Socialism

Perils of "Democratic Socialism"

The seemingly new version of socialism advocated by many on the left today has all too many flaws in common with old kind.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

One of the most significant recent developments in left-of-center politics is the rise of "democratic socialism." Democrats are currently engaged in an important debate over whether this is a good direction for the party. They should heed prominent liberal legal scholar Cass Sunstein's warning: "Those who now favor large-scale change should avoid a term, and a set of practices, that have so often endangered both liberty and prosperity."

Prominent self-proclaimed socialists include Bernie Sanders (one of the front-runners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star in the party. Some recent surveys indicate that many more Democrats have a favorable view of "socialism" than "capitalism," though others show less support for it. Even a good many politicians who eschew the democratic socialist labels have endorsed some of the radical policies associated with it, such as the Green New Deal, "Medicare for All," and federal government-guaranteed jobs for all Americans, among others.

Historically, socialism—defined as government control over all or most of the economy—has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale. The experience of communist nations around the world is instructive. To avoid terminological confusion, it is worth noting that the communists saw themselves (correctly) as implementing socialism; "communism" was, on the Marxist-Leninist view, a later stage of social evolution none of these regimes ever actually claimed to have attained. The current horrible oppression in Venezuela (perpetrated by a socialist regime that generally does not claim to be communist), which has led to perhaps the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the Western hemisphere,  is just the latest iteration of the same pattern.

Nonetheless, current advocates of democratic socialism argue that this awful record isn't relevant to their proposals. They draw two important distinctions between their agenda and that of the socialist movements that caused such enormous suffering in other nations. First, they emphasize that these earlier experiments in socialism were undertaken by authoritarian regimes. By contrast, today's democratic socialists are committed to multi-party democracy. Mistakes and abuses of power will be curbed by electoral competition.

Second, we are assured that latter-day socialists don't actually mean to impose government control over the means of production. They just want greatly increased regulation and welfare state spending. Often, their agenda is analogized to the policies of Scandinavian nations, which have large welfare states, but remain relatively prosperous and free.

Unfortunately, these distinctions are not as reassuring as they might seem. The expansion of government power advocated by modern socialists is so great that it would put most of the economy under state control, even if much industry formally remained under private ownership. It goes far beyond any Scandinavian precedent. And it is unlikely that democracy can effectively constrain the abuses of such a leviathan state. It is also questionable that a government like that could remain democratic in the long run.

The Enormous Scale of the Democratic Socialist Agenda

The standard agenda favored by most democratic socialists –  single-payer health care, universal free college, and a guaranteed federal job for anyone who wants one—would cost some $42.5 trillion over a ten year period ($4.25 trillion per year). This would nearly double current federal spending levels, which are projected to total just under $4.75 trillion in fiscal year 2020. Federal government spending would rise from its current level of about 20% of GDP to 35-40% or more (depending on future economic growth and levels of spending on other programs, which is also projected to rise).

This does not include many parts, the "Green New Deal," endorsed by most democratic socialists. That would add another $10-15 trillion over the next decade, not counting items such as universal government-provided health care, which are already included above.

In combination with state and local spending (currently around $2.8 trillion per year, though some of that comes from federal grants), implementation of the democratic socialist agenda would ensure that government spending accounts for the vast majority of the economy. State and local spending would, very likely, also increase substantially if the democratic socialists get their way.

The socialist agenda is not limited to increased spending. They also advocate massive increases in federal regulation. Examples include a $15 minimum wage, greatly increased regulation of labor and corporate boards, expanded environmental regulation, expanded regulation of media and the internet, increased protectionism to keep out foreign goods, and so on. The combination of the $15 minimum wage (which even many liberal economists believe is likely to significantly reduce private sector employment) and guaranteed federal jobs would ensure that a large proportion of the work force would, over time, come to consist of direct employees of the federal government.

While many enterprises would officially remain under private ownership, implementation of the democratic socialist agenda would ensure that the federal government controls the lion's share of actual economic resources. If that happens, the US federal government would face many of the same problems of knowledge and incentives faced by previous socialist regimes. It too would have to figure out how to centrally plan the vast bulk of the economy. And it too would find that government planners lack the knowledge to make such a system work, and that it creates many perverse incentives.

The democratic socialist agenda goes well beyond the Nordic nations advocates sometimes cite as models. While these countries have comparatively large welfare states, they combine them with low levels of regulation and high openness to international trade. To take just one example, none of the Nordic nations have a national government-mandated minimum wage.

The Nordic nations actually come close to the United States (and occasionally even outscore it) on standard measures of economic liberty. Iceland (slightly ahead of the US) and Denmark (slightly behind) were statistically indistinguishable from the US in the latest Index of Economic Freedom ranking put out by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Finland and Sweden were only slightly lower. When Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen tried to explain to Bernie Sanders that his country is not actually socialist, the latter should have listened. Indeed, what US democratic socialists advocate goes beyond the current level of government control of the economy in any Western European nation.

 

Democracy Can't Make Socialism Safe

Perhaps democracy will save us from any potential negative effects of bringing most of the economy under government control. If the government abuses its power or mismanages the newly socialized economy, we can just "vote the bastards out." Any aspiring American Lenin or Hugo Chavez will be voted out of office or—better still—never elected in the first place.

Unfortunately, the democratic element of democratic socialism is unlikely to save us from the severe risks of the socialist part. Voters in democratic systems can and do elect dangerous demagogues. Hugo Chavez was democratically elected.

Closer to home, our own voters elected Donald Trump. And he is far from the first illiberal demagogue who ever achieved political success in American history. Liberal Democrats should carefully consider what would happen if someone like Trump gets control of the levers of power in a democratic socialist state where the federal government controls most of the economy.

The danger of future demagogues aside, it is far from clear that even our current crop of democratic socialist leaders is immune to illiberal temptations. Bernie Sanders, our most prominent socialist politician, has a long history of supporting authoritarian socialist regimes abroad. He and others might not be averse to using the same sorts of tactics at home, if the opportunity arose.

Even when run by more conventional politicians, democracy is unlikely to be an adequate safeguard against the dangers of socialism. As Conor Friedersdorf points out, a democratic state in which the government controls most of the economy is one where unpopular racial, ethnic, or religious minorities will be at severe risk, as their personal and social lives will be far more under the control of the political majority than is the case today. Nothing in the nature of socialism somehow makes racial, ethnic, and religious prejudice disappear, or even diminish significantly. Consider the awful experience of minorities in numerous socialist nations around the world, ranging from the Soviet Union to Ethiopia.

A socialist state that controls most of the economy would also make it nearly impossible for voters to acquire enough knowledge to effectively monitor the government. It would greatly exacerbate the already severe problem of voter ignorance that plagues modern democracy. In a world where most voters—for perfectly rational reasons –  do not even know basic facts such as being able to name the three branches of the federal government, it is highly unlikely they will learn enough to properly monitor a socialist state. Most of the powers of government would instead fall under the control of politicians, bureaucrats,  powerful interest groups, or worse.

Finally, it is unlikely that a democratic socialist state will actually remain democratic in the long run. If the government controls the vast bulk of the economy, it can, over time, use its control over key resources to reward its supporters and suppress opponents. This has, in fact, actually happened in Venezuela, where the government has used such tools as its control over food resources to incentivize support for the regime, and forestall opposition.

In the US, such tactics might not be immediately effective because of our greater wealth, and because judicial review would curtail them. But these constraints are far from foolproof. American socialists could, for example, break judicial resistance through court-packing, a strategy successfully used by both left and right-wing authoritarians in other countries. Ominously, even some non-socialist Democrats now see court-packing as an attractive tool to wrest control of the Supreme Court back from Republicans.

Even if Bernie Sanders or some other self-described socialist becomes president, he is unlikely to be able to quickly implement the full socialist agenda, or transform the US into another Venezuela. But if left unchecked, the growing acceptance of democratic socialism on the left increases the odds that such things could happen over time.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently told his fellow Democrats that "socialism is not the answer" to the problems that ail American society. Many in the audience of activists and party stalwarts booed.  But they should instead take his advice to heart.

 

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152 responses to “Perils of "Democratic Socialism"

  1. Well, Prof Somin, you know what would be a good idea then to help us prevent the scourge of socialism coming to America? Why, the open borders you routinely advocate for of course. Flooding the country with economic refugees from Venezuela in particular, that will make sure that no demagogue like Chavez is elected here.

    1. Would you assume that refugees from Cuba tend to support policies similar to those they fled?

      1. I see where you’re going, and I cut you off at the pass.

        Cuban migration to the U.S. happened in two waves. The first wave was ordinary people and the ownership class who didn’t support the Marxist regime and who feared for their lives or who had relatives killed and who often had their property nationalized. These people, and their offspring, tend to be Republicans in Florida to this day. However, later migrants who accommodated themselves to the socialist ideal until, as Somin points out, things went south like they always do (especially after the USSR stopped propping up Cuba), these migrants tend to be more socialist than not.

        It is possible to differentiate the two groups in actuality, and in policy.

        But the socialist regime in Venezuela, as Somin points out, was democratically elected, and thus there was no wave of refugee fleeing in fear of their lives. We have no way to discriminate who is fleeing socialism or who is fleeing actual persecution. In the best interests of our nation to avoid the ills of socialism, it would be better to exclude them all.

        1. Exactly. And believers of socialism/liberalism never see the connection between the disastrous results they flee and the liberalism they voted for

    2. “Flooding the country with economic refugees from Venezuela in particular, that will make sure that no demagogue like Chavez is elected here.”

