Acton Institute Powerblog

Bernie Sanders Loves to Decry ‘Casino Capitalism,’ But What About Economic Freedom?

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In last Tuesday’s Democratic debate, Senator Bernie Sanders stayed true to his famed aversion to capitalism, proclaiming the fanciful virtues of “democratic socialism.” Yet when prodded by Anderson Cooper — who asked, “you don’t consider yourself a capitalist?” — Sanders responded not by attacking free markets, but by targeting a more popular target of discontent: Wall Street and the banks.

“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little, by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy?” Sanders asked. “No, I don’t.”

One could be forgiven for not understanding what Sanders means by “casino capitalism.” Is it crony capitalism, in which legislative favors are secured by the rich and powerful (which conservatives also disdain)? Is it bailouts for the big banks (which, again, conservatives also disdain)? Is it basic trade and exchange on a large, complex scale, and if so, at what size does it become problematic? Does he despise the stock exchange itself? Too loud with all its blinky lights and bells?

It probably includes a mix, but whatever his preferred Crisis of History, he brings a strong dose of zero-sum Marxian whiz-bang to whatever features might actually be facts. If the rich are getting richer (true), then obviously that’s bad for the rest of you plebeian suckers (not true). Rather than answering Cooper directly, Sanders diverts to a narrower target where (at least in his mind) everything is fixed and rigged.

This has proven to be an effective tactic for stirring up blind populist angst, and further, Sanders is also managing to tempt his competitors away from what’s really at stake: economic freedom.

Such freedom is, of course, what most conservatives think of when they hear the word “capitalism.” Even Cooper and Clinton proceeded to puzzle and prattle over the true meaning of “capitalism,” allowing Sanders to go silent on his planned raid on freedom itself.

But then one realizes this isn’t a big ploy, and Sanders really doesn’t understand what drives the success of free economies. Such ignorance is evidenced by Sanders’ admiration for nations like Denmark, which, as Kevin Williamson points out, tend to score worse than the United States on most of Sanders’ preferred metrics.

Big banks? Check. Size of government? Small. Basic economic freedom? Ew.

Alas, judging a nation’s health and prospective future is not so simple as comparing its superficial goodies to your personal grab-bag of civilizational treats.

As demonstrated in the video below, economic freedom is the constant force of prosperity across nations and cultures, and we ought not sacrifice it up so readily.

As Jeffrey Tucker observes:

What strikes me when looking at all this data, and the crystal clear connections here, is the strange silence on the part of the opinion class. People are flailing around for answers. Where’s the growth? Who is stealing the future? Maybe it’s the immigrants, foreign nations, and the rise of inequality. Maybe technology is taking jobs. Maybe people are just lazy and incompetent.

Or maybe we should look at the data. It’s all about freedom.

To achieve what Sanders demands, we would do well to bypass his red herrings about Wall Street cronyism and press him on one thing: what of economic freedom?

Not just as it relates to our pocketbooks and those of our grandchildren, although that’s important, too. But to what lengths are we willing to diminish or destroy networks of exchange and trade, work and service, giving and receiving? To what ends are we willing to give up one of the most incredible intangible assets of humankind?

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.


  • Mike

    I hate to say this but Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis sort of look alike.

    • Anne Springer

      Maybe God’s trying to tell you something…

      • Jump

        Good call. Perhaps the message is that both gentlemen are confused about basic economics. ;)

  • Mike

    What Bernie wants, what social democracy simply is, is a system that leaves room for small enterprises and individual liberty but also recognizes the fact that we’re all part of a larger community, and what hurts any one group of us eventually hurts us all. So there are some things we don’t leave to the so-called free market. We don’t want people going hungry or suffering from sickness or at the bottom of the ladder in educational attainments because they can’t afford them — especially when in economic downturns millions of us lose jobs through no fault of our own. So we tax ourselves to put money into a common kitty to make sure those things dont happen and we’re all the better off for it. In other words we agree to bear each others’ burdens and make others suffering our concern, bound in “brotherly affection.” A far cry from the virtues of unrestricted and unregulated winner-take-all competition.

    And do you know that that’s a basic American idea? What I just said comes straight from a sermon preached by minister John Winthrop to the band of fellow Puritans landing in Massachusetts in 1630. It’s an idea picked up again and again throughout our history, from early state laws providing for public health and safety and punishing fraud, right on through to the Progressive period and the New Deal when we provided security for our elders, strengthened the bargaining power of workers, created public works programs to stimulate employment and spending, opened space for small business by breaking trusts, and reduced inequality to reasonable levels without touching the basics of capitalism. Thats the American way and always has been, and I could name a long list of American heroes who embraced it if there were time. So lets move past labels and start addressing the crises we face now.

    – Bernard Weisberger

    • Sanders needs to learn Buchanan’s public choice theory and regulatory capture. Sanders wants to regulate large corps so as to provide a level playing field for smaller firms. Buchanan won his Nobel prize for proving that large corps capture regulatory agencies and use them to reduce competition from smaller firms. Only free markets give small firms a level playing field.

      Yeah the early Puritans were quite socialistic because they followed Calvin’s economics. Calvinists were never friends of free markets. But see “Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America” by Valeri for the history of how Puritans embraced free markets over the next century.

      • stephenverchinski

        Neither was Adam Smith a firm.proponent of unregulated markets

        • No capitalist has ever been for unregulated markets. From the scholars of Salamanca in the 16th century to today, all laissez faire proponents have insisted on the rule of law protecting life, liberty and property. They only oppose intervention when the state goes beyond its legit role.

    • Rodger Harrell

      The pilgrims attempted to live as a commune with disastrous results. In his book “Of Plymouth Plantation” William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony, said :”The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men, proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times,-that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort…. If (it was thought) all were to share alike, and all were to do alike, then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men, it did at least greatly diminish minish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them. Let none argue that this is due to human failing rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself. I answer, seeing that all men have this failing in them, that God in His wisdom saw that another plan of life was fitter for them.”

      William Bradford. Of Plymouth Plantation (Dover Books on Americana) (Kindle Locations 131-138). Kindle Edition.

      Communal living created starvation until they abandoned it. When they engaged in Free Enterprise they not only had plenty, but they were able to trade with the natives.

      • Anne Springer

        The same Pilgrims who only took two generations to ruin a potentially peaceful relationship with Massasoit and his people which, had they adopted it could have meant the adoption of a working society that protected the sick and the elderly? The ones who could have learned the Native ways that kept the Natives fed and clothed for millennia on this continent until they were “discovered” and the genocide began? Gee, how odd that the Founders adopted the principles of the Iroquois Confederacy rather than adopt the selfish language of people who thought it was fine to behead Metacom and let his head rot on the end of a pike for 25 years in downtown Plymouth. Yeah, Bradford et al – real icons of wisdom. Not.

        • You’ve been fooled by white socialist multiculturalism. Tribes in the US massacred each other for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. Many were cannibals. When one tribe defeated another they killed the men and enslaved the women and children, the women becoming sex slaves. Human sacrifices were also common. Yeah, they lived off nature, which is why they never could grow in population. The land could support only small numbers of people who refused to do anything but eat what nature provided. The world today enjoys ten times the population because of capitalist farming and ranching techniques.

          And there was no genocide. The Europeans didn’t intend to kill tribal people with their diseases.

          BTW, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a Choctaw word meaning “land of the redskins.” I’m proud to be called a redskin!

          • sallyhampton

            Roger, you are NO Choctaw and have just offended those who are Choctaw. Choctaw is the translation from the Choctaw name, Chahta and it means THE PEOPLE.
            What you are is a corporate shill trying to rewrite history and spread misinformation.  Socialists built America, which has always been and should continue to be informed by socialist ideals and a socialist critique of public policy. Roads, schools, fire and police protection and long list of public “socialized” services that we all rely on but most take for granted. Socialist ideas have given us Social Security and Medicare and last I checked, most people are pretty happy with these programs.
            #feelthebern #BernieSanders :) Nashuka Yukpa (you are not Choctaw so don’t expect you to understand.)

          • Marc Vander Maas

            First of all, it would appear that Roger is indeed correct about the translation of the word Oklahoma, so one point in his favor.

            Secondly: “Socialists built America”? Wow. Now that’s an assertion. Although if you consider police and fire services to be “socialist,” I’d say you have a pretty broad definition of the term.

          • Tribal people were very proud of being red skins. They called themselves that. They didn’t get it from whites. Of course, they had brown skin, not red, but they used a red clay as a make up on special occasions and thought it was very attractive. Calling themselves red skins was the same as saying “We are the beautiful people!” They thought white skin was ugly and frightening, like ghosts.

          • Mikey G.

            That is a completely false narrative about native Americans by the way… where did you drop out? Florida? lol

          • Mikey G.

            Or that you simply have no definition of the term. They are correct. Our country, was built on the principles of socialism. Bernie Sanders is an FDR Democrat, which is today’s climate is “Socialist”. Un-checked capitalism, like we have now, leads to Oligarchy, case and point; Citizens United. As it is right now, we are already “Socialist”. When taxpayers are bailing out Big Biz, and Big Banks, without having a say in it, that is Oligarchical Socialism. So right now, we privatize gains, and socialize losses. Bernie wants to put the power back into the hands of the people, and make sure that those that fought for our country are taken care of. He has written legislation to do just that. No other candidate has. The point is Moot though, Sanders has already one this election. Hillary will not have a turnout, and Trump by stirring people up, has guaranteed a Democratic President, since Dems win every high turnout election. Sad day for you GOP! #Bernie2016! #FeelTheBern! (p.s. Sanders is a moderate by the rest of the world’s standards)

          • Marc Vander Maas

            “Sanders has already one this election.”

            You underestimate the Clinton Machine, young padawan. You might also be underestimating Bernie’s complete lack of ability to talk about, y’know, terrorism and foreign policy and all that. That might be a bit of a drag on him electorally next year. But, enjoy all those chickens you’re counting before they’re hatched.

          • Mikey G.

            Not a lack of ability, but a lack of desire to drag every conversation away from the issues that effect every single American every-day. He spends exactly as much time talking about terrorism as he should, and more time talking about America. I for one, would much rather see more people from the nations involved participating, and less participation and money spent by us, us Bernie has proposed. So we be certain the issue is addressed, while at the same time not creating more enemies and resolving problems we face here at home.

          • Marc Vander Maas


            And I’d just note that the “War and Peace” section of his campaign website is full of the kind of left-leaning boilerplate that any first-week intern in his office could copy and paste into a constituent letter.

            As for seeing “more people from the nations involved participating” and “less participation and money spent by us”: Do you remember 2008? How Obama was going to repair our relationships with the world and build coalitions and stop war and slow the rise of the oceans and all that nonsense? Remember how we “led from behind” in Libya? Remember how Joe Biden was trumpeting how “Iraq is going to be one of the great achievements” of the Obama administration, with our troops withdrawn and a nice, stable state moving toward representative government? Do we have less enemies now?

            Sorry, no. Obama shirked America’s leadership role in the world; Russia and China have been very happy to fill that vacuum, and the Middle East is more of a mess than I can ever remember it being in my life.

