Socialism/Capitalism

News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.

Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?
«1

Comments

  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I just do not get why people can't just go for a good old fashioned mixed economy. Ahh, now I'm sad, thinking about dear Elizabeth Warren. That woman just seems to say what I think.

    Capitalism is fine. It just needs to be tempered with good old fashioned regulation, a tax system focused on equity, and a decent social safety net. Oh, and a set of spikes in every town square on which to skewer the heads of every public official caught with their fingers in the till.
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    Oh, and a set of spikes in every town square on which to skewer the heads of every public official caught with their fingers in the till.

    That's a wonderful image. Thank you!
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Populism is just no fun without graphic violence I find.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I just do not get why people can't just go for a good old fashioned mixed economy. Ahh, now I'm sad, thinking about dear Elizabeth Warren. That woman just seems to say what I think.

    Capitalism is fine. It just needs to be tempered with good old fashioned regulation, a tax system focused on equity, and a decent social safety net. Oh, and a set of spikes in every town square on which to skewer the heads of every public official caught with their fingers in the till.
    I agree. I've said before.

    - There are things that are functions of government, e.g. military, courts, police, roads etc. Government has to do these, and the public are entitled to expect it to bear responsibility for it. In any sort of democratic society, it's directly accountable to the public for how it does them.

    - There are responsibilities that it may well be best if society assumes collectively and that means government doing them. If anyone else does them, they have to be managed properly in the public interest. A lot of these involve ongoing services where there is a potential conflict between profit motive and service ethic. In a democratic society, government should accept that it is accountable to the public for making sure they are there, but not necessarily for the details of how.

    - There are things government really doesn't do well. A lot of these involve commercial and one-at-a time activities. And

    - There are things that really aren't any of the government's business.

    There's room for a small amount of disagreement as to which category something falls into, but not a lot. For example, public health is in the first category. I'd put how you actually provide healthcare and things like public transport and utilities near the borderline between the second and first. There are areas of flexibility about how one manages activities in the second category which don't apply to the first.

    I'd maintain there's plenty of practical evidence over the centuries and current that would support this. Privatising the military and tax-farming don't work. Nor, I suspect, does government doing major construction projects in house.

    I don't know enough about Elizabeth Warren's views to comment, but @Simon Toad couldn't you make the proprietors of businesses that take the taxpayer for a ride or exploit their position for profit eligible for spikes too.
  • Socialism isn't government control of industries and businesses. It's worker control - those who work for the business also own it and have a joint say in how it's run.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Well, there is socialism and socialism. In yank politics, "socialism" covers a wide spectrum, and quite possibly an even wider spectrum, and opinions held murderously, in academic circles. I agree that a mixed economy is not socialism. But many Americans would say its not capitalism either.

    Enoch, I reckon I'm slightly to the left of you in terms of what Govts can and can't do well, and I long for the days when our differences represented the limits of conventional political disagreement. Oh, for the 1970's! (I know, petrol shortages, inflation madness, winters of discontent...)
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    Well, there is socialism and socialism. In yank politics, "socialism" covers a wide spectrum, and quite possibly an even wider spectrum, and opinions held murderously, in academic circles. I agree that a mixed economy is not socialism. But many Americans would say its not capitalism either.
    Well, the "neither socialism nor capitalism" state just goes to show that (however you define either of them) these are not the only options.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Capitalism is not fine. It's roots are based in exploitation of workers by the bourgeoisie and ruling class.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    People are not fine either, and the systems they create are marred by greed, arrogance and exploitation.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    People are not fine either, and the systems they create are marred by greed, arrogance and exploitation.

    Sounds like capitalism.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    sounds like feudalism, sounds like authoritarian systems of various kinds, sounds like mercantilism, sounds like imperialism, sounds like anarchy, sounds like tribal systems, sounds like patriarchy, matriarchy, oligarchy, theocracy... It sounds like humanity.

  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I wonder to what extent socialism and capitalism are opposite sides of the same coin, and, if they are, what that coin is. To what extent do the concepts cover the whole range of social activity? Or are they essentially different ways of organising the economy and do not presume any particular form of political organisation? For example, it is possible for capitalism to operate in a democratic context but also in societies which are manifestly not so, including, some would argue, Communist China. A major problem with the concept of socialism is whether it can tolerate political democracy because citizens might wish to choose an economic system in which there is substantial private ownership. The major fault line in practical socialism is whether or not political democracy trumps the desirability of a high level of public or common ownership. There is also the question as to whether political democracy can exist without a significant measure of private ownership. ISTM that both capitalism and socialism can exist without political democracy and often do. For those of us who value political democracy such states are a far greater threat to the good life than their economic ideologies.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.

    Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?

    Socialism is not going to pay the debt.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    A major problem with the concept of socialism is whether it can tolerate political democracy because citizens might wish to choose an economic system in which there is substantial private ownership.
    An example of that could be looking at the UK financial sector. There was a time when a large part of the market, especially for mortgages and insurance, was in the form of mutual societies - providers "owned" by those who had savings, mortgages, other loans or insurance products. Mutual and cooperative societies are a form of socialism. An Act of Parliament in the mid 80's (under, you guessed it, Mrs Thatcher) allowed building societies to demutualise; with the inducement of receiving a cash windfall many building society members voted in favour of demutualisation. Would members of a society voting be an example of "political democracy"? Would, say, a variation in the legislation that meant members issued shares would be unable to sell them have changed how people viewed the process, with people voting differently? To what extent did "carpet bagging" (individuals opening accounts in Building Societies so that they'd be in a position to get shares in the event of demutualisation) skew the democratic process?
  • Telford wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.

    Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?

    Socialism is not going to pay the debt.
    Is capitalism? The record of governments, of all forms, to pay off national debt is not encouraging ... the debt will simply be carried forward with only a small fraction paid off.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.

    Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?

    Socialism is not going to pay the debt.

    In America, the Republican capitalists tend to cut income and increase spending. Some Democratic capitalists do the same. I'm not sure the socialists have had a turn yet.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Kwesi has the right of it. Ideology must be tempered by democratic outcomes in free societies. No economic approach can be set in stone. Alan's example reminds us that thumbs can be placed strategically on scales, but our system rests on the presumption that individuals are autonomous, and enquiring into motivations a sisyphean task.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Gramps49: Gramps49 wrote: »
    News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.
    Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?

    From a Marxist perspective there is no problem with state intervention because the state is seen as an instrument whereby one class, a ruling class, suppresses another (others). In the case of bourgeois states, such as the USA, the governing apparatus is in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Thus, the decision to pump lots of dosh into the economy is designed to maintain the dominance of the capitalist class who are currently in charge. Given the influence exercised by corporate America on the political process, who is to say such a view is mistaken? So, the answer your question, Gramps49: "What is says about capitalism is that capitalism is in control".
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    News Item: The United States Senate is about to vote a massive stimulus bill.

    Question: If socialism is about to rescue capitalism (again), what does it say about capitalism?

    Socialism is not going to pay the debt.

    Given the way the US debt has accumulated since Clinton, neither will capitalism.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I think there will come a time when we will have to pay down the debt, and it may take draconian measures.
  • I'm starting to think that democratic socialism is actually the more pragmatic ideology than free market capitalism.

    Contrary to what some might think, few democratic socialists these days believe that everything should be nationalized in the sense of centrally planned. Democratic socialists at best would argue that major industries should be publicly owned, but that doesn't mean that every decision would be decided by a central office. In the private sector, some democratic socialists advocate that workers should be shareholders and have a direct say in the running of their company. I honestly don't think that would be a terrible thing if workers actually had more say in the running of their company.

    Compared this to free market capitalists who think that the solution to every problem is to privatize, privatize, privatize, and cut taxes.

    I find socialists to be much more thoughtful and reasoned, I find capitalists tend to just say one thing over and over "PRIVATIZE."

    Who is more ideologically-blinded?
  • "Everything should be nationalized in the sense of centrally planned" would be a form of Communism rather than a form of Socialism.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    I think there will come a time when we will have to pay down the debt, and it may take draconian measures.

    Like, say, taxing the rich.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    But why would we have to pay down the debt?
  • Debt is complicated, and the first thing an expert told me is to not confuse household debt with national debt.

    Basically, when you have a country like the United States, there are no evil debt collectors banging at their door demanding full payment. The US economy (until recently with the COVID-19 crisis) hums along, and it would not be in the interest of its foreign creditors for the US to tank their economy just to pay off their debt. Simple rule of thumb, as long as the debt to GDP ratio is relatively ok, having large debt is feasible.

    The focus then among Keynesian economists and even among supply side economists, then is to focus on economic growth. When you are growing the economy, eventually your government revenues will increase, thus being able to handle the debt. The worst thing you can do, then is to kill your economy out of a misguided belief that you have to pay off your debt.
  • The worst thing you can do, then is to kill your economy out of a misguided belief that you have to pay off your debt.
    Though, the Tory Party here has done exactly that. Except, they killed the economy without doing very much about the debt.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Debt confuses me. If most countries are in debt, who is the money owed to ?
  • China.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Debt confuses me. If most countries are in debt, who is the money owed to ?
    The US national debt is held by (very rough percentages):
    • US investors, 30%
    • Foreign investors, 30%
    • US government, 30%
    • US Federal Reserve, 10%
    Chinese and Japanese entities are by far the largest foreign investors, holding about 5% each.
    (Source)
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Debt confuses me. If most countries are in debt, who is the money owed to ?

