• Sydasis
    44
    Main question: Is it wrong for me to see ultra-high-taxation with the intent to redistribute wealth in a way that ensures total equality of outcome as a form of communism?

    For example, lets say every business owner and worker paid 100% of their paycheck to the government. The government spends those taxes on providing full medical care, housing allowances, post education, childcare, affirmative action payments, industry subsidization, immigration, and a universal basic income.

    The government may not control the means of production, but it would seem the same outcome is achieved. Would this be considered communism or something else? This is the direction western society has been swinging lately though and trying to get in its way seems to be asking for a punch.

    The back story on this is as follows:

    I feel a bit perplex by the recent pro-communism mindsets appearing on some campuses and a general shift towards more socialist leanings. Bernie Sanders, being an example.

    I'm also a bit perplexed by the modern term "alt-right", as it is being used to conflate a range of political and social movements into a single word; it's becoming a powerful slur to defame a person or to dismiss an idea. In the past I feel there were attempts to link Neo-Nazism with Right-wing populism, but where that failed, it seems like the term "alt-right" is succeeding.

    As per this topic though, I find myself being highly critical of communism, which for the last century I imagined this was an acceptable viewpoint, even in Canada. I don't know where or what happened though, did I hit my head while sleeping?, but I find myself being rather attacked for being resistant to progressive shifts towards communism. I feel like my views are being labelled as "alt-right", which doesn't make sense to me.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    What would really help is if you could define some of the 'attacks' you have had. It's very difficult as it stands to understand what you're trying to say here. Without something defining the rebuttals you're getting, it sounds like you're just saying that progressive taxation is wrong and you simply can't believe that anyone could be mad enough to disagree with you.
  • Larynx
    17
    There's an odd contradiction here. On the one hand, I get sense that you are concerned about the recent tendency to label a variety of disparate positions as "alt-right" and that's probably a fair concern as, generally speaking, many of those political positions have little common or not enough to begin to form a consensus. On the other hand, it strikes me that casually labeling positions as "communist", "pro-communist", and socialist (interchangeably no less) is an antecedently similar move - those terms are vastly different and vary in time, place, and depending upon the intention of the speaker. If the assumption is to say that all of those things entail giving 100% of one's income to the state or something along those lines - I think that is misleading at best if not a patently false assumption about the aims and differences amongst socialist and communist groups (let alone common ideological trends).

    Now as far as the "West" being more in favor of comprehensive benefits programs and social policies - that's debatable. More recent policy studies relying on internal government data (ranging from social benefits programs to income disparity) would suggest that the opposite is true. The US has cut a tremendous amount of social benefits over the past 50 years and with that relative income disparity has dramatically increased and market and disposal incomes relative to GDP have decreased. In other words: on a procedural level the trend would actually suggest the opposite of your position.

    Socially it might well be a different story, and perhaps intimately connected with the reasons enumerated above. As income inequality has increased and 'real' disposal income has decreased, it does indeed seem many younger people within the US are concerned about their economic prospects and the dramatic disproportionality in the concentration of wealth and the potential to acquire sources of income. People like Bernie Sanders, who discusses issues along these lines, are not "communist" or "socialist" in any historical or truly ideological regard but presumably more interested in relative decreases in income inequality - I think the ideal goal being something closer to public policy approaches of more Northern European states. Mind you, there is nothing about nations like Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, or even Iceland for that matter that are definitively "socialist" - they have, like every industrial democracy in the world, a mixed economy.

    I think the point here is that when pointing to a myriad of political positions and saying something like "I dislike communism" we're probably glossing over a tremendous amount of nuance in each political position while importing terminological disapprobations that needn't be applied. Whatever "communism" is - an ideological position or approach to political economics for instance - there's likely nothing intrinsically bad about it. Further, these things you're labeling as communism are, functionally, variations on a theme - a theme, mind you, that is not all that different in many respects than the one you are most familiar with.
  • Coldlight
    57
    As per this topic though, I find myself being highly critical of communism, which for the last century I imagined this was an acceptable viewpoint, even in Canada. I don't know where or what happened though, did I hit my head while sleeping?, but I find myself being rather attacked for being resistant to progressive shifts towards communism. I feel like my views are being labelled as "alt-right", which doesn't make sense to me.Sydasis

    Countries such as Canada and US have never directly experienced socialism and communism in same forms as could be seen in other countries. Political and economic regimes in those countries could never be compared to regimes, for example, in Soviet Union, Cuba, China. Therefore, they do not seem to understand that socialism and communism entail significant restrictions of individual freedom.

    And the history just repeats itself.

    I feel a bit perplex by the recent pro-communism mindsets appearing on some campuses and a general shift towards more socialist leanings. Bernie Sanders, being an example.

    I'm also a bit perplexed by the modern term "alt-right", as it is being used to conflate a range of political and social movements into a single word; it's becoming a powerful slur to defame a person or to dismiss an idea. In the past I feel there were attempts to link Neo-Nazism with Right-wing populism, but where that failed, it seems like the term "alt-right" is succeeding.
    Sydasis

    That's just a modern day propaganda. There're always individuals and groups with certain agenda that they try to promote. This time, it's about undermining the value of truth in our society, and seeking to destroy the unity. Brexit was a great example of that. Immigration crisis was inflated out of proportion in medias, which created a sense of panic, which in turn, by a low margin, got the vote for Brexit.

    People who seek truth don't go on shouting and protesting in the streets.

  • Sydasis
    44

    Attack might be a bad word, as it reflects some of the internal bias I have here.

