News America's aversion to socialism ?

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America's aversion to "socialism"?

What makes people in the U.S. so fearful of government involvement in financial markets and social welfare? I don't get it.

I'm thinking about the Republican presidential debate the other night. Some of the tea partiers in the audience applauded after the moderator asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question on letting an uninsured 30 year old die. Clearly, the right wing is skilled at convincing poor and working class whites that the government is their enemy.

Other countries with similar demographics like Canada, France and Britain reject right wing economic policies. So, what makes them so appealing to Americans?
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

What makes people in the U.S. so fearful of government involvement in financial markets and social welfare? I don't get it.

I'm thinking about the Republican presidential debate the other night. Some of the baggers in the audience applauded after the moderator asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question on letting an uninsured 30 year old die. Clearly, the right wing is skilled at convincing poor and working class whites that the government is their enemy.

Other countries with similar demographics like Canada, France and Britain reject right wing economic policies. So, what makes them so appealing to Americans?
I heard the recording - they concluded 2 people responded in that manner - in response the TEA Party spokesperson denounced the behavior. This post seems to be a troll.
 
Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

[IMO this is a potentially touchy topic; let's try to keep discourse as cool as possible.]

My belief, unsubstantiated and anecdotal as it is, is that this is a recent phenomenon. If we hark back to the 1930's, we see a Socialist Party that had measurable public support, Americans volunteering to fight for the rather left-leaning Spanish Republicans (as in "anti-monarchist," not similar to US party of same name) during the Spanish Civil War, and a handful of US emigrants to the USSR out of interest in the experiment. Even Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" has some hints of a socialist outlook.

I think that support has diminished (a) among the thinking due to the massive failure of the socialist (as in communist) experiments, and (b) among the genpop due to the many years of anti-socialist rhetoric during the Cold War.

Unfortunately, socialism is conflated with communism (and I even use them interchangeably above), and it didn't help that many formerly communist countries were self-named "socialist republic." Oversimplifying perhaps, I'd differentiate the two mainly in terms of attitudes regarding private ownership of enterprise, with communism virulently against it and socialism not. (Another key area is with regard to the "blank slate" position, which sees society as corrupting otherwise noble savages, who therefore require re-indoctrination, and the less ideological view of individuals and society as a mixed bag, requiring only open debate.)

As an aside, it is interesting to note that healthy capitalism requires not just creation of wealth, but its destruction as well. Allow failing businesses and industries to fail allocates resources efficiently, and recycling personal wealth in the form of progressive tax rates and inheritance taxes removes in part the tendency toward oligopoly, which stifles innovation. In the US today, we certainly have strong lobbies for "business as usual" that both muddy the political debate and thwart adaptation, such as in the case of the oil industry.

In Marketing 101, one is often taught that buggy manufacturers failed to understand they were in the transportation business and so failed to move into the nascent automotive industry. Unfortunately, that lesson is currently lost on oil companies who really ought to understand themselves as being in the energy (& chemical) business.
 

Borek

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Sad thing is that words "socialism" and "socialistic" are used - at least from my observations - completely out of context and without understanding of their meaning. They are not used but abused, to name "social security related things we don't like".

Few years ago during discussion of Obama health care reform one of Polish TV reporters asked someone from the protesting crowd why they are against. The answer was "we don't want socialism in US, you are from a post communist country, you should understand us well". Sigh. Social security and socialism have about as much in common as opposition and opossum.
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

In Marketing 101, one is often taught that buggy manufacturers failed to understand they were in the transportation business and so failed to move into the nascent automotive industry. Unfortunately, that lesson is currently lost on oil companies who really ought to understand themselves as being in the energy (& chemical) business.
The oil companies are certainly aware of potential changes - but until the reserves are depleted I wouldn't expect them to walk away from their core business.

http://www.bp.com/modularhome.do?categoryId=8050
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-policy-in-dallas/exxon-mobil-to-develop-solar-biofuel-and-coal-gasification-technologies
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Sad thing is that words "socialism" and "socialistic" are used - at least from my observations - completely out of context and without understanding of their meaning. They are not used but abused, to name "social security related things we don't like".

