Originally Posted atMY LEFT WING on Monday, October 27, 2008

Whenever I hear the old joke, "He was born on third base but thinks he hit a triple," I cringe a little, because I immediately think of the inverse -- of the millions of people who are born with two strikes against them.  

Lately I cringe when I hear the ludicrous charge being leveled against Barack Obama: that he intends to apply socialist policies in the United States. The charge is ludicrous because he does not intend such a thing -- not because socialism is ludicrous. To the contrary.  

Here is another thing that makes me cringe:

"In America, if you have the brains and the talent and are willing to work as hard as it takes, you can make it to the top." 

Well, yes; the operative word in that oft-repeated maxim is "can." But you can have a top-class brain and a top-class talent and work yourself to the bone and still go to the grave with nothing in this country... if you happen to have been born with two strikes against you.  

That is to say: You can have the brains and the talent and all the drive imaginable, and end up at a dead end because you got pregnant at 16 when abortion was illegal or unavailable... and find yourself in your mid-thirties a cashier at Sears, bone-tired with three kids at night, answering all the "Jeopardy" questions, wondering how the hell you ended up single and miserable and resenting these kids you love.  

You can be brilliant and gifted and work yourself silly to save money to transfer from community college to the Ivy League school that accepted you -- but because you were unlucky enough to be born into a bad neighbourhood you will never get to that hallowed school and instead be shot dead, collateral damage in a turf war drive-by shooting, itself the sociological result of the grinding poverty produced by decades of racial and societal design.  

Worse: Born with two strikes, you wind up before the pitch, you take a huge swing -- you miss, and you end up, at 17, in prison. And you spend the rest of your life going through a societally designed revolving door in that prison. You may have made that "first strike," but the odds were against you from the beginning. You never had a chance. And you're not alone. Watch MSNBC's "Lock Up: Raw" sometimes. Look at the faces on that show. Ever notice anything? Check out American prison statistics against American census numbers. The ratio of the American population as a whole to African-Americans in prison is grotesque. This is not accidental. Nor are African-Americans hard-wired to commit crimes. And people who dismiss slavery as having happened "200 years ago" and African-Americans and "liberal guilt" as "blaming everything on something that happened 200 years ago" had better check up on their MUCH more recent history. 

See, brains and talent and hard work don't mean a thing when you aren't to the manour born in America; not unless you step into at least a tiny little bit of luck to go with it. And that shouldn't have to be the American Way.  

And that's why the reflexively negative response to socialism angers me so much. Just what is so wrong with a level playing field? For that, after all, is what socialism is. A recent interviewer actually quoted Karl Marx's maxim derisively to Joe Biden: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"(as if it were the sum total of Marx's philosophy). It is, however, a good beginning -- and that is, actually, what America desperately needs.  

A level playing field, indeed. Imagine an America in which everyone begins life on home base, with no balls and no strikes. Or, to use a clearer analogy -- on a level field, rather than some on a mountaintop and some in a ditch. Simple, really: Healthcare for all, food and shelter, education and basic employment -- all basic necessities guaranteed for all. For every other element one might wish, one would simply have to... work hard. To compete in a truly free market, unemcumbered by hunger, by the disabilities of race, family circumstances, "who you know." One's merits would truly be the yardstick by which accomplishments, achievements and advancements would be measured. THAT... is socialism.  

Now, WHO could feel threatened by THAT?  I'll tell you who: The TRUE elitists in this VERY unlevel playing field on which we all stumble and on which we've been playing, blindfolded, listening to propaganda over their corporate-funded loudspeakers for generations. Propaganda that's told us that "Socialism equals Communism equals Russia equals Stalin equals BAD!  When Americans hear the phrase "socialised Medicine," for instance, for decades we've picture Russian breadlines, as surely as Pavlov's dogs (a Russian scientist -- isn't THAT an irony) drooled when they heard bells ringing. Oh, yes, the moneyed elitist classes of America for generations have done spent their brainwashing dollars well: We, the People, have been cutting off our collective nose to spite our face and cheering jubilantly as we did it.  

But a funny thing happened on the way to pay the health insurance bills: We bought computers. Little by little, the proletariat began to learn, picking up bits of information along with "barley legal porn."(It didn't hurt that the older folk began to die off. Sorry, grandpa.) The spectre of Stalin's Communist Russia, truly hideous as it was, began to fade; Communism isn't as easy to use as a completely dishonest conflationary scare tactic with the utterly, totally different Socialism when it's more of a paragraph in a history book than an actual memory.  

