Ser Scot A Ellison

Were Mao and Stalin Actually Socialists? (No True Scotsman)

202 posts in this topic

What if people prefer to pay no taxes? Most do, I guess, but most also realize that they are a necessity. Socialized healthcare payments are much closer to taxes than to anything else, so that is a valid comparison. You cannot opt out (although this depends on the particular system, often you can to some extent opt out of socialized healthcare), but you can of course democratically try to establish systems with lower taxes or a different healthcare system. So I do not think that a moderate capitalist who unlike an anarcho-libertarian accepts the necessity of taxes in principle has a general argument along such lines against socialized healthcare. He has to argue more specifically against it, not only against the fact that some people in a democracy are forced to payments they'd prefer not to make.

But this is not very interesting. The interesting thing is how in a "democracy" the top 0.1% in income and wealth with their lawyers, lobbyists and other lying bastards, typically drawn from the top 10% can convince such a huge percentage of the bottom 70-80% (so I am suspending jugdment for the upper middle class, roughly the top 25%) to vote against their interests. Part of it is the incredible amount of money the modern Crassi can wield for propaganda, some other causes are brilliant divide and conquer strategies pitting genders, races and especially the (lower) middle class against the lower classes but some is also what was traditionally called "false consciousness". Everybody thinks himself middle class. Everybody would like a tax cut, so they favor tax cuts but most do not realize the incredible options the rich and the corporations have and use for tax evasion and therefore do not realize that almost everybody would actually pay lower taxes if these evasions were not possible.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/02/23/were-more-unequal-you-think/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/income-inequality-charts_n_5241586.html

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6 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

You seem to be making a value judgment against people who prefer a privatized system.  Are you?

I guess I am. This doesn't prevent me from believing that socialism cannot be imposed on people, because within my own set of values you can't impose a collectivist approach to people who are unwilling to adopt it.

And to be fair... Well, my own life experience goes a long way to explain this. The reason I'm French and not American is because my parents couldn't afford the surgery that was necessary to save my life (or at least, make it normal) when I was born. So my mother moved back to her hometown in France, I was operated by one of the best surgeons in the country as an infant (this is no exaggeration, I later attended one of his anatomy classes), and have led a normal life since then. Socialized education also allowed me to get a PhD from one of the best European schools without any debt.
Socialism (or at least, socialist policies) literally saved my life.
Just a reminder that such abstract considerations also have real life applications/consequences...

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2 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

I guess I am. This doesn't prevent me from believing that socialism cannot be imposed on people, because within my own set of values you can't impose a collectivist approach to people who are unwilling to adopt it.

And to be fair... Well, my own life experience goes a long way to explain this. The reason I'm French and not American is because my parents couldn't afford the surgery that was necessary to save my life (or at least, make it normal) when I was born. So my mother moved back to her hometown in France, I was operated by one of the best surgeons in the country as an infant (this is no exaggeration, I later attended one of his anatomy classes), and have led a normal life since then. Socialized education also allowed me to get a PhD from one of the best European schools without any debt.
Socialism (or at least, socialist policies) literally saved my life.
Just a reminder that such abstract considerations also have real life applications/consequences...

That will certainly make an impact on your point of view.  Wow.  

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39 minutes ago, Jo498 said:

.

But this is not very interesting. The interesting thing is how in a "democracy" the top 0.1% in income and wealth with their lawyers, lobbyists and other lying bastards, typically drawn from the top 10% can convince such a huge percentage of the bottom 70-80% (so I am suspending jugdment for the upper middle class, roughly the top 25%) to vote against their interests. Part of it is the incredible amount of money the modern Crassi can wield for propaganda, some other causes are brilliant divide and conquer strategies pitting genders, races and especially the (lower) middle class against the lower classes but some is also what was traditionally called "false consciousness". Everybody thinks himself middle class. Everybody would like a tax cut, so they favor tax cuts but most do not realize the incredible options the rich and the corporations have and use for tax evasion and therefore do not realize that almost everybody would actually pay lower taxes if these evasions were not possible.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/02/23/were-more-unequal-you-think/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/income-inequality-charts_n_5241586.html

Maybe the 70-80% aren't voting against their interests.  They may take the view that the system is worth sticking with, if their own standard of living is reasonable, even if the very rich are much better off than they are. Compared to previous generations, most Westerners do enjoy a middle class standard of living.