            In the past eight years, the US has moved in the direction you claim to want to go, and it’s been a disaster. Bernie – who doesn’t even want to address foreign policy in anything but the most general terms, and only when he’s forced to – would be a catastrophe.

          • stephenverchinski

            Obama was an embracer of the Clinton Doctrine a libreral interpretation of the progress for a New American Century that is not ending well at all and is causing one of the largest the aspirants of refugees the world has ever seen in short Obama gave money on over to the oligarchs with his own budget director grilled by Bernie Sanders for doing so in 2008. Look it up on youtube. Sanders is the man!

          • Marc Vander Maas

            It really doesn’t matter whether Obama embraced the “Clinton Doctrine” (whatever that was) or not; he came into office with the responsibility to oversee the remains of the Iraq conflict and proceeded to botch it royally. You’ll recall that by the time Bush left office, Iraq was largely pacified; in 2010, Joe Biden was on TV crowing about how great things were over there.” It was going to be “one of the great achievements of this administration.” Then, in 2011, Obama yanked our troops out without negotiating a status of forces agreement that would have kept, say, 10-15,000 US troops in country to keep the peace. by 2012 Iraq was breaking down into civil war, and ISIS was becoming a major threat. Now, we have around 5,000 troops back on the ground in Iraq, and that number is probably going to keep rising, and that’s on Obama.

            As for Sanders, his chief concern on foreign policy seems to be making vague statements about it and shifting the subject to something more up his alley, like the scourge of income inequality or some such nonsense.

          • warnerathey

            You are right about that. Bernie Sanders says that climate change is the cause of terrorism. The guy is a kook. If Bernie Sanders says here is the simple truth, look out. A lie is on the way. Bernie Sanders panders to the ignorant. He tries to buy votes by promising free stuff that he knows he will not deliver. Sanders is not that hard to understand. What is hard to understand is the mentality of the ignorant masses who are so gaga over him.

          • stephenverchinski

            Think the New England town halls and for a great example, the Connecticut Charter still on display at the Connecticut State Library. The document allowed for self representation done in the social town hall setting. It allowed for taxation with representation for the creation of common goods for the health of the colony. By contrast, the king wanted it back to reestablish governance from England. There in Parliament the colonials would have no representation and further would be at the mercy of the conservative corporate supporters of the British Indies Trading Company. That one corporation alone with its annual dividend payouts to the primary shareholders many heavily seated in Parliament had special exemptions from the tea import tariff. The small business American colonials had to pay the tariff and smuggling had dire consequences (think Jack Sparrow). Fed up not only with then use of those tariffs for paying down the 7 years war debt from which the Company also made profits by being the contractor of choice for the war, the Company also at the end noted to its shareholders that the dividend checks could be at risk. The solution was to allow for Parliament to recind the import tariff for all of the tea brought into England by the Company and it issued one of the greatest corporate rebates in British history. Ticked off, the colonials in Boston, at this corporate capture of government, had a tea party. It was all about the idea of representation, the use of scarce revenues to do war that profitted the politically connected, and not keeping the colonies protected in their trade but flooding their market with “free market” goods that paid no tariffs. If all of this sounds familiar today all I can say is “THEBRITISHAREHERE!”

          • Marc Vander Maas

            Yes. The American Revolution was all about rising up against the power of corporations. Got it.

          • I have my card to prove it!

          • Desiree Allen

            Dear roger,

            There are plenty of first hand accounts of genocide as well as the spreading of disease. Christopher Columbus was sent back to Europe in chains for the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of islanders. There’s letters his men sent back to Europe talking about the islanders like they’re cattle. Granted, not all the settlers who made it to America (because Columbus never actually made it to America) were like this. The pilgrims we celebrate at thanksgiving are an example. But Europeans viewed natives as below human and in most cases treated them as such. Just look at the trail of tears. Yup, plenty of first hand accounts of terrible suffering if your only willing to read them and face that suffering and the true nature of our past. No, it wasn’t all horrible but it sure as hell wasn’t all wonderful either.

            Signed, Americans who know their history.

          • Yeah the whites committed many atrocities against the tribes, but no genocide, unless you want to make genocide mean any kind of killing. I’m a member of a tribe, the Choctaws, whom Andrew Jackson forced at gun point to relocate to Oklahoma. I imagine I can recite far more white atrocities committed against tribes than you can. That doesn’t mean tribal people were innocent noble savages. The Aztecs sacrificed tens of thousands of humans every holiday.

          • Desiree Allen

            And I’m not going to argue over the definition of genocide with you when there’s only one clear definition and many examples in US history, and how savage a tribe was had absolutely no justification for genocide against them. I’ve read a few economics books but I’ve read tons of history, it’s one of my passions. I’ve checked out at least a few library books per month for years and years, mostly history, and at this point have read just about everything they have and am going to have to find a different library. I know at least some of the many versions of history and don’t need to be spoon fed yours. Oh, and I have 1/6 native American Heritage, as well as Irish, dutch, English, Australian, and even a little African. But that doesn’t give me any kind of credentials, just makes me who I am.

          • Obviously you do need schooling on the definition of genocide because none took place in the US.
            And you need help with history. Historical data is so vast, complex and contradictory that every historian has do use massive filters to select appropriate details and interpret them. Most professional historians in the US and Europe are devout Marxists and so filter and interpret historical data by Marx. That’s why you’re such a devoted Marxist without even knowing it.
            To interpret economic history correctly, you need a sound theory of economics, the exact opposite of Marxism.

          • stephenverchinski

            Oklahoma went for Bernie Sanders. Thank you first nations and tribes.

      • stephenverchinski

        It was not as you portray it. The colony of puritans had a corporate shareholder form of wealth distribution set up. Those that purchased or held multiple shares had claims on the overall production of the colony and extracted those assets at the time of harvest. There was little incentive for those owning great number of shares to go out and expend more energy. Dr. Hooker saw that inherent economic disfunction and left with his band eventually to Hartford where his experiment was a bit more successful.

    • Yale Landsberg

      Sir, I have taken the liberty of linking to this splendid comment of yours in response to an equally splendid article on this equally splendid blog of this equally splendid institute, which is dedicated to protecting individuals from too much equally in too many areas of life. My link is found on my website, and I am very much hoping that you and others here find time to learn why I am running for Congress, and how I am doing that? Warmest regards to all of you Patriots on both sides and in the middle of some of the most challenging debates in our country’s history, as well as some increasingly trying social, political. economic and environmental times.

    • Cathy

      Excellent! I love what you said! :)

    • Montana Pioneer

      Small enterprises, the realization of economic dreams, are squashed under socialism, no matter how well meaning it may be. Socialism concentrates power in the government. Power corrupts. The most powerful interests seize control of socialist governments, and regulating commissions, and create monopolies, the same way that they try to under crony capitalism, except absolutely and by design. It always promises to be for the little guy, but socialism is institutionalized monopoly capitalism. Competition from the small guy is removed, and quasi or outright dictatorship results, run by the oligarchs who control both business and government at the same time. Free, unlimited competition under the Rule of Law (reasonable regulation) is what ensures that the little guy will always be able to challenge the big guy, and provide better choices, and therefore regulate the big guy (not crony capitalism, socialism, or communism). Healthcare is a prime example, a state by state quasi monopoly, driving up costs astronomically (before Obamacare, and now more so with Obamacare), the marriage of government and insurers that stifle choices, innovation, and incentives. They removed the competition, which, as with beer, cell phones, pizza, laptops, and everything else, delivers a vast array of goods and services at affordable prices (hundreds of competitors driving down prices and enhancing their products to get you to buy them). Bernie Sanders talks only in Marxist inspired theory. He does not and never has operated in the world of business and real economics. He foolishly supported the USSR, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro. Destroyed economies. Socialism does not deliver goods and services, and jobs, and economic possibilities—it destroys those, everywhere, to the degree socialism is instituted. It’s why Great Britain moved away from it, and even Sweden began privatizing 15 years ago. Look at Venezuela, Cuba, etc. Disasters, and all with someone like Bernie Sanders leading gullible people to broken economies and awful standards of living.

  • Steve Vinzinski

    Great article very informative and worth while to read a couple of times.I like Senator Sanders and I stress as a Senator please not as President.You can not blame everything on Wall Street and the Banks.Thru history one weakness of many of our political system is to blame something or someone.Senator.Sanders blames the Banks,Mr.Trump the Mexicans on and on.Economic Freedom is still there but one must dig deeply to find the same.The biggest threat to this country is the total abuse of the 16th Amendment of the Constitution.The Congress and every division of Government from city,county,State to the Federal level yells out we can tax everything.I mean tax,tax and tax.Senator Sanders has proposals to spend Trillions more on free education for everyone.Has any one ever thought of using the military for education to become and Doctor to an Engineer.You can not achieve Economic Freedom for two reasons and i mean in the absolute.This country must at all levels declare bankruptcy NEVER can this country rid itself of twenty trillion dollars in debt.The States they just call the debt under-funded in reality the objective statement is debt.One more downgrade by Standard and Poors it is my understanding that the United States must declare bankruptcy.The second thing we must do after we go bankrupt is stop for ever being the care taker of the world.Then we never borrow again this whole procedure could be done in six months.

  • Mainstream econ obsesses over externalities, especially the negative externality of pollution. But you will find in no mainstream econ text book the positive externality of free markets. In free markets, innovators receive only about 2% of the total value of their innovations. The rest goes to people who reap the benefits without having risked anything or put in any work. The positive externalities of freer markets are attested to in China and India and the history of the rise of the West. But we all take it for granted.

  • kim

    Berine Sanders is a communist. It’s well reported that between 1965-1970 berine was part of USA communist party.

    • onsightit

      So well reported that you decided not to post references? Come on. Enough with the McCarthyism scare tactics.

  • Annie Palmer

    So if Bernie is such a socialist leading to communism, how has this influenced Vermont? And how about his record for votes? Last check, it looks good for Vermont still in the U. S. and still delivers the best maple syrup! So let’s lay that to rest and move onto the critical topics!

    • Marc Vander Maas

      One of the reasons it looks good for Vermont is that they’ve acknowledged that the type of socialist programs that Sanders presumably supports are, well, unaffordable.

      • Mr. Opinion

        Show your source for facts Mark. Otherwise your words are simply an opinion much like the Boston Globe Article..

        • Marc Vander Maas

          First of all, if you’re going to start demanding things of me, the least you could do is spell my name correctly. Secondly, you could stop hiding behind a pseudonym yourself.

  • Thomas Allen

    Capitalism is the complete opposite of economic freedom. Capitalism is a very small group of people who have the capital that drives financial markets while everyone else has nothing but their labor to sell. In Capitalist society the people with capital or in other words, “money”, make more money by simply moving it around. In all honesty, they really do nothing. On the other hand, labor, is undervalued in Capitalism and thus received less than slave wage (which would actually be a “living wage” since slaves were guaranteed food, shelter, and medical care while today’s worker is not).

    True economic freedom would be the guarantee that you can work and in turn be assured that you can feed, clothe, and shelter yourself. Even better would be a system based on meritocracy where better worker could receive better wages and/or more leisure time. What we have now is worse than economic slavery, it’s economic starvation.