And lately, we have several decades' worth of examples of wildly successful Socialist nations to refute arguments against Socialist philosophy and economics. Not hideous beasts of governments run amok; rather, governments providing basic necessities and services with fabulous efficiency, NOT meddling in their citizens' private lives... and then getting out of the way. And the citizens' approval ratings of their governments? Through the roof. Their Happiness index? Quality of life? Life expectancy? Through the roof. And ours? Let's just say we're competing with the likes of Bolivia. 

So... Maybe Americans are getting... less stupid. Because for one thing, they're not buying the "Barack is a Socialist" garbage. And for another, they seem to recognise Socialism when they see it (See: $700 billion bailout for the financial system and using taxpayer money to do it)... and they seem, by all known polling systems, to think it would be a REALLY good idea to start doing some MORE of it -- where it counts: say, healthcare, education, green infrastructure...  

SO WAKE THE FUCK UP, Washington and Corporate Elites. The Sleeping Giant is stirring. And I have... More Cowbell.  

Tags: Socialism (all tags)



That's how I see it, anyway.

by Maryscott OConnor 2008-10-29 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: That's how I see it, anyway.

Mary, from your post above,

"...And lately, we have several decades' worth of examples of wildly successful Socialist nations to refute arguments against Socialist philosophy and economics. Not hideous beasts of governments run amok; rather, governments providing basic necessities and services with fabulous efficiency, NOT meddling in their citizens' private lives... and then getting out of the way. And the citizens' approval ratings of their governments? Through the roof. Their Happiness index? Quality of life? Life expectancy? Through the roof. And ours? Let's just say we're competing with the likes of Bolivia..."

If you would, please list these,"...wildly successful Socialist nations..."

I'm not trying to start a fuss. I just quoted above so you'd see the reference. I'm interested in what you have to say.


by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-29 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: That's how I see it, anyway.

Mary is wrong about the wildly successful socialist countries, because the modern countries that deem themselves socialists, have communist aspirations and include North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.

However, if she changes her statement to socialist programs vs socialist nations she'd be right on the money.  Many western European nations, including Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and the U.K. have socialist programs (particularly health care programs) that are wildly successful, despite what many republicans would have you believe.  The U.S. still has the best health care available in the world. . . if you can afford it.  However, the majority of people in this country actually receive sub par health care.  That might sound unpatriotic, but it's true.

by shalca 2008-10-30 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: That's how I see it, anyway.

What is your background medical care?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-30 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: That's how I see it, anyway.

nope, I'm basing my assertions on statistical information as opposed to the anecdotal evidence I might have as a medical care worker.  The United States consistently scores low among industrialized nations in life expectancy and infant mortality.

by shalca 2008-10-30 09:57PM | 0 recs
Re: That's how I see it, anyway.

Shalca? What do you do then?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-31 12:29PM | 0 recs
Sorry for the delay. . .

Accounting.  Former Marine (communications).  That pretty much sums up my career thus far.

by shalca 2008-11-01 07:24AM | 0 recs
Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

for justice.

It is not just to take from those who work hard and give to the lazy or to crooks.

We've had socialism for 75 years in America and we've had plenty of sloth and thievery. You can rather easily change the laws, but human nature is another story all together.

If the new government keeps this in mind, and doesn't promise or try to deliver a utopia; we may yet avoid catastrophe.

by Paul Goodman 2008-10-29 07:01AM | 0 recs
Don't worry, Obama's a Genuine Conservative

he's a tinkerer, an incrementalist.

Don't worry so, you'll strain yourself!

It may not be just to take from the rich and give to the poor -- but it's sure as hell safer for the RICH! That's what FDR learned from Marx -- that there Could Be Compromise NOT Bloodshed.

Pity bush and company forgot those hardwon lesosns.

by RisingTide 2008-10-29 01:22PM | 0 recs

After all, he got all those radical ideas from his Grandmother who raised him!

You know, that Marxist Firebrand Madelyn Dunham! _Stanley_Dunham

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-29 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

"...If the new government keeps this in mind, and doesn't promise or try to deliver a utopia; we may yet avoid catastrophe..."

Not to be picky but, it's not a new government.

Same government but just a new president.

As for Utopia? Too late. Considering how much our country owes to promise to pay for healthcare is Utopia.

We don't have the money to pay for the healthcare. If we have to borrow the money to do pay for it? We'll be in worse shape than we are now. Socialize healthcare is one of the most inefficient forms of healthcare in the US. Medicaid already costs a fortune. Does your state have the WIC program? Again costs a fortune. We are a huge country not a small one. If our government cant run the health care we have now? How will it do so under the current economic environment?


by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-29 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

I'm glad you brought up WIC.  It's expensive, and worth every penny.  Before WIC, infant mortality in low income parts of the country was inordinately high.  It's still inordinately high for an industrial nation, but at least most poor American kids aren't dealing with rickets because their parents can't afford milk.  That wasn't the case 50 years ago.

