A test for socialism

Soft left, labor left or social democratic, whichever words you use to describe it, the Obama / Pelosi recipe for fixing our ailing economy is socialist, i.e., "making needed investments in infrastructure, alternative energy, science and other emerging sectors and providing middle-class tax cuts to help make work pay."

I use the word "socialist" not as a pejorative, but accurately. The Obama / Pelosi plan calls for Keynesian redistributive economic policy combined with record setting federal involvement in the economy.

And, it's also currently very popular. ("In a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month, 65 percent of those surveyed said they support new federal spending of as much as $700 billion on construction projects and other programs to try to stimulate the economy. In the same poll, 69 percent of those who supported the plan (47 percent of all adults) said they would still back the spending even if it increased the size of the federal deficit.")

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2008/12/31/AR2008123102897. html

But, be aware of the risk. "It's all Bush's fault" will work as well for Obama as "It's all Clinton's fault" worked for Bush. Any plan will have 18 months to start showing significant positive impact on economy, or it will be "proof socialism doesn't work" in 2010. Reaganomics (and Republicans in Congress) could be back with a vengeance.


Tags: Barack Obama, economics, Nancy Pelosi (all tags)



I'm not 100% sure why

the term "Socialism" is such a pejorative in our society. Is it a holdover from the Cold War?

Wasn't the Interstate Highway system a huge Socialist undertaking?

by Neef 2009-01-02 06:54AM | 0 recs
Right wing media is good at transforming
words into pejoratives.  The left never learned how.
Notice how, since the word 'liberal' was turned into a pejorative by the right wing media in the 80's, even liberals are afraid to call themselves liberal.
On the other hand, liberals (I'm sorry, progressives) not only refuse to play that game, but will themselves use phrases like "magic negro" and the n word, and empower usage by their opponents!
That's my point here - - at the risk of being a concern troll, whatever Obama does better start working pretty quick!
by kosnomore 2009-01-02 07:10AM | 0 recs

for calling us "liberals".

(ok, not really)

But I don't really get your point here.

by Neef 2009-01-02 07:22AM | 0 recs
There is only one point: concern trolling

"That's my point here - - at the risk of being a concern troll."

Kos is one of several right wing sockpuppet trolls here. His particular mode is concern trolling.

-- A Far Left Republican

by iohs2008 2009-01-02 07:27AM | 0 recs
Do you even know what sock puppet means?


by kosnomore 2009-01-02 08:25AM | 0 recs
Do you know what a far-right democrat is?

And how that's different than a plain old Republican?

Please explain.

by iohs2008 2009-01-02 09:14AM | 0 recs
If you're going to insult someone

at least know the definition of the insults, or else you sound silly and unintelligent!

by kosnomore 2009-01-02 09:22AM | 0 recs
I'd hate to sound like your diaries, yes...

...but please, explain what a far right democrat is, and how that is different from a Republican, because we'd really like to know.

by iohs2008 2009-01-02 09:53AM | 0 recs
Actually, it's in that space between the parties

but you tilt D because of your commitment to minority and women's rights.  That okay with you?

by kosnomore 2009-01-02 10:54AM | 0 recs
Now, define sockpuppet . . .

or, if you don't know what it means, stop using the word!

by kosnomore 2009-01-02 10:55AM | 0 recs
Did I strike a nerve with sockpuppet?

Thou dost protest too much!

by iohs2008 2009-01-02 12:48PM | 0 recs
KNM is not a sock-puppet

Nor a troll...

An almost Democrat-Clinton Groupie-Right wing Obama-basher, yes...

Although, one of my favorites!

Yours Truly,

Left-Wing-Commie-Bleeding-Heart-Liberal- Socialist-Leaning-Old Guy WSB

by WashStateBlue 2009-01-02 08:30AM | 0 recs
OK, maybe not a sock puppet

I concede that point.

Careful analysis reveals no similar patterns to other, known trolls.