    • That’s because the US hasn’t been capitalist for at least a century. We are almost as socialist as the most socialist nation in Europe. You have been duped into thinking the US is capitalist by the socialist media and historians. That’s typical socialist MO. They always blame capitalism for problems they have created.

      • Thomas Allen

        I’m going to clear up your own argument for you since you left it vague and incomplete. You are thinking capitalism is some sorta ideal economy described by Adam Smith in the Wealth of nations where an “invisible hand” (really a theocratic concept if you think about it) magically organizes competition to the benefit of owners and consumers.

        That has never been a reality. NEVER! People with capital have always since the beginnings of industrialism been driven toward monopolies because their sole goal is profit not the public good, not the consumer, not even the integrity of their own companies. Furthermore, capitalists have since that time always interfered with matters of the STATE to ensure that the state policy remains favorable toward their goals of wealth accumulation to the exclusion of the rest of society.

        How can the U.S. be socialist when practically nothing is state owned or operated (Even our defense needs are contracted out)? Regulations are so weak as to allow oil pipeline accidents, miners accidents to occur frequently. Jobs leave the U.S. at the drop of a hat if capitalists choose to do such. In fact, a true socialist country is one where the State or some other collective representing the people would be at the steering wheel of society and in the U.S. that is clearly *NOT* the case. Rather, a small hand full of people control most of the global economy and most nation-states bend to their will. That is CAPITALISM.

        Your infantile fears about socialism and communism may have had some credence 20 years ago, but clearly capitalism is the driving force behind most of the globe’s current problems, all the way down to exploitation of foreign peoples and their hatred toward the U.S. and the West.

        • Marc Vander Maas

          “Your infantile fears about socialism and communism may have had some credence 20 years ago…”

          Just out of curiosity, are you old enough to remember what communist societies were actually like?

          • Mikey G.

            Yes, many of us do remember, Marc. Communism also still exists today. Socialism is not equivalent to communism, and really, the only reason Sanders ever “identified” as that, is because he knew it would be applied to him anyway, so he started the dialogue of not being afraid of trigger words, which seems to have ricocheted right off that thick skull of yours. In reality, Sanders is a Moderate FDR Democrat in a country that the right has been trying to push farther to the right.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            “…which seems to have ricocheted right off that thick skull of yours”

            ProTip: You’ll convince more people of the sincerity of your effort to reason with them if you don’t act like an unreasonable jerk.

            Pay no attention to the massive socialist failure in Venezuela, by the way. I mean, that’s only been a slow motion disaster over the last number of years that finally culminated in a whopping electoral defeat for the socialists this week. Yes, yes, I know: it wasn’t really socialism in Venezuela; any time socialism is attempted and flames out miserably, by definition it’s not socialism. Sure.

        • You need to read some economic history. The Dutch Republic was capitalist during the 17th and 18th centuries. Adam Smith used them as his example of the nation that had come closest to implementing his principles. The US and Great Britain were very capitalist in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

          “People with capital have always since the beginnings of industrialism been driven toward monopolies…”

          You have learned Marxism very well, but Marx was wrong about everything economic. History proves that monopolies cannot be sustained in free markets. All monopolies in the US have been created by the government, including patents, copyrights and all utilities.

          “capitalists have since that time always interfered with matters of the STATE to ensure that the state policy remains favorable toward their goals…”

          That’s the definition of fascism, not capitalism, and fascism is just one of several flavors of socialism.

          “How can the U.S. be socialist when practically nothing is state owned or operated (Even our defense needs are contracted out)?”

          That’s a poor understanding of socialism. Even Lenin admitted that a small space for markets must exist under his system of “market socialism.” State ownership of businesses is the definition of communism, one variant of socialism. The US follows the variant known as fascism that reined in Nazi Germany and Italy before WWII.

          In Fascism, the state gives cartels of large corporations the power to make the regulations that control their industries. It allows people to maintain paper title to property but the state, through the cartels, control every aspect. It’s a very deceptive form of socialism and cause gullible people to confuse it with capitalism because of the paper title they hold. Hayek found that confusion in the UK and wrote his book “Road to Serfdom” to correct it.

          T. Roosevelt and Wilson were hard core Marxists and did a lot to advance socialism, especially the creation of the Fed. FDR turned the US into an actual fascist nation. Johnson advanced it with his “Great Society.” And since 1970, the Federal Register has grown each year by over 70,000 pages of new federal regs. That doesn’t include state regulations. Implementing regs costs the US about $2 trillion per year.

          The state and federal governments take about 45% of GDP, but that doesn’t include “transfer” payments, which are about 60% of the federal budget. Including state and federal transfer payments, the governments in the US probably take closer to 60% of GDP, the same as France, which considers itself a socialist state.

          • Aaron Talley

            Ahh the free market fantasys.or whenever the argument is given you can hear the bloody drool hit the floor from the lust for complete worker exploitation.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            “Bloody drool”? Wow. Found the name for my new band.

          • Or it’s the best economics and what lifted all workers in the West from starvation to wealth unheard of by even the nobility in premodern Europe.

          • Aaron Talley

            reductionist nonsense.who says that “free” market is the end of history? there is a future which can be much much better. And i can bet it wasnt a free market either.and i can bet you that there was untold suffering in its formation.And the wealth creation has much more to do with science than it does with private property ownership,profit motive,or any of the other trite aspects of capitalism.And it wouldn’t include all the inherent aspects of government in the economy,or the fact that government enables the economy,but keep pushing that bourgeois delusional propaganda that state and industry are somehow two contradictory institutions. Its used so much that even many intellectuals are indoctrinated into believing it.Government action is what is propping up the entire global economy,along with forced consumption laws and bleeding of the working class dry, the economy putts along.But for how much longer? Until private citizen debt becomes so high that it becomes a complete farce in paying it off,perhaps?

          • Well you’re free to ignore history completely, but the undeniable fact is that there was absolutely no improvement in standards of living in all of human history from pre-history until 1600. See Deirdre McCloskey’s series on bourgeois virtues for summaries and an excellent bibliography. Then in the Dutch Republic first, then England, the US and other nations in Western Europe enjoyed rapidly increasing wealth and wages for workers which led to higher living standards.

            Science did not begin to contribute to economic development until the mid-20th century. Until then, all technological improvement came from tinkerers and mechanics. That’s from some of the best economic historians that exist.

            Almost all respectable economic historians agree that the advent of capitalism in the Dutch Republic started the virtuous cycle of economic development. Only Marxists disagree.

            You’re free to make up any excuse for economic development you want, but know that except for Marxists, economic historians prove false every statement you made.

            BTW, all of the Asian nations that have enjoyed rapid economic growth since WWII have done so only after adopting freer markets. Their ultimate growth was in direct proportion to the freedom of their markets and their respect for property, that is, capitalism.

          • Aaron Talley

            tinkering is the basis for is said,you think that the market is the end of history and there will be nothing greater,the typical narrow minded conservative fallacy. i bet your one of those capitalist “creationists” who think the entire universe revolves around capitalism and its purpose is its fulfillment.Typical of this bourgeois indoctrinated culture.People dont understand socialist ideology.They think that about the regressive policies of the soviet union and china.these policies have nothing to do with the philosophy of socialism.In fact marx believes that the world had to go threw a period of capitalist development in order to move to socialism. lenin himself called his system state capitalism and hitler echoed the fact in his book. The capitalist propaganda is that they have the freest system in the world.i guess having a pyramid of master and servant down to the lower est level in a totalitarian system of control is the Orwellian delusion that you yourself hold. In fact it is the socialists and the anarchists who want even more autonomy and therefore more freedom.To be free to sell oneself is not freedom,to be an alien on every inch of ground on which you stand in the world,is not freedom but the more horrendous un-freedom. But these facts are not allowed in discussion for they are taken as matter-of- if the very notion is cut out of peoples brains.That is the cultural hegemony of bourgeois society.And when the cycle is broken,a much greater system will emerge.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            College student?

          • Aaron Talley

            even better,i think for myself.something which the capitalist state hates.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            I’m going to guess you’re… a sophomore? State college or some private institution?

          • No, tinkering is not the basis of science. The tinkerers didn’t even go to school for the most part and did not consider themselves scientists and none of the scientists considered tinkerers to be scientists.

            Marx never left a plan of how socialism should work, so those like Lenin, Mao and Mussolini were left to work it out themselves. There are many kinds of attempts at socialism, from the first, the German welfare state of the late 19th century through that of N. Korea, each a legit attempt at implementing Marx’s nonsense.

            As I wrote, you’re free to fabricate any history you want and pretend it is true. But those of us who feel constrained by reality know what the real history is: capitalism broke free from the cycles of famine and mass starvation while lifting the West to amazing prosperity. There is no other explanation that fits the facts.

          • Aaron Talley

            every who thinks is a scientist,just because you dont call yourself one doesn’t mean that you arent one.the term philosophy used to be the term used in place of science but it fell out of practice. Everyone is a philosopher,everyone judges how the world works.

            “Marx never left a plan of how socialism should work, so those like Lenin, Mao and Mussolini were left to work it out themselves.” like i said lenin called his system state capitalism and china was very similar.these did not have social ownership they were state ownership.this is basic fucking logic that twerps like you cant grasp. north korea calls itself a democracy,is it a democracy?no .it also calls itself socialist,it is socialist ?no.these are propaganda terms which you lap up like a good little doggy from the state media.

            mussolinis polices and hitlers were very pro capitalist,they cut taxes for the rich,created protectionist policies, broke up worker unions by force,were pro competition,pro private ownership and would take you like 5 minutes on the wikipedia article to find this out but your so fucking lazy you wont go past a youtube propaganda video by the american enterprise institute or some other right wing douchbag outlet.

            im not saying liveing standards havnt risen (sort of),but lets not play here.if e didnt have social security,minimum wage,worker safety laws and compensation,worker unions,progressive taxation, people would be living in fucking shanty towns by the millions.THATS A FACT.capitalist is feudalism slavery with science is the key and doesn’t need the private ownership to create wealth.
            but heres the nail in the coffin,even after the productivity of the economy has well ensured that housing could be built for all,the cost of housing is well past affordable.and dont be blaming the fed either because they arent the full it is in 2015 and most people struggle endlessly to have a few fucking feet of shelter over their heads.and if the deflation spiral begins its game over for 30 years or so.trapped in an endless cycle where you work 40 hours a week(more if their wasnt fair labor laws for maximum hours) at a job you hate just for the bare minimum. exploited out of your money.this is slavery brought about by the state capitalist machine by regulations and is the REAL face of capitalism.DEAL WITH THAT.

            A few trinkets and bobbles in “their” house and yet the very BASICS of living are beyond reach by law.And if people should ever be freed from these chains the economy would collapse from lack of participation and spending.i could go on and on about the sickness of capitalism but your ears are obstinate.good night.

          • Marc Vander Maas
          • Marc Vander Maas

            “every who thinks is a scientist,just because you dont call yourself one doesn’t mean that you arent one.”

            Seriously, that’s amazing. So amazing that I made this.

