The subject title says it all. To listen to some GOP'ers talk, you'd think socialism was Communism.

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@Arcus  I feel most comfortable relating national happiness to income/wealth disparity. I wonder if any of these reports deals with that. (I'm with Unseen - too much reading).

Also does low income disparity automatically mean more "socialism"? I would think so. Unchecked capitalism must lead to one family (figuratively) owning everything.

Isn't it Bhutan that places a huge emphasis on the "happiness index". I think that should (somehow) be the primary focus of ALL governments.

In general I am sceptical to place too much weight on income inequality - the Gini coefficient - because it doesn't necessarily explain a lot. I.e. Ukraine has a low Gini, yet a joke goes that while 70% of Russians under 30 wish they were born in a smaller, Western European country, 100% of all Ukrainians wish the same. On a personal level I find measuring inequality in modern countries an appeal to envy, it's not that you lack a house and a car, it's just that you don't live in a mansion and drive a Rolls. I can only see it being a fruitful measure if 50% of the population live in slums without electricity or running water.  

A low income inequality doesn't seem to correlate with "socialism", but tend to correlate with being a European state and also having strong government institutions. If you want to make a small study for yourself I would suggest correlating the Gini with i.e. government ownership as percentage of GDP, data for which probably can be found from OECD, as a proxy for socialism.

Happiness is extremely difficult to measure and fungible. Usually the factors which create happiness aren't the same which lack of create misery, and vice versa; Hunger makes you miserable, lack of hunger doesn't make you happy, poverty makes you miserable, wealth doesn't make you happy, etc. I think measures such as the HDI are probably more informative as it provides a measure of where it's easiest for the average person to live a good life, while happiness tend to be endogen factors to individuals.  

OK, here it is - the secret of a happy life:


If you have enough - AND YOU KNOW IT - you're a happy person. :-)

"wealth doesn't make you happy" - clearly - but

"poverty makes you miserable", well, not necessarily. I hear A LOT more laughter while walking through slums than I do wandering through an Orange County Cantina. In counterpoint to envy we have 1%ers clutching at their pearls in anguish at the idea that some good people must try to survive on $250,000 - or even less.

The whole point of focusing on income parity is that it could mean that everybody has enough. As a race we certainly have the means. Obviously this isn't going to be accomplished through political means. In the face of a lifetime of indoctrination that more is good and less is bad, convincing people at any income level that they have enough is a tall order indeed. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it's futile under the framework of capitalism. Under capitalism, by definition, there can never be enough.

I guess we'll have wait until capitalism swats itself.

They are all borderline socialist states, with generous welfare benefits and lots of redistribution of wealth.

Not sure about the others but I can tell you now, Australia's welfare benefits are hardly generous. I had to borrow money to survive on them.

"Terrible " is a value word I'd rather refrain from using. The main issue with socialism is that it has been proven to be an inefficient way of allocating the resources created by an economy and it seems impossible to create political or legal systems associated with it which are uncorrupted. 

Socialism does seem to work better than a market economy for rapid industrialization and infrastructure creation of countries since it can pluck low hanging economic fruits via its inherent command-and-control sentral planning. I.e. a steel mill and tractor factory is ordered built and 5000 are ordered to work there is usually quicker than having the free market come up with investors who can pool their resources and find suitable employees. The difference happens after a few years, with the socialist steel mill and tractor factory only having production quotas, thus the only incentive is to mass produce. The market economy ones having to compete for customers and avoid bankruptcy, thus the incentive to innovate. Therefore socialist economies end up backwards and out-competed by market economies since the microeconomic incentive structure - the incentives for individual persons and companies - is geared towards stability and quantity. 

On a theoretical basis Marxist economics has also been disproven, a small piece of the criticism is the failure of the labor theory of value on both theoretical and empirical basis.

The only real problem with socialism is that capitalism is far more effective in our current social and economicclimate. Now dont get me wrong as i think capitalism is insane but it has been , and is still, the most useful economic model for the world today.Much in the same way as how  we now consider societies and economies once based largely upon serfdom or slavery as insane ,though you would have to admit that in their  socioeconomic climate they where remarkably effective.

