Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back to Economics and Politics

Recently our new President has been called a “socialist”. What is very interesting about this is; he has been called a socialist by some on the right and some in the center, while those to the left complain he is not socialist enough. So I began thinking about my definition of socialism. It is a very fuzzy definition at best. It turns out there are more than a few of us with an unclear definition. I checked several definitions at different places. The best definition with some explanations for my confusion, and maybe yours, can be found at .

Briefly, I find that I am confusing the old school definitions of types of governments and types of economics. I learned that I am not a pure socialist but am probably a democratic socialist or something similar. After reading a little about this type of politic, I found mention of a philosopher, Axel Honneth, who was apparently more of a socialist, and in the older style than I. I also read a little about Anthony Crosland, a British politician and socialist theorist. Here is a quote I found in two different places, so it must be good. It really is if you think about it. Sometimes though generational advancement may not be a good thing, energy use and global warming.

"What one generation sees as a luxury, the next sees as a necessity."
Anthony Crosland

Social Democrats believe in some things with which I find I agree. According to what I found, Social Democrats believe in both free enterprise and government run programs of education, safety nets for the poor, and health care for all who need it. Theoretically they believe in government regulation of private enterprise. That one makes much sense to me at this time in our economy. When it comes to foreign policy, Social Democrats believe in multilateral ism. Again this makes sense after the last 8 years. There is a good listing of the theories and the philosophies of Social Democrats at this address: .

Here is an interesting thought I found at:
Apparently Karl Marx considered Socialism to be the rung on the ladder on the way to Communism.
No wonder some of the extremists or the politicians running for office in 2010 are quick to call their competitors, “Socialists”. We still have that old fear of communism in this country. We just don't think about it out loud anymore.

On the economic side of things Wikipedia has another good article. This one is on Keynesian and “The Chicago School”, Milton Friedman, economics. I give you this quotation:

“Friedman, for example, argued that the Great Depression was result of a contraction of the money supply, controlled by the Federal Reserve, and not by the lack of investment as Keynes had argued. Ben Bernanke, current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is among the economists today generally accepting Friedman's analysis of the causes of the Great Depression.”

While researching these things, I found an article about an article written about the writings of Mr. Crosland. The previous sentence is about as much fun to understand as the whole 1960's article on Crosland. However, wade through it I did. I would like to share with you the following excerpt. Read and reread it please. Then someone let me know if they notice the application to the way the present administration is handling the banking/financial mess.
“It emerges from the nature of his proposals for the extension of public ownership, in those instances where he is willing to consider such steps. He is for government share-buying:
...the object is not to acquire particular capital assets with a view to their control; it is generally to increase the area of public ownership. There is therefore no need for the compulsory purchase of entire firms or industries; it is sufficient to extend public investment in any direction ... Indeed, it would be a positive nuisance to be saddled with control...
What stands out about this method of extending "public ownership" is that it is the one which guarantees completely leaving all management rights and relations undisturbed. It is designed to leave the same bosses in control no matter what level of "public ownership" is thereby reached. Crosland is utilizing the well-known split between share-ownership and management control to introduce the same schism between public ownership and public control. His program for "extension of public ownership" is at the same time a program for maintenance of managers' control.”

Source URL:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find this stuff hard to follow and hard to get in my head. It is important to try even though it is so difficult. You may wonder why, sometimes I do. Just remember you can vote. You can write a blog. You can write your congresspeople. You can talk to friends and neighbors. You know the routines use them. Others will and do.

Here is an postscript, update, to an earlier posting, Discretionary Spending Feb. 24, 2009. The F-22 production is definitely in trouble. Don't despair. The Military-Industrial Complex is keeping busy. They are working hard to get new bigger contracts on a couple of other planes, the C-17 transport and the F-18. Keep track of their “hard work” and remember the manufacturing plants and suppliers are scattered all over the country. You have to give them credit for thinking ahead when they got those jobs scattered around. It is hard for a congressperson to cut back on those huge contracts when they have to go home or run again for office.
Unemployment is already extremely high.

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