Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Abbott-1

Sorry. I just couldn’t resist this one from Barry Levinson, on the minimum wage according to the logic of Abbott and Costello:

Lou: I am below the poverty line, things are desperate.
Bud: Then you need a job… go to work, Lou.
Lou: I have a job!
Bud: Then all is well.
Lou: But I can’t afford to live and support my family.
Bud: I thought you said you had a job.
Lou: I do.
Bud: Then why’d you say you can’t support your family?
Lou: Because I can’t!
Bud: But you just said you had a job.
Lou: I know.
Bud: Do you have a job or are you living below the poverty line?
Lou: I’m living below the poverty line. A lot of us are.
Bud: Then you don’t have a job?
Lou: I do have a job. A minimum-wage job that I can’t even support my family on.
Bud: Are you working illegally?
Lou: It’s a legal job, Bud!
Bud: A legal job and you’re living below the poverty line?
Lou: Precisely.
Bud: Oh, I get it. You’re working part-time?
Lou: It’s full-time. Forty hours a week! They need to raise the minimum wage.
Bud: But if they raise the minimum wage, it will put people out of work.
Lou: Who?
Bud:The people who are living below the poverty line.
Lou: I’m living below the poverty line!
Bud: Exactly. Isn’t it better to be working and living below the poverty line, than not working and living below the poverty line? That way you have a sense of pride.
Lou: But I need more money to get by.
Bud: Do you want to put people out of work? Do you want to be responsible for them losing their jobs?
Lou: No.
Bud: That’s the spirit. You all share in getting less.
Lou: Why can’t we all share in getting more?
Bud: That’s socialism.
Lou: Then what’s sharing and getting less?
Bud: That’s capitalism!
Lou: Why is getting a little more socialism?
Bud: Because if you all get a little more, someone is going to get less.
Lou: Who?
Bud: The person who used to get more. The job makers.
Lou: Why can’t they make a little less?
Bud: Well, that’s un-American! This is the free market… Do you want to destroy
American capitalism?
Lou: Of course not.
Bud: Do you want to stifle the American economy. Suffocate ingenuity?
Lou: No.
Bud: That’s the spirit.
Lou: But I can’t support my family. Bud, I work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, no vacations, and I still can’t support my family.
Bud: Criticize. Criticize. Be thankful you have a minimum wage. There was a time you could have been paid less than minimum.
Lou: There was less than minimum?
Bud: Yes! Be thankful that these are the good times.

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The line in the chart measures total U.S. government employment as a percentage of total nonfarm employment.

As Mark Congloff explains,

If President Obama is a socialist dictator like some say he is, then he’s doing it wrong: The government sector has slashed jobs steadily since the recession, shrinking government payrolls to their lowest level in eight years.* At this rate, there won’t be enough people to run the FEMA camps.

 

*Even longer (more than 12 and a half years) if we look at government employment as a percentage of total nonfarm employment (which was last this low in April 2001).

 

Gar Alperovitz puts forward a vision of economic and political change that embraces both uncertainty (mistakes will be made and new ideas will emerge) and radical transformation (new forms of economic and political democracy will be created in the process).

Lambert Strether offers some background to the cooperative institutions Alperovitz mentions in his talk.

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The final vote tally is now in: Kshama Sawant, an economist and a socialist, has been elected to the Seattle city council.

Sawant, a 41-year-old college economics professor, first drew attention as part of local Occupy Wall Street protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior college campus in late 2011. She then ran for legislative office in 2012, challenging the powerful speaker of the state House, a Democrat. She was easily defeated.

This year, though, she pushed a platform that resonated with the city. She backed efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15; called for rent control in the city where rental prices keep climbing; and supports a tax on millionaires to help fund a public transit system and other services.

“I will reach out to the people who supported Richard Conlin, working with everyone in Seattle to fight for a minimum wage of $15 (an) hour, affordable housing, and the needs of ordinary people,” Sawant said in a statement.

Here’s a link to her appearance on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

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Culture of wealth

Posted: 7 October 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Empathy

I’ve often argued on this blog (e.g., here and here) that, instead of studying the so-called culture of poverty, we should focus instead on the pathologies and culture of the rich.

Now, what I had in mind is something like the following:

how the rich underestimate the future costs of immediate satisfaction (especially the costs incurred by the employees of their corporations and by the taxpayers who were forced to bail them out) and their self-control problems (such as attempting to achieve more income and to accumulate more wealth even when they have plenty to buy everything they need).

But Daniel Goleman has discovered another set of pathologies of the rich:

Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them.

These metaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive. They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States. . .

Since the 1970s, the gap between the rich and everyone else has skyrocketed. Income inequality is at its highest level in a century. This widening gulf between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious reasons. Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a less advantaged person’s shoes. Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.

If the rich are much more prone than the rest of us to display a lack of empathy, maybe then we need to create a different economic system, one in which compassion is the norm.

There’s a name for that. . .

healthcare-clinics

Mike the Mad Biologist [ht: sm] has discovered that the people actually prefer at least a bit of socialism in their lives.

Once you get past all of the hooting and hollering about ‘socialism’, it turns out people like free healthcare clinics. In Montana, no less.

According to NPR, “Montana recently opened a second state employee health clinic in Billings, the state’s largest city. Others are in the works.”

I guess that socialism things actually works.