Selfish or Sociopath, Does It Make a Difference?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

In recent years many studies have come out  that have made the case that a high proportion of CEO’s of major companies are sociopaths. At the end of this blog I’ll provide a number of links that discuss this, some from major conservative business magazines. We do know that from 1% to 3% of humans are sociopaths sharing all of these 10 characteristics:

#1) Sociopaths are charming. #2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. #3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. #4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. #5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and “win” at all costs. #6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent #7) Sociopaths are incapable of love #8) Sociopaths speak poetically. #9) Sociopaths never apologize. #10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth.” http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html

495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmorePaul_Ryan--113th_Congress--Mitt_Romney_by_Gage_Skidmore_7Now the problem with the definition of Sociopathy is that there can be a good deal of subjectivity in making the diagnosis, absent a clinician interviewing the subject. After all many people are charming, spontaneous, invent lies, try to dominate others and speak “poetically” and that doesn’t make them sociopaths. The subjectivity comes in trying to determine whether a given person is incapable of feeling guilt, shame, remorse and is delusional. A trained clinician may be able to do this via an intensive interview, but the nature of this disorder is such that even a trained clinician can be fooled by a sociopath. Rather than argue back and forth about the negative effects of CEO sociopaths on this society as the root of so much dysfunction, my readings this week suggest another theory that would provide a simpler explanation of why it seems that so many in this country have so little compassion and empathy for the less fortunate among us. We need not deem them sociopaths, but people who are simply removed from the misery that they inflict. The apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” may well characterize those who control most of this country’s wealth. It may be why some are sincere philanthropists, yet show such disdain and lack a sense of responsibility for the suffering that they cause. Let’s explore this further.

“Scrooge has come early this year. We’re kicking our Tiny Tim’s. This holiday season, kids in America’s poorest families are going to have less to eat. November 1 brought $5 billion in new cuts to the nation’s food stamp program, now officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Poor families will lose on average 7 percent of their food aid, calculates the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A mother with two kids will lose $319 over the rest of the current federal fiscal year. The cuts could cost some families a week’s worth of meals a month, says the chief at America’s largest food bank. More cuts are looming. A U.S. House of Representatives majority is demanding an additional $39 billion in “savings” over the next decade. Ohio and a host of other states, in the meantime, are moving to limit food stamp eligibility.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Are-Heartless-People-Simpl-by-Sam-Pizzigati-Greed_Teaparty-Teapartiers-131104-969.html

The author Sam Pizzigati, writing at http://www.opednews.com , goes on to enumerate some of the actions being taken that will hurt parts the of  the American people that are least able to defend themselves against the depredations of poverty and hunger. This country which is so fond of creating metaphoric wars against objects of perceived fear like “Drugs” and “Terror”, has also had metaphorical “Wars” declared against “Poverty” and “Hunger”.  The latter died due to the entanglement in Viet Nam monopolizing government funds. The paradigm this era’s “War on Something” may actually have been transformed in a “War for Something,” because what it seems we now have is a “War for Poverty” and a “War For Hunger”. Some examples:

“Today’s brazen heartlessness toward America’s most vulnerable actually goes far deeper than food stamp cuts, as a new Economic Policy Institute report released last week documents in rather chilling detail.

Four states, the report notes, have “lifted restrictions on child labor.” In Wisconsin, state law used to limit 16- and 17-year-olds to no more than five hours of work a day on school days. The new law erases these limits.

Other states are cutting back on protections for low-wage workers of all ages. Earlier this year, the new EPI survey relates, Mississippi adopted a law that bans cities and counties in the state “from adopting any minimum wage, living wage, or paid or unpaid sick leave rights for local workers.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/Are-Heartless-People-Simpl-by-Sam-Pizzigati-Greed_Teaparty-Teapartiers-131104-969.html

There are those of course representing a particular conservative mindset, that would argue that ending “child labor restrictions” are actually a good thing, because they allow children in poverty to rise above their situation through work. The history of child labor in this country would give lie to this. The impetus for passing these laws that  defenestrate “child labor restrictions”, comes from companies paying the minimum wage, or less, to people who are looking for any kind of job. The young are seen as a source of  pliable,cheap labor that can be easier controlled and made more fearful. Unless one is quite extraordinary, being stuck at the minimum wage, or less, ensures rather than provides an escape from poverty. We of course have those “lift themselves up from their bootstraps” types like former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who used himself as an example of this because he worked in a McDonald’s after his father’s death. He didn’t elaborate though that he came from the wealthiest family in his home town and that his father’s estate provided more than ample sustenance. Considering that after graduation from College Ryan was secured a job in the office of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator and from then on has always worked either in government or for Conservative lobbying organizations, the congressman has done very little “bootstrap pulling and much string pulling to get work. Very few people “lift themselves up by their bootstraps” and those few exceptions do prove that rule.

The “War for Poverty”, as I like to call it, doesn’t only affect children and teenagers. Its cost cutting howitzers are also trained upon this nation’s elderly:

“The sick and elderly aren’t faring all that well either. In Arizona, the governor proposed a health-insurance cutoff that would have tripped some patients up right in the middle of their chemotherapy. Texas is considering Medicaid cuts that could end up closing 850 of the state’s 1,000 nursing homes.”

It seems we have reached a point in America where the notion of a community of citizens, bound by common destinies has been replaced by an “everyone for themselves” attitude, that is inexplicably endorsed heartily by all too many supposedly “devout Christians.” They have made the notion of “Christian Charity” a relic of the past.  As with Mr. Ryan our new Deities have become Ayn Rand and Gordon Gekko. For someone of my age, whose parents became adults during the “Great Depression”, this is not the America I grew up in, or at least not the image of America that was fostered during that “Depression”, and during and after World War II. The 2010 elections seem to have seemed to accelerated the process of our nation becoming one that extols selfishness and rewards greed.

“America’s current surge of mean-spiritedness, observes Gordon Lafer, the University of Oregon author of the EPI study, essentially erupted right after the 2010 elections. In 11 states, those elections gave right-wingers “new monopoly control” over the governor’s mansion and both legislative houses.

Lafer links this right-wing electoral triumph directly to growing inequality. A widening income gap, he explains, “has produced a critical mass of extremely wealthy businesspeople, many of whom are politically conservative,” and various recent court cases have given these wealthy a green light to spend virtually unlimited sums on their favored political candidates.