          • Aaron Talley

            science definition:knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation. if you learn anything in your life your a scientist,not by profession however. but seeing how stupid you are im willing to say that you arent a scientist at all.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            FYI: in the same dictionary that you copied and pasted your definition of “science” from (in an effort, apparently, to prove that I don’t know what a scientist is), there’s also a definition of “scientist”: a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems.

            Aaron, here’s a tip: your rudeness and foul mouth do not make you seem intelligent; on the contrary, you come across as terribly immature and thoughtless. If you ever plan on convincing people outside of your high school radicals club that socialism is a viable economic system, you’re going to have to up your game quite a bit.

          • Aaron Talley

            “trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems.” well there you have it,you are a lapdog after all relying on some egghead to hand you a degree at university of phoenix in order that you can be something which you arent already.even though you had every faculty of doing everything a “professional” scientist does.or the fact that not all scientists are trained ,leonardo davinci for example.
            But just like the beta male or female that you are, you rely upon other people telling you what you are.telling you what to think and believe,telling you how to dress and everything else.

            and what of this “job:” thing.if i set myself a task is that not my job? if i set my mind to figuring out problems am i not useing the same instruments that a scientist uses?but no you are a scapegoat coward,hiding behind the pitiful status quo of what is considers a scientist and what is not.i suppose you think that wearing a lab coat makes you 25% qualified as a scientist as swell.

          • Well, you’re making up your own history so you might as well make up your own definition of science. I prefer to use the conventional definition.

            No, Lenin did not call his system “state capitalism.” He called it “market socialism” because he realized they they would all starve to death without a small market. Until their massive failures, every socialist in the world considered the Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the USSR, and China to be not only socialist but on the cutting edge and the leaders of socialism in the world.

            But since you have fabricated your own history and your own definition of science you might as well invent your own definition of socialism.

            The only difference between Soviet communism and Nazi/Fascist socialism was that the Soviets were more honest. They gave all property to the state. The Nazis/Fascists allowed people to keep the paper title to property while the state controlled every aspect of it. Of course, property without control is no property at all, but they fooled a lot of people.

            “if e didnt have social security,minimum wage,worker safety laws and compensation,worker unions,progressive taxation, people would be living in fucking shanty towns by the millions.THATS A FACT”

            No, it’s not a fact. Those have made us poorer than we would have been without them. That is an economic fact. The greatest growth in standards of living and wages took place before those socialist programs.

            You live in a total fantasy world made up by yourself under the domination of your overwhelming envy.

          • Aaron Talley

            science def: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation
            when you “tinker” with something your throwing bricks at a fucking wall,you using your BRAIN.something which you dont do.

            “No, Lenin did not call his system “state capitalism.” ”
            “The state capitalism, which is one of the principal aspects of the New
            Economic Policy, is, under Soviet power, a form of capitalism that is
            deliberately permitted and restricted by the working class. Our state
            capitalism differs essentially from the state capitalism in countries
            that have bourgeois governments in that the state with us is represented
            not by the bourgeoisie, but by the proletariat, who has succeeded in
            winning the full confidence of the peasantry.” lenin

            “They gave all property to the state. The Nazis/Fascists allowed people
            to keep the paper title to property while the state controlled every
            aspect of it.”first off moron,socialism is collective ownership as i think ive already said.You keep hitting yourself in the head with that hammer.

            itler’s views on economics, beyond his early belief that the economy was
            of secondary importance, are a matter of debate. On the one hand, he
            proclaimed in one of his speeches that “we are socialists, we are
            enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system”,[13]
            but he was clear to point out that his interpretation of socialism “has
            nothing to do with Marxian Socialism,” saying that “Marxism is
            anti-property; true Socialism is not.”[14]
            At a later time, Hitler said: “Socialism! That is an unfortunate word
            altogether… What does socialism really mean? If people have something
            to eat and their pleasures, then they have their socialism.”[12] In private, Hitler also said that “I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative””There is no license any more, no private sphere where the individual
            belongs to himself. That is socialism, not such trivial matters as the
            possibility of privately owning the means of production. Such things
            mean nothing if I subject people to a kind of discipline they can’t
            escape…What need have we to socialize banks and factories? We
            socialize human beings”.[17]
            He clearly believed that the lack of a precise economic programme was
            one of the Nazi Party’s strengths, saying: “The basic feature of our
            economic theory is that we have no theory at all.”He emphasised the “self-responsibility of industry”. After the won war
            “private initiative of German business will experience its greatest
            moment”, and Hitler expressed his belief in “the further development of
            humanity through the promotion of private initiative, in which alone I
            see the precondition for all real progress.”
            yeah thats not socialism moron

            “No, it’s not a fact. Those have made us poorer than we would have been without them. That is an economic fact. ”
            well banker welfare is certainly making them richer isnt it moron,so prove to me how social welfare,labor unions,and all the rest make people poorer.and dont even try that pandering to capitalist cloth saying”oh but businesses will move away “you sniveling coward

          • sallyhampton

            Please. Stop. Who do you work for, Roger?

          • sallyhampton

            Roger – you are the last person who should be lecturing on history. See my reply to you above regarding the Choctaw Nation. All of your comments are so misinformed that I am not sure which one I find most offensive.

  • Jody Beck

    The linked video is so typical of conservative “thinking”. It cherry-picks facts, misapplies them, implies causal relationships where there are none and leaves out the back-story. The easiest example to point to is the cost of regulatory compliance schtick. It costs businesses money to make sure their workers are safe on the job site. It costs businesses money to clean up after themselves instead of dumping toxic waste in rivers. It costs businesses money to make sure the products they sell are not dangerous. It costs businesses money to be honest about the ingredients they put in our food. And these things are bad? They are to be counted negatively against the structure of our society? Sure – you could hire more workers if you didn’t pay them enough, didn’t care if they were safe at work, turned out products that maimed people when they used them and sold food that made people ill. Watch the video and look for similar problems with each and every ‘fact’ presented.

    The real loss in economic freedom has been the decline in security of the middle class over the last decades and particularly since the 2008 debacle in which the poor and middle class were and continue to be hurt most (and have lost the most real economic freedom) at the expense of the rich, the banks and large corporations which have actually gained economic power (and therefore economic freedom).

    This blog post makes it clear that what conservatives really want is the economic freedom to profit at the expense of other people’s pain.

    Bernie for President! He’s the only one actually talking about economic freedom in a meaningful way.

    • Jump

      You call the cost of government regulation “schtick” and say it’s one of the easiest examples to point to. The setup is impressive; I figure you’ve got something devastating coming. But then all you offer in defense of your claim is the following weak argument: Sure, it costs businesses money to execute compliance measures X, Y, and Z. But are the outcomes of compliance measures X, Y, and Z bad? No! They’re good.

      My reply: Red herring. No one is saying there isn’t some good to someone *somewhere* produced. There probably is. But that in itself is not sufficient grounds for endorsing a policy. When we evaluate policies based on a cost-benefit basis, we must do so only over a large scale and in the long run rather than the short term or small scale. You fail to do that.

    • Jump

      You fail to note (or perhaps you disbelieve, but with what justification?) that companies are regulated in their activities in these areas by the market (aka “the collective will of you, me, and everyone else”), and almost always far more efficiently by the market than by any possible government policy. This is because whenever the market deems someone to be misusing society’s limited resources, it will incentivize that person/company to change on pain of having less such resources to steward. And by “resources”, I am not just talking money, or goods, or services, but natural resources, as well. Can a regulation incentivize behavior? Yes, but almost always at a greater cost to society than the cost exacted by the market.

      • mallory

        Companies are regulated by laws. But their wealth and political power has allowed their lobbyist to WRITE the laws deregulating their industries (big pharma, fossil fuels, finance) and modifying the tax code to their benefit for over 30 years now. 1952 – 2010: Corp. taxes went from 58% to only 9% of Fed. Revenue. Meanwhile, Payroll and Income taxes for normal people have gone from 27% to 81% of Fed. revenue, while middle class disappears. If we had a true ‘free market’, the Fed would not artificially keep interest rates near zero for 7+ years so too big to fail banks can borrow at near zero. In a free market, companies are allowed to fail. We have socialised banking, but not health care.

        • Jump

          Buying favors from the government is as anti-free market as it gets. Getting the government to pick winners and losers (say, by levying higher taxes against an industry in order to counter market effects) is likewise anti-free market. If you are opposed to all this, I don’t think we disagree on much here.

          Your comment about regulation puzzles me though. Regulations should be judged on a case-by-case basis, true, but it’s safe to say the U.S is choking in regulations, and this is working against the market’s ability to weed out companies that would otherwise fail.

          About lobbyists, insofar as they have conflicts of interest, give bribes, etc., we should rightly condemn that. But isn’t lobbying perfectly permissible (even good!) if it remains limited to the lobbyist attempting to persuade a politician via making a rational case for particular view? I see no problem with that.

          Socialized health care–we have more of it than you realize. We are not allowing the market–which is to say, the collective will of the people–to have our say in what hospitals and insurers (and others) do. Through Obamacare, that incentivizing power was seized by the government.

        • Jump

          “Companies are regulated by laws”

          True, laws are needed. But companies are also regulated by the market, and almost always more efficiently than by industry-specific laws. If some person P is spending society’s limited resources contrary to the desires of some other person Q (for instance, if P pollutes a desirable piece of land, or builds a smartphone that only works in 3G mode), all other things being equal, Q will penalize that activity by not devoting his own resources to the effort, or more strongly, by devoting his resources against the effort.

      • Desiree Allen

        Adam Smith market fundamentalism is impossible in a modern globalized society. Adam Smith believed one of the most important things for protecting the consumers, businesses, and workers, the market, within a country would be to only import and export what was was necessary. All goods that can be produced in a country should be. Obviously that’s impossible today. You’re using incredibly outdated ideas, cherry picking facts. I wonder if people who try to talk like Adam Smith have actually read him. Socialism without capitalism is communism, but capitalism without socialism is fascism. We need both working together, it can’t be all or none and any time in history when it has been one extreme or the other is when societies collapse.

        • No, Smith did not “he most important things for protecting the consumers, businesses, and workers, the market, within a country would be to only import and export what was was necessary.”

          You clearly haven’t read him. I suggest PJ O’roark’s recap of “Wealth of Nations.”

          And I’m not cherry picking anything. The field of economics has over three centuries of empirical data to support its theories. Smith’s principles, derived from observation of real life and data, worked in the Dutch Republic, England and the US for over a century. To deny that is to deny the best economic history.

          Your a typical Marxist. I know you don’t consider yourself one, but you subscribe to most of his important ideas. The chief Marxist principle is to ignore economics and pretend it’s all just theory with no practical application.

          • Desiree Allen

            I have absolutely read adam smith and marx, freidman, keynes, etc. I’m talking about basic economic principles that I learned my first year in college, very easy info to find, “A country enjoys an absolute advantage when it can produce a certain good more efficiently and/or at less cost than another country. A country enjoys a comparative advantage when it can produce a certain good with a lower opportunity cost than another country.” I’m saying this no longer happens so easily in our society. And you can argue as to why and how it has happened (government, big business, or as I like to believe, collusion between the two), but simply removing taxes and regulations isn’t going to solve the problem. We have to even the playing field and make the market accessible for everyone willing to participate. And btw, if I had to categorize my beliefs or if I could choose my utopia it would be peaceful, communal anarchy. But I’m realistic enough to understand that others aren’t ready for that and I surely wouldn’t try to force my ideals on others, unlike Christians and conservatives.

