Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Yes, He is One
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A forum for discussing matters of moment, from a curmudgeonly perspective. (The ideas posted here do not necessarily represent those of any organization with which I am a part). Rude and insulting remarks will not be published, but civil disagreement is welcome.
Actually, to be a socialist you have to advocate state ownership of the means of production. So proposing minimal redistributive taxation isn't enough to make one a socialist. On the other hand, if one were to propose the government takeover of private institutions like, oh say, banks...
We're all socialists now.
I'm so glad someone else agrees with me.
Dr. G. I occasionally like to link your blog from my facebook page, as many of my son's college friends are my 'friends' there and I like to give them food for thought. Yesterday I was surprised when I tried to link your post regarding the plumber/tax/redistribute wealth piece....a blocking pop up came up letting me know that 'facebook members have identified your blog as offensive'. I was amazed, saddened, and angry. Apparently the owner of facebook is very pro-O. Sadly I can no longer pass on your wisdom to those young minds.
I always wondered about the American Evangelicals and their ideas against Socialism. If you look at Europe, the Christian Democrats in many countries are in the social middle and often work together with the socialists. If you look at the Netherlands, the Christian Union, is very much in line with the bible on ethical issues, very much in favour of environmentalism and quite socialist in its approach to economic issues.
The economic social status of evangelicals is such that they stand much more to gain from Democrats on many issues, but they still support Republicans.
Actually, Socialism is not the same as Communism. Modern socialism is experienced in many forms but is usually experienced as government control in some area of the marketplace.
No pure socialist nation exists. However, many nations today have policies like disability pensions, old age pensions, universal health care and free public education (to name a few).
If Obama is going to introduce those to America, he is hardly going to turn America into a Communist state. In reality, such policies would actually make America into a better place.
Wow, if what Katie says is true, there's something wrong. If the kind of speech Doug engages in isn't allowed on Facebook, the PC police have really gotten out of hand. Still, if I had to lay a bet, I'm putting my money on "innocent mistake."
No, Tom, we're not all socialists. I'm squarely in the camp of those that think the government should have let the markets handle the corrections. I'm in that camp precisely because of the point you gesture towards: it's a giant leap toward socialism.
On to your claim about what makes a socialist. First, it's always a "minimal" tax increase. Never forget that the top tax bracket has paid as much as 75% of their income in taxes after the income tax was sold as modest tax to fund WWI. Words like "modest" and "minimal" are just wedges to raise taxes--how modest the increases are is all in the eye of the beholder.
Second, I'm not so sure you can draw such a stark distinction between owning the means of production and wealth redistribution. The one who doles out property really owns the property. In the case of governmental wealth redistribution, the government grants property and subsidiary property rights to citizens. I say subsidiary because the government maintains the right to usurp the rights of individuals and confiscate property for further redistribution. In the "minimal wealth redistribution" case, the government is laying claim only to the wealth/income of individuals. But it would take only one piece of legislation to incorporate the means of production into an individual's taxable wealth. That would, in effect, give the government total control over property.
The Netherland is in line with the Bible? They have abortion on demand and legalized euthanasia. They legalized intoxicating drugs decades ago.
I do not want to follow suit, I'm afraid (despite my Dutch name).
A loose definition of socialism is to redistribute weath through state means. That can be done through taxation and subsidies and penalties and regulations. One can technically maintain private property, but so control it that is becomes almost a moot point. In fact, what I just described might better be defined as fascism. I know that word is used irresponsibly, but I believe this is the correct, historical meaning.
There's no shred of doubt in my mind that Obama is a atheistic socialist/marxist. I think that he is no different than Stalin or Mao.
I just started a blog like this one. I am very excited that I can use the Internets as a medium to share the gospel like you.
From my understanding the financial system bail out plan is not a complete takeover. It is injecting capital in the form of money into banks so that they can lend to customers and other banks.
It would only be a complete takeover if no one else was allowed to buy ownership in the bank in the forms of stock for example. But people can still buy stock in banks.
Ton said, "We're all Socialist now."
I presume this refers to the bi-partisan governmental response to the Wall Street melt down. Yes, well.....hmmm?
Doug doesn't respond to your observation and as far as I can tell the "Right" is in abject denial of our current state of economic affairs and what philosophies and policies of the Right have contributed to our current state of affairs. I am not an economist and am "very fluid" in my political ideology, which is to say that I know that I don't understand very much of what is happening in our world and can't propose a particular ideological solution to correct our problems. I do see a world in which there is Obscene Wealth and Desperate Poverty. I have been led to believe that this chasm is growing wider. I have been led to believe that the earliest Christians maintained socialist communities. I fail to see the inherent evil in "slicing the pie" more equitably which results in a redistribution of wealth. I do hope the day comes when we beat our swords into plowshares and the lion lays down with the lamb. It will take a series of miracles for me to witness that happening in my life. I fail to see how the political and economic strategies of the Right, particularly those thinking themselves Religious, are contributing to those ends. Perhaps pursuing policies which may help fullfill the conditions thought necessary to allow the prophesied return of Christ are appropriate. I think not.
