THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: It Couldn’t Happen Here

Could It?

PARIS–Most Americans don’t care what happens in France. But the oldest country in “Old Europe” remains the Western world’s intellectual capital and one of its primary originators of political trends. (Google “May+1968+Sorbonne.”)

The French are reacting to a situation almost identical to ours–economic collapse, government impotence, corporate corruption–by turning hard left. National strikes and massive demonstrations are occurring every few weeks. How far left? This far: the late president François Mitterand’s Socialist Party, the rough equivalent of America’s Greens, is considered too conservative to solve the economic crisis.

A new poll by the Parisian daily Libération finds 53 percent of French voters (68 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds) favoring “radical social change.” Fifty-seven percent want France to insulate itself from the global economic system. Does this mean revolution? It’s certainly possible. Or maybe counter-revolution: Jean-Marie Le Pen’s nativist (some would say neofascist) National Front is also picking up points.

One thing is certain: French politics are even more volatile than the financial markets these days. In yet another indication of How Far Left?, the Communist-aligned CGT labor union is on the defensive for not being militant enough. “We’re not going to put out the blazing fires [of the economic crisis],” the CGT’s secretary general said, trying to seize the initiative by calling for another strike on February 18th. “We’re going to fan them.”

Two new entities, a Left Party (PG) umbrella organization trying to unify opposition to the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy (who’d be to the left of Obama in the U.S.) and the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), have seized the popular imagination. The NPA claims to have registered more than 9000 “militants” willing to use violent force to overthrow the government if given the word.

“Only combat pays,” read a banner at the NPA’s first convention.

Communism is dead, most pundits–the mainstream, stupid ones anyway–have been telling us since the USSR shut down in 1991. As it turns out, the libertarians were wrong. Half-right, anyway: Human nature may be inherently individualistic, as free market capitalists claim, but it’s also inherently social. When economies boom, most people are sufficiently satisfied to leave well enough alone. Who cares if my boss gets paid 100 times more than I do? I’m doing OK. As resources become scarce, however, we huddle together for protection. The sight of a small rich elite hoarding all the goodies violates our primal sense of fairness.

“In Soviet times,” a man in present-day Tajikistan told me, “we lived worse than we do today. But we were all the same. Now we live a bit better, but we have to watch rich assholes pass us in their Benzes.” Which would he choose? No hesitation: “Soviet times.”

In America, a French cliché goes, people are afraid of the government. In France, the government is afraid of the people. With good reason, too: the French have overthrown their governments dozens of times since the Revolution of 1789. The French are hard wired with class consciousness. Strikes, demonstrations and general hell-raising are festive occasions. Only when things spin totally out of control–as when Muslim youths rioted in the suburbs of Paris and other cities–are conservatives like Sarkozy able to make headway.

Riots over police brutality by disenfranchised minorities make the French nervous. But contempt for American-style “harsh capitalism,” where citizens pay $800 a month for healthcare and write nary a letter to their local newspaper to complain, is 100 percent mainstream. The French don’t think they should have to suffer just because some greedy bankers went on a looting spree.

Even Sarkozy is getting the message. “We don’t want a European May ’68 in the middle of Christmas,” he warned his ministers in December. He shelved proposals to loosen regulation of business. Arnaud Lagardère, CEO of the Lagardère Group, told the financial daily Les Echos: “We’re seeing, in renewed form, the most debatable aspects of Anglo-Saxon capitalism called into question.”

The French and Americans face similar problems. But their temperamental differences lead them to different conclusions. An average working-class Frenchman possesses a deeper understanding of economics, politics, history and economics than most college professors in the U.S. Go to a bar or café, and sports will be on the television–but not on people’s lips. They’re talking politics and how to force their leaders to protect their quality of life.

Americans, on the other hand, don’t expect direct help from their government. They’re giving Barack Obama time to see whether his economic recovery program will work. It won’t, of course; economists say so. But indolent hopefulness is less work than chucking Molotov cocktails.

Back in France, the NPA sets off rhetorical bombs Americans wouldn’t dream of. “We’re not a boutique party out to get votes, or an institutional mainstream party, but a party of militants,” says the NPA’s leader to the Le Monde newspaper. “We’re real leftists, not official leftists.” The NPA is currently negotiating a temporary alliance of convenience with the Communists.

A communist revolution in western Europe would be greeted by curiosity and derision in the U.S. state-controlled media. But if such a social upheaval were to protect French living standards from a global Depression spinning out of control, it might also prove inspiring to increasingly desperate Americans.

COPYRIGHT 2009 TED RALL

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90 Responses to “THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: It Couldn’t Happen Here”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    A deep question I have is whether or not it is justifiable to become rich. Sure I’ve read Atlas Shrugged more than once and have always felt that deep twinge that if I so chose to invent something cool, patent it, market it and outdo competition in a free market I could get obscenely wealthy. I have a zero chance of doing that but is it OK that someone does bust ass and become a lot better off, have better access to ski lifts and walk past me on planes to sit in the front with an extra 6 inches of legroom and even look down on me. There’s a difference between this and making millions in a ponzi scheme or convincing people who are morons to take out Adjustable rate mortgages on houses they can’t afford and escaping with a finders fee. I think the rich people always use the Hank Rearden analogy where they deserve their fortunes while actually only a small percent have really earned them. While the poor masses use the plunderer analogy that all rich have ripped off the little guy and used the political and legal system to keep anyone else from competing.

    I’ve always felt good that I had the right to bust ass rather than being resigned to a mandated future however simple and comfortable the guarantee. Of course I say this as a surgeon. But if my choice were to perform surgery or flip pancakes and be paid the same and have the same future, I’d have to think carefully about the amount of work it is to perform a skin graft however much I love what I do. I also love making espresso and could be quite happy perfecting the perfect shots and entering the world barrista competition assuming I were to be compensated exactly the same with the same retirement and future.

  2. Hairhead Says:

    Kudos, Ted! I’m a Canadian, living in Canada, and my next-door neighbour is an American who intends to move to France, where, he says, “The public aren’t sheep, they’re wolves, and the government is afraid of them.”

    Why do you think the French have one of the best standards of living and quality of life in the world? Strict secularism, a cultural appreciation of the sensual qualities of a good life, and a deep mistrust of all elites.

    Vive la France!

