March 25, 2016

Obama derides the "sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist."

"Oh, you know, you're a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you're some crazy communist that's going to take away everybody's property."

Those may be "interesting intellectual arguments" — "socialist theory or capitalist theory" — but it's better to "be practical and just choose from what works."

He was speaking in Argentina, and he repeated what he'd said to President Castro in Cuba:
[Y]ou've made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education -- that's a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care -- the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care. That's a huge achievement. They should be congratulated. But you drive around Havana and you say this economy is not working. It looks like it did in the 1950s. And so you have to be practical in asking yourself how can you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion, but also recognize that the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services. And it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative.

And so you don't have to be rigid in saying it’s either this or that, you can say -- depending on the problem you're trying to solve, depending on the social issues that you're trying to address what works. And I think that what you’ll find is that the most successful societies, the most successful economies are ones that are rooted in a market-based system, but also recognize that a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis, and there has to be inclusion. Otherwise it’s not stable.

And it’s up to you -- whether you're in business or in academia or the nonprofit sector, whatever you're doing -- to create new forms that are adapted to the new conditions that we live in today.

103 comments:

David Begley said...

Obama, "how can you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion ....?"

Answer: Appoint Obama and his like-minded pals as philosopher-kings because Barack has done such a bang-up job in the US.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

What part of communism has ever worked?

eric said...

The life expectancy isn't the same as the USA.

Trusting the stats that come out of a dictatorship like Cuba is foolish. Unless trusting the stats enhances your narrative.

wendybar said...

He should stay THERE, since he loves that ideology. Leave us alone!!

Karen of Texas said...

"What part of communism has ever worked?"

The part where those "in charge" have, and those who have no control, have not?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Of course his particular ideology just happens to be the most practical one, so that works out well. I mean, it's a heck of a coincidence, really, that his personal beliefs just happen to line up with what actually works best! What a lucky fella.

Obama isn't a stupid man but he does not strike me as a deep thinker, ya know?

traditionalguy said...

Every single word out of that guy's mouth is a carefully crafted lie. So whatever he says, the opposite is the truth.

Half Communism does not work any better than all communism, although it does take slightly longer to starve everyone to death except for the Secret Police and the few at the top who live like Kings.

Big Mike said...

If Barack Obama were an intelligent, thoughtful individual he might realize that capitalism, communism, and socialism are systems, and that you can no more pick and choose bits and pieces from one to mix with the other than you can make a viable car taking the grill from a Rolls Royce, the bumper from a Toyota, the engine from a Porsche, the radiator from a Ford (yes, for those of you who know about Porsche engines, I wrote that deliberately!), the taillights from a Chevy, etc., etc., etc.

Bushman asks what part of communism has ever worked. Well, Bushman, its prison systems have created full time jobs for sadists, who would otherwise be underemployed. So there!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

By the way shouldn't a President of America give at least a little lip service to the concept of individual rights and human freedom as valuable and important in themselves? Maybe he could slip in a mention of the need to respect human dignity by ensuring personal liberty...possibly even an aside that the fact that the best way to accomplish that goal is through respect for democracy, the rule of law, and individual rights?

I mean, just a head-nod toward the moral component of the different ideologies and/or structures of ruling/government/power...is that not something the President as a representative of the United States and her people should maybe bring up a bit?

Oh, right, right, "it's all the same, the only important things are the outcomes for people in material terms." Sure you can be arbitrarily detained (and beaten, killed, etc) for saying the wrong thing in Cuba, but you've got a great health care and education system (allegedly), so in moral terms it's just as good as the US.

Way to lead, Mr. President.

Amadeus 48 said...

Argentina--yeah, great.

Obama didn't know much when he entered office and he is not a quick learner. He typically opposes individuals making voluntary transactions that they think will improve their well-being, i.e., free markets; he favors third parties (the authorities) intervening to "improve" market outcomes. He never acknowledges or values the distortions, inefficiencies, and unhappiness caused by these interventions, not to mention the loss of individual autonomy.
As Sen. Jeff Flake said on his recent trip to Cuba, the Castros never want to discuss their three biggest failures, namely, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If the goal is equality then making your people equally at risk for arbitrary arrest/detention as political prisoners meets that goal.

If the goal is inclusion then making sure your people are all subject to the same authoritarian rules/restrictions on their personal freedom meets the goal.

Are those really the right goals, Mr. President? Is that really the way the Left thinks? I'm not sure I want an honest answer!

Bobby said...