    Disagreements with some friends is the extent of personal attack on the issue of high taxation, although I find myself being confused enough to take a lot of Youtube videos and Twitter responses as somewhat personally. I find myself also confused by other progressive social movements, which reinforces my biases of more progressive ideas.

    Many of my friends and family are rather in favor of increased social spending; free childcare, free medication, free dental, universal income, free post education, and more. To me this all comes off as a slippery slope, as individuals are turning to the government as the new father figure, and with that comes increased dependence on the government. They dispute this, which has me questioning myself now -- and the reason for the post.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    Strictly speaking, Communism ought to entail the 'withering away of the state' - at least according to Engels (i.e. no government at all). In the meantime, until communism is brought about, the state ought to function as a 'vanguard of the proletariat', ushering in the new communist society. After which it can 'wither away'. Of course exactly how this supposed to work out, and what the end result is meant to look like is all an open question. Also, said withering hasn't really worked out so well in the past. What you're describing seems more on the order of a strong social democracy.
  • Sydasis
    44

    I'll need to find time to provide you a proper reply, but I should point out that I live in urban Canada; not the USA. Please see Canada and the increased popularity of the NDP. My family extends into northern Europe as well.

    While I do not like Trump as a person, I do like some of his economic views. I believe this divisive divide in politics, where liking anything about Trump in Canada will land you in the loony bin, adds to my confusion and frustration.

    A video I saw the other day, trending on Youtube, is this: https://youtu.be/0omjeOt-U6w
    where at time https://youtu.be/0omjeOt-U6w?t=95 a correlation is subtly made that Trump = Extremism.

    crisis was inflated out of proportion in medias, which created a sense ofpanicColdlight
    Perhaps I am just a causality of watching too much media.
  • Sydasis
    44

    Perhaps that is the truth. I could just be overly paranoid here.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    and with that comes increased dependence on the government.Sydasis

    This is something that has always confused me about opposition to government benefits. I don't really understand the moral objection to being paid by a government. People making this argument (I don't know about you personally) generally seem to have no problem with a CEO earning more than a nurse. I'd argue its impossible to make a case that the CEO actually works harder than the nurse. You may disagree, but supposing it is the case it is clear that the amount one earns is unrelated to how hard one works.

    So, a person gets paid X amount by the government to do nothing at all, how is that morally different to a famous model getting paid 100 times as much to do barely more than nothing?
  • Larynx
    17
    Ah, you referenced Bernie Sanders so I assumed you were from the US. In either case, the statement still applies. Canada's taxation as a percentage of GDP is comparable to New Zealand, and the UK. It's far closer to the US in terms of taxation than it is the European "democratic socialist" models found in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, etc. In some ways 'the proof is in the pudding' as the saying goes: despite social popularity of parties like the NDP in Canada, or of politicians like Bernie Sanders in the US, there has not been significant policy enacted between 2011-2016 that has fundamentally altered the structure of either countries political economics in a way that would point toward anything even remotely "communist" or definitively "socialist" (and that does not appear to be an objective for characters like Sanders or parties like the NDP anyway).

    Trump is indeed a polarizing figure - not just within the US but globally. That, in no small part, is owed to his flamboyant personality, potential for ridicule, and ability to create spectacles where there are/were none while making the public feel as though the complexity of politics of accessible and virtually intuitive. Quite frankly, I doubt he has any serious economic policies (of the variety that could be articulated and passed in legislation) and, more than likely, the bulk of his broad popularity or disdain is a symptom rather than a cause of anything on the political spectrum within the US. I would wager that the difficultly in saying that you like him or parts of his platform is generated more so out of exported assumptions about his supporters, his supposed leanings, and the above items I mentioned. But none of that speaks toward or against developing levels of communist political economies or socialist policies - Trump, as a politician, is pretty boring when it actually comes to analysis through the methods of political science and political philosophy. Again, the social reaction to a politician or the popularity they generate does not always equate to policy proposals or enactment.
  • Sydasis
    44
    People making this argument (I don't know about you personally) generally seem to have no problem with a CEO earning more than a nurse.Pseudonym
    I acknowledge that a nurse does good, but a CEO can also do good. A talented CEO that's worth paying a small fortune too is able to execute on ideas that lead to new small fortunes. Such CEOs are not oblivious to the greed of people, the need for cash flow to turn the gears, or the value of abilities/network/etc. As a result, they often measure their own success in terms of wealth generation.

    My mother was a nurse and I personally was a medical technician in my younger days. No one wants to wipe the ass of someone else, but it is a job that needs to happen, admittedly. In Canada, decades ago, the government paid for a nurse's education and ensured a job opportunity; there was a shortage I suppose, but creating new nurses didn't take rocket science. Not all occupation shortages can be grown on demand however: talent goes to the highest bidder.

    In Quebec recently, 700 doctors I believe have attempted to forfeit a salary increase as they urged the government to instead spend more on nurses et al. Perhaps one challenge with this is that some doctors will leave the country if they are not paid what they are due. The middle east pays very well and even the USA pays perhaps 50% more than doctors in Canada. Those that stay, stay because of __insert_reasons__, but numerous times there have been doctor shortages resulting from low pay.

    Although 700 doctors might be willing to take a pay cut, if the province wants to retain 10,000 doctors, they need to offer attractive wages regardless. A doctor shortage in the 1990s was able to recover some of the lost doctors with increased pay. If nurses are ultimately not getting paid enough, the government needs to simply spend more or become more efficient.