  3. Angelo Says:

    debating whether or not to
    re-distribute wealth is dishonest.

    not every subject warrants debate

  4. Anonymous Says:

    So was that “Oprah’s book club sucks!” column from a few weeks ago just you taking a breather from your increasingly frequent “Violent socialist revolution now!!” columns, or did The Road really piss you off so much that you temporarily found it as urgent an issue for national discussion as the impending bloody class war?

  5. Don Says:

    Angelo,

    The obscenely rich among us decided long ago to redistribute the world’s wealth, via tax breaks, shelters, subsidies, and the shipment of millions of jobs overseas, into THEIR pockets – and you’re telling us that a partial reversal of said redistribution, one that guarantees a reasonable standard of living for all, is not subject to debate? Get real….

    I was reared as a fundamentalist, and remember the intolerance towards debate and free thought all too well. I walked away from the christian fundies, and I likewise reject ANY suggestion that certain subjects are off the table. It’s ALL on the table now – everything that pertains to the desperate need for an equitable and just society – and NO ONE is going to tell us leftists otherwise. NO ONE.

  6. Don Says:

    Angelo,

    The obscenely rich among us decided long ago to redistribute the world’s wealth, via tax breaks, shelters, subsidies, and the shipment of millions of jobs overseas, into THEIR pockets – and you’re telling us that a partial reversal of said redistribution, one that guarantees a reasonable standard of living for all, is not subject to debate? Get real….

    I was reared as a fundamentalist, and remember the intolerance towards debate and free thought all too well. I walked away from the christian fundies, and I likewise reject ANY suggestion that certain subjects are off the table. It’s ALL on the table now – everything that pertains to the desperate need for an equitable and just society – and NO ONE is going to tell us leftists otherwise. NO ONE.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    > But if my choice were to perform surgery or flip pancakes and be paid the same and have the same future, I'd
    > have to think carefully about the amount of work it is to perform a skin graft however much I love what I do.

    Somehow or other, skin grafts get done in Cuba. Don't worry, even in the most absurd socialist utopian fiction the surgeons get more glory than the cooks. And usually more money.

    And food service is also a lot of work.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    The essence of liberalism is never having to get off the fence and clarify whether one actually DESIRES a “violent socialist revolution” or is merely WARNING one’s bourgeois brethren about the supposedly growing risk.

    Nevertheless, it’s more than a little disingenuous to cringe at the concept of “violent revolution,” as if one might be OK with a “peaceful” alternative. People who talk like this certainly don’t seem especially bothered by the normal everyday violence of the status quo, where prison rape and “don’t taze me bro” are nothing but punchlines to funny jokes at parties.

  9. Incitatus Says:

    Well, Hairhead, one type of elite the French public doesn’t seem to distrust is the upper caste of public administrators churned out by the likes of Sciences Po.

    Rall certainly exaggerates, out of ethnic pride, the importance of French upheavals: May ’68 to me is just Woodstock without the music and with property damage.

    Anyways, in the US, unlike in France political struggle hasn’t produced a tyrant with global ambition that fancied himself a new Alexander.

  10. Grouchy Says:

    One reason France (and much of Europe) has a powerful and sometimes effective left is that the people there have actual class consciousness.

    In the U.S., talk of “class” is taboo in the media. The cultural myth that the U.S. is a classless society must be preserved because if we stirred up the nation with talk about extreme inequality of wealth and the (often racially) stratified access to education, health care, etc., it’d hurt business interests when the masses demanded reform.

    I’ve had enough of the Horatio Alger rot. It’s pretty obvious that your parents economic status is going to have a big effect on what kind of education and life you’re going to have. I remember reading some stats (I wish I could remember where) showing that the U.S. has, relative to western Europe, very little social mobility. Most Americans die in the class that they were born. Think about the people you know. It’s true, isn’t it?

    The difference between Europe and the U.S. is that most (white) Americans hold on to the hope that one day they’ll be fabulously rich and are unwilling to throw in with the class that they will actually spend their whole life in.

    I think we should use the word “class” more. I try to say it as often as possible. In some circles, the mere word makes people uncomfortable.

    So I’ll start: I’m working class! I make less than 30k a year, have little job security and no insurance! I want socialized health care, and I want the rich and upper middle classes taxed so I can have it! If you want to argue with me, you have to state your class and income to play…

  11. Anonymous Says:

    go France!

    with a 35 hour (or whatever it is) work week, they actually have time to think about their world and how to make it better.

    radical idea for fixing unemployment in US: shorten working hours! hire more people!
    I mean if you’re going to print trillions of $$ anyway, why not put it into THAT? wouldnt that be great for everyone?

  12. Grouchy Says:

    Anyways, in the US, unlike in France political struggle hasn’t produced a tyrant with global ambition that fancied himself a new Alexander.

    Yes, “Manifest Density” was pretty wimpy. Slandering Indians, invading Mexico, the Philippines, etc., is for pussies. Real men do continental Europe before moving on to Russia.

  13. Grouchy Says:

    Anyways, in the US, unlike in France political struggle hasn’t produced a tyrant with global ambition that fancied himself a new Alexander.

    Yes, “Manifest Density” was pretty wimpy. Slandering Indians, invading Mexico, the Philippines, etc., is for pussies. Real men do continental Europe before moving on to Russia.

  14. Flamingo Bob Says:

    Wow. Seven posts so far and nobody has told Ted to emigrate to France, nor has the phrase “cheese-eating surrender monkey” reared its head. Such a change from the heady days of Iraq invasion buildup.

    Americans would do well to learn from their past dismissals of France. The French were right during the days of “Freedom Fries” and they are right in their reaction to the current situation.

    I have stood in amazement while the US government emptied its Treasury into the accounts of the very same institutions that have caused this global meltdown; the very same ones who have been telling us to keep government off their backs since the Reagan administration.

    Then I listened incredulously to those institutions telling the government they did not feel in any way obligated to tell us how they were spending our tax money. I can’t say I felt any surprise, however, when a watchdog report confirmed these free-market entrepreneurs using the money as subsidy and not bailout.

    My real amazement, however, was in seeing the American public stand quietly by watching all of this without a murmer of protest or dissent; as if this were the most natural thing in the world.

    How to explain French militancy in the face of American gutlessness? Maybe the French have an embedded memory of the hateful feudalism they once lived under and which Americans refuse to admit they live under today. Maybe access to education and health care does produce smarter, saner people. Who can say?