          • You may have read Smith but you most certainly didn’t understand him if you think he wrote what you claimed.
            No, we don’t have to have an even playing field. If that were true, the industrial revolution would have never happened and we would not have seen the rise of, Japan, the Asian Tigers or China.
            Since you know history so well, you know that “communal anarchy” was Marx’s dream. In his pathetic and fevered imagination government would melt away once the entire world embraced his form of socialism.

          • Desiree Allen

            Are you seriously not aware that Adam Smith was the first to describe absolute advantage? And continuing to call me a Marxist when I described myself closer to an anarchist… look I’m not going to waste any more time with someone who is so insulting to my intelligence. As I said, I am aware of the many different versions of history, history is one of my passions. I live in a small town and have read every history book in the library and now have to go online and to the library in the next town. One of my favorites is collapse by Jarrod Diamond. Not only am I familiar with history but I’m also familiar with tactics used to avoid logical debate. Create false assumptions, insult, demean, antagonize, make the other person defensive and feel as if they need to prove their worthiness and intelligence so logical debate can never happen. This will be my last post. Have a nice life.

          • “Are you seriously not aware that Adam Smith was the first to describe absolute advantage?” That wasn’t your comment I was referring to.

            “continuing to call me a Marxist when I described myself closer to an anarchist.”

            So was Marx. Call yourself what you want. You hold to the same ideas as Marx.

            “Not only am I familiar with history…”

            I didn’t deny it, only that you are completely unaware of the Marxist assumption by which you interpret history.

    • You’re right that companies should pay for the cost of cleaning up the environment they mess up and for the safety of workers, but neither requires any regulation beyond the standard laws relating to property and the right to life. Pollution would not exist if property wasn’t owned by the state. The most polluted areas of our nation are those owned by the government. Air and water have always been owned by the state and as a result the most polluted. Worker safety has always been covered tort law.

      The Federal Register of new regulations has averaged 75,000 pages per years since 1970. Regulators sold every single one by claiming they were reduced pollution and improved safety. But a casual glance at them show that they have very little to do with either and for the most part do the work of reducing competition for large corporations.

    • Cathy

      Well said Jody! I totally agree! Feel the Bern! I see his passion, vision and overall comprehensive view of this country, where it was, where it has been, and where it should be headed. Obama got a good start, but didn’t carry it far enough. (we know why). I do not get these conservatives. Economic Freedom to me is code for : if you get sick, die/ I don’t care about your safety as I am making money…etc..

    • SwampStomper

      Our veterans have laid down their lives to protect us from communism and socialism, yet that’s exactly what you want.

      You claim the loss of economic freedom is the decline of the middle class, you’re exactly right. Bernie will decimate what’s left of the middle class taxing the remainder of us to extinction for ‘economic freedom’ of others.

  • CF

    The very entity that Sanders leaves out regarding greed and who has the most $$$ because of that greed, are governments…specifically, our Federal Government.

  • Peggy James

    Bernie Sanders is a true leader! Bernie is kind, loyal, humble, honest, authentic, intelligent, experienced, and passionate about helping all children succeed in this country, thus building a stronger USA for future generations.

    • I’m sure he is everything you say. And the tiny amount of additional socialism that he wants are very minor compared to the massive leap toward socialism that the US has made in the past century. His additions will make little difference. Just don’t blame the US’s problems on capitalism because we haven’t been capitalist for a century. All of our economic problems come from socialist policies that have accumulated for a century.

      • A. Bergman

        So do you mean the increasing income inequality is a feature of socialism and not capitalism? Or do you mean that the income inequality trend is not real?

        • Yes, It’s a feature of socialism. It’s well known that inequality was much higher in the communist nations than in the socialist ones, and higher in socialist than in capitalist ones. Capitalism achieved the lowest inequality in the history of mankind and as the West turned increasingly socialist inequality has risen.

          • A. Bergman

            That is a new twist, never heard that before. Where did you get that information from? Give me some sources, I’m very curious. What communist countries are you talking about?

          • Jump

            “That is a new twist, never heard that before.”

            A few examples: The Soviet Union, Cuba, China, North Korea. I lived in China for a number of years and know the place pretty well. Just look at how Mao and the members of the CP lived compared to the impoverished citizenry they governed. Same with North Korea. If those countries had been governed by the angels of heaven itself, perhaps the story would have been different. Alas, they were governed by fallen human beings. This is why it is bad to give all the power to a small group of human beings in the way that socialist societies do.

          • A. Bergman

            If you knew what communism was, then you would also know that non of those countries are or have ever been communist countries. Hint: A communist country have neither a government nor money. Lenin wanted to create a communist nation, but he knew that in order to get there they needed to go through a phase with state capitalism. Lenin died and Stalin instead expanded state capitalism.

            Even though a country calls itself communist doesn’t mean that it actually is communist. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not democratic even though the name says it is.

            Is greed a feature of capitalism or socialism?

          • Jump

            I see that I misread that you were discussing degrees of inequality between communist and socialist societies rather than between communist/socialist and free market countries. But I know what communism is, thanks. And yes, I am well aware that despite their leaders’ intentions, these are not, strictly speaking, communist countries. But all of that fails to rebut the point about the superiority of free markets to either socialist or communist ways of organizing society. “Superior how?” you might ask. Answer: it’s the only system whereby income inequality does not entail a moral wrong being done to someone else.

            As to your question about greed, it is not a “feature” of either system. Rather, greed is a feature of *human beings*. And since human beings are present in communist, socialist, and free market societies alike, you have greed in all three, and any other system you please, this side of heaven. As an aside, a free market edges out its competitors in at least 2 ways with respect to greed. First, only in a free market is there the possibility of greed-motivated action benefitting someone else (because of its similarity to non-greedy self-interest). This doesn’t make greed virtuous, but it does mean it need not always result in someone else’s being harmed. Second, a free market serves to minimize opportunities for greed. It is far easier to be greedy when one lacks the basic necessities, which, alas, is very common in non-free market societies.

          • Nice response! The whole point of Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” was that competition in free markets can handle greed very well, better than the state. The state makes greed worse because greedy businessmen buy politicians to get what they can’t get in a competitive market. But the market can’t do anything about envy. Neither can the state. In fact, politicians make envy worse by appealing to it for votes. Schoeck demonstrates that in history only one force has been powerful enough to tame envy – Christianity. Larry Seidentop does something similar in “Inventing the Individual.”

          • Jump

            Thanks. And that’s a great point. I’ll have to look into “Inventing the Individual.” Haven’t read it.

          • I think if people called their system socialist or communist we should take them seriously. Lenin and Mao were in their day pioneers of socialism. Socialists today might not like to include them, but they’re guilty of anachronism.

            Seems to me that Lenin’s state capitalism was a phase that Lenin intended to be a very short one that Russia needed to pass through on the way to his version of socialism. He thought that because Russia was backward and Marx claimed that a country had to go through a capitalist phase before it could become socialist. It was never his system or goal. That was always socialism.

          • A. Bergman

            That is the same as judging a person based on their appearance.

            Lenin’s goal was socialism/communism, absolutely. But he died, giving Stalin, who was a maniac, the power. Stalin’s rule was authoritarian, he wanted everything for himself and his closest, but at the same time giving the people and the outside world the impression that USSR was communist. But per definition USSR never became anything close to communist. Same with North Korea, they pretend to have democratic election to “prove” that they are democratic, but in reality it’s a dictatorship.

          • Lenin’s goal was not some abstract, theoretical construction of pure communism, which cannot exist in any form without extreme compulsion, but earthly, hell-on-earth, terror. Specifically the Red Terror he unleashed on Russians. Apologetics for the Bolsheviks and their ilk won’t get you very far here.

          • We need to keep in mind that no one in Lenin or Stalin’s day knew what socialism should look like. Marx never wrote about it. He had witnessed earlier socialists get destroyed when they put forward a positive plan so he refused to make the same mistake. His writings are all about trashing capitalism and proclaiming how wonderful socialism would be. As a result, the socialists in Germany had to make it up as they went. The communists didn’t like what they saw in Germany and came up with their own ideas. Lenin tried to go for full communism right out of the gate but it caused disaster, so he rolled it back some and started again. But none of these guys had any help from Marx who was vague on purpose.

          • A. Bergman

            Well, our forefathers did the same thing when they overthrew feudalism, it was a bloody revolution, but no one blames capitalism for the blood that was shed in that revolution.

            Did you think the ruling class in Russia would give up without a fight during the revolution? Of course not. Blood was shed during revolution and most of the people that was killed by the Bolshevik were the ruling class and their protectors. It’s like any kind of war. They saw the ruling class as evil in the same way as we saw Saddam Hussein as evil, we removed Saddam in the same way as the Russians removed their ruling class, with blood.

          • You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, right? The problem with your fact-free equivalency between the American Founders and Lenin and his Cheka thugs is that it ignores the actual history. Lenin abolished private property, which is the same thing as saying he destroyed the basic underpinnings of freedom, while the Founders fought to protect what they built. “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist” — John Adams.

          • A. Bergman

            I’m not really sure if I respond seriously to this or not.

            1) To have a reference in a posting doesn’t automatically make what you are writing a fact. And by not having a reference in a posting doesn’t necessarily make it fact-free.

            2) I said ‘forefathers’, which doesn’t necessarily mean ‘American Founders’. The bloody revolution to overturn feudalism occurred mostly in Europe and not in the US – at least not to my knowledge. I said ‘forefathers’ because most people here have roots in Europe.

            3) In general, quotes from famous people doesn’t necessarily mean what they said is correct.

            4) I’m not exactly sure how John Adams defined “property”. But nothing in Socialism and Communism disagree with John Adams if ‘property’ meant personal property, like your house, car, gold chains, clothing, aircraft, etc. If ‘property’ meant ‘means of production’, then yes, Communism want to make that a common good.

            Look, I’m not promoting socialism or communism, I own a business and I want to keep it that way. I love capitalism as much as you guys do for private enterprises. But I don’t like when people tend to discredit socialism and communism based on very wrong and obscured information.

            People can argue as much as they want that we have Socialism now, but the definition says otherwise. Per definition we have capitalism with social programs.

            Here is a source about feudalism to capitalism:

            Democratic Socialism:
            Definition of ‘Private Property’ in Communism:

            Remember also that socialism and communism is not seen as competitive ideology to capitalism, but rather the evolution of capitalism.

            This will be my last post in this specific thread.

          • No, it was not bloody. The Dutch Republic was the first capitalist nation. It fought a long war against Spain for its freedom, but it implemented capitalism with no blood shed at all and created the wealthiest nation in all of Europe. Adam Smith acknowledged that the Dutch had most fully implemented his system of natural freedom as he called it.

