Socialism, Merits and Flaws

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jedi Merkurian, Mar 20, 2009.

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  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
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    One of the issues around social mobility is how one accesses the education necessary to pursue a career which promotes social mobility.

    In Australia our socialist tinted Labor government of the day introduced the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) which basically allows poor folk to go to University as the government funds the place in full and the student only repays the government from his or her taxes once his/her income hits a certain level after grduation. The repayments are indexed for CPI but otherwise are interest free. If you never earn the threshold salary or move overseas then you don't repay your HECS. So, it's not a student loan.

    The only obstacle to becoming a University graduate and therefore improving your chances of social mobility is academic merit as there are only a certain amount of places for each course and so a basic minimum academic level has to be achieved to qualify for certain course - law, medicine, engineering being the highest, arts, teaching being the lowest.

    Now I have profited by this scheme and so I did not begrudge one dollar of my HECS repayments which are now repaid in full. Basically I was a long haired heavy metal muso with a factory background who decided to give education a go as a mature agent student. Luckily, I had some talent for studying and so the only obstacle in my path was achieving the necessary grades to qualify for the course of my choice.

    My understanding is that in the United States it is very much a system of user pays, student loans or scholarships.

    I guess this redistribution of wealth aimed at funding University places for anyone with the ability to succeed at University is a form of 'socialism'.



  2. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Um, yes and no.

    Historically the roots of this were from JS Mill finding a way to incorporate the welfare aspects of socialism and reject the stupider parts (like the unworkable economics) into liberalism. JS Mill proved the a safety net in society, with some form of state investment in the growth of the state, wasn't confined to socialist thinking entirely.

    On one level, you can view it as an investment as well. It's like a form of hedging, you're spending on education now in the expectation the end results is actually better for the country. So it's like buying a put or call option on a derivative - you pay a margin for the right (but not obligation) to buy or sell at a locked price on a future date. So you basically spend a bit now to lock in something better in the future. It won't always pay off (see also: Nassim Nicholas Taleb's criticism and making profits on out of the money options) and it's not a perfect analogy but it does fit. In theory, the money spent on univeristy should produce a workforce which enhances the wealth of the state and repays their loan not just via HECS repayments but via taxation and consumption.

    Of course, all thing being equal.

    ES
  3. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I agree, which is one of the reasons I always thought free tertiary education is the way to go for those who want to pursue it as the government will ultimately be rewarded via taxation and consumption.
  4. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Let's also not forget that the more power a government has, the easier it is for that government's leaders to fall to corruption.

    I think it was Ben Franklin who said something along the lines of: A government big enough to give you all that you need is also powerful enough to take everything that you have.

    While I'm sure we can point out all the corruption in the U. S. government all day long, I'll put it up against all others for comparison.

    It simply isn't practical nor feasible to give a central government power over all education or health care.

    Can we please just look at all the non-stimulus spending that went into the stimulus bill as an example of abuse "in the name of the people?"

    The more power a government has, the less it can be trusted.
  5. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It simply isn't practical nor feasible to give a central government power over all education or health care.


    Except that it works very well in a lot of successful countries today. Probably a majority of countries ranked ahead of us in health care by the WHO have state-controlled education and health care. You're positing something as if it's just theoretical or abstract, when in fact it's a reality for much of the developed world today.
  6. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    That was Thomas Jefferson.

    And our government has already fallen to corruption.
  7. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    My opinion is that I see national healthcare/education as something good, but ultimately temporary. I hope that one day we will be able to form solutions independent of the government, and then the government can let go of its responsibilities and duties (like taking care of healthcare and education). But I do not think we as a people are ready to take are of ourselves without government help, not yet. Until we are ready to truly be independent and responsibile, then someone has to care for the sick and teach the children (give them all an equal opportunity for life) and that someone has to be Government. We also have the immense benefit of living in a democracy and a republic, so we choose our government and we have inalienable rights that are enshrined in our foundation. Also, I think government helping with things like healthcare/education will ultimately make each individual sronger in the long run, by enabling those who may not have had the chance otherwise to succeed and follow their dreams. Like a parent, who's job is to take care of their kid when they need help, but ultimately a parent's job is to his child how to be a responsible adult who will no longer need the parent one day. The ultimate goal of government is to put itself out of a job by making itself unnecessary, but I think we are a far way from that point and in these times government must actually become more responsible first. We just need a lot of help right now, and Government has a duty to stand up to the task, since everyone else in the private sector has failed so miserably when it comes to serving the people.
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    JRod, you forget or at least don't account for, the prospect that there are people who genuinely cannot afford to pay for schools or medical care and so you're left with an unresolvable situation.