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3 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Maybe the 70-80% aren't voting against their interests.  They may take the view that the system is worth sticking with, if their own standard of living is reasonable, even if the very rich are much better off than they are. Compared to previous generations, most Westerners do enjoy a middle class standard of living.

They may enjoy it, but those people aren't in the 'middle class'; and for many to enjoy a 'middle class standard of living' (which is highly contentious as to what that actually means) they go into thousands of dollars of credit card debt.

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Posted (edited)

Just now, SeanF said:

Maybe the 70-80% aren't voting against their interests.  They may take the view that the system is worth sticking with, if their own standard of living is reasonable, even if the very rich are much better off than they are. Compared to previous generations, most Westerners do enjoy a middle class standard of living.

I don't know about this. It would seem to me that the choice being presented here is between being the Soviet Union or something else and that would seem to be a very false choice.

Here in the United States, the Republican Party has always sold, "Vote for us, and the growth will be so awesome, that you won't even notice we busted up your unions and weakened your social safety nets."

Except it never pans out. Since the election of Harry Truman, Democratic Presidents have actually had about 1.8% percentage point advantage in economic growth as documented by Blinder and Watson. Now Blinder and Watson do point out that perhaps about 40-60% of this growth is due to "luck". But, surely this doesn't make the so called Party of Business look too good.

And since 2008, the policy advice of the Party O' Business has been utterly insane.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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Posted (edited)

Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Rippounet,

How can "people not be given a choice in the matter" and socialism remain a democratic philosophy?

Just want to point out here this cuts both ways. There are libertarian sorts who would severely limit the ability of democracies to make decisions with regard to economic policy.

You could have 80% of the population agreeing that we need to have socialized medicine, for example, and many libertarians would say it doesn't matter, it's an unethical violation of "freedom".

Edited by OldGimletEye

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31 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Just want to point out here this cuts both ways. There are libertarian sorts who would severely limit the ability of democracies to make decisions with regard to economic policy.

You could have 80% of the population agreeing that we need to have socialized medicine, for example, and many libertarians would say it doesn't matter, it's an unethical violation of "freedom".

OGE,

I haven't said otherwise.  The key is whether or not the newly created entitlements somehow interfere with existing liberty interests.  

I took the position during the run up to the ACA that if the mandate is couched as a Tax it is Constitutional under the 16th Amendment.  My objection was that the Obama Administration said explicitly... on several different occasions that the mandate "is not a tax".  Yet, it was held to be constitutional because it is a tax.  

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Posted (edited)

Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

OGE,

I haven't said otherwise.  The key is whether or not the newly created entitlements somehow interfere with existing liberty interests.  

I took the position during the run up to the ACA that if the mandate is couched as a Tax it is Constitutional under the 16th Amendment.  My objection was that the Obama Administration said explicitly... on several different occasions that the mandate "is not a tax".  Yet, it was held to be constitutional because it is a tax.  

Obama should have just called the mandate a tax from the get.

But, you know, conservatives have made the word "tax" such a dirty word, I guess that's why he made a bad choice to avoid calling it a tax.

It just goes to show, when you try to play along with the conservative narrative of things, it usually doesn't turn out well. It's kind of like when liberals decided to call themselves "progressive" because, OMG, conservatives don't like liberals! Nothing but that!!!!

Edited by OldGimletEye

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1 hour ago, OldGimletEye said:

Obama should have just called the mandate a tax from the get.

But, you know, conservatives have made the word "tax" such a dirty word, I guess that's why he made a bad choice to avoid calling it a tax.

It just goes to show, when you try to play along with the conservative narrative of things, it usually doesn't turn out well. It's kind of like when liberals decided to call themselves "progressive" because, OMG, conservatives don't like liberals! Nothing but that!!!!

I found it disingenous in the extreme for Pres. Obama to explicitly state that the Mandate wasn't a tax then to argue that it was a tax before the SCOTUS.  That really bothered me.

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I found it disingenous in the extreme for Pres. Obama to explicitly state that the Mandate wasn't a tax then to argue that it was a tax before the SCOTUS.  That really bothered me.

Yeah well, it was. But, then again, look who he was trying to fight.

Just about everything conservatives say is disingenuous dishonest bullshit.

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9 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Yeah well, it was. But, then again, look who he was trying to fight.

