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Socialism Will See Us Through to Shop Another Day

The free market can’t work when we can’t go to the market.

Amazon may be hiring 100,000 extra workers to handle increased demand from online shoppers, but that’s not economic growth or recovery; it’s only a partial shift from local shopping and employment that will be offset by the loss of revenue and jobs from the hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and Apple stores that must close to keep America healthy. Factories will also close, not just to avoid congregations of workers but also in response to the supply-chain reaction finally working its way worldwide from shuttered Chinese plants.

Supply and demand won’t cure covid-19. Capitalism’s creative destruction can’t operate amidst a pandemic, because there aren’t enough new opportunities for displaced workers and entrepreneurs to seize. Stimulus packages won’t revive the economy when everyone is too sick or scared to shop. The folks who think socialism is a disaster are now, rightly, calling for disaster socialism.

Consider Senator Mitt Romney, who ran for President eight years ago with budget-slashing, government-deriding Paul Ryan at his side, who is calling for an immediate universal basic income to help Americans weather the coronavirus storm:

“Every American adult should immediately receive $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy,” a release from Romney’s office states, adding, “Congress took similar action during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options.”

In addition to that, Romney’s proposals call for providing grants to affected small businesses, measures aimed at easing financial burdens for students during this time and actions to bolster telehealth services amid the outbreak.

…The proposal comes after businessman Andrew Yang drew attention as a candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary by advocating a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every American adult to address economic inequality.

Yang, who dropped out of the presidential race in February and is now a CNN political commentator, tweeted about the Romney proposal on Monday, saying, “Mitt understands this crisis’ potential impact on the economy and what is at stake” [Clare Foran, “Romney Proposes Giving $1,000 to Every American Adult as Coronavirus Response Measure,” CNN, 2020.03.16].

Of course, government can’t write checks forever any more than Starbucks can if social distancing shuts down the revenue stream. But government is the surest way to maintain our connection and common action in the face of a crisis that cannot be solved by rugged national or personal individualism.

This pandemic started in markets that lacked sufficient regulation. Prevention of the next public health crisis, just like management of the current one, depends on intelligent and intentional community responses, not the chaotic gambling impulses of the marketplace.

Capitalism is great in normal times. But survival depends on socialism.


  1. Jason 2020-03-17

    There is a candidate for president that has been preaching this message his entire life. In the midst of this crisis you would think he would be running away with the nomination? Nope. What does that say about the American electorate? What does that say about our future? Instead of nominating an FDR Democrat, we are about to nominate another John Davis corporate Democrat. Even if Biden wins we will not address the systemic problems at the root of this capitalist crisis. We will get another series of corporate bailouts. A Biden presidency will just delay the inevitability of another capitalist crisis.
    We are entering a 1932 moment without a historical awareness. We are entering a 1932 moment without class consciousness. This probably will not end well unless we wake up quickly and rise up to this crucial moment in history.

  2. mike from iowa 2020-03-17

    Sanders can do little, if he wins, if congress won’t support him.

  3. Clint Brown 2020-03-17

    You’re all morons if you truly think socialism is a successful economic function. Just moronic.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-03-17

    There a number of Socialist programs in US capitalist economy, as well in many countries around the globe.

    We see with the alleged capitalist economy we have where government gets involved to choose the winners, usually the wealthiest. Not cricket, dude.

  5. bearcreekbat 2020-03-17

    Clint makes an interesting assertion but fails to define a key term – “successful economic function.” Some economists argue that a “successful economic function” is a process by which most (ideally all) people in a community have access to adequate food, shelter and necessities, which is the underlying premise of socialism.

    Socialist economics starts from the premise that “individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members”.

    Capitalism, in contrast to socialism, is based upon the private accumulation and control of all property, including in particular food, shelter and necessities, which will intentionally and necessarily exclude a significant portion of the community from access to adequate food, shelter and necessities.

    If Clint uses the phrase “successful economic function” to mean excluding a significant portion of the community from access to adequate food, shelter and necessities, then perhaps his conclusion is valid.

    Is that what Clint means? Is that the goal he values and desires most for our economy – excluding a significant portion of our community from adequate food, shelter and necessities?

    As for Clint use of the term “morons,” that seems to be simple unfortunate hyperbole that immediately undermines respect for the rest of his comment.

  6. o 2020-03-17

    Thanks Clint, you really turned me around with that insightful analysis of this complex issue.

    The coronavirus is showing most clearly where all this money that made our billionaires billionaires came from: the pockets of people whose very existences is being threatened by this threat – this threat that is not of their own doing. Capitalism, as defined by the state of affairs of the US currently, is the economic function proving unsuccessful.

    The fact that the US gives Americans the “freedom” to work in positions without paid sick leave, the “freedom” be unencumbered by national health care/insurance, and the “freedom” to be terminated from employment at-will (because profits might dip in the moment without cost reductions).

  7. jerry 2020-03-17

    Bingo! o, very good

  8. Debbo 2020-03-18

    BCB and O are voices of reason.

    Mine is sometimes. Other times mine is a voice of anger and/or fear. I actually try to do better. Imagine what I sound like when I don’t try. 🤨😉🤨😉🤨

  9. mike from iowa 2020-03-18

    Debbo’s voice can be as angry as She wants, because her anger is always directed with pin point accuracy and the ne’er do wells in the wingnut world of make believe reality.

    I’d like to see more heat from bcb, even though that is not his nature and he establishes his points with gentlemanly and lawyerly aplomb.

    Wingnuts proposal to give all adults $1000 cash per month is as socialist as you can get from the party that was castigating socialism back in the early to mid-sixties, which is as far back as lucid memoriy serves me.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-20

    Clint, it appears capitalism is failing to prevent a depression caused by a virus. It appears that everyone in DC feels a socialist response is necessary. Are you saying that Trump, Mnuchin, McConnell, Thune, et al. are all morons?

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