This spending has, in turn, raised campaign costs for all political hopefuls — and left pols even more dependent on deep-pocket campaign contributions.

But America’s new heartlessness reflects much more than this turbocharged political power of America’s rich. An insensitivity toward the problems poor people face, researchers have shown, reflects a deeper psychological shift that extreme inequality makes all but inevitable.

The wider a society’s economic divide, as Demos think tank analyst Sean McElwee noted last week, the less empathy on the part of the rich and the powerful toward the poor and the weak. In a starkly unequal society, people of more than ample means “rarely brush shoulders” with people of little advantage. These rich don’t see the poor. They stereotype them — as lazy and unworthy.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/Are-Heartless-People-Simpl-by-Sam-Pizzigati-Greed_Teaparty-Teapartiers-131104-969.html

It is a closed circle that is driving and justifying the ever widening economic divide in this country. The wealthy elite never see the poor and the disadvantaged in this country. They are separated from them by their wealth and because of that, only are able to view them through the lens of self serving abstractions. They are catered to by armies of servants who of necessity treat them obsequiously for fear of their jobs. When one lives a life of pampered privilege it becomes difficult to understand why, or how, people live otherwise. One who is to the manor born naturally grows up with a sense of entitlement and many of our American religious leaders cater to that assuring them that God has bestowed blessings upon them since they are worthy. Conversely, of course, those who live in poverty and deprivation must deserve their fate and their state must be also ordained by God.

Forgetting for a moment the politics involved, didn’t we see just that in Mitt Romney’s run for the President. From what I’ve seen of the man, I don’t believe that Mitt is a sociopath. I believe he genuinely loves his wife and family. I believe he has feelings for his religion and feelings for his friends. I believe that even in some abstract way he cares for the plight of those less fortunate. Mitt though, can serve as the poster boy for those elite who are driving this new American attitude and by his own uttering’s he reveals how his attitudes arose. Romney was born into the “royalty” of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) and thus from his first realization of life was a privileged person. His father George, a successful Automobile Executive was a very rich and very doting father. Mitt and his wife to make themselves seem more like average American’s discussed with no iron their “struggles” when he was in school and had to “only” live off of his stock portfolio. Rich people hate to live of the principal. His father of course paid for his education. After school his father gave him $10 million to buy into Bain Capital and from there his fortune grew and grew, convincing him that through hard work “anyone” can make it in America. Can we really blame Mr. Romney for his disdain for the 47% of Americans who are not “producers” like himself? Isn’t it obvious that when Romney gave advice to young “men” starting out as entrepreneurs to “borrow” $20,000 from their fathers and start their business, that he sincerely believed this a viable option for most Americans? If we extrapolate Romney’s attitudes to a whole class of the American elite, Koch Brothers anyone, we can see that one doesn’t have to be a sociopath to respond as a sociopath towards those less fortunate.

Now to be fair I know and have known people who started in life with very little and have built wonderful careers and became wealthy via their own efforts. Having become successful on their own, they have little sympathy for others who are not able to rise above their own poverty. I may not agree with their social views, but they are good people and their success was hard won, so they’re my friends nonetheless. Conversely, I also know and have known people who have inherited businesses from their parents and were quite successful in managing/expanding it. Many of these are quite concerned about the conditions of those less fortunate and act upon their sympathies. The reality is that among my friendships and acquaintances there is no one that even rises to the level of wealth had by Romney, the Koch’s, the Walton’s, the Mellon’s, the Scaife’s. People such as these live in a totally different and inaccessible world to me and to most of the people I’ve known in my life. These people representing a small percentage of American wealth and privilege have been the driving forces behind today’s “War On Poverty”.

‘Defenders of inequality typically do their musings at a high, fact-free level of abstraction. CNN columnist John Sutter last week brought America down to inequality’s ground level, with a remarkably moving and insightful look at the most unequal county in the United States, East Carroll Parish in Louisiana.

In East Carroll, the rich live north of Lake Providence, the poor south. The two groups seldom interact. East Carroll’s most affluent 5 percent average $611,000 a year, 90 times the $6,800 incomes the poorest fifth of the parish average. Such wide income gaps, Sutter shows, invite “gaps in empathy.”

“Looking across Lake Providence from the north,” as he puts it, “can warp a person’s vision.”

One example of this warped vision: East Carroll’s rich see food stamps as an “entitlement” that rots poor people’s incentive to work. Yet these same affluent annually pocket enormously generous farm subsidies. In 2010, East Carroll’s most highly subsidized farmer grabbed $655,000 from one federal subsidy alone. The average food stamp payout in the parish: $1,492 per person per year.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/Are-Heartless-People-Simpl-by-Sam-Pizzigati-Greed_Teaparty-Teapartiers-131104-969.html 

East Carroll Parish in Louisiana is a microcosm of the conditions throughout our country. We see those that consider themselves the “producer” in this country missing totally the point of how they have had their own form of entitlement, in this instance farm subsidies, which as most students of politics know have become almost impossible to eliminate even though the bulk of the subsidies go to our huge Agri-Business industry. Providing a complement to Mr. Pizzigati’s article was another one that I read this week at http://www.opednews.com  by Paul Bucheit which was titled: “How the Supperich Are Abandoning America”

“As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they’ve convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.

They’ve Taken $25 Trillion of New Wealth While Paying Less Taxes

The 2013 Global Wealth Databook shows that U.S. wealth has increased from $47 trillion in 2008 to $72 trillion in mid-2013. But according to U.S. Government Revenue figures, federal income taxes have gone DOWN from 2008 to 2012. Even worse, corporations cut their tax rate in half.

American society has gained nothing from its massive wealth expansion. There’s no wealth tax, no financial transaction tax, no way to ensure that infrastructure and public education are supported. Just how much have the super-rich taken over the past five years? Each of the elite 5% — the richest 12 million Americans — gained, on average, nearly a million dollars in financial wealth between 2008 and 2013. http://www.opednews.com/articles/How-the-Super-Rich-Are-Aba-by-Paul-Buchheit-Billionaires_Capitalism_Greed_Wealthy-131104-612.html

There is literally so much supporting material for the fact that the economic fortunes of the wealthiest American’s have grown exponentially since the beginning of our new century that all one has to do is Google it. At the same time there has been this unprecedented growth in wealth, those who most benefitted from it have paid less and less taxes, while deriving benefits from government programs such as the “oil subsidy”.  In the 50’s and 60’s when only the affluent could really afford to fly the term “Jet Setter” developed for those who were wealthy enough to travel to Europe, or Bali, on a whim. There developed a culture of those people who lived their lives bathed in sybaritic luxury and could nonchalantly suggest to their friends to meet them in Paris for the weekend. As the separation of Americans on the basis of wealth has grown the “Jet Set” has become what is really the “Expatriate Set” who have homes all over the world and indeed consider themselves to be “Citizen’s of the World” rather than just plain Americans. Is it any wonder than that when they deign to even think of those less fortunate then themselves? Many of those thoughts are laden with disdain against those “unwashed masses” many of who they would see as readers of this blog.

