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Dare We Use the S-Word?

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Posted on May 1, 2009
Painting on May Day
flickr.com

By Scott Tucker

“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the supporter of capital, and deserves the higher consideration.”—Abraham Lincoln in his first annual message to Congress, Dec. 3, 1861.

Finally we got someone other than another white guy in the White House. Finally, after the long linguistic train wreck of the Bush years, we got someone who speaks in complete sentences. Finally we got someone who shows an interest in the world beyond the borders of border fences and country clubs. And now that we’ve got the son of a Kansan mother and a Kenyan father presiding in Washington, the right-wing guttersnipes have gone back to an old game. They have set up Barack Obama for target practice as a socialist.

May Day, 2009 is therefore a good day to remember Obama’s repeatedly stated faith in a capitalist economy. For the true believers on the right, that is not good enough. Obama sometimes suggests that freedom should not be reduced to the free market. Likewise, he has suggested that big banks and big business require public oversight and regulation. These deviations from four-square gospel capitalism are sufficient for the heresy hunters on the right to find reds in the White House beds.

Red-baiting is a hallowed tradition in American public life, though that practice had more traction back in the days when this country also had more militant unions and more voters willing to vote for genuine reds. Nowadays, red-baiting through mass market broadcasting, blogs and videos seems slightly surreal. Why use high-tech messages to finish off an old-fashioned low-tech notion such as socialism? Isn’t that a bit like using the latest missiles and military drones to zero in on dinosaurs that were scary once upon a time?

Maybe not. Maybe the cheerful Cossacks at Fox News can teach us something important about democracy and socialism here and now. They seem to think that socialism has all the vitality of the common cold, and all the viral genius for going sideways when attacked with common antibiotics. They may have a point. They may not know much, but in the realm of politics they do know the difference between viral and bacterial agents. Viral agents require strong antiviral medicine. And yet the common cold is still outwitting modern science.

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In politics and culture, a viral message is successful when it spreads by casual contact and rapid contagion. In order to enter our personal streams of memory, there has to be something fitting between these messages and the multiplying messengers.

So if socialism was the political swine flu of the 20th century, why go back? Who needs to revisit those far gone fevers? That, in essence, is the argument of those who believe that capitalism is next to godliness. The cure for the viral agent of socialism is not just cleanliness, but obsessional hygiene in public life. Any trace of social democracy thus becomes a creeping socialist stain on democracy. The very word “regulations” is spoken by Fox pundits with the accent of scandal, as if the subject was San Francisco or Scandinavia.

Fox News is like the eye of God at the pinnacle of the pyramid on all our dollar bills: it aims to be the eye of universal surveillance. This means something like the eye of the state, except for the brute fact that the official ideology of Fox News is the most dumbed down kind of Ayn Rand anarchism. These supervisors of public culture are always looking out for any sign that your 10-year-old child will catch the fever of socialism in an elementary school class on American history.

Again, they may have a point. If American history could be taught with real honesty in elementary schools, the kids would be learning plenty about free speech and about free elections.  They would learn that Frederick Douglass, Emma Goldman and Eugene Debs belong in public life and in public memory.

The dirty open secret about these “libertarians” is that they love liberty for the rich and hate liberty for the poor. They say they want a government small enough to drown in a bathtub, but in fact they want a hot date with the state. They really love big government. Really Big Government – the kind that dictates our sex lives and marriage partners; the kind that gives tax shelters for the rich and emergency room health care for the poor; and the kind that imposes a de facto draft on the working classes so they will be pawns in imperial wars till kingdom come.

Ask a dozen of your friends to name the single open socialist in Congress, and how many could do so? But if you have read this far, then your sample of friends may already be skewed by your own political leanings left-of-center.  Well, the answer is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The good news about American democracy is that he was permitted to take office. The bad news is that he remains boxed in by all the bogus “pragmatism” of the big corporate parties.

Sanders is often a voice of reason against shady business in high places. But we need more than a voice of conscience in Congress. We need more than dissent. We need open socialists in local city councils, and we need a democratic socialist party with real electoral traction. The Socialist Party of the United States has a noble history, but presently it has no electoral profile at all. If we look at the program of the Green Party of the United States, we will find some strong elements of social democracy. And with the advantage for voters that the Greens do gain some victories in local elections. The obstacles are much greater if we consider national elections and Congress.

It’s easy to blame Reds and Greens for failing to attract more voters. Sometimes we pretend that big elections are big buffets with all the truly delicious dishes given equal space on the table. Then voters just need to sit down and make a meal of whatever we find tasty. This is the free market model of American politics. But this is false advertising. The censorship and corruption we tolerate in our broken electoral system creates a vacuum in public life that gets filled by career criminals in big banking and big business. Congress has now become the front office of the ruling class.

The United States falls far behind decent standards of social democracy in health care, housing and public transportation. Why? We have no thorough public debates about such issues, and indeed the workable solutions to such problems are dismissed in the name of political realism. This happens in every major election. The stranglehold of the corporate parties on public funds and public life will not be broken without an open political struggle. That struggle will include electoral politics, though politics never begins nor ends on election days.

The Democratic Party has long given voters all the persuasive logic of a protection racket. The message, in various versions, amounts to this: Sure, we spit in your face and ask you to pretend it’s rain, but the other crew would also break your arm. And the partisan methods of driving political opponents out of the public arena have a familiar mafia charm. One example must suffice here. In Pennsylvania, the majority of “progressive” Democrats covered themselves in shame when the “independent judiciary” was used as a partisan hammer against Green Party candidates such as Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli.  Did they protest on principle? Were they willing to defend open elections, even and especially for political opponents? No, they either looked the other way or they joined in a chorus of vituperation against the Green Party. Under the pretext that Green ballot access petitions were not strictly up to code, these candidates were subjected to heavy fines. But their only crime was daring to challenge the two corporate parties.

The current global economic crisis is not just another roller-coaster ride. Many sane and sober observers fear that the international locomotive of corporatism is going off the rails. Is this a necessary crisis of the capitalist system, determined by the self-destruction and self-renovation of a perpetual motion machine? Or is it simply—simply! —a failure to follow the good old rules of financial accounting, with plenty of sunshine on the public ledgers? This way of thinking neatly separates the public motive of private profit from presumably private bad habits such as theft and fraud. That is colossal nonsense. The privatization of public resources (including the public treasury) means all of the “private” bad habits of corporations have catastrophic public consequences.

The notion that capitalism is the best of all possible worlds is very dear to the hearts of capitalists. They assure us everything will turn out alright in the long run. Yes, the old chestnut from Keynes is fitting here: “In the long run, we’re all dead.” And there really is something all too philosophical about taking the long view of lost jobs, vanishing pensions, and cancer patients who can’t afford chemotherapy. The long view means the view from the managerial heights of the corporate juggernaut. The long view means someone is comfortable sitting behind the steering wheel—while others are simply thrown under the wheels.

“Capitalism After the Fall” was the title of an article by Richard W. Stevenson in the April 19, 2009, issue of The New York Times. Democratic capitalism (as the Ford Foundation and The New York Times would say) has taken a tumble, but will surely rise again. This is a cheerful view, as though a gardener scans a bed of roses and says, “Tough luck! Winter slammed my favorites, but these are hardy perennials. Summer is another season.” This will always be so generally true that politicians will always lull the general public with these sweet lullabies.

Barack Obama has been singing such lullabies lately. What else can he do? He, too, needs time and breathing space, and not just the general public. The fact that the two corporate parties have vast interests in common does not make the partisan political arena any less treacherous. What will Obama and his economic advisers offer us in the years ahead? Stevenson quoted the suspicions of Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute:

“They want much more of a European-style social democracy in which people are far less exposed to the vicissitudes of a market economy, and they want to have much easier access to manipulating the private-market economy.”


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By KDelphi, May 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

My grandfather “spoke English” ...but, I never understood a word he said his entire life. We just pretended too..

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

Kdelphi,

My grandmother who talked with a lisping Norweagon accent, always said; “Tumpting Thinks in Denmark”!

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By KDelphi, May 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Here is an “answer”, if USAns will ever wise up enough to accept it…dont say that “they are too small to apply”..thats what they said about the EU, which includes Canada, Austrailia..no, the uS is way down there..in happiness…

Common Dreams
http://www.commondreams.org/further/2009/05/11-4

World’s Happiest Countries? Social Democracies
by Craig Brown

A new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) shows that happiness levels are highest in northern European countries. Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list, ranking first, second and third, respectively…

My dad should have stayed in Denmark! Now, the dollar is worth, probably, six cents there…

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By KDelphi, May 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

If the people would take the power that is within them, obfiscated by economic slavery, I believe, that, the planet can be whatever the people want it to be…they just have to know that it can be.

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2009 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Indolting the people by dolterrating them could be done over time, but I believe it has already been done by the MSM.

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By Folktruther, May 11, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

That’s a good point, KDelphi.  If people are reared, trained or indoctrinated to be subservient, we could rear, train or indotrinate them differently over historical time.

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By Anarcissie, May 10, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

I don’t agree with Aristotle.  I’m just reporting what he says.

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By KDelphi, May 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—well, if you and Aristotle are correct, then, whats the point…if we cannot even approximate equality, than we will never escape violence and conflict, unless people just “accept” their fate….isnt just giving in to the subjegation just what Big Brother would want??

I thought, that what Orwell,was saying, (or, i always thought) that that is the way it IS, but not the way that it has to be…dont you think so? That it doesnt have to be that way? I always thought that it was, like, a moral tale, telling us what to attempt to overcome…and I am NOT an “optimist”...maybe I just took from it what I wanted to.

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By David Patterson, May 10, 2009 at 12:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The plain fact is that Capitalism and Democracy operate at cross purposes: they CANNOT coexist.
To this point, Amerika has chosen Capitalism. We must do all we can to reverse our emphasis and our course in history.

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By Anarcissie, May 9, 2009 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
‘Anarcissie…Some of your points are well taken, as usual, but this:

“Sure.  In fact, according to Aristotle, many people are born to subjection.  It’s the way they are.”

you must have some explanation for this one, other than ‘that’s just how THEY are”. ...’

Aristotle doesn’t say, at least not in the texts we have.  (The quotation is below, on May 5.)  He says it’s obvious, just as Jefferson said that it was obvious that all men are created equal.  So I can’t give you Aristotle’s reasoning, if any.  However, it is a very common idea.  Even the liberal egalitarian Jefferson contradicted himself by holding slaves and talking about a “natural aristocracy”.  We’re dealing with a very deep, very primitive conflict here.  Perhaps George Orwell expressed it best in Animal Farm:  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

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By KDelphi, May 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—very interesting..and very depressing, that article. ....

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By KDelphi, May 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie…Some of your points are well taken, as usual, but this:

Sure.  In fact, according to Aristotle, many people are born to subjection.  It’s the way they are. 

you must have some explanation for this one, other than ‘that’s just how THEY are”.(hmmm…THEY..) We could start by making unions far more accessible. As long as we cant even get the EFCA passed, how do you know that people are “
“just meant to be subjegated”? Even if this seems to be historically so, here, in the uS, it is not necessariy historical internationally. You just cannot separate the “founding” of this country as a factor as to how people will respond…for one thing, capitalism is on pretty shakey footing

You raise the question that people through fear, inertia, or whatever, will never have the gumption to do take and keep control of their own production.