    In the government's great wisdom previously, they assigned an arguably weak CEO to make the healthcare system more efficient, but ended up blowing a billion dollars. I think they paid that CEO just $107,000.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ehealth-scandal-a-1b-waste-auditor-1.808640
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/departed-ontario-bureaucrat-paid-762k-1.1115733

    His report says the board of directors at eHealth Ontario felt it had little power over CEO Sarah Kramer because she had been hired by chair Alan Hudson "with the support of the premier." That, McCarter said, gave Kramer the impression she had approval to ignore normal procurement procedures.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    did I hit my head while sleeping?Sydasis

    You didn't hit your head while sleeping. You were wide awake when an agent of the Alt-Right snuck up on you and hit your head very hard with a copy of Mein Kampf. You were unconscious for some time and have no memory of the event. Sorry. There will probably be long term after affects of the concussion and the not overly-refined trepanning which was done curb side (by somebody - we don't know who) to reduce the pressure inside your skull. Paranoia about communism and socialism is a common symptom of getting brained by a hard-bound copy of Mein Kampf.

    Now then:

    Is it wrong for me to see ultra-high-taxation with the intent to redistribute wealth in a way that ensures total equality of outcome as a form of communism?Sydasis

    It isn't wrong, it's merely mistaken.

    The idea of communism is that once the working class has gained the necessary sophistication to operate the levers of the economy, they will seize the means of production and thereafter operate it for the benefit of the working class -- which is most people (90% to 95%). When will the working class finally achieve this high level of sophistication? After many decades of development, the working class will reach the requisite level of knowledge, skill, confidence and wherewithal to become society in about 6 weeks. If you are a member of the bourgeoisie, you might want to arrange a long stay in a remote Jesuit retreat center in the Andes starting around the third week of April. It is far more likely that you are a member of the working class, in which case, YOUR TIME HAS COME!!! Rejoice and be exceeding glad; you have nothing to lose but your chains and a world to gain!

    We were all taught to hate Communism back in the cold war. Don't you remember the 5 minute hates we had every day in school? I suppose not -- that blow from Mein Kampf again. Well, we all hated communism. But bear in mind, the Current Campus Crusade for Communism doesn't have much to do with Karl Marx or Frederic Engels. The Campus Communist Crusaders are mostly a bunch of relatively privileged, spoiled whining brats who have nothing better to do than wallow in obscurantism and obfuscation, when they are not busy shouting down sensible people.

    Bernie Sanders, who I wish had won the election, isn't a socialist. He is at most "socialistic". That's OK, socialistic beats Trumpism all to hell. There is room within the conventional capitalist state for all sorts of social programs which help keep society stable and productive. Single Payer Insurance is the most efficient way to pay for health care, as it pretty much eliminates the burdensome and parasitical insurance companies. Single Payer will be a thorough-going de-worming of the Body Politic.

    I find myself being rather attacked for being resistant to progressive shifts towards communism.Sydasis

    Just tell your attackers to go fuck themselves and their mothers too, while they're at it.

    Bitter Crank
    Card Carrying Communist at one time
  • Sydasis
    44
    In some ways 'the proof is in the pudding' as the saying goes: despite social popularity of parties like the NDP in Canada, or of politicians like Bernie Sanders in the US, there has not been significant policy enacted between 2011-2016 that has fundamentally altered the structure of either countries political economics in a way that would point toward anything even remotely "communist" or definitively "socialist" (and that does not appear to be an objective for characters like Sanders or parties like the NDP anyway).Larynx

    Obamacare in 2010 was significant.

    PEW research indicates there is growing support for single payer health care in the USA as well:
    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/23/public-support-for-single-payer-health-coverage-grows-driven-by-democrats/

    The share of Democrats supporting a single national program to provide health insurance has increased 9 percentage points since January [2017] and 19 points since 2014.

    In Canada, the NDP is quite leftest by even Canadian standards, yet there is a growing bubble of support. Traditional liberals are feeling pressured to adopt greater socialist policies to remain in power, or convert to the darksi--, er, become a conservative.

    750px-2011FederalElectionPolls.png
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_2011
    (It might not be fair for me to put up 2011 election data, but the Liberals here have adopted more left-leaning policies in years since. The most recent federal budget here reflects that clearly.)

    The liberal party here has introduced free medication for those aged 25 and under, and there is an increase in spending on childcare. This is expected to be expanded if the NDP wins, with universal pharmacare, free childcare, more doctors, & more medical clinics. There is already a subset of the population here who are receiving a universal income, and I haven't seen a single person I've talk to here yet disapprove of rolling out the idea fully to everyone.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/06/06/basic-income-canada_n_16971060.html

    While there will be a backlash on this socialist momentum, eventually, I've never seen the pendulum swing this far before. So while there may not of been too many large scale moves yet, I have apprehension about what is coming. Maybe it is all just in my head.
  • Sydasis
    44
    I apologize that I can't really reply to your comment in full, because I found it hard to tell what was sarcasm, what was sincere, and what was trolling.

    Single Payer Insurance is the most efficient way to pay for health care, as it pretty much eliminates the burdensome and parasitical insurance companies. Single Payer will be a thorough-going de-worming of the Body Politic.Bitter Crank

    Canada may of been where all the communists went after being chased out of the USA in the previous century. Canada does have single-payer healthcare. It isn't that great. I've been spoiled with good healthcare, and what Canada has isn't it. It's like a used Honda Civic: it can get you to point B, but it's going to take some time to get there and it may break when pushed.

