Uncommon Sense

May 28, 2018

Socialism … Bad! Part 2

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 7:19 am
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I rest my case. (Note the license plate.)


May 24, 2018

Socialism … Bad

We are hearing incredibly bad stories about what is going on in Venezuela, a nominally socialist state. Comments extend about as far as “Socialism … bad!” When anyone brings up the option of socialism as a governing structure in general, opponents bring up the USSR, another failed state. This is clearly propaganda.

Whenever capitalist states experience chaos, no one in this country says “Ah ha, capitalism … bad!” One has to ask whether Venezuela’s current woes are because of socialism or in spite of socialism. I suggest that they are due to bad management, just as our ups and downs are created.

None of socialism’s detractors claim that Venezuela’s fate will soon come to the democratic socialist states in Scandinavia, as in “As goes Venezuela, so goes Denmark!” Socialism has become a “failed ideology” … in the minds of capitalist cheerleaders, aka the wealthy. Neither capitalism nor socialism is a political system complete; they are barely economic systems. Once you get past the basic definitions, disagreements abound. The arguments pro and con rarely get beyond the No True Scotsman Fallacy. The successful socialist states are claimed to have governments that are “not true socialism.” Only the failing or failed states are “real socialism,” according to the dyed in the wool capitalists.

This propaganda campaign is visceral and aimed at making sure that the masses are unaware of any acceptable alternative political systems. It also provides a handy shortcut to smear anything unappreciated by the rich. Whenever Bernie Sanders recommends policy, it is quickly labeled “socialist” so that it receives at least as much negative attention as positive. Well. I hate to tell you, but the post office is socialist, Medicare is socialist, the public schools are socialist, and the military is socialist. The “people” own “the means of production” in each case. Of course, the hidebound anti-socialists don’t hammer away at these things as being socialist, instead they decry “guvmint” as being unfit to operate such enterprises and urge their privatization (for a profit, of course). This is what it comes down to. The capitalists are profiting from almost every possible endeavor, including the acts of people getting sick and dying. They cannot abide the idea that no one (ahem, them) is making a profit from teaching our kids to be good citizens, or from our soldiers making war around the world.

In the case of war making it is “enough profit is not enough.” Even with the excessive billions spent on war making every year, including providing the profits of war materiel manufacturers, think about how much profit could be made if soldiering were contracted out! My favorite example was the contractors for kitchen services in Iraq during our invasion of that country. In one report, the contractors billed twenty dollars a day for a cook’s aide to peel potatoes and whatnot, a job previously done by soldiers, and the contractor hired a local to do the job for a few dollars per day and pocketed the rest. Now think of that kind of practice applied to the entire effort. The opportunity for god-fearing profits boggles the mind! And all of those profits are going to waste because of our commitment to a socialist army!

I look upon the democratic socialist states in northern Europe with envy. I was taught in grade school that our political system was the best of all possible systems. I learned as an adult, that the political parties are “opponents” in name only and that both compete for campaign donations from the wealthy conservatives who provide the bulk of all donations to politicians. Consequently we have a center right political party and a far right political party contesting for the donations from conservative donors. Both parties ignore the desires of the population at large and serve the interests of the wealthy only. I just do not see this as “the best of all possible systems” unless you qualify it as “the best of all possible systems for the wealthy.”

May 7, 2014

A Conservative Cultural Conundrum

In the U.S. we have created a “pay as you go” society. Every individual is supposed to “earn” enough money to pay his “bills” in support of his existence. Obviously we don’t extend this requirement to children or people with severe disabilities but able-bodied adults all have this requirement. (Anybody who is a child or is severely disabled must have a sponsor who earns enough to pay their way, though.) The conundrum is that if “pay as you go” is to be the basis for our society, everyone should earn their continuing existence, that is everyone should have a job. To deny anyone a job is to condemn them to a shadow existence or even death.

So, the conservative outlook should be embracing requiring folks to pay their own way through work but conservatives do not; they instead simply claim that people unable to find work possess a moral failing and tsk, tsk “those people.”

This is in sharp contrast with my upbringing. My parents (both Republicans) had each of their three children doing “chores” from quite an early age: school work had the highest priority, but household chores were not far behind. As a small child I had responsibility for assisting with the dinner table set up or break down (the dreaded “doing the dishes” but later cooking, too), which was expanded to include mowing the lawn and weeding the gardens, and while in high school I cleaned the common areas of the house (vacuuming and dusting, etc.) weekly in addition to keeping my own room clean and all of the rest. It was made clear that I had to contribute to the total effort of supporting the family.