"[Y]ou've made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education -- that's a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care -- the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care. That's a huge achievement. They should be congratulated."

President Obama is demonstrating (like most Americans) how ignorant he actually is about Cuban history. Throughout its history, relative to the rest of Latin America, Cuba had always had good education and medical care- in fact, it was always the best or among the best in Latin America. It wasn't like it was Haiti before the Cuban Revolution- Cuba was actually the jewel of the Caribbean- so celebrating its current level of education and health care is downright ignorant.

And as a matter of fact, Cuba no longer leads Latin America in its education and medical performances, so celebrating the Cuban Revolution for allowing Cuba to slip from its previous heights is actually quite ironic.

Amy said...

I saw the video earlier. Wouldn't have believed it if I just saw it quoted somewhere.
He truly does not understand the concepts/value of individual liberty. He said these were all 'philosophical concepts.' He did give lip svce to capitalism. But overall I found it horrifying.

Doing whatever works is so totally subjective. That is why so many young people support Bernie, I believe. Because free college works FOR THEM.
If we all vote purely on self-interest, this country is totally lost.
Oh wait...

MikeR said...

Clueless. He is actually accepting the stats that the Cuban government gives as being fact? Clueless.

Sebastian said...

"And so you have to be practical in asking yourself how can you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion, but also recognize that the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services. And it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative."

Used to be called the Third Way. Which in a way is the only way. Except that when pinkos like O get power, they skew Second Way. Because equality.

rhhardin said...

Capitalism is the system where you stop doing what doesn't work. Socialism doubles down.

n.n said...

Mr. Pro-choice in Chief speaks.

The goal of civilized people should be to reconcile individual dignity and intrinsic value with natural imperatives.

jacksonjay said...

And yet, Cubans turn their back on a great education system and life sustaining health care to come to America and live as a Capitalist Dog. What the Hell? They risk their lives to escape Utopia?

Did I miss the news stories of the Capitalist Dogs fleeing Miami on rafts to reach the land of schools and hospitals? Nope! It ain't gonna happen, dumbass!

Only an "intellectual" would even consider this a close call!

Dan Hossley said...

So far, Obama hasn't demonstrated the capability to choose from what works. Just about everything he touches turns to crap. The Russian Reset, Obamacare? Libya? The red line in Syria? the IRS, the Pivot to Asia, the bug out from Iraq, the "good war" in Afghanistan to name a few of his policy choices.

David Begley said...

Jacksonjay

Great stuff. Why doesn't the MSM call him out on the one-way flow of people?

virgil xenophon said...

Amadeus 48@10:21/

Yes, as one wag has put it, Communism can be summed up in four words: "You work, I eat."

M Jordan said...

Hard to believe that the Kennedys fought so hard against communism when it really was just a different flavor of the month.

M Jordan said...

My opinion: Obama has never read Marx nor Hayek. He reads Sports Illustrated. He's the perfect modern "intellectual": completely un-read but great at dropping names and sounding like he knows things.

How do I know this? Because it describes me. Only difference is, I have read Milton Friedman. And I started "The Road to Serfdom." And I have read many, many wikipedia entries on Marxism. And I don't read Sports Illustrated. I read Althouse.

James Longfellow said...

So what works? It very convenient that what works just so happens to be those values Obama would like to impose on others. Amazing how that *works*.

walter said...

It's too bad at some point he didn't partake in the Cuban tradition of long ocean rides in rickety boats..

Terry said...

Obama believes the US economy is doing great.
He is an idiot. People who believe that it is possible for Obama to say anything worth listening to are idiots. His political philosophy has its roots in dope-smoking and BS sessions at Occidental.

Bob Boyd said...

Under Capitalism man exploits man, but under Communism it's the other way around. - Old Soviet Joke

tim in vermont said...

He truly does not understand the concepts/value of individual liberty. He said these were all 'philosophical concepts.' - Amy

Amanda calls them "hot air." They really can't understand why people want freedom since they don't want it themselves. What they want is to be relieved of responsibility and can't understand why everybody doesn't want that. That's why they can't understand poor whites who just want to be left alone to live their life. To them this whole concept is mystifying. But they are fit to rule us, even if they don't understand us, of that there is no doubt!

William said...

Mankind's great leap forward occurred under capitalism, but there's something about it that is anathema to most intellectuals and artists. Nor are intellectuals and artists sufficiently introspective to ever question their unreasoning distrust of capitalism and their adulation of communism.......John D. Rockefeller supplied a dependable product at a reasonable price. Che Guevara killed a lot of people. Contrast the way those two people are treated in popular culture. Obama is just mouthing what he has seen in popular culture.

