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Either tax the rich, or have a socialist revolution

It ought to make the 1% think — wealth inequality in the US has reached such a level that they’re going to have to step back from the greed a little bit, or face more serious consequences.

Comments

  1. says

    “Either tax the rich, or have a socialist revolution ”
    Damn, when I finally get a choice both alternatives are soooooo enticing I can’t decide.

  2. Nepenthe says

    Socialist revolution? Finally, a use for all that cheap vodka that was on sale and is now crowding the cupboards.

  3. Beatrice says

    Yeah, taxing the rich would probably be a vital part of the socialist revolution.

  4. Steve LaBonne says

    Face consequences? From the ignorant sheep whom they’ve been screwing with impunity for decades? Don’t bet on it.

  5. Matt Penfold says

    Can’t we just eat them instead?

    They would be taxed for the privilege of being eaten.

  6. dianne says

    I’ve been saying for some time now that the only way the economy will ever improve and, more to the point, that the Gini coefficient will ever improve is if the rich are scared enough to let go of some of their money. They don’t seem to respond to any other motivation. Including, on some level, greed. They won’t do things like provide health insurance and adequate sick time which are known to improve employee performance and save money overall. They also won’t fund government programs that might help them live longer, suggesting that they’re on some level suicidal. I don’t get the rich. Personally, I want more: more life, more toys, more people doing work that they enjoy and are good at, more new ideas, more art, more exploration…I don’t really care how much of it is mine if there’s more good stuff out there in general. Why don’t the Koch brothers or Trump or whoever else there is with money want more, if only for themselves, than sitting on their pile of money like a dragon and never doing anything with it?

  7. clastum3 says

    This sort of thing serves well to work oneself up into a lather of self-righteous indignation or to do a bit of rabble-rousing.

    But, as someone asked on Greg Laden’s blog (where this is also posted), what is the income distribution? That has more relationship to real wealth, as opposed to paper (i.e. share) values.

  8. Francisco Bacopa says

    dianne at #9: I understand exactly what you mean. But they don’t want the world, they just want our half.

  9. unclefrogy says

    yes we are looking at very grim prospect if things continue as is.
    It is not unusual it has happened in other places at other times.
    It makes me profoundly sad.
    Needless to say I am on the far left side of those charts.
    the real choices we have are now or later, easy and less disruptive or difficult, violent and destructive.
    it is only a matter of time before the truth becomes impossible to deny

    it is when and how it will change because it will change.

    uncle frogy

  10. Randomfactor says

    I don’t want to eat the rich. But I think locking them in their gated communities until they eat each other is a viable strategy.

  11. says

    In the end, though, this might require international cooperation over changing the tax treaties. The Brits have been fuming over the paltry taxes international companies like Starbucks and Amazon have paid because of the games they play with the current system. Incorporate in the lowest tax country in the region (Luxembourg, Switzerland, etc.) and then raid the coffers of the surrounding wealthy nations while paying high-price accountants to make it look as though they’re operating at a loss in those countries.

    This has to change. If you want to take advantage of a wealthy, consumer-oriented market to make money, then you damn well ought to pay your fair share on taxes on that money. Otherwise the decoupling of international corporations (and their ultra-rich beneficiaries) from government finances will continue apace.

  12. Zugswang says

    It is to be devoutly wished, but I have very little confidence in far too many of my fellow Americans to act before a non-hyperbolized catastrophe occurs.

  13. w00dview says

    As with every other youtube video ever, I would not recommend reading the comments. It is mostly bufoons mixing up socialism with communism and victim blaming the poor and minorities for being lazy. Blech.

  14. says

    Socialism does not work. But this hyper-mega-capitalism does not work either. Why do the rich not understand that? If they at least invested the money somewhere usefull – science, mediciene, charity, health care – but just piling money up stops making sense since there is a limit to human comfort. From certain level you simply cannot use the money to make your life more comfortable or better in any way. It makes no sense and such piling of money reeks with pathological power-hunger.

  15. erichoug says

    The real problem is that the game is rigged. How many times have we seen CEO’s given a massive bonus after running the company into the ground, tanking the stock price and destroying a previously stellar brand. Even after the big financial collapse in 2008 the wealthiest 1% didn’t take a hit. It was the middle class, the working poor at the people on the lower edge of “the rich”.

    The real danger is that wealth and income inequality make for a very unstable climate both politically and for business. People don’t like having to scrimp and save while the guy that cut their pay, benefits and hours charters a private jet to a private island for a private party. I am not saying I don’t believe that people should be allowed to accumulate great wealth but it has gotten to the point where the wealthiest people in this country are creating great wealth by rigging the system and taking money from the poor and middle class. And that can only last so long before the shooting starts.

  16. Martha says

    I read recently that most people don’t really resent the 1%– they’d like to think they can win the lottery and join them. Rather than resenting the CEOs, the average Joe or Jane is apparently more likely to resent the professional or managerial types who are one or two rungs up the economic ladder from them.

    Maybe the statistics will make it more clear to all of us just how few people control the bulk of the wealth in this country.

  17. OlliP says

    @clastum3 #10
    You can probably find an income distribution chart or table over at US statistics bureau (or whatever they happen to call that agency) or tax authority. But even without looking I can tell you what it will be like: it will look the same but slightly less skewed. Since income is connected very tightly to wealth, both look quite a lot the same.

    The income distribution will be less skewed or asymmetric than wealth because of many things. Some of the causes are these:
    1) You need to have an ok income before you have anything left over to accumulate wealth. This means that there are more people at zero wealth than at zero income.
    2) Even with increasing income it is easy to increase consumption. But there comes a point in the income chart when you can’t really increase your consumption anymore without radically changing your lifestyle, for example changing all your hobbies etc. If you reach that point, almost all the income above the “threshold” is saved as wealth and the wealth accumulation just skyrockets.
    3) Many other causes, that I won’t get into here as this is already a long reply.

  18. dianne says

    But they don’t want the world, they just want our half.

    They’re not really greedy, just evil. They don’t want more, they just want to make sure that no one else has anything at all.

  19. dianne says

    Socialism does not work. But this hyper-mega-capitalism does not work either.

    Capitalism as a pure system is dead as a dodo. No country with an even semi-functional government has a true capitalist system. All we’re really arguing about at this point is what should be socialized and how much capitalism is optimal.

    Personally, I think we could go much more socialist than anyone has gone so far. For example, early 21st century technology allows me to have a book without depriving you of that book (electronic books can be reproduced infinitely for essentially nothing). So why not just pay people who like writing and have demonstrated an ability to produce books that people want to read to write and not worry so much about whether they get royalties for each individual book? Ok, so you might end up supporting the occasional Vox Day, but that might well be worth it to produce more John Scalzis. The same with music and art: why not just claim that art and music are social goods and that artists and musicians should be collectively supported because they do more good for society by producing their work than they would be working their day jobs?

    And medicine. Seriously, people, just not an enterprise where the profit model makes sense. Everyone gets sick. Inevitably. And everyone benefits from any person’s getting well again. Medicine is a need of all people and benefits all people.Why do we let private enterprise gets its grubby little invisible hand anywhere near it?

  20. vaiyt says

    I read recently that most people don’t really resent the 1%– they’d like to think they can win the lottery and join them.

    That’s the carrot on the stick. Don’t be jealous of the people who exploit you. If you work hard, you can be like them. What do you want, a socialist revolution that will leave you with no reward for your hard work?

    Do you? DO YOU???? HUH??? THE COMMIES GUNNA TAKE ALL YOU HAVE AND GIVE YOU TO SOMEONE ELSEHGHAFGHADIOPH!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111ELEVENTY!1111

  21. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Ollip@22,

    US income distribution trends are covered here, as are comparisons with other countries. Income distribution has been getting steadily more unequal since the 1970s, and the USa is by most measures the most unequal rich countries. As shown by The Equality Trust, high levels of income inequality are damaging even to the rich.

    While income inequality is never, as you say, as high as wealth inequality, this by no means implies that the wealth inequality figures overstate the reality of inequality, because wealth brings political power – and in particular, power to continue the concentration of wealth and income, as the rich have been doing systematically over the past few decades – basically since they managed to cripple trades unions and capture most of the mass media. Clastum3 is, as ever, full of shit.

  22. Dick the Damned says

    Virtually all the productivity gains over the last few decades have not gone to reducing working hours, particularly in North America, or to (much above rates of inflation) earnings by the working or middle classes, so who has benefited? (Rhetorical question.) It’s grossly unethical on the part of the 1%.

  23. says

    As with every other youtube video ever, I would not recommend reading the comments. It is mostly bufoons mixing up socialism with communism

    then

    Socialism does not work.

    Guess we don’t have to read the YouTube comments to run into that.

  24. says

    Communism and socialism are not interchangeable, true, but they are not black-and-white different, They are part of spectrum and blend into each other. And both words encompass pretty broad parts of political spectrum.

    I lived in (supposedly) socialist country, and I have seen first hand how that works.

    Where did you get the idea, that I confuse socialism and communism is beyond me.

  25. Steve LaBonne says

    And that can only last so long before the shooting starts.</blockquote)

    It will end almost as soon as it starts. Why do you think that police departments are so heavily armed and militarized these days? Only complete economic collapse could break the power of the 0.1%, and that would destroy everything worth saving anyway. No, I fear the future is a moneybag stamping on a human face, forever. (Well, at least until climate change brings about that collapse.)

    I think I need a drink now. ;)

  26. says

    I recently became aware of the work of Richard Wolff, who has been promoting for many years the idea that, until we have a system of apportioning economic power that is similarly democratic to our system of apportioning political power, we will continue to encounter the problem where those who capture economic power through undemocratic means will invariably use that power to subvert the political system and also ensure that they capture the political power as well.

    He has many practical ideas for putting this into action. He advocates for the widespread, bottom-up formation of worker-owned enterprises, which he maintains for various reasons will be more efficient and effective than traditional shareholder-controlled, undemocratic, capitalist companies.

    To me it seems like something worth trying. Question is whether the attempt will be serious in a short enough period of time to head off some of the worst of the ecological catastrophe that’s coming. Like Steve LaBonne, I am pessimistic and would now like a drink.

  27. barfy says

    Socialism, as a economic model, is as realistic as an ostrich that can fly.
    Any sustainable economic model has to incorporate choice (e.g. most art sucks and who gets to decide who and how many earn a living as an artist) as well as allow for disruption (i.e. productivity gains or innovation that puts people out of work) and, most importantly, incentivize innovation and effort (a fair criticism against teacher’s unions.)

    The Freiburg School came up with Ordoliberalism. Pretty close, but no cigar.

    What bugs me is the wholesale castigation of the rich. Buffett and Gates have both engaged on a quest for their fellow billionaires to divest themselves of much of their riches for the betterment of mankind.

    Liberal economic philosophy is its own unfounded belief in a sky-fairy.

  28. happyrabo says

    I think we should reward the “job creators” by giving them an opportunity to reduce their tax rates to zero.

    Just make the tax rates for the top tax bracket five times the U6 unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate drops to zero, so does the tax rate. Today, the tax rate would be a bit over 70%.

    Give that a bit to sink in, and then announce the law takes effect in six months. See what happens to the unemployment rate then.

    And the best part is, if you earmark the money from this law to jobs programs, unemployment and tax rates on the rich will drop even if the rich do nothing.

