We're All Socialists Now

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So says the latest issue of a Newsweek, a magazine that, in light of its recent financial difficulties, might be angling for a European-style journalism subsidy from our new overlords. And while correct to point out that the previous administration "enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years: prescription drugs for the elderly " and "effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries," Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, the authors of the accompanying editorial, don't seem particularly bothered by this because, they write, the "answer may indeed be more government." We are in such a bad economic rut that only our ever-competent government can cure what ails us:

"In the short run, since neither consumers nor business is likely to do it, the government will have to stimulate the economy. And in the long run, an aging population and global warming and higher energy costs will demand more government taxing and spending."

There is, perhaps, a bit of familial triumphalism in all of this. Thomas, the story's co-author, is the great-grandson of six-time Socialist Party candidate for president Norman Thomas.

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  1. (sigh)

    *begins rereading Free to Choose for comfort*

  2. Let’s all remember… This is the government that can’t even hand out free coupons for digital TV converter boxes without screwing it up.

  3. “… will demand more government taxing and spending.”

    And control over its citizens…

  4. Yes lets give more money to the people who brought us Social Security, the post office, HEW, ConRail, the Energy Department and the Education Department, and FEMA.

    Did the government develop the light bulb, airplane, railroad, steam engine, gas engine, the zipper, telephone, television?

    Entrusting money to the government is like giving a credit card to my 12 year old.

  5. Funny, I don’t remember becoming a socialist. These socialists do have a peculiar way of thinking. Rather inconsiderate, don’t you think?

    Entrusting money to the government is like giving a credit card to my 12 year old.

    Except at the end of the day your 12 year old would presumably be held accountable for reckless spending. Steal two thousand dollars, you’re a petty crook; steal two trillion, you are a river to your people.

    Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  6. I for one am hoping for an expansion by the federal government into the realm of education. I’m thinking some kind of law or regulatory agency that makes sure that no children are left behind.

    It’s new ideas we need. And clearly, this administration is on the fast track to introduce them.

  7. Though I forget which one of these two, one of them wrote an obit for Richard Darman that was quite a bizarre revisionist history of the budget deal disaster of ’90 that wound up raising taxes while expanding the deficit and debt ceiling, as well as delaying the recovery after the expected dip from the first Gulf War and the writer spun it to sound as if it was an auger of fiscal prudence to come. These guys are a blight on the human condition.

  8. Wait, really? That’s the cover? It’s like Time and Newsweek are competing for greatest failure of journalism in history. Remember that Iwo Jima tree cover?

  9. At least when people get angry because I call Obama “essentially a socialist” I can point out those on the left who think so as well.

    This is the culmination of a process that began in the 1960’s when our pseudo-intellectual class abandoned a perspective born of the American experience of multicultural freedom and instead adopted the European perspective born of monocultural authoritarianism.

    In the past, we escaped the European top-down, elites-know-best model because of our size, diversity and openness. Now the frontiers of space and mind are fenced in. We’re all being taught to be good little cattle.

  10. ^^^ I think you can drop the “essentially” at this point.

  11. “Yes lets give more money to the people who brought us Social Security, the post office, HEW, ConRail, the Energy Department and the Education Department, and FEMA.”

    I was watching Colbert once, and he had that Wexler (cocaine is a fun thing to do) guy on again. Wexler said that liberals had helped America the most because they had brought us Social Security and Medicare. If a guy can win elections saying that, we are so, so fucked.

  12. You know, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I just started reading Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom for the first time. I’ve owned a copy or two over the years, but this is the first time I’ve actually gotten into it. In the numerous prefaces presented in this edition (the softcover 50th anniversary one with the intro by Milton Friedman) they admit that the focus on “planning” in the book was already out of date, but that the arguments are still valid.

    Reading it in this climate of clamoring for more economic controls and a bigger role for the state in the market is causing a big knot to ball up in my stomach. Now, I’m not a libertarian and I consider myself a post left anarchist (because the left’s as dead as a post). I don’t have much love for the capitalist economy other than the whole TINA thing. But socialism is not only a one way street to totalitarianism, it has also already been proven wrong. Check out this first part of what I envision as a three part essay on my new blog The Deliverators. The reason these “failed” ideas of neoliberal right wingery got popular in the early 80s in the first place is because of the hideous mess our (and Europe’s) experiments in socialism got us into. Basically what this article seems to be saying and what liberal/social democratic thinkers are arguing for is that now that what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, we should go back to the last thing that didn’t work. It is INSANE and the next time someone questions the importance of studying history or the threat of a national historical memory measured in days–not even weeks, but days–point them in the direction we are currently heading.

