DO NOT REPEAT THE NIGHTMARE OF SOCIALISM

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Jul 7, 2004
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DO NOT REPEAT THE NIGHTMARE OF SOCIALISM
5:52 AM 07/17/2018
Rep. Keith Rothfus | Congressman

It was 1979.

I was 17 years old and I had the opportunity to visit the divided city of Berlin, Germany.

Berlin was split in two, making the contrasts within the artificially-divided city incredibly stark. There was the free West Berlin, and there was the socialist East Berlin.

A wall separated the two to prevent people in the socialist East from escaping to the free West. People in the East risked death to escape from its unnatural, godless shackles and the ever-present Stasi, the secret police that spied on the people.


Don’t get me wrong. People in East Germany were equal: equally without opportunity and equally without freedom, that is unless you were part of the governing class.

The people were promised universal healthcare and a free education in a socialist utopia.

Instead, they got primitive health care, a so-called education that prepared them for the drudgery of an existence without prosperity and a polluted environment to boot. The leaders of the so-called “worker’s paradise” in the socialist East, however, had it pretty good: special schools with passes to visit the West, special hospitals for their privileged class, and even special summer resorts.

For socialism to “work,” it must kill freedom by creating two types of people: those who rule and those who are nothing but cogs in the socialist machine.

America’s leading socialist, Bernie Sanders, is visiting Pittsburgh Sunday as this scourge of an ideology is taking root locally.

Two so-called “Democratic Socialists” have won Democratic state legislative primaries right here in Pittsburgh. Barring something unforeseen, they will be seated as duly-sworn Pennsylvania State Representatives this December.

The Democratic Socialists are no longer hiding their agenda. They are upfront about it on their own web site: “The Pittsburgh Local of the Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.”

A socialist society. Controlled. People must be reminded of what this truly means. With the foregoing premise, theoretically you only get to do with your property, choose a career or get the health care or higher education you want if a bare majority of the people say you do. What else could “democratically and socially controlling” the means of production mean? It’s a recipe for societal paralysis, and that is exactly what you get in a socialist society.

This ideology is at complete odds with our Declaration of Independence, which speaks of people being endowed with God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and it is wholly inconsistent with our constitutional rights of not being deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.

We are seeing this ideology accompanied with shocking “in your face” tactics the new hard left is using to advance its agenda, from shouting down opponents to screaming vulgarities to Congresswoman Maxine Waters’s call to harass public officials. The American people must be reminded that socialism is not a dream. It is a nightmare that is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th century. Google it.

It is a dead-end ideology that countless Americans gave their lives to eradicate from the globe. Google that one, too.

Venezuela and North Korea, where people are literally starving, are the modern realities of socialism. Is that what we want America to look like? Of course not, and I will fight with every fiber of my being in Congress to make sure we do not head down that path.

The choice before voters this November could not be clearer. Freedom with prosperity, or, socialism with poverty. More jobs and higher wages, or more government and higher taxes.

The socialists can keep Che Guevara, the murderous Cuban thug from the 1960s, as their icon. I will stick with Lech Walesa, the freedom fighter from Gdansk who led the Solidarity trade union to victory over the Polish socialists.
 

Binman4OSU

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Aug 31, 2007
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But....we aren't going to implement socialism. We're going to implement DEMOCRATIC socialism.

Totally different
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
 

Pokit N

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#4
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
It's a legitimate thing to be worried about...
 
Feb 11, 2007
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#5
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
You may be right but the past performance of Obama and the possibility of Hilary made the election
of an outspoken Trump possible. Trump during his campaign spoke out in an angry way that somehow stuck a popular note with the average voter.
 

Binman4OSU

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It's a legitimate thing to be worried about...
It is one of the only reasons I would see for a legitimate need for a Trump impeachment at this point....to preserve American Democratic ideals through limiting his ability to push more toward Socialism....that and his consistent attack on Free Trade
 

Binman4OSU

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#7
You may be right but the past performance of Obama and the possibility of Hilary made the election
of an outspoken Trump possible. Trump during his campaign spoke out in an angry way that somehow stuck a popular note with the average voter.
Wait until the next POTUS election...that angry outcry will be against conservative democratic ideals...and we all better pray it doesn't strike a popular cord with the Millennial voting generation, that legitimately has the population size to rival the "average voter" of today

I would give one of my right hand digits to vote for Condi or a strong conservative woman for POTUS.
 
Feb 11, 2007
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#8
Wait until the next POTUS election...that angry outcry will be against conservative democratic ideals...and we all better pray it doesn't strike a popular cord with the Millennial voting generation, that legitimately has the population size to rival the "average voter" of today

I would give one of my right hand digits to vote for Condi or a strong conservative woman for POTUS.
If its the "Condi"...I think you are thinking she has already turned down the opportunity to be a candidate.
 

Binman4OSU

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If its the "Condi"...I think you are thinking she has already turned down the opportunity to be a candidate.
Yep..with a hard no. During my Masters program I wrote a paper on women leaders and did a profile of her. She has no aspirations to ever be POTUS, but I think she would be a good one.

One of the best parts of that profile was reading Barry J Sanders recollection of Condi coming to his house to recruit him for Stanford Football...and her involvement in recruiting for Stanford since the 1980's. It was fascinating.
 
Feb 11, 2007
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#10
Yep..with a hard no. During my Masters program I wrote a paper on women leaders and did a profile of her. She has no aspirations to ever be POTUS, but I think she would be a good one.

