in the British newspaper The Guardian on 04/16/2009, under the title "The Mixed Economies" theoretical assumptions, Eric Hobsbawn states that we know of two practical attempts to realize both socialist and neoliberal systems in their pure form: On the one hand, the centralized, Soviet-type economies of state planning; On the other hand, the free market capitalist economy free from any restriction and control. The first came down in the 1980s, and with them European communist political systems; The second is decomposing before our eyes in the greatest crisis of global capitalism that occurred in 2008.

Hobsbawm said we do not know the gravity and duration of the current crisis that erupted in the United States, but it will undoubtedly mark the end of the kind of free-market capitalism which begun with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Hobsbawn further asserts that impotence, therefore, threatens both those who believe in a pure and destitute market capitalism, a kind of bourgeois anarchism, and those who believe in a planned and decontaminated socialism of profit-seeking. Both are broken. The future, like the present and the past, belongs to the mixed economies in which the public and the private are mutually bound in one way or another. This means that Social Democracy with the welfare state, which incorporates elements of both socialism and capitalism, the most successful system ever implemented in the world, especially in the Scandinavian countries, may prevail in the future after the neoliberal "tsunami" which overwhelms the planet we live in.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 8:39pm
>it is not about envy at all. It is about fairness, equality and justice.
 
A difference without a distinction under socialism.
 
Equality before the law — i.e., treating different group of people the same way — is already enshrined under capitalism, even if imperfectly. Equality after law — i.e., equality of results — requires treating different groups of people differently based on past grievances (real or imagined) or present grievances (real or imagined). To institutionalize and codify the treatment of different groups of people differently under the law for the sake of equality of social and economic outcomes is unfair and unjust, and is, in fact, a perversion of the rule of law. Coercion as a method of solving social problems (real or imagined) solves nothing, and only rends the social fabric, leading to greater amounts of hostility among different social groups. The past and present history of socialism attest to that.
 
Socialist Venezuela is only one of many examples of that. 
Patrick Writes Added May 21, 2017 - 8:56pm
Is "human nature" fixed or changing? I'd argue it is fixed so that we can read a 3000+ year old poems in the Illiad and Odyssey and completely relate to the characters.
 
Thus, when you come to a book in the Bible like Ecclesiastes, also likely 3000 years old, you can take to heart what is says (allegedly written by Solomon as an old man, despairing on the futility of life). 
 
"And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."
 
This more "equal" everyone is, does this steal a man's incentive to succeed I wonder. I don't think it's a noble thing to simply want to outdo your neighbor, but, again, is this the collective human nature we are stuck with? 
 
If you want to talk about the "commons" and everyone has a debt to society they need to pay, I'm with you. But if you're talking whole hog socialism, it would never work. There's no incentive to do anything. 
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 8:58pm
John Minehan Added May 21, 2017 - 9:06pm
"Everybody deserves quality health care, good education and social support."
 
The real question is how you do that.
 
Markets and the "Social Sector" (Peter Drucker's phrase) /the "Civil Society" (deTocqueville's phrase)  used to do that in the US, before the Progressive Era and the New Deal. 
Patrick Writes Added May 21, 2017 - 9:15pm
Don't mean to heap on the author. But one could argue much of the problems in the Western world (especially the U.S.) is the corruption of the government. Bailing out Wall Street and the banks with tax payer funds. Stimulus programs that benefit only the banks and uber wealthy. Swiss cheese tax code so the uber wealthy can hire teams of accountants to legally practice tax avoidance. (Lobbyists buying Congressmen, etc...). 
 
Doesn't socialism argue that all the means of production (businesses) should be state controlled? Won't that screw things up worse if you already have one of the most corrupt governments on earth? 
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 9:43pm
>Everybody deserves quality health care, good education and social support
 
Funny! All those areas that people are least satisfied with — healthcare, education, housing — are precisely those areas with the most amount of government intervention and the least amount of capitalist innovation. 
 
No one every says, "Everyone deserves to have the choice of a wide variety of inexpensive fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, shoes, clothing, personal computers, and smartphones!" because those are the areas that have the least amount of government interference and the most amount of private ownership and innovation.
 
Funny!
 
And what's even funnier is that if we look at economies touting themselves as socialist, semi-socialist, or social-democratic, we always see worse healthcare than we see in the US economy. Canada and the UK, for example, might promise their citizens free access to unlimited amounts of healthcare whenever they want it, but in fact, their systems cannot deliver what they promise. Long, long waiting periods, fewer diagnostic scanning machines (MRIs, CT-scanners), fewer cutting-edge drugs for cancer and heart disease, shortages of physicians, shortages of clinics, etc., lead to demonstrably worse healthcare outcomes. And those sick people who die while waiting for their treatments, their scans, or their surgeries, are not comforted by being told, "But you didn't have to pay anything!" Actually, they did have to pay: they paid in TIME: the time they spent waiting for diagnoses and treatments, and the time they no longer have to spend with family and friends because of worse healthcare outcomes.
 
But I guess the important thing to socialists is the fact that no one need be envious of anyone else: everyone has exactly the same access to exactly the same crappy healthcare.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 10:41pm
>Is "human nature" fixed or changing?
 
That's actually the basic question asked by Thomas Sowell in his book, "A Conflict of Visions." According to him, leftism comes from the belief (dating back at least to theorists like William Godwin) that human nature is malleable, the product of social institutions. Since social institutions can be changed, ergo, so can human nature. In Godwin's view, not only is human nature malleable, but it is infinitely malleable, and thus, "perfectable", as long as we continue to perfect our social institutions (namely, government and the schools). Classical liberalism, conservatism, and libertarianism believe that human nature is fixed. Knowledge, of course, is capable of change and improvement, but not human nature.
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 11:23pm
Venezuela
 
"[The Venezuelan regime embodies] an economic program marked by price controls, government expropriation of private property, an enormous welfare state, central planning, and endless rhetoric about equality, poverty relief, and fighting the so-called "neoliberals.
 
And, as Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has helpfully explained, 'There are two models, the neoliberal model which destroys everything, and the Chavista model which is centered around people.'
 
The Chavista model is simply a mixture of social democracy and environmentalism which is easily recognizable as the Venezuelan version of the hard-left ideology espoused by a great many global political elites both in the United States and Europe. Neoliberalism, on the other hand . . .  is a vague term that most of the time really just means a system of relatively free markets and moderate laissez-faire. 
 
For this reason, as Venezuela descends into chaos, we are hearing a deafening silence from most of the left, as even some principled leftists have noticed. 
 
In fact, it's a textbook case of a country electing a leftwing populist who undoes years of pro-market reforms, and ends up destroying the economy. 
 
It's happened in Argentina and in Brazil most recently, and it goes something like this:
 
first, a relatively neoliberal regime comes to power, moderately reduces government spending, somewhat restrains government power, and ushers in a period of growth. But, even with growth, middle-income countries like those of Latin America remain poor compared to the rich countries of the world, and large inequalities remain. Then, populist social democrats convince the voters that if only the regime would redistribute more wealth, punish greedy capitalists, and regulate markets to make them more "humane," then everyone would get richer even faster. And even better, the evil capitalists would be punished for exploiting the poor.
 
Eventually, the economy collapses under the weight of the new social democratic regime, and a neoliberal regime is again elected to clean up the mess. 
 
