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Ash writes: "You are going to be hearing a lot about 'Bernie Sanders, the Radical Socialist' in the coming months. So before that bandwagon rolls off down the great American highway let's pin a little truth to its tail."

The downfall of Detroit. Detroit's former Lee Plaza Hotel, closed in the 90s. (photo: Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre/TIME)
The downfall of Detroit. Detroit's former Lee Plaza Hotel, closed in the 90s. (photo: Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre/TIME)


Socialism? Let's Cut to the Chase

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

22 September 15

 

“This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”
– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.”
– Noam Chomsky

ou are going to be hearing a lot about “Bernie Sanders, the Radical Socialist” in the coming months. So before that bandwagon rolls off down the great American highway let’s pin a little truth to its tail.

Socialism is nothing new in American politics or economics. Of course it’s not called “Socialism,” that would screw up the corporate 1% media’s branding. They call it good economic policy or bailouts or quantitative easing or free trade – but it’s Socialism.

You will also hear a great deal about “wealth redistribution.” You will be encouraged to fear that. You should. Yes, wealth redistribution is a reality and an American tradition, but it never goes from the top to the bottom, it goes from the bottom to the top. At this point the pace is rapacious. When Donald Trump talks about making America great again, he’s talking about the traditional bottom-to-top form of wealth redistribution. Yes that would make America great – for him, and those precious few who share his tax bracket.

Recent painful examples of the nation’s wealth being redistributed from working class Americans to the wealthiest include the Iraq war and the so-called housing bubble collapse.

The Iraq War transferred, by all accounts, trillions of US taxpayer dollars into the coffers of arms manufacturers and contractors. It was in all likelihood the largest and most rapid such transference in history.

The housing boom-to-bust “Recession of 2008,” arguably continuing today, turned American homes into Wall Street commodities. The result was that millions of Americans lost their homes. Wall Street investors got rich betting on the bust, and those who lost money recovered it from investment insurers, who were then bailed out by the American taxpayer. Wealth redistributed – big time.

The conflict isn’t over Socialism, it’s over who should be allowed to enjoy its benefits. The nation’s wealthiest 1% of individuals and corporations do. Everyone else does not, but certainly should.

What makes Sanders’ ideas radical is that he wants all Americans to enjoy the benefits of Socialism, not just the top 1%. So he will be labeled a “radical,” and the average American who would benefit most from his policies will be pressed to fear him. The most fertile breeding ground for that fear will be ignorance, ignorance of course being the anvil of oppression.

Wall Street cares nothing for “the economy.” Wall street is absolutely, categorically dedicated to profit, 1% profit foremost. Whoever gets hurt, gets hurt. In case you haven’t noticed, Wall Street is running the country. Sanders’ radical policies are very unpopular there.

So while your television or other corporate media outlet congers up visions of Joseph Stalin when describing Sanders’ “Socialist agenda,” remember, America has always had Socialism, working people have always paid for it, and the wealthiest Americans have always enjoyed it.

Socialism for working people, maybe not so radical. Want to really make America great again? Do it the way FDR did it in the 1930s. That is where Sanders is leading the 99%.



Marc Ash was formerly the founder and Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+114 # pappajohn15@Gmail.com 2015-09-22 09:39
.
Very nice article. I sure hope someone asks Bernie about "income redistribution" and he gives your answer.

One thought:

"Sanders' radical policies"... ?

But they aren't radical at all. They are oh so reasonable! They aren't even new. They're old time, sensible and fair. The public has just been trained by the corporate media to fear them.
 
 
+52 # Citizen Mike 2015-09-22 10:13
To be "radical" does not mean unreasonable, but means advocating root (Radix) changes to a system. Today we have radicals on both left and right arguing for fundamental changes to our political and economic systems.
 
 
+17 # Radscal 2015-09-22 18:33
WOW! I'm impressed. You may be the second person with whom I've conversed who knew what "radical" really means.
 
 
+2 # JJS 2015-09-24 17:44
Do you remember Newt using the term "radical conservative" to describe his political philosophy? I thought my head would explode.
 
 
+5 # ritawalpoleague 2015-09-25 11:10
Absolutely correct, pappajohn15. Real McCoy change does not come from 'satisfying of all'. In other words, doing what this POTUS does, has made us/U.S. worse off than when he took office, rather than bringing about the 'change' that he conned us into believing would come about.

However, at least Pres. Obama has pushed hard to keep us out of a war in Iran, and has instead insisted on a try at diplomacy. If only he would quit pushing for the TPP, but rather push, in every way he can, to cut tax loopholes and shelters for the 1%, we might just be able to get other essential change moving forward. Bernie Sanders is, has, and will push harder than hard, if elected POTUS, to get these sooooo needed changes in place.

My point: Neither the Pope's nor Bernie Sanders' socialism is to be feared, but rather needs to accepted by all of us/U.S. for what it is - a sooooo needed means of overcome of evil that has overcome us/US, and others across the globe. Thank you, dear Pope Francis, and

WIN, BERNIE, WIN !
 
 
+37 # REDPILLED 2015-09-22 09:40
As Chris Hedges correctly points out, no true socialist would be in the corporate Democrat Party or pledge to support the eventual Democrat nominee. See Chris Hedges: What It Means to Be a Socialist - Chris Hedges - Truthdig
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/what_it_means_to_be_a_socialist_20150920

Bernie's economic ideas resonate because they make sense, but unless he ends the U.S. Empire with its bloated "national security" budget of more than one trillion dollars a year, his economic programs are dead on arrival.