Just about everything conservatives say is disingenuous dishonest bullshit.

So?  Is adopting the methods of people you dislike for using such methods... a good thing?

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Posted (edited)

Again, it's been said but seemingly overlooked; where communism was implemented is not really a comment on socialism.

Even according to Marx, it would go roughly, skipping the earlier stages, feudalism --> democratic capitalism --> socialism --> communism. The second (really 4th) stage was essential, and neither China nor Russia went through that stage, and as a result the 3rd (5th) stage was also largely skipped, so you go quasi feudal to communism in one leap. So when people look to those experiments as comments on how socialism/communism clashes with human nature and /or the education of the masses, they are really overlooking the HUGE differentiating factors, and misapplying the concept of socialism. Communism was (supposed to be) a next step of development in the way socialism was the next step from bourgeois democratic capitalism. Think of how different they are (in perception more than reality) when thinking of throwing socialism and communism into the same blender of blame and deciding how socialism is a non-starter. 

And everyone understood this at the time. Read up on Lenin et al and you will see arguments before Leninism/Bolshevism rose about how and why Russia's ~feudal state required them to essentially skip socialism and kinda force feed communism. I mean, there was one 'proletariat' election and then those people scrapped the process in order to effect the political heart transplant. This isn't NTS, as people at that time consciously skipped socialism to account for the lack of democratic/capitalist stages of development in Russia. It was understood from the beginning that Russia could not take the socialist step because it hadn't even taken it's required predecessor. So, in a kindof 'kill or cure' way Lenin et al decided on violent implementation of the final step of progression, like building the 5th floor of a building missing the 3rd and 4th floors.

I would argue, too, that an issue now isn't so much insufficient education, but miseducation...mostly in America and the satellite states of Dulles diplomacy where 'communism' and 'socialism' were conceptually conflated and together demonized to a childishly ignorant degree. I mean, America right now is rampant with socialist arguments about inequality and 1% and elites and all that while comprised of people who would react to being told those were socialist concerns as though you were accusing them of satanism. 

Edited by James Arryn

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Posted (edited)

Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

So?  Is adopting the methods of people you dislike for using such methods... a good thing?

Nope. It isn't. I prefer getting to the point much more. And of course just telling conservative they are flat full of it, rather than trying to mince words.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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2 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

I don't know about this. It would seem to me that the choice being presented here is between being the Soviet Union or something else and that would seem to be a very false choice.

Here in the United States, the Republican Party has always sold, "Vote for us, and the growth will be so awesome, that you won't even notice we busted up your unions and weakened your social safety nets."

Except it never pans out. Since the election of Harry Truman, Democratic Presidents have actually had about 1.8% percentage point advantage in economic growth as documented by Blinder and Watson. Now Blinder and Watson do point out that perhaps about 40-60% of this growth is due to "luck". But, surely this doesn't make the so called Party of Business look too good.

And since 2008, the policy advice of the Party O' Business has been utterly insane.

I had noticed the same effect here in Canada during the Harper mandate. We were stuck in semi recession for his entire term in office. When the NDP were being elected out west,  they had a record of balancing the budget and being good managers.

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3 hours ago, Jo498 said:

The interesting thing is how in a "democracy" the top 0.1% in income and wealth with their lawyers, lobbyists and other lying bastards, typically drawn from the top 10% can convince such a huge percentage of the bottom 70-80% (so I am suspending jugdment for the upper middle class, roughly the top 25%) to vote against their interests. Part of it is the incredible amount of money the modern Crassi can wield for propaganda, some other causes are brilliant divide and conquer strategies pitting genders, races and especially the (lower) middle class against the lower classes but some is also what was traditionally called "false consciousness". Everybody thinks himself middle class. Everybody would like a tax cut, so they favor tax cuts but most do not realize the incredible options the rich and the corporations have and use for tax evasion and therefore do not realize that almost everybody would actually pay lower taxes if these evasions were not possible.

There are a few things at work here. First, capitalist propaganda was traditionally really, really good. Whereas communist propaganda didn't hide that it was in fact propaganda, the capitalist variety presented itself as unbiased news produced by a free press consisting of dozens of large and hundreds of small media outlets across multiple nations. This model has only been seriously challenged by a large number of people in the past few years. Second, I agree with you about divide-and-conquer. The third factor has a similarly pithy description: bread and circuses. Most people in the lower middle class and the working poor are not so badly off by historical standards and even the poorest are rarely starving. Furthermore, almost everyone has access to an endless array of distractions.