Venezuela is in the midst of this cycle right now. After decades of relatively restrained government intervention, Venezuela became one of the wealthiest nations in Latin America. During the most recent twenty years, though, the Chavistas were able to take that wealth and redistristribute it, regulate it, and expropriate it for the sake of "equality" and undermining capitalist evil. But, you can only redistribute, tax, regulate, and expropriate so much before the productive classes give up and the wealth runs out. "
 
Peter Corey Added May 21, 2017 - 11:33pm
Maria Gabriela Chávez Net Worth: Hugo Chávez's Daughter Richest Woman in Venezuela, Worth $4.2 Billion

"The net worth of late socialist leader Hugo Chávez's second-oldest daughter is estimated at $4.2 billion, making María Gabriela Chávez the richest woman in Venezuela.

The 35-year-old, whom embattled President Nicolás Maduro last year appointed an alternate ambassador to the United Nations, apparently holds most of her assets in accounts in the United States and Andorra, where they are not affected by Venezuela's volatile economy and highly deflationary currency."
 
* * *
 
Yet Opher Goodwin says of socialism:
 
>"It is about fairness, equality and justice."
 
Hugo Chavez and his daughter agree.
 
John G Added May 22, 2017 - 2:34am
Corey would believe and propagate any old crap. Of course the article is completely bogus.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 3:50am
Fernando - I fully concur with your reasoning. Russia has never been a socialist country. The revolution was stolen by powerful characters to create a tyrannical State.
I am quite happy with the idea of social-democracy. The Capitalist model has failed for a lot of people. It is time to look to a hybrid that will deliver a fairer system. With some nationalisation of key industries and a higher taxation system focussed on the super-rich we can create a fairer society with excellent public services. This will reduce the obscene level of inequality and give everyone the care they need. Nobody would be disenfranchised or left to suffer.
That seems the best way forward to me - that is why I am voting for Corbyn and the Labour Party in the forthcoming UK election.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 4:00am
it is not about envy at all. It is about fairness, equality and justice.
Peter - I do not agree with your argument. Capitalism has not taken on board fairness, equality or justice. It is a dog eat dog situation. The rich control the media, manipulate the public and buy favour to ensure legislation works their way. It is corrupt.
I do not envy the superrich. I despair at the unnecessary suffering created by them for so many people. They prosper at the expense of many.
Equality to me means that people are not prevented from prospering because of their skin colour, gender or sexual persuasion etc. It means that we have adequate schooling so that they can compete, adequate health care and social services etc.
The capitalist system has provided a platform where the rich are not paying their share into the system and run the game for themselves. Public services are starved of funds and ordinary people are left without a level playing field and no way forward. It is grossly unfair.
John G Added May 22, 2017 - 4:03am
You can't argue with Corey. He's a religious zealot.
Best to ignore him.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 4:27am
Patrick - I do not believe human nature is as 'fixed' as you suggest. If you look at the ethos of different countries, schools and institutions you find that they can be greatly changed by a change of management. If we create a caring ethos it will effect the way the place operates and the feel of the place.
As a headteacher I have proved this. You can make people nicer or nastier through the system you put in place.
Basic human nature remains the same but the emphasis can be greatly shifted one way or another.
We can build a better society.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 4:29am
John - the answer to "Everybody deserves quality health care, good education and social support." is extremely simple - you fund and value it properly.
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 10:02am
John G - your allegation:
 
"The VA's problems stem in no small part from underfunding."
 
has been made by every bureaucrat since time immemorial.  No matter how lousy the system, no matter how much waste, fraud and abuse . . . they always claim:
 
"If only we had more funding to fix those problems".
 
You could quadruple the budget of the VA and NONE of the problems would disappear - they would simply grow!  The smartest, most cost-effective, most beneficial to the taxpayer and veteran would be to simple ELIMINATE the VA bureaucracy and issue a Health Card to all vets that they take to ANY health care facility of their choice and the VA pays the bill.
Dave Zuchelli Added May 22, 2017 - 10:29am
The only thing wrong with socialism is people. Human nature will not allow such a system to exist in its preferred state.
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 10:50am
Dave -
 
Thank God that Human Nature is the antithesis to "communal slavery". 
 
The only way to make every "equal" is to make them "equally miserable".
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 11:04am
Bill K - does common sense and simple arithmetic enter into your "thinking" when you claim:
 
"Capitalism siphons money from the bottom to the elite at the top"
 
If poor people have no money (which is why they're "poor" - correct?) - How the hell can the "Elite" siphon any money from them?  If you were wealthy and owned a chain of stores, gas stations, car dealerships, whatever . . . . would you want a population composed of prosperous, productive people with incomes that can afford a nice home, car, etc???
                                                OR
. . . would you want a large downtrodden, broke, unemployed class of people that take a huge chunk of taxpayer (the highest 20% of income earners pay 84% of the taxes) revenue to sustain and can't afford your products???
 
The ONLY people that truly benefit from the Welfare State are the high-level employees of the Welfare State and politicians who use it to buy votes - period!!! 
 
 
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 3:27pm
Bill - based on your claim:
 
"Capitalism siphons money from the bottom to the elite at the top"
 
why haven't I heard the following conversation taking place in poor neighborhoods???
 
Poor Guy #1:  I lost my Rolex and Mercedes to some rich dude!
 
Poor Guy #2:  That's nothing - my Lear Jet and 1964 Aston Martin were both repossessed by a rich guy's bank!
 
Poor Guy #1:  Have you looked at your Merrill Lynch portfolio lately?  That rich guy took an extra $165,000 out of my 401K last month!
 
Poor Guy #2:  I told you to divest and keep everything in Gold bullion!  That's the only way to keep Rich Folks from "siphoning" your money!!!  
 
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 4:43pm
Dave - I think you are wrong. With good education we can move towards a fairer society. Human nature can be changed. In the right, caring environment, it is. I managed that in my school on a small scale. It worked.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 4:51pm
Mike - you talk utter rubbish. Socialist policies operating in Denmark have created a prosperous, friendly, peaceful and happy community with great amenities and standards. I understand it is the same in other countries practicing social democracy.
The rich siphon off money from the poor by keeping their pay low and exploiting them while enjoying huge tax breaks themselves. The capitalist system operates to keep the mass of people on low pay with poor services so that the wealthy can maximise their profits. It is not rocket science.
I want a population with far less inequality, where the super-rich pay far more taxes and everyone else enjoys a better standard of living and far better services - education, health, social services. We are not talking about people on welfare. We are talking about the millions of people on such low pay they can hardly ive. It is scandalous.
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 4:55pm
>Carbon Dioxide and global warming are the main problem with fossil fuels Ari.
 
Global warming is bogus (which is the reason leftists changed their mantra from "Oh, No! Global warming! to "Oh, no! Climate change!" Of course, climate has done nothing BUT change since the earth appeared in the solar system, so the cry is meaningless; and warming/cooling cycles have occurred in the past without human intervention: no industry; no technology; just the SUN . . . except as a plea for government control of industry, technology, the economy, and people's free choices. But let's be honest as to what the cry is all about, OK? You want socialism, and the Marxian plea of, "Capitalism unfairly exploits the Worker!!" has obviously been debunked by the history of capitalism itself. That's why workers are doing great in capitalist (or semi-capitalist) countries, and are doing lousy in socialist countries. 
 
Re: carbon dioxide. Um, Opher, you exhale CO2 after every breath you inhale. If you're claiming that what comes out of your lungs is polluting the earth, then your psychological problems are more serious than I thought. In any case, so-called "green" energy sources (wind-turbines and solar panels) produce huge amounts of CO2 in their manufacturing processes, so they are the exact opposite of "carbon neutral."  I looked it up. Would you like me to post the links and articles for the 3rd time? I'd be happy to do so.
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 5:50pm
I wonder if Opher Goodwin broadly believes in the desirability of the following as goals for socialism to pursue:
 
1. that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens.
 
2. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.
 
3. the nationalization of all industries.
 
4. a division of profits of all heavy industries (profit-sharing).
 
5. an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
 
6. the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation.
 
7. land reform . . . provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility
 
8. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of . . . a national education program, to enable everyone to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions.
 
9. The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor,

10. The good of the state before the good of the individual.
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 5:55pm
Peter you could not be more wrong. As a scientist and a Biologist I am fully au fait with climate change.
You are correct in saying that it has followed cycles and that is dependant on the sun. However, this global warming has not been triggered by solar activity. It has been triggered by human beings and the release of greenhouse gases - CO2, Methane and CFCs.
If you want to see what a runaway greenhouse effect is look at Venus - 462 degrees Celcius.
In the past we have been through cycles of warming and cooling. Raise in sea levels by 200 feet. Lowering of sea levels by 200 feet. Both extremes are completely undesirable. If that were to occur we would be in deep shit.
To do it to ourselves through the extra greenhouse gasses being pumped into the atmosphere is stupid.
To deny that it is happening when all the measurements are there is also stupid.
Up until the industrial revolution we were heading for a cooling probably leading to another ice-age. That was the cycle we were in. Fortunately we have averted that through our pollution output. A good thing. But with the 8 billion people on this planet pumping out pollutants the planet is going in the other direction and heading for a tropical age. If the ice-caps melt most major cities will be under water. They are coastal or on rivers. The low agricultural land will be swamped. That is catastrophic.
This is not part of a natural cycle it is manmade.
The change from global warming to climate change was a product of the media.
Yes I do breathe out CO2 and that does add, in a miniscule way, to the greenhouse effect. But it is the huge amount of fossil fuels being consumed that are the cause of the big rise in CO2. Plus factors like methane from the billions of cows and the drying up of swamps.
The evidence is all there. Climate deniers are ignorant fools.
I could lecture you on this for days. I have written books on it.
Yes, it is true that solar panels and wind turbines cost energy to produce and add to the pollution. But their net output over their life more than compensates for this.
You are scrambling around for silly arguments to shore up a shoddy belief.
Climate change is real and unless we tackle it humans, and other creatures, are going to have a very hard time. Your children will not thank you.
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 6:01pm
>I don't care what David Rockefeller's pet shill said
 
But we all care about Mussolin's pet shill, John Maynard Keynes. JohnJohnGooGoo's favorite fascist dictator wrote the following:
 
"Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a [so called] Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”

— quoted in "Universal Aspects of Fascism" by James Strache Barnes
 
Scratch a Keynesian, find a fascist. 
opher goodwin Added May 22, 2017 - 7:09pm
Well Peter I would broadly, and with reservations, agree with 1, 2, 4,5,6,8 and 9.
I would like to see nationalisation of essential industries - power, water, rail, but not more.
I would like more worker and union involvement in management along the highly successful German model. I would like higher taxation of the wealthy and better investment of public services. I believe education, health and social services should be high priorities and funded properly.
I am by no means extreme. I believe in fairness for the majority. I do not believe capitalism delivers that.
I worked in the USA for a year and was appalled by its crime level, drugs problem and levels of poverty. I would not live there with a family. It is too dangerous. Public services were terrible - schooling was extremely poor and health was a lottery - if you could afford it then you were OK if not you were on your own. People living under flyovers! You defend this?
What a terrible indictment of the world's richest nation!
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 8:09pm
>Well Peter I would broadly, and with reservations, agree with 1, 2, 4,5,6,8 and 9. I would like to see nationalisation of essential industries - power, water, rail, but not more.
 
[Of course, who gets to decide which industries are "essential" or not, and based on what criteria?]
 
I'll include #3, albeit with reservations. So you broadly agree with 8 of the 10 goals I posted.
 
Sorry to hear that. It means you are approximately 32% in agreement with the original 25 planks of the Nazi Party platform of 1920.
 
8/25 = 0.32 = 32%.
 
That you believe you "mean well" is irrelevant. Members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party also believed they meant well, and they demonstrated their goodwill by permanently removing anyone who might have disagreed with their progressive ideas.
 
See:
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Program
 
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 8:10pm
>Yes I do breathe out CO2 and that does add, in a miniscule way, to the greenhouse effect.
 
CO2 in general adds almost nothing to the greenhouse effect. Almost all of it is caused by water vapor.
John G Added May 22, 2017 - 8:22pm
LOLz at fascist Corey trying to win an argument with lies and guilt by association.
Peter Corey Added May 22, 2017 - 8:29pm
The main effect of increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is not warming but greening:
 
"We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models show that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend…"
 
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n8/full/nclimate3004.html
Positive numbers of scale (and correlated colors on map) = greening (a higher Leaf Area Index; longer growing season).
Negative numbers (and correlated colors) = browning (less forest coverage; shorter growing season).
 
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6338/635
"We show that in 2015, 1327 million hectares of drylands had more than 10% tree-cover, and 1079 million hectares comprised forest. Our estimate is 40 to 47% higher than previous estimates, corresponding to 467 million hectares of forest that have never been reported before.** This increases current estimates of global forest cover by at least 9%."
 
[**Probably the result of CO2]
 
[Aw, gee! You mean Earth is not dying? Aw, no! You mean the world is not coming to an end and the sky is not falling? Aw, gosh, darn it. What are we gonna do now? We need a good crisis to convince people to accept top-down planning in their lives from their technocratic-social betters. We'll have to invent something else.
 
Space aliens, perhaps?]
Tamara Wilhite Added May 22, 2017 - 8:45pm
Socialism Makes People Selfish - PragerU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3GfCmbPDN0
Mike Haluska Added May 23, 2017 - 9:18am
Hey "Scientist" Opher - your statement:
 
"In the past we have been through cycles of warming and cooling. Raise in sea levels by 200 feet. Lowering of sea levels by 200 feet. Both extremes are completely undesirable."
 
begs the following questions/facts:
 
1) these cycles you mention occurred long before humans and the industrial age began - which means HUMAN HAD NO IMPACT ON THEIR OCCURRENCE
 
2) human CO2 is less than 1.5% of the total 400 ppm concentration level of CO2 - total elimination of human CO2 would only drop it to 394 ppm 
 
3) based on 1 and 2, there is nothing humans can do to alter the natural climate cycle of Earth 
Mike Haluska Added May 23, 2017 - 9:23am
Opher -
 
ALL of the things you find "terrible" (institutionalized poverty, drugs, crime, public health care. etc.) in the US are the DIRECT result of socialist policies introduced to a once Free Market system.  That economic system produced the highest standard of living in human history in less than 100 years.  Considering the rest of the world had a 5,000 year head start on America, I think we should be admired and copied. 
Mike Haluska Added May 23, 2017 - 9:30am
Opher - your statement:
 
"If you want to see what a runaway greenhouse effect is look at Venus - 462 degrees Celcius."
 
shows your true "scientific" credentials.  Mars atmosphere is 99% CO2 and it is so cold liquid water is never found above ground.  What happened to the "greenhouse effect" there?  You think that just maybe Venus' close proximity to the giant thermonuclear furnace it is orbiting has something to do with its high temperatures???
John Minehan Added May 23, 2017 - 9:33am
Mr. Haluska, Congratulation on using "begs the question" correctly (ignoring an issue, not leading to a question).
John Minehan Added May 23, 2017 - 9:38am
"Opher - your statement:
 
'If you want to see what a runaway greenhouse effect is look at Venus - 462 degrees . . . [Celsius].'
  
shows your true "scientific" credentials.  Mars atmosphere is 99% CO2 and it is so cold liquid water is never found above ground.  What happened to the "greenhouse effect" there?  You think that just maybe Venus' close proximity to the giant thermonuclear furnace it is orbiting has something to do with its high temperatures???"
 