Isnt that what we are meant to find out? The US citizenry has never had a serious chance to decide—-GOP/DEms….whats the “choice”??

There is only one way to find out. Anar—I know that you say that that is your experience with Unions, etc., but, it is not mine. If these epeople were pretty happy with it the way it waas, many certainly are not now. NOw would be the time, in my estimation.

NOw, I’m going to read that article…my pc has slowed to ridiculousness…

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By Folktruther, May 9, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

An interesting Tikkun piece, Anarcissie.  The chief blindspot of liberal economists is that money is a power resource as well as an economic resource, and workers and the community must exert power to overcome the enchrenched power of capitalism.

You raise the question that people through fear, inertia, or whatever, will never have the gumption to do take and keep control of their own production.

It’s a serious historical question.

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By Anarcissie, May 8, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Leefeller:
‘Is it possible some people just do not want the responsibility of deciding, it seems they would prefer to be led as in lemmings?  Reason may not even be in the same ballpark?’

Sure.  In fact, according to Aristotle, many people are born to subjection.  It’s the way they are.  In that case, all this talk about socialism, democracy, anarchism, equal rights and so forth is just a waste of time.  The great majority will be happy only when led by the nose by an elite minority of alpha males.

Or, it might be a cultural thing—the shadow of several thousand years of slavery.  In which case it might be possible to get some of that freedom and equality stuff started.  Well, some of it has started; only a few hundred years ago everyone accepted monarchy and slavery as natural.  Right now, the direction of things is confused; many people seem to want to go back.  Others press forward.  Unfortunately much of the Left seems to be absorbed with the great-leader thing.

My point is that it’s self-contradictory to look to government, great leaders, and ruling classes to provide socialism, cooperatives, labor organizations, or other expressions of autonomy.

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By Leefeller, May 8, 2009 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Is it possible some people just do not want the responsibility of deciding, it seems they would prefer to be led as in lemmings?  Reason may not even be in the same ballpark?

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By Anarcissie, May 8, 2009 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

I keep hearing that people can’t have unions because malign forces overpower them.  Apparently they have to be given a union.  But the notion of a union, of people combining to obtain an economic advantage, is antithetical to passivity and subordination.

I see the same thing in current proposals about socialism.  Here’s one: http://www.tikkun.org/article.php?story=may_jun_09_schweickart.  You’ll notice the author addresses himself to the great hero of the moment, rather than to the people, who constitute the only entity that can bring about and maintain socialism.

You can’t force freedom and autonomy on the unwilling or uninterested.

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By Folktruther, May 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, the American unions were largely destroyed by globalization orchestrated by the American ruling class. Guided by both the Dem and Gop parties.  Faciliated by workers being afraid to fight for them effectively.

It is fear that largely makes people afraid to unionize.  this is most evident before a strike, where everyone is arguing timidly against it and there is a huge burst of enthusiasm once it is called.  But in addition to the fear, there is a lack of sprirual identification with the common good of ones comrade’s which peters off into individualism and lack of a common spirit.

I think that the complaint you raise about the lack of concern about supervising common work places, which I agree with, has to be countermanded and legitimated and institutionalized in a spiritual ideology of some kind.  Instead of being indoctrinated with a reverence for Divine power, we need to indoctrinated with a reverence from common people power. This is an historical undertaking, but our children and grandchildren have plenty of time.  Hopefully.

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By KDelphi, May 6, 2009 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

Anaricissie—I agree, in part, but, I think that it is more of a matter of “cant” or “think that they cant”, then that they “wont” or dont want to. That is just not my experience

People in this country have been very ill-informed about the importance of Unions, (esp by people like Reagan) , and, there is the fact that, in this country, they make alot of money and sell out the people. I dont think that this can be left out of the equation. People are going by others’ experiences with Unions, and, they havent been that good. (although, the “rise of the middle class” in the uS was prompted by Unions—also, labor laws of all types)

NOw, if we had intl Unions, that might be entirely different. I do know that the standard of living for middle class is higher in countries with strong Unions and labor parties.  I am speaking mostly of Western countries, so , that may change with the fall of the West and (re) rise of the East…

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By Anarcissie, May 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—I am troubled by enthusiasm for socialism which assumes that it will be handed down from on high by great leaders, and there seems to be a lot of that around.  This assumption contradicts the very substance of the idea.  And it feeds the defamation of socialism as “government control”, as purveyed by rightists (that is, just about the entirety of the ruling class, especially the media).

Clearly, if people won’t even form or join unions, there is little hope of their moving on to more ambitious projects of social change.

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By KDelphi, May 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Anaricissie—I tend to think that it is the total ineffectiveness of US Unions…they regularly sell out the workers and make alot more money themselves, than they do in most countriesk, where they are more respected.

I dunno, this was harldy a greedy capitalist org…it was a Health and Human Services provider of the county (also some for the state). The people , first, wanted the Unionn. Then, management threatened.

It was very tough work (not bitchng—I loved it), but, I think that they were afraid to see a Union get in there , when everyone had to get Hep B vaccines, in case clients bit them or made them bleed…but it was never boring. Especially, my “aides”, deserved better than the HMO they got stuck with (their pay was too low to affodr BC/BS), especially when they were hurt…

We needed Unions everywhere that I worked for the govt, We never got them,

They work better elsewhere..like the EU…

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By Anarcissie, May 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
‘Anarcissie—I would have to say that, where I used to work, it was PROBABLY the union busting lawyers that were sent in…that and the boss tellng everyone that it would “ruin managment labor relations” and that “our primary concern here is the clients”..actually, getting more paid sick and shorter hours, would have improved client care… ...’

Part of economics is the power struggle over the division of the fruits of production.  We can’t expect everybody, especially some competitive, hard-nosed, greedy capitalist types, to be particularly nice about it.  Neither they nor the government, which is pretty much the servant of their class, are going to hand workers unions or cooperatives.  This didn’t stop people from organizing unions in the bad old days.

In any case opposition isn’t the entirety of the problem.  As I said, I’ve suggested unions in various workplaces and the reaction was pretty negative.  Most people saw them as yet another layer of bureaucracy whose main function was collecting dues and doing little or nothing in return.  Many people had unfavorable anecdotes collected from friends and relatives.

In regard to this, in the many years that unions have been declining and labor organizers and officials have been fretting about it, I have never seen any independent market research about it—that is, an effort to find out why so many people are hostile to unions even when unionization would seem to be very much in their interests.  That sort of study may exist, but I’ve never seen one.  Instead, self-serving ideological answers are supplied, which I’m sure I don’t need to specify.

Nevertheless, I think the major problem is the increasing fear, passivity, dependency and subservience in the general culture.  I don’t know why that’s happening or how to reverse it.

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By KDelphi, May 6, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—I would have to say that, where I used to work, it was PROBABLY the union busting lawyers that were sent in…that and the boss tellng everyone that it would “ruin managment labor relations” and that “our primary concern here is the clients”..actually, getting more paid sick and shorter hours, would have improved client care…

Ed Goldman—Yes, I think it is fear of thw WORD “socialism’ that neo-cons and neo-libs count on, (conjures up ideas of Stalin and Mao in Cold Warriors heads—its a ilttle understandable, if totally irrelevant) and, the sad fact that most USAns have not travelled much….they havent, for the most part, lived under Social Democracies, so they dont trust it.

Mutli natl corps have plenty of reason to make them think that capitalism= freedom. I dont know why people dont see that…

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By Bill Witherup, May 6, 2009 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Truthdig and other online newspapers, magazines, what have you, would be better off did they not have a Comment section, which only allows all sorts of blowhards (including myself) to wander off from the article they respond to. It is all like “look at my ego, am I not one smart sucker?” Also, the commentary is a substitute for action. Debs was out there giving speeches, and in his day there were actual newspapers and magazines, not virtual ones. All this technological blather is only a kind of passivity and self-congratulation. This is the last time I am joining the commentary line-up.

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By Anarcissie, May 6, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:
Anarcissie—I am very curious, because I see that you say it again and again…that “workers have no desire to own the means or production”, and, i just wondered what you are basing that on, given the social and class structure that prevents them from doing so in the US asnd other capitslitsic countries. ....’

My belief that most workers are uninterested in owning and controlling their means of production is derived from the following:

1.  50 years of experience in suggesting and attempting to start unions and cooperatives in various places I’ve worked.

2.  Reports of experiences similar to mine from others who did something similar.

3.  Declining union membership in the U.S.

Admittedly, (1) and (2) are anecdotal, but they correspond with (3).

The social and class structures do not materially and objectively prevent people from forming unions and cooperatives.  The general culture—of increasing passivity, fear, helplessness, dependency, hero-worship, great-leaderism, statism and so forth—probably does its share.  But I am not sure of the full diagnosis; to some extent the situation is a mystery to me.

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By truedigger3, May 6, 2009 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Nomascerdo wrote:
“The free market would promote competition not domination.  It always does if it i a free market.”
_____________________________________________________
In the so called “free market”,  without any rules or
regulations, some companies start to get bigger and
bigger by devouring the competition or pushing them
out of existence altogether. The end result is that
few companies will get to be so big and so powerful to be able to monopolize the market or collude with
similar comapanies to monopolize the market and control or strongly influence the government,  Congress and the News Media.  Again, is that ring a
bell??!!
Laws and regulation coupled with active government, Congress and real free independent News Media watch dogs will prevent that from happening.

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By Dave Schwab, May 6, 2009 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

In the past, third parties were instrumental to the realization of many things we now take for granted: abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the right to unionize, ending child labor, social security, and more. Today, the best way to enact worthy social democratic legislation like single-payer health care, a living wage, repeal of the Taft Hartley act, affordable public transportation, etc., is to support the Green Party.

Check out the candidacy of Billy Talen for mayor of NYC. He’s running to take back New York for the people who love it from dictatorial billionaire Bloomberg:
http://VoteRevBilly.org/

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By Ed Goldman, May 6, 2009 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

What would Americans say they want if we didn’t put labels on it?

France and Europe are not Socialist, they just decided to organize their societies to take care of their citizens better than America. Ask Americans if they would like to live in a developed country (France) that has a higher average income than Americans, a higher standard of living, higher hourly productivity per worker, free health care for everyone with no co-pays or deductibles and ability to choose your own doctors, free drugs, a longer life-span and lower infant mortality rates, a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation by law for everyone regardless of job, free child care, free early childhood education, up to one year’s paid leave of absence when having a child or caregiving for a family member, free higher education through graduate school (including medicine, law, etc.), free trade school, all with no debts from “student loans”. Eligibility for all of this? Just being a citizen of your country. As Americans, what do we get? Freedom Fries! So please, free marketeers, no more European and French bashing.

The so-called “free market” was never free and the rules of the economic game were all skewed toward capital accumulation at the expense of labor. During the past 15-year time period, worker productivity increased an average of 2.8% per year (about what wages increased during the Clinton years) but while productivity continued during the Bush years, it’s only reflected in a 1% increase in wages during the last 8 years (all of which, and more, have been eaten up by inflation), and most of all the gains at the top end. During the last 15 years wages for the bottom 99% have been flat while productivity gains have increased (compounded at 2.8%/year) 51%. If wages kept pace with productivity gains, which historically has occurred, someone earning $50,000 in 1993 would be earning $76,000 today. That would be like giving each worker a check for $26,000 and promising to continue it as long as productivity continued to increase. End of bad economy.

