Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Myth of Socialist Altruism

The Ants and the GrasshopperThe Socialist paradigm has been dominant in the West for well over a hundred years. The October Revolution in 1917 was the radical realization of the Marxist dream, but the Socialist ideal had been overwhelmingly popular among the educated classes for at least a generation before that. State Socialism on the Prussian model began with Bismarck, and it was followed in short order by the Progressive movement, the Fabians, the Futurists, and all the various forms of fascism that arose coterminously in Europe and the United States. Socialism was an idea whose time had come, and we have been stuck with the consequences ever since.

It is The Dream That Will Not Die.

The habits of Socialist thinking are deeply ingrained and difficult to break. With the full force of the state behind collectivist public ideology, brainwashing in the West has been ubiquitous and thorough. After four or five generations of an uninterrupted Socialist monologue, it is very difficult to frame arguments about public policy in anything other than Marxist terms. To put it in post-modern jargon, there is only a single “narrative”.

An interesting discussion developed in the comments to Thursday’s post about the massive and inevitable corruption that accompanies the modern welfare state. Before I recapitulate some of what was said there, I will define my terms:

By Socialism I mean a political system which coercively extracts a large proportion of private wealth from its citizens, and then redistributes it for purposes which are decided by administrative fiat in a huge and powerful welfare state.

By redistribution I mean the apportionment among society’s non-productive members of those public monies drawn from the productive members of society, that is, the people who generate the wealth.

In using these terms I am describing an operational political system. My description does not address whether it is just to take private wealth coercively for public purposes, nor am I discussing the issue of whether the recipients of state largesse are “deserving” or “undeserving”. I am simply outlining how the system works.

By my definition, Socialism does not include what might be called social legislation: child labor laws, female suffrage, the regulation of working conditions, or even the setting of a minimum wage. All of these issues are worth debating, but they can all be accomplished legislatively without the necessity of mass income redistribution. For that reason they are not included them under the umbrella term “Socialism”.

The rest of this post is adapted from an exchange with the commenter Pasta on Thursday’s thread.

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Doing away with welfare altogether would leave a lot of people starving or freezing.

I agree that we can’t just abandon the welfare state without a lot of suffering for ordinary people who depend on it. I don’t advocate a revolution in which the current system is instantly destroyed. We will have to wean the public off the government teat gradually — assuming that it can be done at all.

The idea that people would starve and freeze if the government didn’t take care of them is venerable and persistent, but it is not true. Most starvation and destitution in history occurred before the advent of general prosperity. It was not the lack of the welfare state, but the lack of societal wealth, that caused that kind of suffering.
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As a counterexample, take America in, say, 1901. There was virtually no welfare state, yet it was extremely rare for anyone to starve, or to live in destitution outside of the big-city immigrant ghettoes.

America had general prosperity, and the country was made up of communities. People were taken care of within those communities by families, friends, churches, local charity organizations, and other private structures that were close to those in need. They weren’t taken care of by an enormous centralized bureaucratic state.

In fact, such an idea would have been alien, repugnant, and vaguely un-American to most people. The Progressives worshipped at the European altar of a strong State, and it wasn’t until they got through with us that the fundamental ethic of the country changed.

We can’t go back to those conditions, not by fiat, anyway. But baby steps could be taken in the right direction. For example, requiring people to take care of their parents in their old age would be a start, forcing them back into what was the social norm a hundred years ago. Of course, all those Boomers with no children are going to have difficulties, and in another thirty years more than half of the elderly will be without siblings to take care of them, much less children.

The problems the next generation will face are going to be immense.

A basic rule for the classical liberal is that government should perform as few functions as possible, and that taxes should be kept as low as possible, in order to eliminate the corruption and non-productive behavior that saps the national commonweal and the individual character.

Defending the borders, managing the currency, maintaining national security, and regulating interstate commerce — those are some of the very few necessary functions of government. There’s no earthly reason — other than a century of Progressive habit — why the government should design school curricula, tell people what they should eat, or fund ballet companies. Localities can do the first, individuals can decide the second for themselves, and people who like ballet can do the third.

I don’t know enough about history to judge with certainty how the living conditions of the poor were before the advent of the welfare state. But if everything was fine back then, why did the Socialists become so popular and why was the welfare state created in the first place? I reckon that it happened because many people took offense to the poverty of many in the presence of the wealth of a few.

It’s difficult to separate out the various strands of received disinformation that are implicit in what you say.