          • I understand why socialists today want to disassociate socialism from the likes of Lenin and Stalin, but that’s dishonest. In their day, Lenin, Stalin, Mao were considered by all socialists to be the cutting edge of socialist thought and the leaders worldwide. Even socialists in the US followed their lead. No, the USSR didn’t meet the communist ideal, but that doesn’t mean Stalin wasn’t trying to accomplish that. All it means that the ideal at the time is impossible.

            Democratic socialism is just one flavor of the ideology favored by the Germans . before Hitler and by the Brits. Hayek explained in “Road to Serfdom” why democratic socialism turns into Stalinism. It’s inevitable if people remain true to socialist ideals. Only by abandoning the most important socialist principles, such as radical equality, can democracy be maintained.

          • Stalin’s goal was communism and to claim otherwise is just dishonest. Marx never left a plan of how socialism should work. He spent all of his effort trashing an imaginary capitalism because he could not understand the real capitalism. Also, he had watched good economists destroy the socialist visions of others in the past and refused to subject his ideas to such scrutiny. So Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Mao were on their own trying to figure out what socialism should look like and how to implement it. It’s just dishonest to say that because their attempts failed they weren’t sincere.

            It’s good that modern socialists are rejecting past failed attempts. But it’s not accurate to say they weren’t attempts at achieving socialism.

          • I don’t have the page number, but for inequality being higher in communist countries see Schoeck’s “Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior.” For the history of inequality see Fogel’s “Escape from Hunger and Premature Death.” But as Jump says, it’s pretty darn obvious. The masses in the most socialist nations, the communist ones, were all on the verge of starvation while the elite of the party lived in amazing luxury.

          • A. Bergman

            I don’t know those books, but seems like the first book is about sociology and psychological factors that affect evolution of societies, right? Second book seems to be about how capitalism have revolutionized the modern society, right?

          • Schoeck’s book in is in the line of New Institutional economics and answers how we get the institutions we have. Fogel’s is economic history. Fogel won a Nobel Prize in econ.

          • A. Bergman

            I understand that the books are related to the points you are trying to make about the economy, but my questions was how do the authors come to their conclusion about capitalism:
            1) Does Schoeck use sociology and psychological factors to explain the evolution of societies?
            2) Does Fogel describe capitalism as the driving force behind our rapid rise to a modern society?

            If I’m right about the books, which I might not be, it would not contradict what I have been saying. I think we all agree that capitalism has put the evolution of our society into hyper-speed. In just a few hundred years we have gone from almost nothing to a super modern society. No doubt about it.

            Or let me put it in another way; if our forefathers never overturned feudalism, and we would still be living under that today, our means of transportation would not be by car and air, but by horse and carriage as it was over 100 years ago. No space travel, no Internet, no advanced medications, etc etc.

            Even though capitalism has done wonders to our society, and I don’t think anyone denies that, it goes through phases as everything else does in life. I’m a business owner, my products go through a life cycle, from research, prosperity, and to decay. When my patents are up, others can produce generics to a much lower price than what I can, so I need to invent new stuff. The same with capitalism, it goes through a phase of prosperity and then at the last stage decay. As time passes people get more and more sophisticated to exploit vulnerabilities in a system for their own advantage. Wall St and the financial market is a good example of how corporations and people have come up with more sophisticated ways of making money for their own benefit (and on the cost of others). Unless it will be stopped, this will continue until there is no more money to harvest.

            You cannot say that because capitalism was good 50 years ago it is good today. That capitalism is not the same capitalism as we have now.

            Democratic socialism is a way to soften the landing of the capitalism in the fall.

          • #1 I suppose you could say that. His point is that envy is endemic to all cultures, especially the more primitive ones. Envy causes societies to build institutions that throttle the individualism necessary for economic development. Larry Seidentop makes a similar point from a different perspective in “Inventing the Individual.”

            #2 Yes.

            “The same with capitalism, it goes through a phase of prosperity and then at the last stage decay.”

            Well you can invent history through ideology, or you can look at actual history and see what happened. The historical fact is that capitalism never did decay; people abandoned it. Capitalism always required a critical mass of Christians. As the West abandoned Christianity in the late 1800s for German modernist theology, which denied the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, it embraced socialism.

            What you might see as capitalist decay was nothing but the encroachment of socialism. In the US, the socialist creep began with Teddy Roosevelt and exploded with his cousin’s regime. For example, corporations control the country today through politicians. They buy state power by enriching politicians. FDR implemented that system by making cartels of businesses and giving them power to write legislation. Today they do it through “regulatory capture.”

            You have been fooled by socialists into thinking the US is a capitalist nation. It hasn’t been capitalist since at least 1913, but especially since 1929. Claiming a country is capitalist as socialists take over is an old ploy. They claim all problems are the result of residual capitalism when in fact the problems result from socialist policies.

            The US and Europe are democratic socialist nations and have been for a while. One might honestly say it’s not so bad. But that’s only because it takes a while to use up the wealth previous generations have built. Greece is our future.

          • A. Bergman

            “Capitalism always required a critical mass of Christians”
            Holy cow, what are you talking about? Do you really believe this [stuff]? So if a capitalist country is blooming and the number of Christians drops below the critical mass, capitalism will automatically convert to something else then? Do you know how stupid that sounds?

            “the historical fact is that capitalism never did decay; people abandoned it.”

            Historical fact? The decay is happening now, and it’s not an “historical event” yet. If capitalism was good why would a society abandon it?

            “But that’s only because it takes a while to use up the wealth previous generations have built”

            We create much more value per time unit today than before, so I’m not sure what you are talking about. Are you referring to Thatcher’s stupid quote on socialism?

            I have heard a lot of strange things through my life, but you take the crown on being most delusional, and it seems like you REALLY believe it.

            I’m not going to continue discussing this with you, but I suggest you read a little more what democratic socialism, socialism, and communism is, because it is very apparent that you don’t understand what it is.

          • Of course it seems strange to you. That’s a condemnation of our public education system. But you need to read more history than you have read. Until you know more than you know today it will sound absurd. Like most people, you are a victim of “official history,” as the great Herbert Butterfield wrote. Official history is the popular history of the day that justifies the current system. You need to read Schoeck, Fogel, Seidentrop, and a historian I haven’t mentioned yet, Rodney Stark.

            If you insist on the truth of official history, then we have nothing to discuss.

          • Jedoba

            Obviously, Fogel is someone we should NOT take seriously:

            According to Engerman and Fogel, slaves in the American South lived better than did many industrial workers in the North. Fogel based this analysis largely on plantation records and claimed that slaves worked less, were better fed and whipped only occasionally.

            Which literary genius will be offered next: Ayn Rand?

          • Yeah, clearly you should ignore Nobel Prize-winning economists. I’m not familiar with that claim, but I know from other works by Fogel that he has plenty of evidence for his opinions. If you care about the truth you will find opposing evidence and not ignore him just because you don’t like what he wrote. Fogel was part of a generation of economic historians, including the economist he shared the Nobel with, James Buchanan, who transformed economic history by basing it on solid research and evidence.

            If Fogel made that claim it’s probably true. Just what I know about the slums in northern cities from the work of Higgs I would say slaves enjoyed better food and living conditions.

          • Jedoba

            I had no idea that we should believe someone simply because they possess a Nobel.
            Paul Krugman is also a Nobel winner.
            Which should we trust?

          • No, that would be an appeal to authority. But neither should you ignore him because he says something you don’t like. You should actually read him works. Same with Krugman. But you have to be a good economist to understand when Krugman is writing economics and when he is just promoting socialism.

            You can’t trust anyone is the most important point. You have to do the work yourself.

          • The difference between you and me is that I know the same history you know. I was force-fed it in public school and college. But I have read some history by some very good historians, those mentioned above, that you haven’t read. So of course it seems strange to you.

        • Jump

          I’ll add this to what Roger says: another virtue of capitalism is that it is the only system whereby the existence of income inequality need not entail that someone has been wronged. The reason? There is no fixed size of the economic pie in a free market, and thus, it’s the only system whereby your increasing wealth need not cause me to have less.

      • Mr. Opinion

        “All of our economic problems come from socialist policies that have accumulated for a century.”… That is simply not fact Roger.

  • Steve Vinzinski

    Senator Bernie Sanders has good intentions and does propose some decent legislation over the years.I really do not believe he will be elected President he should continue to serve his state well in the Senate.Yes Wall Street and the banks promote greed generally so does Senator Bernie receive donations from them and the all powerful Insurance companies and drug companies.Bernie has never to my knowledge proposed ways to curb these necro phallic entities neither do i see where he has done anything to control medicare and their associates. The cost of medicines and premiums for them are heading to the moon.If only our fine Statesmen in the House and Senate could fine time to at least act like intelligent entities.Remember the meek will inherit the earth we come in this world with nothing and leave this world likewise in the same condition.

    • A. Bergman

      Sanders is the only candidate that actually does not take contributions from any other than the public. No Super-PAC. Medicare is much more cost effective than any private health insurance company. Do a little research on him, and you will find out that he actually answers many of your concerns, and if you do a little more research you will actually see that his actions is backing up what he is saying too. From an authenticity and honesty perspective I don’t think we have had a Democratic or Republican candidate even close to him for decades.

      • Steve Vinzinski

        No argument on his very objective honesty and class.Good Luck and a Merry Christmas.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    No. I was just speculating based on what evidence I have.

  • MableSpam

    All economies will remain ponzi/pyramid schemes, so long as private banks continue to create money out of thin air. Civilization, as a whole, is mathematically doomed by interest payments on this imaginary money.

    Only Canada has a chance to make this happen, as they are the only G8 country with a public central bank – which they haven’t used since 1974. We just need to start a massive grassroots movement to get people to understand this, then spread this true economic freedom to the rest of the world!

  • Peggy James

    Bernie Sanders is Jewish and the opposite of communism. If you participated in a public school, used the fire dept, police dept, postal service, etc congratulations, for these are the social programs which helped build our great country. When super packs and citizens united and other corrupt organizations start buying our politicians this is the beginning of destruction for the entire country. Bernie Sanders is a wise leader with true leadership qualities and abilities including loyalty, kindness, honesty, authenticity, intelligence, energetic, experience, and passionate about helping every child succeed in this country, thus building a stronger generation for future generations. No one is looking for a savior. Bernie Sanders is the best hope we have in putting honesty back inside the doors of government. He gets along well with both democrats and republicans who are ordinary working Americans. Vote for Bernie Sanders!

  • Peggy James

    The genuine respect I think towards Bernie Sanders is the fact that he does not accept the super pack big bucks and will work to over turn citizens united. All the big money influence is corrupting our laws within our government due to special interest groups buying politicians. If allowed to continue they will destroy our free nation.

  • A. Bergman

    Scandinavia has, as many know now, Democratic Socialism, and also has one for the most ‘free market’ in the world. Democratic Socialism has actually much more in common with Libertarianism than not. If you want “proof” that is not “liberal media” watch Stefan Molyneux’s “The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism”: where he argues that the success of Scandinavia is due to the ‘free market’.

    Universal healthcare offsets many of the risks in the free market, making it more effective – people can take more risks without losing everything.

    • Jump

      Yes, it offsets risks, but, in principle, at a greater cost than if those risks were offset by some solution put forth by the market.