If the real growth in incomes kept pace with productivity, how much more money would working people have in their pockets? How much more in wage taxes and Social Security taxes would have been paid in, keeping SS solvent until 2100? How much more solvent would state and local governments be with increased tax revenues? How much less use of credit cards would have been needed? How many more people who purchased homes could still afford their mortgage payments if their wage growth had kept pace? How many fewer people would have needed to file for personal bankruptcy? And if the American economy, with all its flaws and biases toward the rich, was in better shape, would the world economy be heading for bigger fall than we are?

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By Sodium, May 5, 2009 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

KDelphi,

I,for one,do believe you on the assumption that the company or funeral home or the person who made the pockets in the coffins,perhaps,just perhaps,has in mind to dig out the graves and steal the money,jewelries or whatever the dead persons and their families thought it appropriate to fill the pockets with,after the dead persons families forget about the graves because of the daily requirements to run their mundaned lives.

If the above comments make sense,the whole pockets-in-coffins-industry may become a thriving business.

Since Cain Killed his own brother,Able,according to the Old Testament,one may expect the worst in human behaviors to overwhelm the best of human behaviors.

Who knows?? I certanly do not know. I only can speculate on what you have said about the small pockets being made in the coffins. But,I certainly believe of what you describe in your latest post addressed to me.Thanks.

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By KDelphi, May 5, 2009 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

Sodium—You re actually very correct..but..

I did see an ad where someone was sewing pockets into coffins for rich people, so that they could actually “take it with them” (little side pockets..)..I wish I could find that ad online…no one believes me.

I dont know how popular they were…

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By Sodium, May 5, 2009 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Subject: Communism/Capitalism and the Late Pope.

It is well known that the late Pope,John Paul,spent some times in prison,in his native country,Poland,when it was part of the Soviet Empire. He was a priest then.

After he became Pope,a reporter asked him what did he think of the Communist system.The good Pope answered that it was a TERRIBLE SYSTEM. The reporter then asked what did he think of the Capitalistic system. The good Pope ansewred that it was NO GOOD EITHER.

Accepting the late Pope’s opinion that neither system was good;and indeed both systems have failed,one may ask: What is left of the economic “-ISM”? Answer: SOCIALISM. One may further ask: Why not try it and see what the results will be?

One may go one more step further and ask: what is Socialism,anyway?

In his or her post dated May 2 at 11:43 am,Anarcissie posted the following definition for Socialism:

Quote
======

Socialism is “the ownership or control of the means of production by the workers,or by the community in general”

Unquote
========

Of course,Anarcissie is fundamentally correct in the definition as quoted above.

However,SOCIALISM is much more than just a definition,however precise. It has to do,in a profound way,with maintaining and sustaining an eqilibrium of social order that transcends all human weaknesses such as greed and exploitations of others for the benefit of the very few who have mere wealth. Furthermore,Socialism demands and fulfills,at the same time,the following broad socio-economic principles:

From every citizen in the society what he or she can produce for the common good(society). And for every citizen in that society what he or she needs. Hence,Socialism guarantees one needs to make a living,but at the same time demands productivity from all undisabled citizens of the society.

SOCIALISM sounds fair enough to me,since when the humanbeing dies,he or she cannot take his or her wealth to the grave. Why bother in accumulating it,through exploitation of others,in the first place??

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By Anarcissie, May 5, 2009 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

Nomascerdo:
“But as a general rule, I don’t see how owning and controlling the means of one’s production turns one into a fascist, as you propose.  It seems to me millions of people do it every day while remaining liberals or conservatives or traditionalists or Buddhists or anarchists or whatever they are.”

‘Aren’t you describing a free market system here?’

In many cases.  Socialist enterprises can relate to each other (and to non-socialist entities) through markets or by other means—for instance, they could be part of some larger combination of enterprises.  Same as traditional capitalist entities, which seldom have interior markets and often go to some trouble to reduce or control external ones by achieving monopolies, forming cartels, and getting state protection and favors.  There has been much theorizing about how better non-market arrangements might be constructed.  The identifying feature of socialism (according to me) is ownership of the means of production, not markets or the lack of them.

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By rmuldavin, May 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

Now there is about a two hour difference between my last post and my writing here, so I will try to state quickly the important notion I have been pursuing:

(1) Some String Theory essays (including books) postulate an flat equal lateral triangle (felt) as the face of a four sided tetrahedron (Regular tetrahedron) a 4-felt.

(2) Mendelev’s Ordering of the Chemical Elements by Atomic weight and electronic properties and the models for their nucleii can be modeled by Regular Polyhedra, an important example Caicium:
20Ca40, which has a 20 protons and 20 neutrons, which neutron if drawn to a proton (by their magnetic properties, can be viewed as a regular wafer, and a possilbe construction would be a 5-np cap top, 10-np middle ring, and a 5-np cap bottom. 

(3) The Ca nucleus has the smallest cross section when bombarded by small masses generally by linear and rotational machines, but also, importantly, “Pennings Traps”, laser or resonating chambers that examine a single particle.

(4) John von Neuman’s 5 player investment model that tends to become a monopoly can be matched to the short life time of the “pentaquark”, which would reside between 2He4 and 3Li7, that is the Pentaquark would have an Atomic Weight of 5 nucleons.

These notions can help visualize and retain some complex interactions since the proton number change and maybe the neutron numbers compensate to allow electromagnetic waves to be transfered to form direct electrical energy to be captured with less harmful radiations.

The last link to the outer space systems using Lithium Boron fuels stunned me for the effort the authors put into their presentation.

More later, best rm

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By BruSays, May 5, 2009 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment

This article has brought well over 100 posts. This tells me three things:

1. There are a lot of retired people blogging on Truthdig. Who else has the time for all this? I commend you all but you have to wonder…
2. It’s a going nowhere, he says/she says topic made even more confusing and convoluted with off-the-wall definitions of what constitutes socialsm, capitalism, communism, libertarianism, social democracy, etc.
3. We’ll never reconcile these differences. It’s in our genes to disagree. All systems work; no system works. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” works. So does “survival of the fittest.”

We’re social beings. Over the 250,000 years of evolution our species were hunter/gatherers living in small, highly mobile, multi-family groups. Everyone took care of everyone. The group survived only with the collective contributions of all. Hunters shared the kill with the weak and feeble. The weak and feeble shared their knowledge with the strong. Those who contributed nothing (neither food or experience) were fed and protected nontheless. Evidence indicates that inter-marriage occured between these extended family groups often uniting groups into larger groups. Warfare, though occassional, was uncommon. Life wasn’t easy and survival depended on the groups’ collective “smarts,” strength and savvy. Think: SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM, Kibbutzim. 

It’s only over the past several thousand years that we’ve taken up farming, ceased migrating, and with this stability, begun to live in urban environments. Cities grew, city-states developed, states developed, countries developed, empires developed - and warfare increased. Although locally we often maintained communal units, increasingly those units became artificial, non-familial groupings. Being our “brother’s keeper” became a stretch because it was no longer our brother, or uncle, or cousin, or second cousin we were ‘keeping’ - it was just someone else in our community. In fact, the entire sense of community was becoming blurred. Survival was no less assured; but it was more personal. It now depended increasingly on individual ability rather than communal ability. Think: TOTALITARIANISM, FASCISM, unchecked CAPITALISM.

We all understand how urbanity provides freedom and independence, exposes us to different cultures, enlightens us, allows us to express, follow, share and assert our creative abilities. But if unchecked, it comes at a price. Hence, Dickensonian-style, it removes the social safety net a small community provides while opening the door for the suppression of the weak and poor by the strong and the rich. And because the rich most often inherited wealth rather than earned it, even the notion of the “fittest” surviving was corrupted.

So there we have it. We’re essentially an animal that evolved in small, family-groups now trying to live like bees in some situations, wolves in other situations, and lone eagles or leopards in others.

In my view, the declaration that one system is superior to another is off-topic. The solution is in the melding of many systems at various levels. One that respects our past yet acknowleges our individual-ness. Hopefully, as a species we’ll survive long enough to figure it all out.

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By rmuldavin, May 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Trouble getting on line, also comments over twice allowed 4k bytes
______________________________________________________________
TO: By Louise, May 2 at 2:31 pm: and
By Louise, May 5 at 9:54 am
I am in the right place for the link to Robert Lucas, nobel prize winner in economics.

http://economics.uchicago.edu/pdf/lucas0603082.pdf

{{Ideas and Growth
Robert E. Lucas, Jr.
The University of Chicago
June, 2008
What is it about modern capitalist economies that allows them, in contrast to all earlier societies, to generate sustained growth in productivity and living standards?
It is widely agreed that the productivity growth of the industrialized economies is mainly an ongoing intellectual achievement, a sustained [fl]ow of new ideas. Are these ideas the achievements of a few geniuses, Newton, Beethoven, and a handful of others, viewed as external to the activities of ordinary people? Are they the product of a specialized research sector, engaged in the invention of patent-protected processes over which they have monopoly rights? Both images are based on important features reality and both have inspired interesting growth theories, but neither seems to me central. What is central, I believe, is that fact that the industrial revolution involved the emergence (or rapid expansion) of a class of educated people, thousands–now many millions–of people who spend entire careers exchanging ideas, solving work- related problems, generating new knowledge.}}

[comments-rm: it seems most relevant to some of the ideas about a large subject “socialism”. For how we face the Lucas’s notions of “technical frontier”  import for so much of our lives depend upon our mutually presented technology.

If the two party (labeled) system has failings, perhaps it is due to the inherent instability of binary systems in that, say a baton spun into the air by a Majorette, due to its motions spins in a moving plane under the influence of Earth’s gravity and how it was launched (approximately).

Now the “Gaucho” throwing a three ball, connected to a common center to ensnare game (I cannot remember the name), this device is more stable, since three “points” abstractly form a plane.

Spinoza (circa 1530) left Spain during the Inquisition (spanning some 600 years) and ended in North (Germany? The Rhine Valley?)) worked grinding lens, died at about 47 years of age, introduced the triplet as more stable than the duality, which was “good physics”.

Again, the quest for John von Neumann’s five (stock market) players and one, say a collection of investors (mutual funds), even in the one book I find, “Contributions to the Von Neumann Growth Model”, Springer-Verlag, New York (1971), I am still going through page-by-page, perhaps, I can find mention of von Neuman’s proof (not given in indexes or contents), but there is a universal criticism I have of economic theories in general, the attention to growth models.

“Growth” if a sum of various segments of a comprehensive study, would have “limits”, if the comodities produced, take space and limited resources, then “static”, the word and a concept, needs attention.
Human populations are a good starter.  A Scientific American article years ago discussed the idea that if an economy is expanding, and the proportion of the pieces of pie, the angle span of each pie piece to whomever, remains the same, the radius of the pie increases, thus each recipient’s piece might weight more, but it the same proportion of the total. It might be for a fixed population, some are getting more weight, some less.  In short, if those with more monetary wealth can control the “presentation” of well being, then even with equality in voting, distribution can become unequal, and for matters of health and safety, that can be a fatal selection if one is relatively poor.

[continued]

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

Truedigger that is highly unlikely.. Big companies go to government to buy influence so rules and regulations are written for their explicit benefit and to the detriment of upstart competitors. The free market would promote competition not domination.  It always does if it is a free market. 

