Sunday, January 12, 2014

Communism!

Here's a snippet from a blog I've just stumbled upon. It's called "the Hipcrime Vocab." (I suggest you read the whole article if you've got time. It's worth it. You may even find yourself drawn to explore more the blog. That's rewarding also. And while you're at it, read the Rolling Stone piece. We're talking real subversive stuff, people.) First of all, I wish I knew what that meant, but I've looked all over the site and cannot find a clue, nor can I find out the name of the person who's writing this blog. But, he's on to something.
A recent article written by an author named Jesse Myerson at Rolling Stone entitled Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For seems to have made certain parts of the blogosphere see red – literally. The article has generated denunciations that border on hysterical, pretty much boiling down to “It’s Communism, Communism, I tell you!!!”
Here are the proposals:
1. Guaranteed Work for Everybody
2. Social Security for All
3. Take Back The Land
4. Make Everything Owned by Everybody
5. A Public Bank in Every State
Matt Yglesias [He's the guy who writes the economic/political column for Slate] describes them this way:
1. Unconditional cash transfers rather than bureaucracy-intensive welfare programs
2. Make-work government jobs for the unemployed
3. Budget surpluses invested in private financial assets
4. A land-value tax to raise revenue
5. Some kind of scheme where a public bank would make subsidized loans
I find it surprising he’s omitted universal health care – unless he’s counting the Obamacare Frankenstein as universal health care. It seems like that should actually be job one, especially since it’s already the current system of every other advanced industrial democracy on the planet (and many that aren’t – Cuba, Costa Rica, etc.). I personally would also include a reduction in working hours, and guaranteed vacation time (again, something already guaranteed by almost every other advanced democracy in the world). I would also strongly push for free university education (again, already provided in many countries).
He goes on to talk about what he really finds interesting . . . the hysterical reaction of the conservatives to this piece. They went "apeshit" in words of one observer. But there's shrewd appraisal here.
The fanatical overreaction to these proposals is almost as interesting as the proposals themselves. To me, it really shows just how scared the elites are of losing their power – and of new ideas. What’s happened is that any rethinking of the current system in light of economic justice is shouted down by one word – “Communism!” Of course, people have no idea what communism actually was – the state owning all the means of production – something, you’ll notice, that the article does not advocate at all. But all this hysterical screaming about communism is telling. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, any attempt at discussing economic justice is seen as communism, and we live with the predictable results. Most of the reforms that made the middle-class lives we enjoy today possible were put in place to head off the threat of communism. Now that it's gone, they're taking away those reforms and privileges and taking us back to the Gilded Age - which they never wanted to leave in the first place.
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