First of all, everything wasn’t “fine” back then — people were subject to the vicissitudes of fate, just as they are now. They were also consigned to live with the consequences of their own poor choices, which is no longer true.

Under the welfare state, one can be lazy, improvident, and self-destructive without having to face the natural consequences for one’s behavior.

Socialism was not a bottom-up innovation. The masses did not embrace it. It was foisted upon them from above.

Before the 1930s, none of the Socialist leaders — whether they were “revolutionaries” or “reactionary” Socialists like Bismarck — was an ordinary working-class person. They were all elite, sophisticated, well-educated people.

Socialism was “scientific” and thus beyond dispute. It was imposed on the whole of society for the good of everyone by the Progressive leaders of the day, who were certain that they knew better than the unwashed masses what was best for them.

I don’t see why it would strengthen the individual character and why the national commonweal would be served better if the financial contribution to it through taxation was kept as low as possible, so that people could spend as much of their income as possible for indulging in selfish pleasures instead.

This is the legacy of 100+ years of Progressive brainwashing. Socialism has convinced you that people who work hard, make money, and then spend it in ways that they choose themselves are somehow “greedy” and “selfish”.

Implicit in this description is the assumption that the officials of the State are better guardians than you of your own money, that they will spend it more wisely and do more good with it. Nobody represents this attitude more clearly than Hillary Clinton.

A hundred years of evidence to the contrary makes no difference; the fairy tale persists. There is not one whit of evidence that government decisions serve the general welfare better than the decisions of the people themselves, those who are most affected by such decisions.

Economic improvement, the increase in the standard of living and general well-being, all took place before the advent of the Socialist state. Read Thomas Sowell if you doubt me — he has amassed the econometric statistics that show the correlation between economic stagnation and Socialist policies. This was true in 1917, and it has held sway everywhere ever since then.

The idea that Socialism improves the living standards of the population is propaganda, pure and simple. It’s a myth generated by the Socialist elites themselves.

Like so many modern “facts”, it has no empirical basis.

The expenses required for the commonweal are enormous and can’t be covered by voluntary donations alone. Therefore these funds need to raised by (forcible) taxation instead. Everybody understands this intuitively when it comes to other items than welfare. For instance, nobody in our times would advocate to fund an army by other means than (forcible) taxation. In order to serve the commonweal best, everybody needs to be required — and force applied, if somebody shirks one’s duties — to contribute to it according to his capabilities.

I agree with you here, but the normal functions of the state, which are stipulated by the social contract and paid for through taxation, are not an issue. The normal functions of the state include providing for the common defense, maintaining the currency, running a legal system to enforce laws and adjudicate private contractual disputes, and other similar necessities. When the government assumes additional functions, it is a usurpation of the natural rights of the people, and it inevitably leads to tyranny. Inevitably.

For more than a hundred years the American Republic performed those basic functions with a very low rate of taxation. I don’t know the exact figures, but public spending as a percentage of GDP was extremely low by today’s standards — probably in the low single digits — until the income tax was adopted in 1913.

Nowadays we pay nearly half our wealth in taxes, and some European countries pay more than half. The vast bulk of this money is simply a transfer from productive citizens to non-productive citizens. There are two reasons why we have managed to do it for so long without a popular revolt:

1. Westerners live in phenomenally wealthy societies, and
2. It’s a Ponzi scheme — in order to function, it depends on a continuous population increase to provide new suckers for the system.

The demographic collapse will see the end of the modern welfare state. It’s inevitable; it has to happen. There is nothing anyone can do. No matter how powerful a government is, it cannot solve this problem by fiat. Before the middle of this century, the welfare state will be gone.

If we choose to assess this prospect honestly, and act prudently, we may be able to restructure our governmental functions so as to avoid a cataclysm. But the longer we delay systemic change, the less likely it is that there will be a non-violent solution.

I don’t see why it should be any different for social expenses like welfare or universal health care. You may consider these expendable, but if you don’t, then covering them by taxation-raised money seems the soundest way to do.

Unfortunately, you are operating under the same false premises that most people do nowadays in the West. We have all been brainwashed for so long by Socialist propaganda that it is very difficult to think about these issues in any other terms.

The standing assumption is that we cannot guarantee the general well-being of the citizenry without the intervention of the State. This is a pernicious fallacy. Prior to the modern all-encompassing Socialist state, civil society — a plurality of institutions that included family, church, local government, voluntary organizations, charities, fraternal orders, guilds, trade associations, and so on, in addition to the national government — provided a web of support that included virtually everyone. As long as there was general prosperity, people were fairly well taken care of.

