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February 10, 2020

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but don't call them 'racist'.

russell: The arbitrariness of this particular regulation is a feature, not a bug. If you can't figure out what the process is supposed to be, or if the process itself doesn't a lot of sense, you're that much more likely to get it wrong.

I think Hannah Arendt identified that as one of the key characteristics of "law" in totalitarian systems.

An interesting tidbit from Gallup:

Only 45 percent of Americans say they will vote for a “‘well-qualified” candidate who is a socialist . . . . More Americans say they would vote for a candidate who is an atheist (60 percent), a Muslim (66 percent), over the age of 70 (69), under 40 (70), gay or lesbian (78), an evangelical Christian (80), a woman (93), Jewish (93), Hispanic (94), Catholic (95) or black (96.)
It doesn't really matter whether Sanders really is a socialist (however defined).
And it doesn't matter whether anything he talks about could actually get passed. When you are trying to win an election, stuff like this shouldn't be ignored.

Here's a really cute approach to dirty tricks on the immigration front.

The applicants encounter all that if they make it past various police agencies.

"Police also undermine the U-Visa program, according to a December 2019 report from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Its

analysis of policies from more than 100 agencies serving large immigrant communities found that nearly 1 of every 4 create barriers never envisioned under the U visa program. A review based on hundreds of police records and nearly 60 interviews found that victims are at the mercy of whatever internal rules police choose."
How the Government Is Using Nonsense Rules to Keep Out Immigrants

When you are trying to win an election, stuff like this shouldn't be ignored.

LOL...so, what is the line on rapist, thief, and narcissistic asshole?

so, what is the line on rapist, thief, and narcissistic asshole?

Traditionally, cult leaders are forgiven such minor peccadilloes. And a reactionary party is nothing if not traditional.... ;-)

Still, I'm guessing that you aren't looking to start a competing cult party.

It doesn't really matter whether Sanders really is a socialist (however defined).

I see this, or something substantively indistinguishable, frequently, as if Sanders isn't "that kind" of socialist, rather he is a "different kind" of socialist.

None of this seems to be much of a big deal, the farther left one goes. However, it is not nothing. If Sanders isn't a true socialist, why has he been calling himself exactly that his entire political life. The guy honeymooned in the Soviet Union (imagine a Republican somehow contriving to travel back in time and honeymoon in Nazi Germany); he's been a fan of Sandinistas, Castro, Chavez and all the rest all of his life.

If he doesn't know what being a socialist means, that would be even worse. That would make him profoundly stupid and unserious. We already have that.

Socialism cannot coexist with our constitution. It has never worked and never will work. It depends, ultimately, on compelled productivity and compelled redistribution. Platitudes about the Scandinavian Model don't hold up and besides, my sense is that all four Scandinavian countries have moved more and more toward market economies the last 20 years or so. Two are NATO members and one has had the pleasure of being invaded by a socialist regime in living memory.

If you think Republicans have lost their collective minds backing Trump, the Bern is, in his own way, every bit as bad if not worse.

Trump is a bad person with no actual program.

Sanders is a weird but personally benign person with a program that is a proven disaster.

Trump is term-limited, the damage from a socialist in charge of writing regulations could take years and maybe even decades to cure.

Happy VD.

(imagine a Republican somehow contriving to travel back in time and honeymoon in Nazi Germany)

I actually have no problem at all imagining that. Lack of internet and cellphone access would of course be rather inconvenient.
And Nazism had lots of sympathizers in the US then (and it's starting to become popular among 'respectable' people again too).

Trump is term-limited

Yes, and the first thing Comrade Sanders will do is abolish term limits and declare himself El Presidente for life. Something Trump would never even joke about doing.

LOL.

But seriously, McKinney, if you're still around and prepared to answer, Marty has said he'd vote for Klobuchar - would you?

In what way is Bernie's program a proven disaster? The examples of Medicare, Medicaid and SOcial security? Responsible stewardship of public land? Responsible regulation of polluters? Tax rates that don't distribute wealth upwards? It is an article of faith with some Republicans that Berni's policies==which are in the tradition of FDR--will be disastrous. But they can never explain how or why

In what way is Bernie's program a proven disaster?

You just need to follow the chain of reasoning.

  • Bernie says he's a socialist.
  • Therefore his program, regardless of what it actually entails, is socialism.
  • Socialism is the same as communism. (These being people who distain nuance.)
  • Communism is what the Soviet Union claimed to have.
  • The USSR was a disaster, economically and otherwise.
  • QED
I suspect that the reason you don't get an explanation is that a couple of those steps are chancy at best. But I'd bet it accurately reflects how the reached their conclusion.

I confess that I think several parts of Bernie's program are suboptimal. But my larger disinclination towards him has to do with his record of poor judgement, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. And I'd be a lot less negative if he showed signs of reaching out beyond his base. As it is, he looks more like another divider than someone interested in uniting the country. Not that doing so will be easy, or perhaps even possible. But I'd like to see someone who thought it important to at least try.

Also, I have doubts about his ability to effectively manage the Federal government. While he would unquestionably do better than the incumbent, that's an extremely low bar.

McTX: Socialism cannot coexist with our constitution.

This is an interesting assertion. As a lawyer, McKinney can surely cite the exact words in the Constitution which support it.

Also McTX: If he doesn't know what being a socialist means ...

McKinney may define "socialism" however he likes, but who's to say McKinney's is the One True Definition?

--TP

McTex comment is rather striking in its ignorance but unfortunately indicative of what's surely to come should Sanders win the nomination.

Here's some background:

https://www.vox.com/2015/10/14/9530787/socialism-history-explained

Countries which had long periods of democratic socialist governments include:

UK, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Portugal, Netherlands

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_democratic_socialist_parties_that_have_governed

Now, granted, from a marketing point of view, it might be advantageous to ditch 'socialism' and replace it with 'social democracy'.

What wj said

McTX: Socialism cannot coexist with our constitution.

What I'm finding so sweet and quaint is the concern about what can or cannot coexist with your constitution, while Mitch and his merry R men gleefully a) ignore and b) trample all over the constitution and their oaths to protect and defend it.

Trump is term-limited, the damage from a socialist in charge of writing regulations could take years and maybe even decades to cure.