  15. Don Says:

    Grouchy:

    I’m with you – health care for everyone! I made 40K last year, but had piss-poor “temporary insurance” through State Farm for the first half of the year, as it was all I could afford, and as of now, I will not have money coming in after August. I know several financially well-off people, including a dot-com centi-millionaire who cashed his chips in November 1999, just before the bust, and hell yes, I want them and others like them to contribute to the common wealth by helping to make certain that we no longer have to hear horror stories of sick and dying Americans who are uninsured.

    Anonymous @ 10:31:

    A human’s need for leisure has been well-established by intellectual luminaries such as Bertrand Russell; I recommend his “In Praise of Idleness”, available at http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html, to anyone who wants to better understand why it’s so important for humans to find time to relax and to contemplate matters, and hopefully in turn either reduce one’s exposure to the rat race, or remove oneself from such altogether.

    Flamingo Bob:

    Your comment reminds me of an Alternet article by Joshua Holland, posted on February 3, in which he quotes Mark Ames, author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion – From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond. Ames states that the U.S. has successfully, and brutally, squelched every rebellion it has faced, so that the typical American is more servile and docile, a creature that senses there’s no point in rebelling. Will the needed attitudinal shift amongst Americans occur before it’s too late? Only time will tell – but I don’t have high hopes.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    While we’re on the subject of France, I watched “The Battle of Algiers” last night and I highly recommend it. Very relevant for a film that takes place in the 1950’s. Dorme bene…

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, you are out of fucking control … rein it in a little, okay?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, you are out of fucking control … rein it in a little, okay?

  19. Grouchy Says:

    How to explain French militancy in the face of American gutlessness? Maybe the French have an embedded memory of the hateful feudalism they once lived under and which Americans refuse to admit they live under today. Maybe access to education and health care does produce smarter, saner people. Who can say?

    I’d say all these things contribute. But we always have to factor in the American media. A half a dozen corporations control 95-plus percent of domestic media (read Bagdikian’s The Media Monopoly for more on this).

    Sure, some “news” outlets are simply right-wing propaganda machines, but most mainstream media functions to subtly (but effectively) limit the range of allowable debate. Discussion and acknowledgment of “class” has been removed from the American consciousness after decades of “bad media” (maybe I should say “corporate corrupted media”). France, like the much of “Old Europe,” is, functionally, a much more egalitarian society than the U.S., and the populace is better educated and less tolerant of “bad media.” How did this happen? It’s a chicken and the egg question…

    Simply uttering the word “class” is subversive in American discourse. Let’s all use it more!

  20. Maura Says:

    My real amazement, however, was in seeing the American public stand quietly by watching all of this without a murmer of protest or dissent; as if this were the most natural thing in the world.

    I kind of agree with this, because we are notoriously lazy and spoiled. But there’s also a part of me that believes lots of Americans are too damned tired trying to keep their jobs and feed their families to actually organize a protest. That doesn’t mean we aren’t enraged. We are most definitely disheartened. Why take it to the streets if no one will listen?

    I’m not even sure I buy this theory. Just thinking out loud.

    Ditto to Grouchy’s entire post about class in America. We do love to tell ourselves that there are no class divisions here, but it’s a big, fat lie.

    So I’ll start: I’m working class! I make less than 30k a year, have little job security and no insurance! I want socialized health care, and I want the rich and upper middle classes taxed so I can have it! If you want to argue with me, you have to state your class and income to play…

    No argument here, Grouchy. We’re in pretty much the same boat. We do have health insurance, to the tune of $2500 a month. That should be criminal.

  21. ellwort Says:

    RIght. Then there’s alway Naomi Klein http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/02/05-12 . We’re hitting the streets and headed for Wall Street.

  22. Grouchy Says:

    Don, one way to appeal to those in classes above our own is to appeal to their sense of enlightened self-interest. Point out that a social safety net could conceivably help them if they somehow fail, or that they’ll have more security if their neighbors are well taken care of.

    Appeals to enlightened self-interest mostly only works on “liberals”–those who have been exposed to the humanities, have developed empathy, and can understand some of the situations those in the “lower” classes have to endure. (This is another good reason to support the arts…)

    Forget most of the gated community crowd. They have a different set of interests, and we shouldn’t waste energy trying to convince them to abandon the class war that they’re waging and winning. We should realize that the war is on!

  23. Grouchy Says:

    And, Bertrand Russell is always a breath a fresh air…on so many topics!

  24. Y_S Says:

    An Anonymous said, to me, in the last set of postings:

    “Come on Y_S, you’re thinking too hard”

    To that I would reply with Ted Rall:

    “An average working-class Frenchman possesses a deeper understanding of economics, politics, history and economics than most college professors in the U.S”

    Gentlemen (and Ladies); may I say this now:
    You can never think hard enough.

    Y_S
    Pakistan

  25. Anonymous Says:

    In all this chaos, we must never lose sight of the war on the dreaded Marijuana! Fellow Christians of the one, true, government-approved, American-Christian Church, in these hard times, we must dig DEEPER into our pockets and give MORE, and more often! Can I get a witness? You senior citizens! You have lived long enough. Leave all you have to your local American-Christian church or televangelist, then KILL yourselves! Government officials, higher-ups, cronies, flunkies, lackeys, lobbyists, bailout welfare queens and their close family members will hunker in their taxpayer-funded bunkers until such time as the smoke clears. When the armed, uniformed government troops arrrive at your door, go with them peacefully to the nearest sports field and take a number. Barbara Bush (appearing on huge screens all over America) says you will be better off than you were where you came from. If you can’t trust a Bush, you can trust an Obama. We don’t do violence like the HOMOgeneous Frogs (careful, you Gays, we still don’t include you in these social things and we are WATCHING you). We Americans, we STRAIGHT Americans, have been neatly divided by the ‘uniter,’ pResident George W. ‘unpursued fugitive’ Bush these past eight years. Roll us over, Roll us over, Roll us over and do us again! Doctor Cheney, Doctor Bush, Doctor Cheney! Doctor Cheney, Doctor Bush, Doctor Cheney! Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo, Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    On second thought, THIS was as good as it was fated to get. American democracy, like other governments, cultures and civilizations before, had a shelf life. No one knew, except a few science fiction writers. We won’t even get to pass through a Mad-Max period. When the oil stops, the oil-starved will overrun those with alternate sources of energy, then everyone will starve, Walden Pond be damned. THIS, then, will be George W. Bush’s ‘Uniter Legacy.’ We will ALL starve together.

