Eric Scheie wonders why everybody is afraid to use the S-word.

A question which has been plaguing me lately is whether it is possible to have a legitimate debate over socialism without sounding like a rabid, hysterical, over-the-top, far-right conspiracy theorist. [...] Unfortunately (as I have pointed out in several posts), the "s" word is so fraught with problems that it might be too contaminated to use. [...]  At what point can nationalization be said to have taken place? By what standard is government ownership of 72% of a company less than "true" socialism?

Andrew Samwick has also wondered the same thing: "People complain that the word "socialist" is being inappropriately used to demonize attempts at restoring economic growth.  That may be true in many cases, but how is the label not valid here?"

The Right's inappropriate and ridiculous over-use of the word "socialism" as an all-purpose bludgeon has made it understandably toxic, but not everybody is afraid to call the thing what it is.   See Open Left's Chris Bowers...

  • "...we have reached national consensus on nationalizing industries, which is the literal definition of socialism and big government..." - Sept 06, 2008
  • "GM bailout: more actual socialism! ... Conservatives have been throwing around the charge of "socialism" a lot lately. However, for those keeping track, the General Motors bailout plan is actually socialist."  - June 01, 2009

NOTE: The fact is, American has always had a mixed economy, as do all modern, developed economies.  The question is not one of category - capitalism or socialism? - but of degree.

UPDATE: At The American Prospect, Tim Fernholz makes a very good point...and a useful distinction.

It's fair to call the General Motors deal or the AIG takeover examples of socialist policy; government is directly intervening in a private concern. But it's not fair to say that the Obama administration is socialist per se because socialism is an -ism, a system, a guiding philosophy, and it's clear that putting the government in charge of private production is not the Obama administration's guiding philosophy.

As I noted above, the real question is one of degree.  Obama is not socialist.  But he is more comfortable with centralizing economic power.  As that centralization proceeds, the focus of public interest will shift from "how do we fix the immediate economic problems?" to "how do we fix the problems we created when we tried to fix that temporary problem?"  That is when the pendulum can swing back towards decentralization and individual empowerment.

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Toxic? Far from it. The Right's overuse of the word

"Socialism" has made socialism popular! You can't possibly have forgotten that poll from April, have you? Only 53% of Americans now think that capitalism is clearly superior to socialism. I suspect what is going on here is a lot of people are so turned off by the Right that they think "if they are against it, then I am for it".

Except socialism is NOT popular....

since only 20% said they prefer a socialist economy (which probably nicely corresponds to the size of the progressive/liberal wing of the Democratic party)!

I suspect that if you continue to poll this subject, socialists will continue to stay at or near 20%, while the other 80% will shift between selecting capitalism and unsure.

BTW - Nice spin.

A bare majority for capitalism?

53% said capitalism

20% said socialism

27% said unsure.

In America.

The Right's abuse of the word "socialism" has been the biggest shot in the arm for the popularity of socialism in the history of this country.


Celia Hayes (best known to

Celia Hayes (best known to the blogosphere as "Sgt. Mom") has written a great book which will take you on this harrowing journey in a way that reading history can't. What's unusual about this is that unlike many historic novels it has a documentary feel to it (it is loosely based on real characters and events).

Cosmetic Dentistry Abroad 

Just so we're clear

I understand that you don't like the way things are going, so give us another option.

What is your alternative to shutting the doors of GM and all it subcontractors, and throwing tens of thousands MORE people out of work?

Get Govt off the backs of GM

Repeal the CAFE increases, let private vulture investors do what they can, and dont waste taxpayer money propping up the UAW.

Get Govt off their backs and US car companies will arise again. The more they meddle the more they destroy.


your ignorance of GM, their profitability and bear baiting

beggars the imagination.

That's a false dilemma.

You've presented two alternatives - nationalization or total collapse - as though they're the only ones.

How about an old-fashioned Chapter 11 (or 7) bankruptcy? You know, the kind where taxpayers don't dump in tens of billions beforehand.

GM's brands, factories, research and inventory has value. Let that value be realized by people who will do something useful with it.

The Feds will own GM as long

The Feds will own GM as long as it takes for it to become a viable company--which is the goal, as opposed to nationalization. The president of the new GM claims it will take 2.5 to 3 years (meaning it will probably take some time longer than that).