Federal courts, EPA, State Dept, DoEd, tariffs that have sent agricultural contracts and development elsewhere, the precedent to undermine oversight and Constitutional balance of power, leaving our allies to roadside slaughter... yeah, all that stuff will see an immediate return to normalcy after 4(?) more years of Trump.

To be fair, how many decades did it take to cure ourselves of that disastrous scoundrel, FDR?

FWIW,

"Democratic socialism, Sanders said, is not tied to any Marxist belief or the abolition of capitalism. “I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal,” he said."

I remember when the Kansas experiment was going to turn that state into an economic Shangri-La. When it turned out to be a complete disaster, it was republisplained to me that "it's complicated" and that the policies were actually sound and the failure to deliver was because reasons.

Universal healthcare, education - academic and technical- without crushing debt, access to utilities, a more environmentally-friendly economy, maybe an energy grid updated for both functionality and security... these are, to me, worthwhile things. And I don't think they are impossible or even impractical things.

America is #1! We can do anything (except when we can't)!.

Let's try Kansas again. This time...

Now, granted, from a marketing point of view, it might be advantageous to ditch 'socialism' and replace it with 'social democracy'.

And it wouldn't be any less accurate. Perhaps more so, depending on how you interpret the somewhat fuzzy distinctions between socialism and social democracy.

(I tend to think of socialism as being defined primarily by the workers/the state owning the means of production, but I'm far from an expert on the subject. Either way, I'm squarely against running in shoes made by the US Federal Footwear Ministry.)

Ok, maybe I'm ignorant too, because last time I checked, Bernie still has trouble clarifying his socialist vision for America:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/what-bernie-sanderss-socialism-speech-ignored/591547/,

He is the only candidate in his party refusing to recognize Guaido and he won't call Maduro a dictator. So, if I have this right, Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Turkey support Maduro. Guaido has the support of, among others, the U.S., Canada, Austria, Britain, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, and (wait for it), Denmark and Sweden. Norway, of course, was brokering talks.

In the past, he has generally stated that he favors public ownership of the means of production but now says silly things such as "I didn't do that as mayor", not really answering the question. When pressed about "his" socialism, Sanders tends to speak in broad platitudes that answer nothing, such as saying everyone should be able to live in dignity and security and that he favors democracy, both political and economic. He says we can learn a lot from Scandinavia, but isn't clear on whether the learning stops there.

Based on his long-standing lack of criticism of socialist disasters, I don't think reading his platform truly answers what Sanders actually believes. He gushed about the Soviet Union after his 1988 trip, has apparently never met fellow Vermont resident Solzhenitsyn, and "felt sick" listening to Kennedy and Nixon discussing the Cuban revolution.

I toured the Soviet Union just before the collapse. It was an unmitigated disaster, the amazing history and culture of the Russians (and others) aside. I, for one, want to hear Bernie clearly distance himself from his former ideology if he in fact believes differently today. Calling out Maduro would be a start.

Is that enough nuance?

Socialism:


any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

Sanders:

I don’t believe government should own the means of production

The ways in which the word 'socialism' are construed definitely does add to the confusion, but Sanders is not a socialist in any of the senses that McK alludes to.

Also:

We're unlikely to achieve anything similar to the Scandinavian model, because we don't have the culture for it. Changing policy is a big lift, changing culture is exponentially larger. It takes generations, if achievable at all.

At this point, we're lucky we haven't slidden back to the days of lynching and HUAC and J Edgar's FBI and Cointelpro. Not that this administration isn't giving it the good old college try. We have slidden back to camps for suspicious foreigners with the wrong skin color, and that should be a red flag for all of us.

The fact that this toxic ass is the POTUS still makes me shake my head every day. He has exposed and validated the worst in us. The fact that his support has remained unshakeable, even if still a minority of the population, is to our shame.

We have a republic, if we can keep it. That's a big if, at this point.

There is no comparison to make between the potential harm of four more years of Trump, vs any imaginable (D) candidate, including Sanders. The dangers, such as they are in the case of the (D)'s, are of utterly different kinds.

UK, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Portugal, Netherlands

Social welfare states with lightly to heavily regulated capitalist economies.

broad platitudes that answer nothing, such as saying everyone should be able to live in dignity and security and that he favors democracy, both political and economic.

All public policy proceeds from principles that, stated as such, are broad platitudes.

Listen to any speeches by Reagan? Or either Bush? Or Trump?

As those things go, I find Sanders' to be more than congenial.

Along with the fact that however socialist Sanders is or isn’t, there are severe constraints, irrespective of Democratic party control of both chambers, on his ability as President to pursue socialism. There isn’t going to be a socialist majority in Congress.

What concerns me more is that his presidency would be a series of paralysing battles with Congress.

(I note he has advocated at least partial nationalisation of the energy sector, and his spending plans imply a much larger state sector overall, FWIW.)

Ok, good enough. He's a "socialist" but not really a SOCIALIST. Rather, he's just a bog standard New Deal Democrat. A Democratic Socialist who just happens to admire Castro, Chaves, Ortega et al. But really, just a New Deal Democrat. Who inadvertantly honeymooned in the USSR. Because it is such a nice place.

But, he just wants basic fairness, not a revolution. Good to know.

I tend to think of socialism as being defined primarily by the workers/the state owning the means of production, but I'm far from an expert on the subject.

This is pretty much the theoretical the definition of socialism. Since the conversion from theory to practice requires confiscating all property and directing all economic activity centrally, the by product is scarcity, starvation, repression and dictatorship.

Since a Socialist is now leading the Dem pack, the concept is being fluffed, combed and smoothed over to hide its historic failures. It is just bizarre to say that a man who is qualified to be in the white-house has spent the last 50 years confused about the meaning of the affiliation he has always claimed.

Name calling and dismissiveness is not a substantive answer.

To address TP:

Read the 5th and 14th amendments about depriving someone of their property without due process.

You're right--I don't get to pick the definition of socialism, that's already been done. HSH quoted it correctly.

The flip side is that the Dems and especially the Progs don't get to redefine it to make it more palatable. He picked that label decades ago. I'd be a fool to think he's changed his spots at this late date.