This is one of the major differences between many republicans and many democrats (please note that I didn't say all).  Most democrats see health care as a right, while most republicans do not.  It should not matter how much it costs to keep a child fed and healthy because that is a right.  It should not matter if that kid's parents are both drug addicted alcoholic prostitutes, the child should not suffer because of that.  You can take that child away from the parents, but society needs to be responsible for the innocent and those unable to take care of themselves.  There should be a minimum level of care.

And to an extent the same thing applies to adults.  It benefits society to pay for a drug addict's rehab program (if it works.  I totally understand not paying for ineffectual programs).  Just as their is a moral obligation to help someone who is lying sick on the side of the road, society as a whole has a moral obligation to help the sick in its midsts.  It is not an individual thing.  Someone who gets cancer should not also be strapped with so much debt that they have to file for bankruptcy and become destitute.  It benefits society to keep that person a contributing citizen if they are fortunate enough to beat the disease.

by shalca 2008-10-30 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

Would you propose offering the WIC program to all families with children?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-30 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

Not to be a "Grinch" but how do you pay for it?

What happens to those folks whose jobs will become redundant under a federalized healthcare system?

For instance, the independent pharmacist and their family who depend on the income from their business. The nurses and techs who work in the doctor's office? It's not enough to say collateral damage of economic evolution.

What about second opinions? I talked to someone who uses European healthcare. He said that you don't question the folks who provide the healthcare. Who will provide a second opinion? Doctors are people. They can make mistakes. Saying the words, "I want a second opinion." has saved folks lives. So have alternative treatements.

What if I want to use an alternate or experimental therapy? A drug not in the formulary or a proceedure not in the protocol? Will I have to pay for this out of pocket? In addition to the tax increases to pay for the socialized medicine?
We are a bigger country and more diverse than any in the EU. We have many more folks to pay for.

LOL What if it isn't cost effective for say an epidural but I want one anyway? Will it still be available to me? Will I be penalized for not breast feeding? If I choose not too.

Will alternative medical proceedures like accupuncture be paid for? Herbalists? Chiropractors? What about an available test that isn't in favor by the protocol?

I'm not trying to be silly here. It all sounds quite nice but soon the cost raises its  real but ugly head. Then healthcare becomes cost containment. One size fits all mediocre. Unless you can pay for your own private healthcare.

But wait. That's what you are saying we have now.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-10-30 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Socialism is not necessarily a synonym

You bring up a lot of good points.  And honestly,  some of the points you brought up are not really being dealt with under the current free-market medical insurance system.

If we ultimately end up with a single-payer, government funded health care system (please note, this is NOT what Obama proposes right now) then there is no law saying that we have to implement it exactly the way Canada, or a European country does.

For instance, far from drafting every doctor, pharmacist, and health care worker into government service, you could simply pay out doctors fees as medicare and private insurance do now.  Obviously there have to be limits on how much a doctor can charge.  Most private insurance charge users a higher premium to see doctors outside of a particular network.  Similarly, if a doctor's fee fell far outside the average doctor's fee for the same procedure a premium could be charged to the patient.  I do believe that doctors should compete with each other and better doctors should earn better pay.

As for second opinions, most private insurance companies offer them for costly diagnoses, like cancer.  But depending on what insurance you have and what state you're in, you can not get a second opinion for anything you want.  In a federalized insurance system I would hope that everyone was entitled to at least a second opinion on anything outside of routine check ups.  But yes, that can get expensive.

Cost is a factor.  But like I said in a previous post, I think health care is a moral obligation and a responsibility similar to public safety.  If we can't afford to provide health care to everyone in this country, then we are in dire straights.  Obviously no one supports the government paying for face lifts and botox injections.  But we should be able to pay for routine check ups and emergency care.

To answer your first question.  No, I do not believe that everyone should be entitled to WIC.  It's meant for parents that would not otherwise be able to purchase those items to keep their baby healthy.  It's difficult to abuse because you can only purchase certain items.  So it's not like WIC recipients are using that money to buy steaks and imported beer.  I think it accomplishes it purpose.

by shalca 2008-10-30 10:38PM | 0 recs
Oh, and paying for it.

I know it sounds awful, but it's got to be paid through taxes.  Either an income tax or a consumption tax or even a flat fee.  But put it this way.  If we actually got universal health care (which I think this country will move towards, though it might take 50 years) then you're no longer paying for insurance directly.  You could possibly end up with the same take home pay by replacing those premiums with a tax.

