Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Democratic Socialism & The Market (Thom Hartmann Rant #6)

The following is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 8/3/2015, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Thom discusses regulated markets in the context of Chris Matthews conflating Socialism and Democratic Socialism. Under Socialism, the State owns the means of production. This is not the case under Democratic Socialism, despite Chris Matthews bashing Bernie Sanders by lying about him being a Socialist in favor of "getting rid of the market". (See DSB #16).

Thom: the Democratic Socialist countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Ikea [a Swedish company] isn't owned by the government. Volvo [also Swedish] isn't owned by the government. Siemens [a German company that is a prominent maker of medical diagnostics equipment] is not owned by the government. All the northern European countries - probably most of the European countries - would define themselves as Democratic Socialist countries.

In fact the United States, since the FDR administration, has been a Democratic Socialist country. Social Security is democratic socialism. Medicare is democratic socialism. Medicaid is democratic socialism.

Basically it's where we say... what are the boundaries between the Commons - the things that we all collectively own administer - and the private industry sphere. What are the appropriate lines?

Democratic Socialists place them in a very slightly different place than Insider mainstream Democrats do. Insider mainstream Democrats think that it's fine that half the electricity in the United States is produced by For Profit companies. Democratic Socialists say that electricity is a natural monopoly and should be owned by the community.

In fact, if the democratic socialist perspective had prevailed, right now president Obama wouldn't be facing a lawsuit from the trade association for the For Profit electric companies who are all hysterical and angry at him for tightening up the air pollution rules.

The question I've been asking on this program for weeks now - since Bernie has really taken off - is when will the Insiders really go to attack him? First they tried to ignore him as Ghandi pointed out. First it's a media blackout. Well, they're maintaining that blackout.

Then they tried ridiculing him. Oh, he's too old. He's too rumpled - look at his hair. Now they're attacking him. Chris Matthews pretending he doesn't know the difference between Democratic Socialism and Soviet-style Socialism... implying that Bernie is a Soviet socialist, which he is not.

[plays clip of Chris Matthews saying Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders are in favor of "government control of the economy" and "getting rid of the market". According to Matthews Democrats "accept the power and efficiency of a capitalist system" while "Socialists do not". And that this is a "fundamental difference". Also, Bernie can't be the nominee because it's not the "Democratic Socialist Party".]

Yeah, socialists in the old Soviet Union didn't [accept the power and efficiency of a capitalist system]. But Bernie Sanders does. What we're seeing right now... it s not that Bernie is too far Left, or that Hillary is too far Left or too far Right. You notice that conversation that Chris Matthews had with Chuck Todd... it was free of policy. They were not discussing issues. They were discussing "what brand".

Chris Matthews was essentially saying to Hillary Clinton - you need to brand Bernie as a Socialist. But polls show that, among Millennials, Socialist is actually a good word! It's associated with genuine hope and change.

[End Thom Hartmann Rant]

Democratic Socialists believe in the market, although they realize that the market needs to be regulated. The "free market" is a fairy tale believed in by Republicans and Libertarians. And Hillary is a corporate Democrat... or "Insider Democrat", which is the terminology that Thom uses. It essentially means that she is a part of the establishment, and the establishment always looks to protect itself.

Which explains why Hillary is able to raise massive amounts of money from wealthy corporate Democrat donors. These are Democrats who want to keep things the way they are. Yes, they will try to improve things for the poor and working people... but don't get carried away and do something radical like putting The People first! The People being a reference to the masses instead of the Rich People. (Note: Corporations play both sides by donating to both parties. There aren't many corporations that donate exclusively to Democrats or Republicans).

Both Insider Democratic politicians and Insider Republican politicians put rich people first. Although the Insider Democrats put The People (the "lower classes") second, while the Republicans put The Rich People 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. And they MIGHT do something for The People simply to placate the masses. And so their false meme that says Conservative economics benefits everyone isn't exposed as the fraud that it is. They've got to keep the dupes thinking that the masses will reap the rewards when the wealth "trickles down". Ha ha. It's a joke. On us.

"Government regulation is artificial influence" is what these people believe. Artificial, in that it prevents monopolies and wealth concentration, which Conservatives and Libertarians love. Although some deny this, saying they are for "reasonable regulation".

So, what's the difference? The difference is that some believe that the market has some intelligence and needs minimal regulation, while others realize that the market is dumb and needs to be managed.

The idea that markets allocate resources or hash out prices on their own is completely nonsensical. It's like saying your computer can calculate your tax returns on its own, without you having to hit a button. [The] libertarian preference for a small government is no more "neutral" than is Bernie Sanders' preference for a robust and activist social democracy. Both represent a particular set of inputs, and thus a particular set of outcomes. (Bernie Sanders is right: Markets are dumb).

Priorities must be set and the output We The People want should be that priority. For those who believe in the "free market", their priority is that which is best for the few. For those who believe the priority should be the many, Socialism, a system that involves "central planning, or of having bureaucrats direct the flow of every last resource in the economy", is one proposed answer. But historically this system has been shown not to work.

A compromise that marries the best of Capitalism and the best of Socialism is the answer. Why? Because it has been shown to work in the European Democratic Socialist Nations.

SWTD Tags: 2016 Election, Bernie Sanders, MSNBC, Thom Hartmann.

DSB #17

1 comment:

  1. There's that hope & change gig again.

    As long as the change is based on rational analysis and logical conclusions drawn from said analysis we're down with it.

    Unicorns and Rainbows just don't cut it.


Comment moderation is currently NOT in effect. Although I may have to reinstate it. We'll see how it goes.