      Good point. Victims of socialism fleeing from the horrors of a socialist government would definitely not vote for socialists here. That’s a really good argument for opening our borders to refugees.

      1. Your reverse sarcasm fails when it’s commonly known that economic migrants tend to vote for those very same socialist policies in their new homes. Namely, that Hispanics vote overwhelming Democrat, the current home of socialism.

        1. And even domestically, people who flee California and New York for the “high taxes” then vote for Demoncraps the moment they get to Colorado, Arizona, Florida, or anywhere else they move, and they ruin those places too.

      2. Exactly! People fleeing the consequences of their own bad choices never make bad choices ever again.

        They are impervious to demagoguery forever and ever.

  2. “Historically, socialism—defined as government control over all or most of the economy—has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale.”

    To be fair, every kind of government ever created by man has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale. When I say every kind of government, I specifically include no government or anarchy in the list.

    1. “To be fair, every kind of government ever created by man has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale”

      To be fair, capitalist democracies stopped doing mass murder and oppression a long time ago, while socialist countries continue to do so.

      1. LiborCon, by picking and choosing the time scale implied by, “. . . a long time ago,” you can make that come out to favor either capitalism or socialism. Had you made your assertion in 1910, socialism would have enjoyed the advantage. Privileging a particular historical present does not suggest itself as an impartial basis of comparison.

        Also, note that by doing it the way you are, you are uncritically baking in the ideology that progress drives history. Drop the presumption of progress in history, and one historical vantage point is as good as the next, and neither system shows a notable advantage.

        Anticipating one further defense you might suggest—that taking history as whole, from today’s vantage, body counts attributable to socialism outnumber those attributable to capitalism—that too seems arbitrary. If by historical happenstance the greater and more recent atrocities were socialist, that may only show that recency is what drives body counts—as the means to inflict mass casualties augmented over time. Who knows? Maybe the real ideology driving mass body counts is industrialism.

        The balance of world political and economic power seems for the present to be in capitalist hands—as is the balance of mass destructive power. The potential for a quite sudden reversal in your ideological comparison can hardly be denied.

        1. “Privileging a particular historical present does not suggest itself as an impartial basis of comparison.”

          What are you, an academic? He’s privileging this particular historical present because it’s the present.

          1. ” He’s privileging this particular historical present because it’s the present.”

            No, he’s privileging this particular historical present because he thinks it makes things come out in his favor.

            Problem is, one of his premises is false. Specifically, “capitalist democracies stopped doing mass murder and oppression a long time ago” is not true. For example, Israel is a capitalist democracy. They haven’t stopped oppressing. The United States is a capitalist democracy, and we only recently stopped our habit of invading other countries to tell them how to run their governments, and we’re participating by proxy in some oppression in Yemen. Of course, our historical oppression of our own native indiginous population is long over… there’s no poverty or chronic unemployment or anything like that among the native population any more, right, now that they can leave their reservations without being shot for it.

            1. “No, he’s privileging this particular historical present because he thinks it makes things come out in his favor.”

              Oh yes, the sneaky capitalist trick of judging things based on the information we have at the present time.

              1. Cherry-picking data isn’t a recent invention.

                1. And yet you are the one who wants to limit the data set to, say, 1910. Quite a full basket you have there.

            2. What oppression do you think Israel actually engages in? Is bombing missile sites while they’re firing on civilians “oppression?”
              Thought experiment: if tomorrow Israel put down all of its weapons, what would happen the day after? If Hamas, Palestinian Authority, and other related groups put down their weapons, what would happen the day after?

              1. “What oppression do you think Israel actually engages in?”

                Occupying territory seized from a foreign nation (or, of course, from several foreign nations.)

                1. Hopefully, The United States will soon end its oppression of Spain and Mexico.

            3. “For example, Israel is a capitalist democracy. They haven’t stopped oppressing.”
              Cite missing

              “The United States is a capitalist democracy, and we only recently stopped our habit of invading other countries to tell them how to run their governments, and we’re participating by proxy in some oppression in Yemen.”

              You’re comparing these examples with socialism?
              1) Sarcasm
              2) Sophistry
              3) Stupidity
              Or perhaps all.

              1. ““For example, Israel is a capitalist democracy. They haven’t stopped oppressing.”
                Cite missing”

                You need a cite that Israel is a capitalist democracy?

                “You’re comparing these examples with socialism?
                1) Sarcasm
                2) Sophistry
                3) Stupidity
                Or perhaps all”

                I think you’re just stupid.

              2. Jordon which has signed off on any territorial claim.

                Egypt the same.

                Syria (golan) has not. Syria is a fubar mess. There is no way to negotiate with them.

                Israel withdrew from Gaza. The attacks from there continue. No other country would put up with this.

                The West Bank is still governed loosely by the Oslo accords with the PA having local control.

                East Jerusalem and the Golan are claimed by Israel.

                So which one ya wanna talk about?

    2. Agree completely. You could pick any governments good and bad, look at there economic system and support this argument.

    3. Every form of government is based on force, which inevitably leads to a certain amount of murder. This is why limiting the authority of the State is a good idea and protecting the ability of the populace to obtain arms is even better.

      THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM (Harvard Press) asserts that Communist governments murdered a hundred million people in the Twentieth Century. That is a record of mass death that no other system of government can match.

      So, small government is best, and if you give government almost unlimited power what you get is almost unlimited murder.

      1. “Every form of government is based on force, which inevitably leads to a certain amount of murder. This is why limiting the authority of the State is a good idea and protecting the ability of the populace to obtain arms is even better”

        And then, when there is no government, nobody uses force on anybody any more, and everything is peaceful and great. And when people use their arms to rise up against the government, there isn’t any murder or oppression…

        I included “no government” specifically, on purpose.

        1. “That is a record of mass death that no other system of government can match.”

          Note that “no government” resulted in the mass death of tens of billions. The commies came along late in the game, when the world’s population was higher, meaning they had more people to fuck with. That skews the numbers you want to rely on.

          1. There is a certain truth to that; Some prior historical regimes unquestionably did kill larger percentages of the population within their reach.

            But, “The Aztecs would have ripped out more still beating hearts than we did if they’d had a larger population to work with!” is a pretty feeble defense of heart ripping governments. And the commies are conspicuously worse than contemporaneous governments.

            1. “But, “The Aztecs would have ripped out more still beating hearts than we did if they’d had a larger population to work with!” is a pretty feeble defense of heart ripping governments”

              All governments are heart-ripping governments. Did you not pick up on that point, upstream?

              ” the commies are conspicuously worse than contemporaneous governments.”

              They’re new on the scene, and trying to catch up.

          2. “Note that “no government” resulted in the mass death of tens of billions.”

            You are full of claims minus any supporting cites.

            1. Oops. My error. Before government was invented, nobody died of violence, only natural causes at advanced ages.

              Twit.

              1. Your reasoning is impeccable as usual. Let’s continue the logic: Everyone whi died in the holocaust, the holodomor, and the great leap forward woild have died anyway, some violently, therefore those acts of government really had no effect. QED, really.

        2. I included “no government” specifically, on purpose.

          No government and small government are not the same thing. One of the few legitimate purposes of government is to protect people’s rights. Obviously, if there is no government, it can’t do that. A small government can. A larger government can start doing some oppressing of its own. For example, if we grant the government the power to decide who gets to operate as a non profit and who doesn’t, it could decide to deny that ability to its political opponents. That’s why it should be kept small.

      2. Adopting the loose standards the Black Book of Communism uses for causation, and picking instead various time intervals since 1500, some capitalist contributors to the mass-casualty-total competition include:

        Spain in Mexico: 5 – 10 million casualties.

        The British and their descendants, throughout North America: 10 million casualties.

        The British in Ireland: 1 million casualties (not counting emigrants).

        Belgium in the Congo: 10 million casualties.

        Japan and Nationalist China in China, the early-to-mid 20th century: 30 million casualties, at least.

        Germany in Eastern Europe, WWII: 30 million casualties.

        The British in Bengal, 1943: 3 million casualties.

        Left out: Africa except the Belgian Congo; Japan throughout the Pacific; everybody and everything in South America; the Armenian genocide; Western European and American casualties of the Germans in WW II; German casualties of the British and Americans in WWII; Japanese casualties of the Americans in WWII; all the casualties of everyone in WW I (a very large number).

        C. S. P. Schofield, there has been a lot of mass casualty stuff throughout the world, attributed variously among political groups and governments, and the non-communist casualties seem at least comparable in the aggregate to the communist casualties, and probably notably larger. I am not arguing that this type of tally is a constructive approach which needs to be refined. I am arguing that it is tendentious and foolish approach which needs to be abandoned.

        The government of large populations is a dangerous business. Experience shows it produces truly awful results with depressing regularity. Perhaps there is something there for libertarians to point to in support of their own ideology.

        Problem is, libertarians can’t get in the running until they buckle down and think up a libertarian theory of government—one which can encompass mass populations. I doubt that will ever happen. Nobody questions that a utopia in prospect can outperform reality in retrospect.

  3. All societies have to adopt a system for organising activities undertaken socially. In modern post monarchical societies the question boils down to :

    “where should association be voluntary and where should it be compelled ?”

    A secondary question is then “how should compulsory association be compelled ?”

    The (classical) liberal view is that as much as possible should be left left voluntary. The socialist view is that most association should be subject to compulsion (including compelled prevention of unapproved association.)