The rating agencies are a government created oligopoly. They cause all sorts of problems by having a government granted stranglehold on rating bonds etc. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were government sponsored entities that did things that no other company could have or would have possibly done without an implicit backstop and look at what happened.  Both organizations, not by coincidence, were some of the largest campaign and lobbyist spenders around. Both cost taxpayers billions. Both are bankrupt. The big banks are now the ultimate power lobbies.  They OWN congress along with their private cartel the Federal Reserve.  It goes without saying that without the government and the FED they would largely be bankrupt.  The community banks would quickly fill the void I might add and the financial system would recover, the threat of its total collapse was overblown.  Other phony distortions include the FDIC which makes ALL banks exactly equal no matter how different their management is.  The prudent bank is the same as the wreckless one because of a grossly underfunded insurance policy. Moral hazard runs wild and people are no longer vigilant.  The reality is, the private market was warning that Madoff was a fraud for YEARS before the SEC got involved.  Unfortunately, since the SEC is around and since Madoff was so big people ASSUMED it was OK.  It must be right?  If it was a fraud, surely the SEC would know about it.  Caveat emptor out the window.  Same thing with social programs etc.  I don’t have to worry about it because someone else is.  My responsibility has been abdicated.  They took they money, its their problem.  You want a society that is interdependent and people take care of each other?  Me too, but the only logical way to get there is to slowly remove the phony promises and systems that can never do what they claim and put the responsibilty back on individuals, families, communities, towns, and private groups etc etc.  Remove the incentive (the endless trough of money) and the force of government.  Protect the individual rights and property.  It won’t be perfect but it will lift the most boats and keep the most people out of the meat grinder. 

Our first action should be no action. Do no harm.  The law of unintended consequences is far too great.

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By truedigger3, May 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Namascerdo wrote:
“Government should be a small as possible with as little influence as possible.  It should provide basic public services and administer the rule of law. It should never social engineer.”
_____________________________________________________

If that happen, under the guise of the so called freedom from government interference, the powerful big Business/Money, without any restraint and regulations, will run amock abusing their workers, consumers and the environment and add to that paying very little taxes and getting more richer and powerful to the extent that they will control the
government and use it to do their bidding. Is that
ring a bell??!!
The result will be a society devoid of compassion
and any attempt to do anythinf for the common good.
What an ugly society that will be to live in.

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By KDelphi, May 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

Shut your mouth when you talk to me

??? Paul-tard…

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By truedigger3, May 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Namascerdo wrote:
“Government should be a small as possible with as little influence as possible.  It should provide basic public services and administer the rule of law. It should never social engineer.”
_____________________________________________________

If that happen,the powerful big Business/Money, without any restraint and regulations will run amock abusing the average

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi if you think that the “Austrian school of economics” has ANYTHING to do with the current (or even former) government and economy of Austria you are a waste of time and everything you claim (that you have read Ron Paul and you understand Austrian economics) is demonstrably false.

Literally no connection beyond where the intellectual founders of the school were from originally.  Ludwig von Mises, the “founder” was a Jew who fled the Nazis to the United States.

Friedman was a Monetarist and not an Austrian although his ancestry was Hungarian and he was a Jew.  He may have gone to Austria on vacation though but then again, who hasn’t!?!?

Shut your mouth when you talk to me.

Go use your google before you use your words.

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By KDelphi, May 5, 2009 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Nomescerdo—The way you Paul-tards speak to other people is precisely the reason you will always be considered fringe..

Tha Austrian economy is tanking… You Paulians get around the “free mkt” argument, by refuting that anywhere people suggest it exists (as long as its not soaring high) is “not free mkt”...well, where the hell is there one? We saw these Friedman policies at work in the uS and the uK….we tried to spread them to Latin America—that is why they want nothing to do with us

Another tactic is “everybody is ignorant , except us”. You are getting nowhere…
I’ve read enough Ron Paul garbage to last me a lifetime.

You guys are on the wrong side of history..

“...Superficially this massive outburst of anger is linked to the question of defending holidays. However, the April 24 demonstrations were much more than this. It is the protest of a generation of young people who can see that they have no real perspective in life, that nobody is interested in their opinions, a generation that is fed up with having no real democratic rights…”

Sound familiar?


http://www.marxist.com/austria-spring-awakening-60000-students.htm

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

“Money based on commodities, including gold, is not inflation-proof, by the way.  The amount of the commodity available may change, or games may be played with how the money is based.”

This is true but you increasing the supply of a commodity takes a very long time (usually).  You can’t push a button and BAM! there is another $3 TRILLION dollars worth of gold.  The supply of gold grows low single digits every year.  The supply of fiat dollars has grown in almost incomprehensible numbers in recent months. 

Hard money acts as a restraint. It is a natural check.  Just as you would never give to yourself power you wouldn’t want your enemy to have, those of us who cheer these major expansions and interference in the economy are being very short sighted.  Systems must be built that cannot be centrally controlled. They are simply too dangerous,and or too dumb.  How much evidence do we need?

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

“But as a general rule, I don’t see how owning and controlling the means of one’s production turns one into a fascist, as you propose.  It seems to me millions of people do it every day while remaining liberals or conservatives or traditionalists or Buddhists or anarchists or whatever they are.”

Aren’t you describing a free market system here?

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By Smoove, May 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow. I thought us Libertarians were a sanctimonious bunch, but apparently we have found our equal.

I understand why people might think Socialism is moral. I would contend socialist thinking is a leftover from our evolved human psychology. A socialist type of thinking would been quite beneficial when early humans were evolving in small tribes/groups. In this evolutionary context, early humans who hoarded resources would potentially put the rest of the tribe/group at risk of extinction. Thus, humans have a natural predisposition to fear wealth especially great disparities in wealth. 

Now, does that not sound like the crux of socialist thought? Capitalism is evil because it causes disparity in wealth and is putting humanity at risk?   

The problem of course, is that humans haven’t lived in small tribes/groups for quite some time. Our societies and economies have evolved much faster then our folk intuitions. I know socialism might seem to make moral/pragmatic sense, but the reality is that it’s an untenable dogma in a free and modern society.

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

KDelphi, what you are witnessing right now is certainly not the “Austrian free market” tanking.  It is quite the opposite in fact.  An Austrian free market would have a free market in money and a private banking cartel wouldn’t be manipulating money and credit in an attempt to “guide the economy”. 

How can a small group of people know what the price of money should be in a multi-trillion dollar economy?  Impossible. What is worse, setting it at an arbitrary level (which is all they can do) has tremendous ripple effects on the decisions that individuals and businesses make.  It sends dangerously false signals, it inflates asset bubbles, and it promotes wild speculation and dangerous risk taking.  Think about phrases that became conventional wisdom such as “Home prices have never gone down.  They only go up!”  FALSE (they are down nearly 60% in California from the peak).  I remember people parroting the same thing.. “gotta get in on the game. Real estate ONLY goes up.  its a no brainer. they aren’t making any more land!!” 

Meanwhile the Austrians were sounding the alarm bells all along because it is easy to see how the false signals will create problems.

To blame what we are going through on the Austrians is ridiculous… it is about as ridiculous as calling Ron Paul a neo-con. You display an incredible ignorance of the other side of the argument (not to mention what neo-cons are - former Trotsky followers no less).  Read a book or two, it might open your eyes to some economic laws, and realities that could help you understand the world better.

Start with Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. If you want something more contemporary try Meltdown by Thomas Woods.  If you want to understand Ron Paul, try reading one of his several books.

Right now have the worst of both worlds… private profits and socialized losses. That is thanks to the cozy relationship between big business and government.  It is a revolving door amongst Treasury and Goldman Sachs and Barney Frank and Goldman and the Obama administration and Goldman yada yada yada. 

All of that is VERY far from Austrian theory which you clearly don’t understand at all which is a shame because it is is more pro working class than any other theory out there. 

Arnicissie - regarding labor and capital…

If we just look at what Lincoln said at the opening of this article:  “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the supporter of capital, and deserves the higher consideration.”

All we have to start with, generally speaking is our ability and willingness to work or contribute.  When we are paid for our efforts and if we save some of our income we have created capital.  continued…

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By Nomascerdo, May 5, 2009 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

continued..

Sacrificing consumption now in order to have some good or machine etc in the future is the formation of capital.  I disagree that labor and capital are distinct. Lincoln was making a political statement there.  Logic dictates otherwise… Our labor is our capital.  An artist’s labor and resulting painting is his capital. The kid working as a bartender, saving money for college, and studying his ass off is creating capital by saving a sacrifice.  A migrant worker being paid to pick fruits and then sending whatever he can back to his home country is creating capital in the hopes that he will be able to use that money to secure a better future.  It doesn’t matter how menial nor how advanced.  If I can write a piece of code that becomes a killer iPhone application, my mind (labor) has created capital.  I would just say that every human being should own their own labor and capital and be able to deploy it however they wish as long as it doesn’t injure another.  Of course, the only way to make my labor worth anything is to arrange it so it adds value to another.  If I make jewelry out of beans and string I can turn my labor into capital if someone finds it beautiful.  I depend on others valuing my labors.  We all have to serve each other’s needs, desires etc.  Our self-interests are naturally aligned in so many ways we tend not to notice.  But they are and now in the information age our opportunity to match our passions with the passions of others has never been greater.  Take a look at craigslist for example.

If people owned more (or all) of the fruits of their labors, they would be more charitable.  That I have no doubt whatsoever.  If people generally recognized that everyone is a part of the same struggle and politicians didnt have the power to steal from one group and then give to another for votes, society would be more just and moral and people would help others more.  You can’t expect to have a moral society / economy when it is based on inflation and theft.  The number of lobbyists in DC has grown in direct proportion to the level of brazen theft going on.  Turn off the spigot and those who wish to use the force of government to take from others instead of producing will have to figure something else to do.  It is the unfortunate reality that others are getting something that you may not be that creates tremendous pain, angst, and immorality.  When people feel they are treated unfairly or that they are entitled to something they become amoral.

Government should be a small as possible with as little influence as possible.  It should provide basic public services and administer the rule of law. It should never social engineer.

The growth and expansion of welfare has only made more people poor.  the growth and expansion of the central education authority has only made our children dumber and less competitive.  Where have all of the charity hospitals gone?  What about the fraternal organizations? 

Next they are going to completely destroy volunteerism by PAYING people to do it and or making it compulsory.  The unintended consequences of this will be that nobody will volunteer UNLESS they are being paid for it. 

We are now entering the next and final phase.  The Government Finance Bubble.  This is already FAR larger than the housing bubble and dot com bubble and it is FAR more dangerous (see Weimar, Argentina, Zimbabwe).  The entire creditworthiness of our economy is at stake.  When that is gone, anything can happen, yet hardly anything good.  It will probably lead to Nationalism and lots of finger pointing boogey man type of stuff (it’s the Jews!).  Protectionism will follow and as the old saying goes, when goods don’t cross borders, Armies do.

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By KDelphi, May 5, 2009 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Outraged, Louise, ardee, and Folk, thanks. The more I read from so-called Libertarians, its just Social Darwinism and pretending that Stalin was a “Socialist”..they also try to throw in Hitler as “natl Socialist”,which just shows how endoctrinated the Paul-tards are. BTW—the “Austrian” “free mkt” is tanking, there are riots in the streets and unemployment is soaring. The Irish economy, (heralded by Friedmanites as “one if the freest in the world”—but, that was 2006…) is in the toilet.