Few years ago during discussion of Obama health care reform one of Polish TV reporters asked someone from the protesting crowd why they are against. The answer was "we don't want socialism in US, you are from a post communist country, you should understand us well". Sigh. Social security and socialism have about as much in common as opposition and opossum.
One of the greatest problems with the health care "reform" legislation was the political process used to push the legislation through Congress. The final Bill included over 2,000 pages and even though it will take years to implement (and the legislation impacts the entire economy) - they couldn't wait long enough for everyone to read the (final) document before votes were cast. When you consider the Democrats had complete control over both the Congress and the Executive branch - what was the rush and what happened to "transparency"?
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Hlafordlaes;3501334Unfortunately said:
Sad thing is that words "socialism" and "socialistic" are used - at least from my observations - completely out of context and without understanding of their meaning.
Those are basically the two reasons. So many people think socialism is a political system, associating it with the likes of the former Soviet Union, but it's more of an economic system that can incorporate democracy (or not). I can understand if someone is against socialist-like policies because they are pure free-market capitalists, but pure capitalism and pure socialism (IMO) are both bad policy - a mixture of both is what is necessary. I just tend to disagree with many on where that line dividing the two should be drawn.

Of course, a pure Constitutionalist would say that since the Constitution doesn't grant goverment the authority to adopt socialist policy unless it is a policy expressly allowed by the Constitution (such as anti-trust laws, etc. that are supported by the Commerce Clause, and there are some who probably argue that Anti-trust laws are unconstitutional), then the government shouldn't.
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

I can understand if someone is against socialist-like policies because they are pure free-market capitalists, but pure capitalism and pure socialism (IMO) are both bad policy - a mixture of both is what is necessary. I just tend to disagree with many on where that line dividing the two should be drawn.
I think most conservatives are nervous at the speed we are swinging to the other direction.
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

I think most conservatives are nervous at the speed we are swinging to the other direction.
When I see initiatives such as President Obama's American Jobs Act that includes new anti-discrimination legislation - against employers that don't hire an unemployed person(?) it makes me wonder who this benefits (other than attorneys)?

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/181323-obamas-jobs-plan-would-make-it-illegal-to-discriminate-against-the-unemployed

"The proposed language is found in a section of the bill titled "Prohibition of Discrimination in Employment on the Basis of an Individual's Status as Unemployed." That section would also make it illegal for employers to request that employment agencies take into account a person's unemployed status.

It would also allow aggrieved job-seekers to seek damages if they have been discriminated against. This provision in particular prompted Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to argue that Obama's proposal is aimed at creating a new, special class of people who can sue companies.

"So if you're unemployed, and you go to apply for a job and you're not hired for that job, see a lawyer," Gohmert said on the House floor. "You might be able to file a claim because you got discriminated against because you're unemployed."

He said this provision would only discourage companies from interviewing unemployed candidates, and would "help trial lawyers who are not having enough work," since there are about 14 million unemployed Americans."


As an employer, I would be very nervous about interviewing anyone that wasn't referred/recommended to me personally for an open position. While this isn't "socialism" - it's a move that gives the Government even greater control over the private sector - and might actually produce the exact opposite results the Bill intends (to encourage the creation of jobs/hiring).
 

mheslep

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

...Other countries with similar demographics like Canada, France and Britain reject right wing economic policies....
Maximum business tax rates:
Canada (federal): 16.5%, provincial 16%
France: 33.3%
UK: 20-26%
US (federal): 35%, states: 12%
 

mheslep

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

What makes people in the U.S. so fearful of government involvement in financial markets and social welfare? I don't get it.
...

The US federal government was created only after many checks were imposed on its power in perpetuity by a constitution that was purposely made difficult to change. Early citizens had good cause to be wary about large and remote governments, and after attempts to avoid any federal system at all, were grudgingly assured in carefully reasoned debates (federalist http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa39.htm" [Broken] The current federal government bears little resemblance to that creation.

