Thursday, February 16, 2012

Great Moments in Socialism

1. "Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or "progressive" platform have been enacted: living wage laws, strong public-sector unions that militantly protect above-market wages and benefits, high taxes that redistribute income from businesses and the wealthy to the poor and bloated government bureaucracies. 

Would this be a shining city on a hill, exciting the admiration of all? We don't have to guess, because there is such a city right: Detroit."

2.  "The founding principle of the U.K.'s National Health Service, that care should be free to all regardless of ability to pay, has great merit. But so attached to that worthwhile idea are the English that many recoil in horror when words such as efficiency and profit are even mentioned in the field of healthcare. 

All that various reformers in both major parties have been trying to achieve in the past four decades is the creation of a system more responsive to consumer demands, to drive efficiency, innovation and quality while making scarce resources go further."

But alas, so entrenched is socialized medicine in the U.K. that any attempt to introduce competition or market forces is immediately rejected by socialism's "sick patient."

HTs: Small Dead Animals and Pete Krieger 

31 Comments:

At 2/16/2012 9:11 AM, Blogger Speedmaster said...

Indeed. It seems like the worst cities/municipalities/states in the country are run lock, stock, and barrel by Democrats.

 
At 2/16/2012 9:22 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

detroit? i thought he was going to say "caracas".

there is no more poignant example of the harm from socialism/communism in recent times than venezeula.

in a few short years, it has driven them from being a food exporter to famine.

contrast this to columbia, which shucked off it's socialist leadership and enacted a constitution based on individual and property rights. embracing capitalism has led to a huge boom in wealth, income, and growth. little know fact is that columbia has had the best performing stock market in the world over the last 10 years.

were i an undergrad looking for an econ thesis topic again (and boy am i glad i am not) this is what i'd write on.

it's an amazing study in contrasts.

 
At 2/16/2012 10:31 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Morganovich,

You're absolutely right. I would also add the ruthless hunting of the FARC ,carried out by the great President Uribe, helped create the current prosperity as much as anything else. Security and prosperity are mutually reinforcing.

 
At 2/16/2012 10:39 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

It is amazing, as you so correctly point out Morganovich, when you have neighbors that dabble in Socialism and those who dabble in Capitalism you can really see the difference. Hell, just look at West and East Berlin! North and South Korea! Hong Kong and Mainland China! The differences are striking.

 
At 2/16/2012 10:42 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

paul-

absolutely.

the track record of nations where other groups outgun the government is pretty poor.

you cannot protect the rights of citizens from someone who can kick your a$$.

 
At 2/16/2012 12:05 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

the track record of nations where other groups outgun the government is pretty poor.

you cannot protect the rights of citizens from someone who can kick your a$$.


That being said, how much freedom are we willing to give up for security?

Every expansion of power by the government, no matter how small or trivial, inherently comes at the expense of the liberty of the individual.

 
At 2/16/2012 12:59 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

jon-

"Every expansion of power by the government, no matter how small or trivial, inherently comes at the expense of the liberty of the individual."

this is not true.

up to (but not past) the point where your individual rights are protected government enhances liberty.

that is, in fact, the reason to have government.

if, as opposed to a state of nature, we have a government that prohibits murder and had to the power to enforce such a prohibition, that enhances rather than diminished your liberty.

i suspect you value the ability to walk down the street and not be murdered far more than you do your ability to murder others.

thus, your liberty is expanded.

you need no travel in an armed pack for personal protection.

expanding beyond the basic roles of defending individual rights, enforcing contracts, and defending borders does, as you say, diminish liberty.

but i think you are forgetting why we sought rights based government in the first place: to expand and protect liberty.

 
At 2/16/2012 1:30 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

expanding beyond the basic roles of defending individual rights, enforcing contracts, and defending borders does, as you say, diminish liberty.

but i think you are forgetting why we sought rights based government in the first place: to expand and protect liberty.