The corporate oligarchy, so much of it made up of war profiteers, will never allow the evil U.S. Empire to be dismantled without a brutal fight.

Remember what they did to JFK months after he decided to end the Cold War and announced that decision in his American University speech of June, 1963.

See Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx
 
 
+27 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 10:36
.
Hedges can be a stupid dick.

He consistenly and mistakenly conflates corporatist Democrats with liberals, essentially blaming "liberals" for actions of corporatist Democrats.

When asked about Bernie Sanders during a therealnews.com interview, the way he winced and made that sucking sound ... showing immediate reservation ... raising Sanders' positions regarding Israel and militarism as immediate concerns -- without any comparison to any other candidate, except for his choice, Jill Stein, in the Green Party.
...

Having voted for Jill Stein in 2012, I obviously don't have a problem with her.

But here's the thing:

Assuming Chris Hedges is really liberal -- and his concerns are not myopic to his real main issue, infringement on press freedoms -- it will be beneficial to the Green Party, Green-Party voters, leftists, liberals, and progressives (as well as Independents) for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic-Part y Primaries and represent the Democratic Party.

So why is Chris Hedges pooh-poohing Bernie Sanders candidacy?

Hedges may be the biggest fraud of all, a mere disenfranchised version of Jonathan Chait.

Chris Hedges writes some things beautifully, and his freedom-of-pres s involvement and expertise has great importance; but as he sets himself within the leading voices of the left, speaking out strongly and well on some important topics, he still poses certain aspects of leftist argument in ways detrimental to leftist leadership and strategy.
.
 
 
+7 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-09-22 12:25
Maybe #nice2bgreat is a "stupid dick". Hedges mentions Bernie's lack of any position on the power of Israel over our elected officials. This has reached the point where we, the citizens of the United States, must question the sovereignty of our nation. Are we a colony of Israel?

All these brutal wars against the people of the Middle East that are bankrupting our nation are serving the interests of Israel.

The effect of the huge 'donations' to our elected officials is the death knell for our democracy. Our elected officials do not heed the voice of the people when they vote in our name. The vote as directed by their major 'donors'.

The people of the United States must wake up and research the voting record of their Representatives and Senators. Voting is not a matter of choosing between political parties. They will be horrified to find that our 'representative s' vote as directed by a political party, and not as directed by the constituents.

We must end the two party strangle hold on our elections and be informed voters that can vote on the issues.

It is not wise to be a loyal member of any political party. Think for yourself! Do not be influenced by the little D or R after any name on our ballots.
 
 
+20 # Ralph 2015-09-22 16:50
Israel represents about 4.5 billion in giveaways. We spend about a TRILLION dollars on illegal wars of foreign aggression, military bases abroad and all the other military hardware/troops . Citizens in the US pay about 500 BILLION dollars extra each year because of our privatized health scheme. This really puts Israel into perspective. It's peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Sanders needs to focus on the big ticket items, as he has and deal with Israel as a second priority.
 
 
+14 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 17:16
Quoting wantrealdemocracy:
Hedges mentions Bernie's lack of any position on the power of Israel over our elected officials. This has reached the point where we, the citizens of the United States, must question the sovereignty of our nation. Are we a colony of Israel?

I don't understand what this muddle of confusion is.


Quoting wantrealdemocracy:
The effect of the huge 'donations' to our elected officials is the death knell for our democracy.

Then you should be thrilled with Bernie Sanders. No reason to pooh-pooh him; considering Sanders' consistent and strong positions and voting record, (certainly overall) -- without showing how others are better; or at least, how others in the Democratic-Part y-Primary field compare, as well -- if not out of decency, then respect for journalistic integrity -- to argue, in context, how other candidates fair with Hedge's personal standard.

Don't drag Bernie Sanders through the mud by judging him, not between other Democratic-Part y candidates, but against Hedge's own candidate-choic e, who is completely outside the Democratic Party, and as if Bernie the only one in question on the issue.

Theorhetical discussion of positions, policies, and actions are preferrable, and comparisons of candidate positions and past votes and words within context, are fine.

But pre-D-primary, unqualified criticism of Bernie Sanders seems a calculable advantage for Hillary from someone who should know better.

Does he not?
.
 
 
+20 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 09:45
I believe there is solid evidence that some Banksters worked to cause some of their holdings to crash because the CDSs,"insurance ," were worth more than the "securities." The insurance was the #1 target of the bailout, with losers, even intentional losers, not even taking a haircut, a slight loss, on their recklessly speculations. Socialism for the uber-Rich. Supported by CorpDem Party. Not even ridiculed by Dem.
 
 
-43 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 09:51
.
At some point, the conversation of socialism will become about private industry, privatization, and private-propert y rights.

I encourage liberals to listen to Ayn Rand speak on a variety of subjects; her views go beyond what Republicans like to hold her up as. The left is remiss to let the right get away with championing only Rand's views that work for private industry.

Because Ayn Rand and her most pro-corpoarte Libertarian views have essentially been co-opted by the right; by isolating and championing specific arguments, based upon Rand's view of individual freedom and responsibility, which if dominant and set into policy and law, ultimately pacify opposition and resemble nothing like Rand's libertarianism. Unbridled corportism leads inexorably toward classism and fascism, back to totalitarian oligarchy.

