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Dec 21, 2008

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cheripicker

I’m not sure what message was intended in posting the New Deal article, but I hope that waxing nostalgic about “this most excellent vestige of American socialism” (WPA-Blue Ridge Pkwy) fills few hearts with false comfort and assurance for our future in light of our recent abrupt return down the same road to consensual submission to governmental rescue. At absolute best, this direction should be grudgingly accepted as a temporary, and I trust, necessary set of extraordinary measures in a supreme test of the resiliency of free-market capitalism in its darkest hour, not as evidence that it is a fatally flawed socioeconomic system that needs to be fundamentally redefined or replaced. I fear that there is a very real risk of the latter occurring, due to a perfect storm comprised of a messianic faith in the most socialist-leaning president in my lifetime abetted by a willing congress, the linkage of any policy remotely associated with the Bush administration with failure, and the unprecedented economic crisis, all semi-randomly converging at this point in time, each symbiotically reinforcing the others in the collective attitude of the nation. Luring us further down this path is the evolution of our population into a cohort which increasingly reaps the benefits of our nation’s cumulative wealth, while in its insularity and comfort, becoming increasingly disconnected from the basic history and principles that allowed its creation. If my fears that these trends and perceptions strengthen and reinforce themselves are realized, the resultant policies will portend the inevitable decline of our society. World War II brought us out of the Depression. Dependency on New Deal remedies is nothing to romanticize or to celebrate the return of. Those were NOT the good old days.

Beelzebubba

the Japanese navy ended the US depression. FDR owes them bigtime, but the Almighty saw fit to explode his head first.

RBM

@ cheripicker

Those were NOT the good old days.

Says you !! First hand experience would make you about 80.

I wouldn't know, directly, since I'm a tail end boomer. My times were marked with history setting affluence.

Ishmael

Yes, WWII brought us out of the Depression. But what FDR did before that time enabled the creation of a strong middle class that lasted well into the 70's.
The GI bill allowed returning soldiers to buy homes and build wealth and allowed our wonderful higher education system to flourish. The TVA extended power lines to rural communities allowing them to grow and prosper, and the safeguards placed on the stock market helped people to once again invest in the companies and products that made us first in the world.
If the "Guilded Age" were still here, then we could count ourselves as a country on the par of a Brazil or Argentina, where the rich few live like kings and most of the country struggles to live. If socialism keeps us from becoming this scenario, I'm all for it.

Beelzebubba

I said the Japanese navy, not WW2. People are confused as it is. Enough bumbling, stumbling and fumbling with causality. Even the socialists are giving up on socialism. They failed miserably at agrarian attempts to produce enough food for the citizens they did not cure with a 10 cent bullet. FDR's agents believed you cure hunger by plowing under millions of acres of crops and destroying thousands of tons of livestock. The educational system which evolved from FDR's social experiment is based upon content and not process. This cult of content gave us public schools which stress an oath to a cloth, which represents a metaphysical state and induces metempsychosis by adding the phrase "under God." This insures that the blunders made by the governments in ancient Athens and Rome will be repeated over and over. The human proclivity to herd is to blame for this. Before you choose an abstract ism to be for, examine why crop yields increased and famines decreased when free men were left to their own devices for the last 200 years. The same resources were available to men 6000 years ago as exist today. Fewer villages and towns are wiped out by famine today though populations have increased. Socialism served the species to a point for the last several thousand years. But the discovery of individual, personal freedom was the idea that changed the world. The principle was always there but it was suppressed. R W Lane put it this way-To exsist in socialism requires that a few share the belief in two facts and one fallacy; the fact that all men were created equal, the fact that all men are brothers and the fallacy that an intangible Authority controls or influences individuals. This mythical Authority of Society called socialism has one serious flaw. If you remove the individuals, you have no society. Free men have always struggled with the minions of imagined Authority. The struggle is made more difficult when agents of the imagined Authority are given power by leader-seekers who unfailingly manage to put a power-seeker in power.

Ishmael

I think you may be confusing socialism with communism, but that is a common mistake.
I too believe in personal freedom and the power of the individual, but you can't take individualism to an extreme unless you are Ted Kazinski (sp). Without a certain amount of social cooperation even capitalism fails (see: current bank bailouts & Madoff scandal).
I don't like Authority, either, but I can recognize that some people are better at leading than others. Communism failed because only individuals know what is best for them, not the state. However, capitalism is now on shaky ground because some people know ONLY what is best for them and don't consider the welfare of society as a whole. Too much of this could cause wholesale disgust with capitalism so the cure would seem to bring on the disease.

cheripicker

Beelzebubba, I agree with you completely. That anyone attributes the well-being of an entire segment of society to government-created programs that died out before many of them were born is a sad testimonial to that person's faith in individual achievement and responsibility.
Also, this pervasive envy of the rich is a petty vice, not a logical extension of some noble ideal of social justice. The prioritization of relative over absolute wealth is born of both jealousy and guilt and is corrosive to the greater good, both collectively and individually. I agree that socialism is a reliable means of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, if that is one's goal, in the long run by decreasing the wealth of the rich more than it does the poor. At very best it is a zero-sum game. Free market capitalism widens the gap between the rich and the poor, in the long run by increasing the wealth of the rich more than it does the poor.At very worst it is a zero-sum game.
The notion expressed above that various government interventions "allow" this or that is an oxymoron. Freedom allows. To allow is to not intervene with the intent of creating a desired result, based on someone's inherently subjective concept of fairness. This is a basic distinction between capitalism and socialism.
By the way, without needlessly nitpicky definitions, I think we all know that socialism is basically a hybrid of capitalism and communism. If you believe capitalism is a better system than communism, then we should dabble in socialism as little and for as short a time as absolutely necessary to get back on our feet, learn from our past excesses, punish the F--kers responsible, wisely and selectively increase regulation as needed, and stick with the superior, if imperfect system that as served us better than any nation in history

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