The current wariness is a prudent reaction, and it is not new:
George Washington said:
Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
 
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Evo

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russ_watters

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

The basic answer to the OP's question is pretty simple: The founding principle of the US is personal freedom from government intervention and while belief in that has waned somewhat, it still exists.
 

jtbell

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

My belief, unsubstantiated and anecdotal as it is, is that this is a recent phenomenon.
No, I think it has its roots in the expanding-frontier era of the 1800s through the early 1900s. Most of the continental USA was wilderness 200 years ago, and parts of the "wild West" still existed in the early 20th century. People in newly-settled areas had to be self-reliant, with help from their families as necessary, and occasionally from the local community. Federal and even state government had little impact on day-to-day life. People tended to be suspicious of bankers "back East" in New York, politicians in Washington, etc., and resented "intrusion" or "interference" from them.

If we hark back to the 1930's, we see a Socialist Party that had measurable public support, Americans volunteering to fight for the rather left-leaning Spanish Republicans (as in "anti-monarchist," not similar to US party of same name) during the Spanish Civil War, and a handful of US emigrants to the USSR out of interest in the experiment. Even Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" has some hints of a socialist outlook.
Those were relatively new things since the late 1800s, sparked by increased industrialization and urbanization in the East and Midwest (the rise of the steel and heavy-manufacturing industries), a large population of relatively recent immigrants from Europe to fill the new jobs in steel mills etc., and the Great Depression.

I think that support has diminished (a) among the thinking due to the massive failure of the socialist (as in communist) experiments, and (b) among the genpop due to the many years of anti-socialist rhetoric during the Cold War.
And overall increasing prosperity after World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s especially, even among the lower classes. The 1970s were rather stagnant, but prosperity returned in the 1980s and 1990s, except among the poor and many working-class people, for whom good-paying industrial jobs had started to disappear.
 
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Evo

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Again, there were 2 voices that cheered - as the TEA Party spokesperson discussed with the CNN staff yesterday afternoon on John King.
The question to the broad applause had to do with the scenario that they guy went into a hospital and was in a coma. The shout outs, in response to letting the guy die, I counted 3-4 then laughter from the crowd.
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

The US federal government was created only after many checks were imposed on its power in perpetuity by a constitution that was purposely made difficult to change. Early citizens had good cause to be wary about large and remote governments, and after attempts to avoid any federal system at all, were grudgingly assured in carefully reasoned debates that the proposed federal government would defend the borders, settle disputes between the states, and otherwise remain insignificant relevant to the state governments and private enterprise. This was largely the case for the first ~130 years of the union. The current federal government bears little resemblance to that creation.
I consider your post to be well-reasoned and well-written--although I fear we are on opposite sides on many issues. I believe that the federal government of today bears little resemblance to the federal government of the late 1700's primarily because the world of today bears little resemblance to the world of that earlier time.

Do you really believe that state militias could have defeated the Axis powers in WWII? Do we really want the right of women (or blacks) to vote to be up to individual states?

At the time of our founding fathers, ripples from local events rarely crossed state lines. Today, a bad decision by a farmer in Iowa can poison people from one corner of the country to the other. Individual states simply do not have the resources to deal with threats that are world-wide in scope. And individual citizens are even more powerless.

We need a large and strong central government for the US to survive and prosper in today's world.