JPS said...

"it's better to 'be practical and just choose from what works.'"

According to a man who said he'd support increased luxury taxes even if they resulted in a net decline in revenues. Because fairness.

Not suggesting he doesn't mean it, just that he has highly ideological and largely unexamined definitions of "what works."

Virgil Hilts said...

So if you have to pick what works. . . Then Obama must believe that federal agencies passing thousands and thousands of new regulations every year (3,400 or so in 2015, covering 82,000 pages in the Federal Register) and applying them to even small businesses is good for the economy. Seems to me that the goal is not to help small businesses but to eventually make them impossible.

walter said...

This text is more enjoyable if you picture O using air quotes

John A said...

I`ll go with the first para by Big Mike at 10:13.

Marx, remember, only wrote about a third of "his" most famous work. When he emigrated to England, he found a very different society already embodying much of what he thought would take a long time to achieve, such as ownership of [factory] production by non-aristocrats. Engels decided to finish the book, since British mechanisms for wealth achievements were not usually available outside the British Empire (or former parts thereof such as the USA.

lgv said...

"he repeated what he'd said to President Castro in Cuba"

Doubling down on stupid. Unfixable.

Bobby said...

Big Mike,

"If Barack Obama were an intelligent, thoughtful individual he might realize that capitalism, communism, and socialism are systems, and that you can no more pick and choose bits and pieces from one to mix with the other than you can make a viable car taking the grill from a Rolls Royce, the bumper from a Toyota, the engine from a Porsche, the radiator from a Ford (yes, for those of you who know about Porsche engines, I wrote that deliberately!), the taillights from a Chevy, etc., etc., etc."

Respectfully, I don't see how that can be true- I don't agree that choice of system must be binary coded. But assuming you're correct, if the US has a "capitalist" economic system and Cuba has a "socialist" (or "communist") system, then what system would you ascribe to, say, Italy? France? Singapore? New Zealand? Argentina? Ukraine?

It seems to me, as with so many things, that we're really looking at a spectrum- a continuum, if you will- and not an either-or classification. But I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Rick said...

[Y]ou've made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education

Have you noticed when Obama and the left generally evaluate the left it accepts claims like this at face value. "Free" education, "Free" healthcare. In America everyone has access to healthcare when evaluated on a similar basis. The poor have Medicaid and free clinics [and public school].

The left objects that Medicaid is weak and American free clinics don't offer a full range of services. But this is more true of Cuba than our system. High-end medical care is available in only a few places in Cuba and appointments are given first to the political elite. The vast majority of Cuban "healthcare' is like our free clinic system with worse funding and therefore less range of service. Yet to the left Cuba is a success.

This misunderstanding is driven by the left's political ideology, they search for justifications for socialism while overstating failures in freer systems beyond reality. Obama's paeans to practicality or "whatever works" are fundamentally dishonest.

SGT Ted said...

Well, empirically, if you are to choose what works, you will choose capitalism, and not choose socialism, because socialism always runs out of other peoples money. Always.

Socialism can only work due to excess wealth of capitalism and invariably, it consumes ever greater portion of that wealth until it stifles and consumes wealth production to the point where the economy collapses. The socialism collapse cycle appears to be around 80 to 100 years and then it falls apart due to overspending and wealth destruction.

Bob Boyd said...

Here's another old Soviet Joke. Nothing to do with the thread topic, but funny.

An artist is commissioned to create a painting celebrating Soviet–Polish friendship, to be called "Lenin in Poland."
When the painting is unveiled at the Kremlin, there is a gasp from the invited guests; the painting depicts Nadezhda Krupskaya (Lenin's wife) naked in bed with Leon Trotsky.

One guest asks, "But this is a travesty! Where is Lenin?"

To which the painter replies, "Lenin is in Poland."

William said...

Most of the most beloved social welfare schemes like social security and workmen's compensation were introduced into the west by Bismarck several generations before FDR. I wonder if Obama would take the time to praise German nationalists for all the good things they've brought to humanity.

Ron Winkleheimer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

that a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis

This is actually a true statement. In order for a free market to exist there has to be a certain level of trust among members of society, a belief that the rules are fair and apply to everyone, and of course that people have an inherent right to their own labor. Too bad the US government is doing its best to eliminate all that.