“For the First Time in History, They Believe They Don’t Need the Rest of Us: The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true. Their factories can be in China, producing goods for people in India or Europe or anywhere else in the world.

They don’t need our infrastructure for their yachts and helicopters and submarines. They pay for private schools for their kids, private security for their homes. They have private emergency rooms to avoid the health care hassle. All they need is an assortment of servants, who might be guest workers coming to America on H2B visas, willing to work for less than a middle-class American can afford.

The sentiment is spreading from the super-rich to the merely rich. In 2005 Sandy Springs, a wealthy suburb of Atlanta, stopped paying for most public services, deciding instead to avoid subsidizing poorer residents of Fulton County by hiring a “city outsourcer” called CH2M to manage everything except the police and fire departments. That includes paving the roads, running the courts, issuing tickets, handling waste, and various other public services. Several other towns followed suit.

Results have been mixed, with some of CH2M’s clients backing out or renegotiating. But privatization keeps coming at us. Selective decisions about public services threaten to worsen already destitute conditions for many communities. Detroit, of course, is at the forefront. According to an Urban Land Institute report, “more municipalities may follow Detroit’s example and abandon services in certain districts.”

As this year draws to a close we again see a battle shaping up in Congress, led by the “Tea Party” controlled House over cutting both Social Security and Medicare. The conservative propaganda machine abetted by a corporate media has turned these programs into “Entitlements”, when they are really insurance funds. Not one of those in Congress trying to choke off these programs will ever have to rely upon them in their old age, nor will the corporate sponsors, of which most of our Congress people have become “wholly-owned subsidiaries.”

“They Soaked the Middle Class, and Now Demand Cuts in the Middle-Class Retirement Fund. The richest Americans take the greatest share of over $2 trillion in Tax Expenditures, Tax Underpayments, Tax Haven holdings, and unpaid Corporate Taxes. The Social Security budget is less than half of that. Yet much of Congress and many other wealthy Americans think it should be cut. These are the same people who deprive the American public of $300 billion a year by not paying their full share of the payroll tax.”

However, those clamoring for these cuts among the elite believe they are justified in paying less taxes because they “made it on their own” and this reflects a false, self-serving view of the historical realities:

“They Continue to Insist that They “Made It on Their Own”. They didn’t. Their fortunes derived in varying degrees – usually big degrees – from public funding, which provided almost half of basic research funds into the 1980s, and even today supports about 60 percent of the research performed at universities.

Businesses rely on roads and seaports and airports to ship their products, the FAA and TSA and Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to safeguard them, a nationwide energy grid to power their factories, communications towers and satellites to conduct online business, the Department of Commerce to promote and safeguard global markets, the U.S. Navy to monitor shipping lanes, and FEMA to clean up after them.

Apple, the tax haven specialist, still does most of its product and research development in the United States, with US-educated engineers and computer scientists. Google’s business is based on the Internet, which started as ARPANET, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency computer network from the 1960s. The National Science Foundation funded the Digital Library Initiative research at Stanford University that was adopted as the Google model. Microsoft was started by our richest American, Bill Gates, whose success derived at least in part by taking the work of competitors and adapting it as his own. Same with Steve Jobs, who admitted: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Companies like Pfizer and Merck have relied on basic research performed at the National Institute of Health. A Congressional Budget Office study reminds us that The primary rationale for the government to play a role in basic research is that private companies perform too little such research themselves (relative to what is best for society).”

What we see now is a world where businesses and the wealthy that own them, consider themselves multi-national, which means they are untied to any government and owe no government their allegiance. What goes unmentioned though, as expanded upon above, is that the source of wealth for many of our “elite” and the corporations they control is in our case the American government which they’ve captured. The same America that had to bail out the banks and Wall Street from the results of their own excesses and the same country that goes to war to protect their private oil interests.

As a Final Insult, Many of Them Desert the Country that Made Them Rich: Many of the beneficiaries of American research and technology have abandoned their country because of taxes. Like multinational companies that rationalize the move by claiming to be citizens of the world, almost 2,000 Americans, and perhaps up to 8,000, have left their responsibilities behind for more favorable tax climates.

The most egregious example is Eduardo Saverin, who found safe refuge in the U.S. after his family was threatened in Brazil, landed Mark Zuckerberg as a roommate at Harvard, benefited from American technology to make billions from his 4% share in Facebook, and then skipped out on his tax bill. http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/How-the-Super-Rich-Are-Aba-by-Paul-Buchheit-Billionaires_Capitalism_Greed_Wealthy-131104-612.html My thanks for this article go to commondreams.org.

The some of the Elite of this country, whether inherited, or self-made believe that the rest of us exist merely as appendages for their comfort. They view the great mass of us with disdain. Their world-view is self-serving and self soothing and from my perspective they are entitled to believe anything they choose to believe. What they are not entitled to in my opinion is to play a being “Robin Hood” in reverse. They have taken and taken from the American people, they control our government and this need to stop. I’m neither a socialist, a communist, nor a fascist. I don’t believe in an enforced equality of wealth in society. What I do believe in is a society that treats everyone equally before the law. I believe in a society that is empathic towards all of its members. I believe in a society that cares for, nurtures and protects all of us. Perhaps I am a Utopian at heart in my beliefs. Whatever I am though, my anger at the way this country is being stolen from its citizens by powerful people who take but never give, is great. You all can have plenty of money and still take care of your responsibilities to society as a whole. That is why I suspect something more is afoot. Our corporatist elite has the money and has the control, what they seem to really want it to have the total subservience of all who they think themselves the better person. This is not necessarily a sociopathic disorder, but the difference between these points of view and sociopathy is so minimal as to be ignored.