But IMO, definitely a troll in his insistence on pushing anti-democrat, tinfoil hat crackpottery on, well, a democratic web site.

by iohs2008 2009-01-02 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Right wing media is good at transforming

my point here - - whatever Obama does better start working pretty quick

You mean by January 19th right?  Otherwise, Obama is no doubt a failure in your eyes.

by Khun David 2009-01-02 11:18AM | 0 recs
I believe I said . . .
"Any plan will have 18 months to start showing significant positive impact . . ."
Let me guess - - you had trouble on the reading comprehension part of the SAT, right?
by kosnomore 2009-01-02 11:22AM | 0 recs
I wonder how in Europe,

"social Democratic parties" succeeded, even during the Cold War, and the fight against Soviet style Communism. Here, if the Dems were so as much called the "Labor" Party, they'd be smashed. Even Socialist party leaders stood against commies, like Mitterand in France and Willy Brandt in Germany. All in all, I'm glad the West stood against the Soviet Union. But it didn't call for people like Joe McCarthy. I'm also happy the CPUSA didn't win seats in the House. America is one country which will never go commie. France had commies elected to Parliament once.

by Lakrosse 2009-01-02 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: A test for socialism

Any plan will have 18 months to start showing significant positive impact on economy, or it will be "proof socialism doesn't work" in 2010.

FDR was overwhelmingly reelected in 1936 and 1940 even though his policies had hardly lifted us out of the Depression by either milestone.  I can't agree with your arbitrary benchmark.

I understand why voters would say "this notion of deregulating everything and letting the free market solve all our problems didn't work, I want to try something different."  But I can't really see them saying, 18 months later, "okay, government intervention hasn't done anything yet, I want to go back to just letting the free market work."  Obama will likely succeed or fail based upon his perceived effectiveness as a leader, not just on whether he's able to wave a magic wand and fix the economy; as long as people are hurting, they will continue to expect government to move.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 07:36AM | 0 recs
I think our 24 hour news cycle media
and national political ADHD no longer allow anyone 8 years to see if it works . .
BTW - Initial election is about "perceived effectiveness as a leader".  Reelection?  That's about results.
by kosnomore 2009-01-02 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: I think our 24 hour news cycle media

What results had FDR achieved by 1936, when he won 523 electoral votes?

by Steve M 2009-01-02 09:35AM | 0 recs
I believe FDR was pre internet - -
pre cable news, pre TV, pre universal indoor plumbing, pre universal hook up to the electric grid, pre universal literacy, pre universal right to vote - - -
slightly different times, no?
Because FDR was given 8 years, don't think our culture today will give Obama 18 months to show SOME improvement to the situation - -
by kosnomore 2009-01-02 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I believe FDR was pre internet - -

My contention is that FDR did not win an overwhelming reelection because people were more patient and were like "well, let's wait and see if these things work."  I believe he won an overwhelming reelection because people felt reassured by his leadership qualities and they continued to feel the same confidence they felt when they elected him in the first place, that this is a guy who will move us in the right direction.

FDR certainly passed important legislation in his first term, but my point is that the results of that legislation hadn't been felt yet in any significant way.  Unemployment was still in the range of 15-20%.  If that's the measure, well I'm sure Obama will be passing stuff in his first term as well.

I think it has a lot more to do with competence in governing and the intangibles of leadership than it has to do with waving a magic wand and fixing the economy within an 18-month period.  We'll find out, cause I'm pretty confident the economy will not be fixed in 18 months!

by Steve M 2009-01-02 11:37AM | 0 recs
And by 1936, he'd gotten Congress to pass

the modern welfare state !!!!

by kosnomore 2009-01-02 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: A test for socialism

We've been living in a socialist state for about 60 years now.  We just don't pay for it like a real socialist state.  If I had to characterize the U.S., I'd say that we were a right-wing socialist state.  i.e. one that spends most of its national treasure on the military, roads, and corporate welfare.  We use all three as jobs programs and as a way of flexing our muscles.  We pay for these through debt rather than through real taxation.  Can it continue?

by the mollusk 2009-01-02 07:44AM | 0 recs

I believe that the proper word for "right wing socialism" is "fascism".

The US is neither fascist nor socialist. It's not completely capitalist either.  

Every country contains a mix of different ideas and there has never been a country in history that has adhered completely to its supposed ideological model.