Questions of how large and having what specific powers are always relevant and useful. But let's not just argue about size. If you want a smaller government, then specify the programs you want cut: farm subsidies?, aid to education?, defense?, interstate highways?, and so on. Then, we can argue the merits of those specific programs
 
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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

The question to the broad applause had to do with the scenario that they guy went into a hospital and was in a coma. The shout outs, in response to letting the guy die, I counted 3-4 then laughter from the crowd.
I'm not sure about 3 to 4 shouting out it seemed there was 1 very loud/obnoxious fellow that shouted twice. Accordingly, CNN points to one person and the TEA Party spokesperson on John King's CNN show yesterday said there were 2 individuals that shouted. She went on to say that TEA Party leaders in the crowd were critical of the individuals and they (TEA Party) clearly denounced the behavior.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/14/ron-paul-on-debates-healthcare-moment/?hpt=po_bn2

"Rep. Ron Paul was at the center of one of the most memorable moments of Monday night's "CNN-Tea Party Republican Debate" when a member of the audience shouted "Yeah!" in response to a question asking whether a critically ill person without health insurance should be left to die.

In an interview Wednesday the Texas congressman, who was being asked the question when the outburst happened, responded to critics who said his response lacked compassion.

"You know, it's so overly simplified to explain a full philosophy on how you care for people in 30 or 60 seconds," Paul said Wednesday on CNN Newsroom.

Paul continued, "The freer the system, the better the health care. For somebody to turn around and say there's one individual who didn't have this care, you know, all of a sudden you hate people and you're going to let them die? I spent a lifetime in medicine. To turn that around like that is foolish.""
 

mheslep

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

... I believe that the federal government of today bears little resemblance to the federal government of the late 1700's primarily because the world of today bears little resemblance to the world of that earlier time. ...
The salient points made by the founders in the Federalists papers and more famously in the Declaration of Independence are not dependent on the existence of iPhones, airplanes, or nuclear weapons, hince the brilliance of the creation of the US republic. With regards to those points and the nature or people and governments, I don't see much change at all. More importantly, the nature of the federal government shouldn't be subject to whether or not the Supreme Court or even elected officials think the world has changed. That should only be done by changing the Constitution, as it has been a dozen times or so to fix grievous flaws.

klimatos said:
Do you really believe that state militias could have defeated the Axis powers in WWII? Do we really want the right of women (or blacks) to vote to be up to individual states?
You've lost me here. Did you want to discuss my post
me said:
... proposed federal government would defend the borders ...
or a strawman?


klimatos said:
We need a large and strong central government for the US to survive and prosper in today's world.
For counter evidence see prior US history and much of the rest of the world.

klimatos said:
Questions of how large and having what specific powers are always relevant and useful. But let's not just argue about size. If you want a smaller government, then specify the programs you want cut:
That topic is better held in other threads, but immediately I'd return spending to 2008 levels across the board. And eventually:
klimatos said:
farm subsidies?
Yes, cut.
klimatos said:
aid to education?
Abolish federal portion (~10% of total)
klimatos said:
Cap at ~$500-600B/year.
 
Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

I consider your post to be well-reasoned and well-written--although I fear we are on opposite sides on many issues. I believe that the federal government of today bears little resemblance to the federal government of the late 1700's primarily because the world of today bears little resemblance to the world of that earlier time.

Do you really believe that state militias could have defeated the Axis powers in WWII? Do we really want the right of women (or blacks) to vote to be up to individual states?

At the time of our founding fathers, ripples from local events rarely crossed state lines. Today, a bad decision by a farmer in Iowa can poison people from one corner of the country to the other. Individual states simply do not have the resources to deal with threats that are world-wide in scope. And individual citizens are even more powerless.

We need a large and strong central government for the US to survive and prosper in today's world.

Questions of how large and having what specific powers are always relevant and useful. But let's not just argue about size. If you want a smaller government, then specify the programs you want cut: farm subsidies?, aid to education?, defense?, interstate highways?, and so on. Then, we can argue the merits of those specific programs
Basically the argument I would have posted if not beaten by (a) time and (b) greater eloquence. I'd only add that, say, in contrast to Europe's difficulties in unifying its labor market (legal, cultural, language probs), the US's unified labor market makes the economy a lot more flexible. And a unified labor market begs unified health and SS policies, else mobility suffers.
 