As far as Obama's current plan?  I really have no idea how he's going to pay for it if it's implemented as is (which is highly unlikely).  I hear what he says, but things never work out that way.  I do think that we could afford to cut back on defense spending and get some savings there.  There are so many bloated and useless cold war era weapons programs that could be eliminated from the defense budget.  The downside of course is that some factory in some swing state would close and people would lose their jobs.

by shalca 2008-10-30 10:48PM | 0 recs

by demjim 2008-10-29 07:16AM | 0 recs

I see now why Republicans have been so wary of using this word.  It really opens a pandora's box.  Because in the end socialism, by which I think we all mean social democracy in the Western European style, is not such a bad idea.  Once the word gets out there and people take a second look at the idea, it becomes more attractive.  We've now had three diaries on MYDD in the past two days with socialism in the title.  I don't think I've seen a single diary before that in my four years of reading this blog with socialism in the title.

From the Republican perspective, the problem with using loaded words like this is that if the public doesn't buy your BS, they start to think that the alternative isn't so bad.

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 07:22AM | 0 recs

And that's the chasm right underneath the feet of political conservatives right now.  They've unleashed 60 years of rightwing paranoia at Obama, and it hasn't thrown him off his stride.  You could argue that Obama's run for President has torn the festering scab off well over half a century of far right hysteria, and they've thrown everything they had at the man.

Once all that gets aired, it just doesn't seem all that scary to people who have real problems of their own.  The GOP doesn't get this, and this is a sign of just how far they've lost touch with the American people.  Once Obama wins (go out and VOTE people!), he can make the legitimate argument that this election was a repudiation of conservative ideology writ large.  He'll still need to govern in a more centrist manner than some of us might want, but after Nov. 4th, Obama will be able to repudiate any Republican who claims "this is a center-right nation" with "elections have consequences".

It's so odd.  They just can't seem to keep from inching closer and closer toward complete ideological irrelevance.

by hello world 2008-10-29 10:50AM | 0 recs
The Teflon Democrat

by Maryscott OConnor 2008-10-29 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Teflon Democrat

From your keyboard to Gods ear/eye.

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2008-10-29 02:03PM | 0 recs

You do realize the social democracy model in Europe will die in my life time don't you?

Europe is too socialist.  Too few kids.  Their culture is dying and will be replaced by some thing quite a bit less socialist than America under Bush Sr.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-29 05:37PM | 0 recs

"Europe is too socialist.  Too few kids."

Yeah, nobody noticed your elegant switch of the subject there. Nobody at all.

You prefer living in countries where there's 7 children per woman? Is Uganda capitalist enough for you? Do you consider it a more sustainable culture than Europe just because they have more children?

by Aris Katsaris2 2008-10-29 05:45PM | 0 recs

I agree that the low birth rates in Europe are a concern.  Not nearly as alarming as the high birth rates in impoverished nations, but still a concern.  Do you see any connection between socialism and low birth rates?  Personally, I don't really see the connection.  Is it because under a socialist model, the state replaces the family to some extent and so people living in those nations feel less compelled to rely on their families?  Seems like a bit of a stretch.  Thoughts?

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 08:34PM | 0 recs
birth control

and no guilt using it.  Also intelligent policies.  Unlike welfare in many parts of this country, you aren't rewarded for having more children while conservative policies dictate that government money can't be used to attain abortions, but can be used for faith based organizations who are apt to teach abstinence only sex ed.

It's almost as if government in this country wants to continue the cycle of poverty in which many inner city families find themselves.

by shalca 2008-10-30 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Boy

Hillary is politically left of me.

But I trust her judgement.

There are many liberal/progressive things that are effective and even the most conservative person would agree.

universal free prenatal child care is an example

You have to get VERY VERY VERY conservative before people will argue against it because it saves so much money.

Hillary and Bill are smart and 8 years of their policies worked pretty good for me.

Jimmy Carter is smart and 4 years of his policies worked far far less well.

On an ideological plane Hillary and Carter are probably equally far from me politically.

But I know Hillary/Bill are effective and pragmatic while Carter though very effective in diplomacy was not very effective anywhere else.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-30 10:14AM | 0 recs

Americans have never been as hostile to socialism as everyone makes them out to be.  If the left had not made so many mistakes, or if they had been interested in universal causes instead of "group" issues all the time, we could have had a decent socialist party-maybe not as big as Europe's, but certainly like Canada's.