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Are-Heartless-People-Simpl-by-Sam-Pizzigati-Greed_Teaparty-Teapartiers-131104-969.html

http://www.opednews.com/articles/How-the-Super-Rich-Are-Aba-by-Paul-Buchheit-Billionaires_Capitalism_Greed_Wealthy-131104-612.html

Articles on CEO’s being sociopaths:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2011/06/14/why-some-psychopaths-make-great-ceos/

http://www.politics.ie/forum/economy/98184-some-ceos-sociopaths.html

http://www.sott.net/article/261942-One-terrorist-a-million-psychopaths-eight-million-sociopaths

http://images.bwbx.io/cms/2011-07-20/etc_stack31__01__popup.jpg

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/08/as-many-as-12-million-americans-are-sociopaths.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thom-hartmann/profiling-ceos-and-their_b_245373.html

 

155 thoughts on “Selfish or Sociopath, Does It Make a Difference?

  1. Skip: Could use some unbiased help here.

    Okay. Let’s start with this: 4th is spelt “fourth,” not “forth.”

    More generally, words that sound similar to each other can mean completely different things.

    Then we can generalize that: Governing philosophies that sound similar (in a shallow analysis, to some people) can have completely different outcomes; like Socialism and Communism.

  2. Skip: Deficits do not matter as much as you think. The country is not a family or an individual or a business, but there is some commonality when it comes to debt.

    Namely, debt can be very good for people, families and businesses, if the debt is primarily “enabling” debt. A person or family going into debt for school, for housing, for transportation, for health care, for relocation can all produce higher earnings and less hardship later. A business can go into debt for equipment, marketing, research, personnel that all end up producing more with profits.

    Something similar can be true for the government; debt can finance things we need to be done, and build infrastructure and create jobs that keep the economy from faltering. After WW II our national debt was much higher (proportional to GDP) than it is now, but it boosted the economy and paid for itself.

    Do not fall into the sappiness trap promulgated by politicians, we are not loading our “children” with debt; future generations are full grown adults working jobs to pay the debt of their ancestors and necessity just as we are now. That is how the world works, and they will cope just fine.

  3. Tony C. 1, November 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    There is no plausible route to protecting the weak from the strong except government, there is no plausible route to funding the government except for taxes. Any argument that does not admit taxes, in some form, is a non-starter, it is an argument for oppression of the poor and weak by the rich and strong; particularly those sociopaths and psychopaths willing to harm others for power and profit.
    =======================
    We have abundant history to prove you to be correct.

    The feudal society did not work for the common good as it turned out:

    Feudalism … was essentially the extreme privatization of the government functions of defense, administration, and justice. The mechanism for putting these functions into private hands and paying for them was the fief, usually an estate with dependent peasants to work it, granted to the holder, or vassal, by a lord, or seigneur, in return for military service.

    (American Feudalism – 6).

  4. Skip says: If the political system was just it might potentially negate theft, but we both know it is not.

    Again, I am not talking about the American Government, I am talking about Government in general. Stay focused. Do not conflate a corrupt government with all government.

    Skip says: Allowing government to continually steal from especially the lower middle and poor is unconscionable.

    Allowing free riders to get away with their free ride is unconscionable, allowing people to be exploited because you think that isn’t your problem is unconscionable, and letting greed have free reign in ruining people’s lives in order to turn a buck is unconscionable.

    There is no plausible route to protecting the weak from the strong except government, there is no plausible route to funding the government except for taxes. Any argument that does not admit taxes, in some form, is a non-starter, it is an argument for oppression of the poor and weak by the rich and strong; particularly those sociopaths and psychopaths willing to harm others for power and profit.

    • If you have studies the various government around the world and spoken to people from other countries, sadly all government are rampant with corruption and generally it appears the more corrupt the poorer the nation.

  5. Skip: Government puts a gun to peoples head when they do not give them their property, or pay their fines and regulatory fees.

    Not exactly, it will collect taxes coercively but that is because your taxes are a debt you owe, and the government does the same thing on behalf of citizens when debts go unpaid.

    It is not theft to use force in collecting a debt, refusing to pay your debt is a crime. Law enforcement using force to retaliate against criminals is not itself criminal.

    It is not “confiscating” your property, you owe that property to the rest of as as your fair share of the overhead of keeping a country. When the government has to use force to collect that debt, it is confiscating what rightfully belongs to us but is still in your possession. You are trying to steal from us and it is the Government’s job to prevent you from doing that, on our behalf.

  6. “@Mike Spindell. – The flaw in you argument is simple. You have no facts to support your premise. You have not read my paper since it is not yet published.Another logical fallacy Mike and I’ve told you to stop it more than once. It makes you appear to be malicious and ignorant. Why even write something if you have so little to say that is worthless to everyone. Unwarranted criticism? I do find it ironic of you criticizing me of being “grossly” simplistic. Is this what you really want to break down to; writing worthless barbs at one another. You can do better then this.”

    Um…..hiskiprob,

    Now that you have chastened me for replying to you so briefly, let me remedy that by being a little more specific.

    “Socialism and communism are a lot more similar than most think, often times embracing many of the same policies and principles, like public education, central banking, regulation of communications, transportation, socialized medicine and ownership of prominent industries like energy.”

    You began you argument with a proposition that is a logical fallacy. The similarity of various programmatic issues does not show similarity, any more then the fact that Fascists also endorse similar programs. For that matter these programs that you call “socialist” also used to be endorsed by Republicans. However, your use of “similarity” is really not about the definition of things, but because your particular political ideology requires being able to do so, in order to conflate socialism (in any of its many forms) with the problems of the USSR and China. That the governance of both the USSR and Mao’s China had little to do with Marx’s original conception and much to do with the megalomaniacal drives of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Now I’m not a fan of Marx, but he never conceived the horrors that would follow in the wake of Das
    Kapital. Once an argument is begun with a logical fallacy (and one loaded with a hidden agenda), I dismiss the balance, since anything thought provoking is unlikely to follow. Though you confuse “malicious and ignorant”, with being too “bored and disgusted” to take your arguments seriously.

    “One needs to be very careful when using the short term results of political policies, especially when running up deficits that place the liabilities on the future.”

    I also look askance whenever anyone today starts talking about deficits. That’s merely the game being played by people who are trying to use scare tactics to get their way in cutting spending for social programs. All of the “deficit hawks” of the past 75 years were never worried about “deficits” when it came to military spending, or enriching those already wealthy. Using “deficit” as a way to try to refute Tony’s points about the success of nations you would deem socialist really means that you have no other means of refuting him, so are kicking the ball down the road so to speak.