      • A. Bergman

        Yes cost in dollars might be higher, but I do not agree with you that attaching cost to human lives are the right thing in a civilized society. That is where democratic socialism is different from libertarianism; we separate business and human beings. We let businesses live under the “survival of the fittest”-rule, but we as a society take care of humans as humans (and not as an expendable ‘resource’). I just don’t believe that our only purpose, as human beings, are to gain wealth.

        • Jump

          I think you have some fundamental misunderstandings of what you’re arguing against. I in fact said “cost,” rather than “dollars”–I take costs to include monetary considerations, but also more than that: opportunity cost, nature, social goods and other intangibles, etc.

          Nothing I about what I’ve said implies a survival-of-the-fittest attitude toward human beings. Likewise, it hardly implies minimizing the value of the human person.

          In fact, it is precisely the desire to allow the market to solve most problems that honors and dignifies human persons. It treats them as the creative moral agents that they are. Governmental solutions in general take the potential for creating a solution out of the hands of the people and puts it in the hands of the few.

          Also, just a courteous clarification: I’m not a libertarian; I’m a conservative.

          • A. Bergman

            Ok, maybe I don’t understand what I’m arguing against. I don’t disagree with you that ‘cost’ is also about adding/subtracting value from society, but from what you wrote: “a greater cost than if those risks were offset by some solution put forth by the market”, I assumed you meant the capital market which would be directly related to profit, and profit would be a function of income/revenue minus cost (in dollars).

            Ok, so let me just understand a few things then:

            1) Are you advocating for more capitalism, i.e. privatize a lot of what is government run today?

            2) Do you agree that capitalism in its basic nature has the sole purpose of maximize profit and not necessarily value? If not, how do you define capitalism?

            3) When you say ‘market’, do you then mean the capital market?

            4) Explain why you believe that the market forces would eventually not only maximize profit (related to reducing cost in dollars) but also indirectly favorably impact:
            a) Opportunity cost. How? (What is your definition of opportunity cost btw? Not sure why that would be important issue in this context)
            b) Nature. How?
            c) Social goods. How?
            d) Other intangibles. What would that be? Examples.

            Explaining those claims are very essential to understand why you would favor a market solution over other solutions.

          • Jump

            I’ll answer your questions in order.

            1) More capitalism? Probably–but see reply to #2 for the whole story. Privatize a lot of what the government does today? Yes.

            2) I’m not merely endorsing capitalism (unless, I suppose, it’s a small part of a broader theory of properly functioning human action). I take economics to just be the science of human action, very broadly conceived. Capitalism, as usually understood is concerned mainly with monetary concerns. That’s one area of human activity, but only one. I just found this, in fact, which just so happens to give you a nice idea of how I understand “capitalism”:

            3) No. I mean the sum total, as it were, of the will of the individuals in a given group (friends, family, society). There are markets everywhere for everything.

            4) a) Opportunity cost–is the cost of alternatives that are foregone when making a choice to do something. This is important to consider if some ways of organizing society tend to result in higher opportunity costs than others. For instance, the true cost of, say, a construction project undertaken by the government, and funded with tax money, will include (to name just one type of example) what *would have*, but did not, come to be had that money been kept in the pockets of private individuals. Henry Hazlitt once said something like economics being the art of seeing the unseen. You see the bridge that is built by the tax money–that’s in the plus column. But you need to look at what didn’t happen as a result–for instance, the businesses that weren’t built. The cures that weren’t developed, etc. All that needs to be considered to understand what that course of action truly netted in terms of value.

            b) Nature–I threw this one in because I thought it would be the easiest for you to identify with: if I build a landfill over the entirety of Yellowstone National Park, we should calculate that as a cost of some sort. There is a cost regardless of whether the value is incommensurable with monetary value, or whether the monetary value is impossible to calculate.

            c) Social–I thought you would pick up on this one too. Here’s one simple example: suppose that a certain course of action results in some group’s being clinically depressed. That’s a cost. This would be a cost regardless of whether there is a monetary cost associated with it, too (which there likely would be).

            d) Other intangibles–here you might have things like the intrinsic value of human persons (certainly the primary consideration in a “cost” calculation, because no course of action may permissibly involve a moral evil committed against a person). This was also just a catch-all category for anything else you might think was missed. The idea here was to dispel your misunderstanding that the position I endorse required reducing all value to monetary value.

          • Jump

            Oh, and by the way, thank you for the questions! A helpful exercise for me to write out.

        • Jump

          I will also note that I likewise do not think our sole purpose as human beings is to gain wealth. Let’s put that aside, since the conservative position is not that and does not imply that. I will say that if one cares for the intrinsic value of people, then one needs to care for their well-being in a way that (1) doesn’t involve breaking a moral law and (2) is the least inefficient option. I’m not a consequentialist about moral theory–but I think weighing consequences (long term and in the aggregate) is the only way to evaluate competing plans (plans that do not require a violation of moral law, that is). And centralized systems are almost always the most inefficient way to oversee the distribution of a good.

      • Mikey G.

        Okay, can I just point out, that “Jump” just strung words together he thought sounded intelligent and made sense, but clearly do not? First of all, you used “in principle” incorrectly, what you really meant was “By my theory”. Second, as far as the free market “offsetting” health costs, we already know that has failed, right? We have much higher drug, and hospital costs than most countries, which is a direct result of the hundreds of thousands of patients each year, who simply do not pay their medical bills, driving the cost of healthcare, and insurance, up for everyone. The data is all there, from many other countries, why would we choose to ignore that?

        • Jump

          Whattup Mikey G.

          I appreciate all attempts to correct my grammar, wrongheaded or not. Thank you. Now, let’s get to it:

          Reply to your “first”
          1. “In principle” is used correctly here. But if it bothers you, change it to “generally.” Or change it to “all other things things being equal.” Each means slightly different things, to be sure, but they all in this context imply the same point: in the long run and in the aggregate, free markets (governed by the rule of law and informed by a proper understanding of human persons, etc.) create more wealth, and better distribute it, than do state attempts at coordinating market activity.

          Reply to your “second”:
          2. No, we don’t know free market-run healthcare has failed. This is because there is very little good evidence to support this claim, and much evidence to support its denial.

          Three reasons your rebuttal fails:

          (2a). It is true only if the viable options are construed as being a choice between one particular free market option “A” vs. government intervention “B.” But that is a false dilemma. The options are more properly construed as market option “A” vs market option “B” vs market option “C” vs…vs gov’t intervention “Z”. Why not let these contenders do battle before jumping so hastily to government imposition?

          (2b) The failures you attribute to the free market’s handling of healthcare are, in large part, the *result* of government impositions on the market in the form of regulation. It’s precisely *because* we’ve departed from free market principles in healthcare that we have these problems.

          (2c) You completely ignore the opportunity costs incurred from a state-run health care system. Scandinavia et al. give up something to have that healthcare, after all (the benefits of which, by the way, are not so rosy as one is sometimes led to believe).

  • bettysdad

    Bernie is neither. He’s a sane. responsible, patriotic capitalist.

  • sallyhampton

    Even the title of this article is dead wrong and infuriates me. The author is clearly defending a system rigged for the wealthy to exploit working people, who don’t have economic freedom with lower wages and higher and higher cost of living making it impossible to save so under constant stress of barely living pay check to pay check. If people can’t afford healthcare, get an education or save, they have no economic freedom. I am voting for Bernie Sanders to help restore our great middle class country.

    • Yes, the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy. Socialism has always been like that. The wealthy party elite in the Soviet Union rigged the system to keep themselves in power and wealthy. The US is not communist, but it has become democratic socialist over the past century and as with all socialism has been rigged to favor those in power.

      It’s impossible for people to save because the state takes 45% of your income. Then the Fed causes price inflation and wages never keep up with price increases so working people fall farther behind. The US taxes businesses more than any developed country so that business formation remains flat and joblessness increases and more people have to get on welfare. Heavy regulations force more businesses to close or move to another country.

      Healthcare is ridiculously expensive because the state creates unlimited demand through Medicare and Medicaid while limiting the supply of doctors through heavy regulation. Limited supply and unlimited demand is the recipe for rapid price increases.

      Everything you complain about has resulted from increasing socialism.

      BTW, being able to afford things like better healthcare, education or savings is not freedom; it’s prosperity. Prosperity happens through real economic freedom and that means lower taxes, less regulation of business, both of which Sanders opposes.

      Bernie’s socialism punishes production and rewards consumption. But every first year economics student knows that prosperity can happen only with increasing investment by businesses. Greater consumption requires less investment and thus less prosperity in the future.

  • Jim

    What do expect from a right wing paid commercial ?

  • Jim

    The .001% sure go out of their way to discredit a good man. He’ll help society and that’s bad for the elite

  • Gargamel 432

    It seems the mega elite are hard at work attacking Bernie. I guess they’ll spend any sum of money making sure a man of the people doesn’t control the levers of power.

  • sg

    I’ll take FDR’s “socialist” programs and tax policies over what we have now (and for the last 40 years) any time. Oh, and you can include that terrible communist, Dwight D. Eisenhower, too.

  • MetalSmith

    …This article, the video… I’m just not sure what to say.

    Current policy would say that it is actually conservatives that are driving away our economic freedom. Entrepreneurs have excessive tax burdens on business profits compared to the rest of the world, and a greater percentage of our federal budget is paid for by the lowest levels of income (250k and less) than any other nation in the world.

    Every time we reduce regulation, banks and financial markets design new financial toys to trade, undervalue the risk of said toys, and over estimate their value. Prices for said assets increase, the asset prices go bust when the actual value comes to light, and BAM! we have another recession.

    We can’t have the most advanced military power, the largest war fleet, and the most aircraft of any military in the world without paying for it. Currently the corporate tax rate is around 35%, and the average effective tax rate after transfer payments is 19%. We have corporations that our government has chosen to heavily subsidize and reduce their tax burden down to around 1% (Monsanto, Boeing), and others that are paying closer to 40% effective tax rates on profits. This is essentially a centrally planned system where only selected companies can prosper. Those companies are the ones that can write the tax laws.

    In the mean time, there is no incentive for CEO’s to spread the wealth and income derived from the companies they lead among the employees that provide labor, as there is no market power left for the employees to manipulate. Everyone is replaceable, and companies have no loyalty to their employees.

    If you bring back a marginal tax rate of 70% on TAXABLE incomes of over 2.5 million, and a tax on unrealized gains of over some amount of money, you could create incentives for people to spread the wealth among their employees, and lower the incentive to pay 90% of their income with stock options worth hundreds of millions, but with only a 15%-25% tax rate.

    Then you lower the corporate tax rate from an astronomical 35% to a below average 22%, and cap transfer payments to corporations at, say, 1 million dollars, or just eliminate corporate welfare payments, and you can reduce the tax burden on the majority of american citizens, increase tax revenues, and pay off some of that monstrous debt we’ve accumulated.