    Modern “liberals” used to think that there was a large private sphere in which voluntary association should reign supreme, but that in the public sphere, particularly in the commercial sphere, large chunks of compulsion are to be preferred.

    But few modern “liberals” in that sense seem to exist any more, at least with their heads above the parapet. We now seem to have mostly progressives who are simply socialists who are less stuck than the early 20th century socialists on government ownership as the means to compel association. Regulation and legal bindweed will do instead of government ownership. But progressives have never been shy about extending compulsion beyond the sphere of commerce.

    Socialist, like liberal these days, is a word of almost infinitely malleable meaning – a progressive compulsion-addict can easily use it if she wants to sound tough and radical. A politically cautious progressive compulsion-addict may avoid it for the same reason. But the non malleable core of socialism is always the same. Do as you’re told. Or else.

    Few modern socialists (or progressives) approve of old 20th century means of compelling association. Gulags and mass murder are out; fines, taxes, penalties, lawsuits, and process process process, are in. But there’s still a guy with a pistol behind the Judge and the bureaucrat. And there are also the unofficial auxiliaries who can shout you down, or camp outside your house or your place of business prevent you getting on with life.

    1. Do as you’re told. Or else.

      Lee, how is that not the commanding utterance of every capitalist ever, addressing his work force? Arguably, most workers have better prospects to escape that through politics than through capitalist self-help.

      You may disagree, but you can’t speak politically for others without resort to tyranny. You can hardly be proposing to idealize capitalism as tyranny.

      1. SL : how is that not the commanding utterance of every capitalist ever, addressing his work force?

        1. the “or else” consists of “or our voluntary association will come to an end” – no fines, no gulags, no punishment beatings
        2. unless he lives in a one horse town in the middle of nowhere, with only one employer (in which case it’s easy enough to move) even the most unskilled worker has a choice of lots of employers. If he lives in a city he has a choice of at least hundreds, and probably thousands. If he can only get a low paid job, it’s because he’s not very useful, not because everyone’s trying to do him down
        3. once he gets skilled and slotted in on the management treadmill at XYZ Inc, to be sure if he gets fired his income will take a hit, so he’s incentivised to do what higher management tells him to do. But getting onto that treadmill is still a perfectly voluntary choice. Moreover a high paid job where you have to follow more orders than you would wish to, allows you to save, which in turn allows you to step out of the rat race to follow your star. And if you don’t like it because you hate taking orders, you can start your own business with a tiny amount of capital, or even none.

        The oppression inherent in capitalism (aka free markets) is the oppression of nature. Nature is trying to kill you. You need to do something to keep yourself alive. It is not oppression by other humans. In a free society, which permits voluntary association, other humans provide you with countless opportunities to stay alive in a style unimaginable to your great grandfather, and with about a quarter of the labor he put in.

        1. SL : but you can’t speak politically for others without resort to tyranny

          I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

          If I attempted to stop people expressing their political opinions by force, then yes that would be tyrannical. What would that have to do with capitalism ?

          most workers have better prospects to escape that through politics than through capitalist self-help

          But that bit I did understand. “Most workers” you suggest, have better prospects to avoid being told what to do by their employers, if “politics” (aka force) is used on the employers. This turns out not to be the case. The countries in which the workers have the most choices (and the best standard of living) are the capitalist free market ones.

          There are many many illustrations but the classic one is that of the UK and Hong Kong. The rich colonial power had in 1960 a per capita GDP about four or five times as high as its poor Asian colony. The UK then pursued “politics” while HK pursued “capitalism.” Forty years later, the “poor” Asian colony had a per capita GDP of about 125% of that of the “rich” colonial power.

          Along the way, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers took the shortest possible route to avoiding the “oppression” of tyrannical employers. They started their own businesses. Many very ordinary people became so wealthy that they could send their children to Western universities, where they could sit in pampered luxury, being taught about the horrors of capitalist oppression by people who have read some Foucault, but have no idea how to operate a fork lift truck.

        2. LM: “2. unless he lives in a one horse town in the middle of nowhere, with only one employer (in which case it’s easy enough to move)”

          I can assure you there are still places in America where you are wrong on this. There are places in my state where there aren’t any jobs, any employer there has no openings, and moving isn’t remotely an option because there’s no money and no other way out.

          1. And yet, there are thousands of Somalis, without two bits to rub together, who have made it to Minneapolis. Perhaps one or two of the more enterprising ones could do speaking tours in rural Oklahoma to hand out a few tips on how it’s done.

            1. Somali’s used as an example to dismiss my claim of people and locations in my state where moving out isn’t an option? Gee I guess I should just give up now that you’ve refuted my entire argument, right?

              I don’t think you understand, these people have no skills, no money, no car, nothing. I agree that it’s not a large percentage but you’re insanely naive if you think that just because you say it, it is so.

              1. 1. the point of mentioning Somalis is – obviously – that it is a lot harder to get to Minneapolis from Somalia, than it is from rural Oklahoma, rural Ohio or rural Alabama. Especially with international borders to cross, and when you don’t speak English. So some of the poorest, worst educated people in the world, minus the English language, can accomplish a task far more difficult than escaping from a one horse town in America.

                2. But of course there are people too incompetent (or disabled) to do the one horse town escape. But to the nearest decimal place, such folk would be unemployable even if they could make it to Minneapolis. So yes, capitalism and free markets do not guarantee a job for everyone. If your productivity is zero or less, you’re going to have to rely on charity.

                3. However, of the small number of folk “stuck” in the middle of nowhere, most are not actually stuck. If you can flip burgers in Minneapolis, you can make it to Minneapolis to flip them. They’re stuck in their heads – they just don’t want to go – they’ve got Moms, or dogs, or the big city is scary (which it is). They could manage it perfectly well if staying meant starving, but these days it doesn’t. But let’s be clear, I agree, there are some – a few of the few – who really couldn’t make it to Minneapolis, even if their lives were at stake.
                4. But we were discussing Mr Lathrop’s theory of employer oppression (a subset of capialist oppression). Whatever the sad situation of the few unemployables in our midst, precisely none of it can be attributed to employer oppression.

                1. Lee: your assertions that free markets reward people commensurate with their personal utility are so riddled with absurd corollaries that they can’t be taken seriously:

                  – Hedge fund managers have thousands of times more personal utility than almost anyone.

                  – The personal utility of white males has been falling steadily for about 40 years.

                  – Black women have notably higher personal utility than black men.

                  – The Walton family collectively has higher personal utility than than the bottom 50% of the American work force combined.

                  – Automation makes the personal utility of people decline.

                  The atomizing thrust of free market ideology is not a simplifying advantage. It is a simplifying flaw. Economic systems are best judged, and adjusted, according to their observed effects, not according to ideological premises.

                  1. A pretty weak effort at changing the subject, supported by a set of “assertions” that are nowhere asserted except in your imagination.

                    What we were actually discussing was your suggestion that employers in a capitalist system wield the same sort of power over their employees as the state asserts over them (and everybody) in a socialist system.

                    It’s easily refuted by noting – as I did – that in a capitalist system virtually everyone, except the significantly disabled and the hopelessly incompetent, has a wide selection of employers to choose from (including themselves.) Consequently if an employee in a capitalist system s left with a small choice of employers, none of whom offer particularly cheerful wages and conditions, that means the employee is almost certainly not very useful.

            2. “there are thousands of Somalis, without two bits to rub together, who have made it to Minneapolis.”

              Yep. THAT certainly proves that there are no poor people anywhere.

          2. Back in 2008 that happened to me; I got laid off from the factory where I’d been the tooling engineer, couldn’t get another job locally, had no savings, just a house I owed more on than it was now worth.

            Moved anyway. Lost my home in the country on 16 acres in the process, my credit record was trashed for the better part of a decade, but I still moved. The only part of moving that wasn’t easy was realizing everything I had there was a boat anchor, and letting go of it.

        3. “1. the “or else” consists of “or our voluntary association will come to an end” – no fines, no gulags, no punishment beatings”

          You need to review your US history. There appear to be some gaps. May I suggest you Google “Pinkerton’s”?

          1. If you are willing to go back 125 years for your counterargument, why not a thousand?
            To the extent that the bosses broke the law, that’s not capitalism’s fault.
            To the extent that they met force with force while protecting private property, they did nothing wrong.

          2. “You need to review your US history. There appear to be some gaps. May I suggest you Google “Pinkerton’s”?”

            You need to read “Meet You in Hell”; you are an unlettered idiot.

      2. “Do as you’re told. Or else.

        Lee, how is that not the commanding utterance of every capitalist ever, addressing his work force? ”

        Hmmm. And what happens in a Democratic Socliaist context when your boss tells you to do something? Or are there no bosses?

        1. You tell the boss to take it up with the union?

          But of course, that is a distortion. Because when unions are dealt in to collaborate with management, bosses much less frequently say, “Do as you’re told. Or else.”

    2. “But the non malleable core of socialism is always the same. Do as you’re told. Or else.”

      I believe the proper Democratic Socialist terminology is “Toe the line your betters set for you. Or else.”

      I learn so many things reading this blog.

