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« Modern media | Main | Truth in labeling »

Sep 14, 2008

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Graham Shevlin

Whenever I find a fellow American deploying the word "socialism" in a discussion, I always ask them to define the word.
9 times out of 10 I then get to sit back and watch that person floundering around like a beached fish, hemming and hawing over having to define a slogan. When people learn slogans by rote from talk radio or TV, they tend to use them as conversational bludgeons and bogeyman alerts ("socialism!" "liberals!" "angry bloggers!") as a substitute for, you know, actually constructing an argument. Most people in this country wouldn't know socialism if it fell on them.
Your point about the bailout of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac plays into a larger point about government. One thing I always notice in most discussions about the size of government is that people are usually in favour of "big government" when it involves spending on things of which they approve, and in favour of "small government" when money is being spent on things of which they disapprove.
Lost amidst this selective myopia is any sensible debate on the role of government in a broader context. Right now, I see no willingness on the part of electors here to start thinking about the role of government as the USA tries to move beyond its current issues of economic indebtedness and financial sector crises. Absent any such contemplation and debate, the role of government here will continue to be largely discussed in talk radio terms, with the use of words like "socialism" as a conversational bludgeon.

cara michele

"...we socialize risk and privatize profits when it comes to corporations, but we have trouble looking at social programs as investments in human capital."

Great column, Ed. Thought-provoking. Thanks. :)

Spag

"Maybe, I thought, we could come up with an equivalent to Godwin's Law, the rule of online debate that decrees the first person to invoke the Nazis in a discussion that has nothing to do with Nazis to be the loser."

That says it all, Ed. A clever way to prevent an apt description from being applied to liberals. Truly Machiavellian- discredit those who accurately describe socialism so that maybe the socialism that the Left is pushing can be achieved by another name. You guys have tried this by converting "liberal" back to "progressive", and now the hope is to give socialism a new name while keeping the same foul stench.

Rephrase "Cone's Law": The first person to identify socialism for what it is, automatically loses the debate.

The effect of such a law would mean that socialism could never be debated. Talk about a closed minded, authoritarian position right out of Animal Farm.

Here's an idea, let's also add the term "right wing extremist" to the new law along with "evangelical Christian" and "religious right", because those terms are also frequently misused and poorly defined in debates. The first person who uses those terms, loses too.

Sound good?

Ed Cone

I'm not sure what you are saying, Sam, or what you think I said. I'm all for discussing socialism and the proper role of government.

Godwin's Law doesn't mean we can never refer to Nazis or Hitler or fascists -- that would put the History Channel out of business overnight. It just means that invoking the bogeyman out of context, or in a way intended to shut down conversation, is not very helpful.

So if someone wants to yell "socialism!" at the suggestion of providing health insurance to poor kids, or preventing the collapse of the financial system, that's fine -- the point isn't to shut them up, it's to empower others to say, "well, perhaps by your definition, but let's continue the conversation anyway, because it's kind of important."

Beau D. Jackson

I don't want a government that controls the economy, just a pragmatic and efficient one that helps all Americans earn their own way, then gets out of the way. You can call that what you want, but I don't call it socialism.

I guarantee, if Obama gets elected, his very first priority will be to expand current social programs and introduce numerous others like "income redistribution." Obama, along with his other Left cronies like Kerry, Kennedy, Pelosi, and many other Democrats are of the opinion that the American people aren't smart enough to manage thier own every day lives, but those people I just mentioned, the elitiest of government, know whats best for the average American, hence more social programs and increased dependency of the American people on the government, giving the elitiest of government the POWER they seek. All incentives to be the very best you can be is now gone, and the rolls of the professional slacker i.e. people whom have been on welfare all thier lives will grow expedentially. Personally that's not the kind of government I want, and I'm damn sure it's not the kind of government our founders intended, I bet they are rolling in thier graves with disgust. Beau

Ed Cone

The Clinton-era welfare reform greatly decreased the number of people on welfare, so I'm not sure who these "slackers" who spend their lives on welfare might be. In any case, I don't support layabouts living off the public dollar.

cara michele

Haha, irony. I appreciated your post, Ed, while Sam used it to defend me, an evangelical Christian, from all y'all liberals. Funny. ;)

OK, I'm off to "run for shelter" and help homeless people. You are all invited to come join us! (P.S. I'm walking. Running is for cowards.)