    Something to be aware of is that there is no private healthcare in Canada; or at least not for the masses. I can get my cat an MRI scan within 2 days, but it will take me personally between 2 and 6 months. The military (some politicians) and corporations are allowed to pay for private care (think, NBA players), a but not the average Joe. My family has flown to the USA for care on more than one occasion to receive treatment unavailable as a result in Canada. We aren't rich.

    When I walk into a public clinic, it's pretty obvious it's public. When I walk into a private clinic, the floor is marble and there may even be a fish tank. This is reflected as well by the age of the medical equipment and services that can be provided. Accessing a specialist requires hoop jumping, and typically I just do not go to the doctor anymore because I know I'll either feel better or be dead before I get my appointment. Doesn't help that parking is normally $15/hour, which was done to actively dissuade people from going if a bottle of pain pills would do instead. Be prepared to wait a few hours.

    NONE of this is to say the USA's healthcare system is perfect. It is a disaster in its own right, but I tend to think technology and disruptive systems can solve the insurance and red-tape issues. Perhaps even the rise of AI and centralized health care systems will improve things.
  • gurugeorge
    517
    Is it wrong for me to see ultra-high-taxation with the intent to redistribute wealth in a way that ensures total equality of outcome as a form of communism?Sydasis

    Sort of, Communism is more thoroughgoing than mere redistribution of wealth, which is more of a Left-liberal/Universalist cause. Obviously there's some relation between the two, genetically and doctrinally (in terms of their shared egalitarianism, particularly, which speaks to them as both being religion substitutes, atheist sublimations of the Judeo-Christian tradition), but Communism and Socialism are actually more to do with totally re-jigging the way society produces goods in the first place ("production for need, not profit").
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    I apologize that I can't really reply to your comment in full, because I found it hard to tell what was sarcasm, what was sincere, and what was trolling.Sydasis

    I am sometimes sarcastic, always sincere, and I never troll. I regret putting communication barriers in the way.

    I have heard complaints about Canadian health care very similar to yours. American health care is perhaps as problematic as yours, but in quite different ways.

    The objection to insurance companies is that they no service that could not be provided alternately. Each company collects premiums and contract with hospitals clinics to establish fees for services--independently. Health care is expensive, and the insurance companies (like Aetna, Prudential, Blue Cross, etc.) add from 15% to 20% of additional cost just to operate their pretty much superfluous service.

    For instance, many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) operate as non-profit cooperatives. They provide complete medical services in their own clinics and hospitals for their members in exchange for a competitive monthly premium. There is no paperwork involved in receiving care. A single payer system would work much the same way.

    The replacement of the insurance companies by a single payer wouldn't make medicine better, it would reduce the cost--no small thing.

    The US medical system tends to provide more services than necessary. I recently (thought I) broke some ribs in a winter accident. I ended up going to the ER when the pain became very bad (about 5 days after the event). A CT scan was performed. Necessary? Probably not. An ordinary x-ray would have revealed that the ribs were fractured, but not displaced, and thus couldn't puncture an internal organ. Quite possibly, unnecessary CT scans are a profit center for the hospital.

    I also had a fall on ice and landed on my rear end and hip. Should I have gone to the ER for examination? Yes, the pain was fairly bad but I have had this sort of injury before where there is major bruising and the pain lasts for weeks, and like with the broken ribs, I was pretty sure there was nothing they could do for it, and while Medicare would have covered it, there is no good reason to consume more expensive care than necessary, or to get yet more radiation from additional x-rays.

    For about a year and a half I had to pay my own premiums because I was unemployed and not otherwise insured. Over the course of 18 months it cost me about $25,000 to be an individual rate payer. Most of the 25000 went to the insurance company, since I happened to have nothing other than a few routine follow up visits for eye car during that period of time.

    $25,000 was a big share of my savings at the time, and given my age, I didn't have time to re-earn it.
  • Sydasis
    44
    their shared egalitarianism, particularly, which speaks to them as both being religion substitutesgurugeorge

    fascinating concept.
  • Sydasis
    44
    I apologize if I use terminology or phrases that are offensive or sounding hateful. I am here seeking your help for greater understanding and clarity. I am not consciously trying to be hateful if that comes off that way.

    For the sake of this discussion, I hope you don't mind if I use the following quoted definition of communism; there are variations I see online, but below is my interpretation.

    Communism, also known as a command system, is an economic system where the government owns most of the factors of production and decides the allocation of resources and what products and services will be provided.

    The most important originators of communist doctrine were Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Like the socialists before them, they wanted to end the exploitation of the masses by the few.

    Aspects of seizing private property may be worth including in the definition, although I suppose I don't believe that is an aspect that defines communism outright, particularly if part of the inner strategy is to allow a natural distribution of property once economic equity is had or by re-claiming of property/assets in final passing. We have heard of the "death tax" from the left for example, which could be such a strategy to reclaim property without revolt if implemented.

    Regardless,
    In socialist practice, once productive property is seized from the creators, the union gangs or government will run the businesses “on behalf of the community as a whole.” After socialism is instituted, any new businesses that individuals have built will (or “should”) be taken over by the government or gangs, as soon as the entrepreneur attempts to hire any wage workers.

    In the case of 100% taxation, there are no wages in outcome, so no entrepreneur could hire a wage worker regardless. In terms of property rights, if we consider China's 70-year 'lease' on land or whatever, that wouldn't be all too much different than a 100% death tax, no?

    As well, I didn't quite clarify if the economic system in this scenario was planned or unplanned, but currently I'd argue the government controls partial aspects of both means, services, and production. If the government is elected by the people, then arguable these systems are controlled by the people as well.