Obama might not have much of a voting record but he has written books and has given a lot of in depth interviews which indicate his beliefs. We are not seeing as much of the influence of the Chicago School because at this moment in time we must do things differently to get through this crisis. Even people from the Chicago school such as Richard Posner are saying this.

Why would Obama want the government to own this much of GM? Besides being contrary to his economic philosophy he doesn’t gain from it. It is far more of an extra burden on his administration than anything he benefits from.


But it's not fair to say that

But it's not fair to say that the Obama administration is socialist per se because socialism is an -ism, a system, a guiding philosophy, and it's clear that putting the government in charge of private production is not the Obama administration's guiding philosophy.

Cosmetic dentists in Kent 

all around the country factories close

the steel industry in pittsburgh "had value" but doesn't anymore. there is no more steel in pittsburgh.

if you shut down GM, the production will move to Argentina.

Jobs lost, lives destroyed.

The only thing American industry has going for it is sunk costs, startup costs.

GM hasn't done real research in forty years. I refuse to drive a 1980's vehicle in 2009.

I hate to say it on a LibbieLoon-atic blog...

but that famously RINO-ish Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, was arguing back in April '08 that maybe the protections of bankruptcy court were the correct remedies for GM's labor-burdened problems... and the answer wasn't a multi-billion govt bailout.

Mitt Romney was right.  It only took the Democrats $50b of our money to come to the same conclusion.

Rick Wagoner shouldn't have resigned; Obama should have.

we wasted $20 billion on GM delaying inevitable

Now we waste tens of billions more propping up a dead carcass.

Dittos on what you say. Romney was right all along, say no to bailouts. Obama should resign instead of Rick Wagoner.

Freedoms Truth is right: no to bailouts

and there's nothing more needed to be said... THAT should be the GOP position Michael Steele and others are promoting.  Big-assed govt doesn't work.  Bureaucrats, even with nifty cool new glasses and $750 haircuts, are no better at managing the marketplace or industrial giants than the legions of Wharton School grads GM had in floor after bloody floor at the RenCen in Detroit.

Fiat has it right: American labor screwed the pooch and it'll take us years to sort out the inefficiencies.

Right down to the labor contracts that GM "whiz-kids" signed allowing all union workers to take election day off and work the polls, the booth and the phones.



you are correct...a more accurate argument would be that overuse of the "s-word" when obama wasn't acting like a socialist weakened its negative impact in the minds of the public. he closed gitmo--socialist! he wore a blue tie-socialist! it's like the boy who cried the gov't owns 72% of a company and it is socialist but nobody cares because that is the same argument people have been complaining about for over a year.

another, much more important, fact in the case of GM is that this is no ordinary company...obama did not walk into mcdonalds and take 72% ownership. this was a failed company, begging the government for money. GM, and its supply chain, employs millions, and it's failure would have an enormous impact on the economy. 72% ownership in a company that needs a bailout is not going to scare the public.

that is a truly dumb comment

but I guess it passes for wisdom among liberals who lie to themselves constantly. We are supposed to beleive that telling the truth too early (socialist) will get those who believed a lie before to be less convinced now. Phew.

First nobody called Obama a 'socialist' over gitmo. Obama raised concerns because his economic plans which gravitate around increasing govt power, control, taxes, intervention, regulation and spending. Bigger and more massive govt. Scary stuff.

Now the truth comes out - THOSE WHO CALLED HIM SOCIALIST WERE RIGHT. But the libs insist telling the truth was a mistake because the truth has less bite.

So they wish....

"72% ownership in a company that needs a bailout is not going to scare the public."

We have private equity and bond markets to give capital to businesses. Trumping that with taxpayer money was dumb. If private equity can get a return then the Govt has no business trying to keep people employed in these jobs if it wont provide a return. That's just propping up and unviable carcass of a bloated business.

Obama did a bad and wrong and stupid and socialistic thing.

You do realize

that you're doing exactly what Henke warned about in your comment, right?  It's fine to disagree with the administration's handling of GM (although probably only fair if you also condemn the previous administration as "socialist" for its handling of the bank and AIG bailouts) and to state why you think it's wrong, which you've done well; however, when you call other posters "dumb" and then say that "Obama did a BAD and WRONG and STUPID and SOCIALISTIC thing," you sound like a five-year old throwing insults.  I would almost expect you to follow with "my dad can beat up your dad" or "your momma's so fat when she walks into 7-11 the bell rings twice."  