P.S.  There used to be 90% top income tax rates, government-owned businesses in finance, munitions, oil, rubber, and so on, and periodic calls for economic planning.  That, however, was in the early 20th century, not the late 20th century when "rights" issues and "cause" politics drove old-style economic radicalism out of the national arena.

by demjim 2008-10-29 07:23AM | 0 recs

The best argument for high taxes on very wealthy individuals is that companies paying enormous wages have to think twice about where to invest their returns.  For example, it encourages companies to invest in entry-level workers, capital, research, and maybe training for mid-level workers rather than pay higher salaries to top executives.  This is because paying higher salaries is effectively just like giving money to the government.  The real problem now is that we only have five tax brackets.  You can make a good argument that a family making $250,000 a year shouldn't pay higher taxes, but what about a family making $1 million? How about $5 million?  How about $10 million?

I say make a few more tax brackets and tax the heck out of the top earners.  Make these companies think twice about what they're actually doing.

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 08:05AM | 0 recs
Or one tax bracket

whoa - whoa - whoa.  I wont get on the sales tax issue.

I think businessmen who think they need to spend all of there money every year to avoid paying taxes are short-sided.  Unfortunetly for many of these business owners this economic down turn is a hard lesson to learn.  Save money, pay the taxes and survive the dips.

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 09:15PM | 0 recs

The elites side tracked the socialist trends of the late 1800's and early 1900's.  They never gave FDR credit for keeping the masses from stringing them all up during the Great Depression.  They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing, long live the aristocracy.

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2008-10-29 08:48AM | 0 recs

Roosevelt saved capitalism.  By implementing some relatively minor safety net programs he took the wind out of the socialist movements.  I'm surprised he doesn't get more credit from the conservative quarters for that.

by Skaje 2008-10-29 12:17PM | 0 recs
Dr. David Brin gives him credit aplenty

(and he's registered Republican).

do check out his blog, it's fascinating shit.

by RisingTide 2008-10-29 01:26PM | 0 recs
The longer I live, the more Socialist

my inclinations are.  Thanks for the great diary.

by aggieric 2008-10-29 09:03AM | 0 recs

From the days when I was a Republican (pseudo-conservative wisdom).  The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats want the U.S. to be a Zoo and Republicans want it to be a jungle.  I say this to show you how many Republicans think.  They have no problem with a dog eat dog world, where some of us are lions (the elite) and others are the antelope.  The problem is that most of them are stupid enough to think they are the lion, when really they are the rabbit.

by Sychotic1 2008-10-29 09:35AM | 0 recs

Witness the bailout.

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 11:01AM | 0 recs

I prefer a jungle to a zoo as well.  Do you fail to see the cages in your analogy?  

The one thing I would add is the need for the rule of law.  It is neccessary to defend our liberties from eachother.  It may be a jungle, but freedom does require limits.

The difference in your analogy is that if you are born a rabbit you can become a lion at least easier in a capitialist system where the public is free to raise(and fall) between the classes.

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 08:50PM | 0 recs

Unfortunately, in an unfettered capitalist society, moving between the classes is much more hindered than in a mixed economy like we have in the U.S.

The closest we got to unfettered capitalism as an industrialized nation was the late 1800's, early 1900's.  Income inequality was at it's highest in our history and poverty was itself a hindrance to moving between classes.  Without government handing out low interest business loans, and grants (G.I. Bill) along with a progressive income tax to pay for social programs, the middle class as we know it today would not exist.

It's still extremely difficult for someone born poor, in a poor part of the country to ever become rich.  But at least it's reasonable, with hard work and determination to reach the middle class, even with the disadvantages of the sub par education most poor areas have to accept.  That chance is slowly disappearing today and it's what has got so many people voting (D) in this election.

by shalca 2008-10-30 05:08AM | 0 recs
Thanks for being intellectually honest

One of the problems with Socialism is that is turns conviencing into cohersing and that is exactly the tact Obama has taken on the national scheme.  If Socialism is coming to America(some would argue it is already here), than I would like a fair debate on the topic would be neccessary.

I believe the American dream is that if you work hard you can succeed and socialism does punish the people trying to get ahead(almost by definition), through watering down the competition.  It means that the average American has to work that much harder to get ahead.

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for being intellectually honest

you mean the average worker whose productivity has risen and real wages have decreased over the past eight years?  those are the ones who need to work harder under a social democrat model?

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 11:03AM | 0 recs
Welcome! and I love your screenname

Just remember that Adam Smith would have loved our Estate Tax, and we'll get along fine! (you have read him, haven'tcha?)

by RisingTide 2008-10-29 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome! and I love your screenname

Estate tax is the best form of tax there is.

If I am smart and create value better than the next guy then I should get filthy rich and be able to lord it over everyone else.

But my kids shouldn't be able to live their lives based on the merits of mine.  And certainly their kids shouldn't.

If the richest people were the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffets of the world who really were better makers of value or were lucky enough to have owned companies who were makers of value that would be ok with me.

But Paris Hilton shouldn't be rich based on her name alone.  Thats not fair.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-29 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome! and I love your screenname

Hard to argue against that.  