Regarding tax evasion: most people know that it is widespread among the wealthy and everybody would like it to end, but nobody can agree on how to end it because they're afraid (with good reason!) that the rich will weasel out of whatever is imposed, but taxes on everyone else will increase. You can't really win against people who have unparalleled access to both the best accountants and the politicians who write tax law.

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8 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

How can "education" overcome the desire of individuals to have their own stuff?  Particularly when they are come to the education from families who grew up without collective owership of property.  Where exclusivity is valued.  How does "education" overcome their reasonable expectations of owning things?  

Who said anything about people not being able to have their own stuff? Socialism is about not being able to have other people's stuff. You can still own your own house and books and clothes and so forth, anything for the use of yourself, friends, and family. You just can't have stuff to charge other people for the use of, like extra houses to rent out, factories, etc, which isn't at all relevant for most people. It's collective ownership of the means of production, not of personal property.

7 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Aren't there some among the left who dislike the idea of the individual and the priority that the individual receives in most Western style democracies?  Clearly not all but isn't the idea of collectives supercedeing and taking priority over individuals and individual liberties something that is growing in some leftist circles?

Some, possibly, but there are some people who believe pretty much anything. It's certainly not mainstream leftist thought. Individual liberty is really important to me, but it has to be liberty for everyone, not liberty proportional to how wealthy you are.

5 hours ago, Mikael said:

I think that one way for the left to be relevant again is for large scale automation to strike hard against the working class. Which very well may happen in our lifetime.

Automation is certainly going to have a big impact, but if most of the working class is no longer actually needed to work, their power is greatly reduced. Robots don't go on strike.

5 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

How can "people not be given a choice in the matter" and socialism remain a democratic philosophy?

Democracy doesn't mean anything goes. Eg people should not be given a choice in the matter of murder being illegal under any system. And you can have democratic control over how the health system etc is run. Eg should extra resources be put towards cancer research or better food in hospitals? Should euthanasia be permitted, and if so, how should it be regulated? When healthcare is privatised, it's mostly free of democratic control, ie undemocratic.

4 hours ago, Jo498 said:

The interesting thing is how in a "democracy" the top 0.1% in income and wealth with their lawyers, lobbyists and other lying bastards, typically drawn from the top 10% can convince such a huge percentage of the bottom 70-80% (so I am suspending jugdment for the upper middle class, roughly the top 25%) to vote against their interests.

More than half of the bottom 70-80% don't vote at all (in US presidential elections). A huge part of the problem is there's nobody worth voting for who actually stands for their interests, and it's effectively impossible for a party that represent their interests to grow into a real contender under the current system (without financial support from the 0.1% they don't have the resources to get their message out and look credible, and if they do get any significant voter support they just bleed votes away from the Democrats and guarantee Republican victory).

4 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

That will certainly make an impact on your point of view.  Wow.  

Does it make an impact on yours?

3 minutes ago, Altherion said:

Regarding tax evasion: most people know that it is widespread among the wealthy and everybody would like it to end, but nobody can agree on how to end it because they're afraid (with good reason!) that the rich will weasel out of whatever is imposed, but taxes on everyone else will increase.

Returning the top marginal income tax rate to 90% would have zero effect on the overwhelming majority of people. While it wouldn't stop tax evasion, it would compensate for it somewhat, and at no risk whatsoever to everyone else.

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Felice,

I've been in favor of Single Payer Health care for quite some time.

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5 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I found it disingenous in the extreme for Pres. Obama to explicitly state that the Mandate wasn't a tax then to argue that it was a tax before the SCOTUS.  That really bothered me.

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

Everyone knew what the idea was.  Conservatives championed it for years.  Decades.

"We have to hate this now, how do we hate it?  Call it a tax!!!!  What about a fee?  No, can't call it that, we've been raising taxes that ways for decades now..... Tax it is!!!!"

I really thought you'd be able to see through semantic bullshit when you saw it Scot.

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Ace,

I never liked mandates and had issues with them as soon as they were proposed.  The idea of government requiring individuals purchase something from a private entity incident to nothing more than being a resident of the US still gets my hackles up.

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