Pragmatism, doing whatever it takes to make things work, assumes that there is an end state where everyone agrees that things are working.

Politics is how a society agrees on a definition of "things are working."

The problem with the political class right now is that they have forgotten that. They think they get to define the end state, which coincidently benefits them and reflects their values and priorities.

And if some snaggled-toothed rube disagrees, so much the worse for them.

walter said...

Sgt Ted said: "Socialism can only work due to excess wealth of capitalism "
Too bad Bernie likes "Democratic Socialism" of oil rich N. Europe while wanting to cripple US by bending over to the faux crisis of CAGW

buwaya said...

As usual, the problems with any state intervention exist in the details of "be practical and just choose from what works."

What is "practical"
Who "chooses"
"Works" - How is this defined, and for whom?

etc.

Michael said...

This proves again my thesis that our President is not that smart. He always has at hand these sophomoric comparisons, the kind of thinking and debating that my son did when he was in 10th grade.

Michael said...

This guy is a product of the faculty lounge. He has no idea of how anything actually "works" here on Earth.

Gahrie said...

Communism and it's bastard children Fascism and Socialism have been the most destructive forces of the 20th and so far 21st (Although Islam looks to be in the running) centuries.

It should be confronted and condemned, not excused and supported, at every opportunity.

Terry said...

Obama's supporters used to brag that he was a 'professor of constitutional law." This bragging ended when it became clear that Obama didn't know a fucking thing about the constitution.

Rusty said...

What?
Nobody shows upto defend socialism?
It's not like they have to work or anything.

Fabi said...

I must have missed the "equality and inclusion" clause in the Constitution. A penumbra perhaps.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

So in the end, their is little to distinguish technocratic and aristocratic rule.

In both systems a self-selecting elite end up confusing their priorities with what is "good" for society with no regard for the opinions of those they deem unworthy and in fact regard disagreement with them as villainous.


villain (n.) Look up villain at Dictionary.com
c. 1300 (late 12c. as a surname), "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-French and Old French vilain "peasant, farmer, commoner, churl, yokel" (12c.), from Medieval Latin villanus "farmhand," from Latin villa "country house, farm" (see villa).
The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense. [Klein]
Meaning "character in a novel, play, etc. whose evil motives or actions help drive the plot" is from 1822.

rcocean said...

Communism has killed almost 60-100 million people since it first took over the Russian Empire 100 years ago. Castro's Cuba not only stole everyone's property when they took over, they executed thousands, and threw anyone who objected to the Castro Dictatorship in Jail.

Not to mention the persecution of the Catholic Church or the wars in Angola and elsewhere.

But Liberals just don't care. They're cool with Che and communist killers. And then the next moment they're patting themselves on the back for being so concerned with Justice, Freedom, and people around the world.

Rumpletweezer said...

Least informed President in my lifetime. Not intellectually curious. No evidence of particular brightness.

rcocean said...

BTW, McCrazy just wrote a piece in new york Times about how noble, and great a recently deceased Abraham Lincoln brigade commie was. According, to McCrazy he was a commie but he "fought fascism" so he was an OK guy.

The fact that the Lincoln brigade was fighting fascism to help a communist government take over Spain with the help of Stalin never seems to have occurred to him.

Over maybe it was just mccain's way of getting the New York times and liberals to support his re-election.

holdfast said...

What's a few dead Kulaks between friends, da toravisch?

Bay Area Guy said...

On this issue, the President is a lightweight.

Somehow he transferred from Occidental University to Columbia (probably affirmative action), and then somehow he got into Harvard Law (probably affirmative action) and then he became an Lecturer at Law School (not a professor), and Community Organizer.

The guy has no intellectual depth, and no sense of history.

But, a lotta young, dumb liberal folks in college are charmed by his smile and his tone, so, alas, he proceeds onwards with a liberal agenda, couched in a proper and respectable tone.

J. Farmer said...

This is a similar point that I've been making for a while now. All of those 19th century terms have very little relevance in today's political/economic landscape. Pretty much every country on earth follows the same economic system: market-based pricing mechanism combined with state regulation. Degrees vary, but the basic structure is the same.

buwaya said...

"Pretty much every country on earth follows the same economic system: market-based pricing mechanism combined with state regulation."

Most always have.
The difference in degree, however, can be enormous and can contribute to an order of magnitudes difference in, say, median incomes.

Gahrie said...

This is a similar point that I've been making for a while now.

And you've been making for the same reason...to try and convince people that a little Socialism is OK...