But Mars also has an incredibly thin atmosphere and low atmospheric pressure as compared to either Earth or Venus and also lacks an active core and a magnetic field. 
 
Thus, that comparison is somewhat misleading.  
John Minehan Added May 23, 2017 - 9:59am
Venus lacks a magnetic field (hence is bombarded by cosmic rays and solar radiation in a way that the Earth is not), may not have an active core and differs geologically, making the "Green House Gas" argument a fairly unpersuasive one.
 
A stronger argument for the deleterious effects of Greenhouse Gasses is the Permian-Triassic Extinction (the "K-T Extinction"), the largest in this planet's history, which fossil and geological evidence links to Greenhouse Gas build up from volcanism.
 
However, the best current understanding of the event is that it resulted from acidification of the seas, causing the mass extinction of plankton and certain invertebrate sea life that was unable to form shells in the more acidic waters.
 
In simple terms, since the oceans act as a carbon sink, the rather slow increasing in global temperatures may mask a deeper problem.  Since all the evidence is indirect, none of it is dispositive, and may not be until it culminates in an extinction event . . . or not.
Fernando Alcoforado Added May 23, 2017 - 11:06am
Opher Goodwin, I agree with your thinking. The capitalist model has failed for many people. It's time to look for a hybrid that will deliver a fairer system.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 11:15am
Thank you Fernando. I'm glad you agree.
The division in society created by the gulf between rich and poor is, in my opinion, far too great. It does not make for a happy society. A social hybrid could work much better.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 11:23am
Talking about the wealth generated by the USA (most siphoned off to the top), I wonder how that compares with the huge wealth generated by Britain or Spain in their heyday. Britain was amazingly prosperous - not that the bulk of the population would know as it ended up in few hands - by stripping resources of countries and exploiting the natives. Spain killed and raped its way around South America in search of gold and did the same thing. I believe the main reason for early American success was slavery and now it economically controls the world and exploits many countries. Or do you prefer to believe it was all the hard work and industry of its workers?
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 12:26pm
What's wrong with socialism?  Human Beings. 
 
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was socialist, with Party Bosses being "more equal" than others.   Achievers were demotivated in this socialist system because their increased efforts were simply redistributed to others.  Therefore the overall level of wealth creation was depressed....which is why the USSR collapsed.
 
Modified capitalism does create winners and losers, and it can be ugly.  However, the overall level of wealth creation capitalism produces raises the standard of living for all as compared to socialism.  This is why we see "homeless" people begging on the street corner in the US that are overweight and checking their smartphone.  Compare and contrast this phenomenon to some of the world's poorest countries. 
 
Those that seek the comforts of socialism often desire to do less than they are capable of and consequently drain the system rather than add to it as well.
  
All that being said, socialism in its purest form is probably the most equable method of governance we could have.  However, our Darwinist genetic traits that are based on survival of the fittest (greed, jealousy, envy, etc) will never allow a true socialistic system to evolve without corruption, inequity and demotivation of the most capable.
  
Janie Smith Added May 23, 2017 - 12:31pm
Socialism is to Capitalism what Mother is to Father or what Grace is to Truth.  
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 12:37pm
Well strangely I don't agree with any of that. Introducing social curbs and restraints, fair taxation and a degree of nationalisation works extremely well in the Scandinavian countries.
Russia and China were never social. They might call themselves what they like but their revolution was taken over by tyrants in Mao and Stalin.
The US system has produced a split country of violence and extreme poverty. The richest country in the world with millions without healthcare or decent education. The wealth siphoned off to the superrich.
No thank you.
Human beings can be educated to become caring and altruistic. We have intelligence.
I think you have not understood Darwinism. We achieved what we did through cooperation and teamwork. You don't hunt mammoth and fight sabre-tooths on your own.
Survival of the fittest is not the strongest, meanest and most vicious. Sometimes it is the quietest most timid and sometimes it is the most intelligent. We shared our inventions in order to prosper.
When you bring up children in an unequal environment with danger and aggression they become violent. If you bring them up in a caring, nurturing environment they don't.
Too much of the US is a war-torn gang zone. I wouldn't be so proud of it. The wealth sits with the ones locked up in their safe zones in penthouses and gated communities. Out on the street it's a different ballgame.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 12:40pm
Janie - that doesn't make sense.
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 1:11pm
Opher.....good comments.  Tribalism is part of Darwinism.....but by its nature is limited to small groups.  "Its us against them" is hard to reproduce on the national level in large countries, which is why socialism usually fails in the face of equally Darwinist human greed, corruption and demotivation. Scandnavian countries make socialism work albeit with challenges due to the intimate local nature of the system, and the ability to not spend any money on common defense.
 
Wishing human nature to be other than it is does not make it so.  Human nature is why all governing systems usually fail under the weight of cyclic corruption - including socialism.
Janie Smith Added May 23, 2017 - 1:36pm
Sure it does, its about balance. 
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 1:42pm
But Norton - if something is worth doing then we have to find the way of doing it. We have to make it work.
I firmly believe that we can develop the altruistic, caring side in children and create a better, fairer society.
I think a socialist hybrid is probably workable and desirable.
That tribalism is deeply embedded and often comes out negatively in nationalism and racism, but it can be channelled into more positive things such as pride in a pluralistic community.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 1:43pm
OK Janie - if what you are saying is that a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism could work then I would go along with that.
Janie Smith Added May 23, 2017 - 1:48pm
Exactly! 
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 1:50pm
Well I'm with you then.
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 2:27pm
We'll need AIs and/or manipulation of our genetic codes for higher intelligence and reduced atavistic tendencies to make this blend of socialism and capitalism work without corruption and inequity.
 
As automation increases, we'll probably first see a base living wage assigned by society, with the ability to strive for more in areas not decimated by automation.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 23, 2017 - 2:36pm
Opher / Janie
 
if what you are saying is that a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism could work
 
As I said it works. And it's called social democracy. As seen here in Switzerland.
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 4:09pm
Stone, "it works" is a little optimistic.....
 
Switzerland population:  8.3MM
New York City population:  8.5MM
USA population:  330MM
World Population:  6+Billion
 
"Social democracy" may workto some extent in an isolated, homogenous country that does not field its own military for defense with a population smaller than New York City.
 