    “Both socialism and communism place the group (society and/or community) in the advanced legal priority, negating especially individual property rights in favor of the so-called common good. Where as, free enterprise and libertarianism place the individual in the advance legal priority over the society and/or community.”

    Face it hskiprob, you are a partisan whose world view influences your perspective. You talk a good game about personal liberty, as do many of your beliefs, while ignoring that your emphasis on “individual” rights as it occurs throughout history is an emphasis on the rights of the most powerful to run roughshod over the rights of most individuals. In the “good old days” without government regulation, the wealthy limited the freedom of all others.
    The result was wage slavery (Colorado Coal Mining industry), indentured servitude (the Pullman Company’s “company town”) and the abrogation of property rights (Trans Continental Railroads “Right of Way”). What I’m giving a few examples of is history, but there are literally thousands of examples I can give you.

    “I go in to much more detail but it is interesting how I have objectively analyzed the various divisions within the study of political economy, as our forefathers called it.”

    You are anything but objective, but then neither am I. I’m at least aware of my subjective views, while you are not which bespeaks overweening arrogance. It is why I dismiss you so cavalierly.

    • Mike, I disagree with your premise that my belief that communism and socialism have a lot of similarities is a logical fallacy. They do and I believe for the reasons noted. I have decided, although not finished to publish my treatise on this very issue as a partial response to your allegation. Additionally, If you read it, I did not write “at all” on the subject of good or bad or right or wrong, in the entire paper and have actually asked an editor and friend to make sure I have not done so, eliminating the potential of a partisan bias. Once again Mike, the pot calling the kettle black. https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!topic/harrietrobbins/anuASCIPc6E

      Oh by the way, the value of the US Dollar has diminished 97.31% since 1973 based on the value of gold at $35.00 per ounce at that time. Gold by the way has increased some 4,400% since then so it is surely a terrible investment. You do understand that deficits have an effect on inflation rates and the purchasing power of the dollar? It may not effect you, but it effects million, especially the elderly and others on fixed incomes or the poor whose incomes have been eroding.

      Putting our differences aside, I hope that you all will assist me in perfecting this paper. I’ve been formulating the concepts and methodologies for coming to my conclusions for many years. Because of the complexities, putting them down on paper is another issue. This is about my forth or fifth attempt. Could use some unbiased help here.

      • “My understanding of them now appears to best match the folks from the Austrian School of economics. Having read everything I could get my hand on and what I had time to read, I found it is truly one area that needs some level of , so here’s mine.

        hskiprob,

        When you say to me “Could use some unbiased help here” you’re begging the question. In my opinion Von Mises is a fraud and the entire “Austrian School” are merely the accomplices to some of the “oligarchs” of which you speak. Their emphasis is merely an updated version of what becomes invariably a “feudalistic” system, which would be controlled by international corporations, at times cooperating with other corporate entities to run humanity.

        You are correct in your understanding that for almost the entirety of human history various States and Empires have been oligarchical in structure. Where your understanding breaks down is that you ascribe some economic systems as contributing to an oligarchical State. Economic systems have never been the cause of oligarchy, they have merely been used by oligarchies to distract from what is really going on. This was my ultimate point in writing this blog and is in fact the main message I have to contribute. The problem with the governance of humanity exists in the fact that we haven’t really evolved much socially from our ancestors. Our societies are constructed as hierarchies where the most powerful control and the levels of authority/power diminish. We are little different culturally than the Great Apes, where the most powerful male silver-back rules the roost aided by lieutenants. That male get the best food and has his choice of females.

        Take the Great Ape society which consists of very small groups and extrapolate it to all of humanity and the result is the various oligarchies that rule everywhere. Now when we talk of our genetic cousins there are other possible forms that we can deduce from observations of their nature. The Bonobo’s for instance represent a different, less combative and more pleasurable model.

        Economic systems are as you say merely methods of accounting at base, but they have been elevated to a status that makes them so much more and therein lies the danger. If, as I believe, the problem is human’s will to power within the hierarchy, then the various economic schemes are merely tools of propaganda to entice people to the cause of those wanting to hold, or to attain power. They are to put it crudely the “sucker-bait” to enlist people into some group’s quest for power. The Koch Brothers for instance espouse a “libertarian” philosophy. In their “libertarian” world, unfettered by government regulation, their power (already quite considerable) multiplies exponentially. Lenin and Stalin espoused communism, but that was the “sucker bait” for their sociopathic aims. Mussolini espoused Fascism, but that was his raison d’etre for making himself “Il Duce”. Hitler did the same thing and really muddied the waters by calling his construct “National Socialism” when in fact he was funded by Germany’s major industrialists, who were fighting for power with the old line Prussian aristocrats. Mao used the promise of communism to make himself into the “Emperor” of China, which was really a return to China’s historical governmental system, which was a feudal oligarchy with a “great man” (emperor) at its center. And so it goes.

        Our Founding Fathers set up a Republic, with democratic features. However, though they made a great start with the Constitution, it in itself contained certain almost fatal flaws that ensured oligarchy. The first was that it recognized slavery as an accommodation to the slave states. The second was that it adopted a bi-cameral legislature, with the “upper house” originally intended to be elected without a popular vote. That Senatorial system, 2 to each State, gave unequal representative power to States with less population. From those two flaws came all of this country’s historical and current problems

        I keep putting emphasis here on the fact that I don’t believe in “Ism’s” and I illustrated why above. What I do believe in is summed up in the age old philosophy of Rabbi Hillel, Jesus, Confucius and the Buddha” Treat other humans as you would like to be treated, all else is commentary on this central point. I believe human society is an organic whole and that we are responsible to ensure that all of us have the basics to be able to realize their individual potential. I’m open to any solutions that would accomplish this, however, the Austrian School is not a solution, merely a justification for a version of the age old problem. You may not agree with me but I have attempted to provide you with a thoughtful reply to your essay.

          • MIke, Many on the Keynesian side use the same words and terms I have outlined. Now you getting back into which one is right and which one is wrong. Most of the sites are from Wiki sites which are open source. They may not be perfect to your liking, so If you don’t like them change them or write a paper yourself that doesn’t constantly show you bias. You may not believe in isms, but that does not make them go away. It is easy to criticize but it is difficult to assist in improving upon our world. Just because you don’t like the definition of a word, you can’t just ignore it and doesn’t mean it is wrong and therefore should not be used. “Ignor”ance.