  4. Socialism, of whatever brand, has never worked and can never work for one simple reason – basic economics. So many idealistic morons are attracted to socialism because they think it is a fairer, more equitable, way to allocate resources, food, medical care, housing, education, etc. BUT economics is NOT just about dividing up an economic pie. That mountain of goods and services didn’t just appear as if by magic, and once government is done dealing out todays mountain of goods, there must be some way to replenish the supplies for tomorrows needs. There are only two ways to ensure that supply. You either allow the economic incentives which will induce people to create and supply the goods and services of their own free will, or you enslave them and use forced labor. Now a plan that calls for a return of slavery is, I assume, not going to be terribly popular with those enamored of “Democratic socialism.” But you simply cannot untether the supply side of the equation from the demand side; the economic incentives that insure that there will be enough food, housing, medical care, clothing, education, and, just as important, in the right mix, can ONLY come from the demand side of the equation, and only in information which accurately informs the producers of the needs, wants, desires and preferences of 350 million consumers (information that it is impossible for the government to gather and use in any sort of a timely fashion, if at all). That information can ONLY be transmitted by prices, prices freely and willingly paid by people who are free to choose what they want or need and how much it is worth to them. Socialism fails, and will ALWAYS fail, because it destroys the very mechanism which allows a complex economy to function, prices.

    1. Thanks Dj. I am low on the learning curve wrt socialism, so the following question isn’t rhetorical: What about the existing elements of the U.S. economy that are said to be socialist – I think these include Social Security, Medicare, the VA – or the aspects of other nations’ economies (such as the Nordic ones) that are socialist in nature? Are they all failures, and for the reason you state? If not, does your claim need to be qualified or modified?

      1. A pretty good rule of thumb is that if something can be done, and can sustain itself, by voluntary contributions alone ; and you would like to change that so that it is done by government direction, sustained by compulsory contributions (in whatever form), then you’re advocating a “socialist” solution.

        Thus most people are “socialist” about national defense (though few in the US recommend a socialist approach to the manufacture of armaments and munitions.) Not many in the US are “socialist” about food production and distribution, though many countries have managed to starve their population by getting socialist about farming.

        A general rule is that outside the traditional and uncontroversial areas like defense, those most enthusiastic about bringing some part of life under government control are those who know least about it, who are consequently are suckers for simplistic solutions that ignore all the practical issues. So you aim to increase food production by making a government decree to build a lot more tractors. But you forget to make extra spare parts, or train people how to service the extra tractors, or distribute fuel to run the tractors, or oil to lubricate them. And even if you’re clever enough to think all that through in advance, all the old tractors get left in the fields rusting, because you’ve abolished the second hand tractor market.

        1. “So you aim to increase food production by making a government decree to build a lot more tractors. But you forget to make extra spare parts, or train people how to service the extra tractors, or distribute fuel to run the tractors, or oil to lubricate them. And even if you’re clever enough to think all that through in advance, all the old tractors get left in the fields rusting, because you’ve abolished the second hand tractor market.”

          Socialist governments are entirely capable of making huge mistakes. But so are thousands or even millions of individuals acting alone under a capitalist organization. Switching from a non-socialized system to a socialized system changes who has priority to the resources. This is hostile to the people who USED to be at or near the top of the priority chain. It is less hostile to people who weren’t. So, for example, switching from a pay-for-play medical system to a socialized one means that wealthy people can’t claim priority when they get sick or injured… ideally, the system might put the sickest people at the top of the priority list.
          We, as a nation, tend to treat wealth as a proxy for merit. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t.

          1. Socialist governments are entirely capable of making huge mistakes. But so are thousands or even millions of individuals acting alone under a capitalist organization.

            True. But the capitalist system is fitted with a number of very useful gadgets that socialist systems lack (and lack deliberately because they use politics instead.)

            Capitalism – contra Marx – does not usually tend to monopoly – and so there are lots of different producers making different mistakes. Failure happens in the capitalist system, but it is not sustained for decades by subsidies from elsewhere. Failure happens quickly and relatively cheaply, and then people copy the successes.

            The capitalist system has a magic information system – prices – which tells everyone how much of what to produce and with what raw materials and what labor without any human, or committee of humans, calculating or knowing the answer to any of these questions. Socialism has to guess wildly about resource allocation, production methods and the value of different outputs. In practice it does this very inefficiently by guessing from the prices in the capitalist system that it replaced. But this obviously becomes increasingly wayward, because in a real economy relative prices change all the time.

            Last but not least, capitaism can innovate, because it rewards successful innovation – and because it allows many innovators to try, and gives rapid feedback on whether a new idea is a good one or not.

            So yes there’s plenty of failure in capitalism. The difference is that in the capitalist system failure is cheap, early and is put to good use.

          2. Switching from a non-socialized system to a socialized system changes who has priority to the resources. This is hostile to the people who USED to be at or near the top of the priority chain. It is less hostile to people who weren’t.

            Of course, if you throw everything up in the air, some who were on top will come down at the bottom and some who were on the bottom come out on top. But though you can do away with a hierarchy you cannot thereby do away with hierarchy itself. The competent rise to the top of whatever hierarchy you give them to climb up, and the not very competent sink to the bottom.

            Of course by continually bopping the competent on the head when their competence begins to show up again (exit kulaks stage left) you can prevent them climbing back up. But that means you need a continual refreshment of the revolution – secret police, gulags, all mod cons. You can’t just overturn things once and then leave things alone. You have to keep at it. That’s why socialist hells are hellish forever – not just in the bloody excitement of the initial revolution.

            And obviously if people come to learn that competence will be punished, you will get less of it. We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.

          3. This is especially stupid even for you. Millions of ppl making their own smaller decisions is far, far less likely to result in mass failure than a limited few or even one decision maker. The decisions that the individual makes sre far, far more likely to be better informed for their needs.

            But what’s even better is you claim that socialized medicine won’t result in tiered levels of care when that is PRECISELY what happens. Just look at Cuba and Venezuela. Hell, just look at the NHS and Canada who both have seen increasing buys of private health insurance and who turf their hard cases to places like… here.

      2. Basically, the socialist parts of the economy are parasitic on the non-socialist parts; They can exist only because resources created by the capitalist part of the economy are forcibly taken away and given to them. Like you can live without the tapeworm, but the tapeworm can’t live without you.

        The capitalist part of the economy could, feasibly, take on such of those functions as are actually needed, (I’m including voluntary charity as part of the “capitalist” economy.) while the socialist part would simply collapse in the absence of the capitalist part.

        In many cases the socialist part of the economy is actually doing things the capitalist part used to do before the government had taken that role on. There are these really nasty parasites fish get sometimes, Cymothoa, which eat the fish’s tongue, and then take its place. The fish needs a tongue, but the only reason it needs the parasite is that the parasite ATE its tongue. Some socialist institutions that actually do useful things are like that; The only reason they’re carrying out those needed tasks is that they’ve destroyed the free institutions that used to do them.

        1. I hit submit a bit early, I meant to point out public schools as an example of the socialist parasite that has largely destroyed the free market solution that existed prior, and taken its place.

          1. The socialist parts of the economy are worse than merely parasitic. They create adverse incentives which warp decisions that radiate through the economy. When the Federal Government created Social Security, it created an unwarranted reliance upon the government to provide for retirement which not only depressed private savings but also displaced the private investment that such private savings could have funded and provided an off-budget stash of funds from which the Federal Government can borrow to finance deficit spending without market discipline. When the Federal Government took over nearly 40% of the health care market with Medicaid and Medicare, fixing reimbursement rates by legislative fiat at less than the costs of service, it forced the costs of privately funded health care to rise to allow providers to recover the built in losses in the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates; it also created incentives for fraudulent billing on Medicare/Medicaid services (fraud is rampant in both programs), diverting resources from the actual delivery of medical services. When the Federal Government provided huge funding for higher education, it created incentives for colleges and universities to increase the market by admitting students unprepared for college and it created incentives to dumb down higher education to avoid the penalties for low graduation rates. On the “corporate welfare” side of the ledger, the ethanol mandate and the huge subsidies for dairy created incredible misallocations, as evidenced by the Billion pounds of cheese currently in government warehouses.

            1. Thanks Dj. Under what conditions (if any) *would* you opt for a socialist approach to the provision of a good?

        2. “Basically, the socialist parts of the economy are parasitic on the non-socialist parts;”

          This is nonsense.
          Consider the federal freeway system. A driver of economic activity, not a parasite on it.
          Sometimes government-operated services generate revenue rather than taking it, such as the Bonneville Power Administration.
          Sometimes government-operated services require subsidy, because they serve non-economic missions (national parks could raise more revenue by raising prices and not letting 4th-graders in for free.
          Sometimes businesses are able to generate profits because costs are shifted to the public (Medicaid and public housing covering for a business that can’t afford to pay enough to its employees enough wages to cover their health and housing needs.)

          Whether or not a particular sector of the economy should be socialized is a complex calculation… and the calculation can be wrong on either side, or even both sides at the same time.

          1. Thanks James, I’m eager to see others’ replies to this.

          2. If it generates so much revenue, why do we need a 2TT infrastructure bill?

            Even better, why does the government need to be involved at all, beyond implementing standards and eminent domain issues? There’s no reason private toll roads wouldn’t work just as well and plenty of evidence they would work better.

          3. Consider the federal freeway system. A driver of economic activity, not a parasite on it.

            Now. After it has been adjusted to. An adjustment that bankrupted thousands of businesses on the roads built where the people needed them–instead of where the government wanted to put them. Whole communities were cut off from the highways that once connected them to the greater society–in much the same way that communities died when the government decided where the trains went.

            It is an economic driver NOW, but is it in the black yet?

            Sometimes government-operated services require subsidy, because they serve non-economic missions (national parks could raise more revenue by raising prices and not letting 4th-graders in for free

            This is not something the government should be involved in at all.