Other views that Rand articulated fill out her thinking in a way that -- if also championed by the right -- would act as a balance to her strangely selfish-of-self /responsibility only-to-self individualism that sets humanity upon the back burner ... to just burn away.

Compassion becomes an ideal, promises during every election season, only to be later/again sacrificed and that sacrifice defended through sophistry and ingnorance becomes a quality.
.
 
 
+9 # Inspired Citizen 2015-09-22 16:40
We suggest people listen to Revolt Against Plutocracy. They have an innovative campaign strategy to demand Bernie or else!

http://citizensagainstplutocracy.org/
 
 
-28 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 17:20
.
I ain't takin' your f-n pledge.

Link your shit somewhere other than my comments.
.
 
 
+1 # Working Class 2015-09-25 10:23
Your vital and negativity shows you are anything but "great". Your comments reminds me that a corrosive material attacks its own container first.
 
 
-1 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-25 11:11
Quoting Working Class:
Your vital and negativity shows you are anything but "great". Your comments reminds me that a corrosive material attacks its own container first.

As long as you regard my negativity as vital, I don't take issue with anything else, too much.

Does corrosive material attack it's own container, or react to surrounding elements?
.
 
 
0 # jcdav 2015-09-28 05:58
Just why should he/she? YOU, n2bg, chose to link HERE and getting disagreed with is just the risk you take. GROW UP.
 
 
+69 # MEBrowning 2015-09-22 09:58
Venerable Howard Zinn, in his "People's History of the United States," wrote that the Powers That Be in the United States have used the spectre of socialism since the mid-1800s to keep average Americans fearful and acquiescent. It's time we shake off the oppressive mantle of fear and ignorance, and ignore the scare tactics of the 1%.

Vote Bernie Sanders. To quote a well-known princess, he is our only hope.
 
 
+25 # Citizen Mike 2015-09-22 10:15
Obi-Wan Sanders? OK, I will buy that. the Republicans are certainly working the Dark Side, they are very Darth.
 
 
-37 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 09:59
AS Chris "hedges" fails to point out, the true socialists would be part of a monstrous oligarchy that COMBINES economic and state POWER, with NO countervailing, counter balancing, influence. Soviet, Chinese, N.Korean, and American history are filled with examples. Economic power must not be combined with State power. Subordinated capitalism in mixed economies works ok. Socialism is a truly antiquated, truly obsolete, truly counter productive term. Jettison the loser and create new, relevant vocabulary. "Social Democracy"? "Blended Economy"? "Refereed Competition"? Oops. Watch out for Inflationgate.
 
 
+39 # reiverpacific 2015-09-22 10:16
Quoting Shades of gray matter:
AS Chris "hedges" fails to point out, the true socialists would be part of a monstrous oligarchy that COMBINES economic and state POWER, with NO countervailing, counter balancing, influence. Soviet, Chinese, N.Korean, and American history are filled with examples. Economic power must not be combined with State power. Subordinated capitalism in mixed economies works ok. Socialism is a truly antiquated, truly obsolete, truly counter productive term. Jettison the loser and create new, relevant vocabulary. "Social Democracy"? "Blended Economy"? "Refereed Competition"? Oops. Watch out for Inflationgate.


You need to learn, or be taught, the difference between Totalitarian Communist Dictatorships, as in the countries you name and democratic, populist-orient ed Socialism, as practiced to various degrees in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, to a more variable point in current India (but far more complex and layered), Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, much of post-Chavez South America and yes, to a point, even Cuba, to name but a few, which basically use their taxes and governments to provide a Universal Social Safety Net and free education but still have a large measure of free elections and a media ranging across the whole socio-political spectrum.
I'm sure Mr Hedges assumes that his readers and listeners share that very basic premise.
I'd recommend Marx's "Dialectical Materialism" to you as a starting point.
 
 
+42 # Polisage 2015-09-22 10:14
Socialism has gotten a bad name because the Establishment (read: vested interests of Great Wealth) have confabulated the term with Marxist-Leninis t doctrines and the authoritarian regimes we opposed. Socialism should not have to suffer from the unsavory connotations the Radical Right has smeared it with. What the R.R. wants is to dismantle the enlightened (but under-funded) social safety net that has held our country together. The R.R. stands for private greed and, sadly, has captured both major political parties. Bernie Sanders is forced to run as a Democrat because that is the only game in town. Among leading candidates, he is the best hope for this country. We love you, Bernie, even if the R.R. does not.
 
 
+23 # futhark 2015-09-22 17:52
I had a nice little argument with a teaching colleague a couple of years back concerning the definition of "socialism". This person had been educated in school and by the mainstream media to equate socialism with "state socialism", in which the government maintains exclusive control over resources and the means of production, the style of socialism practiced with no great success in the Soviet Union. My contention is that socialism occurs when the mass of common folk exercise some degree of control over the economic apparatus and consequently are the primary beneficiaries of it.

While in college I lived in what is now the Berkeley Student Cooperative. I consider this system of privately owned and operated, non-profit enterprise to be essentially socialist.

Government can certainly have a role in promoting cooperative economic arrangements and for curbing abuses of any system organized by fallible and potentially corrupt people. The present economic system all too often gives the most power to those seemingly the most likely to pursue self-aggrandize ment at the unfair expense of others. This kind of abuse needs to be stopped.