Evo

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

I consider your post to be well-reasoned and well-written--although I fear we are on opposite sides on many issues. I believe that the federal government of today bears little resemblance to the federal government of the late 1700's primarily because the world of today bears little resemblance to the world of that earlier time.

Do you really believe that state militias could have defeated the Axis powers in WWII? Do we really want the right of women (or blacks) to vote to be up to individual states?

At the time of our founding fathers, ripples from local events rarely crossed state lines. Today, a bad decision by a farmer in Iowa can poison people from one corner of the country to the other. Individual states simply do not have the resources to deal with threats that are world-wide in scope. And individual citizens are even more powerless.

We need a large and strong central government for the US to survive and prosper in today's world.

Questions of how large and having what specific powers are always relevant and useful. But let's not just argue about size. If you want a smaller government, then specify the programs you want cut: farm subsidies?, aid to education?, defense?, interstate highways?, and so on. Then, we can argue the merits of those specific programs
Excellent post.
 

mheslep

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Sad thing is that words "socialism" and "socialistic" are used - at least from my observations - completely out of context and without understanding of their meaning. They are not used but abused, to name "social security related things we don't like".

Few years ago during discussion of Obama health care reform one of Polish TV reporters asked someone from the protesting crowd why they are against. The answer was "we don't want socialism in US, you are from a post communist country, you should understand us well". Sigh. Social security and socialism have about as much in common as opposition and opossum.
If the meaning of socialism was so clear then it should have been easy to actually define it rather than say what it is not? I like: the use of central planning for the public provision of non-public goods (K. Williamson). Instances of socialism do not require a Stasi or a KGB. In the US public education and Social Security are clearly instances of socialism even if the country at large is not socialist.
 

Borek

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

I like: the use of central planning for the public provision of non-public goods (K. Williamson).
Definitions I know (sorry, I have them in Polish only) put pressure on the fact that means of production are not privately owned. I don't think anyone plans to change that in US, and in this context speaking of socialism in US makes no sense to me.
 

mheslep

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

Definitions I know (sorry, I have them in Polish only) put pressure on the fact that means of production are not privately owned. I don't think anyone plans to change that in US, and in this context speaking of socialism in US makes no sense to me.
I think I understand your view. For modern states consider modifying "not privately owned" to "not privately owned or controlled", as the two can become one and the same, and then observe. But without going there one can easily see that at least in the cases of the US public education system and social security system are indeed owned by government.