I dont think that they have a clue what “libertarian” life would look like.

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By Anarcissie, May 5, 2009 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

Nomascerdo:
I think the relationship between inflation and war is pretty rock solid and well supported in history. ...

I’ve already pointed out that hard-money, high-tariff McKinley got involved in the Spanish-American war, an exercise of the purest imperialism.  On the inflation side, we have poor defeated 1920s Germany, not trying to imperialize anyone at the moment, with its famous hyperinflation—and the same sort of thing in plenty of other place and times, too.  The Roman Empire seems to have had institutionalized inflation whether it was expanding or holding steady or contracting over a period of centuries.  I don’t think you’ve got a hard-and-fast rule there.

Money based on commodities, including gold, is not inflation-proof, by the way.  The amount of the commodity available may change, or games may be played with how the money is based.  My own recommendation would be to base money on labor, but it is hard to get people even to discuss such ideas coherently.  Besides, the political pressures to hype production-consumption by juicing the economy with fresh money are usually irresistible.

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By Anarcissie, May 5, 2009 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Nomascerdo:

Socialism has never transgressed into communism / totalitarianism and slaughtered millions?

Of course it has and how can it not?

Socialism - “the ownership of the means of production by the workers, or by the community generally”

Doesn’t every able person’s “means of production” start with themselves?

Don’t be silly.  I’m talking about industrial civilization.  When all a person needs to be productive is his birthday suit, we’re back among the hunter-gatherers.

In any case, in answer to your first question, socialism as I define it has never existed on a scale larger than a few thousand people—some of the larger communes and cooperatives.  I don’t see how a community of such small size could transgress into totalitarianism, but I suppose there’s one of everything—some religious commune somewhere with a totalitarian charismatic leader, perhaps.  I might object, though, that this really wasn’t socialism, because the workers and the people were not only not actually in control of the means of production, but not even their own domestic lives.  But as a general rule, I don’t see how owning and controlling the means of one’s production turns one into a fascist, as you propose.  It seems to me millions of people do it every day while remaining liberals or conservatives or traditionalists or Buddhists or anarchists or whatever they are.  It’s the class structure of traditional capitalism and the modern state that suggests totalitarian control.

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By Leefeller, May 5, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Notice Jefferson did not say women, one could say it was his intent?  Question is easily answered, but only if I were King.

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By Anarcissie, May 5, 2009 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

Leefeller:
‘FT, Believing the people could handle power as equals seems based on the people as munchkins, or reminds one of religion?’

Well, as an alternative you can take the position of Aristotle, who believed in slavery.  He said,

“But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.”
                —Aristotle, _Politics_, I.5

Notice that, in spite of calling upon reason and fact, Aristotle doesn’t employ either.  He’s taking a religious position, just as Jefferson in saying “All men are created equal.”  Both of them held the propositions they advocated to be self-evident.  What’s yours?  Do you have a rational, objective, evidence-based, munchkin-free answer to the question?

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By Leefeller, May 5, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

FT,

Believing the people could handle power as equals seems based on the people as munchkins, or reminds one of religion?

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By Folktruther, May 5, 2009 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie- In order to get people interested in controlling the managers of their workplaces and localities,it is necessary to transform our worldviews of reality.  Instead of the individualism instilled by the Western tradition, it is necessary to get people to think of themselves as world historial figures who believe in power to the earthpeople.  People must see themselves as power figures who can, and have the duty to, and want to maintain the power of the population against oppressive power.

This means that people must think in power terms rather than in terms of Freedom.  Give people power and they will get their own freedom.  Freedom is often an abdication of responsibility to their fellows and children, a retreat into individualism, into personal interests. It is only a compenent of power, and for people to rule themselves, we must control the entire range of it.  and we must replace the love of people, impossible when you are dealing with millions, with a respect for people.

An more realistic ideological worldview must be formed that increases the power of the powerless against the powerful.

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By Louise, May 5, 2009 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Paolo,

