Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lets Talk Socialism...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth


While looking for something of interest, since the daily regular debates are getting rather stale and becoming pointless in my never humble opinion, I stumbled upon The Free Capitalist Network and decided to stay awhile. During my meandering through the site I came across a interesting comment post. The comment was posted in 2011 by EmperorNero.

All socialist countries are poor, and all poor countries are, or have until recently been, socialist. All rich countries are capitalist, and all capitalist countries are rich.

I would be interested in some counterexamples or arguments against this rule. It seems to hold true as long as we are clear what we mean by "socialism". Socialism here is defined as government ownership/control of the means of production, and not in the 'European meaning' of capitalism with welfarism, or the 'original meaning' of absence of private property rights.(Emphasis mine)

Scandinavia is often used as an example of rich socialist countries. But when using unequivocal definitions they are among the most capitalist countriesin the world. What about Bangladesh, India or Haiti as capitalist countries? Nope. All of those have a strong history of government ownership of the means of production. We just didn't read about their history, so we assume they are capitalist.

Can you think of any exceptions to above stated rule? If it holds true, why don't libertarians ever state it this clearly?

"They all look upon progressing material improvement as upon a self-acting process." - Ludwig von Mises

Thoughts anyone? It seems quite often socialism gets bandied about without any frame of reference and often that results in misinformation or confusion.. Especially by conservatives and libertarians.

30 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It just goes to show, when Americans complain about socialism here, they haven't a clue in the world what they're talking about.

    I just recently finished a book on life in Mao's China. Now that's socialism! A million degrees away from a little progressive taxation and domestic investment!

    JMJ

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    1. Emphasis... that is TOTALITARIAN strong arm socialism in which the state not only owns the means of production and all property it also DENIES individuas the right personal liberties outside of what the "strongman" and the state allow.

      That is not the classical and conventionally recognized definition of socialism.

      So, we need a government that is run by democratically elected representatives who have great business acumen, a keen sense of how to get results, and know how to apply their knowledge and ability to the art of governing a modern democratic republic so the countyry at large profits through their ability and efforts.

      Yeah, I know, some will say dream on, it can't be done, not without destroying the capitalist system that made this a great nation. I say why? If we aren't smart enough to "build a better mousetrap" without destroying the things that are good and work then I guess we deserve whatever results we end up with.

      IMNHO the nation's political leaders, and the people who elect them are so damn busy bickering, arguing, pointing fingers, and focused on preserving that which is broken on many levels they aren't even looking at how to "fix things" so they indeed work or replace them with something that actually does..

      Something about boxes... I think.

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    2. Far more people will be able to achieve, and therefore profit, and give far more other people the opportunity to profit, if we all have education, healthcare, security, and a government strong enough to enforce the social compact.

      JMJ

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  3. Denmark is consistently rated as amongst the most economically free countries in the world. Yes, they have a large welfare state but they have very few regulations and even their corporate income tax rate is relatively low (Norway scores pretty well on these rankings, too, but most of their wealth comes from oil and the fact that they have an extremely small population).

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    1. What some activist thinks is a far cry from reality. And what happened in China happened in China for a reason. We're not going to see anything like that here in America in our lifetimes. We are simply too different.

      JMJ

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  5. We need keep in mind when we compare and contrast countries, as economy, society, population homogeneity, resources, political systems and population satisfaction are different, though related entities. The
    few Europeans (Norwegian, Swiss) I am acquainted with are satisfied, even proud of their lifestyle.
    IMO, they worry much less, enjoy life, are well-off, work hard and take pride in their work, but also
    get much free time. They accept high taxation in exchange for 'mommy state' benefits like education, healthcare, unemployment, etc. Whether these national outlooks can be ascribed to economic system, political system, culture etc. and in what percentages is hard to say. I certainly do not feel
    sorry for them!

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    1. Thanks BB Idaho for your insights, well stated and spot on as usual.

      National concerns vary among nations and apparantly the synergies at work in individual nations do as well.

      I certainly do not feel sorry for the peoples of the nations mentioned as well!

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  6. Good point. Given these countries, and we are talking about the ones with a degree of personal liberty comparable to our country as well as relative wealth please elaborate so we understand terms, parameters, and etc. for discussion.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. One of the problems with discussing socialism is that too many people look to the countries that are or were representative of totalitarian dictatorial socialism, Such as Red China, the USSR, Cuba etc. In other words the gross negatoves.

      As I see it isn't it time for those who have viewed socialism only in those terms to focus and the positive aspec(s) of those countries who are a democratic republic, are highly capitalistic, have a relatively high degree of wealth, and are happy. IE: countries like Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, ect. We should be smart enough to learn from others and adapt from them to positives and apply to the USA leaving the negatives behind.

      Something I rather think Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and many of our Founding Fathers would agree with were they able to weigh in today

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  7. I'm for moving in the direction of more socialism here, as in Europe, and especially as in the Scandinavian countries... where people are found to be among the happiest in the world. Their governments serve the people instead of the plutocrats... which is what democratic socialism is all about. I reject the narrow definition as presented by "EmperorNero", although this sounds like the kind of straw man Mr. Hart would be into.

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    1. You may want to reread the post again Mr. Sanders, after shedding your more, shall we say, argumentative side.

      I get what you are trying to say, where you are coming from, and where you're going.

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    2. Socialism practically destroyed Sweden by the 1990s and it was only when they significantly scaled back on the size of government/the regulatory burden that they started to rally like they have.......Of course having said that, they're still going to have a day of reckoning (like us) eventually in that the cost of their entitlements and pensions are unsustainable.

