Trump White House, lost in time warp, reports socialism is bad

Sometimes, somehow, it just gets funny. In the same week that the
Trump administration says it will leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear
Forces Treaty with Russia, the White House Council of Economic Affairs
(CEA) lets loose with a new report called, “The Opportunity Costs of

Not only does the Trump
administration have us hurtling back into the dark days of the Cold War,
but it shows that it’s co-opted a once-respected government
institution, here the normally careful and studious CEA, for use as an
awkward political mouthpiece.

Vox takes a good stab at
explaining why a research report declaring the impotence of socialism
and the vigor and rightness of capitalism would issue from the White
House in 2018. It has something to do with the threat of socialized
medicine. Suffice it to consider these priceless excerpts, which sound
like they were written by a fading John Birch Society egghead pining for
the good old days.

On page one, the CEA economists
state: “We find that historical proponents of socialist policies and
those in the contemporary United States share some of their visions and
intents.” The CEA report draws some shaky parallels between the
socialist authoritarians of old (Lenin, Mao, and Stalin) and the
democratic socialists of today (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren),
like this:

The Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who cited Marxism as the
model for his country, described “the ruthless economic exploitation
and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class”
(Cotterell 2011, chap. 6). Expressing similar concerns, current American
senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stated that “large
corporations . . . exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them
into huge profits” and “giant corporations . . . exploit workers just to
boost their own profits.”

See? They all use that
“exploit” word. Twenty-first century single-payer healthcare, then, must
have something in common with the starvation of the Great Leap Forward
and the bloodshed of the Stalinist Purges, right?

socialist narrative names the oppressors of the vulnerable, such as the
bourgeoisie (Marx), kulaks (Lenin), landlords (Mao), and giant
corporations (Sanders and Warren).”

report even takes a shot at French economist Thomas Piketty, whose 2013
book Capital put a thorn in the side of many right-wingers by pretty
much proving the dangers of the Achilles Heel of today’s capitalist
systems: That is, their habit of continually cycling capital upward to
the narrowest and wealthiest echelons of society.

(2014) concludes that the Soviet approach and other attempts to
“abolish private ownership” should at least be admired for being “more
logically consistent.

As Vox notes, the CEA report
spends a good deal of time explaining why the socialist agrarian systems
of 20th Century China and Russia didn’t work. A quick word search of
the report, however, finds no usages of “1928,” “stock market crash,” or
“Great Depression.”

The report eventually lifts itself out of the
past and attempts to dispel the liberal admiration of modern socialist
systems of the Nordic countries, which seem to work reasonably well. To
prove our capitalist system works better, the report points out that GDP
per capita is higher in the U.S. than in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and
Sweden. And to really drive the point home, the CEA economists show
that it’s cheaper to own a pickup truck in Bismarck, North Dakota, than
it is in Haugesund, Norway.In a recent poll, Gallup found that the
general view of “socialism” in the U.S. has evolved somewhat since 1949,
when the polling firm last asked the American people about it. In 2018,
the number of people who define socialism as government ownership of
everything has dropped by half, down to 17%. Around 6% still view it as
modified communism, and another 6% had, according to Gallup,
“non-specific derogatory opinions” about the term.

however, Gallup documents a shift toward a “gentler, lighter”
understanding of socialism. Around 23% of Americans now–an 11% increase
from 1949–see socialism as a means toward greater equity among people,
and 10% think it would bring about an increase in benefits like improved
social services and universal healthcare.

surprisingly, another recent Gallup poll found that only 16% of
Republicans have positive views of socialism, and they’re vastly more
likely to understand it as government control of the means of
production. On the other hand, 57% of Democrats say they now have a
positive view of socialism.

Geezgo for free. Use Geezgo's end-to-end encrypted Chat with your
Closenets (friends, relatives, colleague etc) in personalized ways.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post