The reason that i consider capitalism  insane is  because it is based upon the expectation of continuous exponential growth in a finite world with limited resources. And while this may be insane it does work extremely effectively until a certain point, now  i think we are reaching that point now. We have 7 billion people on this planet ( which is set to double within 70 years at current birth rates) and even just the environmental fallout from the waste inherent in capitalism  (as the business's which take an environmentally  responsible attitude will have increased costs and lower dividends than those which dont and who's only goal is to make as much money as quickly as possible) is starting to overshadow the benefits of capitalism.There is also the social fallout  as you cant create a stable worldwide society where a significant portion of its people live in poverty, There is lastly the economic fallout as governments fall into spiraling debt as they borrow from the future to pay for today. So i do think capitalism is starting to reach the point where its cons are starting to outweigh its pro's and that socialism in some form is going to be the logical progression from there.I dont believe socialism is so much the solution to these problems ( even if we could make every country socialistic tomorrow it would not fix anything and probably create alot of serious problems) though i do believe that as we tackle these various  problems the most effective solutions will drive our socioeconomic norm to be far more socialistic in the long run.

There is no one socialism; each differs from the others by the amount of government control.

Similarly, there is no one capitalism. They differ by the amount of government regulation.

I'm not persuaded that we here know what kind of either we are considering.

It's simplistic yet close to reasonable to divide the political spectrum into two directions - capitalism and socialism. Capitalism is all about competition while socialism is about cooperation and spreading the wealth (another swear word). Sharing the wealth cannot depend upon the generous hearts of the rich, the system must TAKE (tax) money from the rich. Guess what. The rich don't like it. But that does NOT mean they stop trying hard to make money. Along with swear words such as "cooperation", "equal rights", and the very words "socialism" and "communism", "spreading the wealth" is one of the many propaganda one-liners fed to every school-age child in every capitalist society over the course of their whole lives. It's false. The oligarchs pull out every stop to defeat these concepts and practices, but, although they won't admit it, after such social regimes are introduced, the end of the world fails to arrive, and businesses simply set about to create wealth within these new rules. In fact the opposite appears to be true. During periods of higher taxes and higher government spending, overall growth in the business sector seems to be higher.

However the oligarchs never give up. They continue to invest heavily in the propaganda war - always claiming terrible hardship even (like now) when they have or control virtually ALL the wealth.

The most important and enduring piece of propaganda EVER started with the downfall of the Soviet Union. The contention is that capitalism simply won out over communism because it is clearly a better system. The truth is that there was never a level playing field and factors like mobility and happiness were never considered ONLY MONEY. Under capitalism there is no built-in morality. "Greed is good". Constant growth is central. A capitalist society cannot survive without constant growth, and, if we're short on resources or labor, just TAKE it - that's history. Whatever it takes to ensure that the oligarchs' bank accounts continue to grow even when no real wealth is being created. Under socialism the morality (providing a decent life to ALL citizens) does not need a strong military. Cooperation is at the forefront. That's why socialism was such an easy target for capitalism which did, with malice aforethought, MURDER socialism.

Just like the word "Atheism" must be normalized, so too must "socialism".

Constant. perpetual economic growth on a single finite planet is absurd. Capitalism will, possibly within our lifetimes, hit the brick wall and crash horribly. The best thing we can do (partly by making the "socialism" alternative normal) is to mollify the effects of the impending crash.

..,factors like mobility and happiness were never considered ONLY MONEY.

I hope you aren't saying there that Communism allowed it's people mobility or that they were happy under Communism. Communist countries considered leaving their borders for almost any reason a crime against the state. As for happiness, in the USSR and in Mao's China there wasn't much to be happy about. Things are improving in China (with a long way yet to go) and the USSR died under the weight of its own mismanagement.

"I hope you aren't saying   "

Yeah I guess it sounded like that. Remember, though, the virtually everything that we learned about life under communism was through the filter of capitalism. I remember learning from the nuns (in grade school) how, in Russia, the government would actually spy on its own people; and, if they didn't like what they heard they would actually imprison people WITHOUT CHARGE and for YEARS <hear gasps from 5th graders>. We were told that this is the natural outcome of communism. Bull. A dictatorship is a dictatorship. Any time a leader expects people to believe that their rights are being stomped on "for their own good" or "if you're not a criminal you have nothing to fear", it ceases to matter what name they give their economic system. As we are WELL aware, suspension of rights can occur in a "free" society (oxymoron intended).

It terrible coz the rich dont like it.. How dare you demand equality between all people.. You see god(s) chooses some people to test with their wealth and others with their patience.. its a great way to maintain the Master - Slave relationship between people (i mean captialism ofcourse) i say Anarchy

Well, I suppose they might respond that "In fact, people aren't equal. Some are smart and industrious and some are dumb and lazy, so why should what they enjoy be equal?"


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