            Talk about being simplistic. “Treat other humans as you would like to be treated, all else is commentary on this central point. I believe human society is an organic whole and that we are responsible to ensure that all of us have the basics to be able to realize their individual potential.”

            Statist have “reportedly” been trying to do this for 6,000+ years. I say reportedly because my observations of politicians is that they generally could give a crap about anyone but themselves and their cronies.

            So mike what your solution. You remind me of Karl Marx; big ideas, but you can’t tell anyone how it’s actually going to work because you can’t. So all that you can really do is criticize those you disagree with. The problem with your rant above is that when the world was most libertarian and that was actually for a very short period of time, it did exceptionally well compared to almost all other periods. But you’ll deny that as well.

            • “So mike what your solution.”

              My solution is a holding action until humanity evolves to the point where we all understand the concept. That holding action would be working to keep humanity from destroying itself and to try to ensure that as many people as possible aren’t harmed by the actions of the selfish, the sociopathic, the narcissistic and the psychotic. That you think that there is a clear solution makes you the starry eyed idealist not me. What I can say is that neither Von Mises, the other Austrians or Randist’s represent business as usual, which means human’s destroying other humans. Your not realizing it is the log in your eye.

              • Mike, that’s a very good mission statement. It doesn’t not however show a specific game plan that anyone could embrace and/or help you implement. You need to be a bit more specific and how your system would specifically work. What laws would we world live under, what form of government and economic system would we have and who would be in power?

                Do you really believe that under a libertarian world, that more people would be killed by their own governments, than under the current statist systems? Remember 262 million people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century.

                Please show me some evidence that this would occur.

                There is no perfect solution, only one that is best and the status quo is not acceptable to me.

                • “Mike, that’s a very good mission statement. It doesn’t not however show a specific game plan that anyone could embrace and/or help you implement. You need to be a bit more specific and how your system would specifically work. What laws would we world live under, what form of government and economic system would we have and who would be in power?

                  Do you really believe that under a libertarian world, that more people would be killed by their own governments, than under the current statist systems? Remember 262 million people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century.”

                  hskiprob,

                  I’m almost 70 years old with a lifetime of fighting the good fight. I’m neither able to, nor am I interested in leading any revolution. I’m not even interested in being a “prophet” of any movement, because “prophets” like Jesus, Confucius and the Buddha usually develop followers who don’t get their message. Since I’m not even close to being in the same league as those people I’ll demur. I’m just an old guy observing the world around me with trepidation and disgust, who worries what kind of world my children and grandchildren will live in and sometimes writes about my musings.

                  As far as libertarianism goes, I think it is just as Utopian a political philosophy as Marxism and it proved itself as not workable after the fall of the roman Empire, through the “Dark Ages” and through Feudalism, which is its ultimate result. In a world of unrestricted self interest the power hungry and the sociopathic rule. I don’t have to prove it because it is self-evident to everyone who is not a libertarian. The libertarians themselves are either incapable of seeing the fallacy of their ideas, or like the Wolf in Grandma’s clothes are salivating at the prospect of the pretty girl in the red hood.

                  • Then why do you criticize something, when you have no superior proposition? You have no evidence that libertarianism won’t work and just because of some mysteries reason(s) you can’t explain or understand you deem it invalid. You seem to believe it is equivalent to past systems when it is just the opposite of the various statist policies the world has had to endure. The people seeking liberty have been so oppressed by the various authoritarian regimes throughout history that it amazes me that there are so many people opposed to Liberty. Do you want the masses to continue to be oppressed or do you not. Do you really understand what it took to get the Magna Carta and the Constitution signed by the ruling oligarchs of the time. Yes some of our founding fathers were oligarchs and even they saw the benefits of the protection of individual rights over the memes of the social good. And yes there are those that still wish to rule over others but don’t you think it is time to stop them.

                    The idea that liberty is detrimental to society It is not self evident – I have given you timeless hours of evidence, knowledge, truth and logic yet you just ignore the many facts I’ve given you.

                    You nor any one else can determine what is in the best interest of the majority/public good and anyone who thinks they can do so has been fooled by the very oligarchs they want to abolish.

                    • “You have no evidence that libertarianism won’t work and just because of some mysteries reason(s) you can’t explain or understand you deem it invalid. You seem to believe it is equivalent to past systems when it is just the opposite of the various statist policies the world has had to endure”

                      hskiprob,

                      You live in a different reality from mine. I did give you logical reasons as has Tony and others. You just can’t see them because they don’t fit with your view of life. The period after the fall of the Roman Empire’s hegemony was a period where the libertarian idea reigned. There was no central government, even in the Mongol Empire, or the Chinese Empire. There were no rules and business was unfettered. Property rights were the most important rights……but only if you had the power to enforce them. That is the essential libertarian problem. If everyone can assert their rights against all others the strongest win. How can your prevent that under a libertarian system?

                    • “If everyone can assert their rights against all others the strongest win.” Please provide me with an example or greater detail on the question. Perhaps we have a different understanding of what inalienable rights are as our founding fathers envisioned.

                      In addition to the ones you noted that I am not as aware of, but many believe that the industrial revolution also had less government intervention during that period. Free trade and free travel were prevalent throughout much of the world. Figure 1800 to 1900.

  7. Skip: You obviously cannot expect thieves to acknowledge their indiscretions. Bureaucrats are not going to tell us that they spend an inordinate amount of time scheming up methods of increasing revenue and enforcement.

    And we obviously cannot expect liars to admit their lies, and people that have already decided taxes are “confiscation” to admit they benefit from taxes.

    I have no problem with government bureaucrats spending time, on my dime, to keep you and other petty thieves like you from free riding. Of course you would call it “scheming” and “inordinate” because you have no principles, you think getting away with free riding and not paying a fair share makes a tax dodger some kind of heroic figure. But they aren’t, they are just petty thieves shifting their burden onto honest people.

    • How am I lying? Government puts a gun to peoples head when they do not give them their property, or pay their fines and regulatory fees. If the political system was just it might potentially negate theft, but we both know it is not. Allowing government to continually steal from especially the lower middle and poor is unconscionable.