Let us all take a few moments to tell someone else that the socialism of which Senator Sanders speaks is not state socialism. How many gulags are in the modern western European socialist nations of Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden? Let us find good examples and follow them.
 
 
+6 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 18:45
.
Futhark, you always have something interesting, well-written, and relevant to say, just as someone else who used to comment here, Richard Raznikov.

It more-or-less randomly happened that I wondered where Richard Rasnikov was writing and if he had any thoughts on Bernie Sanders' candidacy; so I googled his name to see where he was writing.

Very sad.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=174780521

RSN was fortunate for his contributions.

http://readersupportednews.org/component/comprofiler/userprofile/Richard%20Raznikov
.
 
 
0 # futhark 2015-09-27 10:39
Thanks for your comments. I am very sad to learn of Richard Rasnikov's death as I used to look forward to reading his comments, just as you mentioned.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative has served the housing needs of many low income students since its founding in 1933. Among its alumni are Gordon Moore, founder of Intel, who lived at Cloyne Court, children's book author Beverly Cleary, who occupied the same room at Stebbins Hall in which I lived 30 years later, and Oscar-winning film documentarian Charles Ferguson, briefly my roommate at Ridge House in 1973.
 
 
+22 # cmp 2015-09-22 10:14
Long ago, the Presidential Campaign and it's Primaries were designed to be a 500 day rolling dis-infomercial of distorted focus, half truths and lies.

The purpose of the campaign is for the candidates and the MSM to focus on the issues and repeat the self serving messages that the the Owner Class has bought and paid for. Bernie, being an "Outsider" and not owned by the Owner Class, well, he is now the "poop" in their punch bowl.. ... lol..!

... It will be interesting to see in the next 4 years, just how the Owner Class changes the rules for any "Outsiders" crashing their Parties in the future..
 
 
+23 # George Baggett 2015-09-22 10:23
I think it important to clarify to Americans that prior to the fall of "Communism" the term Socialism was a code for Communism - equating the two to curb criticism of Capitalism. Years ago, I recall a simplistic flow-chart showing how socialism evolves into Communism. Clearly untrue and yet defining socialism as being the same has had a major impact on Americans voting against their own self interest. It seems to me that efforts to clearly differentiate the two terms should be a focus to retrain Americans who are convinced they are the same.
 
 
+13 # lfeuille 2015-09-22 16:42
Quoting George Baggett:
I think it important to clarify to Americans that prior to the fall of "Communism" the term Socialism was a code for Communism - equating the two to curb criticism of Capitalism. Years ago, I recall a simplistic flow-chart showing how socialism evolves into Communism. Clearly untrue and yet defining socialism as being the same has had a major impact on Americans voting against their own self interest. It seems to me that efforts to clearly differentiate the two terms should be a focus to retrain Americans who are convinced they are the same.


Yet, at the same time, Scandinavia has always been acknowledged as practicing a form of socialism without being demonized for it. It has been claimed that being so demographically homogeneous has allowed them to do what we could not possibly do. I'd like to see Bernie have a chance to challenge that assumption.
 
 
-50 # lnason@umassd.edu 2015-09-22 10:29
Those of us who are anti-socialist do not support income redistribution in any direction, either up or down. Thus we did not support the bailouts, the quantitative easing, the fed low-interest monetary policy, the Iraq invasion, or Donald Trump.

This article is basically accurate but the author sets up a straw man when opining that the opposition to "socialism" comes from greedy corporate crony capitalists and their ilk -- those people do support socialism for themselves.

The true opponents of socialism reject both the redistribution of wealth upward and the redistribution of wealth downward. It is always immoral to steal honestly earned money from one person to give it to someone who did not earn it, regardless of economic status of either party.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+32 # thekidde 2015-09-22 10:46
Yeah, and pave your own fucking roads. You are a tunnel vision fool.
 
 
-2 # Depressionborn 2015-09-26 15:14
Good roads have nothing to do with taking income from one and giving it to another. Sorry kidde, yu make no sense.
 
 
+31 # bardphile 2015-09-22 10:49
Such neutrality is easy to conceive in the abstract but doesn't exist in large-scale capitalism. When the ownership class uses its wealth to buy "democracy" and skew the system to reward itself and live well off the poverty and misery of the working class, that isn't money "honestly earned," and taxing the rich to support a minimal safety net isn't "stealing." The ownership owes FDR big time for co-opting the ideas of the far left to preserve the basics of capitalism, and it would do well to welcome socialist ideas that enable workers to keep enough of their depressed wages to buy stuff. But human greed being what it is, substantial government involvement is necessary, moral, and just.
 
 
+30 # reiverpacific 2015-09-22 10:53
Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
Those of us who are anti-socialist do not support income redistribution in any direction, either up or down. Thus we did not support the bailouts, the quantitative easing, the fed low-interest monetary policy, the Iraq invasion, or Donald Trump.

This article is basically accurate but the author sets up a straw man when opining that the opposition to "socialism" comes from greedy corporate crony capitalists and their ilk -- those people do support socialism for themselves.