Beau D. Jackson

The Clinton-era welfare reform greatly decreased the number of people on welfare, so I'm not sure who these "slackers" who spend their lives on welfare might be. In any case, I don't support layabouts living off the public dollar.

I noticed you responded to a tiny segment of my comment and not to its main topic. I called them "slackers" you called them "layabouts" same persons Ed! Welfare is still alive and thriving it's just that the programs have been given other cute names, take a ride over to the DSS and get a list of what's available to include the permenent and temporary programs. Your public dollars at work. Beau

Roch101

Beau Jackson wrote: "I don't want a government that controls the economy, just a pragmatic and efficient one that helps all Americans earn their own way, then gets out of the way. You can call that what you want, but I don't call it socialism."

I think you plagiarized that, Beau.

Spag

As to my point, your clarification is helpful but I still feel it lends itself to automatic discrediting of anyone who believes that an action is socialist. I do agree with your disdain of government bailouts of the private sector although as we have previously discussed, I believe it is more of a fascist move than socialist but I understand your argument.

But I also don't think you are being completely open when you refer to people crying socialism "at the suggestion of providing health insurance to poor kids". Universal health care is just that- universal. It doesn't end with just helping "poor kids". It is far more socialist than you admit. There are probably ways it can be done while being less socialist, but in a sense, anytime the government tells you what to do with your money, that is big government. When after telling what to do with your money, they give it to someone else, that is socialism

Barack Obama's tax plan for instance is pure socialism. He gives a tax cut to "95% of Americans", including the bottom 40% who pay NO taxes. That means they get free money paid for by the other 55%.

Beau D. Jackson

Beau Jackson wrote: "I don't want a government that controls the economy, just a pragmatic and efficient one that helps all Americans earn their own way, then gets out of the way. You can call that what you want, but I don't call it socialism."

I think you plagiarized that, Beau.

Hahhahahaha...............actually they call that copy & paste! Roch you should be in comedy, or, are you now!

Fred Gregory

Ed,

You blithely give credit to Clinton (era) for welfare reform but fail to mention that it was a Republican idea in the Contract with America endroduced by a GOP member of congress and wouldn't have been passed without a Republican majority .

Ed Cone

Fred, I said "Clinton-era," not "Clinton," for a reason. Find something real to complain about.

Beau, it's helpful to put quotes in quotation marks, or italics.

Sam, I don't necessarily disdain all government intervention in financial markets, although I do find many of the deals to be structured improperly.

Roch101

".actually they call that copy & paste!" -- Beau Jackson

Yep. You can plagiarize by cutting and pasting. Quotations marks are in order, if you can spare the keystrokes.

Roch101

"You blithely give credit to Clinton (era) for welfare reform but fail to mention that it was a Republican idea in the Contract with America..." -- Fred Gregory

More make-believe. Clinton spoke of putting an "end to welfare as we know it" in his 1993 state of the union speech. During his p1992 presidential campaign, "Clinton repeatedly said that welfare benefits should be time-limited, and that, after two years of job training and education, welfare recipients who can work should be required to do so."

The Contract with America was introduced "six weeks before the 1994 Congressional election."

Brad Krantz

Reflexively using the word "socialism" to argue against any policy that involves any degree of government involvement greater than that which is current is lazy and often without merit. It is no better an argument than saying that every dictator is Hitler or using the "Nazi" suffix to smear an opponent, as in "food Nazis,"
"femi-Nazis," or "smoking-Nazis."

One of Senator McCain's current chestnuts in pandering on the stump these days as an agent of "change" involves health care. He often says that Obama's plan would "put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor." The waving of the "socialized medicine" scare flag. Question. How's it all working so perfectly right now with no one between you and your doctor, as McCain implies, that is the current state of affairs? Answer: That leading statement and its very premise, is, of course an absolute lie. Right now, most of us HAVE a decision-making intermediary "between you and your doctor." It's called your health insurance company, in business to essentially deny coverage to those who most need it and tell doctors often what the hell they can and cannot do.
So I guess our "private exclusionary socialized medicine" is so provably better than any alternative approach?

Spag

Brad, I guess I know what people can expect to listen to on tomorrows "Brad and Britt Show"- another attack on McCain or Palin. That's not change, that's more of the same.

You know Brad, a lot of people who listen to your show also read your comments, and that makes it a whole lot harder for you to try and sell the idea that you're being fair on your show. Anyway, I digress- but not for long.