One of the best parts of that profile was reading Barry J Sanders recollection of Condi coming to his house to recruit him for Stanford Football...and her involvement in recruiting for Stanford since the 1980's. It was fascinating.
Fully agree....that she would be an excellent candidate. Her life story is amazing and very inspiring. I like Stanford a lot...my son was a Stanford Law graduate. But I have never understood how anyone with Stanford's rigorous academic standards could play a sport at Stanford and still get their academic work done.
 

Binman4OSU

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#11

Binman4OSU

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#13
Oddly enough a Dem pollster today thought that Haley would be a great candidate on the 2020 ticket

http://thehill.com/hilltv/what-amer...ter-haley-would-be-a-very-strong-presidential

And she just closed a South Sudan arms embargo the Obama admin couldn't get done.

But do you think conservatives would vote for a woman named Nimrata Nikki Randhawa who is the daughter of Sikh Indian Immigrants and was practicing Sikh faith until she was 24 and still attends Sikh religious events and Sikh Temple with her family although she converted to Methodist but still attends both faiths and was married in a Sikh ceremony?
 
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steross

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#14

Humanity is more important than money — it’s time for capitalism to get an upgrade
Jul 13, 2018 / Andrew Yang


What capitalism prioritizes, the world does more of. So how can we change capitalism so that it focuses on what humans really want and need? Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has a surprising proposal.

Think of the activities on the list below:

Parenting or caring for loved ones
Teaching or nurturing children
Creating art, music, dance
Working in struggling regions near our hometowns
Preserving the environment
Reading or writing for pleasure or personal growth
Preventative health care
Character-building for your kids, your team, yourself
Building community connections
Having a hobby
Becoming involved in local government

Most of us do some or many of these things — and usually, we don’t do them for money. What these activities add up to is what we might call a normal life, a well-rounded life of care and character, rich with community and creativity and balance. When you do these things, you don’t think of yourself as participating in capitalism.

But the fact is, capitalism moves and energizes the modern world. And what capitalism values, our world does more of; what it doesn’t, we do less of. Many of us feel like the activities of a normal life are becoming harder and harder to accomplish. So the question becomes: In a system where capitalism is a prime determinant of value, how can we preserve what we truly value as humans, what matters to us beyond money?

I’m someone who was educated to thrive and dominate in our capitalist system. And my deep conviction now is: it has to change. I’m an Ivy League graduate who followed the 59 percent of my peers into one of the four jobs we all take — lawyer, business consultant, finance, technology — in one of the four US cities we all move to, and in the process abandoning our hometowns and the dreams that first inspired our academic success. I watched the country’s best-educated young people fall into jobs that were designed to harvest and concentrate wealth, working insane hours to pay off insane loans. And my hometown friends who didn’t end up on the Ivy League track are facing a bleaker future, as automation destroys more and more jobs in towns across America, disrupting communities and families. No matter where we stand on the socioeconomic ladder, the future of the “normal life” doesn’t look good.

In the US, and in much of the developed world, our current form of capitalism is failing to produce an increasing standard of living for most of its citizens. It’s time for an upgrade. Adam Smith, the Scottish economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776, is often regarded as the father of modern capitalism. His ideas — that the “invisible hand” guides the market; that a division of labor exists and should exist; and that self-interest and competition lead to wealth creation — are so deeply internalized that most of us take them for granted.

Today, many people contrast “capitalism” with “socialism,” the social ownership or democratic control of industries. The perception is that capitalism — as embodied by the West and the United States in particular — won the war of ideas by generating immense growth and wealth and elevating the standard of living of billions of people. By contrast, socialism — represented by the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991, and China, which moderated its approach in the 1980s — didn’t work in practice and was thoroughly discredited.

This assessment of capitalism triumphing over socialism misses a couple of important points. First, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist system. There have been many different forms of capitalist economies ever since money was invented around 5,000 years ago. The current form of institutional capitalism and corporatism is just the latest of many different versions. Similarly, there are many forms of capitalism in service around the world right now. For example, Singapore is the fourth richest country in the world in terms of per-capita GDP. It’s had an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent or lower since 2009 and is regarded as one of the most free and open, pro-business economies in the world. Yet the government in Singapore routinely shapes investment policy, and government-linked firms dominate telecommunications, finance and media in ways that would be unthinkable in America, Norway, Japan or Canada. Like Singapore, many countries’ form of capitalism is steered not by an unseen hand — but by clear government policy.

Imagine a new type of capitalist economy that’s geared toward maximizing human well-being and fulfillment. These goals and GDP would sometimes go hand-in-hand, but there would be times when they wouldn’t be aligned. For example, an airline removing passengers who’d already boarded a plane in order to maximize its profitability would be good for capital but bad for people. The same goes for a drug company charging extortionate rates for a life-saving drug. Most Americans would agree that the airline should accept the lost revenue and the drug company accept a moderate profit margin. But what if this idea was repeated over and over again throughout the economy? Let’s call it human-centered capitalism — or human capitalism for short.

Human capitalism would have a few core tenets:
1. Humanity is more important than money.
2. The unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar.
3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values.

In business, there’s a saying that “what gets measured gets managed for,” so we need to start measuring different things. The concepts of GDP and economic progress didn’t exist until the Great Depression. However, when economist Simon Kuznets introduced it to Congress in 1934, he cautioned, “The welfare of a nation can … scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.” It’s almost like he saw income inequality and bad jobs coming.

Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person. Instead of having our humanity subverted to serve the marketplace, capitalism has to be made to serve human ends and goals.

In addition to GDP and job statistics, the government could adopt measurements like:
Average physical fitness and mental health
Quality of infrastructure
Proportion of the elderly in quality care
Marriage rates and success
Deaths of despair; substance abuse
Global temperature variance and sea levels
Re-acclimation of incarcerated individuals and rates of criminality
Artistic and cultural vibrancy
Dynamism and mobility
Social and economic equity
Civic engagement
Cybersecurity
Responsiveness and evolution of government

It would be straightforward to establish measurements for each of these and update them periodically. It would be similar to what Steve Ballmer (TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue talk: Our nation in numbers) set up at USAFacts.org. Everyone could see how we’re doing and be galvanized around improvement.

This could be tied into a Digital Social Credit (DSC) system, in which people who help move society in a particular direction might be rewarded. For example, a journalist who uncovered a source of waste or an artist who beautified a city or a hacker who strengthened our power grid could be rewarded with social credits. So could someone who helped another person recover from addiction, or helped acclimate an ex-convict into the workforce. Even someone who maintained a high level of physical fitness and helped others do so could be rewarded and recognized.

Maybe you smile in disbelief at the concept of “social credits,” but it’s based on a system currently in use in about 200 communities around the United States: Time Banking. In Time Banking, people trade time and build credits within their communities by performing various helpful tasks — transporting an item, walking a dog, cleaning up a yard, cooking a meal, providing a ride to the doctor, etc. The idea was championed in the US by Edgar Cahn, a law professor and anti-poverty activist in the mid-1990s as a way to strengthen communities.

Despite the success of Time Banks in some communities, they haven’t caught hold that widely in the US in part because they require a certain level of administration and resources to operate. But imagine a supercharged version of Time Banking backed by the federal government where in addition to providing social value, there’s real monetary value underlying it.

The government could put up significant amounts of DSCs as prizes and incentives for major initiatives. For example, they could allocate 100 million DSCs to reduce obesity levels in Mississippi or 1 billion DSCs to improve high school graduation rates in Illinois, and then let people take various actions to collect it. Companies could help meet goals and create and sponsor campaigns around various causes. Nonprofits and NGOs would generate DSCs based on how much good they do and then distribute it back to volunteers and employees. New organizations and initiatives could be crowdfunded by DSCs instead of money, as people ‘vote’ by sending points in.

We could create an entirely new parallel economy around social good.

The most socially detached would likely ignore all of this, of course. But many people love rewards and feeling valued. I get obsessed with completing the 10-punch card for a free sandwich at my deli. We could spur unprecedented levels of social activity without spending that much. DSCs could become cooler than dollars, because you could advertise how much you have and it would be socially acceptable.

The power of this new marketplace and currency can’t be overstated. Most of the entrepreneurs, technologists and young people I know are champing at the bit to work on our problems. We can harness the country’s ingenuity and energy to improve millions of lives if we could just create a way to monetize and measure these goals.

I’m no fan of big government. The larger an organization is, the more cumbersome and ridiculous it often gets. I’ve also spent time with people at the highest levels of government, and it’s striking how stuck most of them feel. One Congressperson said to me, “I’m just trying to get one big thing done here so I can go home.” He’d been in Congress for 7 years at that point. Another joked that being in DC was like being in Rome, with the marble there to remind you that nothing will change.

But I’ve concluded there’s no other way to make these changes than to have the federal government reorganize the economy. Even the richest and most ambitious philanthropists and companies either operate at the wrong scale or have multiple stakeholders that make big, long-term commitments difficult to sustain. We’re staring at trillion-dollar problems, and we need commensurate solutions. We’re in a slow-moving crisis that is about to speed up.
 
Nov 26, 2008
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#15
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
If you listen to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez speak for a few minutes those fears should alleviate somewhat.

She actually thinks unemployment numbers are low because....a lot of people have two jobs!

For people that think Trump is dumb, she is a next level of idiotic. She won't represent socialism/democratic socialism really well in the near future.
 

Cimarron

It's not dying I'm talking about, it's living.
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#16
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
Meet the socialist party of America.

Socialist candidates the 'future of our party,' says DNC Chairman Tom Perez

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/...ture-of-our-party-says-dnc-chairman-tom-perez

I'll ask again, how far left have the Democrats gone? To the point they openly embrace socialism, that's how far left.
 

CaliforniaCowboy

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#18
My biggest fear is that Trump's performance will lead to a big swing back so hard left in elected officials that Socialism will be embraced by more than it is today.

Obama made Trump possible. I fear Trump may feed the ignorant to vote for Socialist
Naw... the "people" aren't that stupid, despite what the left thinks of them. (at least not those that vote regularly)

The economy is the only factor that will affect the next election.

I think folks are getting it, when a bold leader steps forward, people understand and recognize it.

Capitalism makes rich people powerful. Socialism makes powerful people rich.

Look not further for evidence.... Capitalism - Trump. Socialism - Obama.
 

steross

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More thought-provoking stuff for those that can think beyond "Capitalism-good, Socialism-bad."
Nothing is black and white. The facts of the past do not always bode well for the future.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-poli...ric-weinstein-capitalism-socialism-revolution

Eric Weinstein on the crisis of late capitalism.

By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com Updated Jul 4, 2018, 9:07am EDT
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Robert Nickelsberg / Contributor
“We think of capitalism as being locked in an ideological battle with socialism, but we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.”