  29. Steve LaBonne says

    Buffett and Gates have both engaged on a quest for their fellow billionaires to divest themselves of much of their riches for the betterment of mankind.

    What horseshit. They’ve “divested” so much that they’re still among the very richest people in the world, and they- especially Gates- use their “charity” to control institutions and promote their personal, and often socially harmful, agendas. Stop sucking billionaire cock, it makes you stupid.

  30. Beatrice says

    Buffett and Gates have both engaged on a quest for their fellow billionaires to divest themselves of much of their riches for the betterment of mankind.

    You don’t get it. A person getting to become a billionaire is obscene.

  31. says

    1. The rich are already taxed, though to a lesser extent than they were at the end of the Hoover era.
    2. Socialist revolutions are next to impossible in WEIRD nations.

  32. dianne says

    Any sustainable economic model has to incorporate choice

    You mean like avoiding monopolies? That’s one against the capitalist system: uncontrolled capitalism tends to result in large monopolies or near monopolies taking over a given area. See, for example, auto manufacturing or airlines.

    as well as allow for disruption (i.e. productivity gains or innovation that puts people out of work)

    You mean like unemployment insurance and universal health insurance that ensure that people who are out of work aren’t desperate for work and unable to survive if they lose their jobs for a bit?

    and, most importantly, incentivize innovation and effort

    You mean like anti-trust legislation to prevent the formation of monopolies? Or maybe small grants to start up companies such as those the NEA, NSF, and NIH provide?

    (a fair criticism against teacher’s unions.)

    I don’t see it. I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t make quite a lot of effort. I’ve seen a number hampered by school regulations that punish innovation and fail to reward effort, but those are the result of the administration, not of the teachers’ unions. Furthermore, teachers unions often provide scholarships to poor students, ensure that teachers aren’t overworked so that they can provide better teaching to each student, and keep the income of teachers high enough that teaching is at least feasible as a career to intelligent, creative people who like working with children. Without unions you get teachers who don’t know anything and can’t be bothered to learn teaching. Trust me, I grew up in Texas and know the non-union labor of which I speak.

    Sounds like socialism is the more sustainable model per your parameters.

  33. Anthony K says

    Liberal economic philosophy is its own unfounded belief in a sky-fairy.

    Actually, simply asserting your position, as you did here, shows much more in common with unfounded belief in a sky-fairies than anything else.

    Fuck right off, theist fuck.

  34. says

    What bugs me is the wholesale castigation of the rich. Buffett and Gates have both engaged on a quest for their fellow billionaires to divest themselves of much of their riches for the betterment of mankind.

    OMG, two rich guys who aren’t evil!

    Seriously, the “pledge” that Buffet, Gates, and others signed is literally nothing. Sure, it’s nice that a handful of rich people said they’d give away a bunch of their money, but it doesn’t make up for all the other rich guys hording their wealth and avoiding taxes.

    Liberal economic philosophy is its own unfounded belief in a sky-fairy.

    Oh, and what’s better? Deregulation of the banking system is what got us into this mess and austerity ain’t going to get us out.

  35. redmcwilliams says

    It’s not so much taxing the rich that will effect the necessary change, though doing so to fund better education opportunities for the poor would certainly help. I think the best way to get the wealth and income disparity back in line is to promote unions, and get the country back to full employment.

  36. says

    Communism and socialism are not interchangeable, true, but they are not black-and-white different, They are part of spectrum and blend into each other.

    Yep, they are part of a spectrum.
    One that also includes capitalism.
    Or are you arguing that socialism doesn’t blend into capitalism in many countries?

    They are not black and white different. I’m sorry if that contradicts your black-and-white argument against portraying things as black-and-white.

  37. dianne says

    So far as I know, the only person who has ever given enough money away in charitable contributions to drop out of an “Nth richest people in country X” list is JK Rowling. Note that she became rich by writing children’s books, not by being a leach on the economy like most wealthy people.

  38. says

    You don’t get it. A person getting to become a billionaire is obscene.

    I’ve argued that you cannot be a billionaire and be a moral person.
    Boy did THAT not go over well with people (none of whom I assume are billionaires).

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Liberal economic philosophy is its own unfounded belief in a sky-fairy.

    Compared to your liberturdian dogma that has no basis in history or economics?

  40. says

    I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t make quite a lot of effort.

    The teachers that I know personally (a limited set, to be true) not only spend many unpaid hours at home working, they also spend unpaid hours at SCHOOL working. Cleaning up after accidents and vandalism, coming in on weekends to move the furniture when they’ve been reassigned to a different classroom, to clean up after accidents, etc.

    They also are forced to pay for many materials for their students and plan out-of-pocket.
    I’ve accompanied a teacher friend many times on searches through dollar stores, drug stores, etc. looking for sales to buy a ton of things to supply their students’ needs.

  41. Beatrice says

    Jafafa Hots,

    Yeah, I agree with you. There are the ways in which they obtain their billions and also the simple fact that after some point (oh, you know, the third or fourth billion), simply sitting on a pile of money while people are suffering is immoral.

  42. md says

    He advocates for the widespread, bottom-up formation of worker-owned enterprises…

    SallyStrange @ #35, there is nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now.

  43. md says

    I think the best way to get the wealth and income disparity back in line is to promote unions, and get the country back to full employment.

    redcwilliams @#44, would you be willing to pause immigration for a time in order to achieve that?

  44. Beatrice says

    Jafafa Hots,

    *sigh*
    Fine. I guess I could work with a couple of hundred million too, if I had to.

  45. Beatrice says

    I think the best way to get the wealth and income disparity back in line is to promote unions, and get the country back to full employment.

    redcwilliams @#44, would you be willing to pause immigration for a time in order to achieve that?

    Or, your know, people with a couple of billions to spare (each) could open new factories and businesses where people could work. Just a suggestion.

  46. Steve LaBonne says

    redcwilliams @#44, would you be willing to pause immigration for a time in order to achieve that?

    Completely false, bullshit choice. And the unions understand that better than you do; the big ones are on board with immigration reform.

  47. Beatrice says

    It’s interesting how often the suggestions for economic improvement would break on the backs of the poorest.

  48. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Sure, it’s nice that a handful of rich people said they’d give away a bunch of their money, but it doesn’t make up for all the other rich guys hording their wealth and avoiding taxes.

    Indeed, for that reason, Warren Buffett and William H Gates Sr both have written about the necessity of taxing the rich. Gates says his son Bill agrees with him, and Bill has not publicly contradicted his father, so it seems reasonable to take the father’s word.

    One can’t invoke Buffett and Gates to argue against raising taxes on the rich.

  49. Ichthyic says

    SallyStrange @ #35, there is nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now.

    do you really believe that, or just like saying it for the lolz?

    if you think there aren’t extremely significant barriers in place, I’d say you’re pretty damn ignorant, but I doubt that’s the case.

    conclusion:

    troll.

  50. Brandon says

    I’m under the impression that Valve basically operates as that sort of quasi-democratic operation, and does quite nicely for themselves in the process. There’s good reason to think emergent systems are more effective for many purposes than top-down planning. I suppose Gabe Newell’s a billionaire as a result of that and other ventures, but I don’t really see the problem with that.

  51. Brandon says

    Damn, I wish I could edit that. It wasn’t supposed to read like an assertion that this means there aren’t barriers in place, it was just supposed to be a “hey, I think Valve does that”. That’s referring to their structure rather than the capital behind the organization anyway.

  52. says

    Yes, md is a libertarian troll. Also, note that his implied assertion that I ever said anything about obstacles in the first place is a complete fabrication.

    There aren’t many legal barriers in the way of forming such enterprises – several have already formed and seem to be prospering. Wolff talks about one of them, the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, in an interview here. There are more structural barriers. But yes, people could be doing it right now, and some are, and hopefully more will. I’m considering it myself as part of my longer-term plans. But it’s all quite vague and fuzzy right now, since the idea is quite new to me and of course I’m still struggling to pay rent.

  53. says

    Interesting and engaging comments here today! Anyone read H. G. Wells’ “The Shape Of Things To Come”?

    OK then.

    Now: This neutron walks into a bar…………………………………..

  54. says

    *after checking out Dallilama’s link*

    Yep, looks like you definitely should check out Wolff – you and he appear to be interested in the same models.

  55. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Stop sucking billionaire cock, it makes you stupid. – Steve La Bonne

    Stop promoting misogyny and homophobia. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, but that’s what you’re doing.

  56. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I suppose Gabe Newell’s a billionaire as a result of that and other ventures, but I don’t really see the problem with that.

    Is there still poverty in the world?
    *checks for, finds poverty*
    Then it is definitely a problem that someone is a billionaire.

  57. Ichthyic says

    I wish I could edit that. It wasn’t supposed to read like an assertion that this means there aren’t barriers in place,

    FWIW, It didn’t come across that you were making those assertions to me.

    People forget that the world is a big place, and there will ALWAYS be examples of just about anything one can possibly conceive of.

    As far as socialism goes, I live in a country that USED to be the literal “socialist gem of the West” in the 60s and 70s. People from governments around the world used to tour here to see it in action. The neocon counter-counter culture of the 80s basically destroyed that (the torries under Thatcher bear the brunt of that here; they had tremendous media influence). This year, we are rapidly selling off remaining public assets for the short term gain of nobody but outside investors.

    it’s quite sad.

    It’s hard for me to envision how one goes about reversing the situation at this point, without scrapping basically everything. Seems unlikely

  58. imkindaokay says

    i don’t think bill gates social agenda is particularly harmful; a lot of what he does he doesn’t actually publicise. he’s actually a major funder of stem cell research and other medical and scientific good things

  59. Brandon says

    Is there still poverty in the world?
    *checks for, finds poverty*
    Then it is definitely a problem that someone is a billionaire.

    I don’t find this particularly compelling; are you asserting that someone can’t specifically be a billionaire unless all poverty is gone, or that no one can be morally wealthy at all until poverty is gone? The first seems arbitrary, the second seems unreasonable. I’d personally be disinclined to amass that sort of wealth, but I don’t think my own arbitrary standards about what constitutes an acceptable level of wealth are the final say on it. I bought a $2,500 computer that I don’t strictly need – is that an immoral action, given that there’s poverty around the world?

    Maybe I’m missing something really obvious, but all I see there is an argument that if there’s poverty anywhere then wealth is unacceptable, and I don’t buy that. Feel free to inform me if I am just missing something though.

  60. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Maybe I’m missing something really obvious, but all I see there is an argument that if there’s poverty anywhere then wealth is unacceptable, and I don’t buy that. Feel free to inform me if I am just missing something though.

    If you can’t understand the difference between being well off, and being hyper-greedily well off, there is no hope for you. Your moral center isn’t functioning….

  61. Brandon says

    If you can’t understand the difference between being well off, and being hyper-greedily well off, there is no hope for you. Your moral center isn’t functioning….

    I can’t figure out where such a line is neatly drawn. The example in question, Gabe Newell, is a man that I don’t know a ton about, but I’m under the impression that his money’s basically earned by starting up a company that has a clever strategy for letting smart, innovative people design good software. They then sell that software for a profit. Maybe he’s a crummy person, like I said, I’ve never read much about him, but I don’t see anything in his business life that obviously marks him as hyper-greedy, unless simply being very successful in and of itself indicates greed.

    Is there a specific quantity of wealth someone would have to divest themselves of for it to be morally acceptable?