Yes, Tom, we're all socialist now. One question we are faced with now is whether we are going to socialize profits as well as losses. I suspect the "Right" will do everything in their power to maintain the privatization of profits while enjoying the benefit of passing the losses to the public with a ludicrously lop-sided variety of economic socialism. And they may very well suceed.
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death my horizon is very near and what may lay beyond that horizon is beyond my vision. Hopefully something better. What would Jesus do? Would Jesus be a Socialist? I suppose we all have to answer those questions for ourselves.
Under your definition, the Bush administration is socialist because of the Wall Street Bail out and partial nationalization of banks (which McCain, of course, passionately supported).
We've never been a purely free-market system. We've never been full socialism. We've always been somewhere in between. Both parties have always agree on that. The differences between them are matters of degrees, not categories (like you are claiming by using these kinds of labels).
Throwing around labels like "socialist" is not an argument. Heck, it's not even a normative claim unless you also add "and socialism is bad." (Although your disapproval of the label is clearly implied).
Make an argument, don't just toss around labels. And if you are going to make categorical claims, then be fair and apply it to all to whom it applies. If you want to make a intelligent, nuanced claim that Obama is (as a matter of degree) more towards socialism in his proposals than McCain is, and that that is a bad thing, then do that. (And I would agree with you if you made such an argument).
But it is unhelpful to be over-simplistic and merely using soundbites, catch-phrases, and labels, rather than full fledged arguments, is weak.
This is a point that I learned from you long ago... yet you now seem to be engaging in it more and more.
Is this what the "Conservative movement" has come to?
Cheap shot. The point of the post was to take you to an argument, not to give the argument itself. That argument is that socialism is bad, and that Obama is a socialist. I can refer you to many more arguments on the badness of socialism, like Kuehelt Ludin's classic book, "Leftism."
But, yes, Bush is not as conservative as I'd like on the economy: too much big government. And the free market did not get the country into the economic crisis. It was policies set in the Clinton administration presurring banks to make loans to people who could not repay them.
"But, yes, Bush is not as conservative as I'd like on the economy: too much big government. And the free market did not get the country into the economic crisis. It was policies set in the Clinton administration presurring banks to make loans to people who could not repay them."
Finally someone that can preach teh gospel truth. Both Dr. Groothuis and myself know exactly what happened and why we are in this mess; those "economists" out there are just trying to twist the Truth.
Bill "the liar" Clinton demanded banks to make loans to irresponsible idiots. That is the only source of the problem and the free-market was forced to follow Clinton's ideology that people who don't make enough money to purchase a home deserve one because that is their right.
The truth is, is that banks had to give 50% of their mortgages away to people without jobs, education, or minorities. And because the banks were FORCED to give away free money, that is why we are in an economic crisis of overextension.
That is the pressure that Doug astutely idenitifies. Nothing else.
Tom and BJ: You might find more support of socialistic/communist agenda on other blogs. This is a conservative, evangelical blog.
"But it is unhelpful to be over-simplistic and merely using soundbites, catch-phrases, and labels, rather than full fledged arguments, is weak."
This is a cheap shot. The only reason you are making this ad hominem fallacy is because you don't understand his logic.
Jeremy: Fair enough; not everyone agreed with the various parts of the bailout/buy-in moves that have been made recently. But when the great majority of economists from various perspectives think something like that is necessary, I have to ask: are you willing to risk a real depression for the sake of ideological purity?
Daniel: You're right--the bank buy-in (as I understand it) involves nothing like a compete takeover. What I said was a little tongue in cheek. But, Doug's assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, given that 'socialism' pretty much just means 'advocacy of state ownership of the means of production' our buying into the banks is much more a socialist move than is redistributive taxation.
BJ: You're absolutely right about the difference between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats being merely a difference of degree. Nobody in either part thinks there should be no redistributive taxation (if you are for any kind of safety net, you believe in redistributive taxation). Nobody in either party thinks that the state should own the means of production.
Agreed. I'm for the progressive tax plan and don't think socialism is exhaustively a bad idea. There is some truth in both socialism and capitalism. Frankly we don't want too much of either!
I disagree with Pastor Jim:
Other voices are welcome on this blog, if they are civil. If they insult unnecessarily, they don't get posted.
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