To really be understood, charges of socialism need to be more than a simple perjorative. 


glad it wasnt just me.....the gitmo comment was, um, sarcasm. but clearly outside the intellectual range of certain people. 


and +1 for the 7-11 joke!

Eric Scheie asks...

"By what standard is government ownership of 72% of a company less than "true" socialism?" 

Well, by the standard that 72% isn't 100% for one.  By the standard that GM is not the entirety of the U.S. auto industry for another.  As long those on the right want to keep creating false dichotomies to justify their position, they will be ignored by those who don't see the world in black and white, which includes those who are in charge right now.  There is great irony in this statement.  Eric Scheie is the reason Eric Scheie can't call socialism "socialism."  He creates his own definition of "true socialism" in one breath while condemning the results of its misuse in the next.  He complains that "right wing cranks" have hijacked the word, but then proceeds to adopt thier definition.  Simply amazing! 

The previous administration did a good job of shedding light on the fact that the world isn't black and white by claiming it was and then having it backfire.  The strategy that worked so well half a decade ago doens't work now.  People refuse to use the word "socialism" in a debate with capitalists because, with so many of them, the word evokes mouth-frothing rage and kills the ability to have a productive conversation.  Capitalists have no one to blame but themselves for making the word so toxic that analogs must be used to have civilized conversation.  Things appear to be moving in the other direction now, and some of those who are right of the current path are able to not have a visceral reaction to the word, but it's going to take time for the word, as used in conversational speech, to return to it's dictionary definition.  Ebbs and flows within language are natural, and those questioning it simply don't understand the dynamics of speech.  These distinctions between literal and colloquial definitions exist for much more than just the word "socialism."  Certainly the same applies to "fundamentalist," "evangelical," and "liberal."  Conservatives started calling themselves "compassionate conservatives" when that label became toxic, and "liberals" shifted to the term "progressives" as the former word was used derogatorily.  It's really not all that complicated. 

It's all relative

First, people are relative. When things are good, government control isn't appealling and free (really free) markets are desired. When things are bad, a government control and the appearance that a leaderis 'doing something' has appeal. I always think about a trip to Vietnam a few years back. Those people were never communist, they were merely shit poor with a bad government. To people in Michigan, Ill and other GM/Ford states, socialism must be pretty appealling right now. What's the alternative? Saying goverment control is theoretically bad isn't going to save a line worker's house.

I think the socialist brand looks like sour grapes after the election. The republican party has been expert at branding the opposition. No ones buying it at this time.

If in two or three years the government still holds large portions of those companies, Obama will have a harder time during 2012 cycle and republicans will be able to not really convince anyone the Dems are actually socialist (except the nut ball base), but the negative sigma of 'socialist' will stick.

It'll be a fine line of Obama doing enough to get those states to vote Dem, but not too much to alarm moderate conservatives. I believe (as with the budget) he won't make significant reductions in the debt, but he'll do enough to show an upward trend. The bar was set so low by the previous administration that all he'll have to do it show a positive trend. That will get him enough votes to be elected again.

People will then argue intellectually if the recession could have ended sooner by not saving these companies, but politically it won't matter.

Listen...I'm an evil, liberal

Listen...I'm an evil, liberal democrat. I am for such terrible things as letting individuals, not governments, decide and regulate their own families and their own bodies. I think that government works best when it is implemented intelligently. I work in politics, and personally know most of the leading democrats in one of the most democratic States in the Country.

Nobody I know, as a current in-power Democrat, wants Socialism in the sense that the Right means when the charge is made. It is simply a straw-man argument that bears no resemblance to actual facts of what we on the left want.

Don't you, on the Right, get weary of knocking down straw men? Wouldn't you rather have a real and substantive conversation that actually matters? Or, is trying to win a justification for lying?


Socialist is the wrong label.

What we really have is fascism, in which the government pretends not to own the means of production, but controls it in reality. In this model, business decisions always defer to political considerations. The business fails.