    People.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited March 27
    Deleted
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited March 27
    Telford wrote: »
    If most countries are in debt, who is the money owed to ?
    Mostly to private citizens (including banks, companies, and so on). Most governments can get favourable interest rates on loans since governments tend not to go bust. (You can lose money lending to a government but that tends to happen when other investments are also risky.)
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Brilliant link Dave. It skewers the potential prejudice nicely. I'd like a piece of American debt. Its nice and safe. Of course, all our money goes on holidays and restaurants. Chin chin, darlings!
  • I'm starting to think that democratic socialism is actually the more pragmatic ideology than free market capitalism.

    Contrary to what some might think, few democratic socialists these days believe that everything should be nationalized in the sense of centrally planned. Democratic socialists at best would argue that major industries should be publicly owned, but that doesn't mean that every decision would be decided by a central office. In the private sector, some democratic socialists advocate that workers should be shareholders and have a direct say in the running of their company. I honestly don't think that would be a terrible thing if workers actually had more say in the running of their company.

    Compared this to free market capitalists who think that the solution to every problem is to privatize, privatize, privatize, and cut taxes.

    I find socialists to be much more thoughtful and reasoned, I find capitalists tend to just say one thing over and over "PRIVATIZE."

    Who is more ideologically-blinded?
    The blindness is to the ideology that gov't management of the economy is inherently bad. It isn't. And if they don't manage it enough you end up with expensive services which were formerly publicly owned.

    Socialism and capitalism are completely compatible. And I return to my province of residence when the largest employer is small business and we are socialist and when not socialist government controlled, we're co-operative. We even have a right wing government and we're socialist and cooperative. Everything that's a public service is public. Which means it's run in the public interest. Such as cell phone data plans which are now unlimited for no cost during the COVID19 crisis. Because the cell phone network infrastructure
    is public. And the largest grocery chain is a collective of co-ops. And the cable TV service freed up some additional channels for the same reason, also gov't run.

    Which all underlies the issue: services to people are services, not a way of making a profit.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    *sigh* that was Victoria until the early 1990's.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Not just Victoria, alas.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    NZ as well. :cry:
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    The focus then among Keynesian economists and even among supply side economists, then is to focus on economic growth. When you are growing the economy, eventually your government revenues will increase, thus being able to handle the debt. The worst thing you can do, then is to kill your economy out of a misguided belief that you have to pay off your debt.

    This, IMO, is the problem - as in, THE problem. Everything that is good for the economy (more consumers, consuming increasing volumes of goods) is bad for the environment, and the best things of all for the environment (slowed population increase and buying less stuff) lead to a stagnation of economic growth. Unless and until we come up with a better metric for ranking nations' soundness than the rate at which their economy is growing, we are doomed to 'grow' ourselves into oblivion.
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    Huia wrote: »
    NZ as well. :cry:
    I think NZ was a little ahead of the pack there - it was the fourth Labour govt started dismantling and selling off various things for a song, beginning ?mid-1980's?
    Everything that's a public service is public. Which means it's run in the public interest. Such as cell phone data plans which are now unlimited for no cost during the COVID19 crisis. Because the cell phone network infrastructure is public.
    I'm a socialist through and through, but I will say this: Here in NZ, the very-much not publicly owned cell and internet services have mostly done the same thing. Maybe it's just a public-relations exercise, maybe in real terms it'll cost them nothing much, but even big ugly corporations are stepping up to the plate right at the moment.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    NOprophet_NØprofit Socialism and capitalism are completely compatible.

    Although I can see what you are driving at, NOprophet_NØprofit, one might wish to make the odd caveat.

    First, socialism and capitalism have contrasting approaches to the distribution of goods and services. Socialism awards on the basis of need and capitalism on each individual's position and actions within a (free?) market.

    Second, socialism is motivated by the principle of economic equality, capitalism is not.

    Third, socialism should not be confused with collective action, as some of the posts seem to suggest, though it is a form of collective action. Fascism, for example, was a form of collective action par excellence. Capitalist societies require collective action for all sorts of purposes: a tolerably educated and healthy workforce, for example, a measure of security to enable the market to flourish, and to maintain non-profit-making essential services.

