Dave Baumeister returns with commentary on the misuse of various economic isms:
I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while, but I’m back to give some people a lesson on economic systems.
My guess is that some people will read this and say, “Boy, that is interesting,” and others will look at it and say, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” but as a history, government, and social science teacher, along with being an interscholastic debate coach for 20 years, I can assure you, I do know what I am talking about.
First, thanks to the Red Scare of the 1950s. conservatives have always used the “isms” to scare voters, such as, “If your vote for a liberal, that will lead to Socialism or Communism!”
But it seems today, many conservatives use these same tactics that have worked in the past, but they have no real concept of what socialism or communism are.
Fears of socialism should have disappeared with FDR. Prior to his presidency, the third “ism,” capitalism was all powerful.
In 1929, when capitalism was unchecked, banks and other businesses did pretty much whatever they wanted. FDR’s cousin Teddy (that guy on Mt. Rushmore) tried to control that a bit in the early 20th Century, but businesses still managed to get away with a lot.
For instance, in 1929, to make more money on interest, banks loaned money to folks so they could speculate on the stock market.
In fact, that year, 40% of bank assets were tied up in those types of loans. Can anyone imagine today going to a bank and asking to borrow money so they can hit the casinos in Deadwood?
Of course, borrowing money to play the markets is exactly the same as borrowing money to gamble. Thankfully, the government stepped in so this won’t happen again.
And when governments at any level regulate businesses, by definition, that is socialism. But the Great Depression taught us that in a country this large, businesses need to be somewhat regulated.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe capitalism is a great system, but regulations are needed. And what’s more, sometime the government needs to step in to help its citizens, as with Social Security (more “nasty” socialism).
There are really only two types who don’t like Social Security: really rich people who would rather use every cent they can to send themselves into space for four minutes, and some politicians who see raiding the Social Security Trust Fund as a way to reduce the deficit.
Please, be aware, though, when the government does this, they are literally stealing money from taxpayers.
Everything in that trust fund is money individuals paid in, or money businesses paid in as part of an employee’s salary, so it is earmarked for those individuals when they retire.
The reason this system was set up in the first place is because, in general, many people don’t save for retirement, and when they don’t have money and get too old to work, the government ends up paying for them in some way or another.
So, what is better? Our tax dollars being spent on indigent retirees, or those same retirees using their own money to survive?
There is a third choice, of course, which I like to call the “Logan’s Run option.” This is when, at a certain age, people are just killed to lessen the burden on society. Anyone over 30 should want to avoid this option!
And, by the way, that big budget surplus that Kristi Noem is taking credit for is all thanks to federal government covid money. Now, some of that money came from the Trump administration and some from Biden’s, but Noem’s surplus is ALL the result of SOCIALISM.
So, we should realize that socialism is needed for our country to work. And that leads us to “communism.”
Going back to the McCarthy era in the 1950s, communism has been a very bad label to put on people. This Red-Scare labeling continued through the Cold War, but since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, we have seen that Communism is nothing to be afraid of because as an economic system in large governments, empirically, it doesn’t work.
Communism is an economic system wherein everything is owned and controlled by the government.
To learn more about this, let’s use Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia as our instructor. A week or so ago, she referred to her colleague in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as “the little communist.”
Taylor Green was in high school when the Soviet Union fell, so by her own words, she really has no idea what “communism” means.
AOC refers to herself as a “Democratic Socialist,” and that position calls for the government to interact and do against some of the blind greed she sees with capitalism, but it is not a communist philosophy.
To prove Taylor Green has no idea what she is talking about, has Tweeted hate at an Atlanta restaurant owner – a private capitalist – who is requiring all of his customers to be vaccinated.
This requirement does not hurt anyone; in fact, it is probably protecting people, but, as is true in a capitalist system, if people don’t like the rules a business places on its customers, they have the right to do business elsewhere. (Anyone ever heard of “No shoes, no shirt, no service”?)
So, the only “little communist” here is, in fact, Taylor Greene, who is two inches shorter than AOC and advocates for governmental control of private businesses.
The moral of this very long story? Don’t let people use the “isms” to create fear, because they probably have no idea what they are talking about.
More to the point, I would take that a step further and say that anyone who uses words and phrases they don’t understand to make a point is just putting their stupidity on display for all to see, if they are willing to look.