I agree with you wholeheartedly. I did not mean to sound as an anarchist (I am for limited government, not no government). What I merely meant to ask is what size of law enforcement is acceptable. You and Paul talk about groups outgunning the government. What is the proper level of response?

I have some thoughts about government expanding liberty, but that will be a discussion for another day,

 
At 2/16/2012 1:52 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"so entrenched is socialized medicine in the U.K. that any attempt to introduce competition or market forces is immediately rejected by socialism's "sick patient."...

Well dang! If that doesn't sound like medicare and medicaid I don't know what does...

 
At 2/16/2012 2:32 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Jon,

" You and Paul talk about groups outgunning the government. What is the proper level of response?"

I dunno, spend 40 years being terrorized by Marxist guerillas, and knowing innocent people who were dragged into the jungle and tied to a tree for years on end, then tell us what you think. Uribe's level of response was by any means necessary. The Colombian people overwhelmingly agreed and re-elected him in a landslide. I'm not going to second guess them.

 
At 2/16/2012 3:13 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I dunno, spend 40 years being terrorized by Marxist guerillas, and knowing innocent people who were dragged into the jungle and tied to a tree for years on end, then tell us what you think.

Right, but you could say that about any use of force.

I have to admit, growing up in a time when I've seen three wars (Gulf 1 & 2, Afghanistan), God knows how many conflicts and ethnic cleansing, I am squimish about the use of violence as a means to an ends.

I'm not trying to debate President Uribe's methods. But, all due respect Paul, I find your argument less than compelling. It has been used for every expansion of government power since Babylon. At what point to citizens say "enough is enough."

"King George denied us our rights so we must revolt!"

"The South is denying men's rights to we must fight to preserve!"

"The banks are infringing on people's rights, so we must regulate!"

"Companies are infringing on worker's rights so we must unite!"

"Saddam's infringing on human rights so we must invade!"

"Osama bin Laden's infringing on our rights so we must restrict!"

How much is too much? At what point are we not living for liberty, but living for security?

All men, regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual preference, or gender, are endowed with the Natural Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property. This much we know. But it is how we protect those rights that matters. So, I ask you again, how do we protect them?

 
At 2/16/2012 3:15 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Would this be a shining city on a hill, exciting the admiration of all? We don't have to guess, because there is such a city right: Detroit."

No, that was a combination of attacks from foreign interests courting the South and an envy of Detroit's well-being.

The job wouldn't be done until Detroit looks like what it looks today.

 
At 2/16/2012 4:04 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"No, that was a combination of attacks from foreign interests courting the South and an envy of Detroit's well-being."

Most normal people wouldn't see that as a conspiracy, they'd call it "competition". Paul McCartney being murdered in 1967 and replaced by an imposter is a conspiracy.

 
At 2/16/2012 4:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon M: "I'm not trying to debate President Uribe's methods. But, all due respect Paul, I find your argument less than compelling. It has been used for every expansion of government power since Babylon. At what point to citizens say "enough is enough."

It seems to me that the citizens of Colombia DID say "enough is enough", and elected Uribe to eliminate the threat of violence they suffered from Marxist guerrillas.

No matter what your ideology, I think you will agree that self defense is always a justified use of force.

If you were threatened by violence whenever you left your house, you would be justified in hiring an opposing force to eliminate that threat.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:01 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

No matter what your ideology, I think you will agree that self defense is always a justified use of force.

If you were threatened by violence whenever you left your house, you would be justified in hiring an opposing force to eliminate that threat.


I do not disagree with that, but when do we draw the line for safety? At what point does a police force stop enforce rights and begin infringing on them?

 
At 2/16/2012 5:03 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I mean, Ron, by that same logic, one could say the Russian people said "enough is enough" and chose the Bolsheviks.