As I said earlier, socialism works at the local level because humans recognize tribalism in smaller numbers.  You can hardly point to Switzerland and reasonably claim their system will work for hundreds of millions or billions of people.  The larger the numbers, the smaller the attractor of tribalism in humans to sacrifice for unseen others.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 4:17pm
It is probably harder with a larger population but not impossible. 8 million is still far too big to operate on a tribal basis.
I think it comes down to education.
Mike Haluska Added May 23, 2017 - 4:35pm
All of you who think that because humans "can't be trusted to run their own lives" and therefore should submit to an "all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent" group of elitist "angels", please click the link:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A
Ian Thorpe Added May 23, 2017 - 4:46pm
What's wrong with socialism? Just a few examples :
Russia under Lenin or Stalin
China under Chairman Mao
East Germany under Erich Honecker
Cuba under Castro
Cambodia under Pol Pot
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 4:47pm
Opher, you said "It is probably harder with a larger population but not impossible. 8 million is still far too big to operate on a tribal basis.
I think it comes down to education."
You are engaging in  wishful thinking.  Any social scientist will tell you the situation in Switerland fosters tribal relationships.  There are several factors that contribute to this tribal state, shared language, shared history, relative isolation, small geography  Don't believe me?  Go to New York City....you'll see widely shared speech patterns, methods of dress, locomotion, behaviors, etc. TSwitzerland and New York City demonstrate that a group of 8MM living in close proximity can develop homogenous characteristics and become tribes.   This phenomenon does not work on large numbers over long distances.  
 
Your denial of human nature is alarming, but unfortunately shared by many.....with social science deniers like you, we'll continue to make the same mistakes throughout history over and over and over again in the name of Hope.
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 4:51pm
Mike...awesome link, thank you.  Milton really had him on the ropes!
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 4:55pm
Many areas of the States are more homogenous than New York. And the ethos of New York has been changed radically. Last time I went it was really pleasant compared to the first time. In 1971 if you walked round you got mugged in three minutes flat. Now you have to walk around quite a lot before getting mugged.
I do live in hope. We have to do something positive or we will end up with a catastrophe. This divide is fuelling such anger and frustration that we end up with Trump and Brexit. What we need is hope and a fairer system.
Perhaps all these social science experts could devise a fairer system?
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 5:05pm
Opher you said:  "Perhaps all these social science experts could devise a fairer system?"
If so, who implements it?  Who maintains it?  Who pushes out the current power structures to replace it with the new system?  Who protects against corruption?  Who watches the watchers?
 
No matter what the governing system, human nature will remain the same.  Answering the question "what's in it for me" is who we are.  The only system that turns this basic human characteristic into maximum wealth for all is modified capitalism, but even capitalism has its booms and busts because of human nature.  There is no magic bullet other than to be involved in making the world a better place at the local level.  What you do multiplied by millions of other contributors determines our overall quality of life and the level of integrity in our governments.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 23, 2017 - 5:24pm
Norton
 
For bigger countries there's federalism - like we have it on a small scale here. For example: You have 50 or so states, from Alabama to Wisconsin. Now, they all vote democratically for SUBJECTS and people. The subjects which concern the nation are voted on nationally by the PEOPLE.
 
And the president can NOT decide independently on ANYTHING. Actually a president is not even needed. Look here:
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Switzerland
 
For once Wiki is correct. Why should this system not be applicable to a larger country ?
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 23, 2017 - 5:27pm
BTW: We don't have racial discussions here. Switzerland has 30% (!) immigrants and foreigners, and that works mostly. Means of the 8 million people more that 2 are foreigners. IT's all a matter of integration. Of course we have problems lately due to the mass of refugees due to US wars, but we try to smoothen it.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 23, 2017 - 5:29pm
Ian
 
Just a few examples :....
 
Maybe you didn't notice that this was capitalism by a crooked elite sold as socialism to an uneducated mass.
 
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 6:11pm
Norton - I think the 'what's in it for me' is quite clear - a better society, better services, a happier country. People will buy in to that. They like justice and fairness.
Psychology is at the heart of it and people do psychologically respond to positive forces. Education is key.
The who does this that and the other would be built into the template if the social scientists do their job.
For me there is no alternative. Capitalist is presently creating misery all around the world - war, poverty, environmental degradation and exploitation. The rich dictate what happens, bribe, buy up media and lie, and actively distort democracy to benefit themselves. It is corrupt and obscene.
The alternative of a social democracy is far superior and beneficial to everyone - even the super-rich - it creates a happier world.
One thing we have now that previous generations lacked is the technology - particularly the web.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 6:13pm
Well put Mr Friedli.
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 6:31pm
>It was the trade unions, and the socialist movement that grew out of them, that forced the capitalists to be fairer.
 
???
 
Trade unions in the US have been a complete disaster for the workforce in general, as well as for consumers. Above-market wages for the few union members must always comes at the cost of below-market wages for non-union members, many of whom are forced to work at a trade requiring less expertise and experience than they actually have. Thus, trade unions create inefficiencies in the market, lowering overall productivity (and therefore, lowering overall wealth for society).
 
The two worst labor policies in the US have been laws mandating collective bargaining with trade unions and the minimum wage.
 
For a history of US trade unions, listen to legal scholar Richard Epstein (one of the few lawyers who understands economics):
 
"What's Wrong With Labor Unions?"
 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 23, 2017 - 7:07pm
BTW Norton:
 
"Social democracy" may workto some extent in an isolated, homogenous country that does not field its own military for defense with a population smaller than New York City
 
Every man here who is not disabled is in the military service and keeps its gun at home. But in a controlled manner. No buying arms in the supermarket. And guess what ? We have about 20 murders a year here.
 
So that point is obsolete too. Maybe the fact that we have less crime than in the US is also due to the fact that we have no real discrimination here and the media doesn't contain only slogans and biased stuff that heats up emotions.
 
BTW: The less enemies you create the less you have to defend yourself....
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 7:12pm
>Socialist policies operating in Denmark have created a prosperous, friendly, peaceful and happy community with great amenities and standards.
 
Denmark sounds like an Orwellian hell-hole.  The Danes take seriously the "Law of Jante" ("Janteloven"), comprising the following ten cultural codes of conduct in one's personal life and thought:
 
1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.
6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.
8. You’re not to laugh at us.
9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
 
"In his 2014 book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People, author and journalist Michael Booth, who lives in Copenhagen, observed that while it may be on the decline and less marked in the capital, “Jante Law operates everywhere in Denmark on some level or another.”

"One friend of mine, the newspaper columnist Annegrethe Rasmussen, sparked a recent Jante Law debate when she wrote about her experiences of coming home from Washington, D.C., where she lives, and telling her friends about her son’s performance at school. “As a kind of quick way into the subject,” Annegrethe told me shortly after the column was published, “I said, ‘He’s doing really well, he is number one in his class.’ And the table went silent.” Though she is Danish, and so should have known better, she realized immediately that she had breached the code. “If I had said he was great at role-playing or drawing it would have been fine, but it was totally wrong to boast about academic achievement.”

"Dupuis argues that the benefits of the law are born out by happiness research. Following the 10 rules, “You’ll probably set your sights on living a very average life. With such a mentality, you’re likely to be quite content when life hands you very average things,” she writes. “On the other hand, if life happens to hand you something above and beyond average, you’ll likely feel pleasantly surprised, and in most cases, pretty darn happy.”

In a happiness study by neuroscientist Robb Rutledge of the University College of London, low expectations helped boost happiness. Rutledge’s experiments involved decision-making games in which participants would be rewarded by small amounts of money for making certain choices. He used self-reported ratings and MRI scans to measure their level of happiness in response to the cash rewards. The results showed people were happier when they received a reward they didn’t expect than when they received one they did. “Lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness,” Rutledge wrote."
 
* * *
 
In sum:  Denmark is a nation of low expectations, inhabited by a people of low ambition, a general lack of interest in innovation, and — as has been pointed out in many studies on the subject — a rather high percentage of people taking prescription antidepressants. 
 