            Sometimes businesses are able to generate profits because costs are shifted to the public (Medicaid and public housing covering for a business that can’t afford to pay enough to its employees enough wages to cover their health and housing needs.)

            And sometimes it’s possible to highlight the entire insanity with a phrase.

            a business that can’t afford to pay enough to its employees enough wages to cover their health and housing needs.)

            Businesses don’t exist to pay employees ANYTHING. Paying employees is a cost to business. It’s part of bringing a product or service to market–the thing that generates the value that is used to pay the employees.

            And bringing a product to market is ALL businesses exist for.

            Employees are paid what the task they do is worth–they are not paid to “cover their health and housing needs”. That is not the employers responsibility.

            People who support socialist ideas have a skewed concept of how things work. They believe that labor has value in and of itself.

            It does not. The thing that labor produces has value–so long as someone wants it.

            This fundamental flaw in their thinking is why socialism can never work.

      3. A generally accepted model when things should be solved by the society at large rather than left to individual choices are when this are non-exclusionary and non-rivalrous.

        The best example of this is major asteroid defense. Because a major asteroid strike anywhere on the earth would kill everyone, it is non-exclusionary – if I build one at my own expense you get all of the benefit too. And because there is no incremental value in having more than one major asteroid defense systems, they are non-rivalrous – if I’ve already paid for one you are no better off if you also pay for another.

        Military defense is usually classified the same way, though that’s slightly trickier because at the margin your house could be protected from invasion while your neighbors is not, though in practice this is a good example.

        Food is exclusive and rivalrous – if I eat something, you can’t eat it too, and if you grow more food, then I also have more options.

        Almost everyone (some anarchists excluded) believe that things that are both on-rivalrous and non-exclusionary are best delivered by the group. History has empirically shown that things that are neither are always better (more efficient, cleaner, and in greater quantity) when left to individual preference (which is a key component of markets, which are really just choice+trade). Things that are only one are trickier.

        1. Thanks for the additional context Lee, Brett and Robert. Robert, your comment prompted me to read about public, common-pool, club, and private goods (i.e. about the 4 different yes/no combos of excludability and rivalry), which was also instructive.
          I am of course still very early on the learning curve, but it seems that regarding a socialist approach as unconditionally an unmitigated evil may be too simplistic, and that a case-by-case analysis (bearing in mind each case’s position in excludability/rivalry space, among many other things) may be more appropriate. Does this make sense to you?

  5. Most of the powers of government would instead fall under the control of politicians, bureaucrats, powerful interest groups, or worse.

    Which differs how from today’s situation?

    1. “Which differs how from today’s situation?”

      Only in the most important way: the scope of power granted to government to run people’s lives. All politicians act in their own best interests, seeking to obtain and then expand their own power. As a result, ALL government is corruptible, and almost all governments are corrupt. Socialism, communism and fascism are all at the extreme end of the spectrum, with the government exercising pervasive power over the lives of the governed, and all eventually (usually sooner rather than later) devolve into kleptocracy. In every socialist regime in history, from the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, Viet Nam, Venezuela, those controlling the levers of political power managed to accumulate great wealth (at least in comparison to the living standards of those they governed) while the populations suffered. Millions starved to death in the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and in North Korea (where starvation continues today). In Venezuela, while the population kills zoo animals for meat, hunts dogs, cats, even rats to eat, Hugo Chavez’s daughters live like billionaires on money sent out of the country by Chavez. The greater the power of government, the greater the theft and graft by politicians. Even in the United States, just take a close look at those politicians who managed to become multi-millionaires while serving as “public servants.” Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, the Clinton family, Diane Feinstein, the list goes on and on (and, while I didn’t name any Republicans, I certainly do NOT intend to imply that they aren’t equally guilty). There is no cure. We can only hope to minimize the corruption, and the only way to do that is to minimize the power we grant to government.

      1. “We can only hope to minimize the corruption, and the only way to do that is to minimize the power we grant to government.”

        It doesn’t minimize corruption, it encourages it. Minimizing government power simply incentivizes the oligarchs who run the show to have one foot in government, and the other in business, where one hand washes the other. Trump justified his donations to the Clintons along these lines.

        1. In the private sector, you can’t compel anyone to transact business with you. This is the essential self-correcting mechanism of capitalism. Any business infected with corruption will soon be replaced by more efficient competitors, UNLESS the “oligarchs” (as you put it) can enlist the help of corrupt politicians to erect artificial barriers to entry. Government has no such self-correcting mechanism. Indeed, if your government department is corrupt enough and inefficient enough, the most likely outcome is that politicians will throw MORE money at it in a self-defeating effort to “solve” the problem. So, no, your comment is wrong on every count.

          1. “In the private sector, you can’t compel anyone to transact business with you.”

            Business and government look after each other. One hand washes the other. No hand needs to be compelled to wash the other.

        2. “Minimizing government power simply incentivizes the oligarchs who run the show to have one foot in government, and the other in business, where one hand washes the other.”

          If the government power is minimized, there are no “oligarchs”.

          1. You can minimize the power of the country’s most powerful people without any consequences? Is that what they are telling you?

      2. “Only in the most important way: the scope of power granted to government to run people’s lives.”

        Do you classify people who can affect your life into two groups, private individuals and groups (OK to run your life) in one, and government individuals and groups (bad bad bad)?

        When the light turns red and you have to stop, is that a crushing blow to your individual freedom to go where you want, when you want to go? Or is installation and maintenance of traffic lights a key to the system that actually does let you get anywhere?

        If government imposes a law that says he can’t burn your house down, is THAT a crushing blow to individual freedom? How about when they back it up with force?

        (Hint: Nearly all of the time, a statement about one person’s rights and freedom can be expressed in terms of another person’s rights and freedom.)

        1. Hint: NAP

          You’re not indoctrinating preschool here even though that appears to be the limit of your argumentation.

    2. Today, the Trump Administration can’t decide that your family won’t get your daily allotment of bread.

  6. Two great and indispensable economic powers: production and distribution. Experience teaches that reliance on either to the exclusion of the other is unwise.

    Two great and competing mediating powers: money and politics. Libertarians teach getting politics out of it. But experience teaches that reliance on either to the exclusion of the other is unwise.

    1. “But experience teaches that reliance on either to the exclusion of the other is unwise.”

      Even if that is true, it doesn’t imply that the ideal mix is 50/50.

      I will apply the 80/20 rule and suggest that the ideal mix is closer to 80% money and 20% government

      1. I will apply the “things are too complex to be expressed on a bumper sticker rule” and reject your mathematical computation(s).

        1. And yet they are simple enough that a government can decide correctly what is right? COEXIST got nuthin on you.

  7. Ominously, even some non-socialist Democrats now see court-packing as an attractive tool to wrest control of the Supreme Court back from Republicans.

    There is nothing ominous about that. Control of the Court by either political party is what is ominous. Between Democratic Party control and Republican Party control, there is nothing to choose. Either alternative portends an illegitimate, non-functioning Court.

    The Court is packed now, and on the verge of being more thoroughly packed, by Republicans. Alas, court packing will prove the only way to fix that. The trick will be to use politics to de-pack the court, instead of to flip the control.

    That is doable, but not without seeing the problem for what it is.

    1. The Court is not “packed”. One party happens to have won enough elections recently to have appointed more of the odd number of Justices than the other party. The appointees are currently 5-4; this is as close to equal as is possible.

      “Packing the Court” is shorthand for “changing to rules to create enough openings to be filled by the packing party to guarantee that that party’s appointees will always control the outcome”. There’s frequently an unstated “forever” at the end of that, too.

      I would be interested in how you suggest to “de-pack” the Court. You obviously have to do away with appointments, and probably get rid of the odd number of members. So, since you “see the problem for what it is”, what don’t you tell us?

      1. The Court could be enlarged through compliance with the rules. This has occurred a number of times. The Arizona Supreme Court was enlarged a few years ago.

        Relax. Enjoy progress.

      2. Enough elections? Sure, if you count the election awarded to Republicans by a Republican Court—which to do it ignored every precedent and principle the Court had previously applied to political questions. And the other election, where the Senate Majority Leader (not the Senate) decided the sitting president only gets a 3-year term. Absent those little anomalies, the Court today would be about 6-3 partisan Democrats—with Garland among the 3.

        What you have there Toranth is a taunt, not an argument. But it doesn’t matter what you think, because Democrats, and history too, will surely see it otherwise. So unless your hope is to brainwash history and the nation, you had better get used to the idea that Democrats expect payback—not just for a single court seat, but for a stolen court majority. (If you try to argue there is no stolen court majority, I am just going to laugh at you, because the point of the argument is to see this as Democrats see it, so we can predict what they will do.)

        Democrats will without question seize the first political opportunity they get to turn the tables. I don’t advocate for that, I fear it. You should fear it too. The nation needs a working, non-political Supreme Court.

        I have commented at length in previous threads on the court reform that will become possible when Democrats next assemble sufficient political power to do as they please with the appointments process. The short answer is they threaten an apocalyptic counter-pack, increasing the number of justices, and using young, highly ideological Democratic appointees.

        And then Democrats offer to forego doing it. The condition is that Republicans agree to a plan to strip the present Court down to one justice per side, and replace the others using an appointment process so super-majority stringent that candidates with politicized backgrounds face certain failure in the Senate. With that agreement institutionalized, either by amendment, or at least in the Senate rules, Democrats could offer a one-time sharing agreement on nominations to refill the Court. Both sides could compete to pick the best judicial temperaments and least partisan among their nominees, because politics wouldn’t matter anymore. And neither side would thereafter have reason to fear tit-for-tat retaliation, unless the other side defaulted on the compromise—for which it would pay a fearsome political price.