  62. Ichthyic says

    If you can’t understand the difference between being well off, and being hyper-greedily well off, there is no hope for you.

    I think he understands it quite well, actually:

    I’d personally be disinclined to amass that sort of wealth, but I don’t think my own arbitrary standards about what constitutes an acceptable level of wealth are the final say on it.

    I’d be less inclined towards thinking “billionaire” is an arbitrary level at which to decide someone is not investing enough of their capital back into the community, but then, that’s just me.

  63. says

    Personally I’d argue that “hyper-greedily well off” is understating what it means to be a billionaire. And we have multi-billionaires.

    Let’s take Larry Ellison. I mention him because I worked for a company that had him as a client.
    He commissioned us to create crystal sculptures for his top salespeople that cost, if I remember correctly, about $2500 each in 1998 dollars. I think there were something like 150 or 200 made.

    Crystal sharks. Because he saw them as sharks – predators, and that was a GOOD thing. Something they were being rewarded for. I see him as an amoral scumbag.

    Larry Ellison reportedly has $43 billion.
    That’s forty-three thousand million.

    43 THOUSAND MILLION.

    That’s not hyper-greedily well-off. I’d reserve that phrase for people with, I dunno… 500 million? 750 million?

    43 thousand million?
    That’s being a fucking sociopath.

    And he’s not number one.

  64. erikthebassist says

    Peter singer uses the anology of standing next to a pool in which someone is drowning, but refusing to jump in and save them because you don’t want to ruin your $700 shoes. Sitting on money you don’t need while people starve is immoral. I gave a monthly donation to Oxfam for years until I couldn’t afford it anymore, and as soon as I can afford it again, I’ll start it back up.

    When I say couldn’t afford it, I mean it’s a choice between charity and the basic necessities right now, there just isn’t anything left over.

    I did buy myself an iPad last year but that was with the tiny insurance pay out I got when my father died. I don’t have much but I have what I need, and as soon as I have a little bit more than I need again, a portion of that will go to charity.

    I just think it’s the only morally centered position to take.

  65. mildlymagnificent says

    I read recently that most people don’t really resent the 1%– they’d like to think they can win the lottery and join them.

    I’m pretty sure that ‘most people’ have very little idea just how rich the super rich are. I once got involved with a project where high wage earners were the core. I thought I ‘knew’ about high wages and benefits because of other work I’d done. No chance. These people were getting massive sums of money and gi.gan.tic., invisible, mostly untaxed benefits. Even after several months of this I was still capable of being surprised at how much these people were getting and how much they were willing to pay to get out of declaring it either for tax purposes or to obtain other, quite trivial, benefits. Just making sure they were gaming the system was a major driver for some of them.

    But these people were salary earners. The uber wealthy have resources and money almost running out of their ears. It is literally incomprehensible to ‘most people’ just how much money they really have.

  66. says

    I’m pretty sure that ‘most people’ have very little idea just how rich the super rich are.

    Yeah, the graphic in the OP makes that point pretty strongly.

  67. Steve LaBonne says

    Gates’s two big causes are destructive corporate school deform and helping Monsanto enserf third – world farmers. Sorry, that’s a very noxious agenda.

  68. vaiyt says

    What to think about people that defend the obscene wealth of billionaires while condemning people on welfare for spending as much as a penny on anything that isn’t basic survival.

  69. Anri says

    Is there a specific quantity of wealth someone would have to divest themselves of for it to be morally acceptable?

    So, if someone can’t draw an exact line upon which we shall forever and perfectly separate Elemental Good from Elemental Evil, you can’t determine if something is moral or not?

    Good luck with the real world, there.

  70. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Liberal answer: I don’t know where the line currently is; it fluctuates constantly according to worldwide economic conditions, and it may be prohibitively difficult to calculate. But I’ll bet a billion dollars is over the line. And wherever the line is at any moment, it is a function of how economic inequality itself leads to widespread suffering. Letting wealth accumulate in a few hands does not make the world a better place. In fact it makes it worse; this was Gates’s point about aristocracy. Wealth itself has a diminishing marginal utility — a dollar in the hands of a poor person creates more good than a dollar in the hands of a rich person. See The Life You Can Save, and then realize that there’s no moral reason not to use taxation to achieve this instead of charity.

    +++++

    43 thousand million? That’s being a fucking sociopath.

    No, sociopathy is not necessary for this to occur. Capitalism abstracts the violence away from many people’s view.

    See anything by Robert L Hale beginning with Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Noncoercive State or Barbara Fried’s summary of Hale, anything by Ha-Joon Chang, and Polanyi’s The Great Transformation.

    Those are from our side. But I can tell you what it was like being a libertarian, too. Hayek and Friedman make it sound moral to allow unchecked wealth, as the least-worst available option. There also exist doctrines that selfishness-is-good, but Hayek and Friedman don’t advocate that. Reading The Road to Serfdom, it is easy to see how Hayek could have believed it. And I’m certain Friedman did; his advocacy of a negative income tax demonstrates what we can all recognize as good intentions, even if bound up with an otherwise unrealistic ideological framework.

    Because capitalism abstracts the violence away from the view of those who are ultimately causing it, it’s possible to cause harm without viscerally appreciating that one is causing harm — for it’s someone else’s job to swing the baton — and thus without appreciating that something morally wrong is happening. Almost everyone is intuitively prone to system justification and the just-world fallacy. It wasn’t only sociopaths who followed instructions in the Milgram experiments — if your life trajectory had led you to become a billionaire instead, you’d probably justify it to yourself.

  71. phoenicianromans says

    I don’t want to eat the rich. But I think locking them in their gated communities until they eat each other is a viable strategy.

    Aye. You get these rich bastards who are proud of their unbreakable double-platinum combination safe-grade locks – and they never stop to think what happens if someone turns up with a concrete mixer…

  72. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Allan G. Johnson’s Privilege, Power, and Difference is also pretty good at explaining how well-meaning people end up going along with systems that cause suffering.

  73. Christopher says

    The rich are well aware that “tax the rich” or “socialist revolution” are the options on the table.

    Why do you think DHS is buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition? Why do you think DHS is buying 2,700 armored vehicles? Why do you think there is such a push to disarm the proletariat?

    The thirty+ year class war in America is going to turn hot and the rich intend to win.

    Not sure what they plan to do with the wasteland they will “win”…

    “The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did. They always will! They will have the same effect here as elsewhere, if we do not, by (the power of) government, keep them in their proper spheres.” — Gouverneur Morris, one of the authors of the U.S. Constitution

  74. Rob Grigjanis says

    Property is theft. It really is that simple. We’re all thieves or the descendants of thieves, quibbling about sharing the spoils. Some of us don’t want the marks (i.e. third world and the underclass) to suffer too much, or the grifters (i.e. the 0.1%) to gain too much. Good for us. I’ll give up all but what I need to live on when Gates, Buffet, the Kochs, Waltons, etc. do the same.

  75. opus says

    I think there’s a significant difference between ‘earning’ a metric shit-ton of money and paying taxes on that, as opposed to ‘earning’ a metric shit-ton of money and avoiding taxes on it. The simple fact is that wealth buys a person the opportunity to hide income: the wealthier one is the less income one reveals to the tax authorities. Sad but true. That’s why arguments that we focus on income, not wealth, are bogus: the richest people in the world may well have little income. Readers in the USA might be well advised to read “Perfectly Legal” by David Cay Johnston, but only on an empty stomach. Or google ‘dynasty trust’ for another view on the same problem.

  76. says

    Christopher:

    Why do you think there is such a push to disarm the proletariat?

    Maybe because the ‘proletariat’ can’t seem to stop shooting each other?

    You go right on ahead and keep believing that your little pistol is going to stop a tank or a drone or whatever. I’m sure the military is totes scared of what’s in your gun safe.

  77. Christopher says

    The last time the US government disarmed folks, it didn’t work out too well for the disarmed

    The thing about using troops against your own people is that those troops have to go home sometime. It is all fine and dandy to bomb someone half a world away with robotic drones, then go home and sleep safe and sound. When you are bombing your neighbors, going home suddenly becomes quite dangerous. Especially if your now quite peeved neighbors have small arms.

    A well armed populace keeps certain actions off the table.

  78. says

    The thing about a revolution is, it has to be different from before to qualify.

    Guns everywhere? People shooting each other for territory? Not actually revolutionary. Not very different at all from what’s gone on before.

    I find it telling that when people talk about revolutions, my thoughts go to economics, while yours go to shooting people.

  79. says

    PZ wrote:

    It ought to make the 1% think.

    No. It ought to make the 99% think. But they won’t, so the 1% doesn’t have to.

    Jay

  80. says

    Also, pretty fucking offensive to compare genocide to gun control laws. You’re disgusting. I think you should apologize, but that’s just my opinion as a decent human being. Blech.

  81. Christopher says

    I find it telling that when people talk about revolutions, my thoughts go to economics, while yours go to shooting people.

    Do you think those in control of the wealth, political machinery, and state sanctioned organs of violence will give up their control without violence?

    When in human history has that ever happened?

    America and the world is in desperate need of economic reform. I would be pleasantly shocked if that happened without violence.

  82. Holms says

    Why do you think DHS is buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition? Why do you think DHS is buying 2,700 armored vehicles? Why do you think there is such a push to disarm the proletariat?

    You are apparently unaware that this exact soundbite has been debunked.

  83. Christopher says

    Oh and the title of this post:

    “Either tax the rich, or have a socialist revolution”

    “tax the rich” is the democratic, non-violent, economic solution to our problems

    “socialist revolution” implies the opposite…

  84. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gun nuts are very entertaining with their lies, bullshit, and distortions. Definitely in the fantasy genre….

  85. consciousness razor says

    I don’t find this particularly compelling; are you asserting that someone can’t specifically be a billionaire unless all poverty is gone, or that no one can be morally wealthy at all until poverty is gone? The first seems arbitrary, the second seems unreasonable. I’d personally be disinclined to amass that sort of wealth, but I don’t think my own arbitrary standards about what constitutes an acceptable level of wealth are the final say on it.

    There is no need whatsoever for a person to have a billion dollars. There, is however, a need for people to have enough to at the very least stay out of poverty. That’s not an arbitrary distinction. The “standard” here isn’t about comparing some person with a billion to someone with $999,999,999. It’s between some person with a billion, compared with billions of people who have practically nothing. You cannot make that disappear with a wave of your hands, if there happens to be some dude who owns exactly $999,999,999 for example. Notice that poor people aren’t a part of the equation, in the comparison between the two hyper-rich assholes, since neither of the two hyper-rich assholes is poor by any stretch of the imagination. It’s as if they don’t fucking exist.

    I can’t figure out where such a line is neatly drawn.

    Suppose a very sharp line could be drawn, right at the billion-dollar mark, just for the sake of argument. Only then would you say it’s immoral, to be a billionaire but not to own $999,999,999? And if it can’t be drawn, because no one (except you, apparently) thinks that’s how it should work, because they don’t consider it a black-and-white all-or-nothing type of issue, then it must not be the case that it’s immoral? You were talking about being reasonable. So why is that reasonable, exactly?

    Actually, I’m not sure I want to know your reasons. Fuck you.