With the car companies, both Chrysler and GM, we have syndicalism, in which the employee unions obtain a large ownership share, and therefore, control of the company. They run it into the ground, since they cannot distinguish between the company's interest and their own. The business fails.

I'd invite comment.

Of course it fails

Could anyone pick two less qualified business partners than the government and unions? This one blows up on the lauching pad.

As the king of unintended consequences, Obama has already stepped in it:

1) Rumblings that dealership closingings are being decided by poltical contribution or favor. Whether real or imagined, this is problematic. Perception is reality in this case.

2) We would have to assume that if unions pushed contracts that were unsustainable before they were primary owners, their demand will become totally unreasonable now, and the chances of returning any sort of profit are dismal.

3) If the government owns the majority of automobile production in the U.S. and sets CAFE standards . . .whats the point? Where is the leverage? They have to meet their own standards? What if they don't? Is Obama going to fine himself?

4) Like it or not, Obama will be tagged as "CEO" of the car companies. Every layoff, plant closing, plant opening,  and model elimination will be tied to Obama. Thats a very tough position. He has taken a very high profile role in the negotiations and press conferences. He may pitch the "false choice" between a hybrid and an SUV, but people will vote with their pocketbooks on this one.

and when governmental decisions are made in the corporate


what do you stupid morons call it then?

You've been cheated to, lied to, and played for fools. The puppeteers live over at Goldmann Sachs. and you whine about a legitimate national security issue (light combat vehicles).

what do you stupid morons call it then?

A freakin' miracle?

What are the interests of the corporation,vs the interests of the unions, vs the interests of the government, vs the interests of the environmentalists?



the interests of the banksters

(that's not my portmanteau -- combine bankers with gangsters) is to remain wealthy at all costs.

They have successfully rigged the system so that most of the hoi polloi's savings (read retirement plans) rest on their continued wealth and prosperity.

Problem is, their wealth and prosperity has a price, and not the first nor last of it is the blatant corruption of our political process.

What's that Durbin said? "The banks own the place" -- that's the senate.

I don't know, I think that is just as much fascism as the government taking over businesses -- the businesses taking over the government is just as, if not more, nefarious. [note that in places where the gov't has taken over businesses, they were almost uniformly owned by capitalists in other countries, who were busy siphoning off profits. not that I'm trying to say that's in any way a bad thing...]

Post judgement

you stupid morons

If your post is good, you don't have to call the other person stupid.  It will be obvious from the post.  Refraining from passing judgement will just make your post stronger.

If your post is bad, calling the other person stupid just makes it worse. 

Either way, it's better to leaving the scoring to the reader.  Concentrate on the content. 

ya. is expression of immense rage and outrage.

not a judgement of others' mental capacity.

None Dare Call It Socialism

"As I noted above, the real question is one of degree. "

All economic systems are ones of degree.

The frog is getting boiled as a more rapid rate than ever.

"Obama is not socialist." Really. It matters not what he IS, it matters what he DOES.

I dont want to get into an argument as to whether he is a socialist or not, that is where the semantics and sophistry ramps up... Let's at least establish that Government ownership of GM, socialized medicine via Govt run insurance program, huge regulatory apparatus for CO2 regulations that uses the USSR 5-year-plans as a model and hugely burdens producers and users of energy alike, huge new sudsidies spending controls and regulations, govt berating bondholders, strongarming banks and giving billions to ACORN-like groups, phew the list goes on. That stuff is socialistic Government nanny-state interventionism run riot.

Obama is a big-Govt tax-and-spend-and-regulate-and-control-left-liberal for the record books.

It makes you want to scream out:  STOP OBAMA'S SOCIALISM

In small doses or in larger doses, what Obama is doing is increasing Govt spending, taxes, regulation, intervention, subsidies, ownership and control. Its wrong.

That's why I say "STOP OBAMA'S SOCIALISM" ... all that stuff that does NOT involve - increasing Govt spending, taxes, regulation, intervention, subsidies, ownership and control - that's not socialism. But every day, its something new and more. WAY WAY BEYOND WHAT USA HAS EVERY DONE. LARGEST GOVT SPENDING EVER. BIGGEST REGS EVER. MOST INTRUSIVE GOVT EVER. BIGGEST DEFICIT EVER.