  27. Russell Says:

    Yeah, we really do need socialized medicine… and I’m willing to help pay for it though I don’t need it personally. My wife and I are DINKS, 150K between us and good health care, vacation benefits, etc.

    I don’t want to go the whole communist route, though. It used to appeal when I was younger but I finally realized that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” was not such a good deal for someone like myself with much ability and rather modest needs.

    We need to find a middle way- a real middle, recognizing that we are starting at hard right here in this country. The bank bailout has been a monstrous fraud…

  28. Russell Says:

    Yeah, we really do need socialized medicine… and I’m willing to help pay for it though I don’t need it personally. My wife and I are DINKS, 150K between us and good health care, vacation benefits, etc.

    I don’t want to go the whole communist route, though. It used to appeal when I was younger but I finally realized that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” was not such a good deal for someone like myself with much ability and rather modest needs.

    We need to find a middle way- a real middle, recognizing that we are starting at hard right here in this country. The bank bailout has been a monstrous fraud…

  29. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy, since you’re so fond of spelling corrections, I think you meant “Manifest Destiny” not “Density”.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Grouchy,
    I am also working class and only earn 20k/year. Since you earn more then me, I would like to see you taxed more and your money distributed to me.

  31. Don Says:

    Grouchy:

    You’re right, the ‘enlightened self-interest’ approach tends to work only with those who have demonstrated a willingness to open their minds to new ideas, and consider alternate philosophies. It’s been my experience that the best for which one can hope from those of a conservative bent is an outlook that, while mostly populist, is also highly provincial and insular. Said approach has its own set of benefits, but absent an authoritarian religious underpinning, it is usually unworkable in the long term – and, of course, if one is compelled to invoke religion to make the system work, then that invites its own set of headaches. Hairhead is right when he (?) infers that strict secularism is a precondition for a society that hopes to enjoy a high quality of life.

    Russell:

    I’m a single man who demonstrates frugality, so my 40K goes a long way. Further, like you, I am not interested in suppressing the ambitions of others, for I am also someone possessing a fair measure of ability. (I have a Ph.D. in math.) The thrust of my argument is that no one should be deprived of shelter, food, medical care, or education; a person should be permitted to pursue his/her passions above and beyond said necessities, so long as he/she does no harm to others. So, in reference to my first post, in which I wrote that I am a leftist, I suppose I should clarify my political stance as left-libertarian, with populist undertones.

    With my training, I am an ideal candidate for employment at NSA, where I would be making twice the money I am now – but for only half the sense of dignity (if even that) I currently claim. Western society rewards those who set aside their consciences for money’s sake, so until a fundamental shift in such thinking occurs, the state of things in America will not improve.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Bad news Komrads, retail sales were up in January. New jobless claims are down.

    But keep your chins up, looks like you’ll get your generational theft act passed!

  33. Incitatus Says:

    Americans are a great people, but there are two things that are really hard to swallow about them: their belief in America’s exceptionalness (either it is the best of all, or the worst of all in all that matters); and the propensity to hypocrisy or weasel words, like calling yourself “pro-life” when you’re against abortion, but for all wars that suit the Pentagon’s fancy or branding yourself “pro-choice” when you want Jennifer to have a free abortion, but would say nay if she lights up a joint or wants to chug a beer.

    That’s the case with many people calling themselves “liberals”, but salivating over the possibility, however exaggerated, of the recrudescence in radical leftist politics. How about some ideological honesty, folks?

    Grouchy, I have to take issue with your generalization about people further up in the income scale than you are, and I can only assume that is so because you’re very young. In my salad days, when I was still a leftist, I also had a lot of preconceptions and prejudices about them. Funny how when you get to know them, rich or poor, noone is that one-dimensional. Also, I don’t know how it follows logically that if I don’t agree with your ideological “solutions” it means I have no concern for the plight of the poor.

    And about Russell, well, I almost feel tempted to dig “In Praise of Idleness” from whatever pile I cast it in, half-read, to count how much economic kookiness there is in it. Typical upper caste British airhead, he should have stuck to Math.

  34. Grouchy Says:

    …strict secularism is a precondition for a society that hopes to enjoy a high quality of life.

    Sounds like more Bertrand Russell! I’m on board!

    And on an unrelated note: generally, I don’t believe anonymous, disingenuous trolls deserve responses…

  35. Angelo Says:

    “Bad news Komrads, retail sales were up in January. New jobless claims are down.”

    Edward,
    Don’t hurt yourself trying to find evidence that this is a great place to live. You just look pathetic.

  36. Angelo Says:

    “Bad news Komrads, retail sales were up in January. New jobless claims are down.”

    Edward,
    Don’t hurt yourself trying to find evidence that this is a great place to live. You just look pathetic.

  37. Grouchy Says:

    Grouchy, I have to take issue with your generalization about people further up in the income scale than you are, and I can only assume that is so because you’re very young. In my salad days, when I was still a leftist, I also had a lot of preconceptions and prejudices about them. Funny how when you get to know them, rich or poor, noone [sic] is that one-dimensional. Also, I don’t know how it follows logically that if I don’t agree with your ideological “solutions” it means I have no concern for the plight of the poor.

    Incitatus, I’m not as young as you think I am. I’m Ted’s age. And you’re putting words in my mouth here. I’m quite aware that the wealthy aren’t one-dimensional–I pointed out that some are “liberal.” What I meant was that people in different classes have different sets of economic interests to protect.

    So fess up:

    How much money do you make?
    (I’ve said less than 30k)

    How do you make your income?
    (I make 99% of my mine from my labor. Not much from capitol gains.)

    Do you have health insurance?
    (I don’t.)

    If you lost your income, would you get unemployment benefits? Or, if you’re retired, would you have back when you were working?
    (I wouldn’t due to my state’s regressive laws.)

    Were your parents in a position to help you pay for your education?
    (Mine weren’t. My single mom wasn’t a waitress, but she worked her ass off in a factory for less than a living wage.)

    I’ll be surprised if you’re willing to answer these questions. I’m guessing the system works pretty well for you. (But please, prove me wrong.)

    I don’t care if you have concern for the “plight of the poor.” But I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “market solutions” from people in positions of economic security.