  86. chrislawson says

    Jebus, Christopher, you’re a real case, aren’t you? In favour of gun rights you go back to Wounded Knee, as if that was about gun control instead of suppressing, preferably by mass violence, the Lakota who had already lost the war for their lands and independence. What would have prevented Wounded Knee was not more arms in the hands of the Lakota, but a US 7th Cavalry led by officers who cared about human rights and constitutional obligations.

    Meanwhile, there are dozens of historical examples of non-violent revolutions that overthrew oppressive, sometimes vicious military regimes. Here are some of them: the Velvet Revolution (Czechoslovakia, 1989), the Salt Satyagraha (India, 1930), Prague Spring (Czechoslovakia, 1968), the resistance against the August Putsch (Soviet Union, 1991), the Friedliche Revolution (East Germany, 1989), the Carnation Revolution (Portugal, 1974), the Yellow Revolution (Philippines, 1983-86), Solidarity (Poland, 1980-89), the Hawaiian Democratic Revolution (Hawaii, 1954 –yes! look it up), the Cedar Revolution (Lebanon, 2005), the impeachment of Gutierrez (Ecuador, 2005), and many more.

  87. Stacy says

    The thing about using troops against your own people is that those troops have to go home sometime. It is all fine and dandy to bomb someone half a world away with robotic drones, then go home and sleep safe and sound. When you are bombing your neighbors, going home suddenly becomes quite dangerous. Especially if your now quite peeved neighbors have small arms.

    Not necessarily. Depends on who your neighbors are and how you think about them.

    People ratted on their neighbors and colleagues for being communists and com-symps in the 1950s, and “socialist” is still a bad word to many, if not most, Americans.

    It’s true that the GOP became very pro-gun control during the heyday of the Black Panthers. But if the (armed) Panthers and their allies had attempted widespread armed insurrection, do you think the military would have had trouble getting troops to fight them?

    I live in Los Angeles. I’ve known some good cops, but everyone’s heard of the problems, both systemic and individual, with the LAPD. The police force here is a para-military organization. Most cops are working-class people, and the force here is pretty diverse (less than half white, one in five officers is a woman.) Yet they still seem to have a problem refraining from using unnecessary force on the people–basically their neighbors–they’re supposed to “protect and serve.”

    No, I don’t think small arms would be of much help against the government. Not as long as the civilians could be portrayed as the right sort of scary boogeyman.

  88. says

    @dianne #9:

    “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason.”
    John Kenneth Galbraith in “The Affluent Society (1958)

  89. nobonobo says

    True Greed™ thrives on wealth. At least I’ve known a few people who lost all humility and charity after they found wealth and some perverted sense of independence. Yet, they still felt they deserved more tax breaks—they did pay ‘a lot more taxes’ than I did, so there!

    Some great job creators we have! Once again, tax breaks are all that’s required to boost the economy. Because, clearly, the first thing they want to do with that extra cash is hire more workers. (Or, was that ‘the last thing’? It’s just a fucking obscure, complicated concept for this low-information liberal.)

  90. ck says

    Meanwhile, there are dozens of historical examples of non-violent revolutions that overthrew oppressive, sometimes vicious military regimes.

    Many of the “Arab Spring” revolts were also fairly non-violent as well, and most of the violence that did occur was from the oppressive regime, not the other way around. In fact, how many times has a violent revolt actually succeeded in replacing an oppressive regime with a representative one? It seems to me that most of those have resulted in replacing one oppression with another oppression from a different tribe/sect/faction.

  91. Nepenthe says

    If you have so much money that you literally cannot spend it all, no matter how hard you try (even 3 1 grand cocktails for dinner every night only burns a thousandth of a percent of the world’s wealthiest person’s pot and at his age he probably shouldn’t be drinking that much), it is immoral, even if you’re being taxed on it. It’s bad enough to have far more than one could ever need to have far more than one could ever use.

    700 million people worldwide are infected with hookworms, which cause developmental stunting (physical and cognitive) in children and anemia in children and adults. The treatment costs 2¢ per dose. The richest person in the world, could, on his own, distribute hookworm drugs to every infected person in the world and still be able to have a thousand dollar cocktail every night for dinner. That’s fucked up.

  92. says

    if your life trajectory had led you to become a billionaire instead, you’d probably justify it to yourself.

    By definition every billionaire’s life trajectory has led them to become a billionaire.
    So… billionaires probably justify being billionaires to themselves.

    That there is a pretty startling revelation. I think I owe them all an apology.

  93. laurentweppe says

    @ Dianne

    I don’t get the rich.

    Well, I am one, so allow me to explain to you what makes my social class tick.
    .
    First thing: We are neither stupid nor delusional: we know that the system is rigged to serve our interest, that million of people smarter than us, more hardworking than us and to put it simply more useful than us receive a much smaller share of the pie than us, and that a system of hereditary wealth is fated to eventually create a ruling class of inept, parasitic aristocrats.
    And that’s the thing: the egoistical faction of the upper-class already perceive itself as a parasite. They’ll never aknowledge it publicly, they’ll rarely aknowledge it privately, but that’s how they see themselves, and as a result, they see the preservation of the rigged system as vital, since any system with a fair competition would doom them to extinction as a social class. (That’s also why so many rich people love to describe the poor as parasites: the freudian projection is strong in these ones)
    .
    But what about maling an unfair system where the population is still well fed, you may ask. After all, one can be a pragmatic villain.
    .
    And that’s when we come to the second thing is: most of us are certain that the plebs are out for our blood. It’s one of the constants in every system of oppression: the oppressor is always persuaded that the oppressed wants revenge.
    And that’s why they don’t even want to hear about an unfair system (one where dynastic wealth still exists) where the population is still well fed. Sure: people with better pays, better heath, more free time, a better education are more performant as a workforce. You know what else they are? More confident. And confident people almost as likely to revolt as starving people.
    People who are about to starve -like the French, the Russian, or the Egyptians before their famous revolutions- are likely to revolt because they got nothing to lose. People who have grown confident are likely to revolt because they stopped believing that the upper-class has the strength to beat them into submission. People who are confident are not as likely to back down when threatened with unemployment or starvation or institutionalized violence.
    The trick is to keep people poor enough that they can easily be bullied into submission but not so poor as to be desperate enough to fight the upper-class anyway.

    In fact, take all the stuff said by the american right about the poor “job-creators” who would leave the country if their demands were not meant or the debt ceilling and sequestration debacles: take away the pathos and what do you see? Threats: threats of rich egomaniacs who vowed to sabotage the economy and harm the population as much as they could if the population did not act like the obedient little serfs they’re supposed to be. Even the “47%” remarks by Romney should be understood that way: do not read it as “Obama bought 47% of the voters” but as “We’re unable to bully these 47% of the voters

  94. Ichthyic says

    America and the world is in desperate need of economic reform. I would be pleasantly shocked if that happened without violence.

    nope.

    too many people now in the societies where change most needs to occur. It CAN’T happen with violence.

    there’s only one way for it to happen, and I’ve said this many times. If you want a government that works for you, YOU have to directly participate IN that government.

    basically, we all have to stop being lazy asses and expecting someone else will do the job for us.

    it’s that simple.

    the very reason that criminals become managers, is because everyone who ISN’T a criminal isn’t interested.

  95. says

    If the US government was saying that African Americans couldn’t own guns (or something of that nature), you might have a point.

    http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/cramer.racism.html

    Christopher, you’re making the opposite point. Your link only highlight the fact that gun control laws of today are not the same as the racially targeted laws of the past. The only way to get to your point is to commit a genetic fallacy.
    Audley’s point stands firm: gun control laws can be used as a subjugation measure, if they’re targeted against specific oppressed minorities. The Nazi connection only reaffirms this; the right people get to have guns, the wrong don’t. Current gun control laws are not targeted in this way.

  96. md says

    I’m considering it myself as part of my longer-term plans. But it’s all quite vague and fuzzy right now, since the idea is quite new to me and of course I’m still struggling to pay rent.

    SallyStrange @ 65, may you and your partners go gangbusters and make a mint. I wish you great success. I suspect you will find that capital allocation and management are underrated skills round these parts.

  97. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, liberturds live in fantasy land right next to the gun nuts….

  98. Anri says

    A well armed populace keeps certain actions off the table.

    I’d like to link to some example of an incident in which the US Government operated successfully against an armed group of people, but I can’t seem to think of any. Could someone suggest one for me?

    Warning: this post may contain sarcasm.

  99. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    md@116,

    Your link is borked. But it is simple fact that the longest period of sustained high-level growth in both the US and world economies coincided with the highest-ever marginal tax rates.

  100. chrislawson says

    MD’s fantasy world is based on a skerrick of truth — at extreme tax rates, say 95%, there is essentially no incentive to put more effort into earning and a lot more incentive to avoid tax. But to argue that cutting tax rates will increase GDP in all circumstances is like looking at the far right end of a parabola and assuming the slope always goes up. It is especially ill-informed when all the historical data shows that tax cuts are *not* associated with GDP increases, and if anything show an inverse correlation. If you look at international comparisons, it’s also easy to see that tax as a % of GDP has almost no bearing on a country’s economic strength. On the same low level of tax/GDP are Japan and Afghanistan. At the high end, you see the UK next to Malta and Norway next to Barbados.

    The worst side of all this, of course, is the wilful blindness of people to the facts, exemplified by the recent Congress Report which analysed all the historical data and concluded that tax rates do not have much influence on economic growth. Republicans, being the paragons of evidence-baseed policy that they are, withdrew the report — not because they had any counter-evidence, but just because they didn’t like what it said.

  101. OlliP says

    The Laffer curve and tax breaks as a way to increase GDP… just a fairy tale. The Laffer curve only really works at the edges, meaning that at 0% and 100% tax rates revenue collected is zero. Between those extremes it is quite likely that small changes upwards in tax rates will increase revenue and downwards will decrease it.

  102. David Marjanović says

    I think we should reward the “job creators” by giving them an opportunity to reduce their tax rates to zero.

    Just make the tax rates for the top tax bracket five times the U6 unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate drops to zero, so does the tax rate. Today, the tax rate would be a bit over 70%.

    Give that a bit to sink in, and then announce the law takes effect in six months. See what happens to the unemployment rate then.

    And the best part is, if you earmark the money from this law to jobs programs, unemployment and tax rates on the rich will drop even if the rich do nothing.

    That strikes me as a very interesting idea!

    I think the best way to get the wealth and income disparity back in line is to promote unions, and get the country back to full employment.

    1) Full employment? I don’t think that’s been possible in several decades.
    2) “The country”? We’re talking about a global problem. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

    Or, your know, people with a couple of billions to spare (each) could open new factories and businesses where people could work.

    Factories, these days, means robots. The majority of jobs in all rich countries these days lies in service, not in industry. It’s been that way for decades.

    I’ll give up all but what I need to live on when Gates, Buffet, the Kochs, Waltons, etc. do the same.

    …Strikes me as hypocritical.

    A well armed populace keeps certain actions off the table.

    Two words for you: Saddam Hussein.

    Go find out what his attitude to privately owned Kalashnikovs was. Go find out!

    Only the “right” kind of citizens:

    For those, however, the Nazis made it much easier to get and keep guns.

    Christopher, you can’t even do Godwin right!

    at 0% and 100% tax rates revenue collected is zero

    Actually, at 100 %, it wouldn’t be: wealthy people would fully legally own laundries for the rest of their money, and pay all the taxes on them. Wouldn’t be much, but wouldn’t be zero.