In the end it all comes down to big powerful government, run by elites off the sweat of the proles. Call it feudalism, communism, socialism or mixed economy, it is all the same in the end.

An American president should be promoting small government, free association, free trade and free markets.

PB said...

He is a remarkable idiot. Communism is s political system, capitalism is an economic system. Does he not realize the false choices he presents? I don't think he does.

He is mal-educated.

walter said...

I think he's trying to suggest "economic relativism"

Alex said...

An American president should be promoting small government, free association, free trade and free markets.

Why?

William said...

Can anyone name a product or service that was introduced under communism and then caught on in the west? The only product I can think of was the AK-47. Perhaps Red China's re-education camps have had some influence on our universities.......Daphne DuMaurier was married to a general who commanded England's airborne units. She recommended to him the wearing of the red beret to set these elite units apart. So even Che's beret was not something introduced by Commies.

Gahrie said...

An American president should be promoting small government, free association, free trade and free markets.

Why?


Because they have produced the highest standard of living, for the most number of people, in human history, world wide.

buwaya said...

"Communism is s political system"

No, not really. Communism is an economic system.
That's what Marx advocated. He did not specify the organization of a political system.
He spoke of a democracy as a revolutionary government, as he imagined the Paris commune to have been, but that's as far as it went.
It was an economic term in its original meaning, pre-and-contemporary to Marx.

The actual dictatorships (a political system) that organized communist economic systems had various internal political structures, de jure and de facto, nearly all had some pretense of representative deomcracy, which is a political system.

Rick said...

PB said...
Communism is s political system, capitalism is an economic system.


While communism and socialism are in theory economic systems both require an authoritarian political system to prevent competition.

Fernandinande said...

William said...
Can anyone name a product or service that was introduced under communism and then caught on in the west?


Tetris.
Theremin.
Lysenkoism.

buwaya said...

"Can anyone name a product or service that was introduced under communism and then caught on in the west?'

The SKS and AK-47 rifles, both are popular consumer products in the US and elsewhere.

Gahrie said...

the original poster mentioned the AK...but Tetris was a good catch......Rubic's cube was invented in Hungry under Communism

Drago said...

Bushman of the Kohlrabi: "What part of communism has ever worked?"

Mass graves are the ultimate "shovel ready" projects wherein the wreckers can be consigned to their rightful place.

Throw in discounts for the bodies of unborn babies (with appropriate organs removed) and you have a lefty-wet dream win-win-win.

JaimeRoberto said...

To be fair, Communist prisons are often very inclusive. And their mental hospitals too.

R. Duke said...

About 12 years ago I went to Cuba on a rugby tour. (long story, but it was great fun) One of our guys dislocated his shoulder in the last match in Havana. We took him to the hospital, the nice one for the tourists. Outside, locals were asking us to help them get medicine that only the tourist hospital had. So much for that great health system. Our guy got his shoulder fixed when he go home.

SGT Ted said...

Communism is an economic system based on slavery to the state. Anyone who praises Cuba for their health care and education system is a moron.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Let's not get hung up on labels like "slavery" and "freedom," let's just talk about what works, ok?

Rusty said...

Free market capitalism is a descriptive term that describes what people do with money.
Communism is a 19th century moral philosophy expounded by an individual who spent the better part of his life leaching off of others and not paying his help.
One works extremely well.
The other doesn't.

Drago said...

How can you complain about cuban healthcare? Its a well known fact that castro expanded healthcare and reduced expenses for every family while offering more services! Just like obambi! And the soviets!

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

"Most always have."

Yes, that's my point.

"The difference in degree, however, can be enormous and can contribute to an order of magnitudes difference in, say, median incomes."

Agree completely. Degree obviously matters. For the most recent example of this see the catastrophe that is Chavez's Venezuela.

@Gahrie:

"And you've been making for the same reason...to try and convince people that a little Socialism is OK..."

No, actually, that isn't what I've been trying to do, but I admire your incessant attempts at mind reading. The US has had a "little Socialism" (and more) for at least the last 100 years. Furthermore, take a look around the world. Every high-income, high standard of living country on the planet as "a little socialism."

Big ideological differences between "capitalism" on the one side and "socialism" on the other is largely a chimera. It's some mix of the two to varying degrees. Small, ethnically homogenous countries like those in Scandinavia can usually get by with large regulatory welfare states while still maintaining very high standards of living. P.J. O'Rourke makes essentially the same point in his 1998 book Eat the Rich.

Michael said...