But the Industrial Revolution, followed by the various Socialist Revolutions (both soft and hard versions) saw the end of all that. Civil society has been all but destroyed by Socialism, and it is an open question whether it can be re-established without a prior societal collapse.

I call massive coercive removal of people’s resources by the government for state-mandated redistribution not “Socialism” (which I don’t defend, I am not a Socialist), but simply taxation.

Ah, but as I mentioned before, the vast bulk of taxation is given over to Socialist redistribution of wealth, and goes to the maintenance of welfare state “entitlements”. In the United States, the proportion is more than two-thirds, with almost all the rest given over to national defense.

European countries generally spend very little on national defense, so I assume that the proportion of their tax money that is redistributed to non-productive people is even larger.

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The Socialist state we have all come to know will cease to exist. It must come to an end; there is no alternative. With an aging population and a general demographic decline, the simple mathematics of the situation make the result inevitable.

The question is how the various nations of the West will cope with this change — assuming that we somehow manage to survive the Islamist onslaught and close our doors to further Third World immigrants. The good news is that we know it can be done: Western civilization flowered and persisted for centuries without the dubious benefits of Socialism.

It means re-learning the old habit of self-reliance. It portends a riskier life, without the State to cater to one’s every need and whim. But for those of us who prefer freedom and autonomy, it’s worth it.

29 comments:

Marianne said...

Bravo, Baron, nicely done!

Anonymous Infidel said...

"The first step to understanding things is to call them by their right names." -Lu Tse

This article is a great first step.
Sad to say, many in the west believe that "true" socialism is benevolent and communism and national socialism were just "aberrations".

If we can get it across to the average person that the goal of socialism (of any kind)is complete state control of man, it would go a long way in dismantling the many socialistic programs throughout the Western World

xlbrl said...

Oscar Wilde-
'In going to America one learns that poverty is not a necessary accompaniment to civilization.'

Tocqueville saw that this was accomplished in America through the demands of liberty--
'Local freedoms...bring men constantly into contact with each other and force them to help one another, in spite of the instincts which seperate them.
In the United States it was never intended for a man in a free country to have the right to do anything he liked; rather, social duties were imposed upon him more various than anywhere else.
Where you see in France the government and in England a noble lord at the head of a great new initiative, in the United States you can count on finding an association.
The only way opinions and ideas can be renewed, hearts enlarged, and human minds developed is through the reciprocal influence of men upon each other.
How can liberty be upheld in great matters amongst a multitude which has not leaned to make use of it in small ones?'
Tocqueville did not need to prophecy what would happen without exercising the demands of liberty--he already lived in that state.
'After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends his arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, comlicated, rules minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom foced by it to act, but constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but prevents existence; it does not tryannize, but compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Subjegation in minor affairs...does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own free will.
The principle objective of good government is to ensure the welfare of the people and not to establish a certain order at the heart of their misery.'
It is seen that government does not grow by siezing our freedoms, but by assuming our reponsibilites.
Before Warren Buffet lost his mind he made this important observation: A capitalist society's wealth increases six hundred percent a century. Do the math, it adds up. At the time Wilde visited America, we had seven times less wealth, Tocqueville, ten. No inequality, no inequity can cause poverty in this era of such vastly increased wealth. Rather, we are having as much poverty as we can afford, and we can afford a lot of it. Poverty and government. Fully four centuries ago Montaingne noted that the wont of good is easilty repaired, but the poverty of the soul is not. There is a sublime theiving in giving, and the souls of bureaucrats and politicians have developed quite the relationship with the souls of their clients. Satre believed the poor did not understand that their role was to exercise our generosity; now they do, as do others.

Bert said...

In the Netherlands, roughly half the potential workforce is feeding the other (non-productive) half these days. Revenues of the slowly drying up gasfield also float into the welfare-system. Past decade almost half a million (and counting) well educated citizens and/or entrepreneurs fled the Socialist country and took their capital and incentives with them.
Maybe I am wrong, but I think the "welfare" systems in most of Europe will collapse within a decade, forcing parasites and savages (Socialists and Islamists) to parasite each other.

pasta said...

@Baron

Thank you putting such an effort into answering me. The welfare state is an extensive and complicated subject and this discussion looks to me as if it is already getting out of hand. I am sorry if I disappoint you by saying that I don't have the time and inclination to address every point you made. I will respond to some specific points only and might drop out of the discussion at any time.