  103. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    md,

    All I see in your link is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Tax revenues rise during a boom (Coolidge – with a rather unfortunate crash in 1929, just after he left office, which is completely unaccounted for in the article but was a predictable consequence of financial deregulation, just like that in 2008) or recovery (Reagan came to power in the aftermath of the 1970s stagflation, at a time when recovery was pretty much inevitable due to the collapse of oil prices). Both these periods were far shorter than the long boom of 1945-1975 which as I noted, coincided with the highest ever marginal tax rates.

  104. daniellavine says

    SallyStrange @ #35, there is nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now.

    Yes there is:
    1) The fact that quitting a job to start a business looks a whole lot like unemployment, making it harder to get another job if the startup doesn’t work out.
    2) The fact that a single medical problem without employer-based coverage can put one in debt for the rest of one’s life.
    3) The fact that small business loans and similar aren’t nearly so widely available to jobless folks with almost no collateral as they are to wealthy capitalist types.
    4) The fact that people who aren’t wealthy need to continue paying for rent and food while starting a new business despite not pulling a steady paycheck.

    That’s just off the top of my head. There may be more barriers than that. It occurs to me that in all cases socialistic policies would reduce the barriers.

  105. says

    @ Jafafa Hots
    I’m sorry if that contradicts your black-and-white argument against portraying things as black-and-white.
    I was not portraying things black-and-white, and saying that capitalism does not work or that it does not blend into socialism as part of political spectrum. I was talking about one specific, extreme case of capitalism mentioned in the topic video, i.e. capitalism where wealth is extremely disproportionately concentrated in hands of top 1% of people. That is why i included the over-the-top qualifiers “hyper-mega”. Please, when you criticise me, do not insert in my comment things I did not write or even imply, and do not ignore things I actually wrote.

    That, and context.

  106. says

    Hm. Blockquote fail. Following text should have been quoted:

    I’m sorry if that contradicts your black-and-white argument against portraying things as black-and-white.

  107. daniellavine says

    I was talking about one specific, extreme case of capitalism mentioned in the topic video, i.e. capitalism where wealth is extremely disproportionately concentrated in hands of top 1% of people. That is why i included the over-the-top qualifiers “hyper-mega”. Please, when you criticise me, do not insert in my comment things I did not write or even imply, and do not ignore things I actually wrote.

    I’m sorry, which incidences of capitalism in world history did not lead to a concentration of wealth and destruction of the commons?

    Bear in mind the growth of the middle class in the USA in the mid-20th century was largely the result of socialist policies and the popularity of organized labor at the time.

  108. says

    SallyStrange @ 65, may you and your partners go gangbusters and make a mint. I wish you great success. I suspect you will find that capital allocation and management are underrated skills round these parts.

    Md, given that you know that your reputation around here is that of a person who is too dumb to recognize the obvious flaws in the policies he promotes, why do you even bother offering advice? I know smart people who can give good advice. You aren’t one of them.

    Your advice, by the way, merely reveals that you haven’t bothered finding out the most rudimentary details of the proposals you appear to be attempting to advise.

  109. says

    @daniellavine
    I do not think we disagree with each other in principle. From what I see here I even agree with most of what Jafafa Hots and many others wrote. Maybe I am not formulating my posts correctly.

    I indeed do bear in mind that “socialist policies” are necessary, and uncontrolled captialism tends to roll towards extreme. But social(ist) policies in place do not automatically make the system socialism, just like iron in alloy does not make it automatically steel. I think that apart from obviously unfair and mostly unfunctional extremes, like the socialism I used to live in in former Czechoslovakia, or hypothetical communism, or current corporatist capitalism in US, there is wide plethora of systems that are fairer, better functioning and overall healthier.

    I actually really think, that the key lies in moderation – as, to my mind, also implies the topic video and many comentators here. People need security and care as well as something to aspire to, something to fight for.

  110. unclefrogy says

    in a previous thread I mentioned “the consent of the governed”.
    Some thought it was meaningless but I do not think so. I will try to explain. It seems to me that all culture and all societies are the result of an agreement, we agree what our language means , what are cultural values are how we do things and because it is not some “law of physics” it originates within the individuals the make up the “culture”.
    For a government or an economic system or any other cultural institution it requires that the participants agree on what it is and how it works.
    For it to function it does not depend on how the agreement is obtained or the cooperation in it is accomplished. What ever the motivation may be, it could be idealized belief in it, it could be greed and the lust for power or it could be fear and coercion blind submission to the lash all that is really required is the continued agreement.
    What happens when change happens is a significant portion of the participants the population change their minds. India gained their independence when they stopped cooperating and the country become ungovernable.
    All this stuff rights, political power, economy are based on agreement it is not external to the participants and it is fluid and changeable.
    What will be the event that tips it over to change is hard to say but someone above mentioned global warming and climate change that is a good candidate as a tipping point. It may be some other small event that does it like a small market seller for the “Arab spring” .
    It will not stay this way forever because one of the things that is pretty consistent is that humans behave rather stupidly at times and it is only because there is a lot of latitude built in to the universe that we are still here at all.

    uncle frogy

  111. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I think there’s a bit of a communication problem. When Charly says socialism, the term refers to a centrally planned economy, as a satellite state of the Russian empire, with a weak judiciary. When daniellavine says socialism, the term refers to the New Deal, the Great Society, and in the future the sort of policies that Bernie Sanders talks about. Both are correct — it is a broad term — but it has different connotations to each person.

    Rather than saying “you don’t want socialism, trust me, I’ve had it” and “yes we do want socialism, just not that kind”, it might be useful to be more specific.

    Maybe a starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/socialism

    Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy. “Social ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets or planning, how management is to be organised within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism.

  112. dianne says

    This story seems relevant: The children going hungry in America.

    Upping my donation to the local food bank. Feeling kind of pissed about it: why are we depending on charities to provide people’s basic needs? Food, shelter, medical care, and education are all things that the government should supply to every citizen automatically. Food banks should be redundant.

  113. daniellavine says

    But social(ist) policies in place do not automatically make the system socialism, just like iron in alloy does not make it automatically steel.

    Social policies are not necessarily socialistic, but aside from that I think this is a pretty problematic statement. You’re essentially asserting there are two senses of the word “socialist” that are only loosely coupled. If socialist policies do not make a state socialist then it must also be true that capitalist policies do not make a state capitalist. Then what good are these terms in the first place?

    There’s also lots of misunderstanding around what capitalism entails summed up nicely by an exchange I had with someone at a punk show: “Capitalism is just buying and selling.” Well, no, people have been buying and selling for thousands of years but nothing recognizable as capitalism has existed apart from the last few hundred. Capitalism at the very least requires capital.

    I think that apart from obviously unfair and mostly unfunctional extremes, like the socialism I used to live in in former Czechoslovakia, or hypothetical communism, or current corporatist capitalism in US, there is wide plethora of systems that are fairer, better functioning and overall healthier.

    See, I disagree that the current US economic system is particularly capitalistic. It has all the worst features of capitalism but very few of the good. Just take as an example the top retailer in the US. Why is Walmart the top retailer in the US? Because of the Eisenhower interstate system and the just-in-time inventory coordination made possible by information technology, both of which were essentially gifts from the US taxpayer to US business — in other words, socialism. That’s just one example of a great many possible examples.

    The only “healthy” form of economic activity I’ve so far encountered seems to be hunting/gathering.

  114. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    While it is indeed useful to make our definitions more precise I’m not sure you’ve really captured my view of socialism, or if you have it seems rather incidental. I take “communism” to be a variety of socialism, and so when I talk about the Soviet Union and its satellites I call them “communist”, which also implies they are socialist but states the type of socialism with more precision.

    While it’s not wrong to refer to the Soviet system as socialism I think it’s rather misleading and is often used to smear otherwise popular socialist policies as somehow being derived from Soviet communist policies despite the fact that European countries were quite happily calling themselves “socialist” even while making military and economic treaties intended to undercut the Soviet system.

    Regardless, Charly’s simplifications seem to valorize capitalism at the expense of socialism. This “capitalism good/socialism bad” narrative is essentially folk wisdom or even myth at this point and that’s exactly why I feel obligated to argue against it even if I wouldn’t consider myself a socialist in the first place.

  115. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    the fact that European countries were quite happily calling themselves “socialist” – daniellavine

    Not a fact at all, unless you mean the Soviet satellite states. There were (and still are, although much weakened) political parties describing themselves as socialist, but no European state outside the Soviet block, Yugoslavia and Albania ever described itself as socialist.

  116. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I take “communism” to be a variety of socialism,

    It would be, but according to the communist viewpoint, communism is the stateless future society which they are working toward, and which has never been implemented. I.e. the USSR was a union of socialist republics, not communist republics. They wanted to be communist but weren’t yet.

    and so when I talk about the Soviet Union and its satellites I call them “communist”, which also implies they are socialist but states the type of socialism with more precision.

    Better perhaps to go with “Leninist”, then.

    Anyway, Charly lived in (and grew up in?) the Soviet bloc; opposition to the term is common even by people who’ll advocate for left-socialism in everything but name.

  117. md says

    One way we can help them, Nick, is to not import unskilled labor to compete with mother Barbara in the story, until the labor market tightens up and mother Barbara’s wages begin to rise and cause a decent clip of inflation. No need at all to be adding international competitors here in America to Barbara’s prospective new occupations, she’s got enough competitors round the world as it is.

    Less Americans would mean a smaller American carbon footprint, also. A win-win for everyone. But thats not what leftists really want.

    A socialist revolution, PZ’s adolescent jokes aside, would mean sclerotic growth for most, and an ossified ruling poltical class, with worse economic mobility than we have today. Like it or not, capitalism improves most everyones life eventually. The American poor today are rich, historically speaking. If their lives continue to improve it will be due to innovation and productivity gains and cheaper goods — the wonderful side effects of free people engaging in voluntary commerce with one another — however stunted the economy continues to operate after dealing with the last disastrous round of government intervention in the housing/construction markets.

    There will be no revolution in America. No need. Your side will ‘win’ in the end, it will just take a while. Cthulhu swims slowly, but always leftward.

  118. consciousness razor says

    If socialist policies do not make a state socialist then it must also be true that capitalist policies do not make a state capitalist. Then what good are these terms in the first place?

    Is that supposed to be an argument, or what is the point of it? Perhaps the terms are better for describing policies rather than states, assuming you seriously want an answer about that. But anyway, it is possible for states to have a mixture of different kinds of policies. Are you saying it isn’t?

    See, I disagree that the current US economic system is particularly capitalistic. It has all the worst features of capitalism but very few of the good. Just take as an example the top retailer in the US. Why is Walmart the top retailer in the US? Because of the Eisenhower interstate system and the just-in-time inventory coordination made possible by information technology, both of which were essentially gifts from the US taxpayer to US business — in other words, socialism. That’s just one example of a great many possible examples. [It was actually two. --cr]

    I’m not following this at all. For one thing, Walmart isn’t the only who uses the interstates or information technology. So those aren’t examples of “gifts to businesses” or to a business in particular. But are you really saying the government shouldn’t have put any resources into things like transportation or research?

  119. daniellavine says

    @Nick Gotts:

    Not a fact at all, unless you mean the Soviet satellite states. There were (and still are, although much weakened) political parties describing themselves as socialist, but no European state outside the Soviet block, Yugoslavia and Albania ever described itself as socialist.