“In a free, libertarian, capitalist society, nothing prevents you from voluntarily following your socialist dreams, along with everyone who shares your views ...”

~~~

Oh my. Thanks for the chuckle. smile

In any society save one of complete anarchy there are many barriers to your concept of a “socialist dream,” not the least of which is money. You know, the stuff one needs to buy the land to have the Kibbutz. The stuff one needs to do whatever it is one wants to do. In your concept of the perfect world of a free, libertarian, capitalist society, unless one happens to already hold, free and clear that land, or anything else one needs to develop their perfect dream, it can’t happen. Not to say that in the perfect concept of a democratic republic this cant happen. Unfortunately between corporate control and ownership, and corporate capitalism the few opportunities to become “free to do, for one and all” are less and less.

Of course the “committed” libertarian will blame the government for that, not able to comprehend almost every “control” and “restriction” the 95% deal with today is because of the abuses the 5% have created. Often as not government intervention into the lives of the people is either because of, or as an answer to the demands of corporate capitalism! If you do not understand cause and effect, you do not understand what you are talking about.

So the premise of libertarians becomes muddled. Leaves one wondering, what is it they want anyway? What exactly are their goals?

Near as I can see they spout the extremes of conservatism, while pretending to care about the needs of those who depend on the sweat of their own brow. In reality caring about the vast majority is not on their agenda. Promoting absolute corporate capitalism seems to be, which dwindles and diminishes the size of their following and the value of their principles. Little wonder they’ve had no success in becoming a viable alternative at the voting booth!

I think the libertarian party base is composed of former republicans forced to leave the fold when republicans decided being intelligent was “elite” and not good for the party. But being intelligent doesn’t always equate with smarts. Or the ability to grasp the big picture. Or the ability to understand even though they think they know what they’re doing, they don’t.

I think they think, at least their base, that if their political phylosophy became the norm, they would suddenly share equally in all the wealth. If they suddenly found themselves in power they would all be in for a shock. They would discover, the tight inner circle of corporate capitalist control is not about to open up and let them in. They would in fact be viewed as a threat. Because if government becomes what they think they want government to be, the capitalist powers, having lost their crutch would be enraged!

Or perhaps the Libertarian Party actually IS the Corporate Capitalist Party, trying hard to convince us all there is a kinder, gentler version of capitalist greed and abuse.

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By ardee, May 5, 2009 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

I have stayed too long at the faire, despite my better judgement that arguing politics with those who hold such incredibly selfish views of how a state should function is a waste of time.

I would only note ,as my final contribution to this thread, that both Paolo and Nomascerdo repeatedly note that socialism is responsible for the ‘slaughter of millions’ yet fail to note any specifics as to where, when, who or how. I believe that they use the actions of those nations living under a perverted form of communism as a model for their attacks on socialism..whatever.

Whenever we see the actions of a govt. ( and this one we live under is a perfect example thereof) approach libertarian criteria, free market economics, abandonment of social safety nets, the power of money replacing the power of the vote, we find increasing disparity of lifestyle, decreasing ability to move those in the working classes upward into the middle classes, in fact we see as we do today a shrinking of that middle class. We see a loss of educational ability and the migration of wealth to fewer and fewer.

I find Libertarianism to be a sort of teenage romantic fantasy, a vision of total freedom that , should it be implemented, would quickly become a nightmare. One might accept or reject my opinion as one will but it is stated and I see no purpose in remaining to debate those who fail the test of truthfulness or display any willingness to debate honestly.

Libertarians are a crackpot minority and will always remain such.

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By Outraged, May 5, 2009 at 2:31 am Link to this comment

Re: Paolo

Your comment: “An important tenet of libertarianism is that “reason” and “freedom” are mutually reinforcing concepts. That is, the more free a society is, the more people value reason and persuasion. The less free a society is, the more people insist on force and coercion.”

Yes, but this disregards the “lessor thans”, and if we were to simply ignore these for the sake of those with ability, better health, a more secure economic standing…etc, who would we be or become?  Always, and to back to our original debate, it seems to me ALL these tenets project a “perfect world”, one which has no aging or disabled people, one in which everyone is sane, one in which EVERYTHING and all things are equal, and every person has the qualitative ability, reason, and fortitude to compete.

Therefore, I propose that this could NEVER be and also that, it would become a mentality/ideology in which those of health, economic standing or wit would completely disenfranchise those without these same attributes.  In this regard, I see this as no different than taking “candy from a baby” and therefore really rather diabolical in its REALITY however tempting it might appear theoretically.

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

I think the relationship between inflation and war is pretty rock solid and well supported in history. I believe that is what Mises was referring to in the quote I furnished.  All of the great wars have been financed through inflation of some sort or another.  If we actually had to pay for these wars out of current taxes they would never happen.  In fact, all major social programs have also, largely, been funded in the exact same way.  Borrowing and then printing money to service the borrowing.  The United States couldn’t have $60 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities if that weren’t the case. 

The gold standard, in stark contrast, and hard money in general, acts as a governor on such wild expansions of government, the most obviously troublesome adventures being wars that don’t need to be fought, the less obviously problematic, but nevertheless unfortunate, being welfare systems that seem to promote poverty over time instead of alleviating it.  Communities tend to break down when they are no longer owned by individuals with a vested interest in their preservation.  It is basic human nature. If you don’t own it, and you don’t know who does, you are less likely to treat it with care.  The same goes for a home “bought” with no money down. 

The big question should be, how can someone buy a house with no money down in the first place?  A very specific mechanism must occur in order for “free money” to come into this world and it isn’t the “free market” that does it.

Hint hint, it is the same mechanism that silently robs the majority of its purchasing power and relegates them to debt as the only way to make ends meet, while simultaneously crowding them out of growing their capital through the normal channels of savings. 

Ahh but we need to borrow more and spend more and print more.  Everything will be fine. This has NEVER been tried before.  Ho hum… I’m off to dream

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

Socialism has never transgressed into communism / totalitarianism and slaughtered millions? 

Of course it has and how can it not?

Socialism - “the ownership of the means of production by the workers, or by the community generally”

Doesn’t every able person’s “means of production” start with themselves?  Our labor, in whichever form, is our starting capital. Libertarians would argue that every person should have the right to own their own capital (labor) and to benefit from the fruits of it.  Nobody else should have a claim on it.  I may share the fruits of my labor with others, and most people most certainly will, voluntarily in trade or sharing, for a litany of reasons, but if a free man doesn’t own his own labor, his own capital, then he is not a free man. 

The “means of production” can only be justly acquired through the act of savings and investment as a result of one’s labor. All other ways to acquire are unjust.  That is the only way to capital formation in an open society with the rule of law. 

Taxes merely take capital away from the group that produced it in the first place.  Borrowing without consent is taking capital yet to be produced in the future. Stealing is stealing (see taxes and borrowing).

So if Socialism is the rule of the day, and ownership of the means of production by the workers, or by the community generally is how things are, then I will choose to go out to dinner every night, get drunk at taverns, and visit the local brothel and generally consume my wages and capital.  Heck, I might even borrow money and spend that on lavish things as well!  I will be the most popular bolshevik in town.  Here I come

But my neighbor, on the other hand, acts frugally and saves his wages and then invests in a machine or an education (means of production) that enables him to earn (produce) twice as much than before. 

So should I be able to claim some piece of his now expanded “means of production”? 

No? Well why not? 

I am a ‘worker’ 

I am part of the ‘community generally’ 

Don’t I have a claim to benefit from his labor and savings?

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Nomascerdo:
‘Arnacissie - I’m not aware of any advocates of austro-libertarian philosophy that would point to McKinley as a shining example or advocate. ...’

No, I don’t think they would.  I was just kind of surprised that you hooked up hard money with peace and inflationary money with war and imperialism.  It is often so but it isn’t always so, and McKinley comes to mind.  I agree that easy money is often associated with periods of economic and political expansion, and one mode of expansion is imperialism.  I think the more recent Bush’s regime is an example of that.  I was discussing the prospects of war with a fellow leftie in ‘02 and she said Bush couldn’t start another war because he didn’t have the money.  I told her he could just make it out of thin air.  Unfortunately I was right.  But in fact that was already going on before then, courtesy of Bubbles Greenspan.

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By Paolo, May 4, 2009 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

Yet one more libertarian observation:

An important tenet of libertarianism is that “reason” and “freedom” are mutually reinforcing concepts. That is, the more free a society is, the more people value reason and persuasion. The less free a society is, the more people insist on force and coercion.

If socialists really want to establish a society in which everyone shares and shares alike, regardless of production or contribution, they are free to do so in a free, libertarian society. If you wanted to establish a Kibbutz in a free, libertarian society, nothing and no one would prevent you from doing so. You could inspire the rest of society to follow your glowing example, if you were able to set such an example.

Undoubtedly, some would choose to follow your example, just as some Israelis choose to live on Kibbutzim today. But then there’s that problem of having to reason and persuade, again. Most people, you must realize, will not follow you. Therefore, the socialist usually says, let’s get the guns of the state behind us, and force everyone to follow our glorious example.

In a free, libertarian, capitalist society, nothing prevents you from voluntarily following your socialist dreams, along with everyone who shares your views. But you must realize that most would choose not to follow. Does this gall you? Does this drive you mad?

Relax, socialists. Why not just set up your ideal society with those who agree with you? Why, always, the resort to force? Or is force and control what socialism was always about, right from the get-go?

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Note—my comments, posted to this topic, wound up in the Gun Nut / Gun Control Nut topic.  I’ll put them here, too.  Wherever “here” turns out to be….

ardee:
’“So, how are you going to stop these ‘libertines’ from doing the stuff they want to do and are capable of doing, if not use state power?  This is not a rhetorical question.  My perhaps incorrect assumption was that, if you found libertarians insufficiently enthusiastic about the use of state power, you desired to see more of it.  Correct me if I’m wrong.”

You are wrong..I’m glad that’s settled then..[wink] I had thought my previous post detailing the way socialism is structured and administered would have settled this misconception you hold about my lusting after state power. ...’

I wasn’t thinking of you lusting after state power.  I just think the mechanism of socialism needs to be identified.  First of all, I define socialism as “the ownership of the means of production by the workers, or by the community generally”.  The provision of Welfare by the state, which seems to be often confused with socialism, is another issue—a capitalist, fascist, or monarchical state could have Welfare.  (Observe Bismarck.)  I believe socialism is a proposition about the means of production, about labor and alienation and all that.

Socialism as I define it obviously requires that the workers, or the community in general, desire to own and control the means of production.  They’re going to have to pay attention to how their work is organized and performed.  They’re going to have to be the management

In my experience, most people do not want to do this.  In fact, they don’t even want to form unions to get some influence over their workplace without having to manage it.  The few who do, go off and work for themselves, or form co-ops or partnerships, or traditional capitalist enterprises, where they get the people who don’t want to manage their work to work for them, and of course exploit them, because that’s the way the game is played.

How are you going to insert socialism into this situation?  If anything, the world seems to be moving the other way, towards increased dependency, passivity, fear, repression, and worship of great leaders.  Of course this process leads to a wider and wider gap between the leaders and the led, and contributes to the violence of the struggle for power between sets of leaders and between the leaders and their subjects, to imperialism, war, ecological and social destruction, and so on.

I could go on, but that’s the gist of the problem.  I don’t see how voting for some newer and better leaders or laws is going to change it.  You can’t hold a gun to people’s heads and force them to accept autonomy and freedom.

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By ardee, May 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie:
“It seemed to me you were criticizing libertarians for failing to use or be influenced by evidence and reason in the formation of their political ideas.  I believe this is nearly universal behavior, hence it seems a bit unfair to pick on the libertarians for it.”

I accused THESE Particular practitioners of the libertarian persuasion of refusing the give and take of debate. I accuse all such followers of a ‘me-first’ political course.

“So, how are you going to stop these ‘libertines’ from doing the stuff they want to do and are capable of doing, if not use state power?  This is not a rhetorical question.  My perhaps incorrect assumption was that, if you found libertarians insufficiently enthusiastic about the use of state power, you desired to see more of it.  Correct me if I’m wrong.”

You are wrong..I’m glad that’s settled then..wink I had thought my previous post detailing the way socialism is structured and administered would have settled this misconception you hold about my lusting after state power.
As to the way to keep libertarians from doing as they wish is a twofold sword.

One; I believe they will never achieve a voting bloc large enough to affect what they wish though the battle is joined, and seemingly endless, between the forces of unregulated capitalism accompanied by a desire to end any sort of social safety net and those who desire at least some sort of regulated economy and see the utility in the assistance from govt to the neediest among us.

Two, continue to work for the insertion of socialism into our governance. and as to that:

Nomascerdo:

“I never understood how those who advocate socialism can’t grasp how dangerous it is despite all of the millions of people who have been slaughtered by it in the last century. When you build a centrally planned, centrally controlled system, human nature dictates that the most ruthless will ultimately seize it for their own ends.  “

I agree that you do not understand, but the rest of this rant is a product only of your imagination and has no real world application. Perhaps you might enlighten me as to the millions of people slaughtered by socialism. Take care now not to confuse socialism with some other form of govt.

Further you seem to conflate socialism with communism in your belief that the former is a centrally planned and centrally controlled system. It is simply the opposite in fact, though Trotsky believed that real communism would grow from the establishment of a socialist system.

I know that words are sometimes Pavlovian triggers and your particular trigger has led you down a false and unfortunate path. There has, to date, never been a true socialist nation, thus talk of slaughter by such is fairy dust.

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Kdelphi which do you have a moral opposition to?

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

sigh..now the New Deal debate. Nope.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

So , it is basically a neo-con, without the military and free trade agreements..how, then, can one have Social Libertarianism?

Except that they say that they dont want a strong centralized state, but, rather , just a well-armed malitia , or what?

I am truly trying to understand this, but, when each “libertine” seems to think that their interpretation is the only one, maybe it just means free to make up your own facts, and, complain that other systems dont work, even though your own never has? Or what??.

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