    If we consider money as a resource, governments often fund certain industries in an attempt to control products and services, no?

    For example, Canada dumps billions into the tech industry here, which creates jobs in the tech industry and technology services. Many startups are given investment by the government, but only on approval basis and under certain conditions. One condition might be that the company would need to hire a female executive to obtain the investment. Without the government's investment, many startups fail to launch in Canada, as Canadians generally have very conservative investors.

    Oil is controlled by the government here, by means of granting pipeline and drilling rights. It is also regulated in forms of carbon emissions, and conversely, the government will violate and seize native Canadian's lands to create new means of productions.

    Canadian media networks, from Radio to TV, are forced to create a quota of Canadian-focused content. About 30% I believe.

    In the USA, certain crops are subsided I believe, which controls the means of production.

    I do not believe that the a Communist government needs to control all the means of production and services: just the ones it wishes to. I'm not sure how a system of 100% taxation could avoid even further government regulation of what is produced, what services are enforced, etc.

    I am utterly exhausted in thought currently: I am sure my logic is flawed to know end. I am expecting my above arguments to be ripped to shreds.

    If only we had that.René Descartes

    I'm sure you are serious, although I find myself a bit shocked to hear that. ** 100% taxation.** I really struggle to contemplate that working effectively, if at all. What am I missing?

    He is not a Communist. I doubt you even have an understanding of what Communism is.René Descartes

    My argument was not that he is a communist, although I made the mistake of not clarifying that I believe his political beliefs are evidence of society approaching more communist values. It is quite possible I am just overly suspicious of some progressive policies, falling for far too much red-baiting online, or maybe I am just ranting nothing more than fears. I also often confuse social democrat with socialist, which in part relates to my main OP question.

    Huge popularity of right wing populist parties at the moment all over the western world.René Descartes

    I can't disagree, as Trump and Brexit and some anti-migrant attitudes have surprised me in the last couple years. I suppose those groups are the "alt-right" that is so hated these days, while the left is perhaps growing more leftist. If this is true, I'd expect a growing political divide between political views and ideologies, which I've interpreted as an increase in socialist attitudes.

    It seems that we share a different metric for where the center is in the spectrum of politics. I don't have an answer to this, and apologize if I upset you.

    I do not feel perplexed that people are looking to Fascism to solve all their problems.René Descartes

    Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties
    - some definition I found online to quote.

    I don't quite know why the term Fascism gets used frequently these days. I suppose for the same reason I spout anti-communism I suppose.

    I most definitely don't agree with Fascism though: I am a strong believer in democracy and am open to civil dialogue. I am a strong supporter of immigration, although I believe a merit based system that also provides for a balanced Canadian *mosaic* keeps the system stable. I am an advocate of the family too though, yet I find myself in constant internal conflict on how best to support the family.

    Do people here denounce Communism?
  • Sydasis
    44
    I am sometimes sarcastic, always sincere, and I never troll. I regret putting communication barriers in the way.Bitter Crank

    Thank you for understanding.

    Health care is expensive, and the insurance companies (like Aetna, Prudential, Blue Cross, etc.) add from 15% to 20% of additional cost just to operate their pretty much superfluous service.Bitter Crank

    That does seem to be the case from my readings, although it sounded like some of it paperwork overhead as well.

    It's not that private health insurance does not exist within Canada mind you, but it is instead for such services as pharmacare, dental, and superfluous services: maybe like back massages.

    I do personally pay out of pocket for my dental care and pharma though, and I definitely know I am spending quite a bit more than perhaps the budget student dentist down the street. The experience and available services of this clinic has made it worthwhile to me though. They have given me a 30% discount actually, knowing that I am no longer claiming insurance. My last dental appointment, the hygienist was sick, so they paid to bring in an stand-in to ensure I didn't have to re-book. I can't imagine that happening with a socialized service -- you'll just get a 'we are closed' sticker on the door when you show up instead. This has happened.

    The US medical system tends to provide more services than necessary.Bitter Crank

    I do tend to believe that. CT vs Xray seems like fringe case that is damaging, whereas I personally can't get enough of MRI testing if its available -- but it's never available in a timely manner. From muscle rips to head trauma, an MRI has repeatedly shed light on problems that have nagged me for months... because I've had to wait months.

    I've been rather fortunate as I grew up with doctors in the family, and they would pull favors to ensure quality and speedy care. Over time, those strings retired or died, and I started to realize how much I hated the actual health care system. I'm not a fan of the public education system either though, but I realize that there isn't a budget in place for a public system that I would of personally of loved to experience.

    $25,000 was a big share of my savings at the time, and given my age, I didn't have time to re-earn it.Bitter Crank

    I'm sorry to hear that. I can only imagine that insurance gets even more expensive with age.

    In the past, families , communities, and churches would support those who have fallen ill. Today, we have new technologies that can help us in ways that simply were not available previously; they can be quite expensive though. These new treatments were derived in part as a commercial enterprise to make money, allowing those who can afford them to gain access where no access before was possible.

    In Canada, I'd argue the incentive to develop new treatments and technologies isn't as great as it is in the USA. Many of the technologies and medications that appear in Canada come from US firms; we are lucky to have some of these products available as I doubt many 'superfluous' treatments would get enough funding in Canada alone. Given that many of these treatments are not made available to Canadians anyways, because the Government deems them too expensive, they might as well not exist at all.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2011/03/23/the-most-innovative-countries-in-biology-and-medicine/#26cee1251a71
  • Larynx
    17


    Just a quick note: "command system" isn't really a widely used definitional approach - certainly not on a philosophical level (academically or otherwise) nor commonly seen in intra-ideological discourse. I remember seeing that sort of thing in, honestly, bizarre textbooks for high schoolers and certain colleges nearly a decade ago, but there is a whole set of vernacular present with a lot of those assumptions about "communism", "socialism", etc. that is incredibly problematic and not at all endemic to communist thought and history.