    Orwell was unabashed about it. If you need more examples, well, I’m sure google can help you.

    @sgbm:

    Better perhaps to go with “Leninist”, then.

    I think “communist” works fine since it doesn’t actually refer to anything else that has ever existed in the history of reality.

  120. daniellavine says

    @consciousness razor:

    But anyway, it is possible for states to have a mixture of different kinds of policies. Are you saying it isn’t?

    It’s obviously not what I’m saying, and given the fact that you are apparently prone to drastically misunderstanding me for the purpose of getting in arguments with me I’d prefer not to talk to you about it any more.

    Although you made quite a similar point about “objectivity” vs. “subjectivity” the last time you decided you needed to argue with me at length about pretty much nothing.

    I’m not following this at all.

    Surprise, surprise.

  121. daniellavine says

    Less Americans would mean a smaller American carbon footprint, also. A win-win for everyone. But thats not what leftists really want.

    Carbon footprint isn’t proportional to the number of people in a country, jackass.

  122. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    both of which were essentially gifts from the US taxpayer to US business — in other words, socialism. – daniellavine

    Eh? That is capitalism: socialise the costs where possible, but keep the profits private.

  123. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I think “communist” works fine since it doesn’t actually refer to anything else that has ever existed in the history of reality.

    I can’t stop you, but it makes you sound like a Reaganite rube. ;)

    If you use the term to refer to something communists wouldn’t call communism, whence your objection when others use “socialism” to refer to something socialists wouldn’t call socialism?

  124. consciousness razor says

    Eh?

    It’s as clear as mud, Nick. You must have something against daniellavine, like I apparently do, which is why you don’t understand.

  125. daniellavine says

    @consciousness razor:

    Then don’t.

    Please don’t pretend I addressed you first.

    @Nick Gotts:

    Eh? That is capitalism: socialise the costs where possible, but keep the profits private.

    Well, it’s what we call capitalism. What I’m arguing is that it isn’t actually capitalism as it was understood by, say, Hayek or Friedman. I do agree that capitalism tends to transform into crony capitalism quite naturally. If there’s a disagreement it seems to be that I think that crony capitalism is a (very bad) form of socialism.

  126. unclefrogy says

    Look MD the last time I looked the poor were not improving in this wonderful capitalist system you characterize us to be living in that was the point of the Graph above.
    The biggest beneficiary of government support for the last few decades has been the rich and the “corporate persons”. in the form of tax reductions, tax right downs, investment stimulus. While the the rest of us beneficiaries of capitalism have experienced increase unemployment, increased expenses of all kinds and lower wages.
    It is thinking like that that will lead us over the cliff to disaster.

    uncle frogy

  127. daniellavine says

    I can’t stop you, but it makes you sound like a Reaganite rube. ;)

    Fair enough. I find “Stalinist” to be a little hyperbolic given that none of Stalin’s successors were nearly so Stalinist as was Stalin.

    If you use the term to refer to something communists wouldn’t call communism, whence your objection when others use “socialism” to refer to something socialists wouldn’t call socialism?

    As I already said, because the “capitalism good/socialism bad” myth is out of control and it’s worth trying to chew away at it at the edges.

    “Totalitarian socialism” work for you?

  128. consciousness razor says

    Please don’t pretend I addressed you first.

    Who’s pretending what now? You said you’d prefer not to talk to me, yet you’re still talking to me.

  129. vaiyt says

    Like it or not, capitalism improves most everyones life eventually.

    As long as “most everyone” doesn’t indeed include most of the world, and “capitalism” includes all the other policies that helped the middle class thrive in first-world countries…

  130. daniellavine says

    Me:

    given the fact that you are apparently prone to drastically misunderstanding me for the purpose of getting in arguments with me I’d prefer not to talk to you about it any more.

    You:

    Who’s pretending what now? You said you’d prefer not to talk to me, yet you’re still talking to me.

    You are a tool. I don’t want to talk to you because you seem to intentionally misinterpret what I say and what do you do in response?

    Intentionally misinterpret what I say.

    If you want me not to talk to you stop lying about what I said and “who started it”.

  131. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Fair enough. I find “Stalinist” to be a little hyperbolic given that none of Stalin’s successors were nearly so Stalinist as was Stalin.

    Not Stalinism! Leninism.

    Stalinism is deprecated since 1956.

    “Totalitarian socialism” work for you?

    It wasn’t totalitarian after glasnost, especially in the peripheral states, but it was still considered Leninism. Anyway if you’re trying to not make people think of socialism as bad, you don’t prime them by putting the word totalitarian in front of it.

  132. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I’m actually way too tired to follow the other discussions, but consciousness razor is not a person who intentionally misinterprets others. If there is a misunderstanding, it is not in bad faith.

  133. daniellavine says

    It wasn’t totalitarian after glasnost, especially in the peripheral states, but it was still considered Leninism.

    Great, that means “Leninism” is useless for my purposes and we’re back to square one.

    Anyway if you’re trying to not make people think of socialism as bad, you don’t prime them by putting the word totalitarian in front of it.

    But I actually do think what I’m calling totalitarian socialism is bad. “Totalitarianism” is put there to contrast this type of socialism (definitely bad) with other forms of socialism (potentially good). I’m not trying to win over focus groups — though maybe I should be.

    If there is a misunderstanding, it is not in bad faith.

    Maybe not but my only other exchange with consciousness razor was a situation in which cr responded to something I said by wildly misinterpreting it and then misinterpreting every subsequent attempt I made to clarify. It seemed intentional because it just didn’t seem reasonable to me that cr would misunderstand so badly after other people seemed to understand what I was saying even if they disagreed.

    And in this case it’s hard to see why a comment that goes to great lengths to demonstrate that neither capitalism nor socialism exists in a pure form could be interpreted in good faith to be an argument that capitalism and socialism only ever exist in pure forms.

  134. consciousness razor says

    If you want me not to talk to you stop lying about what I said and “who started it”.

    When did I even mention “who started it” (this conversation, apparently), much less lie about it? I sincerely do not understand what the (1) what the aggression is all about and (2) what the fuck you’re talking about. Maybe that makes me a fucking dumbass, but I’m not fucking lying about anything.

  135. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Orwell was unabashed about it. – daniellavine

    Did you even read your own linked article? Orwell was saying (wrongly as it turned out) that a socialist revolution was necessary in “England” (he never had much time for the rest of Britain) to win WWII. He was not saying that it was socialist. Even if he had been, you said that European countries were describing themselves as socialist, which must at least mean that their governments were. They weren’t.

    md,

    One way we can help them, Nick, is to not import unskilled labor to compete with mother Barbara in the story, until the labor market tightens up

    This, of course, would require government intervention and coercion (not just of immigrants but of those who employ them) on a massive scale.

    A socialist revolution, PZ’s adolescent jokes aside, would mean sclerotic growth for most, and an ossified ruling poltical class, with worse economic mobility than we have today.

    Ah. Like in China, you mean? And before you claim China is no longer socialist*:

    As of 2012 large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were the backbone of China’s economy producing over 50% of its goods and services and employing over half of the workers in China. 65 of the Chinese companies in the 2012 Fortune Global 500 list, were state-owned, including State Grid Corporation of China, which operates the country’s power grid, and China National Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec, oil companies. Profits of the largest state-owned enterprises were much greater than the largest firms in the private sector which were largely small and medium sized businesses.

    Like it or not, capitalism improves most everyones life eventually. The American poor today are rich, historically speaking.

    Going to tell that to Barbara, are you? The real incomes of most Americans have stagnated for 30 years, while the very rich have grown vastly richer. The period when people’s lives improved most dramatically in the USA were the 30 years I mentioned earlier, when “government interference” was at its peak. This is somehow a point you never get round to addressing. Why is that?

    however stunted the economy continues to operate after dealing with the last disastrous round of government intervention in the housing/construction markets.

    Really, this level of delusion is staggering even for you. Most of the bad mortgages that were a significant contributor to the crisis were absolutely nothing to do with government intervention – they were for large, often second homes, bought by the well-off; while the primary cause was the limitless greed and irresponsibility of bankers, “free people engaging in voluntary commerce with one another”, from whom the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 removed the controls (government intervention) put in place to prevent a recurrence of the irresponsibility that contributed to the crash of 1929. Even Greenspan, who presided over this disaster because he was stupid enough to believe in your nostrums, admitted in retrospect that he’d been wrong about the stability of “free markets”.

    Your side will ‘win’ in the end, it will just take a while. Cthulhu swims slowly, but always leftward.

    WTF do you think you’re talking about? What looks likely to “win” at present is environmental catastrophe, to which neither capitalism, nor Chinese-style socialism, appears to have a remotely adequate answer.

    *I should make it clear that I am no supporter of the Chinese ruling elite, or, under any circumstances, of the one-party state. But ignoring this still rapidly growing elephant in the room just makes you look silly.

  136. daniellavine says

    @Nick Gotts:

    Fine, you win. Socialism is only ever evil and all that is good is capitalist.

  137. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    daniellavine,

    WTF are you talking about? I’m a socialist.

  138. daniellavine says

    @cr:

    Source of my “aggression”:

    Is that supposed to be an argument, or what is the point of it? Perhaps the terms are better for describing policies rather than states, assuming you seriously want an answer about that. But anyway, it is possible for states to have a mixture of different kinds of policies. Are you saying it isn’t?

    (Not sure when “I’d prefer not to talk to you about this” became “aggression” but there you go.)

    Then don’t.

    In context, this makes no sense since I only addressed you once in response to you addressing me — which is only polite after all — and it was in that one response that I told you I didn’t want to talk to you. I couldn’t tell you I’d prefer not to talk to you without talking to you at least once, right? In which case “then don’t” doesn’t seem to make anyfuckingsense.

    I don’t think you’re a dumbass, I just think you’re allergic to my writing style or something. It just doesn’t seem worth it to clarify when you got the complete opposite of the intended meaning to what I wrote.

  139. daniellavine says

    @Nick Gotts:

    Why are you a socialist when the only historical examples of socialism were anti-human totalitarian nightmares?

  140. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Great, that means “Leninism” is useless for my purposes and we’re back to square one.

    Well, what do you want? Do you want to refer to the government which was instituted in Russia and then the USSR? That was a Leninist government. If you want to only specify “the times when that government was bad” then you’re in for a tremendous undertaking and you’ll basically have to become a historian.

    But I actually do think what I’m calling totalitarian socialism is bad.

    I understand that you do. If you pair two words together, the brain learns to associate them. Say “totalitarian socialism” enough and you create a neural connection; the brain will activate “totalitarian” when it hears “socialism”. This is called spreading activation. You’ll achieve the opposite of what you’re intending, if it is your intention to chew away at it at the edges of a myth that is out of control.

    The word “Leninism” doesn’t include the other word you’re trying to rehabilitate. There will be some spreading activation anyway, but less.

    +++++
    Like I said, I’m really tired; I got a ridiculously unhealthy amount of sleep last night. I am not able to parse other peoples’ conversations right now. I’m just saying, I’ve watched consciousness razor argue hundreds of times, I’ve argued with him dozens of times — and he’s not going to intentionally misunderstand someone, because that’s not interesting for him.

  141. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    I understand that you do. If you pair two words together, the brain learns to associate them. Say “totalitarian socialism” enough and you create a neural connection; the brain will activate “totalitarian” when it hears “socialism”. This is called spreading activation. You’ll achieve the opposite of what you’re intending, if it is your intention to chew away at it at the edges of a myth that is out of control.