The president's remarks have been running in background today slowing me down. They are exceedingly stupid. He seems to think that economies are driven from the top by leaders choosing from a smorgasbord of communism, capitalism, socialism and a dash or two of fascist seasoning. .

Marty Keller said...

J. Farmer said: "Big ideological differences between 'capitalism' on the one side and 'socialism' on the other is largely a chimera. It's some mix of the two to varying degrees."

Gosh, this muddled cogitatin' is of a piece with Obama's postmodernist obfuscations, along with that quaint belief in the money fairy that the millions of Bernie fans and others so fervently hold. "Capitalism"--better understood, as Deirdre McCloskey suggests, as "trade-tested markets"--is a hallmark of modern consciousness which invented the Scottish Enlightenment and its most successful project, the USA. "Socialism" is actually a counterrevolution against modernity, a longing for the good old days when the emperor held everything together for the helots, who knew their place and were grateful when the gods accepted their propitiatory sacrifices. In socialism the emperor is the State, and the helots are everyone not in the nomenklatura--most likely including J. Farmer. The propitiatory sacrifices are called "redistribution of the wealth."

J. Farmer said...

@Marty Keller:

"Gosh, this muddled cogitatin' is of a piece with Obama's postmodernist obfuscations,..."

The point I am making is actually the opposite of postmodernist. I am attempting to clarify and sharpen the language, not obfuscate it. "Capitalism" and "socialism" are mid-19th century anachronisms with limited utility in describing the economic and political realities of today. The two most popular things the federal government does is a forced pension system and a single-payer healthcare for senior citizens.

rcocean said...

"That's what Marx advocated. He did not specify the organization of a political system."

Marx advocated the "dictatorship of the proletariat" - he also state that it was naive to assume the bourgeois would accept "socialism" aka people stealing their property without violence.

Its why every communist state since Lenin has been a dictatorship.

Gahrie said...

The two most popular things the federal government does is a forced pension system and a single-payer healthcare for senior citizens.

Lots of things are popular. Slavery was popular.

SSI is not supposed to be a pension system at all. It is supposed to be an insurance program to supplement the retirement for those who did not put enough away.

The single payer health care for senior citizens is popular because they are getting something for nothing...you know your kind of people living off the money of others.

Things have gotten worse for the United States as we have become more democratic, and more socialistic.

In order to fix things, we need to start by repealing the remaining three Progressive Amendments.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

J. Farmer said..."Capitalism" and "socialism" are mid-19th century anachronisms with limited utility in describing the economic and political realities of today.

Sure, of course. Also: "freedom" and "slavery" are outdated ideas with limited utility in describing the reality of most people today. No one is free to do whatever they want, but (in America at least) institutionalized (generational) chattel slavery does not exist. Since everyone exists along a continuum between those two theoretical positions, it doesn't make sense to talk about being free or being enslaved, it makes sense to talk about what works. We don't really need a robust, detailed definition of "works" now, just take my word for it, ok?

I don't think the question is whether any place is purely capitalistic or purely communistic (whatever that even means--in a reality where a market, however defined, exists...), the question is whether there is a moral component to different organizational/governmental/political/economic systems, and since the answer is "yes, yes there is" whether that is worth pointing out.
If you want to argue that Left wing ideas are morally equal to Right wing ideas, fine.
When you say or imply that communism is morally equal to capitalism, that's not fine.

If someone said a democratic republic is morally equal to a fascistic dictatorship so long as the average person in each was equally well off in material/wealth terms I don't think anyone here would agree. The President's statement makes it seem like he would! That's worthy of ridicule.

buwaya said...

"Communism is a 19th century moral philosophy expounded by an individual who spent the better part of his life leaching off of others and not paying his help."

Communism as an idea pre-existed Karl Marx, or rather his major works. There were a lot of "communists" before him. The name itself comes from the Paris commune of 1871. A "communist" was someone inspired by the ideals of the Paris commune, which were rather unspecific. Marx was a big cheese in all that, but he certainly wasn't the only one. And the terms, typically, pre-Paris commune were variously "syndicalism" or "socialism" or "social-democracy" or several other things. These terms don't merit precise definitions because they were used semi-interchangeably and varied by the fashions of the place and time.

Rusty said...

But Marx codified it. "Capitalism"is a marxist term. it does not describe what free markets do and no farmer they are not at all similar. free market capitalism is not an ideology. It descibes a behavior. free market capitalism is organic. it is what people do even without realizing they're doing it. Government intervention almost always disrupts markets and crates a false economy.

buwaya said...