To address GFTNC re Klobuchar: I don't know enough about her. So, for the time being, the answer is "maybe, it will depend."

To address WJ--how is Bernie different than Corbyn substantively? What do you know, exactly, about socialism, that makes it ok?

To everyone who thinks the Bern is ok: how the F do you pay for all the stuff he wants to do and still have money left over to fight the existential threat of climate change? Parenthetically, if you support BS' program (now, that's a convenient set of initials if I may say so), and if you expect to be taken seriously on climate change, you really have a lot of explaining to do.

If your answer includes massive wealth transfers, then include in your answer why the dumbasses who amassed all that wealth are going to submit a second time to being shaken down. Because, you can only take someone's assets once. Then what?

Novakant, since you, unlike me, are not ignorant, feel free to explain in your own words how this gets pulled off.

Russell, if he's not the kind of socialist I say he is, i.e. the only kind of actual "socialist" there is by definition, then what kind is he?

Everyone on the left is projecting their own personal wish lists on BS.

My prediction: if BS gets the nomination, it will be McGovern Redux.

Social welfare states with lightly to heavily regulated capitalist economies.

Which is pretty much the definition of social democracy.

Literally all of the OECD countries - including us - have mixed economies, combining generally capitalist and market-oriented economies with regulation in the public interest and publicly sponsored and run social programs.

They exist on a spectrum. We - the US - are toward one end of the spectrum as far as labor rights and the engagement of labor in economic governance. I'm actually not sure that we're that much of an outlier in terms of social welfare programs, we just have a shitty attitude toward the people who need them. We're probably toward the low end of the spectrum in terms of public investment in infrastructure and education.

In a nutshell, Sanders' policies would have the effect of moving us closer to the norm in terms of peer nations. Full stop.

If you need a boogeyman, he's probably the best available boogeyman. But in real life, there are no boogeymen here.

FWIW, my biggest objection to Sanders:

He's 78. He'd be 79 at the time he took office. If he were somehow to serve for two terms, he'd by 87 by the time he was done.

And he had a mild heart attack in the last couple of months.

He appears to be a pretty vigorous old dude, I hope I have half his energy at his age. I wish I had half his energy now.

But he's getting up there. It doesn't disqualify him IMO, it's just a matter of concern.

Russell, if he's not the kind of socialist I say he is, i.e. the only kind of actual "socialist" there is by definition, then what kind is he?

If I look at the actual policies that Sanders is running on, and which were typical of the kinds of policies he has advocated for as mayor and Senator, I make him out to be a social democrat.

Which shares the word "social" with "socialist" and "democratic socialist", but is not the same thing.

I agree that Sanders himself confuses the issue by having characterized himself as both a capital-S Socialist and a democratic socialist.

But in general I judge by deeds, words less so, labels even less.

how the F do you pay for all the stuff he wants to do and still have money left over to fight the existential threat of climate change?

That is a reasonable question. In fact, you could have stopped after "all the stuff he wants to do" and it would still be a reasonable question.

And, I would say, a completely reasonable basis for deciding whether or not you find him credible or worthy of your support.

What concerns me more is that his presidency would be a series of paralysing battles with Congress.

I see that as a benefit, actually, lol.

And did I say Bernie won't recognize Guaido and Guaido is, I believe, a social democrat? So if you had to pick between Guaido and Maduro . . .

To everyone who thinks the Bern is ok: how the F do you pay for all the stuff he wants to do and still have money left over to fight the existential threat of climate change?

How do you pay for Iraq invasions and trillion dollar budget deficits and the unknown costs of not addressing climate change?

You can only reappropriate SS and Medicare once. Then what?

I note he has advocated at least partial nationalisation of the energy sector

I'm aware that he advocated for this in the 70's, during the energy crisis precipitated by the creation of OPEC.

Are you referring to something more recent?

Since the conversion from theory to practice requires confiscating all property and directing all economic activity centrally, the by product is scarcity, starvation, repression and dictatorship.

Yes, because as we all know, czarist Russia, Chiang's China, Batista's Cuba, and Somoza's Nicaragua were absolute paradises.

I see I have been massively unsuccessful in making my point. The issue with Sanders isn't his platform. It's that he says he's a socialist.

We're trying to win an election here. And what is actually in his platform? Does. Not. Matter.

It might be nice if it did. But that's not the world we live in. We're in one where words that politicians say matter far more, to big chunks of the electorate, that what their policies actually are and what (if anything) they accomplish. C.f. Trump, Donald J.

how the F do you pay for all the stuff he wants to do and still have money left over to fight the existential threat of climate change?

I give you the example of the fight against fascism, the current political flavor of the Republican Party.

It will take that kind of mobilization of human and social resources (oh, dear...confiscation of property...bobbyp clutches pearls) to actually pull it off, but I am an outlier in this regard.

McKinney: To address WJ--how is Bernie different than Corbyn substantively? What do you know, exactly, about socialism, that makes it ok?

I don't think socialism is OK. But my point with the comparison with Corbyn was that Corbyn was someone whose negatives, due to his history, were enough that the Conservative Party handily won an election that they should have lost. Or, more accurately, Labor lost badly in an election that they could have won in a walk. And that ought to be a concern.

That is a reasonable question.

The question presumes that the current allocation of resources and financial claims on future ones will remain unchanged, and is in fact immutable....therefore asking "more" from it is by definition umpossible.

Viewed in this light, the question is simply a riscable dodge, and little more than a rhetorical ploy.

So I heartily disagree.

I agree with wj on that last point at 12:14. I am astounded that Democrats would even consider running Sanders against Trump. Yet it looks to be going that way, at least so far and it's still early. And then there's the DNC. I'm expecting interesting times with deals, etc. to keep him from the nomination.

How do you pay for Iraq invasions and trillion dollar budget deficits and the unknown costs of not addressing climate change?

Precisely.

Dick fucking Cheney himself once said, "Deficits don't matter." Was he just bullshitting the rubes?

They exist on a spectrum. We - the US - are toward one end of the spectrum as far as labor rights and the engagement of labor in economic governance.

According to the Economic Freedom Index, the US ranks as 12th with New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, UK, Canada, and Iceland being ranked as having freer economies while the economies of the other countries on the list are more heavily restricted than the US.