By my definition, Socialism does not include what might be called social legislation: child labor laws, female suffrage, the regulation of working conditions, or even the setting of a minimum wage. All of these issues are worth debating, but they can all be accomplished legislatively without the necessity of mass income redistribution.

I already commented on the effects of child labor laws and regulation of working conditions. Let's have a look at setting a minimum wage, too: If the government forbids to employ people at wages below a certain minimum, it makes those jobs which thus can't cover their costs unprofitable for the employer. A minimum wage has the potential to destroy jobs. If the economy can't create enough jobs for at least the minimum wage, there will be unemployment, and the unemployed people either left without an income or requiring a welfare state to support them. And a minimum wage causes consumer prices to increase, too: Those jobs, which are not destroyed by the minimum wage, will nevertheless become more expensive for the employer and he has to pass these costs on to the consumer. This is not surprising as the money for increased wages must come from somewhere. So we still end up at redistribution of money to the poor, just in a more covert way. And a minimum wage is such a crude instrument because it destroys jobs and it doesn't take the individual preferences of people into account.

The demographic collapse will see the end of the modern welfare state. It’s inevitable; it has to happen. There is nothing anyone can do. No matter how powerful a government is, it cannot solve this problem by fiat. Before the middle of this century, the welfare state will be gone.

I believe, if anything, the demographic collapse ensures that the welfare state persists. The demographic collapse causes an enormous increase in the percentage of dependent people, particularly old people. And the more dependent people there are, the higher are the expenses for supporting them. These people need to be supported somehow and they will wield all the political power they have to make sure of that. As relatively few productive people will have to support an enormous number of dependent people, the situation will be very unpleasant for everyone. The productive people will be taxed to the max, but the social benefits will be scaled down further and further and the dependent people will receive very little. Yet the welfare state will persist, simply because there is no alternative. The higher the stress exerted on the system is, the lesser is abandoning the welfare state a viable option. It has always been so in difficult times, like as in war, that the state exerted all the power it has to squeeze every available resource out of society in order to make ends meet.

Actually the demographic collapse may well trigger a further extension of government power instead: The power to implement both positive and negative eugenics, the means for a planned population policy in order to improve the proportion of productive people to dependent people by stimulating or even enforcing child births among the productive parts of the population while forcibly preventing the reproduction of welfare recipients. Negative eugenics is discussed in the other thread at the moment and commented on approvingly by many.

Natalie said...

Great post, Baron. We're talking about some pretty scary stuff here. Societal collapse sounds very intense to me, something that could turn violent very quickly.

Oh well... one certainly could never say that we live in uninteresting times.

Bert said...

@ Pasta:

The demographic collapse causes an enormous increase in the percentage of dependent people, particularly old people. And the more dependent people there are, the higher are the expenses for supporting them. These people need to be supported somehow and they will wield all the political power they have to make sure of that.

Don't forget all those huge bureaucracies & govenments consist for 100% of dependent people. Compared to that, the pensioners are of a lesser burden. And governments that want to tax to the max will have to erect someting equivalent to the Berlin wall to keep those that couldn't escape locked up in their Socialist dungeon.

Francis W. Porretto said...

"We will have to wean the public off the government teat gradually — assuming that it can be done at all."

This is why no effort in that direction has ever succeeded. The forces that propel the expansion of the welfare state are far more powerful than those which could be marshaled to pare it back.

Public Choice theory, as developed by Nobel Laureates James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, holds the keys to this conundrum. It indicates clearly that a redistributionist edifice this solidly founded can only be brought down with the political equivalent of nuclear explosives: a violent revolution. The incentives that govern political action are wholly in favor of accelerating redistribution, and are too strong to be overcome at the ballot box.

Grover Cleveland realized this, which is why he unapologetcally vetoed a $10,000 appropriation to provide seed grain to devastated farmers in the Midwest. Welfarist redistributionism is a political dandelion on steroids: once it gets established, you're never going to get the roots entirely out.

Baron Bodissey said...

Pasta --

I believe, if anything, the demographic collapse ensures that the welfare state persists. The demographic collapse causes an enormous increase in the percentage of dependent people, particularly old people. And the more dependent people there are, the higher are the expenses for supporting them. These people need to be supported somehow and they will wield all the political power they have to make sure of that.

Pasta, this is the point where you really need to do the math.

The basic argument you make here is true, but it only holds up to a certain point of our slide into demographic decline. Before too many more years have passed, there will be as many old people as young workers willing to support them. In fact, if our present trend towards ever more broadly defined “disability” retirements continues, there will be fewer workers than retirees. If you are under 30 years old, this situation will emerge before you yourself reach retirement age.