The true opponents of socialism reject both the redistribution of wealth upward and the redistribution of wealth downward. It is always immoral to steal honestly earned money from one person to give it to someone who did not earn it, regardless of economic status of either party.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts


You don't understand very much about real life, do ya.
Ergo, you obviously haven't a clue about the true nature of Socialism, which has NEVER been given a honest chance in the selectively educated US of Armaments.
In Socialist countries (like Europe to one extent or another) taxes are progressive, support a universal safety net but are still better countries to run small businesses than the Oligarchy which the US has become since Reagan, unlike the truly "can-do" Nation it was in the 1970's when I came here, as it really was the best nation in the world to get one's chops out there, take some chances, be creative and make a good living.
 
 
+18 # nice2bgreat 2015-09-22 11:14
.
You sound like a fraud.

It's not like things are zeroed and there is neither socialism one way or the other.

Socialism in the US is heavily upward in its redistribution of wealth.

And you assert that, "we [the truly anti-socialists ] did not support the bailouts, the quantitative easing, the fed low-interest monetary policy, the Iraq invasion, or Donald Trump." But...

YES...

YOU...

LEE NASON...

DID...

and DO

support the UPWARD REDISTRIBUTION of WEALTH

and the policies and actions that you profess differences with !!!


You may not take responsibility for supporting upward socialism...

But you do contribute to it and it's perpetuation.

You are doing it here and now...

Under the guise of being against socialism of any kind, as if things are as they should be, or as if how-things-are has no relevance to whether changing the present direction of socialism has (at least temporary, if not permanent) merit.

As if in a vacuum, your idealist argument sits precariously and is conspicuously hollow.

You may feel that, because of what you personally would do, that that position immunizes you from guilt; but in that, you ignore even addressing reversal of existing upward socialism and the right-wing ideology and infrastructure that promotes and secures it...

All the while pontificating your illustrious purity of virtue, washing your hands of the existing circumstance to argue purity...

Reveals your fraud or a convenient blind spot.
.
 
 
+17 # reiverpacific 2015-09-22 11:53
@"nicetobegreat".
You're dealing with a Libertarian in the "Mess from Mass".
They're VERY confused and confusing people. Ron Paul is a good example.
 
 
+29 # mebemo 2015-09-22 11:15
"lnason@umassd.edu"] It is always immoral to steal honestly earned money from one person to give it to someone who did not earn it, regardless of economic status of either party."

The question of what kind of money is "honestly earned," is addressed by Bernard Shaw in the Preface to Major Barbara. There's no "clean" money in the system as long as "six or seven degrees of separation" can trace every dollar back to a government-spon sored weapons maker or private oil refiner.

Is money "honestly earned" by profiting from the sale of nutrition-free soft drinks? Or from the wage slavery of Chinese factory workers?

I could be wrong, but I suspect that writer Nason's "rejection" of redistributing wealth upward isn't as deeply rooted as that going downward. Don't hesitate to prove me wrong.

When we discover that co-operation is more favorable to human development than competition, more befitting our inherent nature, more expressive of love, we will stop conflating money and property with morality.
 
 
+16 # tm7devils 2015-09-22 13:57
[quote [quote name="lnason@umassd.edu"]

Stop trying to think critically, it's not working for you: "...honestly earned money..."?? - regarding the 1%? (Not not to mention 'the skirting of taxes').
If your head was any further in the sand, it would be poking out somewhere near Indonesia.
If UMASS is proud of you they are definitely in decline as an academic institution.
 
 
+16 # Ralph 2015-09-22 17:03
Like your interstate highway system, fresh tap water, parks, airports, sewers, social security, education, libraries, the list is endless? If you don't, my advice is to go live in the woods like Ted Kaczynski and stay off our roads.
 
 
+6 # jon 2015-09-22 20:19
You have read too much Ayn Rand.
 
 
+1 # Polisage 2015-09-23 19:24
Ayn Rand came from an agrarian country where ruthless men did stupid things (the White Sea Canal an the purges come to mind), whole populations were starved and persecuted, and rapid industrializati on gave rise to a new class of privileged party elites. No wonder she didn't trust government--and attracted admirers who thought self-interest was best kind of social wisdom. But as Alan Greenspan famously said, "I wuz wrong." If she were still alive, she might have discovered that the invisible hand sometimes goes up your dress. Or picks your pocket.
 
 
+12 # treespeaker 2015-09-22 10:48
BERNIE, BABY, BERN
 
 
+17 # Freedom13 2015-09-22 10:48
Someone mentioned a JFK speech earlier. That reminded me that someone else mentioned being worried that Bernie Sanders would similarly be assassinated for the threat he poses to the powers that be. Is anyone else concerned about this? Does he have good security? "May the force be with him!"
 
 
+3 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-09-22 12:44
Bernie is in no danger. His job at this time is to make Hillary look like the underdog. Before the election, all the issue of her emails will be settled to say she did no wrong. Bernie will then toss his supporters into the Clinton bag. When she wins Slick Willie will be in position to be made our representative in the United Nations.

We can see what good the first Clinton in the White House did for the New World Order (NAFTA, Banking deregulation and the concentration of all media to a few major corporations) ---beware what is ahead of us if we sent another Clinton to the White House.
 
 
+10 # Radscal 2015-09-22 19:11
The takeover of the podium by Marissa Johnson - and then a few others - in Seattle suggests that Sanders' security was nil, at least then and there.
 
 
+7 # angryspittle 2015-09-22 10:49
Nitpick. Conjure not conger.
 