In the minds of many American leftists, there's nothing wrong with any of that — especially since incomes (not surprisingly) have been made very equal by huge transfer payments and wealth redistribution programs by government — and the only thing they apparently look it is the bottom line of certain studies declaring the Danes to be "the happiest people in the world." Of course, it doesn't take much for a third party to declare you "happy" if 1) you lack ambition, 2) you cultivate low expectations of work and life, and 3) take antidepressants.
 
As I posted above, however, to me it's a nightmare scenario out of Orwell, or perhaps an episode of the old television series starring Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner."
 
See:
 
https://qz.com/794740/the-happiness-of-the-danes-can-easily-be-explained-by-10-cultural-rules/
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 7:18pm
>But in a controlled manner. No buying arms in the supermarket.
 
What's wrong with buying guns in the supermarket, especially if gun ownership by civilians is 1) legal, and 2) a guaranteed right?
 
In the U.S., there is no correlation between gun-related violent crime and the freedom legally to purchase a firearm and ammunition in a supermarket. The majority of violent gun crimes in the U.S. are committed by 1) the mentally ill, 2) with illegal firearms (i.e., no permit), 3) in so-called "gun-free zones", where bystanders cannot defends themselves or stop the criminal with their own firearms because the local laws forbid them from carrying and concealing them.
 
You have a nice theory undercut by implacable facts.
 
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 7:42pm
Peter you do come out with some complete claptrap. Do you believe all that stuff? Because Denmark is certainly not a country of low aspirations.
I would suggest that most of the US better fits that description. Do you go downtown and talk to the poor and underprivileged? Did you see and hear them at the Trump rallies? Do you see the racism still extant throughout the States? Are you familiar with the violence and murders and the numbers locked up in your prisons? Then we have the KKK and the John Birchers, the white supremacists, creationists and religious nutters. You walk down the street in LA to be confronted with imbeciles telling you you're going to hell. A very confused nation of violence, fear and hatred.
Not exactly utopia is it?
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 7:49pm
>Peter you do come out with some complete claptrap. Do you believe all that stuff? Because Denmark is certainly not a country of low aspirations.
 
I'm afraid you're talking through your hat. Nothing you have said or posted is based on homework or research (even casual Internet searches); it's all been based on feelings.
 
As far as knowledge is concerned, your feelings about socialism, capitalism, the U.S., Denmark, etc., aren't worth a damn.
 
Do some homework.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 7:52pm
In 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries (23.2 injuries per 100,000 U.S. citizens), and 33,636 deaths due to "injury by firearms" (10.6 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens). ... Firearms were used to kill 13,286 people in the U.S. in 2015, excluding suicide.
 
what an indictment. And Peter you still think selling arms is justified?
 
Denmark is 7 times less!! Far, far safer. Far less violent.
 
There is a madness in America - racial, religious and gun related. It is fuelled by an horrendous social division. If it isn't replaced by a fairer system I expect it to erupt. Capitalism is failing a huge swathe of the population.
Social democracy is the answer.
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 7:57pm
>Do you go downtown and talk to the poor and underprivileged?
 
I don't base my posts on limited personal anecdotal stories of a small sample of people. ("I went to a Trump rally and spoke to this homeless guy who told me that he lost his job at a gas-station convenience store because Warren Buffett and Bill Gates had siphoned all of his wages upward to themselves so that they could maintain the rich and powerful lifestyle to which they had become accustomed"). You'll have to do better than that lest you be stigmatized as lazy.
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 8:02pm
The World's Most Innovative Companies
Forbes top 100 list from 2016
 
50 are from the United States.
2 are from Denmark.
opher goodwin Added May 23, 2017 - 8:08pm
Peter I didn't visit any Trump rally. I wouldn't be seen dead there (or I might be if I went). I watched all the coverage and listened to what everyone was saying and what happened. Very scary.
I have no doubt that the US is good at making money. They are also even better at stopping it getting to the majority. They like to keep it horded up within a small elite and to hell with the ones at the bottom.
You are trying to justify a morally corrupt system.
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 8:09pm
"Denmark has an entire population of 5,350,000 people. Of them, 1,150,000 are below 18 years old. Of the remaining 4,200,000 people, 2,214,000 people receive government transfer payments (not counting 260,000 students that receive public scholarships of $550 per month).
 
When you recalculate these 2,214,000 people, of whom some receive only part-time government transfers, into people who live full-time on transfer income, the total becomes 1,590,000 people living off transfer payments.
 
Out of these 1,590,000 people, 710,000 are pensioners and the remaining approximately 900,000 are working-age people. Most of them cannot be found in the unemployment statistics. They are on other kinds of public transfer programs of which there exist ten different types.
 
There are approximately 1,900,000 people working in the private sector and 840,000 working in the public sector or publicly owned companies. (The reason the numbers do not add up to 4.2 million is because not all are full time workers.)
 
We can conclude from this that of the people in the working age of 18 to 66, more than one quarter live passively on government transfers (full time). For every 100 persons employed full time in 1999, there were 33 working-age people receiving support. Adding pensioners, the total number was 61 people on full time transfer income for each 100 full time employed persons. (The pensioners are financed by a pay-as-you-go pension scheme). And out of those who are employed, 31.5 percent work for the government. [NB: Thus, almost 1/3rd of the workforce are civil servants. Not exactly a statistic that suggests innovation.]
 
All of this, of course, needs to be financed. Denmark has therefore for many years had a very high and continuously increasing tax level.
 
In 2002, the lowest marginal income tax level is 44.31 percent, then it increases to 49.77 percent and 63.33 percent. Forty percent of the working people pay the top marginal tax rate of 63.33 percent, which applies to all income over $33,000.
 
A sales tax of 25 percent hits just about everything.
 
The capital gains tax is 59.7 percent for a private person in the high income tax bracket, unless you hold your investment for more than 3 years. It then falls to 44.8 percent.
 
There are additional taxes on "sinful" and "luxury" products likes cigarettes, alcohol, candy, soft drinks, electronic goods, and other luxuries.
 
For cars, there is a 180 percent special tax on top of the sales tax of 25 percent. Then there is a registration fee and a weight fee to be paid twice per year for the privilege of using the roads. The price of gasoline is nearly three times as high as it is in the US.
 
Denmark imposes many new green taxes. These are the taxes that have increased most substantially during the 1990s. These taxes hit heating, electricity, water, and gasoline."
 
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 8:16pm
Denmark
"If we next look at the crime level, the Danish Statistical Yearbook 2002 shows reported crimes from 1935 to 1960 to be stable: about 100,000 crimes per year. But from 1960 until today, the number of crime reports has increased by 500 percent, to more than 500,000 per year. And if we look at violent crime, the picture is even grimmer. The number of violent crimes in 1960 was approximately 2,000; it is approximately 15,000 today. This is an increase of more than 700 percent, and it is still rising steeply.
 
This is a very surprising development. Welfare state advocates often say that crime is caused by poverty. Well, Denmark has become about twice as rich per citizen during this period of rising crime. Another argument is that poverty is caused by economic inequality. Well, Denmark has engaged in the most comprehensive income redistribution program of any nation. Denmark is the most egalitarian country in the world today.
 
So, a rising crime level is the last thing the welfare statists might have predicted using their own theory. Maybe there is some other independent factor causing the development? Denmark has taken in a great number of immigrants and refugees from third-world countries. These immigrants unfortunately are greatly overrepresented in the crime statistics—something like 5 to 1—but they only account for less than 10 percent of the population, and hence cannot account for the entire increase in crime.
 