    Part two of this note: there is often a very strange approach when talking about things like communism to assume that the objective is to "seize private property" but this was actually pretty antithetical to Marx's overall objective. Even later "Marxist" thinkers like Gramsci were not interested in seizing property, but rather seizing the means of production - which is a distinctly different notion. Taking your kitchen appliances, car, or TV doesn't really do much in terms or reorienting the mode of production in favor of laborer. Equally as important it does not effectively mitigate the potential for the market to commoditize goods and our relation to them - in fact it probably does the opposite as it just makes people feel angry because they had something "stolen". I know it's a popular trope within criticisms of things-labelled-socialism/communism to say that the goal is to seize property, but that's mostly a misnomer or at least seriously lacks a lot of context.
  • gurugeorge
    517
    Well it's pretty clear that there's a genetic connection between the Protestant sects - Puritans, Quakers, etc. - and early classical liberalism and proto-socialistic ideas in England, and (since the UK was the first country to have a serious, kingslaying revolution that inspired the rest of Europe) that ideological ferment was a major contributory strand leading to most European forms of socialism later (along with Jewish influence, also largely universalist), while at the same time being directly carried by the early English settlers to the northern USA.

    And then later on, as atheism became more fashionable among the intelligentsia (in Europe and the US), the religiously-based belief in equality was retained as a strong belief, only minus its theistic roots.

    It's a way of keeping the cake of (quasi-)religious fervour and eating it :)
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    The biggest and best criticism of the US health care system is that it doesn't deliver one of the primary benefits people think it should deliver: Better health. Can hospitals and clinics improve the health of a nation? Only to a quite limited extent:

    Since 1876, the year Koch published his Postulates for determining what microorganism caused which disease, (just to pick an arbitrary date) people have been getting healthier and living longer. Who is responsible?

    Not doctors, hospitals, and clinics for the most part. Much of the better health and longevity we enjoy is due to the efforts of civil engineers who built sewers, sewage treatment plants, and drinking water systems; farmers who grew more food (thanks in part to the Haber Process for making ammonium fertilizers), transportation systems that moved the food to market, and researchers who developed vaccination protocols for a dozen or so diseases. Pubic Health programs, in other words. Cleaning things up.

    Heroic surgeries for cancers and heart disease may be a good thing, (maybe not in some cases) but they don't extend the average lifespan all that much. Good treatment for broken bones, knife wounds (like, in the kitchen), bullet wounds (like in gangs and hunting accidents), and war wounds preserves life, returns many people to productivity quicker, and relieves suffering, For the most part, it doesn't extend life a lot. It improves the quality of life.

    We spend a lot of money on cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. In many cases, the treatment is unsuccessful and the patient dies. Much of the medical care people receive is at the end of life. That is, they don't survive the disease or the treatment.

    Antibiotics are the last major development in the process of extending longevity. Infectious diseases (tuberculosis, pneumonia, staph and strep infections, etc.) used to be the major cause of death. A small wound would get infected, the infection would spread, turn into septicemia, and before long, one had turned into a corpse.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    Well it's pretty clear that there's a genetic connection between the Protestant sects - Puritans, Quakers, etc. - and early classical liberalism and proto-socialistic ideas in England, and (since the UK was the first country to have a serious, kingslaying revolution that inspired the rest of Europe) that ideological ferment was a major contributory strand leading to most European forms of socialism later (along with Jewish influence, also largely universalist), while at the same time being directly carried by the early English settlers to the northern USA.gurugeorge

    Had I my life to live over again and could customize it, I would like to be a securely tenured history professor at a fat, well-endowed university where they would leave me alone to pursue whatever I wanted to pursue. The skein of religious history you displayed is one of the topics I would pursue.

    In his book The Better Angels of our Nature, Pinker says that the Puritans, with their strong commitment to community (City on the Hill) fostered acceptance of a strong state. This preference spread across the northern tier of states (more or less, one wouldn't want to go overboard on the "northern tier" -- Idaho missed out on the puritan influence) as the country advanced westward. The inheritance of this Puritan community/state/individual responsibility to the community and to God are better outcomes for people in all of the social institutions.

    It is in these states that the Puritan influence (along with Lutherans in the Midwest and Catholics) that strong voluntary institutions like religiously founded colleges, hospitals, social service agencies, came to the fore and stayed there. In addition, these states tended to spend more on education, health, rural highways, and so forth.

    The south, on the other hand, was owned by members of the largely cavalier class of Englishmen who had a much different take on reality. They loathed the centralized state, weren't very hot on community, were not much for egalitarianism, had a do-it-yourself attitude towards justice, and subscribed to that damnable male honor code. The south was backward largely because of this class's values: before the civil war, they were reluctant to build regional railroads, because they didn't recognize any self interest in it. They wanted railroads from their plantation to the docks -- nothing more. They weren't much for public education, etc. etc. etc. The south couldn't get behind its confederacy all that effectively because "the government" (under Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln) just wasn't a good thing to them.