  38. Not Anonymous Says:

    And on an unrelated note: generally, I don’t believe anonymous, disingenuous trolls deserve responses…

    posting as “grouchy” is no less anonymous than posting as “anonymous”. But if it makes you feel better I’ll post as….

  39. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy, I see no point in this reverse pissing contest, but here goes: I got the benefit of a full scholarship for my college education. My parents are “working class”. All my grandparents, but my maternal grandfather, were illiterate peasants and my father started working on somebody else’s farm at nine years old. Luckily for him, he became a cop later in life. Make of all that what you will.

    I work in an office for my money, and I shudder to admit that I make much more than you and have cushy benefits, even though I live in a third world country. That said, you seem to make well beneath the average US median, so my honest advice would be to try and find a line of work that rewards you better. Or would have been, a year ago.

    Tough times lie ahead for you folks in the US, but socialism is not going make it any better.

  40. Marion Delgado Says:

    Ted:

    I want to see a spinoff of the NPA happen in the US.

    It happened with the Greens.

    Even the socialist and social democratic parties in the US are too specific and frankly boring.

    to me the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste carries hopeful overtones of letting a thousand flowers bloom, for real.

    two links i use a lot:

    http://www.paecon.net (post-austistic economists movement, started in france)

    http://www.willitseconomiclocalization.org/
    post-oil economists movement, started in California/the US

  41. Jason Says:

    Grouchy – Your belief that only people who have not succeeded financially have grounds to discuss the economic solutions to our problem is utterly moronic. It’s like saying that drug addicts who have been ten year sober have no right to discuss the best way to get clean.

    And I do make around 20,000 a year – but I live in China, so that actually puts me in the upper class out here. And, yes, I do come from a wealthy family. My father was booted out of his home after high school, he joined the navy, after which he created his own company, busted his ass and became very wealthy. So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a staunch supporter of capitalism – I’ve seen what it can do for people who actually want to work.

    And, like Incitatus, I also assumed that you were very young. Interesting that you’re not. I think it was Churchill who said – “If you’re young and conservative, then you don’t have a heart. If you’re old and liberal, then you don’t have a brain.”

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Grouchy,
    If you are Ted’s age andyou are making less than 30k, perhaps it’s time for a career change. I suggest you spend more energy on figuring out how to improve your income so you can afford more in life instead of figuring out how to blame others and steal their resources.

  43. Aggie Dude Says:

    I dunno if it is just me, but I think a reverse pissing contest would be really painful.

  44. Grouchy Says:

    Your belief that only people who have not succeeded financially have grounds to discuss the economic solutions to our problem is utterly moronic. It’s like saying that drug addicts who have been ten year sober have no right to discuss the best way to get clean.

    This is not my belief. Where did I say this? You cannot read. I said: “If you want to argue with me, you have to state your class and income to play…” If you’re wealthy, and making arguments to protect your wealth, I’ll concede that you’ve got a right to protect your interests–which aren’t mine.

    This discussion isn’t happening in the U.S. We’re pretending we all have the same economic interests. It’s bullshit.

    (And interesting analogy there: equating those who fail economically to drug addicts.)

    ——–
    It’s interesting that Ted’s got these upper-class free-marketeers like Incitatus heckling his site from other countries. Are these folks finding better economic opportunities outside of the U.S.? Incitatus, did you find the government of the U.S. too “socialistic” or do you even have any experience living in the U.S.? Did you know that almost 50 million of us don’t have health insurance? You’d do well to understand that Ted’s target audience is in America.

    Because of my profession, I’d actually prefer to live in a “social democracy” like Germany, Denmark or even France. Then I’d get some of the benefits of capitalism, but also the universal health care of their socialized systems–capitalism tempered with the democratic idea that there has to be equal access to education and a generous social safety net at the expense of those who get the most out of the system.

    When belligerent American chauvinists say “love it or leave it.” I reply, “I’d leave it in a second if you’ll give me citizenship to an E.U. nation.”

    But if I was an uber-capitalist, I might be looking more towards China than the U.S. these days… But then you realize that uber-capitalists don’t have to actually live in the countries where they make their wealth.

  45. Grouchy Says:

    I suggest you spend more energy on figuring out how to improve your income so you can afford more in life instead of figuring out how to blame others and steal their resources.

    “Their resources”? Funny that you should word it that way. Should I just go out and create myself some resources? Sorta hard to do when I don’t “own” any property.

    You free-marketeers need to acknowledge that there’s a limited supply of resources on this crowded planet. Those that have too much have to protect their loot by force–or have the government do it for them. (When the rich complain about their taxes, they fail to calculate the money they’d have to spend on security if the courts and law enforcement systems didn’t exit to protect their wealth.)

    ——–

    On another note: Billionaire Warren Buffett recently announced that his taxes are less than 20% of his income. Presumably, he’s able to do this legally (otherwise, would he have the guts to trumpet this so loudly?).

    Obviously, Buffett’s disclosure of his tax rate was done to show how un-progressive taxation is in the U.S. He’s paying a smaller portion than middle-class people. In making this public, is he advancing enlightened self-interest, or is he a class-traitor. You Decide.

  46. Maura Says:

    If you are Ted’s age and you are making less than 30k, perhaps it’s time for a career change. I suggest you spend more energy on figuring out how to improve your income so you can afford more in life instead of figuring out how to blame others and steal their resources.

    And I suggest that you don’t make assumptions about the living situations of people you don’t know.

    I don’t see Grouchy blaming anybody. He’s stating the truth. There are class divisions in this country, and we would all do well to recognize it.

    Also, how is having good, affordable health care stealing someone’s resources? The wealthy have much further to fall before they’re desperate than those of us who live on small incomes. Not being able to afford health insurance because it costs so frakking much is obscene.
    Forking over insane amounts of money for private health insurance policies is just as obscene. Having the wealthy pay their share of taxes so that everyone can be taken care of isn’t stealing resources. It’s a country taking care of its citizens.

  47. Owen Says:

    Anyone advocating far left (communist) revolution occuring anywhere one the planet needs to brush up on their history, and not just in the 20th century.

    Ted mentioned the French revolution in his column, and we all know that it turned into a horrific blood bath that eventually led to the take over of France, and much of Europe, by the tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte. Fast forward to the 20th century, and we have numerous examples of just where extremism in any form will lead.

    The Soviets, the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Pinochet’s Chile, the blood baths of Central America… These are but a few examples of what happens when extremists from either right or left get their way.