This is how Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and a managing director of Peter Thiel’s investment firm, Thiel Capital, began a recent video for BigThink.com. In it he argues that technology has so transformed our world that “we may need a hybrid model in the future which is paradoxically more capitalistic than our capitalism today and perhaps even more socialistic than our communism of yesteryear.”

Which is another way of saying that socialist principles might be the only thing that can save capitalism.

Weinstein’s thinking reflects a growing awareness in Silicon Valley of the challenges faced by capitalist society. Technology will continue to upend careers, workers across fields will be increasingly displaced, and it’s likely that many jobs lost will not be replaced.

Hence many technologists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are converging on ideas like universal basic income as a way to mitigate the adverse effects of technological innovation.

I reached out to Weinstein to talk about the crisis of capitalism — how we got here, what can be done, and why he thinks a failure to act might lead to a societal collapse. His primary concern is that the billionaire class — which he’s not a part of, but has access to through his job — has been too slow to recognize the need for radical change.

“The greatest danger,” he told me, is that, “the truly rich are increasingly separated from the lives of the rest of us so that they become largely insensitive to the concerns of those who still earn by the hour.” If that happens, he warns, “they will probably not anticipate many of the changes, and we will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this insensitivity.”


You can read our lightly edited conversation below.

Why technology might destroy capitalism
Sean Illing
The phrase “late capitalism” is in vogue these days. Do you find it analytically useful?

Eric Weinstein
I find it linguistically accurate and politically provocative. I don't think that what is to follow is going to be an absence of markets. I don't think the implications are that capitalism is failing and will be replaced by anarchy or socialism. I think it's possible that this is merely the end of the beginning of capitalism, and that its next stage will continue many of its basic tenets, but in an almost unrecognizable form.

Sean Illing
I want to ask you about what that next stage might look like, but first I wonder if you think market capitalism has outlived its utility?

Eric Weinstein
I believe that market capitalism, as we've come to understand it, was actually tied to a particular period of time where certain coincidences were present. There's a coincidence between the marginal product of one's labor and one's marginal needs to consume at a socially appropriate level. There's also the match between an economy mostly consisting of private goods and services that can be taxed to pay for the minority of public goods and services, where the market price of those public goods would be far below the collective value of those goods.


Beyond that, there's also a coincidence between the ability to train briefly in one's youth so as to acquire a reliable skill that can be repeated consistently with small variance throughout a lifetime, leading to what we've typically called a career or profession, and I believe that many of those coincidences are now breaking, because they were actually never tied together by any fundamental law.

Sean Illing
A big part of this breakdown is technology, which you rightly describe as a child of capitalism. Is it possible the child of capitalism might also become its destroyer?

Eric Weinstein
It’s an important question. Since the Industrial Revolution, technology has been a helpful pursuer, chasing workers from the activities of lowest value into repetitive behaviors of far higher value. The problem with computer technology is that it would appear to target all repetitive behaviors. If you break up all human activity into behaviors that happen only once and do not reset themselves, together with those that cycle on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, you see that technology is in danger of removing the cyclic behaviors rather than chasing us from cyclic behaviors of low importance to ones of high value.


Sean Illing
That trend seems objectively bad for most people, whose work consists largely of routinized actions.

Eric Weinstein
I think this means we have an advantage over the computers, specifically in the region of the economy which is based on one-off opportunities. Typically, this is the province of hedge fund managers, creatives, engineers, anyone who's actually trying to do something that they've never done before. What we've never considered is how to move an entire society, dominated by routine, on to a one-off economy in which we compete, where we have a specific advantage over the machines, and our ability to do what has never been done.


Sean Illing
This raises a thorny question: The kinds of skills this technological economy rewards are not skills that a majority of the population possesses. Perhaps a significant number of people simply can’t thrive in this space, no matter how much training or education we provide.

Eric Weinstein
I think that's an interesting question, and it depends a lot on your view of education. Buckminster Fuller (a prominent American author and architect who died in 1983) said something to the effect of, "We're all born geniuses, but something in the process of living de-geniuses us." I think with several years more hindsight, we can see that the thing that de-geniuses us is actually our education.


The problem is that we have an educational system that's based on taking our natural penchant for exploration and fashioning it into a willingness to take on mind-numbing routine. This is because our educational system was designed to produce employable products suitable for jobs, but it is jobs that are precisely going to give way to an economy increasingly based on one-off opportunities.

Sean Illing
That’s a problem with a definable but immensely complicated solution.

Eric Weinstein
Part of the question is, how do we disable an educational system that is uniformizing people across the socioeconomic spectrum in order to remind ourselves that the hotel maid who makes up our bed may in fact be an amateur painter? The accountant who does our taxes may well have a screenplay that he works on after the midnight hour? I think what is less clear to many of our bureaucrats in Washington is just how much talent and creativity exists through all walks of life.

What we don't know yet is how to pay people for those behaviors, because many of those screenplays and books and inventions will not be able to command a sufficiently high market price, but this is where the issue of some kind of hybridization of hypercapitalism and hypersocialism must enter the discussion.

“WE WILL SEE THE BEGINNING STIRRINGS OF REVOLUTION AS THE COST FOR THIS CONTINUING INSENSITIVITY”
Why capitalism needs socialism

Sean Illing
Let's talk about that. What does a hybrid of capitalism and socialism look like?

