Mike Kueber's Blog

November 28, 2012

Socialistic democrats

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:53 am
Tags: , , , ,

Democratic socialists

Joe Klein’s recent column in Time magazine accused Mitt Romney of being a sore loser, and I blogged that this accusation was unjustified.  This unjustified accusation almost obscured another of Klein’s unreasonable assertions in the column – i.e., blacks, young people, and liberals may have more positive feelings toward socialism than toward capitalism, but they are referring to good socialism, not bad socialism.  

Klein concedes that if these people are endorsing the traditional definition of socialism (a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state), he thinks they are crazy.  “That sort of socialism has been an utter failure, and regulated capitalism has been the greatest eradicator of poverty in the history of the world.”  But rather than characterizing his fellow idealists crazy, Klein suggests, “But I suspect–and this would be wonderfully ironic, if true–that all those blacks and young people got their definition of socialism from Rush Limbaugh and the other wing-nut foghorns: socialism is when the government helps people out.” 

That suggestion doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Since when are blacks and young people listening to Rush Limbaugh and the other wing-nut foghorns?  But I concede that the traditional definition of socialism is not what most Pew respondents were referring to.  Rather, their responses were based on the modern definition of socialism, which is similar to the European welfare state with a cradle-to-grave safety net – i.e., government intervention to guarantee citizens a minimum level of health care, education, food, housing, and retirement benefits.

In his column, Klein suggests that most people want that European-style safety net, and future debate will be limited to “how extensive those regulations and supports should be.”  Sad to say, I think he’s correct. 

And then in an incongruent attempt to be magnanimous in a column that accuses his opponents of being sore losers, Klein concludes his column by reaching out to “those disaffected white folks”:

  • I suspect they’ll find Obamacare won’t have the profound impact on the national character–or their lives–that they fear. But I worry that their sense of loss will fester and in some cases get ugly. Perhaps, as a gesture of good faith, the rest of us–those unthreatened by a polychromatic, polymorphic future–should listen to their more reasonable arguments, especially the ones that involve personal responsibility. Perhaps we should begin to think about ways that people who receive benefits like unemployment insurance, food stamps, even disability, can also give back. Because citizenship in a healthy democracy comes with responsibilities, and too many of us, of all incomes, haven’t been responsible enough.”

That is a well-spoken sentiment.  I just wonder if anyone stuck with this column long enough to read it.


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