    This type of column shows just where Mr. Rall’s loyalties lie. He is not interested in taking temperate and rational steps in order to begin to mend social ills, but rather in unleashing the forces of terror and extremism upon hard working Americans.

  48. Anonymous Says:

    Maura,
    He posted his income. Nobody asked him to post it. He posted it twice!

    Having the wealthy pay their share of taxes so that everyone can be taken care of isn’t stealing resources. It’s a country taking care of its citizens.

    Who are you to decide what is your and what is theirs ? How about we have someone with less then you come over to your house, with the force of government, and demand you hand over your money to them? There is a difference between donating your money and time to someone voluntarily and having the force of government demand you give your money to someone else. BTW conservatives donate more voluntarily then liberals.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Maura,
    He posted his income. Nobody asked him to post it. He posted it twice!

    Having the wealthy pay their share of taxes so that everyone can be taken care of isn’t stealing resources. It’s a country taking care of its citizens.

    Who are you to decide what is your and what is theirs ? How about we have someone with less then you come over to your house, with the force of government, and demand you hand over your money to them? There is a difference between donating your money and time to someone voluntarily and having the force of government demand you give your money to someone else. BTW conservatives donate more voluntarily then liberals.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    Grouchy,
    You are not earning under 30k (in your 40’s?) because of the rich. If someone took all their money and burned it you’d still be making under 30k. Get off the computer and go find a better job.

  51. Owen Says:

    In addition to my last post, many of the people who rant and rave about the “evils” of capitalism are most often the same people who are perfectly able to go and get a productive job and contribute to society, but choose instead to live a life of trouble making and complaining.

  52. Owen Says:

    Russell said…

    “Yeah, we really do need socialized medicine…”

    More bureaucracy, more of the government butting into your personal life… You want to retain the freedom for you and your wife to make 150K between the two of you? Then you might want to rethink your opinion on over inflating the already bloated government with more socialist spending.

    “We need to find a middle way…”

    Then why are you advocating left wing socialist spending programs that will only serve to create more bureaucratic oppression for working class Americans.

  53. Owen Says:

    “I want to see a spinoff of the NPA happen in the US.”

    Do you lack a hobby? How about you find one and quit advocating violence as a solution to differences of political ideology.

  54. Anonymous Says:

    Tadaaa…

    This is what I’ve been for since I saw this trend starting in the 90s. People didn’t care about the rich elites, and envied them to a point. They were overall well-off and didn’t care about changing social trends or that their ‘prosperity’ was largely debt-financed.

    Now that the bills are coming due they look at the rich elite still wallowing in money like the parasite slime they are and want change. Well, better late than never.

  55. Angelo Says:

    Incitatus,
    Hayek and Friedman are rejects. No serious economist admits to taking them seriously. The reason should be clear.

    European countries have a higher standard of living than the US and it is because of better wealth distribution.

  56. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy, I fail to see how I qualify as “upper class” – I do work for a salary!-, but I’ll freely admit to being comfortably middle class, and that I was even when I was living in the US (why I left? I lost my job, pure and simple).

    That we live in a world of limited resources (though plentiful) is a basic tenet of Economics, and the only sensible to apportion those resources is through the free market and the division of labour.

    I come to Ted’s web site because, even though I abhor socialism of any kind, I abhor war even more and I love his antiwar cartoons. Now, many socialists are extremely picky about the wars, the tyrannies, and the privilege they profess to hate.

    Now, some of you (Angelo) oscillate between your love for bona fide socialism and admiration for Western Europe style social democracy. Those are two different beasts, you know, and you are either being naïve or dishonest if you equate them. France and Germany both have stock-issuing, dividend paying corporations just like the US and Canada. And, may I say, those corporations (like Siemens or Alcatel or Alstom) are even more in bed with the state than American corporations are. And of course, not heeding Hayek or Friedman (just like the American technocrats), hasn’t prevented Europe from plunging into as deep a recession as the US.

    The nice thing about social democracy is this: it is great in Norway, it is good in Sweden, it is OK in Germany. It’s not so good in the US and, take my word for it, it is crap in India. The reason why is left as an exercise to the reader.

  57. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy, I fail to see how I qualify as “upper class” – I do work for a salary!-, but I’ll freely admit to being comfortably middle class, and that I was even when I was living in the US (why I left? I lost my job, pure and simple).

    That we live in a world of limited resources (though plentiful) is a basic tenet of Economics, and the only sensible to apportion those resources is through the free market and the division of labour.

    I come to Ted’s web site because, even though I abhor socialism of any kind, I abhor war even more and I love his antiwar cartoons. Now, many socialists are extremely picky about the wars, the tyrannies, and the privilege they profess to hate.

    Now, some of you (Angelo) oscillate between your love for bona fide socialism and admiration for Western Europe style social democracy. Those are two different beasts, you know, and you are either being naïve or dishonest if you equate them. France and Germany both have stock-issuing, dividend paying corporations just like the US and Canada. And, may I say, those corporations (like Siemens or Alcatel or Alstom) are even more in bed with the state than American corporations are. And of course, not heeding Hayek or Friedman (just like the American technocrats), hasn’t prevented Europe from plunging into as deep a recession as the US.

    The nice thing about social democracy is this: it is great in Norway, it is good in Sweden, it is OK in Germany. It’s not so good in the US and, take my word for it, it is crap in India. The reason why is left as an exercise to the reader.

  58. Jason Says:

    Grouchy – You are correct. I reread your comment and saw that I did in fact misread it. In reading it, I simply imbued with a common decency and a desire to correct the economy so that it will be a beneficial economy for everybody – low, middle, and upper class. In doing so, I totally neglected to notice that you’re really just an amazingly bitter and selfish individual who just wants the entire nation to burn so that you can get have an artificially higher salary for whatever low-skill job it is that you do. I feel like a fool for not having noticed this. For once, you are truly correct. I apologize.

  59. Owen Says:

    “This is what I’ve been for since I saw this trend starting in the 90s.”

    As far as I’m concerned, the parasite in this ocuntry are the ones collecting free money in the form of socialist welfare.

  60. Jason Says:

    Angelo -Do you think it’s a bit funny that the country with the number one standard of living (Iceland) is now bankrupt? Perhaps forced wealth distribution isn’t the silver bullet after all.

  61. Grouchy Says:

    Thanks for all the employment advice everyone, but I like my work, and since I live frugally (and don’t have any kids), I don’t need to make any more money to sustain my modest lifestyle.