I do not disagree that the government has a role to play in the protection of rights. But I am asking when does that transition into infringement.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:16 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

jon-

a key role of government is to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

they apprehend and prosecute a thief as opposed to the one who was stolen from or his friends doing so.

to be able to perform this function and make sure the rule of law and thereby protection of rights extends to all citizens, they cannot be outgunned by other groups.

if you can rob and kill, then go hide in a compound surrounded by a militia the government is unable to resist, well, that's life with the FARC, or in many parts of mexico, or lebanon.

when hezbullah has more men and guns that the government, well, the government cannot enforce laws on them.

i don't know how to give you a perfect answer on "what's enough?"

i'm not sure there is one.

and there is also value in an armed citizenry that could rise against an oppressive state.

if you want to rein in khmer rouge abuses etc, giving every mother a 9mm handgun would be quite a good start.

it's a complicated question, and the answer is always going to be subjective.

"strong enough to subdue miscreants but not so strong as to be tyrannical" is not a simple figure.

there's always going to be some back and forth on that.

i'm a huge second amendment fan. i think we should have guns as a guarantor of safety and ultimately, liberty.

but i would also hate to live in fear of local militias and gangs (which is part of why i own guns) not that it's even remotely dangerous where i live.

i know of no hard and fast equation for determining when police have gone to far.

in many ways in the US, i feel they have,especially around search and seizure.

but compared to the police in say mexico or china, well, i'm pretty happy with ours.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:25 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon M: "All men, regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual preference, or gender, are endowed with the Natural Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property. This much we know. But it is how we protect those rights that matters. So, I ask you again, how do we protect them?"

The individual right to keep and bear arms goes a long way toward that end.

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution acknowledges that right, and forbids government to interfere with it.

"King George denied us our rights so we must revolt!"

That was, in fact, people saying "enough is enough" to an oppressive government, and taking corrective action.

None of your other examples justifies government response or an expansion of government.

"Osama bin Laden's infringing on our rights so we must restrict!"

Well, no. OBL didn't exactly infringe our rights, he physically attacked people on their own ground.

If there's one clear role for government, it's to protect citizens from attacks by others. Having failed in that most basic duty, the correct response would have been an immediate and massive retaliatory strike on OBL and his organization as a punitive measure, and to eliminate the threat of future occurrences.

Waiting nearly a month until OBL and al Qaeda disappeared like smoke, then attacking and occupying a foreign country for 10 years was ill advised.

By the way, it's not possible for government to expand liberty, only to restrict it. Perhaps you are referring to a reduction in restrictions.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:31 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Jon,

Like anything complicated, it depends on your definition of infringement.
Some people find airport security extremely heavy-handed and others seem to almost take pleasure in being obedient in the face of "danger".

On the other hand, I happen to think that the freedom to vote without an ID is more dangerous than most of the security-based restrictions we have on us...sometimes it's even hard to tell the difference between freedom and infringement.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:46 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon: "I do not disagree with that, but when do we draw the line for safety? At what point does a police force stop enforce rights and begin infringing on them?"

Almost immediately. As humans aren't perfect, and don't have perfect knowledge. Typically, police don't so much protect you from harm, as show up later to make a report, and perhaps eventually apprehend a lawbreaker. That's why that 2nd Amendment is so important. And, if you want actual crime *prevention*, you must hire private security.

It isn't so much law enforcement that is to blame for invasion of our rights, as it is those in government who write the laws that invade our rights. The unconstitutional, Orwellian named "Patriot Act" is a perfect example.

 
At 2/16/2012 5:59 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Jon,

"I'm not trying to debate President Uribe's methods. But, all due respect Paul, I find your argument less than compelling."

Well, yes, because you live in comfort and don't have to worry you will be kidnapped if you venture outside the city limits. Uribe did some things that would have the ACLU howling if it were done in the US, and the traumatized Colombian people overwhelmingly said "f 'em!"
He also probably broke international law when he smashed Raul Reyes' compound on the border with Ecuador a few years ago.
All I can say is put yourself in my wife's shoes for 2 and a half decades and tell me you wouldn't cheer when you learn the military wiped out another nest of vicious terrorists.