All the stuff that DOES involve - increasing Govt spending, taxes, regulation, intervention, subsidies, ownership and control - that's Obama's socialism.

Why not call it what it is.



"Socialism" is , like , Russia or something, right?"

This is what happens when you fail to educate generations of young people about history and civics.

This country is so collectively ignorant that it's hard to maintain hope.

Today's American youth no longer has any idea how their government operates, how history went down, or even how to separate fact from opinion.

My take on the whole "socialism" phobia is that the people who are strongly advocating the actual socialism think that their approach to solving problems with government is somehow new and different than the socialism that had the scary red hockey teams.

They fail to understand the principles that led to failure where socialism ahd been tried previously.

ya. is very big failure, England is, So too the Canucks

and Germany, and France, and Italy!

All Fail! Socialism sucks and we all must become born and bred American Dopes!

Just like you!


(this is sarcasm, in case you are that oblivious)

What's in a name? A rose by any other ...

Thanks to Henke for recognizing that Obama does not want the government to run companies.  He could have gone further and listed some of the things Obama has said and done to minimize the government impact on GM.  Clearly Obama is not a socialist in the sense that he thinks government should own big business.

But I agree with NextRightNando.  Republicans have not avoided the S word.  In fact, only a bold act of leadership by the head of the Republican Party kept them from adopting "Democrat Socialist" as their official name for the party now in power.  NextRightNando is also right to say that the effect of this has been to make Americans more accepting of socialism. 

Americans seem to agree with Obama's handling of GM.  If you tell them it's socialism, they might think it's the first step toward Soviet style dictatorship and stagnation, or they might think there's good is small s socialism after all.  Republicans were hoping for the first, but what happened was the second. 

Bottom line: you don't win a policy discussions by calling your opponent a Capulet.

By definition socialism is

By definition socialism is government ownership of the means of production. Conservatives try to blur that by calling any government involvement by Democrats in the economy socialism, but that makes the word rather meaningless.

In reality we have a mixed economy with some government involvement in the economy. At the moment we have more, as during the depression, but that is a temporary response to a crisis. We would be seeing this regardless of party, with these actions beginning under Bush. Any Republican who won would have also expanded them as opposed to appearing to be a modern Herbert Hoover.

The Republicans pretend that it is Democrats who back government in the economy but in many ways they are even more guilty. In the Bush years we had Dick Cheney’s energy task force. Bush’s Medicare D plan was basically a joint effort with the insurance industry to funnel them government money in return for all their financial support to him. The Republicans in the Congress were no better with the K Street Project. Go further back in time and we had the ultimate perversion of the market system under Richard Nixon with wage and price controls.

Obama supports using government in areas where the private sector is unable to solve the problem, such as health care where the private system is collapsing. In general he supports less intrusion from government than we have had under the Republicans.


And the theory that the Obama

And the theory that the Obama administration sees this as a political opportunity to expand power and control, simply defies logic....

If it was the goal for the government to take over GM they would not structure it in this manner which limits the role of government. They would be putting government bureaucrats right on the board and in top positions. They also would not be structuring this so that the goal of the company is to regain independence.

If they were really a bunch of power hungry socialists they would also be plotting to take over more companies, not reluctantly getting into companies which requested this assistance as opposed to going under. For that matter, they would be taking over viable companies, not ones which are struggling for survival.

government bailouts

If it was the goal for the government to take over GM they would not structure it in this manner which limits the role of government. They would be putting government bureaucrats right on the board and in top positions.


Senior administration officials, who declined to speak for attribution, said the U.S. government will be a "passive" investor but will oversee operations at the new GM because "the taxpayer will want us to."


-- The government will only vote on core governance issues, including the selection of a company's board of directors and major corporate events or transactions.

Remember, back in the fall, when government was only bailing out banks, we were reassured that government would get an equity stake in the banks as compensation but it would be preferred stock only?  So that government wouldn't be tempted to meddle with a bank's operations by exercising voting rights with common stock?

My how times have changed.

power and control at Detroit

And the theory that the Obama administration sees this as a political opportunity to expand power and control, simply defies logic....