Under these conditions, the State can tax workers at 100%, and it still won’t be enough. Old people are more expensive to maintain than young people, and this trend will continue as well, as life expectancies increase.

There won’t be enough wealth in the society to support this system.

The government can’t create this wealth by fiat. It can’t wave a magic Socialist wand and make it appear.

For almost a hundred years Socialist systems have worked because the ratio of productive workers to dependent clients has been 7, 10, 12, or 15 to 1, depending on where and when you look at it. This number is dropping like a stone in all Western countries. Even if all the young people begin having babies right now — which they can’t afford to do, given the tax burden they carry — it’s too late to avert a crisis.

The welfare state has to end. There isn’t a choice. No human being or group of human beings can decide otherwise.

We can play at being King Canute and tell the tide to go back, but the tide will come in anyway.

turn said...

Baron-

Politically, morally and socially I agree with you on every point.

But unmentioned here is the elephant in the room--the vast legal and illegal immigration that is encouraged in Western Europe and allowed in the US.

Our politicians are desperate to buy time; remaining in office for life or until retirement cynically and, for the most part, knowingly advocating the eventual hand-over of nations and continents.

It is the biggest treachery of all time.

Gramsci's long march through our institutions, our churches, our schools has succeeded.

You're correct that the socialist construct is unsustainable and violent revolution may indeed bring it down--but that does not necessarily mean a return to the classical liberal model. In fact, that could only happen if people were actively preparing for it now.

turn said...

Bert-

Almost 20 years ago I worked on a ship with a Nederlander staff captain.

He bragged that his earnings at sea were not taxed for his three month rotations and when he was home he collected welfare.

What a country!

Baron Bodissey said...

Turn --

I agree with you entirely. In fact, that was a point I made implicitly when I said, “…assuming that we somehow manage to survive the Islamist onslaught and close our doors to further Third World immigrants.” I also said, “If we choose to assess this prospect honestly, and act prudently, we may be able to restructure our governmental functions so as to avoid a cataclysm. But the longer we delay systemic change, the less likely it is that there will be a non-violent solution.”

These are big “ifs”. The current tendency is for our governments to silence dissent and become repressive in order to continue the current system, and thus maintain the power and perks of the people at the top. If this requires mass importation of Third World immigrants, including Muslims — no problem! The rulers still get to live high on the hog for the rest of their lives, separated and isolated from all of the consequences of their decisions.

Their children, assuming they have any, may not be so privileged. But they are evidently too foolish or too cynical to be concerned about such things.

Afonso Henriques said...

I don't think we'll ever be capable of convincing people, this is why:

From the end of the Reconquista untill the end of the XIX centuries, Jews were hated because many of them were Onzeneiros (it was one of the few jobs that were safe for the Jews, because they were proctected by Kings and high ranking nobels from the Inquisition).

Onzeneiro derives from the Portuguese word "onze" (eleven) and they were hated because the function of the Onzeneiro was to recolect 11% of whatever a family had produced. The people were outraged.

Today, the State asks for almost 50% of the wealth produced by the public functionaries and more than 30% of the wealth produced by those who work to private companies (not those who own them) and no one cares. People think it's good but feel it somehow does not work.
The result? In the last poll, the far left (hardcore Communists and Anarchists) reached 20%, hardcore Socialists almost 40% and the Social Democrats (virtually the same) 35%.

As long as the masses still think Socialism is good, we will not get away with it.

People have to know that Socialism is not the option. I am not advocating Radical Capitalism, like Russia before Putin, nor the American model of Capitalism.

All I am advocating, is some kind of meritocratic system and, man, that is not the Socialist European System. With all it's flaws, American Capitalism seems to be the more meritocratic.

Afonso Henriques said...

After reading the comments, it shocks me that I think Pasta is the one who's right.

livfreerdie said...

How about "We will help you to help yourself. If you don't want to help yourself then you are on your own."

Tom

Diamed said...

This debate neglects the enormous disparity between the rich and the poor which makes it easy for Bill Gates to support 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 dependents all on his own. We don't need a 7:1 worker to welfare ratio, so long as the worker is rich he can support tons of others just fine.