    But I do want access to higher eduction, health care and a social safety net in case I lose my employment. Enlightened societies consider these human rights to be provided to all. In America, the world’s richest country, it’s criminal that the working class does without these necessities while the rich write the laws and get tax rates like Warren Buffett…

  62. Grouchy Says:

    Thanks for all the employment advice everyone, but I like my work, and since I live frugally (and don’t have any kids), I don’t need to make any more money to sustain my modest lifestyle.

    But I do want access to higher eduction, health care and a social safety net in case I lose my employment. Enlightened societies consider these human rights to be provided to all. In America, the world’s richest country, it’s criminal that the working class does without these necessities while the rich write the laws and get tax rates like Warren Buffett…

  63. Angelo Says:

    Incitatus,
    1)When did I call any European country socialist?
    2)When did Ted say France was better off in the 30s?
    3)Do I see a pattern?

  64. Angelo Says:

    Incitatus,
    1)When did I call any European country socialist?
    2)When did Ted say France was better off in the 30s?
    3)Do I see a pattern?

  65. Angelo Says:

    owen said:
    “As far as I’m concerned, the parasite in this ocuntry are the ones collecting free money in the form of socialist welfare.”

    Market capitalism failed you, so you ran off to an employer of last resort. How is this a bad thing?

    Military Keynsianism is Keynesianism nonetheless, comrade. If the US military cannot be considered socialist, what can be?

  66. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy,
    You should be more precise with words. You don’t want “access” to this or that. You want stuff that costs money for free. That simple.

  67. Incitatus Says:

    Angelo,

    1) You (a lot of others) do sound like you think Sweden is closer to Cuba than it is to the US. It isn’t.

    2) When did I say Ted said that? What I did was make a sardonic remark about what I perceive as Ted’s rejoicing over the resurgence of militant hard-core leftism the likes of which France has never seen since the ’30s. I quote:

    France’s resurgent left has been born of a movement borne of a level of mass rage and popular resentment the likes of which no one has seen here since the 1930s. […] The last time France’s Left was this unified was 1936, when a similar anti-capitalist coalition formed the Popular Front government.

    If we recall that nasty cartoon about Jon Stewart and the writer’s strike, it does seem to me that Rall has a longing for the ’30s and its crystal clear political lines.

    3) If you are not visually impaired, you probably see a lot of patterns. Then again, I’m no eye doctor.

  68. Grouchy Says:

    Angelo,

    I also see a pattern with Incitatus.

    Example: Once, I was arguing with him about the definition of fascism. He was saying that Ted was using the word incorrectly. I was right; he sorta conceded after a trip to the dictionary–but then, out of the blue, he accused me of desiring censorship. A complete non sequitur.

    When he’s at a loss, he’ll put something in your mouth or post a snide taunt devoid of substance. (Like the time he made fun of me for using the words “externalization of cost” and then refused to discuss the problem he had with the concept or term.)

    He loves to shift the ground, drop an insult, and argue against unrelated topics that he introduced himself (like smoking bans).

    Incitatus is sometimes fun to joust with, but he doesn’t have a lot of staying power. If you call him on his bullshit, he’ll just go away…

  69. Grouchy Says:

    Angelo,

    I also see a pattern with Incitatus.

    Example: Once, I was arguing with him about the definition of fascism. He was saying that Ted was using the word incorrectly. I was right; he sorta conceded after a trip to the dictionary–but then, out of the blue, he accused me of desiring censorship. A complete non sequitur.

    When he’s at a loss, he’ll put something in your mouth or post a snide taunt devoid of substance. (Like the time he made fun of me for using the words “externalization of cost” and then refused to discuss the problem he had with the concept or term.)

    He loves to shift the ground, drop an insult, and argue against unrelated topics that he introduced himself (like smoking bans).

    Incitatus is sometimes fun to joust with, but he doesn’t have a lot of staying power. If you call him on his bullshit, he’ll just go away…

  70. Grouchy Says:

    You should be more precise with words. You don’t want “access” to this or that. You want stuff that costs money for free. That simple.

    That simple?

    In this simple little construct of the world (which I assume you want to live in), nothing happens unless money is traded. Nothing is that simple. All societies have different relationships between what they value–and how value is measured.

    I don’t want government services for “free.” I contribute to society both through the work I do and and taxes I pay.

    For those who are only chasing money it might be difficult to understand, but it is not possible to put a dollar amount on the “value” of each human being and their work.

    Everybody deserves a level playing field if the social contract is to have any legitimacy.

    That simple!

  71. Grouchy Says:

    You should be more precise with words. You don’t want “access” to this or that. You want stuff that costs money for free. That simple.

    That simple?

    In this simple little construct of the world (which I assume you want to live in), nothing happens unless money is traded. Nothing is that simple. All societies have different relationships between what they value–and how value is measured.

    I don’t want government services for “free.” I contribute to society both through the work I do and and taxes I pay.

    For those who are only chasing money it might be difficult to understand, but it is not possible to put a dollar amount on the “value” of each human being and their work.

    Everybody deserves a level playing field if the social contract is to have any legitimacy.

    That simple!

  72. Incitatus Says:

    Grouchy,

    These comment boards are not message boards playing to the infinite. There’s time to move on. I take issue with you saying I occasionally “drop an insult”, because long years of Usenet posting taught me to try to be civil even to people I’ll never meet face to face.

    You’re mixing me up with someone else in this bout about the meaning of “fascism”, which does have a precise meaning in political science, other than stuff/people you don’t like.
    We can have this profound discussion on “externalization of cost” any time you ant it, in another thread. It’s obvious that business (and not only corporations, as you would have it) pass on cost to their customers: they’re not charities. It’s also obvious that negative externalities, by their very flimsy definition, are hard to measure and to account for, especially dealing with so-called common goods.

    I absolutely agree that some things in life have no price tag. That is not the case with the time, knowledge and skill of a doctor or a university professor (the stuff you were referring too), unless they’re working pro bono, so to speak.

  73. Anonymous Says:

    But I do want access to higher eduction, health care and a social safety net in case I lose my employment. Enlightened societies consider these human rights to be provided to all.

    These are not rights because to have them free you need to take money or labor from someone else by force.

    If you want them go earn them.