        1. “Sure, if you count the election awarded to Republicans by a Republican Court”

          I assume you’re talking about the 2000 Presidential election, which Gore lost on election night, lost in the recount, and was on his way to losing a third time when the Supreme court put an end to “counting until we get it right”.

          I’ll actually grant that the Supreme court should have stayed out of it; Not every mess the judiciary makes has to be cleaned up by the judiciary. The Florida legislature had that one in hand.

          “And the other election, where the Senate Majority Leader (not the Senate) decided the sitting president only gets a 3-year term. ”

          Where the Senate decided they weren’t required to confirm the President’s nominee?

          1. “Where the Senate decided they weren’t required to confirm the President’s nominee?”

            Which itself isn’t even the case, as there are at least a dozen other case in US history where the Senate refused to consider a presidential nominee to SCOTUS.

            1. Precisely. Not receiving a vote is, in fact, the MOST COMMON way for a Supreme Court nominee to be declined.
              Lathrop, with his references to Gore and Garland, is just throwing a purely partisan temper tantrum.

        2. ” The nation needs a working, non-political Supreme Court.”

          Something we have never had and will never have as long as the selection of new justices is under the control of the political branches of the government.

          If I was in charge and starting from scratch:

          1 One time appointment of first chief justice by president with requirement for unanimous Senate confirmation.

          2 Chief Justice nominates associate justices and all lower court judges subject to Senate confirmation by 2/3rds majority.

          3. In the event of a vacancy in the Chief Justice slot, the associate justices elect one of themselves to the chief justice slot. New chief justice nominates someone to fill his old slot.

        3. The idiocy contained in your ranting about “stolen seats” is impressive, but not useful.

          On the other hand, you do actually have an idea to address what you see as a problem. So let’s talk about that. Using Amendments and laws, you suggest that the two parties each choose one (reliable = partisan) judge to keep, and ditch the rest. Then, replacements are chosen by the senate using a super-majority rule to keep them “bipartisan”. Do I have this correct?

          In that case, I can tell you what will happen, in the best case: As soon as one party gets a supermajority, all remaining opening will be filled by hyper-partisan judges, and we’re back to failure again.
          A more likely case is that the process is so difficult that seats remain open for years or decades. The last few years have shown that there is no such thing as a judge that is acceptable to both sets of politicians.
          Not to mention that as soon as any “neutral” judge ruled against one party, that side would take it as a betrayal and stop supporting the process.

          Your idea seems impractical and likely to lead to a state no better than now, and likely worse.

      3. “‘Packing the Court’ is shorthand for ‘changing to rules to create enough openings to be filled by the packing party to guarantee that that party’s appointees will always control the outcome'”

        Under that defintion, the Court is currently packed. “Changing the rules” would be the McConnell rule, which changed an opening to be filled by not-his-party into an opening to be filled by his party.

        1. You misspelled the Biden rule. Understandable. Oh, and Mr. Bork would like a word..

  8. You’re taking the “democratic” here too seriously. It’s just a rule of thumb, but quite reliable: No organization that bothers to call itself “democratic” IS democratic.

    1. Oh I’m sure it would be democratic up until the very end when the noose is tightened, just like what happened in Venezuela. But eventually, the people would democratically vote themselves into a noose and the leadership would ‘for the people’ tighten that noose and let us swing. Judging by time-frames, it wouldn’t take long. 10 years at most I would venture to guess.

      1. Vote to give dear leader emergency powers. They never gave it back in Greece, Rome, or 1930s Germany, but I am sure this time it will work. Ooops, Venezuela.

        1. “Vote to give dear leader emergency powers. They never gave it back in Greece, Rome”

          Never? Cincinnatus.

    2. Too many people seem to forget that Vladimir Lenin was a Democratic-Socialist until he wasn’t!

  9. So far in every form of government including our current one, those in power use that power to shore up their own power and prevent challenges to said power. How would it be any different for a ‘democratic socialist’ system? Considering the abuses by those in power of socialist nations, what would be in place to prevent it from happening even more so in any other system? A court system without any physical power to back it up? So far that hasn’t helped anywhere else, except to shore up those already in power.

    No, I think I’ll stick with what we have and try to change it with improvements here and there versus ousting it for a vague promise of ‘this time it’s different’.

    1. “Considering the abuses by those in power of socialist nations, what would be in place to prevent it from happening even more so in any other system?”

      This is what a bureaucracy is FOR.
      The goal of a bureaucracy is to make every decision in advance, and then apply those pre-existing decisions to any circumstance that arises. With all the decisions made in advance, it takes time (and considerable effort) to replace all those pre-made decisions. So when the would-be dictator shows up, and wants to change everything, the bureaucracy keeps using the old decisions until they get specific new instructions, which causes the would-be dictator to start whining that the “Deep State” is working against him.

      1. No, that is what laws are for. Bureaucries are means of creating unaccountable rule makers and powerful institutions of control so that ousted tyrants can still exercise control even after they have been removed.

        FTFY

  10. It’s absolutely insane that people talk about the “government” like it’s some sort of alien entity that came from outer space and simply imposed its will upon us.

    The government is us and it has always been like that.

    Even the cruelest despots need thousands of ministers, police, Waffen-SS, soldiers, jailers, etc., to operate their “government.”

    I’m optimistic that our democratic system is robust enough to swing to the left – or the right – to a certain degree (and swing back again), in order to prevent governmental extremism.

    1. History does not support that hope. It didn’t 250 years ago, either, which lead to an absolutist design of a constitution that, in theory, granted government certain powers and no others, and surrounded it with safety bars of the Bill of Rights.

      The subsequent centuries bore out the need for it, as well as the sad inevitability of the arrogation of new powers anyway by declaratory fiat rather than amendment, in spite of this design and these bars.

      Any hole you can drive good intentions through can be used by a demagogue to drive pseudo good intentions through.

      1. And yet, here we are, the most powerful country on the planet with no one even a close second.

        I guess we got lucky?

        1. It was a combination of luck, (Almost everybody else got trashed during WWII.) and starting from a good enough position that it took a while for the decay to really start advancing fast.

          1. Not to mention that the settlement of the frontier took a certain type of mentality, which has been passed through the generations. It’s being replaced, however, by third world immigrants and brainwashing among the native population.

      2. “The subsequent centuries bore out the need for it, as well as the sad inevitability of the arrogation of new powers anyway by declaratory fiat rather than amendment, in spite of this design and these bars.”

        There are three broad eras of American government under the Constitution. First, from Revolution to the Civil War *really, early reconstruction), Second, from the Civil War to the Great Depression, and Third from the Great Depression until now.
        In the first era, Americans who’d chafed under the sovereign rule of a monarch strived to limit the power of the government. (Note that this era contains two separate cases of broadly strengthening the federal government, as Americans realized they’d made it too weak… First, they dropped the Articles of Confederation for the Constitution, Second, they passed the 14th amendment, bringing this period to a close.
        During the second era, the federal government was stronger, now finding itself in the position of defending its citizens’ rights against incursion from the States. In the third era, you have the rise of the Administrative State, as Congress delegated day-to-day management to the administrative agencies. In recent sessions, the Congress has grown increasingly ineffective, as partisan stalemate prevented significant changes (with a few exceptions). Now, we Americans decided we want an ineffective President, too.

    2. History teaches me not to be so confident about that.

      The basic problem of expecting democracy to swing back from extremism, is that there are things that extremists can do while in power to make this harder. Which is why “One man, one vote, one time” has been such a problem in South America. Some people, even in the US, share Erdogan’s view of democracy: “Democracy is like a train; When you reach your destination you get off.”

      And Democrats are presently discussing implementing many of these measures when next they get in power. Court packing, converting territories and DC to states, reversing CU so that they can impose political censorship in the name of “campaign reform”.

      In a democracy a faction that is sufficiently unscrupulous can convert a moment of power into the end of the democracy. That robustness you’re relying on is dependent on those scruples that you can’t really rely on sticking around.

      1. “Court packing, converting territories and DC to states. . . .”

        OH NO! Using valid, constitutionally-authorized methods.

        THE HORROR!

        1. Indeed, it is quite possible, once you democratically gain power, to use constitutionally authorized methods to convert the country into a one party state. All constitutions carry the seeds of their own destruction, in the sense that they must to some extent unavoidably rely on the people in power not deliberately setting out to subvert the system.

          Heck, get enough of a majority, and you could, constitutionally, repeal even the Bill of Rights. It just happens to take a much smaller majority to staff the judiciary with people who won’t enforce it.

          1. You guys are such pessimists.

            I guess that comes from being on the losing side most of the time.

            1. Thankfully just most of the time, but yes, pessimism is a common product of watching a free society succumb to decay, even if you know intellectually that it was inevitably going to happen at some point.

          2. “once you democratically gain power, to use constitutionally authorized methods to convert the country into a one party state”

            Its very simple. Doesn’t take much See California.

            “Non-partisan” “independent” commission to draw boundaries, jungle primary to depress opposition votes, legal vote “harvesting”.

            Viola. All state offices, veto proof majorities if a miracle [Arnold S.] governor takes power, huge Congressional majorities to influence the nation.