“ We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong…somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot! ”

Henry Morgenthau, Jr. - Secretary of Treasury under FDR and Truman (briefly)
(1934 - 1945)

Source of Quote: Morgenthau Diary, May 9, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library via, Burton Folsom Jr.’s, “New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy has Damaged America”

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Nomascerdo—Ok. Thanks.

That certainly settles it for me.

Everytine I try to open up to the idea, I read something like this…just cant do it.

I have a strong moral opposition to it.

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

I never understood how those who advocate socialism can’t grasp how dangerous it is despite all of the millions of people who have been slaughtered by it in the last century. When you build a centrally planned, centrally controlled system, human nature dictates that the most ruthless will ultimately seize it for their own ends. 

Regarding whether or not Mises understands socialism… I would say he most certainly does and far better than the fools who would praise it thinking it will confer benefits to mankind:

“The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan.”  - Mises

“The writings of the socialists are full of such utopian fancies. Whether they call themselves Marxian or non-Marxian socialists, technocrats, or simply planners, they are all eager to show how foolishly things are arranged in reality and how happily men could live if they were to invest the reformers with dictatorial powers.” - Mises

“If a man says socialism, or planning, he always has in view his own brand of socialism, his own plan. Thus planning does not in fact mean preparedness to cooperate peacefully. It means conflict.” - Mises

“The social engineer is the reformer who is prepared to liquidate all those who do not fit into his plan for the arrangement of human affairs.” - Mises

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By Nomascerdo, May 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Arnacissie - I’m not aware of any advocates of austro-libertarian philosophy that would point to McKinley as a shining example or advocate. His support for the gold standard and his heavy reluctance to go to war plus his reliance on Congress to actually declare war are certainly points in his favor. His support of high tariffs, his cronyism, and his expansionism likely disqualify him from being a favorite. Thomas Woods has recently written favorably for Harding http://amconmag.com/article/2009/may/04/00024/ if you want a recent example that relates to our current predicament.

Regarding defining Libertarianism or libertarians in general, there are all stripes, of course.  Folks who appreciate the austro-libertarian flavor (mises, rothbard, hazlitt, paul) in general reject the Cato, Koch, Reason, Barr types of characters. They are sometimes called Beltway Libertarians because they seem more interested in power than liberty.

I would say that austro-libertarians most closely resemble the classical liberal philosophy and I would also say, despite what some people on this site like to spout, the philosophy is deeply rooted in logic.  In fact, from an economics standpoint, the Austrian school is the only one that actually accepts that it is not possible to treat human behavior and the economy at large as a scientific experiment that can be manipulated by pulling levers from a central authority.  All of the claptrap Keynsian theory (and socialist central planning theory) is and has been proven demonstrably false and frankly dangerous.  Despite all of the evidence to the contrary people still cling to these falsehoods because Paul Krugman seems like a nice fella (I suppose).  None of it stands up to even the most basic logic and history (even very recent history) is full of examples as to why it will fail. But OK, I am the one who is delusional.

Kdelphi - The Constitution does reign supreme in the austro-libertarian philosophy, generally speaking.  The law is sacred as is the property of the individual. The property of the individual is defined as life, liberty, property, the right to defend all three and then equal standards under the law. Only Congress can declare war.  Only Congress has the right to coin money (not a private banking cartel that cannot be legally audited).  Oh and lastly, the Constitution is designed to restrain government and protect the rights of the individual.  Not the other way around which is the situation we find ourselves in today.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

ardee:
‘For Anarcissie, who noted:

“In regard to not being swayed in their political convictions by evidence and logic, libertarians are about like everybody else, that is, they are not affected much by either.  And, it appears, neither are you—your primary appeal above is explicitly to the heart, and the intuitive vision of all of us codependent on this smallish blue and fragile ball unconnected with the use of state force which libertarians complain about and you, by implication, must advocate—at least if we are practicing logic here today.”

The remark you cite mentioned no political affiliation, nor did it agree with any assertion that state force was in play. That was not even the gist of the remarks which confined themselves to the fact that those who espouse the libertarian mantras here refuse to consider this a debate, never really respond to any criticisms, whether factual or emotional, regarding the politics they put forth.’

It seemed to me you were criticizing libertarians for failing to use or be influenced by evidence and reason in the formation of their political ideas.  I believe this is nearly universal behavior, hence it seems a bit unfair to pick on the libertarians for it.

‘I have, in fact, seen some of these names on other sites where they post the same exact rants and fail to respond in the same exact fashion. To say that I,perforce, advocate a use of “state force” because I take opposition to a political philosophy that advocates a libertine freedom I think harmful to far too many seems a bit over the top. ...

So, how are you going to stop these ‘libertines’ from doing the stuff they want to do and are capable of doing, if not use state power?  This is not a rhetorical question.  My perhaps incorrect assumption was that, if you found libertarians insufficiently enthusiastic about the use of state power, you desired to see more of it.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

Please continue..I am avidly reading.

I have been trying to find a debate on the Socialism/Libertariansism issue for awhile now (one that does not involve Paul followers dogged histrionics)

Seriously.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—in liberalism, the principle of free expression is an ideal which is constrained by several other principles, chiefly notions of property, state power, public order, and privacy.  Nevertheless, it is a hallowed, sanctified, and much-worshiped ideal, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and as such it is regularly fought for and about even if it is much transgressed, violated and traduced.  I’m talking about political philosophy here, and freedom of expression is a major pillar of liberal political philosophy even if it does not in fact exist.

KDelphi—There is some argument as to whether the Constitution is a truly liberal document, since it sets up a potentially strong central government.  The creation of a huge standing military force exercised in imperial adventures, detailed federal regulation of commerce, welfare and education, and federal secret police with, apparently, completely unrestrained powers of surveillance, would not (in libertarian thought, anyway) sit at all well with the Founders.

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By Folktruther, May 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie- Liberals do NOT believe in the right of free expression.  they merely PRETEND to believe in it. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of press, etc are written down on legal pieces of paper somewhere and taught about to school chldren in our schools, universities and other learned bureaucacies.
In reality freedom of expression is constrained in a hundred ways, not least by the money it takes to fund the learned and mass media to produce the mainstream truth tradition.

If liberals believed in freedom of expression the American people would not be so deluded and deceived, largely by what the media DOES NOT SAY.  Liberals read the NYTimes, Washington Post,and watch the Liberal TV station.  All of these media outlets produce the same media bullshit that legitimates oppressive power.  there is no freedom in the US to tell the truth from the population’s perspective.

It is said that people get the government they deserve.  More to the point, the power structure gets the people it deserves.  The American people are systematically deluded because both parties and the mass media delude them.  But where is the systematic criticism of the American truth system on the part of the liberals?  It doesn’t exist, becuase not only do the powerful want to delude the people, the people want to be deluded.

Freedom of expression is not possible under capitalism.  The corporate media is owned by the powerful and the other truth organs: the churches,  the schools and other learned bureacuries, the cultural and Entertainment centers, are all controlled by the powerful in other ways. They ideologically repress the simple holistic truth about people and power. This is why social science laags historically so far behind the natural sciences.  social science can’t tell the simple truth about people because liberals won’t allow it.  It is ideologically repressed in the entire truth tradition.

This is done under liberalism.  Liberals will endorse Freedom of Expression as an ideal and prevent it practice as long as they have breathe to extol how much they believe in Freedom and Democracy.

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By ardee, May 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

For Anarcissie, who noted:

“In regard to not being swayed in their political convictions by evidence and logic, libertarians are about like everybody else, that is, they are not affected much by either.  And, it appears, neither are you—your primary appeal above is explicitly to the heart, and the intuitive vision of all of us codependent on this smallish blue and fragile ball unconnected with the use of state force which libertarians complain about and you, by implication, must advocate—at least if we are practicing logic here today.”

The remark you cite mentioned no political affiliation, nor did it agree with any assertion that state force was in play. That was not even the gist of the remarks which confined themselves to the fact that those who espouse the libertarian mantras here refuse to consider this a debate, never really respond to any criticisms, whether factual or emotional, regarding the politics they put forth.

I have, in fact, seen some of these names on other sites where they post the same exact rants and fail to respond in the same exact fashion. To say that I,perforce, advocate a use of “state force” because I take opposition to a political philosophy that advocates a libertine freedom I think harmful to far too many seems a bit over the top.

Socialism, a political system that I advocate, was defined by the first socialists who predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favor more authentic meritocracy, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach.

Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital, creates an unequal society, and does not provide equal opportunities for everyone in society. Therefore socialists advocate the creation of a society in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly based on the amount of work expended in production, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how and to what extent this could be achieved.

While Marx envisioned a revolution to achieve such ends not all follow this mantra.

(with credit to Wiki)

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Anar—It does just sound like originalism or Constitionalism. Every value you list is expressed in the Constituion.

So they would advocate a return to the Republic, described in the Constituion. Or, the kind of LIbertarian you are talking about would.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—Libertarians are a kind of liberal.  “Original” liberalism is represented in the theories of people like Locke, Jefferson, Paine, etc.  In the 19th and 20th centuries liberalism branched out in various directions, some of which would be quite surprising to the original or classical liberals, for example the interventionism of Woodrow Wilson or the Welfarism of the New Deal.  Libertarians generally have a kind of fundamentalist belief in returning to the original formulation, although they don’t always justify their beliefs the way Locke or Jefferson would have, and many go further in their desire to reduce the size and power of the state.

In the mainstream media, the term liberal is now used almost exclusively for one particular branch of the liberal philosophy, what we might call “social democracy”.  This is rather obfuscatory, because in spite of all the rhetoric, liberals of all flavors have a great deal in common, for example belief in the rights of free expression, free exercise of religion, freedom of assocation, private property, contract, due process, trial by jury, subordination of the military to civilian power, individualism, private enterprise, self-actualization, progress, and so on and so on.  Traditional capitalism is the economic system of liberalism. 

The term libertarian is also used to denote anyone who thinks freedom is generally a good thing, and in the past was sometimes used as a synonym for libertine.  But these usages are not currently as common as the foregoing.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

Anartcissie—A better question might be, who, would you say, is a Libertarian? I hear the names bandied about so much, and, I’ve read so many opinions about what a libertarian is, I have no idea..I think that it has become fashionalbe, like Anarchism.

But maybe there is more of a solidified group or set of opinions than what I see here…I know what the wiki definition would be, you know what I mean..

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

You are not referring to Ron Paul, then. He is a neo-con, now that I think about it.

That is why I said that, many who refer to themselves as Libertarian, ie Paulfollowers, may not be Libertarian at all. I guess I was sortve asking a question.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
‘anarcissie—I have not found that to be true, at all, of Ron Paul-type Libertarians..it is an odd mix of chritianity, NRA and no taxes, it seems to me. ...’

Which that?  I have a number of provocations outstanding here.

Most of the libertarians I have encountered (these being on the Net, of course) do not seem to be the sort of Christians who bring their religion into political discussions.  Many of them in fact seem somewhat hostile to Christianity, at least in its mainstream and Evangelical versions, but it’s in the background.  I’m used to those who bring in Christianity moving rhetorically at least in a Social-Gospel or neocon direction with it.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

anarcissie—I have not found that to be true, at all, of Ron Paul-type Libertarians..it is an odd mix of chritianity, NRA and no taxes, it seems to me.

But, maybe the misnomer is in calling these people LIbertarians at all..top ofthemorning just seems to be a wealth worshipper.

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By Folktruther, May 4, 2009 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

truthdigger 3 and anyone else who wants the reality based truth as opposed to the power bullshit of the mainstream American media:  there is a piece on China on Commondreams that is fairly accurate that conflicts sharply with American powerbull.  It is by Dilip Hiro, an India born mainstream world truther who is not constrainged by the restrictions of the American truth consensus.

In simple language he demonstrates why world power is going toward Asia and China, and away from the US and Europe.  It isn’t possible to understand political and soical reality, including American reality,  from a world historical perspective until the rapid decline of the West is understood.

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By rmuldavin, May 4, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

To: Louise, May 4 at 11:24 am

Answering your question as to what may have been on the minds of the now President and the Chief Justice when being administered the Oath of the Office of the President of the United states, I typed out what I find in a book I have “Constitutional Law”  Nowak, Rotunda, and Young, West Publishing (1978) which I must have purchased after leaving Berkeley in the Sixties to marry my wife here in Michigan at the end of 1969:

Article II Section [8]    Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Article VI Section [3]    The Senators and representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

And just now did a Google, two sources at the least gave the text, and I remember viewing the swearing and matched with the many Google Robot search short findings, after parsing down the “hits” to some 365.

The two below, one the washington Post, another the NY Times, if I recall correctly gave the text as follows, but with our slow wire rural lines, I was not able to find time to download the multimedia records nor the many blog and media discussions:

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator??
OBAMA: I am.
?ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…?
OBAMA: I, Barack…?
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear…?
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…?

ROBERTS: ... that I will l execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
?OBAMA: ... that I will execute…?
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States…?
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully…?
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability…?
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability…?
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.?
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.?
ROBERTS: So help you God??
OBAMA: So help me God.?
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

[comments-rm: Do I read correctly that Obama appears to be “cut off” from repeating his full three word name; the fact that Obama’s middle name might have been a source of media tension as in “Desert Storm”, maybe this was the stumbling “block”.

So next Roberts appears to leave out “faithfully” and then repairs by redoing with the missing word required by Article II Section [8].

