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The Socialism Milkshake.

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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12 April 2021 07:26
 
MARTIN_UK - 10 April 2021 01:16 AM

Some good answers there from all, so thanks for that.

There doesn’t seem to be an argument so far against a society generally based on those socialist values that nordic countries have adopted here so far then?
So where is the most resistance coming from in progressing towards a similar model in other places? Why wouldn’t any country want the wellbeing of all their citizens to be increased?
Or are we talking about greed again?
These seem like simple questions I know, so why aren’t we(I say we meaning the world in general) making better progress?
You see, this is where it gets confusing to me.

I think the answer to this is long and complicated.  There are a lot of different reasons, but they all find common ground in their opposition.

Here in the US, some people are just opposed to the concept of government doing anything but a narrow set of actions (like police, military, etc).  They’re fine with feeding and housing the homeless, but not if the government does it.  They’re fine with free health care… unless it’s provided by the government.  If a small town gathers in a church and decides to do something good for one of their own… perfect.  If that same town were to meet in the townhall and vote on the exact same thing… now it’s bad.

I am not presenting this as a rational explanation for why they oppose it because it is irrational.  Rather it is an example of how strong the opposition to collective action can be in the US.  The above thinking is quite common to some degree in evangelical circles.  Others will have different reasons, but a similar distrust of government.

Rich capitalists of course have a different motivation of greed to oppose socialism.  They have no problem with philanthropy as the cost is relatively low.  It garners them some public acclaim for their good deeds which helps fend off calls for greater taxation.  There can also just be a lot of ego to it.  Andrew Carnegie is an example of the later.  He insisted that if he had paid his employees more they would have just spent it on slightly more food for their families.  Whereas he used it to build public libraries to help educate them and their children.  There’s an arrogance there that he always knew better what they needed more than they did.

Segueing off that last bit, Thomas Malthus’ writings have greatly influenced European and American culture.  Malthus had this idea that there wasn’t going to be enough resources for everyone, and that overpopulation was a serious problem.  To a certain extreme, sure, he’s right.  We cannot support an infinite number of people on this planet.  On the flip side though, we have plenty of resources to take care of the people we do have, and even now probably 2-3 billion more.  The disgusting thing is what Malthus and others like him proposed: denying the poor resources in order to discourage them from having children.  He thought that the poor were just prolific breeders, and that is why more people were poor than rich.  They idea that the wealthy took wealth from the rest of society, or profited more from their work, never occurred to him.  Poor people had more babies, and if your parents were poor you probably were too, and that was the reason there were more poor people.  English workhouses were essentially minimum security prisons.  Part of the idea was that treatment should be bad there in order to discourage people from trying to live there.  Even now, shelters for the unhoused are often bad enough that some will choose to remain on the streets.  But there’s a reason we can’t just provide a home to everyone.

The housing market requires people to sell houses to.  If everyone has a house, the price of housing would necessarily go down.  The margins on cheaper housing is of course less profitable as well.  For the last 10 years in the US, there has been a shortage of housing in the more affordable range.  People either can’t leave the homes they’re in, or they can’t afford their first house.  A year into the current recession and housing prices are still being overbid.  A house that goes on the market can get 10-20 bids on the first day, some in excess of the asking price by several 10’s of thousands.  Now, this can vary significantly by region, but overall part of the problem is that new construction has been down for a decade now.  The lower classes have gotten poorer, and they don’t have enough money to make selling them houses profitable.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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12 April 2021 07:50
 

weird:

Segueing off that last bit, Thomas Malthus’ writings have greatly influenced European and American culture.  Malthus had this idea that there wasn’t going to be enough resources for everyone, and that overpopulation was a serious problem.  To a certain extreme, sure, he’s right.  We cannot support an infinite number of people on this planet.  On the flip side though, we have plenty of resources to take care of the people we do have, and even now probably 2-3 billion more.

My response is only about overpopulation. We cannot SUSTAIN the 7 billion people we have. Sure, we could temporarily take care of 9 or 10 billion, but not sustainably. Our topsoil, fresh water aquifers, and fisheries are all being depleted, not used sustainably.

 
 
Jefe
 
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12 April 2021 09:27
 
weird buffalo - 12 April 2021 07:26 AM

The housing market requires people to sell houses to.  If everyone has a house, the price of housing would necessarily go down.  The margins on cheaper housing is of course less profitable as well.