Eric Weinstein
I don't think we know what it looks like. I believe capitalism will need to be much more unfettered. Certain fields will need to undergo a process of radical deregulation in order to give the minority of minds that are capable of our greatest feats of creation the leeway to experiment and to play, as they deliver us the wonders on which our future economy will be based.

By the same token, we have to understand that our population is not a collection of workers to be input to the machine of capitalism, but rather a nation of souls whose dignity, well-being, and health must be considered on independent, humanitarian terms. Now, that does not mean we can afford to indulge in national welfare of a kind that would rob our most vulnerable of a dignity that has previously been supplied by the workplace.

People will have to be engaged in socially positive activities, but not all of those socially positive activities may be able to command a sufficient share of the market to consume at an appropriate level, and so I think we're going to have to augment the hypercapitalism which will provide the growth of the hypersocialism based on both dignity and need.


Sean Illing
I agree with most of that, but I’m not sure we’re prepared to adapt to these new circumstances quickly enough to matter. What you’re describing is a near-revolutionary shift in politics and culture, and that’s not something we can do on command.

Eric Weinstein
I believe that once our top creative class is unshackled from those impediments which are socially negative, they will be able to choose whether capitalism proceeds by evolution or revolution, and I am hopeful that the enlightened self-interest of the billionaire class will cause them to take the enlightened path toward finding a rethinking of work that honors the vast majority of fellow citizens and humans on which their country depends.

Sean Illing
Are you confident that the billionaire class is so enlightened? Because I'm not. All of these changes were perceptible years ago, and yet the billionaire class failed to take any of this seriously enough. The impulse to innovate and profit subsumes all other concerns as far as I can tell.

Eric Weinstein
That's curious. There was a quiet shift several years ago where the smoke-filled rooms stopped laughing about inequality concerns and started taking them on as their own even in private. I wish I could say that change was mediated out of the goodness of the hearts of the most successful, but I think it was actually a recognition that we had gone from a world in which people were complaining about inequality that should be present based on differential success to an economy which cannot possibly defend the level of inequality based on human souls and their needs.


I think it's a combination of both embarrassment and enlightened self-interest that this class — several rungs above my own — is trying to make sure it does not sow the seeds of a highly destructive societal collapse, and I believe I have seen an actual personal transformation in many of the leading thinkers among the technologists, where they have come to care deeply about the effects of their work. Few of them want to be remembered as job killers who destroyed the gains that have accumulated since the Industrial Revolution.

So I think that in terms of wanting to leave a socially positive legacy, many of them are motivated to innovate through concepts like universal basic income, finding that Washington is as bereft of new ideas in social terms as it is of new technological ones.

Sean Illing
But how did we allow things to get so bad? We’ve known for a long time that political systems tend to collapse without a robust middle class acting as a buffer between the poor and the rich, and yet we’ve rushed headlong into this unsustainable climate.

Eric Weinstein
I reached a bizarre stage of my life in which I am equally likely to fly either economy or private. As such, I have a unique lens on this question. A friend of mine said to me, "The modern airport is the perfect metaphor for the class warfare to come." And I asked, "How do you see it that way?" He said, "The rich in first and business class are seated first so that the poor may be paraded past them into economy to note their privilege." I said, "I think the metaphor is better than you give it credit for, because those people in first and business are actually the fake rich. The real rich are in another terminal or in another airport altogether."

It seems to me that the greatest danger is that the truly rich, I’m talking nine and 10 figures rich, are increasingly separated from the lives of the rest of us so that they become largely insensitive to the concerns of those who still earn by the hour. As such, they will probably not anticipate many of the changes, and we will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this insensitivity.


However, I am hopeful that as social unrest grows, the current political system of throwing the upper middle class and lower rungs of the rich to the resentful lower middle class and poor will come to an end if only for the desire of the truly well-off to avoid a genuine threat to the stability on which they depend, and the social stability on which they depend.

Sean Illing
I suppose that’s my point. If the people with the power to change things are sufficiently cocooned that they fail to realize the emergency while there’s still time to act, where does that leave us?

Eric Weinstein
Well, the claim there is that there will be no warning shots across the bow. I guarantee you that when the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators left the confines of Zuccotti Park and came to visit the Upper East Side homes of Manhattan, it had an immediate focusing on the mind of those who could deploy a great deal of capital. Thankfully, those protesters were smart enough to realize that a peaceful demonstration is the best way to advertise the potential for instability to those who have yet to do the computation.

“WE HAVE A SYSTEM-WIDE PROBLEM WITH EMBEDDED GROWTH HYPOTHESES THAT IS TURNING US ALL INTO SCOUNDRELS AND LIARS”
Why the economy is a giant house of cards
Sean Illing
But if you're one of those Occupy Wall Street protesters who fired off that peaceful warning shot across the bow six years ago, and you reflect on what’s happened since, do have any reason to think the message was received? Do you not look around and say, “Nothing much has changed”? The casino economy on Wall Street is still humming along. What lesson is to be drawn in that case?

Eric Weinstein
Well, that's putting too much blame on the bankers. I mean, the problem is that the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the bankers share a common delusion. Both of them believe the bankers are more powerful in the story than they actually are. The real problem, which our society has yet to face up to, is that sometime around 1970, we ended several periods of legitimate exponential growth in science, technology, and economics. Since that time, we have struggled with the fact that almost all of our institutions that thrived during the post-World War II period of growth have embedded growth hypotheses into their very foundation.

Sean Illing
What does that mean, exactly?