There are better explanations. Massive redistribution schemes have undercut people's respect for property rights. The rhetoric against wealth producers that has accompanied the redistribution has created social antagonisms. People on government transfer income have a lot of extra time on their hands, and their hands do the "devil's work."
 
The best explanation may be the change in the views of intellectuals. In the 1960s, the theory emerged that crime should not be blamed on the offender but on society. This led to the conclusion that crime should not be punished—at least not very harshly—but instead socially treated.
 
This idea is still so widespread that the present Minister of Justice, who is a conservative, proposed that prisoners be released when they have served only half their sentence. This, she said, would solve the problem of long waiting lists for the Danish prisons. But it might also make the lists even longer!
 
Let's now look at education. Many people believe that if education were not provided by the government, only rich people could afford it. Let us compare Denmark to the U.S., where public funding of especially higher education is not nearly as readily available as it is in Denmark. According to the report "Education at a Glance" from the OECD, 15 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 64 has a bachelor degree or more in Denmark. In the U.S.A., it is 26 percent—nearly twice as many. In Sweden, the number is 13 percent, and Norway 16 percent.
 
If we look at the other end of the education level, those with only 9 years of education, in Denmark it is 34 percent, whereas in the U.S. it is 14 percent. In Sweden the number is 26 percent and in Norway 18 percent. Again the numbers are much more favorable in the U.S.
The U.S. has, according to this report, the best educated population in the world measured by numbers of years of schooling. No country has as many highly educated people as the USA and no country has as few people with only 9 years of education. This is information, I know, is surprising to most Europeans (conceding of course that this is a quantitative and not a qualitative measure).
 
In Denmark, many people are prevented from gaining the education they would like. All higher education is publicly run and free. Central planners decide how many doctors, architects, engineers, lawyers, economists, etc., that society needs. Students are rationed according to their grades in high school. If your grades are not high enough, you may not begin a degree program of your preference.
 
There are no objective tests of the quality levels in Denmark that I know of. However, one indication of the falling quality level in education could be the considerable shift in applicants for higher education away from the sciences and into the humanities. Everything involving mathematics, or other clearly demonstrable skills such as natural science or economics, is disliked by the applicants."
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 10:11pm
"What about health? Denmark is one of the few OECD countries where the average life span has hardly increased since the early 1970s. In the early 1970s, Denmark was at the top in OECD comparisons; today it is closer to the bottom.
 
According to the politicians, this has nothing to do with poor quality at the Danish hospitals or long waiting lists for examination and surgery. They say it is due to the Danish people's habit of smoking and drinking. And yet, often one can read in the news stories of people who die preventable deaths simply because they were on a waiting list and unable to get care.
 
Sound economic theory can explain the shortages and continuously falling quality in government-provided health care and education. When suppliers are not driven by the profit motive, nor subjected to market competition, they cease being customer oriented. Quality declines and costs rise. Due to the lack of market prices, and therefore no economic calculation, they can neither plan efficiently nor satisfy consumer demand. They do not have the information or the incentives to make rational decisions. This was the case in the formerly centrally planned economies. It is also the case in Denmark, where central planning also prevails in parts of the economy, most significantly in health care and education.
 
In conclusion, we can say that neither on crime, education nor health do we see the favorable results we would have expected. Quite to the contrary. The prospects for being able to rely on government or family for social security are also rapidly diminishing. These are not very bright prospects indeed for a country where each working citizen are forced to sacrifice such a large share of his personal earnings to the common good.
 
One option for young people is to leave. It was recently proposed by one of the three economists from the Danish Economic Council that if young people in Denmark wish to move abroad after they have completed their education, they should first have to pay back the costs of their education. Only when they have paid enough taxes to cover all the expenses of their education, would they be able to move abroad without having to pay the government first.
 
Thus do we have proposed the social-democratic version of the Berlin Wall, an economic barrier to prevent emigration so that the state can continue to tax people to sustain a system that is unraveling. The mere suggestion is a telling sign that Denmark has nearly reached the end of the road."
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 10:15pm
Norton Louis Added May 23, 2017 - 10:25pm
Peter, brilliant commentary.  Nothing like a few facts and figures,to whack starry eyed idealism upside the head.  The economic-Berlin wall comment was particularly apt. (And frightening).  This demonstrates how states "dedicated to the common good" tend to be reach for totalitarianism when it suits.  Expect more such actions as Denmark continues to the inevitable slide and runs out of other people's money.
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 10:33pm
> They are also even better at stopping it getting to the majority.
 
Big Money goes to those who have made Big Contributions to the economy. Given that the majority only make small contributions to the economy in terms of productivity, why should Big Money go to the Big Majority? You seem to think that just because the majority want something, government should automatically give it to them. That's based on absolutely nothing but feelings; and those feelings are based on absolutely nothing but mistaken ideas about ethics.
 
>They like to keep it horded up within a small elite and to hell with the ones at the bottom. You are trying to justify a morally corrupt system.
 
No, I am justifying a morally fair system that apportions different economic rewards to different people based on their different contributions to productivity and wealth creation.  Egalitarianism (in its incarnation as "socialism") is actually the morally corrupt system, which goes a long way toward explaining why all egalitarian regimes require force to implement them, and why they inevitably end up poor, requiring the meritocratic, non-egalitarian economies to supply hand-outs and loans to them. I can't think of a single exception.
 
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 11:31pm
>Denmark is 7 times less!! Far, far safer. Far less violent.
 
Post links and sources for your numbers.
 
In any case, your argument is a non-sequitur. North Korea is very "safe" as far as civilian gun crime is concerned but no one wants to move there. Conversely, Luxembourg (with strict gun control laws) seems like a very nice place to live and play, yet it has about 7 times the violent crime of Germany, which has fewer restrictions on private gun ownership. The UK, for example, had far less violent gun crime than the U.S. even in the 19th century when there were few restrictions on private gun ownership. So obviously, we cannot explain the difference in gun-crime by reference to gun-control laws. The more recent gun confiscation and ban in the UK did little to reduce the already small amount of gun violence in the UK, but it did incite a not-unexpected increase in overall violent crime: knives, battery, rape, etc. See:
 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html
 
Most government restrictions on private behavior have the exact opposite effect from the intended one promoted by politicians: Prohibition of alcohol in the US in the 1920s created a black market for alcohol, leading to more booze-related crimes than before the legislation, as well as leading to even more alcoholism than previously.
 
Today, prohibition of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin, have done little to reduce the market for these drugs, and the reason is simple: despite draconian punishments for users, people still demand the drugs because they LIKE their effects; and despite draconian punishments for sellers, the prohibitions make the drug scarce relative to demand so the street price skyrockets, making the lure of big profits a powerful incentive for producers and distributors.
 
Same with guns. People want guns because they like protecting themselves. Prohibition of firearms does nothing but create black markets for guns; thus there is even more illegal ownership of guns under gun bans than there is when there's a legal way of obtaining a permit.
 
In the US, the nationwide trend since the 1990s has been 1) more legal gun ownership by private individuals, correlating with 2) less violent crime, including gun-related crimes. See:
 
We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s why.
Washington Post
 
And see:
 
"According to data retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 7 firearm-related homicides for every 100,000 Americans in 1993 (see light blue line in chart). By 2013 (most recent year available), the gun homicide rate had fallen by nearly 50% to only 3.6 homicides per 100,000 population."
 