Of course what does he do? He flies over to africa and spends it on them instead of paying it into our country's coffers to help the people of our country, all the while demanding more immigrants be allowed into America on H1-B visas so he can hire computer engineers for ever lower wages. That's what you get for not taxing the rich, race traitors. Warren Buffet is doing the same thing, as are all the liberal rich. Instead of creating a climate of caring for their fellow countrymen and tribe, we have refused to tax the rich while they have betrayed us and genocided us. This has nothing to do with self-reliance, it is simply another aspect of the anti-white prejudice---the refusal to help poor whites who lack health care, whose jobs are stolen by immigrants, outsourcing, or robots, whose kids aren't taught decent morals but deluged with sex and violence on tv, and who cannot escape the criminal drug-selling neighborhoods because they cannot afford to move to a higher real estate cost, and the government doesn't give a damn about them and cares more about the criminals than the victims. Socialism defends OUR poor, capitalism abandons them and enriches the rich more and more--who then make it clear they don't give a damn about the rest of us. Why would you ever take their side? Who but the rich elites are the ones destroying this country?

Poor whites need help, rich whites have more money than they could possibly imagine how to use, it is as simple as connecting the two dots. It is better to eliminate private fortunes because those are private power bases which challenge the state, instead of the people being the purpose of government, profit becomes the purpose, and those with connections make sure the law is set up to profit them most. Rich people like George Soros are one man armies that are controlling the world, taxes that stripped him of his fortune would be a huge boon to the world. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, giving 1,000 people all the wealth in the world, totally unaccountable power which no election or oversight committee weighs in on, is simply handing the world over to an unelected oligarchy which will henceforward run everything forever without us even knowing about it. Politicians must scramble for campaign donations and will do anything they say. Don't you recognize the danger private wealth creates?

Ultimately, either slave labor or machine labor will be found more efficient than respectable working class white labor, with all their bothersome demands for a living wage, health care, pensions and the like. At this point the entire lower class will be set adrift, it will be a new Great Depression with 30% unemployment. What are you going to do for these people? What will you do for the truckers when computers learn to drive trucks themselves (like the darpa experiment)? What will you do for the waiters when the food is just rolled out on rails (like the restaraunt in Germany)? What will you do for the nurses when robot nurses care for them better (like the japanese are making right now)?

This is a terrible, vulnerable time for our poor so what do you propose, oh let's take away the last remaining help in their lives which are already beset with more predation and exploitation than they ever received in help.

Linking welfare to good behavior is one thing we could do, but then who but the elite have encouraged the poor to behave badly for the last 50 years? Have glamorized it? Have insisted it's self-expression and a human right? And then you turn around and blame them for their self-destructive behavior, which our culture created in them and did not used to be part of poverty but now is thanks to the elites. The rich in this country are to blame for everything and should be made accountable for everything. Taxes should be the least of their worries.

Henrik R Clausen said...

This debate neglects the enormous disparity between the rich and the poor.

Quite possibly. For the fine art of being a productive citizen, supporting your fellow citizens in a valuable and billable way, is getting lost in this age of welfare and state subsidy.

When only the few know this art, these few get rich, sometimes very rich, and the rift between rift and poor widens. But taxation is NOT the way to fix that, as it will make money feel like coercion, not rewards.

I want Capitalism for the masses, not just for the chosen few.

Limpet said...

Diamed: "This has nothing to do with self-reliance, it is simply another aspect of the anti-white prejudice---the refusal to help poor whites who lack health care, whose jobs are stolen by immigrants, outsourcing, or robots, whose kids aren't taught decent morals but deluged with sex and violence on tv, and who cannot escape the criminal drug-selling neighborhoods"

As a result, I guess the lower class is expanding and the middle class shrinking, while the upper class gets richer. I think the economy will keep running for some time after a large part of the white population has become marginalized. But a country needs an elite, and a classless society is probably better at producing it. In the 20th century, a farmer's son could become an engineer or a doctor. In the 21st century, I think it will be harder for the son of a minimum wage worker to do the same.

Shawmut said...

"The demographic collapse will see the end of the modern welfare state."
This is the telling truth of the workers being more the slaves of the welfare state and socialism; carrying on their backs, from their efforts, and industry, the burdens of state largesse, than the beneficiaries.
Wells gone dry nourish no one.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Shawmut, that exactly is what happened in the Soviet Union. After 70 years of sacrifice for the 'Working class', people got sick of coerced altruism. Tey are now indulging in selfishness - and there is much more joy (and chaos) in the country than during the 'altruistic' times.

You just can't force benevolence...