Well OF COURSE he wants to expand power and control over the auto industry.  How is this in any way controversial?  He has claimed from the very beginning that the reason the car industry is in trouble in the first place is because they didn't produce enough green cars.  He made continued bailout money dependent on the car companies agreeing to new CAFE standards and abandoning their lawsuit against California.  He insists that the "new GM" and the "new Chrysler" had better start making more green cars.

Oh, and did you wonder why it was that Chrysler's primary debtors, i.e. large banks, were so willing to agree to the bankruptcy plan which virtually wiped out their debts and gave them much smaller ownership stakes in the "new Chrysler" than what their debts entitled them to?  Could it be, perhaps, that it's because the big banks are ALSO dependent on bailout money and therefore subject to Obama's and Geithner's "persuasion"?

This is ALL about power.

Not only that but Democrats NEED high gas prices, too

In order to make their Go-Green initiatives work --like solar, like wind, like geo-thermal (but not nuclear... on no, not nuclear)-- the marketplace and govt has to make those alternative energy supplies cost-competitive, make big GM cars cost-prohibitive and high priced gasoline and crude oil does exactly that for them and their agenda.

Plus the added bonus for any govt bureaucrat and fatcat who wants to spend the taxpayers' money like it's their own money?  Larger tax revenues for govt!  For the feds!  For the states!  For the unionized construction workers on transportation projects!

Where are all the daily news stories about "high" gas prices during the Obama Administration that were the focal point and choking point during the Bush Administration?  Kind of gone from the front page?  No longer covered daily by CNN or MSNBC as "Day 100 that gas prices averaged over $3.00/gallon" --or the best story line was the liberally biased MSM finding the highest possible taxed gas and hype-ing that price like it was the norm.

Did our Charcoaled-Kennedy-Camelot-Obama get the Saudi King to expand production?  Drop OPEC pricing? Did the press plane people ask him about it?

Hmmmm, who said the MSM was biased?

Possibly the reason is that gas prices are currently

Where are all the daily news stories about "high" gas prices during the Obama Administration that were the focal point and choking point during the Bush Administration?  Kind of gone from the front page?

Do you think that the reason it is less of a story now is the fact that gas prices have dropped from their peak of $4.10 gallon last July to $2.50? Link to stats. In other words, has the story disappeared becasue it is no longer a story?

It is no longer a story because it's Obama in office...

Nice try, Nannie; but that dog don't hunt.  We're starting off at the very beginning of the summer driving season and gas prices are now estimated to top last summer's highs of $4.01/g even with the added "benefit" for Obama with the world economy crashing.

BTW, what did the Obama Administration get for the US consumer in all his groveling and two-cheek kissing of the farLeft's once-evil Saudi king & princes yesterday?  Did he get a pledge to increase production? Nope.  Did he get a pledge to lower prices? Nope.  Did he get the Saudi kingdom's pledge to buy more greenbacked T-notes? Nope.  Did he get anything of worth out of all those meetings and European-styled two-cheek kissing?  Nope.

Nothing.  Nada.  Not anything for the American consumer.

Oh, but some great photo ops for the WH... like he got with the Statute of Liberty fly by last month.  All fluff, no substance; all hype, no content.  Obama travels to Jiddah, eats royally with a Muslim and all American consumers got was a cheap photo.

Priceless?  Hardly.

Gas is currently $2.50 gallon.

I'm sure that if your prediction of $4 gallon comes true, then it will be in the news again - but right now it is cheaper than it was at this time last year, and that is why you aren't seeing stories about the high price of gas - becasue the price of gas isn't high.

As for yesterday - it was about foreign policy, not the US consumer.

BTW, nice dodge on the main point: Dems need high gas $$$

in order to make their Go-Green initiatives prove profitable to bottom feeders like AlGore... and you can argue the MSM isn't biased by not covering the hikes in gas prices?  LOL.

And yet the price of gas is now lower than it was at this time

And yet the price of gas is now lower than it was at this time last year.

contango me to the bank, baby.

ilka children like yourself have absolutely no IDEA why the price of oil on the NYSE is so low. In fact, it's lower than oil from other countries, and they have to deal with transportation costs!

let me guess... you have over $5k in oil right now?

USO, right? Forgive me for commisserating, but I pity your tax attorney.