  8. Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph Stiglitz
    May 2011
    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

    Excerpt:
    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

    Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

    First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

    Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

    None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.

    Economists are not sure how to fully explain the growing inequality in America. The ordinary dynamics of supply and demand have certainly played a role: laborsaving technologies have reduced the demand for many “good” middle-class, blue-collar jobs. Globalization has created a worldwide marketplace, pitting expensive unskilled workers in America against cheap unskilled workers overseas. Social changes have also played a role—for instance, the decline of unions, which once represented a third of American workers and now represent about 12 percent.

    But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.

    When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth. During the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s—a scandal whose dimensions, by today’s standards, seem almost quaint—the banker Charles Keating was asked by a congressional committee whether the $1.5 million he had spread among a few key elected officials could actually buy influence. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. The Supreme Court, in its recent Citizens United case, has enshrined the right of corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on campaign spending. The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

  9. hskiprob said: “I see little humility amongst the “socialists” within this blog but that is just not within this group but most other socialist blogs I’ve encountered. This appears to be a common trait amongst those that think they can macro manage the world.”

    *****

    Yes, we “socialists” aren’t humble because we don’t agree with your superior logic/thinking. We’re not worthy!

    *****

    BTW, you’d better inform Jonathan that his is not a law blog–it’s a “socialist” blog.

    • Missed my point. It’s how you are intellectually treating people who disagree with your positions. It OK to poke some fun but the constant unconstructive criticism and logical fallacies just gets so old. You have a little club here that targets opposition. I get it.

      You are so worries about the wealthy. Wealth is unlimited. It’s not necessarily them against us unless we let them redistribute our wealth and that’s what we are allowing them to do. The ruling oligarchy through government policies just about controls all means of production in this country. The exact principle that Marx though necessary to overthrow the ruling class.

      The point is lets get serious with our debates and stop the BS. How we do that is another issue but that should be our goal, not just to win the argument for winning sake but to be the rightful winner.

  10. Skip: What creates more exploitation that the constant confiscation of property by politicians and bureaucrats?

    Your wording betrays your bias. The government seldom “confiscates” property at all, and if you are alluding to taxation, that is not confiscation of property. Taxation is the collection of your rent that pays for the infrastructure you enjoy. Or vilify, it makes no difference, the infrastructure is a package deal and you don’t get to pick and choose the parts you wish to fund and the parts you wish to defund. Just like in the Mall, your store cannot opt-out of paying for painting or mall-provided entertainment or events because you disapprove of them; you pay your rent and fees and the Mall does with them as it sees fit.

    As for real estate, the Government does not “confiscate” that either unless you have committed some crime; the people have the legal power of eminent domain for public use that involves fair market value compensation. The Government has the right to BUY your property, not “confiscate” it.

    If you want to have a discussion, you can’t use loaded terms that imply the conclusion you wish to prove. I have already stipulated many times I think the American government is corrupt; but this discussion is about Government in general, which is not inherently corrupt in any way, and does not steal or confiscate property in any sense.

    • You obviously cannot expect thieves to acknowledge their indiscretions. Bureaucrats are not going to tell us that they spend an inordinate amount of time scheming up methods of increasing revenue and enforcement. All one must do is look at the various tax and regulatory fees to understand this. I didn’t always believe this but through my experiences and the experiences of others I have seen what the politicians, bureaucrats and judges do to the poor and middle classes. Excuse me for not trusting politicians to ethically enact and administer the tax code. I now have a keener sense of your unwillingness to see the flaws and contraindication in the system you endorse. How many of you are working and living directly or indirectly off the government? Social Security excluded since it is voluntary, or at least it was but never the less you getting back what you paid in.

  11. “I could really care less what drives your arrogance.”

    It’s yours, hskiprob.

    To Mike S:

    “Another logical fallacy Mike and I’ve told you to stop it more than once.”

    To Tony C:

    “When you can do that, let’s communicate some more and please be specific. Don’t give me the lack of structured regulation either.”

    To youself:

    “But if you take out Chicago , Detroit , Washington DC and New Orleans ,
    the United States is 4th from the bottom for Murders.”

    Funny stuff!

    • In everyone of these cases I’m giving you all back what you’re dishing out to me first. That is funny stuff though. The last thing was actually an honest question. It wasn’t to myself, it was to everyone.

  12. Hmmm,

    “Have you ever thought that perhaps it is your arrogance that guides your intellect rather than the other way around.”

    Let’s see:

    Choice 1: arrogance drives intellect, or,

    Choice2: intellect drives arrogance.

    Are you sure those are the only two choices, hskiprob?

    • Your question I think proves my point. Now were going to debate some frivolous point trying to either belittle me or make yourself appear intelligent. It’s obviously a question that must be answered by you if that is how you want to spend your time. I could really care less what drives your arrogance.

  13. Skip: This appears to be a common trait amongst those that think they can macro manage the world.

    That includes YOU, right? Since you obviously have your own set of rules you would apply, that benefit only a minority interest.

  14. Skip: I can see that you are trying to create a utopia and we both know that’s obviously not going to happen.

    If you are talking to me (and you should specify when making such accusations) you are wrong.

    I am not trying to create a utopia. I am doing what people have been doing for about twenty thousand years; using human ingenuity to create a less harsh environment, so people can thrive.

    The first farmers and herders, by using human ingenuity and organization where there was none, created a stable food supply where there was NONE, and prevented starvation, malnutrition, and unnecessary deaths in the bargain. They improved the human lot and decreased the harshness of nature. Before them, hunters organized in groups did the same and brought down game they would never have brought down single-handedly without weaponry (which is the product of ingenuity).

    Those were not utopias. The invention of eyeglasses did not create a utopia, it created a benefit for people that were partially disabled without them, it increased their chances of survival AND their chances of being productive in the world.

    The goal is not to create a utopia; the goal is to prevent exploitation. And I disagree completely with your conclusion: That CAN happen, it DOES happen, and I can PROVE it happens because other countries have implemented socialist policies and thrived under them for several generations, including generations before oil or natural resources were found, Norway was Socialist for many decades when their only export was fish.

    So don’t tell me it isn’t going to happen, it already has, and it already works. It just hasn’t yet happened here.

    • What creates more exploitation that the constant confiscation of property by politicians and bureaucrats? In this country the government has participated in the bankrupting of nearly 50 million people. There are over 115 different taxes. There is even a licensure requirement for Humming Bird banding for ecological research.