In the U.S., the majority of private handgun use is defensive; i.e., Defensive Gun Use (DGU) refers to a scenario in which a private citizen armed with a handgun merely displays his gun holstered on him, or perhaps draws the firearm and points it at a criminal (e.g., in the act of casing or burgling his home) but without firing. In most instances, the criminal leaves in a hurry. Since the gun was not fired, the incident — assuming it's even reported at all to the police, which it may not — is not recorded in the official record as "gun-related", ergo, there are no official statistics on this kind of event. Researchers, however, have used surveys to show that this scenario happens over a millions times throughout the U.S., as well as to show that violent crimes would have increased significantly had the person not had a firearm. The conclusion is that private gun ownership prevents more crimes than it causes, including violent crimes against a person (assault, battery, rape, mugging) and crimes against property (burglary, robbery). See this article by one of the original researchers on defensive gun use, Professor Gary Kleck, University of Florida:
 
https://www.saf.org/wp-content/uploads/journals/JFPP11.pdf
"It has now been confirmed by at least 16 surveys, in
Peter Corey Added May 23, 2017 - 11:31pm
Re: Defensive Gun Use:
 
https://www.saf.org/wp-content/uploads/journals/JFPP11.pdf
"It has now been confirmed by at least 16 surveys, including
the 1993 National Self-Defense Survey (NSDS) of Kleck and
Gertz (1995), 12 other national surveys, and 3 state-wide surveys,
that defensive use of firearms by crime victims is common in the
United States, probably substantially more common than criminal
uses of guns by offenders. The estimates of the annual number
of defensive uses of guns in the United States range from
760,000 to 3.6 million, with the best estimate, derived from the
NSDS, being 2.5 million, compared to about a half a million
incidents in which offenders used guns to commit a crime (Kleck
1997, pp. 149-160, 187-189; see also the more recent Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention study of Ikeda, Dahlberg, Sacks,
Mercy, and Powell 1997, which estimated 1.0 million defensive
gun uses linked with burglaries in which the intruder was seen,
compared to 0.9 million such incidents derived from the KleckGertz
survey, 1995, pp. 184-185, estimates within sampling error
of each other).

It has also been consistently and repeatedly confirmed that
defensive gun use (DGU) is effective: crime victims who use
guns for self-protection are less likely to be injured or lose
property than otherwise similar victims in otherwise similar crime
situations who either do not resist at all or who use other self-protection strategies . . ."
 
In any case, you're fantasizing if you believe that "socialism creates lovely, peaceful, non-violent societies." The former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had a strict ban on all private ownership of firearms, yet statistics show that it had the most violent crime of any country, and that's not  counting the heinous crimes committed by the government itself.
John G Added May 24, 2017 - 1:56am
Opher, it is pointless trying to have any sensible debate with Corey. He is the archetypical libertarian nut job. As dishonest as the day is long.
opher goodwin Added May 24, 2017 - 8:28am
Well John I agree. I give up. To listen to him you'd think everything was great in the US - no poverty, no gun crime and great education and absolutely terrible in Denmark. The complete reverse of my experience in both countries.
What he is spouting is complete verbose garbage.
Having taught a year in the States I have a pretty good handle on the education system. I was having to use British Year 8 worksheets with my US Year 13 students and taking twice as long over it. That was in Science and the picture was the same across the board.
Highly educated? I think not.
Norton Louis Added May 24, 2017 - 9:06am
And there it is in microcosm, the reason the human race keeps on making the same mistakes over and over again; holding opinions in the face of established fact.
 
Gentlemen, truth be told, you can find good things and bad things in both the USA and Denmark.  The facts Peter supplies about where Denmark is headed is not an indictment of Socialism so much as a description of the life cycle ANY government undergoes as humans learn how to game the system and the system undergoes incremental creep in taxation, loss of Liberty, etc.
 
You should be less focused on finding the perfect governmental system and more cognizant of the traits within humanity that we all take for granted that end up crashing EVERY government eventually.  
Norton Louis Added May 24, 2017 - 9:09am
John G what did Peter say that was "dishonest"?  As I have said before, I've learned that unfounded accusations are usually a reflection of the person making the accusation, so what does this say about you?
opher goodwin Added May 24, 2017 - 9:59am
Unfortunately Norton we are not dealing with facts. Deciding on something and then setting out to gather bogus information to support your case is closed minded. To assert that everything is hunky dory in the face of huge evidence to the contrary is either blinkered or dishonest.
The truth of the matter is that capitalism is failing huge numbers of people. A socialist answer is probably the only way to right the system.
Supporting a small elite who are scamming the rest of us is not moral for me.
So what is your solution to this problem if not socialism? Or do you really think, like Peter, that there isn't a problem?
Norton Louis Added May 24, 2017 - 10:36am
Opher, I do think there is a problem, but it is with humanity.  As I said before, true socialism is probably the most equable form of government.  The problem is that humans run governments, and the status quo is never enough for a human.  There is always one more incremental program that requires one more incremental tax that is "really not that much" that over time crashes any system.  There is always a group that figures out how to game any system as well due to laziness, greed, envy, lust for power, etc.
 
The solution you should be seeking is to improve the human race.  Higher IQs for example would help buy-in of the people to exercise good faith in supporting their governments for the common good.   Reduction of some of our feral, atavistic tendencies would help as well.
 
As to data, seeking data to support an argument is not wrong.  You should counter data as presented with your own data, or resign yourself to living more as an unthinking animal than a thinking human being.
 
Holding onto Great Truths such as you seem to be doing in your advocacy of socialism in the face of discrepancies in data and a lack of comparable population sizes is not logical.  It is however, entirely human, which again, is behind every cyclic failure of every type of government throughout history.
opher goodwin Added May 24, 2017 - 11:18am
Norton, my stance is both logical and doable. I do not accept the dubious argument put forward by Peter. It is biased and simply wrong.
We have had many attempts in the past and are now equipped with the tools to do the job.
Capitalism is both immoral and is leading us to disaster. Trump must surely be the clearest symptom of this?
I have already told you what the answer is to the downside of human nature - good education.
As a Headteacher (Principal) of a secondary school I proved that it was possible to change people into caring individuals.
Norton Louis Added May 24, 2017 - 11:32am
Yikes!  A totalitarian State eduction effort to accept its political system is EXACTLY what we need.  It worked so well in the U.S.S.R. after all.
 
All kidding aside, we are in basic agreement.  I say we need higher IQs, and you say we need better education....both derive from the same root cause.
 
What works in microcosm (your classroom) is not consistently repeatable across large geographies with weak tribal connections.  This is why the U.S.S.R failed.
 
Finally, there is a big difference between Belief and Data.  I hope you are teaching your students critical thinking and how to differentiate between the two.
 
opher goodwin Added May 24, 2017 - 11:55am
Good. I'm glad that we partially agree. Though my education is more moral and social - caring, tolerance, respect, empathy - than IQ.
I think the USSR failed because the revolution was stolen by Stalin who was a dictator and a tyrant who was also a psychopath. If it had been allowed to progress without Stalin it might have prospered. It certainly wasn't socialism, not close, and it wasn't communism either.
But that is bye the bye - long ago.
What is important is right now. We must learn from the mistakes of the past.
Yes. There are difficulties in going from small to large. It is not an easy task. But human nature can be modified. We do have altruistic tendencies too. We can learn empathy and to care.
Norton Louis Added May 24, 2017 - 12:02pm
Opher, if true, your assertion that the "revolution was stolen" by Stalin makes my point about human nature.  Corruption is the norm in human governments, not the exception.
 
Kudos to you for your work in helping to turn little cave-people into thinking and feeling humans!