Nah, you're too dumb to put your money where your mouth is. I OWN oil right now, and I'm not that fucking bullish about gas prices. (north korea nuking something is more likely. keerist. don't ignorant shits like yourself believe in the free market? go look at the futures market for $4.50 gas (that's what, over $150 a barrel of oil), three month time horizon).

I ain't gonna go do your work for you, but if it was a sure bet, the prices would reflect that.

Conor Clarke agrees with Henke and Fernholz on Socialism


He has a cute graphic too...

What Socialism Looks Like

Have you heard that the United States is headed toward socialism? Jonah Goldberg says it is. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby says it is. Phyllis Schlafly says it is. Richard Viguerie says it is. The Republican National Committee says it is. We must be getting pretty close.How close? This is what socialism looks like: socialism chart.png



socialism snark

Yes yes, cute little graphic.  But let me ask you this: how much would the government have to own before you would consider it "socialism"?  Would it truly have to be 100%  How about 51%?

Oh, and incidentally this cute little snarky graphic doesn't illustrate the companies that the government has muscled out of business either because it makes them illegal (e.g., brothels), or because it supplants the services they would otherwise be providing (e.g., package delivery, education).  If/when the government nationalizes health care, that is what would happen - the government would simply put the health insurers out of business, but the government wouldn't actually "nationalize" them.  The "red" portion of the graphic wouldn't change one bit but we would still be headed further down the socialist path.

Snarky snark snark

I've been hearing 'snark' quite a bit recently.

I think its a pretty good graphic. Yes, government meddles in business and always will, Republican and Democrat. Thats not socialism, that's politics.

Some points:

    1. We have nationalized many things: schools and roads and retirment and medical care (medicade and medicare). So putting some insurance companies on a different path (I bet they find a way to still make money) doesn't hurt me much.

   2. The government owning GM may be a waste of money, but since they have ownership, they actually have the prospect of making money. But what if they lose money? Big whoop! Frame it as a jobs program and it's probably better than anything the gov could on its own. And the government now wastes money on a massive jobs program called the US military  . . . not the actual military but the companies that support it. Much of what they do is welfare for the well educated when you look at what the military wants vs. what they get and how expensive they get it.

Now, I'm not necessarily for the gov owning companies. It'll eventually be bad if they keep ahold of them. However, crying 'socialist' is off-base. It's a political stunt that the conservative lemming base is willing to repeat.

ssh! gm is part of the military program

Light infantry vehicles ring a bell? ;-)

The brass can pull strings when they need to, for national security.

Socialized GM is a good way to keep industrial capacity functional until we have better designs. Hell, sell the whole kit and kaboodle to Tesla Motors for all I care. We need our industries.

I'm pretty happy with my socialized police and fire protection.

Oh, and incidentally this cute little snarky graphic doesn't illustrate the companies that the government has muscled out of business either because it makes them illegal (e.g., brothels), or because it supplants the services they would otherwise be providing (e.g., package delivery, education).

Just think of all the poor entrepreneurs who have been muscled out of the protection industry by public police and fire services!

You keep using these words...

...I don't think they mean what you think they mean.

For example, Chrysler's situation is not socialism, strictly speaking it's anarcho-syndicalism (the workers have collectively taken majority control of the means of production in exchange for the debts the company owed to them).  And GM isn't really socialism, because the deal includes built-in buyout clauses that will reduce the government interest when the company becomes profitable (Socialism would want to permanently capture the means of production as an economic tool of the state).

The fact is that your political knowledge is woefully deficient, which is to be expected when Rush Limbaugh qualifies as a pundit and a bible-based college is producing your intellectuals.  To you, "Socialism" is just another label to try and tar the opposition with now that "Liberal" is losing its punch and "Communist" has a clear (and erroneous) meaning in the public eye.  You don't know what it means, but neither does your audience, and you're hoping you can re-brand the opposition with all of the negatives you care to project.

BTW, the systems TNR have been advocating as an alternative aren't really "Capitalism", either.  They range from lassaiz faire classic liberalism through oligarchic mercantile plutocracy to neo-feudalism.  One of the foundational flaws that is tearing apart the GOP is the pretense that all these very different things are the same thing; "Free Markets".  There's no such thing as a free market, everything has a cost (including letting the market sort itself out).