I am astounded that Democrats would even consider running Sanders against Trump.

Similarly, I am astounded that you obviously ignore polls that consistently show any Democratic Party nominee (including Sanders) beating Trump.

I should think if your hypothesis had any validity that you would not see anything like these polling results. 1972 polls had McGovern consistently running in the mid 30% range, pretty much where it ended up on election day (37%).

I'm aware that he advocated for this in the 70's, during the energy crisis precipitated by the creation of OPEC.

There's an argument that Nixon's wage and price controls had a lot more to do with the energy crisis than OPEC.

We're trying to win an election here.

I'm guess as much as you are, wj, but I feel that given the level of Trump derangement syndrome, even Sanders will solidly have 45% of the vote against a president with a solid 40% of the vote. The rest, as they say, is to be determined.

There's an argument that Nixon's wage and price controls had a lot more to do with the energy crisis than OPEC.

Yes, it is an argument. So are claims that the world is flat, that 9-11 was an inside job, that vaccination causes autism, creationism, the federal budget is "just like a family budget", and something something chemtrails.

All arguments. No argument there from me.

According to the Economic Freedom Index....

sorry to be the bearer of bad news, charles, but even the libertarian leaning Niskanen Center finds that index to be deeply flawed.

The issue with Sanders isn't his platform. It's that he says he's a socialist.

I am astounded that Democrats would even consider running Sanders against Trump.

TBH, I think "the Democrats", i.e. the Democratic Party, would like Bernie to go the hell away.

The reason that Bernie is in the position he is in is because what he's saying resonates with a lot of people, so those people vote for him.

He's popular. Not with the DNC, with people.

U.N. warns that runaway inequality is destabilizing the world’s democracies.

Obviously, the solution to this fake news is to defund the UN.

"In the end, the trouble with capitalism may be that eventually you run out of other people’s money."

Waitaminute. I coulda sworn someone around here just told me that was the trouble with socialism.

If your answer includes massive wealth transfers, then include in your answer why the dumbasses who amassed all that wealth are going to submit a second time to being shaken down.

I must have missed the first time. Fill me in.

Because, you can only take someone's assets once.

There are many tens of millions more of, you know, actual regular folks who have actually experienced actual painful "redistribution":
Job loss; heath care bankruptcy; upside down mortgage, outright wage and pension theft, lawfully imposed economic rents, etc.

Therefore I can only assume that you are in favor of this kind of expropriation, and are not in the slightest opposed, in principle, to "redistribution" as long as it favors the right people.

bobbyp, good article. Thanks.

The thing is: capitalism as it is practised in the US simply isn't working and we got a huge problem on our hands, comparable only to climate change.

If you won't take my social-democratic word for it, or Thomas Piketty's - just listen to, say, Ray Dalio or Warren Buffett.

To use the current capitalist system as some sort of rational baseline and believe that we can just muddle through is insane.

It's not people like Sanders who should be on the spot, but those who think they can carry on with business as usual.

“ Calling out Maduro would be a start.”

It would be the start of the Bernie cult ( waves hand) beginning to despise him. It’s not that I like Maduro, but wtf is it with Americans and Westerners in general thinking we have the right to pick the leaders of other countries. There are a lot of countries whose leaders I despise, starting here.


A great many Americans, some in both parties, think we have the right to do whatever we want to countries with governments we don’t like. Sometimes those other governments really are bad. But the actions we take generally hurt the people we supposedly wish to help. After awhile you should stop believing in American good intentions.

Why doesn’t Sanders “ call out Maduro? Probably because he understands how this crap works and he knows his supporters. There are a lot of bad rulers in the world, again starting here, but the American foreign policy blob focuses on the ones who are seen as hostile to American hegemony. So everybody in respectable circles “ agrees” that person X is a bad person and maybe picks out person Y as the “ legitimate” ruler and then they just argue about whether the US should kill X or invade his country or impose sanctions, or arm “moderate” rebels. It is taken fo granted that we have the right to do any or all of these things. It is just a question of what is practicable or achievable or of low cost to the only people that matter— the ones in the Beltway. ( American soldiers don’t matter either, unless casualties amongst the troops will effect an election.)

How do you escape the cycle? By refusing to play the game. We don’t live in a world where human rights violators are treated equally before some universally applied law. There is no rule of law on this subject except when convenient. We live in a world where Americans feel moral outrage and demand action against only those thugs who the Beltway crowd would like to see overthrown. Morales was overthrown by Christian fascists and some fracking liberals cheered. And Morales, while a bit arrogant, was in no sense a dictator. It didn’t matter. He was critical of the US. If Trump and Sanders were Bolivian the NYT would support Trump.

WhenI Bernie cultists criticize our demigod, it is because he hasn’t been sufficiently anti- interventionist. He is better than average, but not perfect. In the recent NYT questions on foreign policy, one or two of his answers bothered those of us in the cult. And he was dragged into opposition to Israel’s treatment of Gaza, though better late than never. His serious opposition to Yemen came after Trump came in. Again, better late than never.

But sure, I understand people want him to show the kind of foreign policy expertise that led to the Iraq War. . And there is a fair chance that in November I will have to vote for some Democrat who is much happier with bombing, sanctioning and arming “ moderate” rebels. I”ll do it if necessary. Not everyone will. I think the Bernie or bust feeling is a big mistake but since I am preaching to the choir here I won’t belabor it. But the feeling and the anger and the rudeness come from a sense that mainstream thinking has caused countless deaths in foreign policy, a great deal of misery and death at home, and might be wrecking the planet. And there are significant differences between Sanders and the “ moderates”. ( Warren is an interesting case. A few months ago I was half hoping she could genuinely be a unifying candidate but that truce they had fell apart— I think there is some blame on both sides, but anyway, it would be hard to see that unity thing happening now Anyway, I think the moderate Democrats only liked Warren as a candidate who they hoped would split the leftist vote.)

capitalism as it is practised in the US simply isn't working and we got a huge problem on our hands . . . .

. . .

To use the current capitalist system as some sort of rational baseline and believe that we can just muddle through is insane.

Can we just muddle through? No.
Does that mean we need radical changes? Also no.