Eric Weinstein
That means that all of those institutions, whether they're law firms or universities or the military, have to reckon with steady state [meaning an economy with mild fluctuations in growth and productivity] by admitting that growth cannot be sustained, by running a Ponzi scheme, or by attempting to cannibalize others to achieve a kind of fake growth to keep those particular institutions running. This is the big story that nobody reports. We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars.

Sean Illing
Could you expound on that, because this is a foundational problem and I want to make sure the reader knows exactly what you mean when you say “embedded growth hypotheses” are turning us into “scoundrels and liars.”

Eric Weinstein
Sure. Let's say, for example, that I have a growing law firm in which there are five associates at any given time supporting every partner, and those associates hope to become partners so that they can hire five associates in turn. That formula of hierarchical labor works well while the law firm is growing, but as soon as the law firm hits steady state, each partner can really only have one associate, who must wait many years before becoming partner for that partner to retire. That economic model doesn't work, because the long hours and decreased pay that one is willing to accept at an entry-level position is predicated on taking over a higher-lever position in short order. That's repeated with professors and their graduate students. It's often repeated in military hierarchies.

It takes place just about everywhere, and when exponential growth ran out, each of these institutions had to find some way of either owning up to a new business model or continuing the old one with smoke mirrors and the cannibalization of someone else's source of income.


Sean Illing
So our entire economy is essentially a house of cards, built on outdated assumptions and pushed along with gimmicks like quantitative easing. It seems we’ve gotten quite good at avoiding facing up to the contradictions of our civilization.

Eric Weinstein
Well, this is the problem. I sometimes call this the Wile E. Coyote effect because as long as Wile E. Coyote doesn't look down, he's suspended in air, even if he has just run off a cliff. But the great danger is understanding that everything is flipped. During the 2008 crisis, many commentators said the markets have suddenly gone crazy, and it was exactly the reverse. The so-called great moderation that was pushed by Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others was in fact a kind of madness, and the 2008 crisis represented a rare break in the insanity, where the market suddenly woke up to see what was actually going on. So the acute danger is not madness but sanity.

The problem is that prolonged madness simply compounds the disaster to come when sanity finally sets in.
 

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More thought-provoking stuff for those that can think beyond "Capitalism-good, Socialism-bad."
Nothing is black and white. The facts of the past do not always bode well for the future.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-poli...ric-weinstein-capitalism-socialism-revolution

Eric Weinstein on the crisis of late capitalism.
By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com Updated Jul 4, 2018, 9:07am EDT
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Robert Nickelsberg / Contributor
“We think of capitalism as being locked in an ideological battle with socialism, but we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.”

This is how Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and a managing director of Peter Thiel’s investment firm, Thiel Capital, began a recent video for BigThink.com. In it he argues that technology has so transformed our world that “we may need a hybrid model in the future which is paradoxically more capitalistic than our capitalism today and perhaps even more socialistic than our communism of yesteryear.”

Which is another way of saying that socialist principles might be the only thing that can save capitalism.

Weinstein’s thinking reflects a growing awareness in Silicon Valley of the challenges faced by capitalist society. Technology will continue to upend careers, workers across fields will be increasingly displaced, and it’s likely that many jobs lost will not be replaced.

Hence many technologists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are converging on ideas like universal basic income as a way to mitigate the adverse effects of technological innovation.

I reached out to Weinstein to talk about the crisis of capitalism — how we got here, what can be done, and why he thinks a failure to act might lead to a societal collapse. His primary concern is that the billionaire class — which he’s not a part of, but has access to through his job — has been too slow to recognize the need for radical change.

“The greatest danger,” he told me, is that, “the truly rich are increasingly separated from the lives of the rest of us so that they become largely insensitive to the concerns of those who still earn by the hour.” If that happens, he warns, “they will probably not anticipate many of the changes, and we will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this insensitivity.”

You can read our lightly edited conversation below.

Why technology might destroy capitalism
Sean Illing
The phrase “late capitalism” is in vogue these days. Do you find it analytically useful?

Eric Weinstein
I find it linguistically accurate and politically provocative. I don't think that what is to follow is going to be an absence of markets. I don't think the implications are that capitalism is failing and will be replaced by anarchy or socialism. I think it's possible that this is merely the end of the beginning of capitalism, and that its next stage will continue many of its basic tenets, but in an almost unrecognizable form.

Sean Illing
I want to ask you about what that next stage might look like, but first I wonder if you think market capitalism has outlived its utility?

Eric Weinstein
I believe that market capitalism, as we've come to understand it, was actually tied to a particular period of time where certain coincidences were present. There's a coincidence between the marginal product of one's labor and one's marginal needs to consume at a socially appropriate level. There's also the match between an economy mostly consisting of private goods and services that can be taxed to pay for the minority of public goods and services, where the market price of those public goods would be far below the collective value of those goods.


Beyond that, there's also a coincidence between the ability to train briefly in one's youth so as to acquire a reliable skill that can be repeated consistently with small variance throughout a lifetime, leading to what we've typically called a career or profession, and I believe that many of those coincidences are now breaking, because they were actually never tied together by any fundamental law.

Sean Illing
A big part of this breakdown is technology, which you rightly describe as a child of capitalism. Is it possible the child of capitalism might also become its destroyer?

Eric Weinstein
It’s an important question. Since the Industrial Revolution, technology has been a helpful pursuer, chasing workers from the activities of lowest value into repetitive behaviors of far higher value. The problem with computer technology is that it would appear to target all repetitive behaviors. If you break up all human activity into behaviors that happen only once and do not reset themselves, together with those that cycle on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, you see that technology is in danger of removing the cyclic behaviors rather than chasing us from cyclic behaviors of low importance to ones of high value.


