News Is communism still a big taboo in america? if so why?

russ_watters

Mentor
Oh, and I really wish people would stop confusing communism with socialism or lumping them together - they are two different beasts (no, I'm not accusing you Russ).
Though not aimed at me, for clarity:

"Socialism" has become a broad term with many definitions for different flavors, but in one form it is the economic system of communism. So by philosophy and history ("socialist" countries run by "communist" parties), they are necessarily tied together, even if not exactly interchangeable.

I see it a bit like lumping together capitalism and democracy.

CAC1001

Everybody would have their own idea. How do you define it? In a general way, I'd like to think kids born to poorer families had exactly the same chance as the rich kids to get a top job, live in a great house, live beyond the age of 70 etc. But the fact is that they don't have the same chance. They might do it, but the odds are heavily in favour of the rich. They can buy the private tutor, send their child to an exclusive school, pay for all the enrichment activities, school trips etc.

Now I might well be told either that this isn't true or that it is true, but unavoidable in the real world. The former is simple nonesense and doesn't stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny; the latter might be true. But I don't think it is.
The rich will always have greater opportunities then the poor. Absolute equality of opportunity in that sense can rarely be achieved. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that if everyone cannot have such opportunity, then no one should (not saying you are, but just in case).

I wouldn't have thought that living on the breadline in an inner city feels 'unequally rich'. That idea would get hollow laughs if put to the poorest 10% in the US or UK.
They are still richer than the vast majority of people in the world who live in squalid poverty and almost everyone throughout prior history (read about the lifestyle of a middle-class person in Victorian England, it was Third World by modern standards, dystopian even). The poorest 10% in the UK still have guaranteed basic healthcare via the British NHS. And the poor in America have Medicaid. They have running hot and cold water that is sanitary, toilet for relieving themself, electric power and lighting, heating, air conditioning, oftentimes high-speed Internet and flat screen television with cable, access to fresh foods and drinks, basic vehicle with heating, air conditioning, radio, etc...refrigerator and freezer generally, and so forth.

They also live in what are very free societies with tremendous opportunity and knowledge available for self-improvement, whether it be community colleges to get their grades up if they bombed high school, public libraries that provide free Internet access and access to educational services (such as GED), language training and books in people's native languages about America so they can get accustomed to this country if an immigrant and learn the language, etc...(public libraries are a whole lot more than just storehouses for books these days, for example in some inner-city libraries, in one library in NYC I read about a chess grandmaster giving lessons for free!).

All of those public services are paid for via the wealth created by the private sector. We have MRI machines and CT scanners and other healthcare electronics and technologies, which are constantly becoming cheaper and better quality as the technology advances, thus making them available to more and more people. We have meat widely available, which itself used to be a luxury. People are unequally wealthy in modern Western societies.

Remember, just as poverty is a relative term, so is wealth.

Poverty has a relative and an absolute form. I suppose the absolute level could be taken as the threshold whereby you have enough to feed and house yourself (though again no two people will agree). Relative poverty (which has a very strong correlation with, among other things, inequalities in life expectancy) is real and important. Excessive inequalities have a corrosive effect on the poor - at least as great, if not greater than, actual GDP per capita.
Well a few things:

1) Life expectancy can be a tricky measurement. For example, the United States measures lower in life expectancy if you include car accidents and homicides (we have a lot of people killed from these). So if you are trying to use life expectancy as a way to gauge the general health of the population, you have to correct statistically for those things. It has been found if you correct for car accidents and homicides that the U.S. ranks a lot higher in terms of life expectancy.

2) Excessive inequality is bad if it is a true inequality. But this again can be misleading if one just looks at statistics and ignores the actual material standard of living available to people. Remember also that groups such as "the poor" and "the rich" are income and wealth brackets, not really fixed classes of people.

russ_watters

Mentor
Everybody would have their own idea. How do you define it? In a general way, I'd like to think kids born to poorer families had exactly the same chance as the rich kids to get a top job, live in a great house, live beyond the age of 70 etc. But the fact is that they don't have the same chance. They might do it, but the odds are heavily in favour of the rich. They can buy the private tutor, send their child to an exclusive school, pay for all the enrichment activities, school trips etc.

[separate post]
This issue goes to the heart of many problems. Individuals will want to behave, quite naturally, in ways that maximise benefit both to themselves and their families. However, there can be little doubt that, if there is to be a free and equal society, the distorting effects of generational advantage have to be somehow moderated. Inheritance tax, for example.

Interventions by the state that override individual wishes are commonplace – governments generally don’t give people the free choice whether or not to pay taxes, obey the speed limit and so on. The thinking is that there can be a greater good than individual freedom.
Otherwise you simply can’t have a free and equal society. Not that everybody wants one.
I can think of only three ways to ensure that all kids have "exactly the same chance...", none of which seem very desirable to me:

1. Seize all children from their parents at birth and raise them in government-run orphanages.
2. Randomly re-distribute all newborn babies, in the hospital, at birth.
3. Complete Communism, with no monetary system. Everyone gets issued an identical apartment, food, clothes, and randomly selected spouse, by the government.

No, these do not fit my idea of "fairness". My idea of "fairness" as it pertains to government intervention is simply equal treatment under the law. Seizing the fruits of one's labor and giving it to someone who didn't earn it does not fit with that ideal. Nor does denying a person the right to utilize the fruits of their labor as they choose fit with the equally important (to me) ideal of freedom.

russ_watters

Mentor
Now I might well be told either that this isn't true or that it is true, but unavoidable in the real world. The former is simple nonesense and doesn't stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny; the latter might be true. But I don't think it is.
Ignoring the strawman: how do you think the latter can be avoided?
Poverty has a relative and an absolute form. I suppose the absolute level could be taken as the threshold whereby you have enough to feed and house yourself (though again no two people will agree). Relative poverty (which has a very strong correlation with, among other things, inequalities in life expectancy) is real and important. Excessive inequalities have a corrosive effect on the poor - at least as great, if not greater than, actual GDP per capita.
While it is true that there are people who favor the concept of relative poverty, it creates obvious logical contradictions and requires arbitrary definitions of group to be measured. Some that I alluded to in my previous post. The same person can be simultaneously labeled "rich" or "poor" depending on where one draws a geographical or philosophical line to separate them from other people. For that reason, I reject the concept. However, I would be interested in hearing what you mean by the "corrosive effect" of relative poverty.

russ_watters

Mentor
If the prizes on offer were unlimited, this might conceivably be possible. But they’re not. For example, top universities are limited in the number of places they offer – therefore if rich kids have elbowed their way in then this clearly presents a barrier to poor kids.