Upon graduation from college I was gainfully employed for 35 years. Others are not as lucky. Through accidents of circumstances (such as poverty, lack of parental support, etc.) and mistakes such as failing to take their educations seriously or other big mistakes, their employment skill sets are such that they have fewer employment opportunities than others have. This is exasperated by the fact that our society is not post-racial in that hiring studies show that our black and brown citizens are hired less frequently, even with the same or even better qualifications than white applicants. And sometimes it is just crushing indifference in the system. An older worker loses his job in an economic downturn and then no one wants to hire them because they’d rather invest training in a younger employee who could serve them longer. The ultimate insult is to not be hired because you have been “out of work too long,” a logical position hard to support. Would not such a person be desperate for a job, be inclined to keep their head down for fear of losing their job, be loyal to the employer who gave them a second chance? Surely our experience with the Great Depression proved that. As just one example, my best friend’s father, having lived through the Great Depression, worked for forty years in a job he did not like because he had the attitude that having a job was a good thing. He did not take a single sick day in those forty years. Now he might be criticized for not looking around for a better job but he cannot be criticized for not doing the one he had.

So, conservatives are in the incredibly shaky moral position of wanting a “pay as you go system” but also in favor of large numbers of people being out of work so they cannot pay their bills. Would it not be a better conservative position to provide labor for these folks through useful public works? Surely our roads and bridges need a great deal of repair and I don’t see any corporations stepping up to volunteer to fix them for free. There is a great deal of work needed doing and would not all of us be better off if all were gainfully employed and paying taxes rather than stressing the abilities of charities and governmental safety nets?

Conservatives answer “no” to that because that is “socialism” which is just name calling. They don’t go further and explain why that is “bad,” it just is. What if we were to call it “workism” or maybe “pay as you go-ism” or “responsible work-ism?” or maybe “no freeloading-ism?” Would that help? Would it, conservatives?

November 27, 2013

Capitalism’s Own Worst Enemies: Capitalists

Prior to World War 2, the biggest capitalist bugaboo was the socialists. In fact, the fear of a strong U.S. Socialist Party was used deftly by Franklin Roosevelt to get the titans of commerce and industry to not oppose the 90+% marginal income tax rates he was proposing to fund the war effort. The conservatives were so afraid of the attraction of socialist ideas to poor people that they went out of their way to destroy the U.S. socialist parties. Post WW2, the bugaboo transformed into a fear communism, clearly a brother to socialism. There were communists in the government and under the bed, oh, my! This lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union and has been replaced lately by a loathing of Eurosocialism, “Socialism!” once again, albeit as only a mere shadow of its former state of disgust.

One can see why confirmed capitalists would hate such economic systems as they would stand in their way of becoming even more filthy rich than they are. So, since communism has been discredited and the socialists run out of town, what is left to oppose the might of the capitalist juggernaut? Very little, it would seem.

Wiser capitalist heads would recommend that one and all settle in for the long haul, become less visible, and just chuckle all the way to the banks, which they own, of course. But alas, that strategy has not been adopted. Instead, capitalists have decided to grind as many people under their boot heels as possible, to extract every possible dollar from the middle class, the poor, and the elderly so they can have another automobile elevator in their garage. Since the social safety net will require some taxation to support it, it has to be drastically trimmed back. High unemployment keeps wages low and profits high, so a jobs program? Not upon your life! And so on.

So why are these capitalists driving the bulk of American citizens back into the arms of socialists? Back into the arms of people who care about common people? Well, you see, big time capitalists really do believe that greed is good. They just can’t help themselves acting upon their credo.

June 6, 2013

Jesus Was a Socialist!

I ran across a claim, a poll result actually, that young people (18-30) see socialism more favorably than capitalism. Of course, this would cause a major uproar with Republicans and their major supporters, especially Christian Evangelicals, which I find puzzling because Jesus was a socialist, you know.

Once again, Christians show a shocking lack of knowledge about their book and about history in general. Early Christianity (early first century) was split into two camps. One resided in Jerusalem and was lead, ostensibly, by Jesus’ brother James (“the Just”). Included in this sect were essentially all of the remaining disciples and the rest of Jesus’ brothers and sisters and his mother.

The other sect was that lead by Saul of Tarsus, the “Paul” of the New Testament, who never met Jesus nor did he ever speak a work to him.

As these things go, the Jerusalem sect was basically wiped out in the uprising of 77CE (James having been offed a bit sooner) which left the playing field to the machinations of “Paul.”

All we know of these supposed activities, as most know, comes from the Book of Acts because none of these events, if they were real or not, merited comment in any other source from that time.

According to Acts:

All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

(Acts 2:44-45)
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
(Acts 4:34-37)

Does this sound like a foundation for capitalism to you? Do you think Jesus’ family and the remaining disciples would betray the wishes of Jesus and behave in this socialist manner if it weren’t strongly urged by Jesus? Amazingly Evangelicals do.

What Jesus taught, basic socialism, is abhorred by these folks as the work of Satan himself. These same folks want the U.S. to be labeled a Christian Nation, which by any reading of the Book of Acts would turn us toward socialism, but forgive them, they know not what they do.

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