"Capitalism" and "socialism" are mid-19th century anachronisms with limited utility in describing the economic and political realities of today."

True. They were not terribly useful in their time either, except with reference to a truly totalitarian regime.

Its a good argument that there is only one economic philosophy, and that is good old totalitarian communism, because it has an easily defined program of arrogating all economic assets and all economic activity to the state. That, at least, is clear.

Before anyone started defining this and that in artificial frames labelled "socialist" and "capitalist", nations, kings, their ministers and peoples just did whatever they thought best. State supported social welfare systems go way back. Regulation of commerce the same. Government monopolies likewise (the "means of production"). So does corporatism through cronies and regulatory capture. Anything going on today was going on in the 17th and 18th centuries, without an ideological label.

Eric said...

An American president should be promoting small government, free association, free trade and free markets.

I disagree. Oh, I think free markets are by far the best way to go, and we've benefited mightily to the extent we can keep the government out of the way. But it's rude to go to other countries and tell people how they ought to be doing things. Governments invariably take their form as a result of the culture, and different places have (sometimes radically) different cultures.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Eric said... But it's rude to go to other countries and tell people how they ought to be doing things.

Maybe, but there's a middle ground between "telling other people how to do things" and "saying or implying that there's no real (moral) difference between different ways of doing things."
At worst just keep quiet! You don't have to be a cheerleader for our way of life (although, come on, you kind of should be, in a polite way) but you shouldn't say that there's no difference between different ways of life--when there are.
USSR, US, what's the difference, it's all about people, maaaaan. No, that's stupid, and it's painfully stupid when coming from a President.

Gahrie said...

But it's rude to go to other countries and tell people how they ought to be doing things.

It's the whole point of diplomatic travel, which is what this is supposed to be.

Gahrie said...

Governments invariably take their form as a result of the culture, and different places have (sometimes radically) different cultures.

Unless,which is precisely the point, the government was imposed upon the people at the point of a bayonet and/or is preserved by a reign of terror by secret police.

chillblaine said...

Fifty-eight thousand war dead in Vietnam and thirty-six thousand war dead in Korea would beg to differ with the President.

Saint Croix said...

Weird to read this article in the Atlantic. The author talks about the failed opportunity to engage with the dictators of Cuba.

But how about Obama's failed opportunity to engage with the people of Iran? They were in open revolt against their autocratic regime, and Obama said nothing. He sides with the autocrats, with the dictators, with the leaders, which is what happens when you follow your ideology while ignoring actual human beings. Obama is leaving us with an autocratic and evil regime in Iran, still in power. And thanks to his wonderful "diplomacy," they will soon have dirty bombs that they can hand out to any terrorist organization they deem worthy.

So now, after his stupid experiment in free health insurance, Obama takes a victory lap with his visit to poor socialist countries. Cuba is a prison! For rich and powerful Americans to vacation there, while congratulating themselves with how "liberal" they are, is the epitome of hubris. How about some charity for the Cuban people and some contempt for the dictators who have made their lives so shitty?

93 million people were murdered in Communist states, murdered by the government. And that number does not include all the babies who have been stabbed and killed.

Brought to you by the party who does not know what a "person" is! And still our media hides the truth.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

USSR, a failure. Communist China, desperately trying capitalism cause communism is a failure there. Cuba, a communist basket case. Venezuela, a communist basket case. North Korea, a nightmare communist Greek Tragedy. Vietnam, like China, desperately trying capitalism cause communist abject failure.

So tell me Obama, what communist country has lasted even 70 years? What communist country is even 1/2 the country in GNP, cost of living, housing, etc?

Our "community organizer' president is as clueless as ever.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

"And of course you need a special Comrade in charge to decide just how much inclusion and equality is just the right amount."

J. Farmer said...

Take out a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle. In the center of the left half, write "Capitalist." In the middle of the right half, "Socialist." Run through the list of countries in the world and try to assign them to the left or right side. Maybe there are some countries like Venezuela, Cuba, or Laos that are trying to implement something that looks remotely like the centrally planned, nationalized systems of the mid-20th century. A smattering of relatively small countries that make up a tiny fraction of a percent of the world's population. Meanwhile. among the other 99%, there is some kind of mix of private, voluntary commercial markets with some degree of state control, regulation, and intervention. This works better in some places than others. Police in the US functioning, overall, pretty good. In Thailand, the police force is basically an armed gang extracting payoffs and kickbacks. Nonetheless, in every single high-income, high-standard living nation in this world today, there are libraries full of pages and pages of regulations for everything from child labor to overtime to health and safety standards to inspections and audits from government officials and standards of privacy and confidentiality and on and on it goes. Sure we can quibble about how much is too much and how much is just enough. Call it the Goldilox problem. When is it "just right?"

jr565 said...