          3. The deeply brilliant but politically naive logician Kurt Godel nearly screwed up his citizenship interview because during his preparation he believed he had spotted a contradiction in the U.S. Constitution allowing the setting up of a dictatorship, *and* an opportunity for him to expound on this actually arose during his interview. Fortunately for Godel he was being minded by his friends Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern, and the interviewer was a judge known to Einstein; so when Godel started to explicate his discovery the judge hastily cut him off and wrapped things up favorably.

        2. “OH NO! Using valid, constitutionally-authorized methods. THE HORROR!”

          I’m sure that’s exactly how you felt about the Senate’s treatment of Merrick Garland.

          1. Yeah. . .no.

            There’s a difference between complaining about politics/policies and complaining about the Constitution.

            1. Yeah…no right back at you. Most of your fellow leftists commenting on the subject argued that the Republicans were constitutionally obligated to grant a hearing and up/down vote.

              1. It should be noted that committee hearings on nominees wasn’t even a thing until the 20th century.

                Prior to that while committees made recommendations on nominees to the floor, the committee did not control whether or not there would be a vote or when the vote occurred. The committees did not meet with or take testimony from the nominee or anyone else. There are at least a dozen cases from the 19th century where the Senate refused to hold a vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

                The first committee hearing on a judicial nominee was around 1905. And even then, it didn’t become regular practice to hold hearings on all nominees until AFTER WWII.

      2. “And Democrats are presently discussing implementing many of these measures when next they get in power.”

        And Republicans will soon enough be discussing implementing many of these measures, too, because they’re out of power.

        The biggest challenge to freedom is gerrymandering. I have a simple solution for this: Instead of the party that is in power being allowed to re-draw the district lines, give the job to the party OUT of power. R’s drawing districts in California. D’s drawing districts in South Carolina. This won’t make California suddenly Republican, nor South Carolina suddenly Democratic, but the minority voters in those states will get a couple of competitive districts instead of being diluted away. To get incumbents to support this, throw in a rule that says you can’t get rid of a Rep by drawing the new district so his home is no longer in it (forget to mention that just because they’re still in the district, it doesn’t mean that the majority of the voters that put them in Congress last election are still in it, too.)
        I predict that this change would produce a less-polarized House. The current system of gerrymandering is why we’re polarized now… districts are drawn to be safe for one party or the other, so the way to win is to be more strongly partisan. Make it so the district isn’t safely partisan, and the way to win is to appeal to a majority of both parties… to be more centrist. Maybe I just like this because I’m centrist. If so, whatever.

  11. I’m so old…

    (“How old are you?”)

    I’m so old, I can remember when Democrats and liberals would get all indignant and angry when some right-winger accused them of being socialists.

  12. This article once again drags out the fear of socialism. People will move to socialism when capitalism fails them and that is what is happening now. So don’t tell me how bad socialism is tell me how you are going to improve capitalism. Tell me how you are going to provide more access to health care with capitalism. Tell me how you are going to provide a living wage with capitalism. Tell me how you address environmental problems with capitalism. If you can not then maybe socialism is the way to go.

    1. Socialists get a bit of power, use it to poison a country with a small dose of socialism, and then tell people that the symptoms are actually the fault of capitalism, and socialism is the cure.

      How am I going to provide more access to health care with capitalism?

      1) Remove the requirement that insurance be sold in-state, so as to create a larger, nation-wide market in health insurance.
      2) Cut the link between health insurance and employment, by granting the same tax status to health insurance regardless of where you get it, instead of only employer supplied heath insurance being pre-tax.
      3) End the cartelization of health care by allowing non-doctors to provide basic medical services, and allowing people access to test results without inter-mediation by doctors.
      4) Free the economy, so that fast economic growth resumes, and the money is there to PAY for health care.

      That last is important; Without a vibrant economy, you just flat out can’t pay for stuff, regardless of institutional arrangements.

      1. 1. Disagree with nation-wide insurance. There is no indication will provide better low cost insurance. Studies also show that closer you are to you insurance company the better the service.
        2. Agree that we need to break link of insurance with employer. Could also do this with a nation wide insurance system.
        3. Need to flesh this out more. Who can provide what service? Health care is not cheaper if you end up at the doctor after some quack sells you a home remedy.
        4. A vibrant economy depends on a strong middle class. Current capitalism focuses too much on the upper class at the expense of middle class. Change this and no one will be talking about socialism.

        1. 1) The nation-wide insurance has two virtues:
          A) You don’t need to change insurers when you move.
          B) You’re not subject to local idiosyncratic regulations, because if your local government has some weird demand it makes of insurers, you buy your insurance elsewhere.
          2) At the price of creating a monopoly that can shoot people. No thanks. Why is it that people who normally understand monopolies are bad, suddenly fall in love with them if they have their own army?
          3) Most medical services are closer in complexity to getting an oil change, than they are to heart surgery. I agree,you want SOME sort of certification process for the latter, but the prices are still being driven up by cartelization.
          4) Get rid of progressive taxation, and you can expect a strong middle class. With progressive taxation, it’s too much in the government’s interest to boost income inequality, because it automatically increases revenues and reduces the cost of collection.

          1. 3. Is the one I really care about, as it’s the largest driver of non-emergent healthcare costs.

            Here’s the sketch of the needed changes:
            A) un-restrict access to all drugs other than those that cause externalities (almost exclusively antibiotics, anti-fungal, etc)
            B) local option of whether all drugs are OTC or some are behind the counter only – I’m in favor of putting very potent drugs behind the counter, but we don’t actually know which works better.
            C) remove all speech restrictions regarding health (ex today a physician who works for me but who isn’t licensed in the state I live cannot give me advice on medical issues….except when I fly out to see him)
            D) remove “tort reform” limits to liability – a surgeon acting with gross negligence shouldn’t be immunized for permanently disabling a person. Local option to preempt contractual liability limits.

            E) Mandatory posting of prices.

            There’s a few more, but that’s the gist, which will allow 7-11 to train their clerks to diagnose strep throat by comparing your throat to a diagnosis card and looking for spots.

            1. “C) remove all speech restrictions regarding health (ex today a physician who works for me but who isn’t licensed in the state I live cannot give me advice on medical issues….except when I fly out to see him)”

              Got some miracle health-restoring snake oil here. Get yer snake oil. Only $1 per bottle… guaranteed to cure (list of random ailments) 100% non-addictive!

    2. Almost everything to today being called market/capitalism failures can be laid right back at the feet of government regulators, because 9 time out of 10 when you dig in, the real cause is past government interference in the market.

      You agree below that the link between employment and insurance should be broken. That’s the perfect example. This is a government failure, not a market failure.

      All of your employment “benefits” (aka indirect compensation) go back to wage caps enacted by the federal government during WWII. The government wanted to keep the cost of war materials down, but labor was scarce due to the war, and companies need a way to attract workers thus the idea of indirect compensation..

      Why is it that some people think that the answer to government failures is more government?

      1. “Almost everything to today being called market/capitalism failures can be laid right back at the feet of government regulators, because 9 time out of 10 when you dig in, the real cause is past government interference in the market.”

        If you keep digging, you find that the cause of the past government interference in the market is because some person, group, organization, or business was doing something nefarious, and the people wanted it stopped, which legislators responded to.

    3. You claim that capitalism is failing people yet capitalism already provides the solutions you ask for.

      Capitalism generates excess wealth. Populations that have excess wealth use some of it to improve the environment. Note that environmentalism as a movement was started by the country that embraced capitalism more than any other and that as the economy improved, the environment got better, not worse. Non-capitalist countries, on the other hand, are almost always environmental disasters. For an especially stark comparison, look at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

      Capitalism also generates all the health care treatments you want. What capitalism will never deliver (and neither will any other system) is unlimited access to healthcare. Healthcare, like everything else in life, is a constrained resource. Time, talent and materials spent on healthcare are unavailable for other priorities. That said, capitalism sends clear and coherent signals about what kinds of healthcare people actually want. The availability of healthcare (whether measured by wait times or any other measure) shows it to be more available in capitalist countries than in non. And that specifically includes the availability for those at the poor end of the income distribution. They may not have as much healthcare as the rich but they have more than their counterparts in non-capitalist societies.

      re: a living wage – you are assuming that the idea is a good. I would argue that the way to earn a living wage is to learn how to do something that other people want done enough to pay you for. If you think you “deserve” a living wage while you “pursue your passion” in underwater basketweaving, well, I’m not sure that we have enough common ground to even have a conversation.

      1. While capitalism generates excess wealth, that wealth is not always returned to the economy. Part of the problem today is that too much wealth is sequestered by a small number of people. This is the main problem with today’s capitalism. Change the policies from directing wealth to the top and instead focus money moving to the middle class. The middle class is more likely to return wealth to the economy and so keep it vibrant.

        No one should get a living wage for underwater basket weaving. I agreed, but we need to have jobs that will provide a living wage. I should not have to provide subsidies (food stamps/housing support) so a big box store or fast food restaurants can have cheap labor.

        1. How do you think wealth gets “sequestered”? Are you assuming that the rich pack their bills into mattresses to sleep on? Or do you think that they store it in big money bins like Scrooge McDuck?

          1. One example: The after the Republican tax cut we saw the stock buy backs. Fox news (hardly liberal) reported that stock buy back were occurring at 30 times the amount for wage increases (the propose purpose of the tax cut). This does nothing for the economy but make the stocks more valuable and so for the wealthiest people, makes them wealthier. It is a high tech way to stuff a mattress.

            By contrast, middle class people are likely to move money around. Yes put some in saving or the market, but also fix up the house, buy a car, take a family trip. All things that move money in the economy.