We definitely need to make some changes. But I submit they are more like tweaks.

  • Institute a much higher top marginal income tax rate. Something like 50% on income above 1 million per year. And maybe even go to 75% on income above 10 million. After all, at those levels, people aren't motivated by needing the money. It is, to put it bluntly, a dick measuring contest. And they don't need to actually end up with the money to do that.
  • Institute an inheritance tax for large inheritances. I'm talking those above, say, 2 million dollars. I understand parents wanting to give their kids a leg up. But face it, at those levels, you're doing them more harm than good.
  • Put a serious tax on corporations where the CEO (or any other executive) has compensation higher than 20x that of the average non-management employee. If you want to get really serious, add a surtax equal to the CEO's compensation to the personal taxes of any and every board member of such corporations -- give them some petsonal incentive to do the right thing.
  • Provide some tax incentives to give more in the way of stock options to non-executive employees. I've worked for a company which did that. Boosted productivity, innovation, etc., etc. Not to mention morale
Doubtless we can come up with a few more. But those are the kinds of things that will get us started.

In other news, a friend who is a Warren supporter mentions that she went to Warren's website to get some merch.

The buttons for sale there were imprinted in Braille. So if you were blind, you could also read the button.

If you're a (R), you will have the choice of voting for... a guy whose followers wear "Fuck Your Feelings" shirts.

If you're a (D), you have the choice of voting for someone who took the tiny step of having her campaign buttons stamped with the slogan in Braille. So, if you're blind, you get to be part of the club, too.

I most definitely hope that whoever bubbles up to the top of the (D) pile royally kicks the living shite out of Trump this fall. Electorally, mind you, no physical beatings please.

But whether they do or don't, people on "my side" do things like stamp their campaign buttons in Braille, so that everybody gets to play. So I like where I am just fine, win or lose.

As far as stuff like Maduro vs Guaido, the question I have is this: who do the people of Venezuala want to be their president? Whoever they want, that is who should be president, and our preferences should come into it not at all. Our responsibility is to deal with whoever the Venezualans elect, honestly and with the respect due to a sovereign nation, to advocate for our own interests. If we like, we can offer whatever help the Venezualans want and ask for. Other than that, it ain't our business.

We've spent a century interfering in the internal politics of countries in Central and South America, in the interest of Stopping The Spread Of Socialism. We are responsible for sponsoring and training some of the most vicious regimes on the planet. Cruel, murderous, larcenous bastards.

We should leave those people the hell alone.

That is my perspective on Maduro and Guaido, since you ask.

Trump and Braille.

If the (D)'s just seem too commie-lite for you, go ahead and vote for Trump. He'll give you all the tax cuts and de-regulation he can cram through Congress.

Just be careful he doesn't rub off on you.

Doubtless we can come up with a few more.

I have a very simple one.

Give employees a share of the profit of the business. Profit sharing, employee ownership, stock vesting, whatever.

As long as profits flow only to owners - which is our model - and employees are not owners - which is also our model - then social program solutions are never going to be more than a band-aid.

And one that is resented by everyone who doesn't directly benefit from them.

Not re-distribution. Distribution.

Don't want government involved in health care? Enforce policies that ensure that working people make enough money to buy it for themselves.

Lather rinse and repeat for college, housing, whatever you like.

Not re-distribution. Distribution.

I, for one, want to hear Bernie clearly distance himself from his former ideology if he in fact believes differently today. Calling out Maduro would be a start.

And I, for one, want to hear Trump distance himself from the notion that he is all-powerful, and that tyrants are to be admired and emulated. He could start by calling out Kim Jong Un, and Putin, and Orban and Xi.

There are a lot of bad guys running countries. Somehow you only want to call out some. Look, I'm no Bernie fan, but this is not an election about policy. It's an election about saving the country from going down the drain, or any further down the drain, due to Trump and his gang of crooks, bigots, liars, and fools.

If Sanders were elected he wouldn't get any of his further out stuff done. But Trump will, and his stuff is far more dangerous. I honestly don't get how Marty, bc, and McK don't see the danger here.

They are playing semantic games, while Trump is destroying the country for his own benefit.

And I, for one, want to hear Trump distance himself from the notion that he is all-powerful, and that tyrants are to be admired and emulated. He could start by calling out Kim Jong Un, and Putin, and Orban and Xi

Obviously never going to happen. But it is indeed interesting that Marty, bc and McK are happy to argue around the various Dem candidates while Rome burns. I don't include Ufficio, of course, because presumably his intervention on Bernie was a joke.

If Sanders were elected he wouldn't get any of his further out stuff done. But Trump will, and his stuff is far more dangerous.

I don't think anyone here is arguing otherwise. The salient question is: Would Sanders get elected? Or, perhaps, would his chances of beating Trump be better or less good than the alternative possible candidates?

Of course, it can be fun to argue over whose policy proposals are better. But this time around, all of those policy differences are insignificant compared to the critical question: who has the best chance of doing the critical first task of getting Trump out of office?

But it is indeed interesting that Marty, bc and McK are happy to argue around the various Dem candidates while Rome burns.

"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't?"

"Don't change horsemen in the middle of the apocalypse?"

wj,


I don't think anyone here is arguing otherwise.

I think they are. McK won't even commit to vote for Klobuchar. Instead he and bc are going on about Sanders and Maduro. I certainly don't think they see Trump as the kind of threat I see him as.

I agree about Sanders' chances in the general. Call it McGovernphobia. I'm very concerned about that and am definitely on the "moderate" side of things wrt to the Dem nomination.

A great many Americans, some in both parties, think we have the right to do whatever we want to countries with governments we don’t like.

I honestly don't get how Marty, bc, and McK don't see the danger here.

Uh, not I. My point re Maduro was simply Sanders finds it hard to criticize "true" socialists, thereby reflecting on his own socialism. I wasn't commenting on government overthrow, Trump's foreign policy, etc.

But since we are here, I appreciate a lot of your insights into foreign policy, Donald. By my comments I was not advocating the overthrow of Maduro from the outside (vs. the inside), at least not yet. But I do think it is right to stand up (vocally at least) for democracy and self-government wherever people are oppressed.