    That’s wonderful. As I already said I’m trying to appeal to thinking people, not focus groups of farm animals.

  142. consciousness razor says

    (Not sure when “I’d prefer not to talk to you about this” became “aggression” but there you go.)

    It hasn’t. All that got you was “Then don’t.” Because I was assuming at the time that you would leave your comment unexplained and stop talking to me, which is fine with me.

    Calling me a “tool,” saying I’m lying (about things I never said), and bringing up some irrelevant conversation because for some reason you still hold a grudge about it? That’s fairly aggressive. Maybe “defensive” is more accurate, I don’t know.

  143. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Right. Well. The thing is, spreading activation is a pre-conscious process. Everybody does it. You do it. I do it. Nobody can stop. It’s quite literally how neural networks network. Trust me or look it up, take your pick.

  144. strange gods before me ॐ says

    For example, you’re a thinking person, right? And yet somehow you got the notion that capitalism properly refers to laissez faire capitalism. I know where you picked up that association that, because I learned it at the same place: junior high and high school. Yet actually-existing capitalism actually existed for a couple centuries, and was even called capitalism, before Hayek or Friedman came along.

    But at school they said “laissez faire capitalism laissez faire capitalism laissez faire capitalism” a lot. I remember.

  145. daniellavine says

    Right. Well. The thing is, spreading activation is a pre-conscious process. Everybody does it. You do it. I do it. Nobody can stop. It’s quite literally how neural networks network. Trust me or look it up, take your pick.

    This is getting a little silly. Does the phrase “totalitarian government” make you hate governments?

    @CR:

    “Defensive” is probably closer to the truth. Fair enough. I’m sorry for calling you a tool and a liar.

  146. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    For example, you’re a thinking person, right? And yet somehow you got the notion that capitalism properly refers to laissez faire capitalism.

    Actually, I’m arguing that laissez-faire capitalism is impossible.

    But the only forms of capitalism to compare to laissez-faire that I know of are forms of capitalism that incorporate socialist policies. Could you help me to understand how capitalism prior to the Austrian school was different from laissez-faire?

  147. says

    But thats not what leftists really want.

    Maybe I’m being unfair, but anytime somebody uses the term “leftist” I start tuning them out. It has much the same effect as if somebody uses the word “quantum” when discussing medical therapies. You just know it’s only going to get worse after that.

  148. daniellavine says

    @LykeX:

    Maybe I’m being unfair, but anytime somebody uses the term “leftist” I start tuning them out. It has much the same effect as if somebody uses the word “quantum” when discussing medical therapies. You just know it’s only going to get worse after that.

    I don’t think you’re being unfair. I think it’s pretty safe to classify “leftist” as a phatic expression. md uses it not to make any kind of point but that to symbolize that he’s in one group and he’s at war with everyone in the opposed group.

    I try not to dismiss whole schools of thought by dismissing them as “rightist doctrine”. When someone else makes such a dismissal I take it as a pretty sure sign that they’re just not willing to seriously consider those ideas out of a sort of religious moral principle.

  149. John Morales says

    [OT]

    daniellavine:

    This is getting a little silly. Does the phrase “totalitarian government” make you hate governments?

    You think it silly because you miss the point; you’re using the phrase as a compound noun in the one case and as a qualified noun in the other.

    (Does the phrase “police state” make you hate states?)

  150. daniellavine says

    You think it silly because you miss the point; you’re using the phrase as a compound noun in the one case and as a qualified noun in the other.

    (Does the phrase “police state” make you hate states?)

    I was using it as a qualified noun in both cases.

  151. strange gods before me ॐ says

    This is getting a little silly. Does the phrase “totalitarian government” make you hate governments?

    A little bit; that’s part of how libertarian propaganda works: intersperse with “federal government” and “state violence” and repeat.

    But with your example, there’s a different starting point. People in the USA, for example, have personal experience of a government, and thus they have a broad and robust network of associations already built for it. These same people do not have personal experience of socialism (at least, not socialism explicitly called socialism), but they have heard a bit about totalitarianism+socialism.

    *shrug* I could dump lots of advice, but I just noticed that you said you wanted to chew away at it at the edges of a myth that is out of control, and then you suggested a phrase that wouldn’t accomplish what you said you wanted to accomplish. Thought I’d let you know.

    +++++

    Could you help me to understand how capitalism prior to the Austrian school was different from laissez-faire?

    I can point you to Karl Polanyi’s book The Great Transformation, and Ha-Joon Chang’s paper Kicking Away the Ladder. (Potential for confusion: Chang reuses that title for a book, which I assume is a more detailed treatment of the topic, but I haven’t read the book.)

  152. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    *shrug* I could dump lots of advice, but I just noticed that you said you wanted to chew away at it at the edges of a myth that is out of control, and then you suggested a phrase that wouldn’t accomplish what you said you wanted to accomplish. Thought I’d let you know.

    Well, if I’m “rehabilitating” the word socialism I still need a way to acknowledge that socialism is not inherently a good thing. If people insist on thinking with their gonads/ovaries instead of their brains then there’s not much hope anyway. You can’t manipulate people into thinking for themselves — or if you can it’s a self-defeating exercise.

    I can point you to Karl Polanyi’s book The Great Transformation, and Ha-Joon Chang’s paper Kicking Away the Ladder.

    You can’t give me a two sentence synopsis or something? I wasn’t looking for book recommendations, I was trying to understand the distinction you’re drawing right now in the current discussion. If I have to go away and read a 400 page book before responding to any of your comments it doesn’t really seem worth it.

  153. John Morales says

    daniellavine @175:

    I was using it as a qualified noun in both cases.

    You don’t think you are associating socialism with totalitarianism?

    I quote you addressing Nick: “Why are you a socialist when the only historical examples of socialism were anti-human totalitarian nightmares?”

  154. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Well, if I’m “rehabilitating” the word socialism I still need a way to acknowledge that socialism is not inherently a good thing.

    Preface it with the type you like, when you’re talking about the type you like. Is it “democratic socialism” you like? Use that phrase. Use other terms not including the S word for the ones you don’t like.

    If people insist on thinking with their gonads/ovaries instead of their brains then there’s not much hope anyway.

    Le sigh. The fundamental attribution error, you has it.

    You can’t give me a two sentence synopsis or something?

    I guess a too-short summary would be “highly, highly protectionist” — but Chang’s paper is really quite short. You’ll be glad you read it.

  155. daniellavine says

    I quote you addressing Nick: “Why are you a socialist when the only historical examples of socialism were anti-human totalitarian nightmares?”

    In case you didn’t notice my preceding message to Nick was something like: “Fine, you win. Socialism is only ever bad and capitalism is only ever good.” Which clearly doesn’t represent my actual opinion. Do you think it’s possible that the follow-up question also might not reflect my actual opinion?

    Do you honestly think you know better than I do what I was trying to say?

  156. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    Preface it with the type you like, when you’re talking about the type you like. Is it “democratic socialism” you like? Use that phrase. Use other terms not including the S word for the ones you don’t like.

    Not sure where you got the idea that wasn’t my intention in the first place.

    Le sigh. The fundamental attribution error, you has it.

    That statement does not imply that I’m making an attribution error. I wonder if your assumption that I’m making an attribution error itself qualifies as an attribution error though.

  157. daniellavine says

    @Morales:

    You do know you’re on the internet?

    Here, I give you the result of a few seconds’ worth of my lifetime:

    Hey, I looked at those! And could not see sgbm’s point. The one-sentence synopsis was much more helpful.

  158. strange gods before me ॐ says

    You seem to think that spreading activation is only something that happens to other people.

    I wonder if your assumption that I’m making an attribution error itself qualifies as an attribution error though.

    It doesn’t — I am not assuming you to be “the type” of person who does the FAE, as opposed to myself.

  159. John Morales says

    [meta]

    daniellavine:

    In case you didn’t notice my preceding message to Nick was something like: “Fine, you win. Socialism is only ever bad and capitalism is only ever good.” Which clearly doesn’t represent my actual opinion.

    It clearly doesn’t represent his opinion, either.

    Do you honestly think you know better than I do what I was trying to say?

    I do know what you did say.

  160. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    No, I think spreading activation is something that can be actively nullified by careful thought. I don’t think there is a particular “type” of person who is more disposed towards being able to engage in such thought. I’ve implied that some people don’t engage in such a thought but I haven’t implied in any way that it’s because of some property inherent to their personalities.

  161. daniellavine says

    I do know what you did say.

    We’re not arguing over something I said. We’re arguing over your interpretation of something I said. I agree with you that I said what I said; I’m arguing that your interpretation does not reflect the intent.

    So far my back and forth with you has been incredibly pointless. Can you stop now, please?

  162. strange gods before me ॐ says

    No, I think spreading activation is something that can be actively nullified by careful thought.

    You’ve just encountered a neuroscience topic previously unfamiliar to you, and you think you know how it works already. Enjoy your wishful thinking.

    But it’s not important to me — it’s just SIWOTI — so I’ll try to drop it.

    Read that Chang paper I linked back in #176! It’s very good.

  163. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    Actually I’m familiar with spreading activation.

    Preface it with the type you like, when you’re talking about the type you like. Is it “democratic socialism” you like? Use that phrase. Use other terms not including the S word for the ones you don’t like.

    Wait, doesn’t this mean I can…like…nullify spreading activation by careful thought? By your own admission?

    Let’s also bear in mind that I was proposing a term for the current discussion and in context the meaning was clear. From my perspective, you’re making silly semantic arguments that distract from what’s actually under discussion.

  164. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    I should say I am familiar with the concept of spreading activation. It’s seemed intuitively obvious to me for probably something like a decade now that that’s how the brain works. I wasn’t necessarily aware of the term though I may have heard it.

    Let me try to be a little more clear since you seem determined to maintain you’re smarter, more knowledgeable, and just better than me in every conceivable way.

    I don’t think “socialism” is inherently good or inherently bad. Thus I don’t want to condition my interlocutors as Skinner might condition pigeons to think of it as one or the other. Hence, as you suggest, I might use a phrase like “totalitarian socialism” to refer to a bad instance of socialism and “democratic socialism” to refer to a good instance of socialism. The associations between totalitarianism and socialism conflict with the associations between democracy and socialism so that neither association dominates and “socialism” remains a value-neutral (or near-enough) term.

    Does that make the situation any clearer?

  165. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Wait, doesn’t this mean I can…like…nullify spreading activation by careful thought? By your own admission?

    No. It means you can reduce the likelihood and magnitude of certain activations in others when you speak.*

    in context the meaning was clear.

    Yes but you stated a particular goal as well, not just a desire to delineate concepts for the purpose of this discussion: ‘the “capitalism good/socialism bad” myth is out of control and it’s worth trying to chew away at it at the edges.’

    From my perspective,

    I saw you and Charly arguing, in part because you have different connotations attached to the word. You responded thusly, and in doing so you used a word inaccurately. SIWOTI, I respond. I really am too tired to care why the discussion is happening, or what you’re getting out of it. Sorry. Read the Chang paper, you’ll like it. Goodbye.

    *PS: don’t think of an elephant.

  166. daniellavine says

    No. It means you can reduce the likelihood and magnitude of certain activations in others when you speak.