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    4. Sweden is far from a laissez-faire paradise: 70% of workers are unionized and at taxes
      approaching 44% GDP, they are 2nd highest after Denmark. Those wishing to study the
      topic might peruse here , there and any number of good sources. As for 'happiness' metrics, Sweden, like the other Nordic nations has been and remains very very high on the inequality adjusted human development index. Sinequality adjusted human development index . Spin in any way you want, though.


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    6. I would agree. The concept of 'happiness', contentment, positive outlook, etc. can be both subjective and objective and difficult tomeasure . Many conservative think tanks link it to economic
      well-being, and certainly having the things one needs bears on one's level of contentment.
      We find cultural inputs as well, the South Americans being typically happier with less, the
      Somalians being unhappy in scraping by under constant gunfire. IMO, work can be either rewarding or stressful; are country folk happier than big city folk? Other factors like stability,
      family, and even genetics play a role. I would guess we could find happy poor people and
      miserable wealthy people, so measurements and comparisons come with a lot of 'ifs'.

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    7. Sweden ranked a very respectable 18th on the Heritage economic freedom rankings and their corporate income tax rate was recently reduced to 22%. Yeah, they still have a high personal income tax rate but the cutting back on regulations and business taxes has really helped their economy (especially when compared to the basket case that they were back in the '70s and '80s), in my opinion.

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  8. Will: Socialism practically destroyed Sweden by the 1990s and it was only when they significantly scaled back on the size of government/the regulatory burden that they started to rally like they have...

    That isn't what happened. Will is wrong about Sweden just as he is is wrong about India and wrong about Keynesian economics.

    RN: I get what you are trying to say, where you are coming from, and where you're going.

    Respectfully, I do not believe you do, RN. Anyway, such a statement just comes across (to me) as the arrogance many of those who are strong believers in Libertarianism seem to exude.

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  9. Sweden went from the 4th wealthiest country in the world in the 1960s to the 17th wealthiest country in the world by the early '90s, and it was only when they reduced the size of their government from 66% of GDP to 50% that their economy rebounded. These are historical facts and I believe that the readers of this fine blog are familiar with them.......And, yes, the same thing basically happened in Canada, too. The government there (the liberal government, to give them credit), which was facing as huge a debt problem as we are now, significantly cut government spending (actual spending and not the rate of increase) and the economy responded magnificently with 4-5-6% growth rates. Capitalism and austerity work. Central planning and socialism (just ask any former resident of the old Soviet Union whet THEY think of socialized medicine; many hospitals lacking even hot water and sewage) do not.

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  10. Will, you are NOT referring to "historical facts" but to Libertarian think tank spin and distortion. I lay out what really happened on my blog in a post you (as a true believer) surely have no interest in reading. As for Canada, I haven't researched it, but I'd guess the same spinning and distorting is at play. I shall have to do a blog post on it.

    Also, austerity does "work" in that it usually causes economies to contract and recessions to worsen. If you are a fan of that then I guess austerity is for you.

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  11. What's the distortion, that Sweden went from the 4th richest country in the world to the 17th after 20 plus years of socialism? That it significantly cut government spending in the early '90s and the economy reacted favorably to it? No spin, wd, just facts.

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  12. And, really, wikipedia? That's your argument against austerity? The fact of the matter is that austerity worked in the U.S. in 1921 and 1945 (when all of the Keynesians said that it wouldn't and that we would need yet another new deal to avoid yet another depression). It worked in Estonia in the aftermath of the financial crisis. And it worked in Sweden and Canada in the 1990s when both of those countries were facing unsustainable profligate government spending.......And don't give me any bullcrap about European austerity because it doesn't exist. Countries like England and France haven't cut spending at all (only the rate of increase) and others like Greece and Italy have only shrunk it a percentage or two. The main reason that these countries are in the crapper is because the governments there are taxing their people into near oblivion.

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  14. http://www.ifn.se/wfiles/wp/wp873.pdf - An actual journal article by an actual economist thoroughly underscores the fact that from 1970 to 1995 Sweden was on an unsustainable path and that they made a number of corrections which have radically helped their economy. It also shows that from 1870 to 1970, Sweden was the fastest growing economy on the planet and that inequality was actually come down and coming down quite dramatically PRIOR to the welfare state. Capitalism 1 Socialism 0.

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    1. That article also explains the healthy wealth distribution in Sweden:
      "When it comes to equality, the most important conclusion is that most of the decrease in income inequality in Sweden occurred before the expansion of the welfare state. A number of seemingly unrelated reforms, such as land reforms, school reforms and the occurrence of unions and centralized wage bargaining, are likely explanations."

      "The upshot is that the policy implications from the case of Sweden are hard to classify along a simple right-left scale: the welfare state seems to survive because it coexists with high levels of economic freedom and well-functioning capitalist institutions."
      Mixed Economy 1. Capitalism 1. Socialism 1. Unions 1. Good for Sweden

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    2. Dennis: Knowing him, you are probably presenting his argument better in paraphrase than he did in his own fevered and careless wording.

      Pure ad hominem, Dennis. I rebutted Will's delusional interpretation of the events he BELIEVES disproves "Keynesian idiocy" on my blog. But, although you'll never read it, you believe you can guess what I said and criticize based on your guesses. I said nothing "fevered" nor did I use "careless wording". And Will didn't "paraphrase" me, he has no idea what my argument even is... same as you.

      BB Idaho: Mixed Economy 1. Capitalism 1. Socialism 1. Unions 1. Good for Sweden.

      Agreed.

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