    I personally think we are completely fucked. The laissez faire programs popular around here (and I love Reason, it is easily the best political opinion blog out there–at least until we Deliverators get big) or the politically palatable bastardizations of such we’ve been pursuing for the last few decades just don’t work. The lefty/liberal socialism-lite is perhaps an even WORSE solution. Any so called “third way” options stink of proto-fascism to me (this proliferation of czars and platinum club socialism we’re traipsing into do the same). I think the solution is to just sit back and see the horror unfold–resisting in the name of individualism, freedom and real progress all the way.

    Finally, a left anarchist perspective on economic crises I recently saw might actually be the best way of looking at this whole thing. There is a perception that crises are failures of capitalism, that they are aberrations to its spirit which must be corrected. From this we get trillions in giveaways to try and unscramble the egg of a market in convulsions (just to mix my metaphors). But maybe capitalism is like war: in war you have long stretches of boredom with very occasional bursts of violence and terror. Now, nobody would say that the essence of war is the boredom and that the violent episodes are abberations which must be undone if we are to master the art of war–sitting around the barracks, cleaning toilets and eating MREs. In the same way these crises are the engine of capitalism’s creative destruction. Failed, outmoded and stupid firms are being wiped out and their human and phsyical assets are suddenly very cheap for more prescient, forward thinking and smart entrepreneurs to scoop up. We shouldn’t be trying to “fix” this situation. We should be letting it run its course.

    Robert, the admin of and another writer at The Deliverators was recently talking about crying. People (men) see crying as a sign of a serious problem, as something that must be stopped and fixed immediately–lest disaster result. Women are less likely to view things this way. Well, we have a Y-chromosome state right now that sees the market just having a good blubber and they are hustling around, trying to fix things before they get really uncomfortable. Any man knows this is most likely to just make things worse and get you put on the couch for the night. We should just take a step back, light some scented candles and let capitalism get all this out of its system.

    Unfortunately, I think this magazine cover (think about how abusrd it would have looked 3 years ago!) is a symptom that stupid man-ery is running the world.

  13. There’s really no need to make the distinction between parties, as if one party started statism, so now the other party must continue it. We can go back to the beginning of the country to see when it started. The label “socialism” is misleading, because the statist don’t even have the courage of their convictions to establish socialism — just meaningless intervention for the sake of state power and oppression of capitalism. We’re not all statists — the statists are statists, though.

  14. Mr Dobbs-
    That might be the best brief summary of the situation that I’ve read.

  15. And you’re so handsome!

  16. Could the editors save us some time and automatically insert a

    Doom
    Doom!!
    DOOM!!!!!

    comment in every post? I’ve yet to see one recently where that didn’t apply.

  17. What makes this article so offensive is the attempt to limit or lay down the groundwork – to limit future debates. We’ll be able to vote for any slightly left of center, slightly left of center or slightly right of center candidate we choose. However, anything that diverges significantly from the established orthodoxy is ruled out of bounds, and will get angrily shouted down.

  18. Black hole sun, won’t you come…

  19. “People on the right and the left want government to invest in alternative energies in order to break our addiction to foreign oil.”

    Yay! Let’s pathologize normal human behavior, like buying, selling, and using commodities.

  20. To the barricades!

  21. What’s special about this Newsweek cover? This is the philosophy they’ve been advocating since day one. Only now Thomas is finally willing to admit its socialism.

  22. I feel sick.

  23. joe | December 2, 2008, 7:09pm | #

    Oh, look, people who spent the election believing that the type of change Obama was going to bring was a radical form of leftism have been proven wrong again, yet they’re gloating.

  24. There will never be a Socialist government in this country, so long as the corporate lobbyists control what government does. Imagine, corporate lobbyists are the salvation to free markets. Somebody shoot me now!

    “Yay! Let’s pathologize normal human behavior, like buying, selling, and using commodities.”

    Yeah, let’s subsidize Exxon/Mobile and their 45 billion. They sure as shit need the money.

  25. “If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate.”

    Y’all just shut up with this fractious and unedifying debating.

  26. There will never be a Socialist government in this country

    Correct. It will be fascist.

  27. I don’t feel so good.

  28. Don’t worry, PL. The chocolate ration should double in the next few days.

  29. I will accept our new socialist overlords if I get my own floating fortress. I have my price people!

  30. I love me some Liberty Gin.

  31. dhex,

    Will there be mention of my floating fortress if I go to your link?

  32. Come on, Large Hadron Collider, get it together! Being compacted into a singularity is our only hope now.

  33. dhex,

    Who going to believe an obscure, hard right-wing blog like Salon.com? They’ve had it in for Obama since day one.