But I do get your point, and I agree there is a danger of overreach. However, consider that Abraham Lincoln declared martial law in a time of similar crisis. We were able to somewhat put the genie back in the bottle.

 
At 2/16/2012 6:00 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Mike: "Some people find airport security extremely heavy-handed and others seem to almost take pleasure in being obedient in the face of "danger"."

More likely, some people's idea of romance is to be felt up by TSA creeps.

Danger? What danger? I'm way more likely to drown in my backyard swimming pool than be to be killed by a terrorist. Perhaps TSA ,agents could be better used watching private pools.

 
At 2/16/2012 6:30 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Ron,
Just to be clear, I'm with ya. That's why I put quotations around danger.

 
At 2/17/2012 12:51 AM, Blogger William Bruce said...

"a key role of government is to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence."

morganovich, I would be in complete agreement with your post if by "violence" you meant "justice." A monopoly on the legitimate use of violence would make all forms of self-defense illegitimate for those not in government, would it not? Or, do you hold to a universal militia paradigm, with "we" as the legitimate users of force? I, for one, would certainly not demand that individuals wait for the police or military to defend them...

"However, consider that Abraham Lincoln declared martial law in a time of similar crisis. We were able to somewhat put the genie back in the bottle."

Paul, thank you for the qualification inherent in that "somewhat," because it perfectly illustrates the imperfections and tradeoffs that were articulated earlier. As almost everyone here is bound to know, each major war fought by America has resulted in the seizure of unenumerated powers by the Federal government. Now, that may well be a fait accompli for those of a certain political persuasion, but it is an historical reality nonetheless.

 
At 2/17/2012 10:51 AM, Blogger Seth said...

I thought the Empire in the Star Wars series was good enough example.

The Emperor made all the same promises and between the 3rd and 4th episode we pick up 30 years later and find that the technology has moved 30 years behind. That's exactly what happens when you centralize innovation.

And, I think Detroit is a fitting real world example. I remember visiting there about 10 years ago and thinking I had stepped back 30 years in time. I thought to myself, "Man, Has the Emperor been in charge or what?"

 
At 2/17/2012 12:38 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"A monopoly on the legitimate use of violence would make all forms of self-defense illegitimate for those not in government, would it not?"

not exactly.

clearly, self defense ought to be legitimate. i certainly see what you are saying and perhaps ought have been more clear.

you can spin arguments about my attacking you putting me outside the social contract and no longer afforded its protections, and i had been thinking along those lines, but the more i think about it, the less persuasive that formulation seems.

if you steal a car, that does not make it OK to steal from you.

so yes, it ought not be a monopoly in the strict sense. perhaps a monopoly on first use is a better formulation.

 
At 2/17/2012 12:41 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Well, no. OBL didn't exactly infringe our rights, he physically attacked people on their own ground."

how is physically attacking someone and killing them not an infringement of rights?

murder seems like the most direct and poignant infringement of all.

 
At 2/17/2012 2:51 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Mike:
Try an actual argument, not character assassination.

 
At 2/17/2012 3:51 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Well this certainly has been and interesting discussion.

As a libertarian, I find this is one of the hardest conversations to have.

 
At 2/18/2012 3:36 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"how is physically attacking someone and killing them not an infringement of rights?

murder seems like the most direct and poignant infringement of all.
"

On further consideration, I realize that you are correct, and I render my previous statement on the subject inoperative. :)

 
At 2/18/2012 7:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon: "Well this certainly has been and interesting discussion.

As a libertarian, I find this is one of the hardest conversations to have.
"

As you are probably aware, libertarians come in several subtle shades, mostly about how much government is desirable, with opinions ranging from very little, to none.

If you aren't familiar with Rothbard, I have a recommendation for you.

Notice that it's a free e-pub.

 

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