 
+16 # MDSolomon 2015-09-22 10:55
Let's be careful to define what is and what is not socialism. For example, look at Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution. All the powers listed therein--i.e., the power of the Congress to create money, build roads, have a postal service, have an army--are SOVEREIGN powers. They have nothing to do with socialism (the term was not in use when this document was written) as the fascists (yes, let's call those who support corporate control over the state what they really are, including the red and blue party apparatchiks) would like us to believe. The U.S. is not a sovereign entity, since it does not print its own money, but operates as a public sector subsidiary of the international banking cartel and uses their private bank notes ("Federal" Reserve Notes) as its medium of exchange. So, what we have is the fascists versus the people. The people need to regain their sovereignty by declaring unconstitutiona l the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, passed with only three senators present, create a public banking network, restore, verifiable voting, and decentralize the media. Then, all these programs that Bernie, or better yet Jill Stein, are proposing, would be easily affordable, since we would no longer be paying interst to use the fascists faux currency, nor paying for their profiteering on wars, healthcare, education, etc. http://coloradopublicbanking.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-view-from-top-of-power-pyramid.html
 
 
+3 # evalderrama 2015-09-22 17:27
Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
 
+36 # elkingo 2015-09-22 10:56
O Bravo Marc! At last! Socialism, fucking socialism it is! Pussyfooting around the term is itself an obfuscatory propaganda "newspeak" measure perpetrated by the ruling cla$$. Socialism is inherent in the New Deal's reform, and it is inherent in the positions of our few visible enlightened thinkers, Eliz. Warren et al, let alone Bernie! But everybody's afraid of the term, because "it carries resonances of Stalin, Mao, Casto et al". Horseshit. Those entities were not socialist in any primary meaningful sense,but fascist dictatorships.

And how 'bout "single payer"? More horseshit: SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!

Let's tell it like it is and get on with it! This ongoing language-manipu lation is part of the cruel national psychosis, itself designed to stave off economic decency. Read your Orwell.

And let's stop the crap about "making America great". America doesn't need to be great. It needs to be sane and humane.
 
 
+3 # Caliban 2015-09-22 23:19
"America doesn't need to be great. It needs to be sane and humane". Well-said, noting also that a "sane and humane USA could be pretty great place to live.
 
 
-7 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 10:57
I have been studying socialism for over 50 years. The FATAL flaw in socialism is not Communist ideological drivel, but COMBINING economic and state power at the top, leading inevitably to oligarchic abuse. That's why I prefer the Blended Economies, Subordinated and Refereed Capitalism, and Social Democracy elsewhere. I've read Marx. He considered socialism only a transition stage, for ending corporate capitalism. Marx knew better than anyone the dangers of combining economic and state power, without countervailing influence. Marx did not intend to perpetuate your precious buzz word of the day: "socialism." He knew the dangers. "Socialism" may be your Fav word of the month, but it is obsolete, irrelevant, counter productive, as shown from Scandinavia to SE Asia, where there is NOT ONE SINGLE socialist country, not even Vietnam, where SOME forms of capitalism are flourishing. Instead of suggesting reading materials, I suggest that a few of you read more carefully, and that some set aside adolescent flirtations with "forbidden" ideas, like socialism, which is succeeding NOWHERE in the world, never has. Find a different "dirty" word to give yourself thrills. Most RSN readers want to have a serious, adult dialogue. Posting only plusses and minuses is for Facebook babies, Twits.
 
 
+8 # Bruce Gruber 2015-09-22 11:00
No, sell the taxpayer produced roads to private entrepreneurs - real capitalists know how to collect tolls at every intersection.

snark!
 
 
-1 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 11:01
Oops. I forgot. There is much to learn from Ayn Rand. But you do have to cherry pick, and avoid the allure of some of her very nice sounding reasoning that leads to very bad places.
 
 
+8 # bardphile 2015-09-22 14:14
Right. Rand's contempt for mindless conformity should resonate with most of RSN's readership. The ugly side of the coin is her contempt for democracy and enthrallment to capitalism's winners. As a general rule, there's a lot to learn from anyone with ideas, even (especially?) ideas that challenge our own thinking.
 
 
+5 # lfeuille 2015-09-22 16:51
Quoting bardphile:
Right. Rand's contempt for mindless conformity should resonate with most of RSN's readership. The ugly side of the coin is her contempt for democracy and enthrallment to capitalism's winners. As a general rule, there's a lot to learn from anyone with ideas, even (especially?) ideas that challenge our own thinking.


Rand's problem was that she seem to think that the only way to express individuality was to have more money than anyone else and be able to buy anything you want.
 
 
+12 # Buddha 2015-09-22 11:32
"So while your television or other corporate media outlet congers up visions of Joseph Stalin"

And that is the problem, 95% of the media in America is controlled by 5 MegaCorps all with the same misinformation agenda to serve the financial interests of their 1%'er Oligarch ownership. And the other problem, Americans are mostly rubes who even in the Information Age don't bother to educate themselves to prevent that corporate mass media from leading them around by the nose.
 