    So it is that places like Minnesota and Massachusetts are at the top of wellness and prosperity indexes, and Alabama and Mississippi are at the bottom.
  • gurugeorge
    517
    The skein of religious history you displayed is one of the topics I would pursue.Bitter Crank

    I think it's a mixed bag, as most things are. There were positive elements that you mention, but Puritan fanaticism wasn't too pleasant, and its descendant in the Puritan strain of the Left today isn't too pleasant either. Frankly I prefer the Quaker strain of Protestantism and the Left - more hippyish ;)

    Actually it just occurred to me that you could probably trace those two elements to the psychological factors that Jordan Peterson mentioned re. political affiliation (in his collaboration with a researcher on this - and I think Haidt has a similar breakdown): so the Left has two sides to it, there's the side where it's all kumbaya, let's all love each other and be nice to each other, etc., and there's the side where the "disgust" factor is high - where once you've identified what you think is evil (or in modern terms: "oppression") then you blindly hate those you believe are perpetrating it, with no redemption possible. So that's the Quaker strain and the Puritan strain right there (effectively I think, what happens is that these two cultures would have respectively "taken" more strongly with psychologies already predisposed to them, so Quaker upbringing would make an already hippyish person more hippyish, Puritan upbringing would make an instinctive social justice warrior even more social justice warriorey).

    As someone who's moved from the far Left to the Right in the course of a life, I think I'm just an instinctive hippy/Quaker who's been mugged :)
  • ssu
    558
    Main question: Is it wrong for me to see ultra-high-taxation with the intent to redistribute wealth in a way that ensures total equality of outcome as a form of communism?Sydasis

    Yes. Because it's not communism.

    When you think about communism, the transfer of wealth isn't what it's about because then you would start from the assumption or the situation that there would be rich people to tax and poor that you redistribute to.

    Besides, the word "communism", just as "capitalism", "socialism" or "fascism" are used today in public discourse just as adjectives, which usually mean something negative without much thought given to what the underlying term and it's ideology is about. Like when you hear someone utter the word "Cultural Marxism", I would be pretty sure that the issue isn't the Frankfurt School that they are talking about. Or communism for that matter.

    Just like many leftist use the term "fascist" quite casually in many instances where the subject has nothing to do with actual fascism. It's just a convenient way to express something negative from the political right and is a pseudo-intelligent way to describe your thoughts.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    I think I'm just an instinctive hippy/Quaker who's been mugged :)gurugeorge

    I like that.

    There is another skein: the Dionysian vs. the Apollonian drive. I think it was D. H. Lawrence who criticized Benjamin Franklin for being excessively Apollonian. One simplistic way of putting it is that Lawrence thought Franklin was a boring square. One would look in pagan/neopagan cultures for the Dionysian tendency. In the 1960s the best example of Dionysian would be you hippies. In the1970s it would be gay men reveling in sexuality.

    The American tradition -- North and South -- is much more Apollonian than Dionysian. Dionysian impulses don't fit well into capitalism, the well ordered society, productivity, propriety, Puritanism, and all that. Dionysians, unlike Apollonians, do not respect the borders between exuberance and propriety. They don't thrive in highly disciplined settings like the factory. They buck the rules and regs. Apollonians observe the rules, the boundaries, the discipline of factory, farm, and mine.
  • Sydasis
    44

    I can't say I am a scholar in this material at all, so I value your insights here. The french revolution seemed to have an atheist component to it, as did the soviet union, but my memory from past readings is hazy at best.

    In Canada and America, I recall there being a spike in anti-christian sentiment online about 10 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Atheism The four-horse-men, etc. I perceived it as a bit left-leaning, with attacks undermining the conservative-right being the goal. I really don't recall much in the way of identity politics at the time, although universal health care and gun control were topics of debates. I tended to be a bit patriotic in my views; I was defensive towards attacks on Canada's health care system and gun laws, but I had no idea what I was talking about really. Still probably don't.

    Some of those who would "fundie bash" by means of Youtube response videos and forums, in the last couple years have mentioned that they now regret doing so now. I sense that on reflection they now realize that religion and holy morals had a value and function, even if the beliefs themselves were unverifiable or just plain wrong.

    I would say these fundie-bashers considered themselves left-leaning at the time, but have since felt disenfranchised by the left; by identify politics, for example. They also didn't connect with the existing right-wing parties, and as a result felt rather lost. When I first heard the term alt-right a few years ago, I first thought it was defining those now felt disenfranchised by the left.

    I was wrong about what the alt-right stood for, but in my defense, I don't think it still has any solid definition. Regardless, someone like Dave Rubin on Youtube, is a person I believe who represents this disenfranchised-left. I find Dave Rubin a bit more right-leaning than myself, but I think him, his audience, and even myself, are trying to find themselves in this new political world -- post-Christianity.

    It may not be an increase in Atheism though: Obama indirectly introduced identity politics in 2008, as well as there being a market crash, bank bailouts, and the Occupy Wallstreet Protests. Terrorism and anti-Muslim sentiment was on the rise, and with it racism and nationalism. Shortly after that Obamacare was front and center. Things still seemed to be under control though, but around the GamerGate controversy, things just exploded.

    There were ANTIFA-type riots here in Canada just the other week: breaking store windows, etc -- I'm wondering if those young adults growing up in a post-2008 world have been raised with just a completely different mentality and set of needs. I've looked at videos of these North Shore ANTIFA groups and they say things like "comrade", so it gets me pretty confused by what's going on there. I've just largely assumed they are confused and unhappy, but I don't recall this happening when I was younger.

    Maybe it's Russian trolls and social media propaganda. Maybe its Trump's divisiveness.