As for "socialism", what do you call a tax plan (Obama's- you know the other guy in the race who only merits time on your show when you are coming to his defense in the face of yet another unfair McCain/Palin attack) that gives a check to people who don't pay taxes courtesy of the 60 percent who do pay taxes?

You can complain about the health care system all you want and you won't be alone. But if your solution is socialized medicine, call it what it is. The mere fact that you think such a thing is better than the status quo doesn't make it any less socialist. This is exactly the problem with Ed's proposal- it involves a trickery to discredit people from identifying socialism and calling it what it is.

On an unrelated note, if Hillary had won the nomination and made Barack her VP, would you and Britt be bitching about Obama's lack of experience to be VP? Chew on that for awhile. You'll have to give me your answer off the air because I don't listen to the show anymore.

Fred Gregory

Brad Krantz, you stay in
the democratic part war room with the one

Fred Gregory

Yes, Ed, I noticed that rather than give the GOP majority credit for passing this bill you were purposely vague, otherwise blood would have come squirting out of your eyes.

And Roch this is what the Lions of your party had to say about it.

Welfare Reform

'So it seems a good time to remember the drama—make that melodrama—that the bill unleashed in 1996. Cries from Democrats of “anti-family,” “anti-child,” “mean-spirited,” echoed through the Capitol, as did warnings of impending Third World–style poverty: “children begging for money, children begging for food, eight- and nine-year-old prostitutes,” as New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg put it. “They are coming for the children,” Congressman John Lewis of Georgia wailed—“coming for the poor, coming for the sick, the elderly and disabled.” Congressman William Clay of Missouri demanded, “What’s next? Castration?” Senator Ted Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse,” Senator Chris Dodd, “unconscionable,” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan—in what may well be the lowest point of an otherwise miraculous career—“something approaching an Apocalypse.” '

Oh, the hummanity !

Brad Krantz

I apologize for my previous comments. No problems, no recession, self-correcting housing adjustment continues its orderly process, free markets currently working their magic. Obviously the problems are high taxes and over-regulation. I'm sure the Republican nominees will say "the American economy is fundamentally strong" and demonize nutjobs like me who hate capitalism and hate America. We need economic Reform geniuses like John and Sara more than ever, now. And of course this makes me so very happy because it may very well elect Obama. But when CNBC goes live with their "A" team of correspondents on a Sunday night, something is happening.

Roch101

"And Roch this is what the Lions of your party had to say about it." -- Fred

Look, Fred, let's not be stupid in public. You made an assertion that was wrong. Instead of acknowledging it or addressing it, you change the subject with "But, but, but, there's this other thing I'd rather talk about now..." I'm not interested in chasing a moving target. Thanks anyway.

Spag

Objection your honor, non-responsive.

Wilson

So let me get this straight...when the goverment bails out the airline industry, auto industry and Wall Street- that's just capitalism and the magic of the free market, but when the goverment bails out poor people with welfare and helps cover health insurance for millions who otherwise can't afford it- that's socialism and the evil of populist mentality? Doesn't the Constitution call for the goverment to "promote the general welfare" of the people? Were the Founding Fathers socialists or gasp...populists? I know that I'm just a country boy and don't understand these economic mysteries, so could someone please explain why it's good to help a faceless corporation in financial trouble but even better to flip your finger at a poor person with no health insurance? Just don't make any sense at this point.

Just Someone

Glad to see Brad and Britt are in the doghouse at WZTK.

They apparently got enough letters about them being in the tank for Obama , and more importantly, talking crap about the callers after they hang up on them.

Apparently I wasn't the only one noticing that it's not very sporting to personally slam a caller's intelligence or motive AFTER the caller has been dumped.

Hey Brad, Air America is kaput. I don't understand why you keep making audition tapes for them from 6-10 every weekday morning?

Ed Cone

"apparently"

Spag

Someone didn't figure out that it was a bit.

Ed Cone

I'm sure they're not the only ones, huh, Sam?

Spag

Probably not. I knew it was phony the first time Brad read the phony letter. The John Boy Isley reference, the whole NACB thing, and the way it was written were giveaways. Probably written by Britt. I sent an email telling them it was a clever bit given the criticism they have received (being one of those critics, I believe the criticism is justified), but Brad's "Brad Harvey" was awful.

I only heard about the first 45 minutes. Did they ever give it away?

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