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 08:12PM | 0 recs
Isn't this a fine kettle of turnaround fish!

Mary Scott - love your diaries, and this one is well written and well thought.

But I disagree emphatically.

dtaylor2 - you and I do not see eye to eye very often at all.

But I agree.

Perhaps the US can be a soft and lazy socialist country someday when some other country wants to take the lead and drive the world economy, but if we take that road there won't be anyone at the wheel and I very much doubt we would find ourselves enjoying the lifestyles of our socialist allies.

I lived twenty years in several shifts in a moderately socialist country (Canada).  It is a very pleasant country, and very bland one, and very disinterested one.  Business is very clotted and corrupt, politics is at best moribund and voting is right up there with (I can't think of anything common that is as low on the average priority scale).  Cynicism is rampant, people worry to extremis about incredibly small risks and self-comfort is paramount above all else.

No, let's see if we can fix the worst of our problems without adopting the worst of others'.

by chrisblask 2008-10-29 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Isn't this a fine kettle of turnaround fish!

What do you think are the pitfalls of the Canadian model that we should avoid?  I do have great concerns about corruption in socialist-type nations because you give so much power to the government.  It just takes one bad election to turn "good" socialism into "bad" socialism.  To the extent that we're a socialist nation, that's exactly what happened in 2000.

by the mollusk 2008-10-29 08:39PM | 0 recs
It's a fine line, imho,

and it comes down to the aggregate perceptions and attitudes of the population.

I don't know that I could say off the top of my head where the tipping point is, but when "can't be bothered" works for people it seems that the slide has begun.  

My comment history is rife with thoughts on this topic that I honestly don't have the energy to recreate in full (got an Obama rally to volunteer at in the morning :~), but the fundamental seems to come down to what happens to society when you remove real risk and real consequences.  I'd love to find a way to ferret out the worst risks and the harm they cause without killing the energy and motivation that facing real risk brings, but I'll take the moderate approach to working on them incrementally over the blanket approach taken by Europe and Canada.

by chrisblask 2008-10-29 09:18PM | 0 recs
It's not risk that drives people, it's opportunity

I wouldn't mind if we paid everyone a living wage for doing nothing, for goodness sakes! == So long as we had enough incentives for people to go out and be productive. Rewards for being innovative and taking risks.

Meh. American culture loves entrepreneurs, lotta high status there. That's why we've got so many small businesses.

by RisingTide 2008-10-30 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: It's not risk

Your revolution is over, Lebowski, the bums lost!

by the mollusk 2008-10-30 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Isn't this a fine kettle of turnaround fish!

That's funny, because Canada consistently has higher voter turnout than the U.S.  I'll grant you that this year that may not be the case because Canada had its lowest turnout in history this year and we have a very exciting election.  But in general, Canadians turnout to vote at a much higher rate than we do.

by shalca 2008-10-30 05:16AM | 0 recs

Are you joking?

by JimR 2008-10-29 11:11AM | 0 recs

 You got me. This is all a Halloween prank.

I'm really a supply-side capitalist in favour of a flat tax.

by Maryscott OConnor 2008-10-29 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes.

Why have any taxes it all?

Let General Motors build the roads as well, they're doing so great at the car business!

And let Halliburton BE the military? Hell, Dick Cheney is still behind Warren Buffet, he's only got a few more years to close that gap!

Too bad we don't have Enron anymore, I'm sure they would be working on Sarah Palin's National energy plan right now!

Screw the EPA, just put Ken Lay in charge!

What, he's dead?

ALL THE BETTER from a deregulatory point of view!

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-29 12:21PM | 0 recs

It is an interesting prospect, but more extreme than I am willing to go.  Often wonder if they could make road construction a little less of a pain in the arse though.  We certainly need to have taxes and our federal government needs to get back to priorities.

We are bankrupt, well maybe it isn't that bad, but the government can not keep up with the promises it has made.  We have people close to retirement, upside down on their home loans, investments cut by 40% and a social security close to going in the red.  

Republicans and Democrats need to come together and decide these priorities.  

National Defense
Regulation of the markets (Capitalism does not function without rule of law)

Long pause....Being a states rights type of guys it does get tough to add too much to responsibilities at the federal level.  We it is a start.

I do worry that the country will attempt to "fix" the current financial problems with the same corrections they took after the 1929 crash.  Just for reference it took 25 years for the Dow to return to its 1929 peak.  When people are scared they are more willing to give up thier freedoms.  Add economic fears to terrorist fears to global climate fears, I me do we have a chance?

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 08:41PM | 0 recs
Obama's a conservative compromiser

and we're worse off than the Great Depression -- far more debt in the system (consumer debt alone is 100% of GDP).