            1. Those buybacks resulted in more invested capital, hence “capitalism.” That invested capital leads to growth.

              Repeat after me, consumption DESTROYS wealth. All of those things that “move money” around the economy are not the source of wealth. The PRODUCTION of those things is.

      2. “Populations that have excess wealth use some of it to improve the environment. ”

        ???

        The way to GET excess wealth is to ravage the environment.

        “Note that environmentalism as a movement was started by the country that embraced capitalism more than any other”

        Note that “remove-the-mountaintop mining” ALSO got started in the same nation.

        ” I would argue that the way to earn a living wage is to learn how to do something that other people want done enough to pay you for.”

        Which is nice, if there are enough such somethings-to-do that everybody can have one.
        I will suggest, modest-proposal style, that the simplest way to ensure success in the system you advocate would be to simply kill anyone who’s better at what you do than you are, so that you can be the best and command the highest prices.
        For me, the main criticism of capitalism is wealth accumulation. A guy comes up with a great idea, goes into business to exploit his idea, makes a giant pile of money. So far, so great. But then he uses that wealth to limit the ability of others to follow. Then you get the children of the guy, who are wealthy despite NOT having done anything to earn. They ALSO use their wealth to limit the ability of others to become wealthy. You eventually wind up with a class system that allocates wealth not on merit, but on having been born with wealth. Had I been born with wealth, I might prefer such a system, but I wasn’t.

    4. Tell me how you are going to provide more access to health care with capitalism.

      1. End caps on med school admissions
      2. End the practice of ‘residency’
      3. End ‘certificate of need’ requirements
      4. End ‘in-state’ insurance requirements
      5. End employer supplied health insurance
      6. Enact ‘loser pays’
      7. Support retail medicine
      8. End the prescription system (legalize ALL drugs)
      9. End the subsidization of socialized healthcare

    5. Tell me how you are going to provide a living wage with capitalism.

      I’m not. Businesses don’t exist to provide ‘living wages’. They exist to provide goods and services to consumers at the best prices.

      But, we can help get towards better prices for everyone

      1. End price supports
      2. End subsidies and bail-outs
      3. End all minimum wage requirements
      4. End all laws that allow ‘closed shops’ that are not announced prior to hiring
      5. End all behavioral taxation
      6. End tenure
      7. Make all employment ‘at will’ unless otherwise contracted at hiring
      8. Enforce citizenship laws.
      9. Regulate the border

    6. Tell me how you address environmental problems with capitalism

      This would depend on the problem, wouldn’t it?

      1. End municipal dumping
      2. End government backed environmental insurance
      3. End government backed energy monopolies
      4. End government funded environmental organizations
      5. Promote nuclear power
      6. Promote environmental reason over panic
      7. Allow market solutions
      8. Stop using science as a social justice petri dish
      9. Allow people to profit off of environmentally sound solutions

  13. For me, the argument against Socialism goes something like this;
    “You Socialists had a hundred years, starting in 1917, to produce a Socialist Society that wasn’t a horror show. Even granting the questionable exceptions of the Scandinavian countries, which had multiple problems connected to their allegedly Socialist tendencies, your record is a bad one. If you still think you can make it work, feel free to set up an example composed of volunteers. But until you show you can get it right on a scale smaller than a State, I think we should do something – almost anything – else.

  14. You already see “hoarder” references all over Twitter about wealthy people, sometimes just regular people with nice houses and 401ks. Just like “hoarders and wreckers” from the Soviet code.

    The left is pushing violence against rightist politicians. Milkshakes now but acid later.

    Bernie Sanders, the leading socialist, is an admirer of the Soviet Union. The only conclusion from that is that he will likes Soviet style brutality and oppression, I am assuming it can’t be the economic “miracle” since I am assuming he isn’t stupid. His admiration for the Sandinistas and Cubans reinforces this.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    1. “Milkshakes now but acid later.”

      Indeed, once you establish that people can have things thrown in their faces, the acid IS pretty inevitable. Just like rotten fruit opens the door to rocks.

  15. Prof. Somin ignores what is the most subtle yet powerful threat to democracy under socialistic regimes – the rise of the administrative state. The EU is a great example of this. How democratically accountable is the regulatory apparatus in Brussels? We are already well on our way to post-democracy here. It’s not as bad as the EU, but we’re getting there.

  16. The greatest barrier to the implementation of socialistic policies here is the financing part of the equation. We cannot spend at the level of the Europeans (30-40% of GDP) without implementing a similar taxation regime, which is politically impossible in the U.S. The Democratic Socialists believe that the main difference between the two systems of taxation is that the Euros tax the wealthy more heavily than we do here. No, the biggest difference is that the Euros have a much broader tax base than we do, i.e. the Euros tax the middle and lower classes much more heavily than we do here. They do so through a combination of lower income thresholds for the various marginal tax rates and higher consumption taxes (e.g. VATs). This would require a massive middle class tax hike which, as stated above, is politically impossible. Otherwise, implementing the Democratic Socialist’s agenda would explode deficits to such a degree that economic collapse would be imminent. Until the DSs can figure out how to sell such a massive tax increase to the American people, they need to put their idiotic spending proposals out of their evidently miniscule minds.

    1. Exactly. They want European style spending but not European style taxation. In places like Norway and Denmark, they don’t have half the population paying 0 or negative taxes.

  17. One of the problems with people who grow up terrified is they have flashbacks. They see shadows of terror in things others see as normal. Sometimes this is a useful contribution – there may in fact be hidden dangers, and normal people may be naive and need warning. But sometimes the shadows don’t represent real danger, and then we tend to regard the flashbacks as representing a psychological problem rather than a source of wisdom.

    The truth is it’s hard to tell which is which. We don’t know for sure which is which. We have only our instincts, our small intellect, our narrow experience. Sometimes are instincts are spot on. Sometimes they aren’t. This is why, when people’s instincts differ, it’s a mistake to simply compare others’ instincts to one’s own and judge accordingly. One’s instincts may be a source of truth for oneself. But they are not objective source of truth. They might be wrong. To confuse one’s instincts with objective truth, truth for all people in all times, is the fundamental source of error.

    I don’t share Professor Somin’s fear of anything even slightly resembling socialism. Capitalism as practiced today has flaws, including a tiny number of people with great wealth and large numbers in poverty. A society might find it a reasonable bargain to exchange slower growth and inefficiencies for a somewhat more balanced distribution and social peace and greater overall happiness. It might be wrong to do so. There might be unintended consequences. But whether to do so or not strikes me as a matter for reasoned debate, not something to instinctively shy away from in terrified fear.

    But I don’t know for sure. I want to acknowledge the possibility that I might be wrong, and Professor Somin’s instincts might represent wisdom.

    1. It should be noted that regarding your primary flaw (“a tiny number of people with great wealth and large numbers in poverty”), capitalism is far and away the greatest system for reducing poverty we’ve found so far. The alternatives result in less income inequality but only because everyone is poor together.

      Consider that what we consider “poverty” in the US would be considered outrageous wealth at any previous point in history and is still wealthy by the standards in most other parts of the world. A single person living on the poverty line in the US is at about the 85th percentile of global income. That person still has enough food that obesity is a much greater risk than starvation and has housing, transportation, education, medical care and entertainment that kings and queens of old could only dream about.

      1. Envy is a virtue now, isn’t it?

    2. Capitalism as practiced today has flaws, but a tiny number of people with great wealth and large numbers in the middle class and an ever shrinking number in poverty, isn’t one of them

      There. Fixed that to reflect reality–instead of feverish leftist wet dreams.

  18. Somin says:
    “By contrast, today’s democratic socialists are committed to multi-party democracy. Mistakes and abuses of power will be curbed by electoral competition.”

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. They lust for single party control.

  19. I agree with the dangers of democratic socialism, and it is not a view limited to libertarians and rightwingers. See, e.g. https://newrepublic.com/article/153788/socialism-no-country-revolutionary-left-bad-democracy.
    I will say, however, that in my view the right has significantly contributed to de-stigmatizing socialism on the left by characterizing virtually every liberal democrat of the last half-century as “socialist.” I am pleased to finally read in these pages that no, universal healthcare, or a robust social safety-net, does not a socialist country make, and that they may happily coexist with economic freedom, and, even contribute to it (e.g., more entrepreneurship when health coverage not a concern–reduce the cost of something and get more of it, no?)
    But I don’t expect anyone on the right to make, for example, what for me is the key distinction between Warren (“proud capitalist”) and Sanders–“democratic socialist.”

  20. “The expansion of government power advocated by modern socialists is so great that it would put most of the economy under state control, even if much industry formally remained under private ownership. It goes far beyond any Scandinavian precedent.”

    Prof. Somin does not provide any support for this statement. And even the most “radical” of the reforms — free college, guaranteed employment, single payer — were during my lifetime either an actual fact of American life (free college), quite seriously proposed by Republican administrations (guaranteed employment), or are actually largely in place (single payer in the form of Medicare).

    1. And all of them failures.

  21. “Historically, socialism—defined as government control over all or most of the economy—has led to mass murder, poverty, and oppression on an enormous scale.”

    So true…the problem is our education system has lied to and manipulated kids, left out history, rewrote history to suit their agendas and so on. This leaves children thinking “socialism” is good and the “old kind” was different…it is STILL SOCIALISM..period! And this government has not the skills nor wisdom to plan society on any level NOR was it built for that purpose…until Americans figure this out this nonsensical ideology will continue…

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