The Rolling Stones just played in Cuba. I'm thinking of the song "sun city" and apartheid. Can you imagine the optics if Nelson Mandela was still in a South African prison and the president went over there and said, basically, apartheid doesn't have to change and then Was doing the tango and going to a cricket match? And then the Rolling Stones played in South Africa?
Even though the govt did NOTHING to address apartheid?
I guess there is a statue of limitations on outrage. If South Africa didn't change in 20 years, well screw it. We,lol now play sun city. OR the left really has a double standard when it comes to political prisoners.

Rusty said...

And Farmer. Those with the fewest regultions enjoy the greatest economic freedom.(Third world countries not included) "Capitalism" is of greater moral value than socialism. Since you're into moral equivelence.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

You are missing my point completely. I am not trying to make some kind of argument between "capitalism" and "socialism." I am saying that the terms themselves are not particularly useful for describing the economic system that pretty much every country on the planet follows. You cannot sensibly describe countries as either "capitalist" or "socialist" because the terms are inexact. You could just easily make the argument that the US is socialist as you could that it is capitalist given the elasticity of these terms.

Rusty said...

Well. You fooled me. What you attempt to point out is a given. I'm refining the terms and giving you a base to judge from.
IE;
Precommunist Hong Kong had universal healthcare. Rather odd considering Hong Kong has no natural resources. Is ntirely dependant on the rest of the world for even the most basic reources. How then did they get to the point where they were one of the wealthyest places on earth?
I'll tell you.
Hong Kong had very few Banking or business laws. Very little business regulation. Very low taxes.
Free markets always work.

Gahrie said...

"That evening Squealer explained privately to the other animals that Napoleon had never in reality been opposed to the windmill.."

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

"Free markets always work.

Who are you arguing with? Quote one thing I've written here that you consider to be an argument against free markets. But you're talking about a dorm room bull session, and I'm trying to talk about the way the real world actually works. Take a look at all of the highest living of standard countries in the world: they all have large regulatory states. Look at some of the lowest standard of living countries (e.g. sub-Saharan Africa). They are characterized by weak states unable to maintain a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Somalis are not encumbered in the slightest by a regulatory state. And the norm there is violent warlordism. So, yes, while "free markets" are a generally an important component to a well functioning society. But so are things like not marrying your first cousin. Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail is an imperfect book, but the themes it explores demonstrate how the idea of capitalism versus socialism is such an anachronistic dichotomy.

JamesB.BKK said...

The basic problem is due to state directed economics with economics advisors trained via state-approved curricula and employed by the state, whether west, east, north, or south. They consider us to be so many economic automotons to be controlled like pieces on a board. It's inhuman. They influence lightweights like this president. They have too much power.

JamesB.BKK said...

J. Farmer: The governments of the states you've described usurped the systems that the societies had developed. The state and the society are different things. You see large regulatory states that bestow order and benefits. I see large regulatory states that stole from their societies, including their orderly arrangements for mostly peaceful exchange and prosperity, and continue to do so, and have been and continue actively to destroy intermediating institutions between them and individuals within their areas of control. The alternative history had these large regulatory states, including mostly the US, not become so overbearing and openly predatory is unknowable. Many of the "highest living standard" countries have been stumbling in recent times, even though they get to measure the "highest living standard" to be something like a 38 sq. meter apartment, three squares a day, a short walk to a bus stop or subway station, and a tv (receiving some state-owned or manipulated tv signals), and other mostly bland eco-measures as if we are just some economic units, and regardless of whether there is production by the relevant person involved, in exchange. Meanwhile, the "leaders" and all the minions working on tax-exempt (and grossed up!) salaries at the tax-funded "international" multilaterals or high-end "non-profits" stay in five star hotels, fly first class (or private), take the short lines, get the best booze and girls (or whatever apparently), eat at the best restaurants, etc., at someone else's cost, all while tirelessly working to separate us from more of what passes for wealth (a value for annual income is not a measure of wealth in the least). It can take a long time to kill a thing. And some, such as the husk that remains of Argentina, did so a long time ago. One should not confuse gains through technological progress, which occurs mostly despite state action, as gains via state control.