    Ben Bernanke himself has said that the behavior of a large number of involved parties in the financial crisis in 2008 should be in jail. When you destroy regulation so quickly and leave businesses up to their own devices, they create all sorts of ways to get themselves into trouble. If anyone would have really examined what was happening with the sub prime market, if anyone had looked at what was holding the value of those mortgage backed securities, it should have been painfully obvious what was coming. Instead we wiped out somewhere around 10 trillion to 22 trillion dollars of value. The estimates vary, but still, left to their own devices without any checks to what they do with their market power, banks will behave in dumb ways. This is mostly because when we create new financial devices, we have no way to measure the risk, and this lack of information causes huge issues with how we invest.

    Now, I’m not sure where this video pulls its facts from. It didn’t provide any sources that I saw, so probably out of their asses. Without details as to how you quantified and referenced the arguments, it’s hard to have a clear opinion of what it is saying. In particular, the difference between the bush spending and obama spending is silly. Bush spent a great deal of that money on war, while Obama was forced to work with congress in supplying somewhere around 3 trillion dollars to keep companies afloat in 2009. On top of that, congress made these loans with little to no plan for repayment.

    I dunno. I could rant all day on this topic, but the fact is that whenever we deregulate, we don’t have any information to best judge what we are doing with the new possibilities for investment, and we can’t rate that investment so that people can make informed decisions. We screw ourselves over with our blind obsession with ‘profit maximization’, which has two different meanings when you look at business and economics. In business, it means creating as much prices discrimination as possible to maximize the welfare to business. In economics, it means that profits are 0. In economics, Profits are meant to draw more business into a market and increase the supply, which reduces the price. In business, profits are used to differentiate your product through marketing to create as much market power for an individual firm as possible, so they can increase prices to increase profits.

    Maybe if all you business majors took a look at the actual principles of what economic studies was supposed to achieve, an efficient allocation of the resources available to society, then you might see that what we have in this country defies all principles of economics. We keep giving up more and more market power as individuals, and giving it to entities that are not living breathing people. Our corporate structure and current campaign finance laws have turned our country into a two party communist system. Our country is literally what china would be if they had two political parties. And that is sad.

  • Cathy

    Economic Freedom cannot exist if you have folks who cannot put food on the table, save for retirement, and/or have health care. How can they work if they are too ill? We have to have the healthy pay for the sick, etc. We have to have a “pot” that we put money into (and the rich should not be exempt as they have been) even moreso. We work together, and this stupid “rough individualism” is tiring, boring, and trite. It’s so overdone, and not well-thought out. Feel the Bern! Bernie Sanders!!! (Clinton is a DINO, so no to her)

  • jas

    Bernie is a social democrat and capitalism is good for a country when done right which means no more importing everything for china bc of cheap prices

  • Montana Pioneer

    Bernie wants to give government the power, lots of power, to combat human greed. Good for Bernie. But power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so who are these angels who are going to possess all this power? Will that power somehow be immune to the forces of nature? What you will have is a concentration of power, and corruption, as with any powerful government and bureaucracy. And just like the governments Bernie has supported—Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, communist Nicaragua, the USSR, Castro’s Cuba—it is the people who will suffer. And if you think it’s all rosy in socialist Europe, look a little deeper. Try to run a small to midsize business there. Lots of problems with their socialism, lots of coercion and conformity mandated by the state, and very little chance to live your dreams.

  • stephenverchinski

    Hey its better than the rapacious so called unregulated free market that we have been operating under. I’m serious about calling out the nearly fascist corporatists on both the right and the left that have had the reins of power over the last close to 50 years. We do not want to have 50 more years of decimating the best of America. The worst one this past summer was the attempt to put a rider onto the federal budget bill to sell off the National Forests. Luckily someone alerted the public.

    We needed a social democratic revolution yesterday.

    The fascist corporatists supporters with “liberal interpretation” of the Progress for a New American Century like Hillary are very afraid of this and have systematically worked to destroy any exemplars of social democracies.

    It begins with destabilization and the Shock and Awe doctrine

    It continued with the economic contamination with bad economic paper of southern European states and not prosecuting the banksters and rating agencies responsible,

    Then the militaristic expansion of NATO to defund and to politically emasculate those countries with a population that believes in a well cared social structure.

    Finally, the destabilization of the northern European countries with the refugee diaspora impacting their shores and the deliberate plunge in oil prices.

    • Marc Vander Maas
      • stephenverchinski

        Let us look at the system of distillate oil extraction with fracking and flaring of natural gas that is done as waste because the oil.companies have no pipeline capacity. In North Dakota alone, the waste was estimated at $100 million a month. X

        • And why is there a lack of pipelines? They were stopped by the federal government, just as Obama blocked the Keystone pipeline. All are the fruit of our socialist economy.

          • stephenverchinski

            Wrong pipeline. That one was for the distillates.

            BLM released more leases than gas pipeline capacity. Some of the former managers responsible too industry jobs immediately afterwards. No prosecutions. Happened also with the Teapot Dome Scandal generations ago when the regulations were even more loose.

          • stephenverchinski

            Yes the keystone was stopped. A climate disaster.

          • Regardless of the pretend motive to save the planet, Obama has caused the pipeline shortage, not the market. In a free market there will be no shortages of anything because shortages cause high profits and attract competition. Anytime you see a shortage of anything, you can discover the hand of government in it.

        • Marc Vander Maas

          …and that proves that we have an unregulated free market?

    • Well fascism is a flavor of socialism, not capitalism. You’re right, though that we have suffered under a fascist/socialist economy, but far longer than 50 years. It began with FDR in the 1930s. That’s when the social democratic revolution happened and you’re enjoying the benefits of it today with higher inequality and unemployment with a dead economy.

      • stephenverchinski

        Gee i guess that Franco’s corporatism was not facist? Gee have you got a learning curve. Capitalism.does have a tendency to dictatorial facism. Hitler hijacked the name for his party to snare those who were uneducated. Social.democratic movements were challenges to capital and those that spoke out in those movements were executed.

        • “Capitalism.does have a tendency to dictatorial facism.”

          No. Marx just made that up with no evidence from history and no sound theory. History has proven exactly the opposite.

          Mussolini wanted to remake Italy in the image of Stalin’s USSR, but shifted ground when Germany went to war with the USSR. He then invented fascism. Nazism did nothing but continue the socialism that Bismarck had implemented in the 1870’s in Germany.

          FA Hayek wrote “Road to Serfdom” because his fellow Brits were just as confused as you and thought fascism was an extreme form of capitalism. He proves in his book that fascism and Nazism were just two flavors of socialism. In fact, all socialism has to become Stalinist or fascist if the socialists are consistent with their beliefs.

  • Marc Vander Maas

    The facts were in the linked article in my first comment that Mr. Opinion didn’t bother actually looking at LOL

  • No, you have Smith confused with Marx. Smith wrote exactly the opposite. One of his main points was that government regulation would only increase corruption as businessmen bought politicians would pass regulations that favored the businesses and thereby create oligarchies.

    Instead, Smith demonstrated that free markets prevent oligarchies and force businessmen to compete at pleasing consumers.

    Besides, history has proven that the first time in human history in which inequality fell was after the advent of capitalism. Inequality continued to fall under capitalism and began rising again in all the socialist countries.

  • John

    I must disagree with Mr. Sunde that conservatives “disdain” crony capitalism. How else are we to understand why Eric Garner of New York City caught selling untaxed cigarettes involving penny ante sums of money paid with his life, while traders at major banks illegally fixing foreign exchange markets and LIBOR, involving millions if not billions of dollars, have yet to spend one day in jail. In this case the SEC says Congress does not provide it with the funds to involve itself fighting expensive court cases where the defendants have deep pockets. I posit that progressives, not conservatives, are more likely to spend public funds to make the justice system more fair. However, in reality,crony capitalism is practiced by both Republicans and Democrats, in spite of their public protestations to the contrary; political campaigns are very costly.

    • The problems are much greater than you describe them and yes both Republicans and Democrats support it. In the first place, the problem is crony socialism, not crony capitalism. In real capitalism, as we had before FDR, cronyism isn’t possible because politicians have no power over the economy to sell. FDR gave total control over the economy to bureaucrats appointed by politicians. Politicians immediately turned around and sold that power to the highest bidder and they’re still doing it. That’s fascism, a variety of socialism. Google for Nobel prize winner James Buchanan’s “public choice” school of economics. He describes crony socialism well. I think has a good entry.

      Also, large financial corps like Goldman Sachs get filthy rich off the Fed’s inflationary monetary policies. The system is very corrupt, but that’s a feature of socialism, not capitalism.

  • Jump

    Reply to a.: re: “corporations do not feel the effect”–this is false. Free economic actors, aka free society, aka the market, ensures, over the long term, and in the aggregate, that corporations (and people), feel the effects of their decisions. This is axiomatic. The problem you seem to be pointing out, rather, is ironically one of the chief problems with centrally-controlled economies (let’s call them “CCEs”)–too few making the decisions, and with far less knowledge than is needed for good stewardship. And here, I’ll point out this knife cuts both ways–think of the waste inherent in things like, say, the welfare state. There is simply nothing like this long-term, aggregate waste in a free market (provided you don’t let the government get in bed with business)–such entities, on the whole, and in the aggregate, simply go out of business first! That’s the point of competition. Re: greed and self-interest, free markets only depend on self-interest (a morally neutral matter), not greed (a vice). Greed is a feature of the human heart, as it turns out, and therefore greed is in every economic arrangement (albeit perhaps moreso in places that lack free markets). So, greed is everywhere. And given that greed is everywhere, here’s where the free market beats out its competitors: unlike any other economic arrangement, only in a free market does one person’s greed-motivated action not *necessarily* result in a loss to some other person. Still more astonishing, only in a free market can someone else’s greed-motivated action accrue to someone else’s *benefit*. There are many other reasons that a free market (operating under the rule of law, and a proper understanding of the human person, etc.) beats out its competitors (e.g., greater knowledge available for informed economic decisions compared to that available in CCEs), but the bottom line is this: decades of empirical observation leave no doubt that free markets (governed in the way I described) are so far superior to CCEs in terms of ability to steward resources, treat human persons equally and justly, and create wealth, that the two cannot be compared.

    Reply to b.: Re: “cost of non-regulation”: No one says the market should be totally unregulated unless they’re an anarchist. I’m a conservative, not an anarchist; markets need to be under the rule of law. But those laws should be, in general, limited to guaranteeing negative rights (e.g. property rights, recognizing the sanctity of human life, etc.). Moreover, the problem with most regulation is that only the “big guys” are able to comply. But the little guys? They get absolutely killed. This is why you see so many big business in love with regulation; it’s a way of usurping market forces to deal with competition. Re: less resources being available: remember, resources (and more generally, wealth) can be *created*, and is all the time. Further, wealth *destruction* is, on the whole, DISincentivized in a free market–if an entity destroys wealth long enough, the market just weeds them out. Ironically, the more centrally controlled an economy becomes, the more it fails at disincentivizing wealth destruction. (Makes sense, right? Decisions in a CCE are not as affected by market forces.) Re: inequality: income inequality is morally problematic *only if* the market is not free or when it is not governed by the rule of law. You are therefore describing a moral problem inherent to CCE’s, but not to free markets.

  • Jump

    Hi Eva, regardless of what you call it, the issue is what it IS. Right?