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Tho points: The "demographic collapse" can at least partly be explained by the boomer bulge. In fact all of our problems can be laid squarely at their feet. They set up welfare systems in an unusually foresighted move to provide for their needs in old age, so they could forego the necessity of bearing children and saving up. Free of this they set about being the Boomers we know and... well know. They're the ones that instigated mass immigration when it became clear that the welfare systems they set up wouldn't be around in their old age and, of course, the lack of offspring - and the "I'm not going to give a damn about you" attitude from the offspring of those that did choose to have kids - means they won't have anyone to look after them. That's why we've been given this idea that we need to have constant population growth to "sustain our economy". We wouldn't need anything like the growth people keep talking about if it weren't for the vast welfare systems we've set up and in fact our economies would probably grow quite nicely without it, with improving living standards for everyone.

Most of our social problems today are the result of these selfish money-grabbers. Reversing their "progress" would go a long way to creating a foundation that would fix the problem - and reduce immigration into the bargain.

Second: the idea of punitively taxing the mega-rich simply because they're mega-rich... I appreciate that these people are behaving in at best an amoral way but they got there largely because of expansions in government power. I always warn against expansions of government power - they have unintended consequences, not least the consequence of very often being turned against the people who wanted that expansion in the first place. The working class demanded huge expansions in government power for taxation and benefits programs and now they're poorer than ever as a result.

This is why, incidentally, I'm reluctant to allow for things like banning the koran. It's a hateful book, yes, but when you start banning books you really are on a slippery slope. A better use of that effort would be in creating accurate english translations so everyone can find out how hateful it is.

Markku said...

I think the general level of taxation should be equal to - at least - the degree genetic differences account for differences in socioeconomic outcomes. I also advocate non- coercive eugenics paid for with government money coercively collected from the wealthy.

If the benefits of technologies used to enhance human abilities about to hit the market within the next few decades (some precursors exist already such as Modafinil) are not distributed widely from early on, the most vicious caste societies of the past will be no comparison to what is to come.

Limpet said...

Archonix: "[the Boomers] are the ones that instigated mass immigration when it became clear that the welfare systems they set up wouldn't be around in their old age"

What's wrong with your theory is that mass immigration actually means smaller retirement pensions for most people. It also means fewer children for white families. In any case, most people from the Baby Boom Generation, or from any other generation, have always been opposed to mass immigration!

Queen said...

Mass Third World immigration doesn't do anything to help the ageing pensioner problem. Why? Because the Third Worlders, once anchored to a fat Western welfare state, import their elderly relatives here via "Family Reunification." We end up stuck with paying for our elderly and THEIRS too.

Conservative Swede said...

Yes Queen,

But even without a single elderly through "Family Reunification", mass immigration is already a burden instead of a contribution. I'm not saying there aren't those that contribute to our economy, but the vast majority are parasites, so the net effect is a huge burden. Adding all their grandparents to this just makes our pensions being doubly unpaid, and the number of people to take care of triple. How do people imagine that the mass immigrants will help us when we get old (by contributing with money to the welfare state and by nursing us) when they are not even part of our economy, our work market, when many of them do not even speak our language, etc? And when we made sure they will be busy taking care of their own elderly!

Westerners must be the most stupid people in the history of mankind to believe in all this crap that is so violently countered by reality.

We end up stuck with paying for our elderly and THEIRS too.

We end stuck up paying for our elderly, their elderly, and for their adults and children too! And for the schools and other buildings they burn down, for the extra police protection that the firemen need when they come, etc.

Still we hear the argument how we "need" immigration. Even from people in this forum. People are so strictly conditioned to think in terms of Homo Economicus reductionism, as if the big machine in Metropolis needs more people to devour. All of this is of course utter BS to the core. It's completely the other way around. It's when the birth rates are in decline that one should absolutely not have any significant immigration. Any "replacement" immigration in such a situation literally means replacing the population! I'm sure the giant man-eating machine in Metropolis does not care which. But we as people in our nations should care. A Balkanized country and a nation heading for extinction, is not a nice legacy to hand over to our children.

spamtarget2008 said...

I can't resist throwing in my two cents.

So far as corruption is concerned:

As long as people have free will, limited knoweledge and judgement prone to error, folks will be doing wrong and bad things. One of the many wrong and bad things people will inevitably do from time to time is to sell government favors and influence for personal benefits. This is as certain as the sunrise and nowhere has it ever been observed to be otherwise.

So the only reliable way to reduce the likelihood of acts of government corruption is to limit the powers of the government. The smaller and fewer the favors an official is able to grant, the less incentive there is to bribe him, and the fewer the opportunities he has to peddle his influence.