But I have faith in our economic research -- including what Krugman's been doing this past year or two in preparation for this mess.

You're looking at the DOW, I think the general market was back to even with 1929 in 10 years... Not that we had the employment back, etc etc.

Wall Street knows that Obama will make them take their medicine, and they dont' want to take their medicine. But they do know that they will be better in the long run for taking the medicine.

by RisingTide 2008-10-30 05:26AM | 0 recs
Republicans ought to think a little harder

before they start slinging shit around like this, on the verge of a huge loss.  They may be creating a mandate for the very same things they denigrate!

Sorta like if a man is going bowling, and his wife says, "If you go out that door, I'll know that you don't love me anymore and want a divorce!"  Instead of staying home, he thinks, smiles, and walks out the door anyway, thinking about attorneys to call tomorrow.

The Republicans can't help raising the table stakes even when they are losing.  They did the same thing in Iraq, which is just one of the things that pisses me off about it.  Back in 2005, after the purple thumbs election, rather than preparing for an exit that might have seemed at least slightly successful, they reframed it as if withdrawal is "surrender," "waving the white flag," "cut and run."  And the result is that when we do leave Iraq, they will have helped create that narrative to their own and everybody else's detriment.

So, like it or not, this election is (according to McCain) a referendum on socialism.  I guess if we have a landslide, that debate will be over, eh?  And Tom Delay was on Hardball just now saying that this was all about Marxism.  So I guess if we have a landslide, that means America endorses Marxism, too!  

Thanks to their big mouths, that is what will happen.  What are they going to complain about on November 5th?  

by Dumbo 2008-10-29 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans ought to think a little harder

Yeah, but THEY KNOW Obama is no marxist, this is just fodder for the base.

BTW, why the HELL do they let this criminal on the air, but they are pummeling Obama for going to a PARTY for a College Professor, never convicted of any crime, whose only sin is, he's some red meat they can wave at the Jewish vote?

Why do admitted Republican criminals get to walk around and NO ONE CALLS THEM WHAT THEY ARE!

But our candidates are tarred endlessly, guilt by first and second association!!!!!!

Shameless, the media is just shameless.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-29 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans ought to think a little harder

Interesting point - so where is Obama.  His he this fiscal conservative sometime he looks like.  Sort of the "compassionate" conservative?

Are suggesting Obama's change will be bring this country far to the left?  It just seems like lines of arguments like your post walk a fine line.  

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 08:58PM | 0 recs
I'm not making an argument at all.

I'm only pointing out the weakness of their argument.  It may be effective (not really) before the election, but after the election, if we assume conservatives are anti-socialist (something recent events like the bailout place in doubt), then they have weakened their own argument against new programs that they may choose to call socialist, because by their own hysterical pre-election posturing essentially they had framed the 2008 election as a referendum on a radical socialist.

The fact that they are almost certainly going to lose this election suggests that a more conservative (small c) strategy would be to not put so many of their chips on the table in these final days.  

by Dumbo 2008-10-30 03:46AM | 0 recs

Maryscott, that was the finest diary I've read on MyDD in a looooooooooong time.

by John in Chicago 2008-10-29 05:10PM | 0 recs

"In America, if you have the brains and the talent and are willing to work as hard as it takes, you can make it to the top."  

True True True.

If you are born hard working with just a little bit of long term planning you can retire a millionaire.

Take Joe or Jane Poorperson just graduated from High School.

Works at McDonalds as a dishwasher making minimum wage.

Will not go to college.

Will never work anywhere but McDonalds their entire life will never make more than minimum wage their entire life.

However Mr or Mrs Poorperson is willing to work an extra 40 hours a week for 4 years with no vacation to match the work that college students have to do when they are in college.  Mr or Ms Poorperson saves that money in a stock mutual fund account that earns the historical average of ~9% above inflation and does not remove money from this account prior to retirement.

This is the only positive economic move Mr or Ms Poorperson makes in their ENTIRE LIFE.  No further saving ever.

End effect?

Still retires a millionaire in today's dollars.

40 hours * 52 weeks * $3.75 take home after tax/hr * 4 years * (109%)^43 years from 22 to 65

Net result?

Retirement at 65 with nest egg of >1 million 2008 equivalent dollars (will be a larger number but with inflation buying power will equal 1 million today).

>95% of those retiring in the USA with less than 1 million dollars did so by choice.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-29 06:06PM | 0 recs
Any attempt I've ever made to empathize...

...with your points of view in the past year, or so, just went down the tubes with this comment of yours, DTaylor.

This is the most absurd fiction I've read in awhile.