Sean Illing
That trend seems objectively bad for most people, whose work consists largely of routinized actions.


Eric Weinstein
I think this means we have an advantage over the computers, specifically in the region of the economy which is based on one-off opportunities. Typically, this is the province of hedge fund managers, creatives, engineers, anyone who's actually trying to do something that they've never done before. What we've never considered is how to move an entire society, dominated by routine, on to a one-off economy in which we compete, where we have a specific advantage over the machines, and our ability to do what has never been done.


Sean Illing
This raises a thorny question: The kinds of skills this technological economy rewards are not skills that a majority of the population possesses. Perhaps a significant number of people simply can’t thrive in this space, no matter how much training or education we provide.

Eric Weinstein
I think that's an interesting question, and it depends a lot on your view of education. Buckminster Fuller (a prominent American author and architect who died in 1983) said something to the effect of, "We're all born geniuses, but something in the process of living de-geniuses us." I think with several years more hindsight, we can see that the thing that de-geniuses us is actually our education.


The problem is that we have an educational system that's based on taking our natural penchant for exploration and fashioning it into a willingness to take on mind-numbing routine. This is because our educational system was designed to produce employable products suitable for jobs, but it is jobs that are precisely going to give way to an economy increasingly based on one-off opportunities.

Sean Illing
That’s a problem with a definable but immensely complicated solution.

Eric Weinstein
Part of the question is, how do we disable an educational system that is uniformizing people across the socioeconomic spectrum in order to remind ourselves that the hotel maid who makes up our bed may in fact be an amateur painter? The accountant who does our taxes may well have a screenplay that he works on after the midnight hour? I think what is less clear to many of our bureaucrats in Washington is just how much talent and creativity exists through all walks of life.

What we don't know yet is how to pay people for those behaviors, because many of those screenplays and books and inventions will not be able to command a sufficiently high market price, but this is where the issue of some kind of hybridization of hypercapitalism and hypersocialism must enter the discussion.

“WE WILL SEE THE BEGINNING STIRRINGS OF REVOLUTION AS THE COST FOR THIS CONTINUING INSENSITIVITY”
Why capitalism needs socialism

Sean Illing
Let's talk about that. What does a hybrid of capitalism and socialism look like?

Eric Weinstein
I don't think we know what it looks like. I believe capitalism will need to be much more unfettered. Certain fields will need to undergo a process of radical deregulation in order to give the minority of minds that are capable of our greatest feats of creation the leeway to experiment and to play, as they deliver us the wonders on which our future economy will be based.

By the same token, we have to understand that our population is not a collection of workers to be input to the machine of capitalism, but rather a nation of souls whose dignity, well-being, and health must be considered on independent, humanitarian terms. Now, that does not mean we can afford to indulge in national welfare of a kind that would rob our most vulnerable of a dignity that has previously been supplied by the workplace.

People will have to be engaged in socially positive activities, but not all of those socially positive activities may be able to command a sufficient share of the market to consume at an appropriate level, and so I think we're going to have to augment the hypercapitalism which will provide the growth of the hypersocialism based on both dignity and need.

Sean Illing
I agree with most of that, but I’m not sure we’re prepared to adapt to these new circumstances quickly enough to matter. What you’re describing is a near-revolutionary shift in politics and culture, and that’s not something we can do on command.

Eric Weinstein
I believe that once our top creative class is unshackled from those impediments which are socially negative, they will be able to choose whether capitalism proceeds by evolution or revolution, and I am hopeful that the enlightened self-interest of the billionaire class will cause them to take the enlightened path toward finding a rethinking of work that honors the vast majority of fellow citizens and humans on which their country depends.

Sean Illing
Are you confident that the billionaire class is so enlightened? Because I'm not. All of these changes were perceptible years ago, and yet the billionaire class failed to take any of this seriously enough. The impulse to innovate and profit subsumes all other concerns as far as I can tell.

Eric Weinstein
That's curious. There was a quiet shift several years ago where the smoke-filled rooms stopped laughing about inequality concerns and started taking them on as their own even in private. I wish I could say that change was mediated out of the goodness of the hearts of the most successful, but I think it was actually a recognition that we had gone from a world in which people were complaining about inequality that should be present based on differential success to an economy which cannot possibly defend the level of inequality based on human souls and their needs.


I think it's a combination of both embarrassment and enlightened self-interest that this class — several rungs above my own — is trying to make sure it does not sow the seeds of a highly destructive societal collapse, and I believe I have seen an actual personal transformation in many of the leading thinkers among the technologists, where they have come to care deeply about the effects of their work. Few of them want to be remembered as job killers who destroyed the gains that have accumulated since the Industrial Revolution.

So I think that in terms of wanting to leave a socially positive legacy, many of them are motivated to innovate through concepts like universal basic income, finding that Washington is as bereft of new ideas in social terms as it is of new technological ones.

Sean Illing
But how did we allow things to get so bad? We’ve known for a long time that political systems tend to collapse without a robust middle class acting as a buffer between the poor and the rich, and yet we’ve rushed headlong into this unsustainable climate.