Doubtless we can come up with a few more. But those are the kinds of things that will get us started.

As long as profits flow only to owners - which is our model - and employees are not owners - which is also our model -. . .

wj and russell: Most of wj's ideas I would support, although not at the levels proposed simply because I think it might cause issues with innovation and investment in areas where we need a large risk/reward ratio. I think $1M is pretty low.

And we have employee ownership in the U.S. ESOPs. ESPPs. Tech companies love them some equity ownership for high performing employees. And it seems to be trending for all employees. We have shown we can do it within the system we have, and I would favor broadening it further.

. . .while Rome burns . . .

I certainly don't think they see Trump as the kind of threat I see him as.

I see my liberal friends, reflected in these comments too, as often presenting the fallacy of a false dilemma. I, for one, would like my views on the "left" to not necessarily and automatically mean I feel "thus" about something on the right. I can harbor my concerns about the Great Orange Haired One while at the same time being pretty damned concerned about "Rome burning" from a completely different source than the current POTUS.

what byomtov said.

Except that I don't have McGovernphobia, because Bernie is not like McGovern. Bernie has actual issues, aside from calling himself a socialist. For one thing, he's not a Democrat. For another, his history has some very un #metoo friendly moments (for example). Sure, fine, that was a very long time ago, but he gets a pass where others don't. I read talk on Twitter (I hope false!) that he's considering Tulsi as his running mate - not good, if true. Maybe it's not true? Donald is not Tulsi-averse.

So, yeah, I'm trying to meditate daily, and avoid freaking out, but Bernie? Really? Please, God, no.

Of course, I'll vote for him over Trump. I will, I will, I will.

Most of wj's ideas I would support, although not at the levels proposed simply because I think it might cause issues with innovation and investment in areas where we need a large risk/reward ratio. I think $1M is pretty low.

Quite possibly it is. (I occasionally get blindsided by the fact that wages, prices, etc. today are 10-15 times what I grew up with.) But you could kick all my numbers up by 5 or 10 times, and it would still be a big step towards restoring a viable economy for everybody. IMHO, of course.

bc,

If you worry that some "socialist" can "burn Rome" as thoroughly as the Great Orange Satan* seems determined to do, I wonder whether you define either "Rome" or "burn" the way I do.

Maybe you (and McKinney and Marty) are convinced that any "socialist" would take away your money, but no fascist ever would. I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think that you may be wrong. About the fascist as well as the socialist, I mean.

Consider, too, that the fascist may leave your money alone but only if you surrender your dignity: as long as you're willing to kiss the fascist's pasty, bloated ass (a la Brett Kavanaugh) your money may indeed be safe. Some people clearly see that as a good deal; some don't.

*Yes, I do remember when The Daily Cos reigned as the Great Orange Satan. Times change.

--TP

Socialism!

Some things never change.


One big union. One big strike.

TEH SOCIALISMZ!!! AAAIIIEEE!!!!

I, for one, would gladly vote for Coronavirus Pandemic over Trump.

Not sure how much choice we're going to actually get, though...

can harbor my concerns about the Great Orange Haired One while at the same time being pretty damned concerned about "Rome burning" from a completely different source than the current POTUS.

Sure.

But the choice, at worst, is between "Rome is burning," and "Rome might possibly burn."

And make no mistake, Rome is burning.

Here is yet another story illustrating what a bunch of psychopaths we have running things.

Leave economic policies aside, bc. I'm not going to call Trump's people Nazis, but they would have been, had they had the chance. Everything is there - the fuhrerprinzip, the bigotry, the deliberate cruelty.

We've got to get them out.

(For some reason the closing tag for italics doesn't seem to be working)

Has anyone looked at BS' official website. He's a socialist, all in. He no more looks to Scandinavia for guidance than DT looks to the Federalist Papers or the Constitution. If he believes what his website says, then he is unhinged. He says he is a socialist because he is one.

As for the hypocrisy in not holding him accountable for his fellow travelers being all dressed up in not telling other countries what to do, that is really quite rich given the adherents here of BDS.

My point isn't that DT is preferable. My point, which is less than sharp because our national situation is such a cluster, is that the Dems have moved much farther left this time around and that movement takes away options others, possibly me included, would have.

BS elevates DT's chances immensely.

No idea why the italics thing has taken over. Maybe it's the Revolution.

<\p><\i><\p><\em>
Italiexo!

<\p><\i><\p><\em>
Ffs. Thanks for nothing, Chrome

And Firefox.

Safari?

A forward slash, rather than a back slash might be a thought. Just sayin'

....is that the Dems have moved much farther left this time around and that movement takes away options others, possibly me included, would have.

As opposed to taking away the options that somebody like me would have? That's rich.

As for his website, you goaded me into looking it over. So I am moving from Warren to Sanders. Thanks for the assist.

Bernie's workplace democracy tab on his site:

https://berniesanders.com/issues/workplace-democracy/

Not one word about soviets, collectivizing agriculture, communes, or even going to Cuba to help with the cane harvest.

I am so disappointed.

venceremos!

Most blogging platforms these days have an option to close hanging HTML tags in the comment bodies. So much so that I am somewhat startled when I see runaway italics or bold on ObWi.

A forward slash, rather than a back slash might be a thought. Just sayin'

no idea what happened there.

wj: turns out bobbyp somehow got a start italics in his 9:45 PM post. I've done that by accident more than once myself.

"I am somewhat startled when I see runaway italics or bold on ObWi."

Most runaway comments on the intertubes these days originate in Russian Troll Farms, just saying.

“ As for the hypocrisy in not holding him accountable for his fellow travelers being all dressed up in not telling other countries what to do, that is really quite rich given the adherents here of BDS.”

I had put in a paragraph about BDS but deleted it thinking I didn’t want to go on too long.

BDS is largely symbolic— there is zero chance that there would ever be sanctions leveled on Israel that would do one percent of the harm that sanctions and/ or blockades do to Gaza, Iran, or Venezuela. Imagine the coverage if there were deaths of Israeli Jews that could be blamed on lack of medicine due to a boycott. People would go insane.

And personally I couldn’t support a sanctions movement that inflicted actual harm of that sort. It would be monstrous. It would be what we actually fracking do to people whose lives we don’t give a shit about. We clearly don’t give a shit. It isn’t an issue that even comes up. Why should it?