    I saw this article a few months ago and it really reflects how I am seeing things:

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/05/takeaways-on-americans-growing-partisan-divide-over-political-values/

    Democrats have moved left on several issues. Over the past few years, some of the biggest changes in opinions among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have been on race and the role of government. There has been far less change in the views of Republicans and Republican leaners. As a result, the public’s views as a whole have moved in a more liberal direction.

    I suppose when you don't share the same views of the direction the democrats are moving, or are disenfranchised by it at the least, you're left a target as you are without an identity. At least, that is how I feel, and perhaps it has left me to open minded to propaganda.
  • Sydasis
    44
    Not doctors, hospitals, and clinics for the most part. Much of the better health and longevity we enjoy is due to the efforts of civil engineers who built sewers, sewage treatment plants, and drinking water systems; farmers who grew more food (thanks in part to the Haber Process for making ammonium fertilizers), transportation systems that moved the food to market, and researchers who developed vaccination protocols for a dozen or so diseases. Pubic Health programs, in other words. Cleaning things up.Bitter Crank

    I can't disagree too much with anything you said here. Sanitation, understanding germs, washing hands, etc, have been key to healthier living.

    I would say that quality of life as you age has improved with medication advancements though, such as Lipitor, which is a anti cholesterol drug that numerous people I know use; I believe Trump is on it as well. I don't think my father would still be alive today if it weren't for that drug. DNA and stem cell research is also a very exciting field, which will allow for better prevention, detection, and custom medication/treatments.

    Doctors I hope will be all near obsolete in the near future, replaced by machine learning , robots, drugs, researchers, and technicians. I suppose this is something Communists and I might share in common, where automation and technology will lead to the unshackling of humans from certain burdens, but I struggle to believe these capabilities would arise efficiently in non-capitalistic systems.
  • Sydasis
    44
    Besides, the word "communism", just as "capitalism", "socialism" or "fascism" are used today in public discourse just as adjectives, which usually mean something negative without much thought given to what the underlying term and it's ideology is about.ssu

    Thank you for the reply.

    I see nothing wrong with the term capitalism, personally. :) I acknowledge capitalism needs some regulation to ensure the well being and rights of others, but I am a big fan of it.

    Just like many leftist use the term "fascist" quite casually in many instances where the subject has nothing to do with actual fascism. It's just a convenient way to express something negative from the political right and is a pseudo-intelligent way to describe your thoughts.

    I appreciate you saying this. I hear the term fascist used a lot, particular since Trump, but also with the rise of neo-Nazism and ANTIFA. I don't really have a grasp on what a casually used meaning of fascism is these day. If you could explain this in more detail, you'd actually help me understand what these ANTIFA types are actually trying to say. I have no clue at times.

    I suppose I'm guilty of saying "communist", although I suppose I've been using it with a definition based by historical representations of its implementations, versus out-right strict definitions. For example, Cuba, 1980's China, North Korea, Soviet Union -- these have been largely defined as communist states in my head, although they don't always live up to the strict dictionary definitions.

    I think I may be a hypocrite with my usage of calling someone a socialist/communist, but I might do so if that person is anti-capitalist or does not see a problem with the more extreme principals of socialism/communism. When someone calls me a fascist though, I get confused: no aspect of that do I believe in. I could be called a greedy capitalist I suppose, although every action in my career has been with the goal of improving humankind, and I do believe in many social welfare programs.
  • Sydasis
    44
    Yes. Because it's not communism.

    When you think about communism, the transfer of wealth isn't what it's about because then you would start from the assumption or the situation that there would be rich people to tax and poor that you redistribute to.
    ssu

    If a person is taxed 100%, their income is irrelevant, no? it would be no different than having no salary at all. I suppose wealth could be defined as any existing wealth, but if taxed on death, it would only be 70 years or so before that initial wealth was depleted.

    From that point on in the system, and individual could technically than horde their 'equally distributed' income, and obtain wealth over time simply by means of savings. I can see this as a reason for why this system wouldn't be communism, as any wealth is a property, and that property is community controlled and owned -- hording wouldn't be legal with Communism I'd imagine. (unless redistribution was provided by means of services, rather than income)

    I'm not sure why someone would work in such a scenario, where not working may allow result in the same income as another. If working is a requirement, I look to the Soviet Union where my Russian friend stated that jobs that required the least amount of time and effort were pursued. In the case of 100% taxation, I'd imagine you could define and take any job you deem, but with Communism, you are assigned a role by the community -- this could perhaps lead to unfettered propaganda.

    I suppose one way to resolve these issues, to control production more closely, is to not pay people equally, but have the 'government/community' pay people to do the jobs most demanded. Those doing jobs that are unwanted would be paid less or nothing. This might work in communism, albeit I could be wrong about that, but when speaking of 100% taxation, the idea is that with taxation you still allow for freedom of venture, corporate structure, and self-determination of role. Once you begin to assign roles, the illusion that there is any income to even tax at 100% is fleeting -- and this becomes even more clear once you start assigning people and paying them differently. At least in an equal pay system there is given the illusion of a social welfare system, rather than payment that is taxable. Otherwise there might be a paradox where you are taxed 100% on an imaginary salary to only be given a new salary that is taxed 0%.

    Does Communism require that property and means of production be seized by overnight force? Or is that just a belief that it would be the only way to ensure it would happen. I don't see how the principals of communism couldn't be established over time, gradually, which seems to me personally like the more realistic way of a sustainable outcome. 100% taxation seems like a gradual way, despite initial conditions.
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