    Fourth, it follows, from above, that while a political society can be described as based on a mixed economy, i.e. a collectivist polity containing socialist and capitalist features, compatibility can be a misleading term because there are inherent tensions between the two principles. Thus, for example, there is an inherent conflict between an education system free to all citizens alongside a private system designed to privilege the rich; a health service available to all and sundry at little or no personal cost, and a private health system that enables participants to 'jump the queue'. There is a constant battle in a mixed economy between those promoting egalitarian principles and those seeking to advance the inequalities of the market.

    That said, I agree with those who pragmatically support societies with mixed economies because, to my subjective way of thinking, they best promote the common good for the time being.






  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I remember NZ being held up as an example to follow because of its aggressive privatisation drive. I hate Richard Hadlee, by the way.
  • Yes @Kwesi I overstated. It's, I think, that the purpose of economic activity should be to serve the people, not to serve the profits. When economy is the goal we're misfocussed on the real goal which is the people.
  • The capitalist critique of socialism as it relates to taxation is that it kills the profit drive, if I am a business owner and government takes away 75% of my money, I would only have 25% left to cover my need, than I might as well close up shop, because in terms of my business drive, I am in it to make money, not be altruistic. I certainly do not want to make enough money simply to suffice my own basic needs, flourishing life entails more than simply making the bare minimum of food and shelter.

    To which the socialist might respond with, no socialist government I know of, takes 75% of one's money.

    I do know the social democratic nations of Europe have high marginal taxation rates, generally thinking a 70% marginal tax rate on the highest class translates to about 50% of one's income going to taxes. Now even 50% seems high, but if the highest class entails people like Jeff Bezos, even if government takes half of his income, Bezos will still be quite wealthy and will have a good amount of money left to invest and doodle away with.

    I call it the "There are rich people in Sweden" argument, as much as right wingers tell of the horrors of socialism and social democracy, I am pretty sure there are still a few wealthy people in the Scandinavian countries, and by in large as long as they are willing to pay taxes to support a generous welfare state to support the vast majority of people, no one in Sweden is calling for the guillotine. I even doubt if the socialists in the US such as AOC or Bernie Sanders are opposed to wealth in principle, as long as there is a decent and generous welfare state.

  • We know that trickle down is a fairy story capitalists tell us to stop us organising.

    Rigorously enforced progressive taxation is the only way of making sure they pay their way.
  • Furtive GanderFurtive Gander Shipmate
    edited March 27
    Agreed Doc Tor. But then right-wingers always respond by quoting the proportion of tax 'take' paid by the richest segment of tax-payers to deflect the argument from whether those people are paying a fair proportion of their income. (They aren't!)
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    and it's always Proportion of Income Tax paid (vat is effectively percentage, the poor get a proportional bonus from essentials, the rich from not spending), (council is proportionally regressive)
  • The problem with the ideology of capitalism is that it is based on a very simplistic understanding of the distinction between markets and the State.

    Capitalism stealing or borrowing from classical liberalism, assumes that individual businesses are the same as individual citizens. So, in their view, an individual business in the same way as an individual citizen is endowed with natural rights, and any action by the State to curb these natural rights is an illegitimate interference. Hence the whole argument on the far right of 'taxation being a form of theft."

    The problem with this argument is that a basic understanding of economic history reveals that the State has always been involved in the economy from the very beginning. Individual enterprises did not spontaneously spring up based solely on the genius and know-how of capitalists, you look at any big company today, and I'll bet they had some form of economic help from the big bad government along the way. Not to mention that individual businesses have benefited from commonly held public goods such as transportation and infrastructure.

    This is not an argument for universal nationalization, no one among my leftist professors in university believed that the "government should own EVERYTHING", because they knew that was a receipe for authoritarianism. What however, socialists and social democrats would argue is that there are common public goods that benefit everyone such as healthcare, education and social housing in which the well-off should pay a bit more than the poor because in the end, everyone benefits. The rich will not suffer if everyone is decently housed, have good healthcare, and have food on the table, but the poor will certainly suffer and die, if the rich refuse to pay their fair share.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The problem with the ideology of capitalism is that it is based on a very simplistic understanding of the distinction between markets and the State.

    What however, socialists and social democrats would argue is that there are common public goods that benefit everyone such as healthcare, education and social housing in which the well-off should pay a bit more than the poor because in the end, everyone benefits. The rich will not suffer if everyone is decently housed, have good healthcare, and have food on the table, but the poor will certainly suffer and die, if the rich refuse to pay their fair share.

    Exactly.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I remember NZ being held up as an example to follow because of its aggressive privatisation drive. I hate Richard Hadlee, by the way.

    Sir Richard was a fine cricketer
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    edited March 28
    that is the main reason I hate him. Why couldn't he have emigrated to Australia as a kid like most talented Kiwis?
Sign In or Register to comment.