  34. Yes we’re all socialists now, and we’re all getting a quick and cogent lesson about one (of many) ugly product of one of the (many) inherent contradictions in that system: The kinds of things that happen when control of the government and economy are lost to an inbred, self-serving, self-perpetuating and bipartisan political class. Specifically, they take care of their own first, and there’s two sets of rules – one for them and one for us.
    Jack McHugh
    Mackinac Center

  35. dhex’s link is annoying. I thought torture was the only thing President Fuckwad was supposed to be good on.

  36. TallDave,

    I have. Just not here. I last saw her on g*******e.com forums.

  37. TD,

    It’s just now 6am in Seattle.

  38. I’m seriously considering buying a weapon….

    Fuck. Me. I’ve never owned a gun in my life. But damned if I’m going to live in a socialist America.

  39. I’m seriously considering buying a weapon….

    Fuck. Me. I’ve never owned a gun in my life. But damned if I’m going to live in a socialist America.

    Last time I went to the range, there were a lot of people who must have had the same idea. They all had ARs and had no idea what they were doing. I got tired of getting muzzle swept. Please take a gun safety class.

  40. Warty | February 10, 2009, 10:02am | #
    Come on, Large Hadron Collider, get it together! Being compacted into a singularity is our only hope now.

    Every universe develops a man like species, usually humanoid for practicality reasons through the life mechanism of evolution for the sole purpose of destroying that universe without which the process of regeneration would never occur and the current universe would never again obtain singularity but fall apart atom by atom into nothingness.

    Hence our war like nature, propensity for creativity and destruction, and our never ending cycle of screwing up what we come close to perfecting, for without these defects we could never serve our one true purpose.

  41. and I think I just invented the only religion that has any rationality to it. You’re all welcome.

  42. I thought torture was the only thing President Fuckwad was supposed to be good on.

    No, there’s also medical marijuana, which he’s also currently fucking us over on.

  43. BakedPenguin | February 10, 2009, 11:24am | #
    I thought torture was the only thing President Fuckwad was supposed to be good on.

    No, there’s also medical marijuana, which he’s also currently fucking us over on.

    After hearing his lameass equivocation over allowing photos of the coffins of our servicemen, President Balls of a Hamster seems to me the most apt nickname at this time.

  44. Best Moynihan article ever. He didn’t make any ridiculous claims about Reagan defeating communism…he acknowledged that totalitarianism is alive and well and the republicans played a HUGE role in bringing it full tilt right here to the USSA. He also didn’t blame it on muslims, rednecks or crackpots (people who dare have opinions different than pro-federal reserve Cosmotarians).

  45. Baked Penguin is so happy that he’s being released from Gitmo and will only be waterboarded when Whacky Barracky feels like it, like if you deny him anything.

    Drug useage does explain the incoherence of his comments.

  46. This is the philosophy they’ve been advocating since day one. Only now Thomas is finally willing to admit its socialism.

    Yep. They’re just exhibiting a little triumphalism of the will, so to speak.

    We’ll see how much they’re crowing in a couple of years from now.

  47. The chocolate ration should double in the next few days.

    “Suck my chocolate salty balls, children Socialism.”

    It’s just now 6am in Seattle.

    Damn time difference! And I like this excuse better than whatever twisted site to which Naga is alluding.

  48. There is, perhaps, a bit of familial triumphalism in all of this. Thomas, the story’s co-author, is the great-grandson of six-time Socialist Party candidate for president Norman Thomas.

    Shouldn’t Thomas be rebelling against his father who rebelled against his father who rebelled against his father, making Thomas a Socialist-hating capitalist pig?

  49. Does being someone’s great-grandson automatically mean he holds the exact same political positions? And that everything he writes today is therefore suspect?

  50. I have a nightmare: Please tell me I’m wrong.

    The notional value of all outstanding derivatives – things like “CDOs” and “SIVs” and all the rest – is about $500 trillion, give or take a few tens of trillions. These contracts, which Warren Buffett dubbed “weapons of mass financial destruction”, constitute a huge cross-bet pool between most of the large financial institutions around the world, and were designed and entered into based on economic models valid for market conditions that now obviously no longer hold.

    Suppose these economic models are now, say, 10% off from their initial valuations. In that case, there will be a $50 trillion hole in the collective balance sheets of the world’s major financial institutions. If the Fed and Treasury are trying to “stabilize” these major banks, by creating new money to give to the banks, it will take $50 trillion in new dollars to do this.

    Which is what we are seeing: More and more bailouts, trillion after trillion, with nary a word that we are even getting close to filling the hole.

    At the end of this process, we will have taken the supply of dollars from $850 billion, to something like $50,000 billion ($50 trillion).