Abso-freakin'-lutely John Birch propagandist crapola.

by bobswern 2008-10-29 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Any attempt I've ever made to empathize...
Yes, you wonder HOW these people that were here so long and claimed to be advocates of Bill and Hillary Clinton,
then SO EASILY switched into spouting the same simplistic right wing drivel, you just have to believe they never
really got what Bill and Hillary Clinton stood for anyway?
by WashStateBlue 2008-10-29 07:44PM | 0 recs
You can't retire tomorrow on the money you spend..

It is true America has many, many, many millionaires doing just that, saving a small portions of the paychecks.  At some point you have to leave the choices people make in their own hands.  That is freedom.  The government can not save people from themselves.  It have been trying fo 80 years and we continue to have the same problems over and over again.

by Classical Liberal 2008-10-29 09:03PM | 0 recs
Sorry, I disagree with...

"The government can not save people from themselves."

IMHO, government should be all about saving people...from themselves, from others. It's where you draw the line, however, that matters!

by bobswern 2008-10-30 12:52AM | 0 recs
If government can rationalize...

...pissing away $3 trillion to an elite class that's only interested in....saving themselves...then surely, government can protect the interests of us peons, too!

by bobswern 2008-10-30 12:55AM | 0 recs
It's the definition of saving that gets slippery,

Like with children: it is easy to focus on ensuring they survive to 18 rather than on trying to help them be happy at 55 (an error I think my boomer peers have made early and often).

A hotel limo drive in Singapore said it best to me.  As we whisked along spotless highways to the airport in a Mercedez OMG class (I drive a Honda, don't know the Mercedez letter code) and he told me about the public housing project on one side - complete with pools (plural) gyms and other top-flight amenities he launched into his dream: he was saving money to move to the US and planned to start with a hotdog cart and work his way up to open a restaurant.  When I asked him why he would leave all this he said, "It's too easy here.  Singapore has no soul."

We need to help our citizens, but not into dependency.  It's a fine line, and while we can do more to help our people we need to keep in mind how we actually help them without making this the place people want to leave to take their chances elsewhere...

by chrisblask 2008-10-30 02:59AM | 0 recs
speaking of definitions...

Here's a good discussion with Bill Maher on the American fear of socialism.  Great analogy about the concentration of wealth from FDR's fed chairman, which is more the root of the current problem than social services.

For my part, it is a matter of tuning rather than nomenclature, and socialism is far too broad a word to speak to that.

Maybe I'll write a diary about that.  After the election... :~)

by chrisblask 2008-10-30 12:59PM | 0 recs

You know what would suck complete ass?  If Joe or Jane Poorperson reached retirement this week and had to cash out.  Over the last year they've watched as what was once close to $1,000,000 lose 40% of its value.  So much for all their financial planning.

Please take your simplistic examples back to Sesame Street.  Reality is much different.

by shalca 2008-10-30 05:27AM | 0 recs

Losing 40% of 1,000,000 is what you presuppose.  But losing 40% of 2,000,000 is nearer to the truth.

But when I site the average return of stock it is strangely enough actually the AVERAGE.

Investing for 36 years gives you a return that is based on the average of that 36 years.  

The drops are all figured into that average.

So during good times the return is >9% above inflation and in the bad times its worse.  Thats how averaging works...

But don't think that because you don't understand what I am saying that I haven't taken the drops into consideration...

by dtaylor2 2008-10-30 09:40AM | 0 recs

You've never taking an Economics of Finance class have you?

In any case, using your example again, Mr. or Mrs. Poorperson saved:

40 hours * 52 weeks * $3.75 take home after tax/hr * 4 years = $31,200.00

Please note that the minimum wage in 1968 (40 years ago) was $1.60.  But we'll pretend that Mr/Mrs Poorperson had exceptional burger flipping prowess and got paid what you proposed.

In 1972 the S&P 500 was 111.58.  If you bought a mutual fund indexed to the S&P, you could purchase $31,200/111.58 = 279.62 or about 280 shares.

Today, 36 years later when Poorperson wants to cash out, he/she gets 280*954.09 = $267,145.20
Hardly anywhere near $1,000,000 dollars.

So yeah, please try again.  Because that $267,145.20 is not going to last very long, especially if Mr/Mrs Poorperson has any prescriptions that they are required to take in their old age.

by shalca 2008-10-30 11:13PM | 0 recs
MaryScott's diaries RULE!

Very rapidly you have risen to the top-10 of my list of my all-time favorite diarists!

Sheer brilliance, and a poetic sense of observation steeped within an intense respect for history, to boot!

I love your work.

I hope you're doing this professionally, because your words should be consumed by as many as possible.


by bobswern 2008-10-29 07:06PM | 0 recs


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