  74. Owen Says:

    “debating whether or not to
    re-distribute wealth is dishonest.

    not every subject warrants debate”

    Anyone who tries to take anymore of my hard earned money by force (redistribute) will learn first hand just what the 2nd Amendment really means.

  75. Angelo Says:

    “Funny how when you get to know them, rich or poor, noone is that one-dimensional.”

    Incitatus, I have wealthy friends. Of course I like them as people, but that does not change the fact that they continue to bring down my quality of life by voting for policymakers who fuck up the tax code.

  76. Angelo Says:

    “Anyone who tries to take anymore of my hard earned money by force (redistribute) will learn first hand just what the 2nd Amendment really means.”

    LMAO!
    awwww, poor Owen has to pay his own wage because he supports politicians who refuse to tax the wealthy. Sorry comrade, someone has to support your little socialist society.

    (the richest one percent used to be taxed 91%. Kennedy changed it to 75%. Reagan took it down to 28%. Guess who pays the difference.)

  77. Anonymous Says:

    Angelo,
    The top 25% of all income earners pay 86% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 39%. The bottom 50% pay 3%.

  78. Anonymous Says:

    Angelo,
    The top 25% of all income earners pay 86% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 39%. The bottom 50% pay 3%.

  79. Anonymous Says:

    Angelo,
    Here’s who pays the taxes (PS it’s not the poor like Grouchy):

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119786208643933077.html

  80. ellwort Says:

    “When Force is gone, there’s always Mom.”
    – Laurie Anderson

  81. Grouchy Says:

    Here’s who pays the taxes (PS it’s not the poor like Grouchy):

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119786208643933077.html

    Thanks for posting these stats. You’ll see that the top 1% only have a 21% tax rate. That’s a much smaller percentage than I pay. The richest 5% pay a 36% rate. That’s about the same as I have.

    I’m glad you linked to this article so I can point out how un-progressive the U.S. tax system is. And these stats are figured after the rich have used loopholes to hide a lion’s share of their income! Can you imagine how sickening it would look if the I.R.S. was factoring in their real income?

    (Not that I think the total amount of taxes should be raised. Enough taxes are already collected. But to get the same amount, we should shift taxes away from the incomes lower than 100k and tax capitol gains to make up the difference (The rich only pay 5% on capital gains!). Then, if we cut 2/3 of military spending, we’ll have plenty to balance the budget and have universal health care.)

  82. Grouchy Says:

    Here’s who pays the taxes (PS it’s not the poor like Grouchy):

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119786208643933077.html

    Thanks for posting these stats. You’ll see that the top 1% only have a 21% tax rate. That’s a much smaller percentage than I pay. The richest 5% pay a 36% rate. That’s about the same as I have.

    I’m glad you linked to this article so I can point out how un-progressive the U.S. tax system is. And these stats are figured after the rich have used loopholes to hide a lion’s share of their income! Can you imagine how sickening it would look if the I.R.S. was factoring in their real income?

    (Not that I think the total amount of taxes should be raised. Enough taxes are already collected. But to get the same amount, we should shift taxes away from the incomes lower than 100k and tax capitol gains to make up the difference (The rich only pay 5% on capital gains!). Then, if we cut 2/3 of military spending, we’ll have plenty to balance the budget and have universal health care.)

  83. Anonymous Says:

    Grouchy,
    Where do you see that the richest only pay a 21% income tax rate? If you are referring to the chart titled “The Rich Pay More” the 21% is a share of total income not a tax rate? And who told you capital gains is 5%?

  84. Anonymous Says:

    Grouchy,
    The top rate is 35% and capital gains is 20%. Someone like you earning $30,000 does not pay 36% in federal income tax. You are in the 15% tax bracket.

    http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm

  85. Angelo Says:

    edward, the wealthiest 25% own 86% of the wealth.

    jason said:
    “Angelo -Do you think it’s a bit funny that the country with the number one standard of living (Iceland) is now bankrupt? Perhaps forced wealth distribution isn’t the silver bullet after all.”

    Wealth redistribution does not lead to bankruptcy. Where is all of this dishonesty coming from?
    Look at US wealth redistribution history. It was never a bad thing to have better wealth redistribution.

  86. Angelo Says:

    edward, the wealthiest 25% own 86% of the wealth.

    jason said:
    “Angelo -Do you think it’s a bit funny that the country with the number one standard of living (Iceland) is now bankrupt? Perhaps forced wealth distribution isn’t the silver bullet after all.”

    Wealth redistribution does not lead to bankruptcy. Where is all of this dishonesty coming from?
    Look at US wealth redistribution history. It was never a bad thing to have better wealth redistribution.

  87. Anonymous Says:

    Oddly enough Grouchy is silent.

  88. Jason Says:

    Hey, now, who said that “wealth redistribution” led to the Icelandic bankruptcy? I just think it’s interesting that even nations that steal money from the earners and dole it out to everybody else are capable of collapsing just like all the evil money-grubbing countries.

    And you are right that redistribution has never wrecked America. Whether it was bad, of course, i highly arguable. But your statement that it “does not lead to bankruptcy” is just silly. China’s Great Leap Forward did just that – starving millions of people in the process. Pol Pot’s redistribution plan did the same. And while redistribution can’t be said to be the only thing that brought the USSR to ruins, it certainly had a hand.

    So, when weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, one has to ask which has really brought about more suffering? Radical income redistribution or unchecked capitalism?

  89. Jason Says:

    Hey, now, who said that “wealth redistribution” led to the Icelandic bankruptcy? I just think it’s interesting that even nations that steal money from the earners and dole it out to everybody else are capable of collapsing just like all the evil money-grubbing countries.

    And you are right that redistribution has never wrecked America. Whether it was bad, of course, i highly arguable. But your statement that it “does not lead to bankruptcy” is just silly. China’s Great Leap Forward did just that – starving millions of people in the process. Pol Pot’s redistribution plan did the same. And while redistribution can’t be said to be the only thing that brought the USSR to ruins, it certainly had a hand.

    So, when weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, one has to ask which has really brought about more suffering? Radical income redistribution or unchecked capitalism?

  90. Angelo Says:

    quoth jason:
    “even nations that steal money from the earners and dole it out to everybody else are capable of collapsing just like all the evil money-grubbing countries.

    When “earning” means “is” extracting surplus labor from lots of people, earning=stealing. The consequences for our discussion should be obvious.

    It only matters that an economy tanks to the extent that it affects the life of the people.

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