    This is hyperinflation on the scale of Weimar.

    RIP, the world economy.

    Is there any one left, that still thinks we can hand over the monetary core of our economy to a small group of elite central planners?

  51. I have a nightmare: Please tell me I’m wrong.

    Thankfully, you are. The notional size of the derviative market is largely meaningless, despite its being quoted fearfull almost non-stop for several years.

    The models aren’t economic in nature anyway, they are risk models. They are off alright, who knows by how much or in what subtle ways. but it doesn’t correspond to losses in any straightforward way whatsoever.

  52. Is there any one left, that still thinks we can hand over the monetary core of our economy to a small group of elite central planners?

    Well, yeah. Mostly everyone who understands monetary policy, and the procyclical nature of private lending understands that the Feds job is important and needs to be done – even if it’s not always done perfectly.

  53. “the Feds (sic) job is important and needs to be done”
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We just need the right people in charge.

  54. Mostly everyone who understands monetary policy, and the procyclical nature of private lending understands that the Feds job is important and needs to be done – even if it’s not always done perfectly.

    They’ve had 96 years to figure out how to do the job right.
    When will they finally know how?

  55. They’ve had 96 years to figure out how to do the job right.
    When will they finally know how?

    Probably never, but what’s your point?

  56. My point, is that the Fed was ostensibly created to keep us out of the kind of crisis we are now in. If our monetary officials do in fact “understand monetary policy”, why have they failed in doing their job? Why the sequence of booms and busts over the last 96 years?

  57. Are we to the part where Galt starts his speech yet?

  58. Isn’t someone going to congratulate Michael for cracking Evan Thomas’s code? All these years, lying in wait for an economic catastrophe so that he could write a vindication of his great-grandfather. He’d have gotten away with it too, if not for the free-market party (a) having no mildly pressing need to ask any substantive questions of itself, and most of all (b) being able to count a human ENIGMA-breaker among its ranks. Well done, sir, well done. Hayek is smiling somewhere.

  59. MikeP | February 10, 2009, 1:51am | #

    Let’s all remember… This is the government that can’t even hand out free coupons for digital TV converter boxes without screwing it up.

    I thought the handing them out went fine, it’s just that there were only so much money for the coupons allocated in the budget, and they used up all the money, so people who applied late didn’t get a coupon (I believe they were put on a waiting list and eventually would get one when unused coupons expired). The solution, therefore, would have been more government spending (increasing the amount of money spent on the coupons).

    That is to say, bad example if you want to say “Government Bad!”.

  60. Shannon Love | February 10, 2009, 2:56am | #

    At least when people get angry because I call Obama “essentially a socialist” I can point out those on the left who think so as well.

    Well, since both Bush and McCain were in favor of the TARP bailout and quasi-nationalization of banks and other businesses, I would argue that if Obama is “essentially a socialist”, so are they. Hence the title of the article in question.

  61. And just to clarify, I’m not about to hand in my libertarian card — though my Libertarian card is ashes — but from the cited graf it sounds like what Meacham and Thomas are doing is making an argument, whereas what Moynihan seems to be set on is disgracing by proxy the ideas of people who ostensibly agree with him. (I mean, if that’s the goal, at least make the snark remotely funny.)

  62. it’s just that there were only so much money for the coupons allocated in the budget, and they used up all the money, so people who applied late didn’t get a coupon (I believe they were put on a waiting list and eventually would get one when unused coupons expired).

    That is not a screw up?

    The government failed to properly account for the number of coupons that would be requested, people didn’t get the coupons they and therefore their pandering representatives expected, and the whole plan was delayed 4 months (at least), costing broadcasters millions.

    $40 coupons. For $50 converter boxes. Screwed up.

    And the government now wants to spend $830,000,000,000 to stimulate an economy that no one can effectively model. Just great.

  63. Moynihan seems to be set on is disgracing by proxy the ideas of people who ostensibly agree with him. (I mean, if that’s the goal, at least make the snark remotely funny.)

    What? You must have been dropped on your head as a child. Moynihan and Welch are the only reasons I even come to this blog.

  64. Isn’t someone going to congratulate Michael for cracking Evan Thomas’s code? All these years, lying in wait for an economic catastrophe so that he could write a vindication of his great-grandfather. He’d have gotten away with it too, if not for the free-market party (a) having no mildly pressing need to ask any substantive questions of itself, and most of all (b) being able to count a human ENIGMA-breaker among its ranks. Well done, sir, well done. Hayek is smiling somewhere.

    Yeah… what does this mean?

  65. Who is this “we” everyone keeps refering too?

  66. I’m not. Fuck all you socialists, communists, democrats, statist bitches.

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