This is one of those money over people problems that exists in the current US climate.
And since real estate is one primary mechanism of money laundering, that would also have to find a new avenue.
Also, slumlords who financially entrap their tenants with gross over-charges of initial deposits and whatnot, wouldn’t have victims if everyone had their own home.
Finally, if housing prices were stabilized, real-estate investment speculation wouldn’t continue to drive housing prices upwards out of reach of work-a-day folks.

[ Edited: 12 April 2021 09:30 by Jefe]
 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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12 April 2021 11:31
 
weird buffalo - 12 April 2021 07:26 AM

I think the answer to this is long and complicated.
...

I can’t really speak for the USA, being a Britt and all that; but over here it seemed to take forever for people to get away from living hand to mouth and start pursuing things they can have a stake in.
In the past we had the trade unions, who up until the 70s were very strong, but in the end became quite self serving in many ways, a shame really, because it gave the working man a say in his daily life and a feeling of agency, not just receiving a crust for his troubles.

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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12 April 2021 11:34
 
Jefe - 12 April 2021 09:27 AM
weird buffalo - 12 April 2021 07:26 AM

The housing market requires people to sell houses to.  If everyone has a house, the price of housing would necessarily go down.  The margins on cheaper housing is of course less profitable as well.

This is one of those money over people problems that exists in the current US climate.
And since real estate is one primary mechanism of money laundering, that would also have to find a new avenue.
Also, slumlords who financially entrap their tenants with gross over-charges of initial deposits and whatnot, wouldn’t have victims if everyone had their own home.
Finally, if housing prices were stabilized, real-estate investment speculation wouldn’t continue to drive housing prices upwards out of reach of work-a-day folks.

So do you think these situations have gradually evolved into being, or has it to some degree been done with purpose? Quite sinister.

 
Jefe
 
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12 April 2021 11:43
 
MARTIN_UK - 12 April 2021 11:34 AM
Jefe - 12 April 2021 09:27 AM
weird buffalo - 12 April 2021 07:26 AM

The housing market requires people to sell houses to.  If everyone has a house, the price of housing would necessarily go down.  The margins on cheaper housing is of course less profitable as well.

This is one of those money over people problems that exists in the current US climate.
And since real estate is one primary mechanism of money laundering, that would also have to find a new avenue.
Also, slumlords who financially entrap their tenants with gross over-charges of initial deposits and whatnot, wouldn’t have victims if everyone had their own home.
Finally, if housing prices were stabilized, real-estate investment speculation wouldn’t continue to drive housing prices upwards out of reach of work-a-day folks.

So do you think these situations have gradually evolved into being, or has it to some degree been done with purpose? Quite sinister.

The slumlord entrapment is intentional.  You can find youtube lectures by real estate landlords talking about how to do this.
(Edit: not all landlords, and not all rentals, but there are a few out there that do intentionally crooked-dealing in the interest of maximizing rental revenue in properties that see little or no maintenance or upkeep.)
The money laundering is an intentional side effect of the industry need for laundering.  And real estate is a ‘great’ fit because a launderer can invest in rental property, have month-to-month revenue, and an asset that could be liquidated for cash at need.
I think the inflation of real-estate is an emergent consequence of popularization of limited markets - like california coastal communities, London footprint real estate in the UK (and similar) and other high density high popularity locations.  A house in rural oklahoma might cost under $100k, a new york house might be over $1 mill for a similar footprint. 

I think the money-over-people mindset is a hallmark of some conservative/libertarian mindsets where empathy and community are downplayed against an illusion of rugged individualism. It also doesn’t help that fiduciary laws reinforce the rights of stock-holder dividends over the rights of workers/stake-holder-employees.  Meaning it can be the correct legal decision to lay off workers to preserve stock prices and viability in the short term, even if this action may cause long-term degredation of corporate viability.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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12 April 2021 11:48
 

At the root of this question I see the tension between the power of government and the power of private corporations. On the “capitalist” end of the spectrum, government has less power and private corporations have more. On the “socialist” end, government has more power and corporations have less. Excessive power in the hands of either inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes. This seems obvious to me; there are plenty of contemporary and historical examples both ways. Maybe you disagree with “inevitably,” but I find “Yes, I know it never worked in the past but this time will be different” arguments unconvincing. Whatever other benefits besides holding corporations in check arise from more powerful government (the welfare state) are, in my opinion, overshadowed by the dangers and costs of excessively powerful government.