Being a fan of Freud, the connection of the two omissions “Hussein” and “Execute” may well show some unconscious connection each person has in the above swearing; so I leave the analysis where it is as on the record.  And add, given the Truthdig filter and warnings, well taken themselves to raise the level of discourse, that even the suggestion of such a connection, I also know from discussions with a number of concerned peoples, is troubling. 

May both these men continue the tough job of dominant rule by men and weapons and hopefully work for the balance that “Nature’s God” was given to the Declaration of Independence, by including equality through all regardless of genders.

Best from your public atheist,  rm

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Outraged—It is BONER—lol. He responds to that name, right to his face. He also responds to “you have too much money”, with, “I know it”...wish I had it on tape…If you say, BONER on the phone, his secretary will try to correct you, so , just continue with your conversation very quickly and play dumb…which is not hard to do, as BONER “reps” so mnay stupid people, just pretend you dont know how to pronunce it…maybe it will catch on like “cheney” or “democrat party”.......

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By Louise, May 4, 2009 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

rmuldavin,

Enjoyed you comment.

Brought something to mind I have wondered about. And have waited to see if anyone else has wondered about, and as far as I know ... no-one has.

“So when Obama faced off with Supreme Court Justice Roberts when taking the Oath of Office, that exchange seems now to have shown the benefit of teaching Constitutional Law were Students get to ask questions of the Professor.”

So, my wonder is, was it just me or did Roberts seem a bit intimidated by Obama? An intimidation that led to a blooper that none would have expected. After all, all Roberts had to do was read. So how come the deep significance of that significant “reading” failed to stay at the surface of his mind? Was there some deep underlying and uncomfortable reality behind Roberts blooper?

No-one on earth should be more aware of the importance and significance of that oath than a Supreme Court Justice. Is it possible the knowledge of that, juxtaposed against the reality of his appointment, by the reality of an administration and the political action of members who’s party he shares, caused a bit of discomfort? Discomfort that led to a mental hiccup that led to that blooper? How hard can it be for a Supreme Court Justice to believe in practice, that which his supporters belie in practice? Namely, honoring the oath where one must swear (or affirm) to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

OK, it’s probably just me. smile

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

ardee:
‘Arguing with libertarians is exactly like banging ones head against the wall, the only way to feel better is to stop. No one, no amount of logic, no statistical evidence, no appeals to better nature can dent a heart absolutely hardened to the idea that we are, all of us, codependent on this smallish blue and fragile ball. ...’

In regard to not being swayed in their political convictions by evidence and logic, libertarians are about like everybody else, that is, they are not affected much by either.  And, it appears, neither are you—your primary appeal above is explicitly to the heart, and the intuitive vision of all of us codependent on this smallish blue and fragile ball unconnected with the use of state force which libertarians complain about and you, by implication, must advocate—at least if we are practicing logic here today.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

Nomascerdo, quoting Von Mises:
“Inflationism, however, is not an isolated phenomenon. It is only one piece in the total framework of politico-economic and socio-philosophical ideas of our time. Just as the sound money policy of gold standard advocates went hand in hand with liberalism, free trade, capitalism and peace….’

So, what about hard-money McKinley’s Spanish-American war?  McKinley was also a high-tariff man.  His Free-Silver (inflationary) opponents, being mostly based on the farmer vote, wanted low tariffs and easy money.  They were Jeffersonians, rather than “socialists”.

Von Mises doesn’t seem to have understood the meaning of socialism—I have noticed this elsewhere in his writing—but he may be referring only to narrow subsets of the concept, or doing propaganda.

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By rmuldavin, May 4, 2009 at 4:41 am Link to this comment

Well, sorry, trying to discuss Reagan article, now the above, in part to test Truthdig’s filtering of comments, so I’ll try here.

Confess it is difficult to write on the subject of “democratic socialism”, a “slogan”, a two word phrase, into something short, simple, sensible, spacefull (ssss).

Two words together and separated, that turns the separation space into another word: “interface”, a word born of necessity, a baby, that makes three.

Professor Gibbs transformed words like “solid”, “liquid”, and “vapor” with boundaries, this adds “class” to abstractions, since he was a teacher, bookish, I’d like to have taken his courses.

So when Obama faced off with Supreme Court Justice Roberts when taking the Oath of Office, that exchange seems now to have shown the benefit of teaching Constitutional Law were Students get to ask questions of the Professor.  That is, dialoging is feedback, and techincally “feedback” in a linear system produces a second order curve which can increase the linearity of the output should there be delays in its transmission of the input to the output.

So recently I was reading the works of Robert Lucas, recent Nobel Prize Laureate, and was pleased to read that he addresses ideas about social networking.  This is to say that words, arranged in a line, linear, do get read and I can follow some complex ideas, but there are limits, starting with my capacity to even find the time to read, and if there is time, then to add something.

The good news is this: the Internet is a Revolutionary Communication Tool for all the people that can read.

Another bit or byte of news that I find encouraging: the physics of the “natural” worlds appears to support the physics of the connections between matter, that is “Gravity” and for social networking, Robert Lucas uses the phrase “technical frontier”.

Back with more, got to get to a medical appointment, and of course, staying on course, a one payer universal system, ... I hope.

Best, rm

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By Outraged, May 3, 2009 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

Re: KDelphi

Your comment: “It is like having a battle of morals with an unarmed person…”

I hate to nitpik… but just for technicality’s sake…, it it isn’t “like” having a battle of morals with an unarmed person”.... it IS that.

Good post.  Sometimes…. you have to wonder about some people, I swear…. they could rationalize beating up a disabled person.  Which makes me think of Boehner, or is it Boner…? I forget.

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By geronimo, May 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Analysis & Debate Won’t Do It For Us

“Why not?”

“Where’s that gotten us and, meanwhile, time’s running out?”

“What’ll do it for us?”

“Creating a culture of change.”

“Based on?”

“Yes we can.”

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By Nomascerdo, May 3, 2009 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

“Inflationism, however, is not an isolated phenomenon. It is only one piece in the total framework of politico-economic and socio-philosophical ideas of our time. Just as the sound money policy of gold standard advocates went hand in hand with liberalism, free trade, capitalism and peace, so is inflationism part and parcel of imperialism, militarism, protectionism, statism and socialism.”

- Ludwig von Mises

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By Nomascerdo, May 3, 2009 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. – As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery. ”

- John Maynard Keynes


“Nevertheless the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of the production and distribution of a given output under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire.”

-John Maynard Keynes in the introduction of the german version of his opus ‘The General Theory’

For me, I would rather stand on the other side of the political / economic divide. 

“Tyranny is the political corollary of socialism, as representative government is the political corollary of the market economy.”

-Ludwig von Mises

“Capitalism means free enterprise, sovereignty of the consumers in economic matters, and sovereignty of the voters in political matters. Socialism means full government control of every sphere of the individuals life and the unrestricted supremacy of the government in its capacity as central board of production management.”

-Ludwig von Mises

“History does not provide any example of capital accumulation brought about by a government. As far as governments invested in the construction of roads, railroads, and other useful public works, the capital needed was provided by the savings of individual citizens and borrowed by the government.”

-Ludwig von Mises

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By Folktruther, May 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

O I don’t know, ardee, Kdelphi, the only way we know that America produces people like topof is to argue with them.  I was as impressed as Outraged by his “authentic self-esteem” emobodied in his display of “nice things.”

Acquanted with Ayn Rand, topo?  she had a dollar sign on her coffin at her funeral.  Maybe you could get a Nice Thing tattooed on your ass at yours, when America suffers your loss.

But you are quite right about socialism, topo, at least with respect to me.  I feel that one the important aims of the world socialist movement is to take all your Nice Things away from you and give them to the Salvation Army.  But you will still have your unnice things to maintain your Authentic Self-Esteem.

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By truedigger3, May 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Folkttuther wrote:
Your objections are the standard preconceptions and presuppositions of the American mainstream truth and of American economics. “
_____________________________________________________

Folktruther,

I am baffled by your statement that I bought what the
MSM is saying about China. My view is contrarian and
it is that your own view that is in line with what the MSM is spewing about China.
The MSM is glorifying and painting China as a producer of superior less expensive products that the US cannot compete against to blame the closing of the US factories on the “Chinese competition”, where in fact the closing were deliberate to move the factories to cheap labour contries like China and the rest.
Why do you think the reason that China has about
1 trillion dollars of US Treasury bonds. Why that
huge sum of money was not invested and spent in China. Who has the upper hand here??!!
And again, when do you think the 2.5 trillion
dollar Chinese economy will catch up with the 14
trillion dollar US economy??!!
What will happen to China if all or most of the factories has to slow down production as is happening right now and that last for a long time,
and worse, what will happen to China if these factories moved to another more cheap labor countries or due to a shift in the geopolitical
situation??!!
I value and agree with most of your opinions, but
with all due respect, you are off the mark in this one. 


rest.

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By KDelphi, May 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

ardee—BAMBAMBAMBAM!! Youre right. I stop…

It is like having a battle of morals with an unarmed person…

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By KDelphi, May 3, 2009 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller—I like this definition..lol

Liberty
The Latin words “Liber,” “Libera,” and “Liberum”—with a Long I—came from the root meaning, “to pour.” From this, we get the word “Liberty” (hence pronounced with a short I), from the freedom we feel when we get drunk.

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By Leefeller, May 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Liberty, can only be defined by the religious order of libertarians. All others are dolts, of a lower order, who produce nothing worthy according to libertarianism.

All knowing wise ones, do they have a Statue of Liberty in Somalia?

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By ardee, May 3, 2009 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Arguing with libertarians is exactly like banging ones head against the wall, the only way to feel better is to stop. No one, no amount of logic, no statistical evidence, no appeals to better nature can dent a heart absolutely hardened to the idea that we are, all of us, codependent on this smallish blue and fragile ball.

Just the way that Paolo insists repeatedly, with no evidence evident (sorry), that social security is doomed shows the illogic of that particular position.

Just the way the allies come to post praises of the way of life that is threatening our economy, has, in its unquenchable greed, causes havoc in many nations, created vast inequalities of life styles and life spans, stolen outright the natural resources of others because elitism makes them certain they have the inalienable right to do so, created wars and famine, pestilence and plague ( if only I was guilty of hyperbole but I am not) dooms their selfish position.

It has always amazed me that those who are being used and abused can come to adore their abusers as these do so eloquently. Nevertheless, more and more of us are rejecting this political dead end thankfully. I would only cite one more instance of the vapidity of their position in quoting one of them here:

“Socialism is a centrally planned system built on debt and borrowing, fiat money, government force, oppression,mediocrity, and human suffering.

Capitalism is an organically derived, adaptive and dynamic system built on savings and productivity, charity, creativity, human freedom, and liberty”

Anyone might ponder that these two falsehoods would be made accurate by simply swapping the words socialism and capitalism in those two paragraphs. Anyone who can still believe capitalism to be what that poster suggests has simply closed himself up in the caverns of his ignorance ( thanks William Blake)and refused to read current events, or even history for that matter.

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By KDelphi, May 3, 2009 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—I read an article stating that socialism was part of a revolution towards social-libertarianism…just wondered what you thought of that. Also, Social Libertarianism…and Libertarian Socialism..whew

http://nikhil.superfacts.org/archives/2007/04/social_libertar.html

Social Libertarianism by Nikhil Bhatla

“I am a strident individualist at heart. I believe that people should, by and large, take responsiblity for their actions and their situations. However, it is the true nature of this world that many individuals are not responsible for their situations and actions, because the ancestors of many of the most priviliged took wealth from the under-privileged by force. “Might is right,” as they say, where here I am using “right” to mean “privilege”, not moral authority. Libertarianism, while interesting as an idea, is not fit for the sustainable, compassionate society that I hope for. Perhaps a more social libertarianism is what’s appropriate.”

Some call it Anarcho-Capitalism, or something…since you seem to have been studying this longer than some others, could you please explain what the hell all of this is, and, what you think that the root of Anarchism really is, as you see it? That is a pretty complicated question, but, I keep stumbling onto more and more groups that use the terms “anarchism”, “socialism” and “libertarianism” as thought they fit together…can they, in your opinion?

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By Anarcissie, May 3, 2009 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

topofthemorningtoya:
‘1: The middle class exists as a result of the upper classes.  The upper classes exist as a result of superior productivity. ...’

I’d like to see a proof or demonstration of this proposition.  My impression of the upper classes, gained through many years of experience in the corporations and the financial industry, has been that most remuneration is the result of power.  I found as I moved up the managerial food chain that I spent less and less time actually producing things and more and more time playing political games to keep my position, advance to the next one, maintain control of a budget, and so on.  I think people like Bill Gates and Donald Trump are good examples of the type, but there are many less famous ones if you look around.

So, what’s your evidence that the upper classes are more productive?  How do you know they’re not just more adept at manipulating wealth away from other people?

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By KDelphi, May 3, 2009 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

totmty—I think that “Libertarianism” is a catch-all phrase.

Please expand on your moral philsophy, and, differentiate it from Social Darwinism….because it seems to be a philosophy of “things”.

“owning nice things”...we just live in a different moral universe.

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By topofthemorningtoya, May 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

KDelphi,

I feel the need to decry you because it’s people like yourself who put people in power who steal my liberty and my wealth from me.  I’m sure you and still fairly be classified as one of those gullible rumps who thinks that because a rich man refuses to give you what he has produced, he has taken from you your ability to produce something similar, but that doesn’t change the fact that when you open your mouth to spout that half-baked opinion, you’re giving power to thugs.

As I said, altruism (“human decency”, “compassion”, “respect”, whatever you want to call it) is a catchall term meant to legitimize anything.  You feel no need to examine your ideas and truly validate them - you intend to help others - and that’s all that matters.  It’s not for yourself, but for others - what could possibly make it wrong?

I would compile a list of the various tyrants throughout history who have said (and believed) that the violence and murder they unleashed was not for themselves but for others, but I haven’t got all day.

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