That's why diaries like this one are useless and inane. Attempts to label complex existing systems with simple blanket "isms" serve no purpose, explain nothing, and are a complete waste of time.  

by mikeinsf 2009-01-02 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Ismismitis

I don't think it's a waste of time to talk about political philosophy on a political blog.  Sure, we're not really a socialist state, the way right-wing socialism and fascism aren't really the same.  But I'm not sure what your complaint is about discussing ideas.

by the mollusk 2009-01-02 09:27AM | 0 recs
As a philosophy instructor...

...it is always better to discuss the view as opposed to the "ism".  Because going with the corresponding "ism" obscures the view.

For example, Keyensian economics is more about using fiscal policy to manage the business cycle than about the size and economic function of government.

For a Keynesian a tax cut accomplishes the exact same thing as some sort of government check (gets money into circulation). A spending cut accomplishes the exact same thing as a tax increase (gets money out of circulation).

The difference between the right wing/Keynesian picture of tax cuts is that Keynesians would deny that tax cuts contain magical "Laffer dust".

by AZphilosopher 2009-01-02 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: As a philosophy instructor...

My comment about socialism stems mostly from my own recognition that our government is as large or larger than any of the scary social democracies we tut-tut so much about in Europe.  The principal difference is that we spend our money on roads, bombs, and corporate tax breaks.  The roads and bombs side of it achieves two political objectives.  The first is to provide jobs to people who would otherwise not have access to them.  And the second is to ensure military dominance (duh).  Military bases are enormous employment engines in many places in the south and intermountain west.  Same thing with roads.  Without DOT spending, many rural communities would have unemployment rates easily in the double digit percents.  So, we keep these people employed building roads and bombs.  Yet, somehow it is not okay to spend money to make sure people have better opportunities through education, training, or non-road'n'bomb government enterprises.

My other point was that we maintain a facade of free-market capitalism by keeping taxes low.  We are only able to have the size of government we have with relatively low taxes because of massive government spending (again, duh).  But the overall effect is to make people think that government spending = bad while making many of the same people completely dependent upon the government.

by the mollusk 2009-01-02 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: As a philosophy instructor...

Should read

"We are only able to have the size of government we have with relatively low taxes because of massive government borrowing (again, duh)."

by the mollusk 2009-01-02 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Ismismitis

Was there an idea in this diary?  All I read was simplistic labeling.

by mikeinsf 2009-01-02 01:09PM | 0 recs
its not all bushs fault

paul krugman does a good job describing this current disaster as a virus that has been consuming conservative politics in this country for 40 years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/opinio n/02krugman.html?ref=opinion

by citizendave 2009-01-02 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: A test for socialism

I use the word "socialist" not as a pejorative, but accurately. The Obama / Pelosi plan calls for Keynesian redistributive economic policy combined with record setting federal involvement in the economy.

If "socialism" is equivalent to "Keynesian economics" you better update Wikipedia, kosnomore, b/c Wikipedia has it all wrong.

by Carl Nyberg 2009-01-02 04:15PM | 0 recs
record setting federal involvement in the economy

Do you consider war federal involvement in the economy? The Military Industrial Complex?

What are the pre-Obama major federal interventions in the U.S. economy? Please rank by percent of GDP.

You should probably include:

-U.S. Civil War
-Louisiana purchase
-Interstate system
-New Deal including Social Security and separate from Social Security
-Great Society
-Cold War, Military Industrial Complex
-Vietnam War
-Savings and Loan bailout
-The Bush 43 cascading economic casualty
-GWOT with Iraq War
-GWOT and Iraq War separately

One, federal intervention in the economy often stimulates growth and is popular.

Two, compared to the U.S. Civil War, WWII, New Deal, GWOT and Bush 43 economic casualty, Obama's plan is relatively modest.

But, don't let facts get in the way of your knee jerk reaction to criticize Democrats and Democratic policies.

by Carl Nyberg 2009-01-02 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: A test for socialism

By your logic, the past eight years was a test of capitalism, which failed.  Oh well, no more capitalism - it obviously doesn't work.  Kosnomore says so.

by Jess81 2009-01-02 09:41PM | 0 recs


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