 
+13 # Gayle 2015-09-22 20:03
Only in the last 6-8 years have I been really scouring news sites and reading comments, which to me, are very enlightening to what ordinary people are thinking. Yes, we are rubes and will stay that way until nudged to think maybe we have been duped, and it is not some wild conspiracy theory.
About 4 years ago, I learned who the Koch Brothers are and the devastation they have already done, and what was even worse, was it has been happening for years. When I told my friends, they laughed at me, but I pressed them to read a few articles. This has opened a few eyes, and has snowballed to them telling their friends.
There has been the dumbing down of America. As an old Hippie and feminist, I became complacent while having a family and developing a career. Obviously I am not the only one, as much has slipped by me and others.
I recently retired and have more time to investigate more topics. Happily I can say I have found a wealth of alternative news websites and TV channels. Cutting the cord was a great idea.
This is my first post, as I just found this site today. Thanks for the many views and intelligent conversations.
 
 
+2 # Buddha 2015-09-23 08:59
Welcome to the ranks of the informed Gayle! Indeed, we do have quite a struggle to wake up the willfully uninformed and misinformed masses. We're sort of like Morpheus in The Matrix, trying to get people to choose the Red Pill.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-09-26 03:10
And that is the problem, 95% of the media in America is controlled by 5 MegaCorps: Buddha 2015-09-22 11:32

Exactly Buddha, thanks. Once we had "local" media by law. Then we got a new law. I wonder why.
 
 
+11 # Shorey13 2015-09-22 11:45
First, thank you Mark, both for creating and moderating this venue, and for this excellent article.

That said, two key elements are missing from this discussion: first, this is not a political or economic issue, but a MORAL one. Leaving millions behind while a few prosper is viciously immoral. Second, we should be talking more about the proper role of government and less about its size or power. Government will always wield enormous power, by definition. An institution which is so powerful should only serve to protect the weak from the predatory powerful. Yes, pave the roads and try to make sure we are not sold food that can kill us or cars that have and will kill us (GM or Volkswagen???). But it's primary role must be to prevent those who are mentally ill behind power (and the money that facilitates it) from taking far more than their fair share. No one gets rich in a vacuum. Predators need prey.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-09-26 03:07
Shorey13 2015-09-22 11:45

Fair share? Were you thinking of rationing coupons? We still have some from WWII.
 
 
+4 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 12:03
I HOPE economic, political, and moral issues are inseparable. The worrisome spectre is not Jo, Mao, Kimmy, but economic, state, and sometimes moral (Church) power combined, with no counter balances. The main counterbalance to inevitably dangerous Combinations is an active, well informed body of voters and consumers. These we DO NOT HAVE. We have met the enemy and it is not Pogo, it is our own ignorance and inactivity, in the Keystroke Era. Screen potatoes do not make revolutions; they don't even make sense. Experience is a great teacher. Try ORGANIZING support for "socialism." Tee hee. Never mind that, I couldn't resist. My Bad. Try ORGANIZING support for Bernie, for RSN, for voter registration, for voters willing to simply access easily available absentee ballots (in most locales). Skip the obstacles on Election Day. Outsmart them.
 
 
+6 # Robbee 2015-09-22 12:07
this story is so riddled with disinformation! let's start with ash says - "What makes Sanders’ ideas radical is that he wants all Americans to enjoy the benefits of Socialism, not just the top 1%."

1) bernie promotes "socialist" society as practiced in northern europe - is not pure socialism - capitalism flourishes - all is not taxed from the rich, who flourish there too, altho without winding-up with everything

2) there is nothing "radical" about socialism that bernie promotes here

a) since 1890, we've had anti-trust laws that permit breaking up giant businesses, such as giant banks

b) since 1898 we've has the estate tax, THAT REDISTRIBUTES WEALTH, currently taxes 17% of estates above 5.4 million, 10.8 for married couples, that skips generations (lives in being plus 21 years) if one lives long enough to have grand-kids, great grand-kids

c) since 1911 we've had progressive taxes

d) in the 1950's we had progressive rates above 90%

e) in 1938 congress enacted the first minimum wage that scotus did not declare unconstitutional

the only issue that bernie promotes that is in any way radical is the public funding, only, of all federal, state and local elections - we have never declared private funding of elections unconstitutional!

note that what opened floodgates to private funding was scotus "radical" ruling in the case of !% "citizens united" against us 99% - bernie is strictly honest and sincere about calling public funding "political revolution!"
 
 
+6 # Ralph 2015-09-22 17:12
You have to be kidding. We're getting bent over by the corporate fascists and any kind of socialism, whether it be the northern European variety or any other would be a vast improvement over what we have today. Crawl, walk, run. In that order.
 
 
-9 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 13:15
It was Karl Marx himself who said that temporary socialism would evolve into long term communism, as in commune-ism. But it devolves into oligarchy because of the unrestrained, un-counter balanced COMBINATION of economic and state power. NO successful socialist society has EVER existed. None exist now, just combinations of a variety of arrangements, from Finland to China to Vietnam, to India. Social Democracy, Blended Economies, Regulated capitalism.
 
 
-5 # Robbee 2015-09-22 13:35
well put, gray! thanks!
 
 
-10 # Robbee 2015-09-22 14:23
re: # wantrealdemocra cy 2015-09-22 12:44 "Hillary ... Before the election, all the issue of her emails will be settled to say she did no wrong. Bernie will then toss his supporters into the Clinton bag ...