That's it in a nutshell. Guarenteed to work first time and every time.

The more power the government has, the more opportunity there will be for corruption, and the more corruption you will get. Period.

Regulate an industry -- create a lobby.

Transparency, accountability and democratic methods of governance may sometimes have a benign influence, but that is limited. Nobody experienced in democratic politics will with a straight face hold up the operations of democracy as an exercise in purity.

And worst of all, too extensive an exercise in democracy can lock the politician and the public in a vicious cycle of vote peddling for influence and influence peddling for votes. There is no magic virtue in democracy per se. Power is power and whether the government is democratically or otherwise selected, excessive power in government hands remains a bad thing.

Limited government and limited democracy is the way to go -- just like the American founders said.

That said, I have a beef about altruism.

I think that nearly all discussions about socialism and altruism suffer from the confusion in people's minds between altruism and benevolence.

Altruism is simply an ethical standard that asserts that the other guy comes first. In it's purest form, as articulated by the repugnant Emanuel Kant, even acts of charity and benevolence toward others done in the hope of being rewarded in the afterlife are tainted by damnable selfishness. The less personal benefit one derives, the more purely focussed on other people's interest, the better the act.

So in this sense, socialism really is quite altruistic. In fact the more absolute and brutal the insistence on sacrifice of the individual to the interests of the collective, the more altruistic it is. Everything for the other guy.

And altruism says nothing about the nature of the other guy for whom one is supposed to care. He could be a saint or a rat, even a threat. The important thing is that he is somebody else, not yourself.

Benevolence is a different story. Benevolence has to do with love and value, caring about and for others because they are valued. One's beloved, family, freinds, neighbors, community, nation, even perhaps humanity in general in a widening circle of giving a damn. And as with the power of light, the caring gets dimmer as one travels outward from the center, the caring self, though never entirely vanishing.

And love is the most selfish of emotions. (Nobody wants to be unselfishly pitied. Everybody wants to be treasured and esteemed for their great value to the other).

It is a telling and meaningful fact I think, that the citizens of one of the least altruistic nations of the world, America, the supposed capital of nasty booga booga selfishness are perhaps the most benevolent collection of people the world has ever seen -- giving away collectively, voluntarily more in foreign aid, privately out of their own personal pockets, than most of the allegedly altruistic governments of the world.

And it is also notable that we see as we view the nations of the world on a scale from the least to the greatest official altruism, we also see a progression from the most public minded voluntary helpfulness to the most nasty-minded obsessive petty self serving among their citizens. Ask anyone who grew up under communism or during the change from freedom to communism or fascism.

There. I've said it.

joeblough said...

test post. please excuse

Erik said...

"As a counterexample, take America in, say, 1901. There was virtually no welfare state, yet it was extremely rare for anyone to starve, or to live in destitution outside of the big-city immigrant ghettoes."

In the state I lived in during jr high, part of the curriculum was about turn of the century sweatshops and coal mines worked by slaves for all practical purposes. I also learned of poor houses and insane asylums - their residents are now in out prison populations or live semi-independently on welfare.

Are we thinking of the same United States?

laine said...

Perhaps it is slowly dawning on all of us in the West that we are/were exceptional for a time when individualism was admired and those who rose to be our leaders stressed self-reliance as a core value. The sheep, though recalcitrant were chivvied into making efforts to fend for themselves.

However, it turns out that the majority of individuals/tribes/nations in the world want to be looked after and this psychological drive is an irresistible force. They are willing to sacrifice liberty and the ability to work for a higher standard of living for security at a mediocre or even low standard of living.

Islam, communism and all other totalitarianisms answer this mass craving for being told what to do and receiving a reward identical to their neighbor's for obedience. There is truth to the observation that some people will eat sawdust as long as no one around them is allowed to have anything better (except the elite who never live like those they govern).

In Western societies, there is still an atavistic urge in women to be looked after that mere decades of women's lib cannot erase. Look at how women vote, even if they wear pantsuits and sit in the highest offices of the land - the majority vote for a nanny state which is the substitute for an increasingly unreliable source of care-giving - spouse and family. Women are risk averse. It's programmed in their biology whether they actually have children or not. They vote for all kinds of "care" programs and wrongly believe that big government is equipped to deliver that care.

It would seem therefore that all great civilizations have within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. Moving from an elite who encouraged citizens to "do for themselves" to an elite that pumps up its power and belief in its own beneficence by catering to the lowest denominator who has been given the vote even if feckless, ignorant or downright criminal has doomed us.