Ideally, we’d have a system wherein the power of government and the power of corporations are both held in check while still allowing for generous social programs, but so far that solution seems elusive at best. In order to keep corporations in check, the government must be powerful enough to eventually—inevitably—become excessively powerful. If the government isn’t powerful enough, the power of corporations becomes excessive.

The aforementioned solution—holding the power of both government and corporations in check—is probably where I’d focus my efforts. Although I’m skeptical that reducing the power of government and corporations is possible; such a “solution” would mean starting over from scratch and preventing the accumulation of power in the first place. I also have a sneaking suspicion that such a solution, however it’s obtained, would probably leave the country itself less powerful, and therefore vulnerable to more powerful countries with excessively powerful governments.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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12 April 2021 14:53
 
icehorse - 12 April 2021 07:50 AM

weird:

Segueing off that last bit, Thomas Malthus’ writings have greatly influenced European and American culture.  Malthus had this idea that there wasn’t going to be enough resources for everyone, and that overpopulation was a serious problem.  To a certain extreme, sure, he’s right.  We cannot support an infinite number of people on this planet.  On the flip side though, we have plenty of resources to take care of the people we do have, and even now probably 2-3 billion more.

My response is only about overpopulation. We cannot SUSTAIN the 7 billion people we have. Sure, we could temporarily take care of 9 or 10 billion, but not sustainably. Our topsoil, fresh water aquifers, and fisheries are all being depleted, not used sustainably.

I would agree that all of those resources are currently being depleted.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to instead use them more responsibly, or to shift our production to methods that don’t require depletion.  I am not suggesting we can sustain 10 billion indefinitely, but we already know of technologies and methods that could do it for the next 100-500 years.

Currently there is work being done to manipulate algae into producing complete proteins, which are fundamental to human nutrition.  Once that protein problem is solved, you could meet the majority of nutrition needs of a population of 10-20 million with a single warehouse.  The warehouse wouldn’t be for distribution, but the production.  The water and land requirements would be extremely small.  A similar solution would be insects, though the space requirements would be a bit larger, still several orders of magnitude smaller than factory animal farming.

One of the major causes of top soil depletion is due to single species farming.  If you only grow corn, then eventually the corn is going to suck all of the nutrients that corn likes out of the topsoil.  If we change the incentives for what farmers grow to include rotating crops, we can mitigate some of the needs for fertilizer and herbicides.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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12 April 2021 15:18
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 April 2021 11:48 AM

At the root of this question I see the tension between the power of government and the power of private corporations. On the “capitalist” end of the spectrum, government has less power and private corporations have more. On the “socialist” end, government has more power and corporations have less. Excessive power in the hands of either inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes. This seems obvious to me; there are plenty of contemporary and historical examples both ways. Maybe you disagree with “inevitably,” but I find “Yes, I know it never worked in the past but this time will be different” arguments unconvincing. Whatever other benefits besides holding corporations in check arise from more powerful government (the welfare state) are, in my opinion, overshadowed by the dangers and costs of excessively powerful government.

Ideally, we’d have a system wherein the power of government and the power of corporations are both held in check while still allowing for generous social programs, but so far that solution seems elusive at best. In order to keep corporations in check, the government must be powerful enough to eventually—inevitably—become excessively powerful. If the government isn’t powerful enough, the power of corporations becomes excessive.

The aforementioned solution—holding the power of both government and corporations in check—is probably where I’d focus my efforts. Although I’m skeptical that reducing the power of government and corporations is possible; such a “solution” would mean starting over from scratch and preventing the accumulation of power in the first place. I also have a sneaking suspicion that such a solution, however it’s obtained, would probably leave the country itself less powerful, and therefore vulnerable to more powerful countries with excessively powerful governments.

Corporations were initially established to benefit society.  Government grants for fulfilling their needs.  Things like infrastructure and other public works.  Meant to be temporary.  Once the mandate of their charter was complete and everyone made some dough they were meant to dissolve.  This enabled newer countries to grow by building without the need for a King or Church.  Or so went the tradition.