  15. Skip: I do not actually call myself a liberal much, I am a Democratic Socialist / Capitalist.

    Democratic because I believe Representative government by majority (or super-majority) vote is appropriate.

    Socialist because I believe socialism is appropriate for life-critical resources, infrastructure, and services (such as health care, retirement, education, and in general prevention of exploitation, fraud, endangerment, etc).

    Capitalist because I believe the profit motive, properly channeled, and competition, properly channeled, are powerful forces that deliver goods to people and a higher quality of life. However, “properly channeled” is key, without regulation capitalism does what is MOST profitable, which is exploit people, use monopoly powers to subjugate them, threaten employees, and “corner” people into “no viable choice” situations.

    Capitalism mixed with socialism works; several countries highly rated for socialism prove it.

    The similarities you cite between Socialism and Communism are immaterial; Socialism does NOT prevent people from starting businesses or getting thousands or millions of times richer than the average wealth. That is the key difference; Communism DOES prevent that, and thereby destroys the incentive to work more to get ahead or enjoy a higher standard of living and entertainment and comfort.

    Any similarities that ignore that difference are immaterial, it is like saying that killing a human and killing a cockroach are equally morally reprehensible, because they are both living beings with hearts, eyes, brains and muscles. Relying on such similarities would be foolish, as is relying on the similarities you cite to claim Socialism and Communism are “close.” They are not. Communism fails due to its attempted denial of a crucial aspect of human psychology, Socialism mixed with Capitalism thrives in many countries because it works in concert with that aspect of human psychology — People are indeed motivated to work harder if it results in more reward.

    Skip says: when you are willing or not to acquiesce your rights for the public good.

    Calling them “Rights” make for contention because I think that is ill-defined. I am opposed to exploitation, which I regard as when an individual is forced to negotiate with a metaphorical (or indeed, literal) gun to his head. There is a point when one cannot walk away from a deal without life-catastrophic consequences, and a “good deal” for the other side amounts to robbery, blackmail, or hostage taking. In short, what I regard as criminal acts.

    This is particularly true in health care, fire protection and other first response situations, police protection, military protection, and other life-critical services (nutrition, education, some product safety, workplace safety, and some exploitive wage and employment practices for people with no real alternatives but to work).

    I do not have a dividing line with a percentage or dollar amount, I think socialism is appropriate to level the playing field, and ensure every employee can walk away without reducing their odds of survival, or abandoning their kids or those they provide essential care for, or ruining their chances of reaching their potential in life.

    Capitalism and Competition work when everybody, employees, employers, customers, investors, and suppliers can all walk away from a deal without facing poverty, homelessness, death, starvation, disability, and so on.

    To me the point of Socialism is to provide that safety net that lets people walk away. Then their own desire to work in order to improve their lot beyond mere survival will make the vast majority of them work. I believe you do not need to put a gun to somebody’s head in order to get them to work. They will work because they do not want to live like spartans.

    Any argument against that position falls flat just by looking around you; nearly everybody in this country (or many others, including socialist countries like Norway and Denmark with very strong social safety nets) makes much more than they need to just survive and have health care, because they want more than that. Most people could survive on a third of their salary; but that isn’t all they want out of life.

    Because that is true, providing the basics of life and ensuring there is a viable option in employment that defeats subjugation attempts by employers will not destroy their work ethic, if anything it will give them the liberty to reach more potential and make more money. Which is why socialist countries are happier (both in life and at work), earn more discretionary income, and are both healthier and live longer. AND can still be multi-millionaires if they can find a way to do that, as many of them do: Norway also has a higher rate of entrepreneurial attempts and success than the USA, partially because people can give it a shot without risking poverty, their health, or other catastrophe for themselves or their family.

    • I can see that you are trying to create a utopia and we both know that’s obviously not going to happen. I’ve got to get to work now but I will reply to your last message asap. You bring up a lot of points to reply to in one writing. We should attempt to narrow our focus if and when possibly.

  16. Ah, yes. The prose and grammar king, hskiprob, elucidates again.

    Why not link to an essay you have written, hskiprob? Like this one:

    http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Letter-to-Editor.htm?EdNo=001&Info=0191108

    You were so proud of it last year when you linked to it on this blog — multiple times — and encouraged us all to read it.

    Why isn’t your new paper — the one Mike S. can’t have read — published?

    Given how your writing here is so precise I fail to see why your “paper” isn’t published. It must be a huge left wing-atheist-science-factual conspiracy, the same one David fights with his astute geological observations.

    • If you would have thoroughly read my post. I’s not quite finished yet. Have you ever thought that perhaps it is your arrogance that guides your intellect rather than the other way around. I see little humility amongst the “socialists” within this blog but that is just not within this group but most other socialist blogs I’ve encountered. This appears to be a common trait amongst those that think they can macro manage the world.

  17. HSKIP:

    you ought to try and figure out the level of economic freedom in those socialist countries that RTC and Tony C are speaking about.

    I would guess it is higher than in the US. I know for a fact Sweden had to increase their economic freedom as they were going down hill fast.

    In other words the socialist countries are only doing well because they allow a good deal of economic freedom.

    It is sad actually, when you think about it; the socialists could have their free lunches if they would just free up the economy and let capitalism do what it does best and that is raise everyone’s standard of living. We would then have more than enough money to take care of people who need help.

    And people at McDonalds could actually make 15-20 dollars/hour.

    • @!Bron, You are probably right. However, the difficult part of doing such an analysis is not just getting useful data but that there are so many policies that effect the economy. It surely would result in a subjective analysis and conclusion and therefore Mike Spindell would not except my answer no matter how objective it really was. LOL. He probably doesn’t know I was once a card carrying Democrat before seeing the light.

  18. hskiprob 1, November 18, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Socialism and communism are a lot more similar than most think, often times embracing many of the same policies and principles, like public education, central banking, regulation of communications, transportation, socialized medicine and ownership of prominent industries like energy.

    =========================
    “Energy” is a highly propagandized word that reveals the source of one’s ideology and thinking.

    What is under the public lands should belong to the public and should be used for the public good.

    And when it is under the lands of foreign nations we should not invade them to liberate our oil from under their soils (Viva Egypt – 2).

    That is imperialism and is illegal under international law and treaties.

    Why don’t you call it the drug of Oil-Qaeda?

    e=mc2 has nothing to do with dirty oil.

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