    Le sigh your fucking self. For someone so much smarter and more knowledgeable than I am you certainly have trouble understanding shit.

    Yes but you stated a particular goal as well, not just a desire to delineate concepts for the purpose of this discussion: ‘the “capitalism good/socialism bad” myth is out of control and it’s worth trying to chew away at it at the edges.’

    And I found your unsolicited advice on that score unhelpful. Deal with it.

    I saw you and Charly arguing, in part because you have different connotations attached to the word. You responded thusly, and in doing so you used a word inaccurately.

    I conceded that I was using the word wrong, tried to propose an alternative, and then got about 20 more comments from you about why that term should be unacceptable to me even though I explained why it wasn’t.

  167. Ze Madmax says

    daniellelavine @ #189

    Preface it with the type you like, when you’re talking about the type you like. Is it “democratic socialism” you like? Use that phrase. Use other terms not including the S word for the ones you don’t like.

    Wait, doesn’t this mean I can…like…nullify spreading activation by careful thought? By your own admission?

    No. You’re not nullifying spreading activation, you’re engaging in it. But instead of linking ‘socialism’ to a negative term (i.e., totalitarianism), you’re linking ‘socialism’ to a positive term.

  168. strange gods before me ॐ says

    The associations between totalitarianism and socialism conflict with the associations between democracy and socialism so that neither association dominates and “socialism” remains a value-neutral (or near-enough) term.

    Sigh. You’re not starting with a fresh word, devoid of previous associations. You’re starting with an already loaded word, about which books are written with titles like It Didn’t Happen Here.

    Anyway,

    Let me try to be a little more clear since you seem determined to maintain you’re smarter, more knowledgeable, and just better than me in every conceivable way.

    I don’t think that; but socialism, capitalism and cognitive priming are among my rather obsessive hobbies. Since your comment is a little too weirdly defensive for me, I guess it’s best that I’m walking away now.

    *Definitely don’t think about how it’s big and gray with floppy ears and a long trunk.

  169. daniellavine says

    @sgbm:

    I don’t think that;

    No, but you clearly feel it. Maybe you’re simply not aware of how condescending you’ve been?

    Le sigh, le sigh. Le mother fucking sigh.

    @ZeMadmax:

    No. You’re not nullifying spreading activation, you’re engaging in it. But instead of linking ‘socialism’ to a negative term (i.e., totalitarianism), you’re linking ‘socialism’ to a positive term.

    Right, I’m canceling a negative with a positive. How isn’t “nullification” a fair word for that?

  170. Ze Madmax says

    daniellavine @ #195

    Right, I’m canceling a negative with a positive. How isn’t “nullification” a fair word for that?

    Because you’re not nullifying spreading activation. You could argue you’re nullifying a previously-established relationship between ‘socialism’ and ‘totalitarianism’, but the process itself is not being nullified, which is the claim you originally made regarding “nullifying spreading activation through careful thought.”

  171. strange gods before me ॐ says

    No, I feel something more specific: the awareness that I understand a particular topic which you are displaying Dunning-Kruger about. Not “in every conceivable way.”

    Right, I’m canceling a negative with a positive.

    You’re not. They don’t cancel. Both get activated and reinforced.

  172. cm's changeable moniker says

    big and gray with floppy ears and a long trunk

    Is it just me, or is it more fun (and more productive) to read threads from end-to-beginning where you left off?

  173. daniellavine says

    Right, you guys can nitpick the phrasing all you want if you’d like to continue to misunderstand me with the intent of intellectually humbling me.

    They don’t literally cancel. I was not claiming that they literally cancel. I was using “cancel” as a short-hand for something like:

    “Broaden the concept in such a way that the negative and positive emotional affect caused by the term and its associations are more nearly proportionate, allowing the listener to consider the concept with less interference from cognitive priming and confirmation bias than in the case where a listener only hears the narrow interpretation with the negative association.”

    No, I feel something more specific: the awareness that I understand a particular topic which you are displaying Dunning-Kruger about. Not “in every conceivable way.”

    We have no real disagreements about the nature or effects of cognitive priming. We actually just disagree about what I meant by — using your paraphrase — “rehabilitating socialism”. This is entirely fair since I didn’t really explain what I meant — again, I was using a short-hand to give you a sense since actually answering your question would require a lot of writing. A little like your synopsis of early capitalism — I think you would be surprised at how helpful I found that. Anyway, if you don’t understand you can ask instead of assuming things about my intent.

    But that’s why I’ve been trying to tell you your advice doesn’t work for me — hence the references to Skinner. Do you see how in what I wrote above the idea isn’t to load the word with positive affect but to try to get the positive and negative affects to “cancel” (maybe I should just start wrapping scare quotes around everything)?

    Sigh. You’re not starting with a fresh word, devoid of previous associations. You’re starting with an already loaded word, about which books are written with titles like It Didn’t Happen Here.

    Oooh, another sigh. But here’s you assuming things about my intent. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m aware that the word “socialism” is laden with associations in our culture. And a lot of those existing associations have to do with totalitarianism. All the more reason from my perspective to use the phrase “totalitarian socialism”. If someone already understand socialism to be associated with totalitarianism than admit to that association. From my perspective it’s only honest. But now we can contrast totalitarian socialism which bears all the bad associations to other forms of socialism with maybe positive emotional affects. And maybe thereby we can more rationally consider the ideas involved without being overwhelmed by emotion either way.

    Or we can use another term entirely. Who the fuck cares? Your advice, she does not work for me. The end. Thread is derailed. You guys want to talk about economics?

  174. strange gods before me ॐ says

    PS: My elephant was an albino elephantand so your second suggestion did not work on me.

    Sure it did. Big, floppy ears, long trunk.

    They don’t literally cancel. I was not claiming that they literally cancel.

    What you said is different from what you now claim you were claiming. All I can respond to is what you say.

    Your earlier comments like «As I already said I’m trying to appeal to thinking people, not focus groups of farm animals» and «This is getting a little silly. Does the phrase “totalitarian government” make you hate governments?» suggest a rather different meaning.

    From my perspective it’s only honest.

    You’re only thinking that right now because you’ve got Charly’s Czechoslovakia on your mind. You weren’t thinking about it earlier. And you won’t be thinking about it some other time. And that’s okay; there’s nothing wrong with that; honesty doesn’t require introducing every possible nuance into the discussion.

    Oooh, another sigh.

    It’s not another; you already complained about that one.

    if you’d like to continue to misunderstand me with the intent of intellectually humbling me.

    But here’s you assuming things about my intent.

    Go on and talk about economics. I’d be delighted if you do so without claiming that I’m trying to humble you. I’m tired, you said things which I wanted to correct, I was grumpier than warranted, granted, granted; but I honestly do not care whether you or I come away from this feeling like a fool or a scholar or whatever. Inaccurate, misleading, and easily misunderstood text makes me itchy, that’s all. It is probably a personal need for cognitive closure.

  175. Ichthyic says

    Is it just me, or is it more fun (and more productive) to read threads from end-to-beginning where you left off?

    not just you.

  176. daniellavine says

    Sure it did. Big, floppy ears, long trunk.

    Didn’t register because of the dissonance between “gray” and the actual mental image I had.

    What you said is different from what you now claim you were claiming. All I can respond to is what you say.

    Your earlier comments like «As I already said I’m trying to appeal to thinking people, not focus groups of farm animals» and «This is getting a little silly. Does the phrase “totalitarian government” make you hate governments?» suggest a rather different meaning.

    “Suggest” a rather different meaning, do they? They’re actually perfectly consistent with the sentiment as clarified in my #199. Unless you go out of your way to find fault.

    You’re only thinking that right now because you’ve got Charly’s Czechoslovakia on your mind. You weren’t thinking about it earlier. And you won’t be thinking about it some other time. And that’s okay; there’s nothing wrong with that; honesty doesn’t require introducing every possible nuance into the discussion.

    Maybe you linked the wrong comment? Because my 128 doesn’t seem relevant to your assertion here. I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make.

    It’s not another; you already complained about that one.

    No I didn’t. “Le sigh” was a complaint about the time you said “le sigh.” Not about the time you simply said “sigh”. Come on, now you’re really reaching.

    It is probably a personal need for cognitive closure.

    No doubt.

  177. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Didn’t register because of the dissonance between “gray” and the actual mental image I had.

    You’re assuming you can do reliable introspection. You can’t. Elephant activates trunk, though you’re not conscious of it. The list was only meant to make you conscious of it.

    Maybe you linked the wrong comment? Because my 128 doesn’t seem relevant to your assertion here. I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make.

    The point is you’ve lately decided that honesty requires bringing up something you didn’t think it required before, and you’re only saying that because it’s on your mind. It wasn’t on your mind earlier, at #128. You didn’t think at that time that honesty would require bringing up comparisons like Czechoslovakia, and you won’t think so later, after you’ve forgotten about this. And that’s because honesty doesn’t require it; you’re just imagining it does while you’ve got it on your mind.

    No I didn’t. “Le sigh” was a complaint about the time you said “le sigh.” Not about the time you simply said “sigh”. Come on, now you’re really reaching.

    Problem: you quoted from #194 when you complained.

    “Suggest” a rather different meaning, do they? They’re actually perfectly consistent with the sentiment as clarified in my #199. Unless you go out of your way to find fault.

    Your question indicated that you had not yet googled spreading activation and decided to start taking its validity as your premise. You thought the whole idea was silly before you decided you’d better accept it and instead claim you can nullify it. I’m not going out of my way — I just don’t see a more plausible interpretation.

    Anyway, let me know if you find the Chang paper helpful.

  178. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    @Nick Gotts:

    Why are you a socialist when the only historical examples of socialism were anti-human totalitarian nightmares?</blockquote.

    1) No, they are not: this would be an absurd description of Cuba, or of 21st century China, for example, for all their faults.
    2) Societies can have socialist features without being socialist, and these have often been beneficial. The development of progressive taxation and the welfare state in capitalist countries was very largely due to pressure from socialists – and as socialist parties have weakened, these concessions to human decency have progressively been withdrawn by the ruling elites. Again, socialists have recently made considerable progress in South America, to the great benefit of the poor in those countries.
    3) The viewpoint you express would make it foolish to espouse any major change in social arrangements that hasn’t already been shown in practice to be beneficial. As long as such changes are not irreversible, it can be completely rational to try them.
    4) Progress toward democratic socialism looks to me the most promising way to avoid environmental catastrophe.

  179. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Well, it’s what we call capitalism. What I’m arguing is that it isn’t actually capitalism as it was understood by, say, Hayek or Friedman. – daniellavine

    So, rather than use the term to apply to actually existing capitalism, you prefer to keep it for the fantasies and lies of far-right ideologues. OK, but there’s absolutely no reason anyone else should do so, and it would be sensible to issue a warning when you’re doing it – since you admit that it’s not how most people use the term – so those you are addressing have some chance of understanding what you say.

  180. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    If socialist policies do not make a state socialist then it must also be true that capitalist policies do not make a state capitalist. – daniellavine

    That’s right. Capitalism and socialism are economic systems. An individual, party, or government can follow socialist policies (policies that have the effect andor intention of shifting the system towards socialism) within a capitalist system (topical example: Venezuela), or the reverse (topical example: China). To make things a little more complicated, capitalism can be regarded as a world-system, within which “islands” of socialism, such as China, can exist at least for decades.