Politics was never intended to become so enmeshed with corporations.  In order to prevent the government and its politicians from becoming beholden to the companies they helped to create.  There was a time charters were revoked.  When influence and monopoly lead to the abuse of power and unleashed some sort of societal harm.  And they faced The Corporate Death Penalty.  They should really bring that back.

 
 
Jefe
 
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12 April 2021 16:26
 
LadyJane - 12 April 2021 03:18 PM

Politics was never intended to become so enmeshed with corporations.  In order to prevent the government and its politicians from becoming beholden to the companies they helped to create. 

It becomes a toxic, destructive feedback loop when corporations feed the wealth and power of the top-percenters who, in turn, use their wealth and power to hold down the morlocks.

Whether that comes from buying legislation or legislators, or buying public opinion through media framing and programming, they aid in maintaining the disparity, and blockading changes that could help everyone.

The Koch’s merely inherited their money, but what they have used it for is damaging and unconscionable.

 
 
icehorse
 
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17 April 2021 13:09
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 April 2021 11:48 AM

At the root of this question I see the tension between the power of government and the power of private corporations. On the “capitalist” end of the spectrum, government has less power and private corporations have more. On the “socialist” end, government has more power and corporations have less. Excessive power in the hands of either inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes. This seems obvious to me; there are plenty of contemporary and historical examples both ways. Maybe you disagree with “inevitably,” but I find “Yes, I know it never worked in the past but this time will be different” arguments unconvincing. Whatever other benefits besides holding corporations in check arise from more powerful government (the welfare state) are, in my opinion, overshadowed by the dangers and costs of excessively powerful government.

Ideally, we’d have a system wherein the power of government and the power of corporations are both held in check while still allowing for generous social programs, but so far that solution seems elusive at best. In order to keep corporations in check, the government must be powerful enough to eventually—inevitably—become excessively powerful. If the government isn’t powerful enough, the power of corporations becomes excessive.

The aforementioned solution—holding the power of both government and corporations in check—is probably where I’d focus my efforts. Although I’m skeptical that reducing the power of government and corporations is possible; such a “solution” would mean starting over from scratch and preventing the accumulation of power in the first place. I also have a sneaking suspicion that such a solution, however it’s obtained, would probably leave the country itself less powerful, and therefore vulnerable to more powerful countries with excessively powerful governments.

I think the rich gave unions a bad rap. But I think unions can do a lot of heavy lifting right away to rebalance power structures.

 
 
Jefe
 
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17 April 2021 15:08
 
icehorse - 17 April 2021 01:09 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 April 2021 11:48 AM

At the root of this question I see the tension between the power of government and the power of private corporations. On the “capitalist” end of the spectrum, government has less power and private corporations have more. On the “socialist” end, government has more power and corporations have less. Excessive power in the hands of either inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes. This seems obvious to me; there are plenty of contemporary and historical examples both ways. Maybe you disagree with “inevitably,” but I find “Yes, I know it never worked in the past but this time will be different” arguments unconvincing. Whatever other benefits besides holding corporations in check arise from more powerful government (the welfare state) are, in my opinion, overshadowed by the dangers and costs of excessively powerful government.

Ideally, we’d have a system wherein the power of government and the power of corporations are both held in check while still allowing for generous social programs, but so far that solution seems elusive at best. In order to keep corporations in check, the government must be powerful enough to eventually—inevitably—become excessively powerful. If the government isn’t powerful enough, the power of corporations becomes excessive.

The aforementioned solution—holding the power of both government and corporations in check—is probably where I’d focus my efforts. Although I’m skeptical that reducing the power of government and corporations is possible; such a “solution” would mean starting over from scratch and preventing the accumulation of power in the first place. I also have a sneaking suspicion that such a solution, however it’s obtained, would probably leave the country itself less powerful, and therefore vulnerable to more powerful countries with excessively powerful governments.

I think the rich gave unions a bad rap. But I think unions can do a lot of heavy lifting right away to rebalance power structures.

The Kochs have been avid union busters.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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18 April 2021 09:06
Jefe
 
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18 April 2021 11:37
 
weird buffalo - 18 April 2021 09:06 AM

On average, union members make 10% more money, and were less likely to lose their job in 2020.

Yes.  And historically, union rich states were strong financial supporters of democrats.  Easy dots to connect.

 
 
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