Eric Weinstein
I reached a bizarre stage of my life in which I am equally likely to fly either economy or private. As such, I have a unique lens on this question. A friend of mine said to me, "The modern airport is the perfect metaphor for the class warfare to come." And I asked, "How do you see it that way?" He said, "The rich in first and business class are seated first so that the poor may be paraded past them into economy to note their privilege." I said, "I think the metaphor is better than you give it credit for, because those people in first and business are actually the fake rich. The real rich are in another terminal or in another airport altogether."

It seems to me that the greatest danger is that the truly rich, I’m talking nine and 10 figures rich, are increasingly separated from the lives of the rest of us so that they become largely insensitive to the concerns of those who still earn by the hour. As such, they will probably not anticipate many of the changes, and we will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this insensitivity.


However, I am hopeful that as social unrest grows, the current political system of throwing the upper middle class and lower rungs of the rich to the resentful lower middle class and poor will come to an end if only for the desire of the truly well-off to avoid a genuine threat to the stability on which they depend, and the social stability on which they depend.

Sean Illing
I suppose that’s my point. If the people with the power to change things are sufficiently cocooned that they fail to realize the emergency while there’s still time to act, where does that leave us?

Eric Weinstein
Well, the claim there is that there will be no warning shots across the bow. I guarantee you that when the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators left the confines of Zuccotti Park and came to visit the Upper East Side homes of Manhattan, it had an immediate focusing on the mind of those who could deploy a great deal of capital. Thankfully, those protesters were smart enough to realize that a peaceful demonstration is the best way to advertise the potential for instability to those who have yet to do the computation.

“WE HAVE A SYSTEM-WIDE PROBLEM WITH EMBEDDED GROWTH HYPOTHESES THAT IS TURNING US ALL INTO SCOUNDRELS AND LIARS”
Why the economy is a giant house of cards
Sean Illing
But if you're one of those Occupy Wall Street protesters who fired off that peaceful warning shot across the bow six years ago, and you reflect on what’s happened since, do have any reason to think the message was received? Do you not look around and say, “Nothing much has changed”? The casino economy on Wall Street is still humming along. What lesson is to be drawn in that case?

Eric Weinstein
Well, that's putting too much blame on the bankers. I mean, the problem is that the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the bankers share a common delusion. Both of them believe the bankers are more powerful in the story than they actually are. The real problem, which our society has yet to face up to, is that sometime around 1970, we ended several periods of legitimate exponential growth in science, technology, and economics. Since that time, we have struggled with the fact that almost all of our institutions that thrived during the post-World War II period of growth have embedded growth hypotheses into their very foundation.

Sean Illing
What does that mean, exactly?

Eric Weinstein
That means that all of those institutions, whether they're law firms or universities or the military, have to reckon with steady state [meaning an economy with mild fluctuations in growth and productivity] by admitting that growth cannot be sustained, by running a Ponzi scheme, or by attempting to cannibalize others to achieve a kind of fake growth to keep those particular institutions running. This is the big story that nobody reports. We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars.

Sean Illing
Could you expound on that, because this is a foundational problem and I want to make sure the reader knows exactly what you mean when you say “embedded growth hypotheses” are turning us into “scoundrels and liars.”

Eric Weinstein
Sure. Let's say, for example, that I have a growing law firm in which there are five associates at any given time supporting every partner, and those associates hope to become partners so that they can hire five associates in turn. That formula of hierarchical labor works well while the law firm is growing, but as soon as the law firm hits steady state, each partner can really only have one associate, who must wait many years before becoming partner for that partner to retire. That economic model doesn't work, because the long hours and decreased pay that one is willing to accept at an entry-level position is predicated on taking over a higher-lever position in short order. That's repeated with professors and their graduate students. It's often repeated in military hierarchies.

It takes place just about everywhere, and when exponential growth ran out, each of these institutions had to find some way of either owning up to a new business model or continuing the old one with smoke mirrors and the cannibalization of someone else's source of income.

Sean Illing
So our entire economy is essentially a house of cards, built on outdated assumptions and pushed along with gimmicks like quantitative easing. It seems we’ve gotten quite good at avoiding facing up to the contradictions of our civilization.

Eric Weinstein
Well, this is the problem. I sometimes call this the Wile E. Coyote effect because as long as Wile E. Coyote doesn't look down, he's suspended in air, even if he has just run off a cliff. But the great danger is understanding that everything is flipped. During the 2008 crisis, many commentators said the markets have suddenly gone crazy, and it was exactly the reverse. The so-called great moderation that was pushed by Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others was in fact a kind of madness, and the 2008 crisis represented a rare break in the insanity, where the market suddenly woke up to see what was actually going on. So the acute danger is not madness but sanity.

The problem is that prolonged madness simply compounds the disaster to come when sanity finally sets in.
that guy sounds a bit narrow minded to me. He doesn't seem to get the big picture, IMO.

Technology is exactly what will continue to expand the opportunities that he claims it is stiffleing.

Take bank ATMs for example - the claim was that automation would limit bank tellers and restrict employment opportunities in that industry (Obama even used this as an example). The fact is that allowed banks to open more branches with a smaller footprint, and offer more services that required more management (branch managers), and more specialists (above tellers).

The growth of Silicon Valley certainly has not seemed to stymie job growth or limit opportunities, as there are more and more start-ups all the time.

Even law firms (his example, or brokers), there are new specialty firms all the time that must deal with the new technologies (cyber crime, cyber security, bit coin investing, etc.), and anybody with the skill and the drive can open their own firm and be the Partner that offers those services.

I don't think that the guy really thought through what he was saying.

Add to that, Marxism is dependent upon capitalism for a large part of it's ongoing existence.