Edit: beyond those two cases, see thathttp://www.usgovernmentspending.com/usgs_line.php?title=Total Spending&year=1900_2011&sname=US&units=p&bar=0&stack=1&size=l&col=c&spending0=0.00_0.00_0.57_0.56_0.61_0.58_0.58_0.57_0.69_0.70_0.72_0.75_0.74_0.76_0.94_1.02_0.92_0.88_0.80_0.90_0.92_1.28_1.48_1.35_1.40_1.43_1.41_1.52_1.59_1.60_1.95_2.48_3.45_3.70_3.25_3.13_2.92_3.01_3.58_3.60_3.51_2.81_2.20_1.73_1.51_1.86_2.24_2.64_2.93_3.51_3.70_3.19_3.01_3.02_3.42_3.47_3.46_3.64_4.28_4.43_4.21_4.51_4.35_4.48_4.46_4.38_4.34_4.77_4.87_5.02_5.41_5.88_5.86_5.68_5.75_6.36_6.80_6.34_5.95_5.91_6.22_6.34_6.50_6.60_6.19_6.38_6.55_6.64_6.54_6.66_6.85_7.38_7.87_7.94_7.77_8.04_7.75_7.55_7.40_7.41_7.61_8.13_8.63_8.77_8.56_8.44_8.38_8.37_8.70_9.38_8.97_8.64&spending1=0.00_0.00_3.99_3.95_4.25_4.05_4.01_3.91_4.70_4.69_4.83_5.02_4.91_5.01_5.90_6.12_5.23_4.78_4.14_4.40_4.28_5.65_6.22_5.71_6.00_6.15_6.14_6.66_6.53_6.14_6.98_8.33_10.86_10.70_8.63_8.02_7.23_7.05_8.02_7.91_7.58_5.93_4.54_3.66_3.27_3.65_4.09_4.60_4.97_5.69_5.80_5.47_5.60_5.66_6.20_6.27_6.40_6.67_7.22_7.13_7.38_7.79_7.69_7.61_7.68_7.68_7.71_7.96_7.91_8.35_8.85_9.28_9.40_9.16_9.30_9.83_9.86_9.49_9.10_8.94_9.29_9.17_9.51_9.40_9.05_9.17_9.49_9.68_9.63_9.73_9.92_10.31_10.21_10.21_10.03_10.13_10.03_9.94_9.95_9.93_9.91_10.30_10.61_10.62_10.50_10.26_10.25_10.56_10.92_11.25_10.71_10.46&spending2=3.05_2.87_2.38_2.32_2.45_2.29_2.23_2.15_2.53_2.49_2.51_2.57_2.47_2.48_2.75_2.71_2.10_3.86_17.22_24.12_7.67_7.49_5.12_4.35_4.22_4.00_3.69_3.70_3.77_3.68_4.34_5.37_7.27_9.05_9.00_10.30_10.94_9.58_9.81_10.04_9.92_11.18_21.96_41.78_45.73_47.93_29.94_16.96_13.23_15.04_15.25_14.42_19.97_21.09_20.42_17.71_17.37_17.74_18.42_18.46_18.48_19.25_18.24_18.02_17.86_16.44_17.08_18.92_19.58_18.66_18.84_18.65_18.63_17.78_17.96_20.29_20.38_20.16_20.00_19.67_21.20_21.69_22.92_22.87_21.67_22.44_22.21_21.20_20.87_20.86_21.60_22.10_21.78_21.14_20.63_20.44_19.91_19.22_18.79_18.20_17.98_18.11_18.90_19.39_19.32_19.56_19.82_19.41_20.65_24.91_23.58_25.32&legend=Total Spending-state_Total Spending-local_Total Spending-fed&source=i_i_a_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_i_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_g_g", and that doesn't include costs imposed by regulation. So in that sense one can argue the US is almost 50% socialist today.
 
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apeiron

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Re: America's aversion to "socialism"?

If the meaning of socialism was so clear then it should have been easy to actually define it rather than say what it is not? I like: the use of central planning for the public provision of non-public goods (K. Williamson). Instances of socialism do not require a Stasi or a KGB. In the US public education and Social Security are clearly instances of socialism even if the country at large is not socialist.
There are a lot of false dichotomies in political analysis. The basic dynamic of any human social system is the natural need to balance competition and co-operation. Any system needs its global constraints (its mechanisms of co-operation), and also its local freedoms (its competitive and creative capacity for action).

So from this, we can see why it is generally right for states to be in charge of regulation, but not production. Yet also, why self-regulation is what you want (regulation being pushed down to the lowest scales practical) and equally why production can also have an appropriate scale that is state-sized (when for example a state is acting as an individual - as in conducting wars, or ensuring the health of its collective body, the wisdom of its collective mind).

This is why the military, health and education, as well as general regulation, lead to "socialised" production mechanisms.

So the left vs right, conservative vs liberal, dichotomies become phony debates as all social/political systems have to strike a balance of competition and co-operation. And they would be having to do this across all scales of a society.

As many note, the US seems trapped in some strange internal war against itself. Politics looks quite dysfunctional - perhaps losing an external enemy in communism has something to do with this? Perhaps it is the high levels of economic inequality (IMO of course).

In my country, New Zealand, we went through a period of neo-liberal extremism in the 1980s. As an experiment, it now looks a dismal failure.

But anyway, we have started to employ a more systems approach to our politics again - still in small ways, but at least testing the water.

And I see they gave out a Nobel to the US lady who is one of the inspirations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elinor_Ostrom
 

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