BDS calls attention to the issue. It brings out politicians who pass or try to pass bills that penalize people who boycott Israel. They get called out for doing this and people wonder why state or local governments are wasting time trying to penalize legitimate political advocacy.

What we actually do for Israel is give them billions every year, which might be spent on weapons here— I don’t know or care— and we occasionally tut tut about settlement expansion while guaranteeing that our support is unconditional.

Israel is supposed to be our ally, a Western democracy for whatever that is supposed to be worth, so yeah, it might make sense that we be a bit less supportive of their rotten human rights record and express some slight dissent when they gun down protestors but no, I don’t think we should impose murderous sanctions or bomb them or assassinate their leaders or pour weapons into the hands of moderate Palestinian rebels because, well, only sociopaths do things like that and claim they are trying to help.

I also wouldn’t advocate for overthrowing the murderous Saudi regime, as monstrous as they are, because we have no right to do it and we tend to screw things up badly when we intervene like that. That is, we screw things up for the people we are ostensibly trying to help. I have no idea if the results are a failure for the people who advocate for these interventions. They don’t seem to suffer any serious consequences.

Forgot my concluding point. If the US ever in its existence as a light onto the nations ever gets around to investigating and prosecuting its own high ranking war criminals and if we stop supporting the thuggishness of our allies like Israel and the Saudis and if we stopped acting like draconian sanctions that hurt innocent people are an appropriate foreign policy tool for pressuring authoritarian governments then maybe we would have some moral standing to call out Venezuelan leaders for their own authoritarian actions. But that is a fantasy at present. It would involve something like a political revolution in attitudes.

Ranting done for a week or at least a few days.

“ I agree about Sanders' chances in the general. Call it McGovernphobia. ”

Though I am all in for Sanders, I have some of that feeling too actually. I am very conflicted. It is really difficult to tell who is electable these days.

I also wouldn’t advocate for overthrowing the murderous Saudi regime, as monstrous as they are, because we have no right to do it and we tend to screw things up badly when we intervene like that.

Could you, perhaps, differentiate between advocating for overthrowing the regime and intervening to do so?

I tend to have reservations about interventions, if only because, as you say, we have a less than stellar track record there. But speaking out in favor of an overthrow? I really cannot see the downside there.

But speaking out in favor of an overthrow? I really cannot see the downside there.

Talk is cheap. Don't we have to change some of our current behavior towards that regime? Stop selling them military gear, for example. Or do we settle for, "We don't like the regime, we wish someone would overthrow it, but we're not going to support groups attempting that and we're going to keep providing the regime with the weapons to put down revolutions."

Talk is cheap. Don't we have to change some of our current behavior towards that regime? Stop selling them military gear, for example.

Absolutely. Stop supporting them. Just stop short of direct action to overthrow them or support those who are trying to.

There's plenty that can be done in that regard. For example, look at what happened with South Africa. We never (to my knowledge) took direct action to overthrow the white supremacist government. But we did things that made their life more difficult.

We never (to my knowledge) took direct action to overthrow the white supremacist government.

We imposed sanctions over GOP opposition and a Reagan veto.

We imposed sanctions over GOP opposition and a Reagan veto.

Thanks for the reminder.

Still, a lot closer to advocacy, IMHO, than funding an armed rebellion or a coup -- let alone invading. Which seems to be our inclination more recently. YMMV

OTOH, after the first Gulf War, Bush "encouraged" the Kurds...then cut them loose, leaving them to Saddam's tender mercies.

You or I can saw whatever we want with no larger consequences. Not true for officials; one of the (VERY MANY) reasons that Trump is constitutionally unsuited for the job.

Although that sort of "encouragement" only has an impact because history suggests (incorrectly, in the case of the Kurds) that support in more concrete forms will be forthcoming.

Dem moderates requested to step up and defend this lunacy.

Pipe dreams indeed.

I have a bit of a complaint about that article, bobbyp. Written by Matt Bruenig of the People's Policy Project, it says,

Jeff Stein at the Washington Post got to the bottom of this question in December and reported that it is the latter: the Obamacare mandate on steroids. Under Buttigieg’s plan, rather than paying a $695 fine at the end of the year if you are uninsured (as in the now-repealed Obamacare mandate), you could pay a fine as high as $7,000.

Hmm.

Following the link to the WaPo I find,

“Mayor Buttigieg’s retroactive enrollment is just a supercharged version of the unpopular individual mandate that he’s trying to obscure with misleading rhetoric,” said Matt Bruenig, head of the People’s Policy Project, a left-wing think tank.

“Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount,” he said. “This will be a political nightmare.”

The WaPo then says,

[unnamed] Critics say Buttigieg’s plan could leave people with year-end bills of more than $7,000.

Got to the bottom?

The retroactive payment is capped at 8.5% of income, though it's not clear what definition of "income" is being used. So the $7K only applies to income at or above about $82K.

And let me add this:

Bruenig complains loudly about the administrative impracticality of some of Buttigieg's ideas. Is implementing Medicare for All, even assuming it passes, going to be some sort of walk in the park?

Pipe dreams indeed.

The pipe dream is the idea that, in a country our size--not 4 million or 40 million people--that a single entity can manage and control healthcare for 330 million people. Look at the VA. Look at the USPS. Gov't doesn't do things very well. Scaling up by orders of magnitude will not make the feds any more effective than they already are.

The Progressive bent is to concentrate authority on the theory that, once concentrated, efficient focus and allocation of funds will ensue. There is no evidence that Progressive theory lines up with reality.

I'm on Medicare. My preferred muscle relaxer, Metaxalone, is not covered. My preferred gastric reflux pill--the only one that works for me--Dexilant--is not covered. The latter costs me $700 for a 90 day supply. I pay co-pays and I pay a 460/month premium. If you get cataract surgery, Medicare covers the procedure but not the lense ($5,000 in Central Texas).

So, Medicare is ok but not outstanding. I can no longer do a HSA to cover my non-covered stuff. User friendly, not so much.

In a single payer universe, you get what the gov't gives you and nothing more. The gov't eventually runs out of money and has to limit benefits.