"We can see what good the first Clinton in the White House did ... (yadda, yadda)"

- want knows alot that cannot be known! - for example, such as it was, hill already apologized for mis-servering her emails - no one has any reason to doubt that, despite contrary practice, use of private servers, by everyone else! (i even doubt that the state department server was less susceptible to hacks!, or zomblican 2nd-government access!, than the best encryption private money can buy! - look! here i am admitting that capitalism can! work better than our corrupt government! zomblicans take note! i confess!), hill already apologized - so want takes a point that has been admitted, apologized for, and still thinks "emails will be settled to say she did no wrong"? well, i dunno, but! whatever!

emails are the new benghazzi! zombies cannot get enough of them! zombies will never get enough of them! whatever! they mean!?!

and none of this bothers me at all! because, fair or foul, it's all part of the crap candidates for public office have to slog thru, and, besides, it's not victimizing bernie, who has more than his share of crap (socialist baggage?)to slog thru - just like hill has to slog thru bill! - go bernie!
 
 
+10 # boomerjim 2015-09-22 14:42
Socialism? Well, Bernie calls himself a socialist, and he is a moderate social democrat (small 'd'). He's for policies that would aid workers and most other Americans; and I support him. But when the GOP (or Democratic leadership) brand him as "socialist," they are using a stigmatizing label that suggests "communist," or even "Stalinist" -- suggesting the horrors that were carried out in the USSR. And the anti-government sentiment so ginned up in recent decades also draws on such stigma. That is what we are fighting, and hopefully will continue to have the opportunity to fight, with Bernie's campaigning. And Bernie's agenda has no overlap with what the stigmatizing suggests, any more than Britain's Labor Party agenda does.
 
 
+12 # lfeuille 2015-09-22 16:57
Yes, they are trying to stigmatize him by using the term socialist, but the solution is not to try to deny his socialism, but to educate people about what his brand of socialism really means in practice. Don't try to run away from the word. Make it a badge of honor.
 
 
+6 # Ralph 2015-09-22 17:13
It's an education issue. Self-identify as a socialist and then educate.
 
 
+10 # RicKelis 2015-09-22 14:44
There is going to be a lot of discussion on this subject of Socialism. Some neutral definitions from the dictionary could be useful.

American Heritage Dictionary definitions:
"Socialism. 1. a social system in which the producers possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.

Capitalism. 1. An economic system characterized by freedom of the market with increasing concentration of private and corporate ownership of production and distribution means, proportionate to increasing accumulation and reinvestment of profits."

Those antipathetic to socialism have spun the meaning away from the original intent. The altered meaning gets passed on to succeeding generations, becoming more altered in the process. At the end of this process, the original meaning gets inverted and you wind up with an Orwellian world where ""War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."
 
 
+6 # bardphile 2015-09-22 17:51
That definition of socialism sounds more like a horizontal trust. Here's the definition from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd Ed: "A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned COLLECTIVELY and political power is exercised by the WHOLE COMMUNITY" (emphasis mine).

I don't mean to nitpick, but definitions are important. Bernie isn't advocating socialism. The ACA isn't socialism, and neither is breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks. I trust Bernie to make the appropriate distinctions.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-10-02 21:17
Quoting bardphile:
That definition of socialism sounds more like a horizontal trust. Here's the definition from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd Ed: "A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned COLLECTIVELY and political power is exercised by the WHOLE COMMUNITY" (emphasis mine).

I don't mean to nitpick, but definitions are important. Bernie isn't advocating socialism. The ACA isn't socialism, and neither is breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks. I trust Bernie to make the appropriate distinctions.



Merriam Webster-the old one

Socialism:

: a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies

no wonder I think rsn is often nuts. Someone is changing the meaning of words.
 
 
+1 # RicKelis 2015-09-25 14:05
The definitions are from the American Heritage Dictionary (pre-Reagan conservative era editions) and are to be found under the heading "socialism" and "capitalism" respectively. You'll find a devolution of some loaded political terms as the conservative movement took over in the 80s. References to 'extreme right' are deleted; an example is the basic American Heritage definition of 'fascism:'
Fascism. "A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism." Later editions omitted the 'extreme right' reference. BTW,if "a horizontal trust is a combination of corporations engaged in the same line of business" -- that's miles away from socialism, which deals with the social side of life, not the corporate - IMHO.
 
 
+11 # jimmyjames 2015-09-22 16:29
Bern Baby Bern...and while you are at it, watch your back. They have evil ways to deal with threats to their empire...
 
 
+10 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 16:49
It is a bizarre sign of our times that Bernie could seem radical. He's pretty mild compared to many New Dealers actually serving in the FDR administration. Between FAUX News, NYTimes total sell-out, ANBCBS, and Eliot The Mark Suckerman filtering all the "news" for millions, a ridiculous lie takes hold. These assholes labeled Elizabeth "too radical" also. They probably will claim the Pope is an alien.
 
 
+5 # Shades of gray matter 2015-09-22 17:17
Why we need seriously graduated tax at the top: so Rupert can't own FAUX, Wall Street Urinal, National Neo-Graphics, and Al Jazeera. Enuf is enuf. I mean I like tabloids to browse while waiting in line, and I like to keep up with Elvis and Aliens, but I don't want Elvis appearing at archeological digs or setting our climate policy. BTW, if you look closely, Rupert could be alien spawn.
 
 
+8 # Gayle 2015-09-22 20:28
Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically— to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. Democratically as at the ballot box.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-09-25 20:22
Yes gayle I understand your post. But what if 51% vote for slavery.
 

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