The basic premise of all proposed single-payer programs is that reimbursement rates can be rolled back and pharma prices can be controlled. Good luck with that. Doctors will not gladly work for way less, hospitals will not provide the same services and just operate at a loss because they are nice people and unless the Dem base can figure out to develop and manufacture medicine, pharma isn't going away and isn't going to play ball just for the privilege of operating at a loss.

So, the pipe dream is that our civil service can not only undo the law of supply and demand, it can simultaneously reorganize the economy along the Green New Deal lines and fix climate change, all while maintaining a private sector that generates the cash to make the foregoing sustainable.

Is it any wonder, in this day of Donald the Clown, that the Left can't persuade people outside it's bubble to see it as a viable alternative?

Way upthread, I asked the question: how does BS pay for single payer and fight climate change at the same time. Except for Russell, I got two answers: (1) "but Republican Wars" (conveniently rewriting history) and (2) "we'll find a way."

Non-answers won't cut it in the general election. Either will pie-in-the-sky, everyone gets more stuff platitudes.

Reality: Things will never be awesome for the US bottom quintile compared to the US top quintile; however, they will always be comparatively far superior for the bottom quintile than any other viable option anywhere else on the planet. Most people who come here from Central America or Mexico lived in shacks with no plumbing, electricity or refrigeration. The bottom quintile in the US is a major step up.

Other than marginal tweaks at the periphery, what we have today is about as good as it's going to get (with one exception). The kind of structural reworking the Progs have in mind, if it were to pass, would materially impair the surpluses our private sector currently generate that allow for both a dynamic economy and enough excess income to support an objectively progressive tax scheme.

The exception is this: as BS once recognized, as did main stream Dem leaders, unrestrained immigration lowers labor costs and makes the American worker less valuable. The labor market can't tighten if it's in a constant state of expansion, and certainly cannot tighten as much as is needed to get wages up. If you want American workers to make more money, read up on how supply and demand works and quit artificially inflating the supply piece of it. A second tweak would be to incentivize, via the tax code, relocating businesses to smaller towns and cities where living costs and commute times are less.

Basically, to make things better for the bottom 3 quintiles, they need less wage competition and a chance to live and work somewhere other than Houston or NYC.

Look at the USPS. Gov't doesn't do things very well.

We seem to have somewhat different experiences. The USPS actually seems to work fairly well here. Granted, if you want to move a package quickly, and need to track it every step of the way, UPS or FedEx may be better options. But if you just want to send a letter? (And, for some reason, email won't do the trick.) USPS works just fine.

Perhaps things are different in Texas.

Look at the VA. Look at the USPS.

Actually, they both do quite well. What's your point?

Drug prices? See Dean Baker for a policy recommendation (roll back patents).

Doctor salaries? They are a coddled guild (like attorneys) that, unlike factory workers, are not subjected to international competition (aka so called "free trade"). See Dean Baker on this point as well.

Hospital Pricing: Currently said pricing is quite opaque and riddled with rent seeking.

Would there be rationing? Yes. But we already have that.

Dexilant coverage appears to be available. What am I missing?

Is implementing Medicare for All, even assuming it passes, going to be some sort of walk in the park?

A question that is not really trying to deal with the possible policy options. Is what we have now a walk in the park? Is the fact that millions are currently going without health care socially acceptable to you?

If it is. Just say so.

If it is not (which, given you comment history, I would suspect to be the case), then let's discuss.

Fair enough?

crap. didn't close the italics again.

I write it off to old age. My apologies.

wj: fixed it. (You had a slash a rather than a slash i.)

The USPS is crap. We use them out of necessity. We have a very high failure rate. Below is one that was reported to me this weekend--it involves attempting to serve someone at a known address using certified mail. The USPS unilaterally decided to try to deliver it at a different address. Here's the report:

"I have been tracking the certified and realized that when it was rerouted to a new location that the post office had made a mistake. I contacted the post office and asked why they rerouted our certified mail when we clearly knew that the address was correct and the person still lived there, They could not give an answer, they just created a case # to which I called again today and they said that they cannot seem to locate the package and went about trying to tell me how I must have done something wrong. (oh you should have heard me yelling at them)."

This is what happens when you have a single-supplier of services that is, for all practical purposes, unaccountable.

Many days, our USPS person simply no-shows at our building. We've documented 10 day deliveries on letters from Houston to San Antonio or Dallas.

They are awful and they don't give a damn what the public thinks.

Also, the italics are back. This is what happens when socialism takes hold. Italics everywhere.

What am I missing?

Per your link, it is covered by 53% of Part D plans. Not by mine and I'd like to see the copay on the plans that do cover it. That would be what you are missing.

Gibberish alert!

The labor market can't tighten if it's in a constant state of expansion...

US Labor force, 1950: 62,000,000
US Labor force, 2000: 140,000,000

Yes we can!

McKinney,

Post offices are staffed by Texans in Texas, Californians in California, and so on. Maybe that has something to do with your problems, wj's better experience, and my utter lack of problems with USPS here in MA.

BTW, keep in mind that Article I of the US Constitution mandates a USPS way more explicitly than the 5th and 14th Amendments prohibit "socialism". I mention it in case you care about the Constitution, unlike He, Trump or Mitch McConnell and his fellow lickspittles.

--TP

byomtov,

To be fair, at least Pete would roll back the Trump tax cuts (If he could get his plan through Congress, I would not whine. I just think Medicare for All is better public policy).

But why stop there? Roll back the Bush tax cuts as well, and the Reagan tax cuts. Tax inherited wealth (wj) heavily. No special tax breaks for capital gains. Cut defense spending by 50%...stop subsidizing the petroleum industry (one of many industries sucking off the public teat-oh, those wealth creators and their well paid lobbyists! Such incentive! Such economic derring-do!).

These measures, by any measure (cough, cough) would raise a few bucks, right? Of course McK would assert such policies would kill the incentive of the "job creators" to "create wealth", but who needs them? How many widgets did Alice Walton (worth over $50 billion) assemble today? Not a fucking one. From an economic perspective she serves no useful social purpose.

She needs to be in our ever expanding labor force. Perhaps she could clean a hotel room or two...you know, do something useful.

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