    ES
  9. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    So I thought I'd perform a bit of thread necromancy [face_mischief] There was a thought-provoking (at least IMHO) "New Rules" (profanity warning) from Real Time With Bill Maher recently that's very pertinent to this thread. If folks don't want to follow the link, which is fair enough, given that Maher can be a bit of a jerk and the link is to HuffPo :eek: I'll summarize: basically, he used baseball and (U.S.) football to illustrate the results of the "wealth distribution" vs. "everyone for themselves" models of income.

    The NFL distributes revenue evenly between the number of teams, and also the winner of the SuperBowl picks last in the next season's draft. So not only does the NFL (to use right-wing talking points) use "wealth redistribution" but also "punishes success." By comparison, baseball teams have an "everyone for themselves" philosophy, and it often happens that when a "lesser" team acquires a promising player, the wealthier teams use their superior resources to recruit that player. The New York Yankees, for example, get derided for having the best team that money can buy. The gulf between the "big market" teams and the "minor market" teams continues to widen. What's interesting is that football has multiple times greater viewership (nearly 10:1 Super Bowl vs. World Series) and corresponding revenue.

    So the questions this raises in my mind at least are is a little bit of "wealth redistribution" and "punishing success" a good thing for the country? What would be the measure of success? Where do we draw the line? What constitutes a "little bit?"
  10. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    I like baseball and the Yankees are my favorite team.


    Hm. [face_thinking]
  11. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Is a small amount of wealth redistribution good for the country? Maybe, maybe not. But that isn't the question, the question is: are we going to leave poor people to starve to death? Does this society value human life or not? Life and liberty should take precedence over capitalism when the two come into conflict, not the other way around.

    On a side note, this article has a nice postulation about poverty:
  12. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    Is a little bit of sarin good for the human body? How about some cyanide or arsenic?

    But there is a fundamental difference between the NFL/MLB and a government. The former are private entities - associations who can set ground rules, and nobody is FORCED to buy a MLB or NFL team. Even then, some teams in the NFL (New England Patriots come to mind) have put together long playoff runs. Other teams have been more up-and-down, and still others have flopped badly (Detroit Lions). At the same time, there are limits to the redistribution: Local revenues are still the team's, and poor personnel decisions in the front office or with players and coaches will have consequences, including losing seasons, and those have consequences as well, empty seats at games and lower merchandise sales.

    Socialism, though, has shown a tendency to protect people from the consequences of poor decisions.
  13. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    This DOES give me another reason to not like pro football, so I'm glad for that. Also not sure just how well this works as a comparison for socialism given just how much money is involved still.
  14. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Look at Smuggler endorsing socialism!
  15. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    [image=http://thedivinemachine.com/wp-content/uploads/socialism_vs_capitalism.jpg]



    I've always been in favour of mixing the good aspects of the various systems together, since none are perfect.
    I'm not an economist, but I live in a country that runs hat would be considered certain socialist systems such as nationalied transport (mostly) and the NHS.

    I like the NHS because IMO human life should not be valued based on how much money a person has. Everyone should be entitled to the same level of treatment as anyone else. Privatisation just excludes the poor and aids the rich, which given the advantages the wealthy already have seems pretty unfair. It is immoral to refuse treatment to someone because they can't pay for it.

    Also, since everyone has to use most things, why shouldn't everyone pay for them? Everyone paying a little bit but getting something is surely better than a few people having to pay a lot and only them getting something.

    A lot of European nations are more Socialist than the UK and use more of their taxes to pay for the nationalised things they have. I wouldn't like 60% of my pay taxed but the way I see it is that since I'd be paying out more of my income for the same things privately anyway, why not pay less with everyone else and still get something?


    Most of the principles of Socialism are good (equality for people and fair share of the burden), but some of the methods of implementing the ideas should be changed and merged with the Capitalist ideas.

  16. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    So you find that enabling people to not face the consequences for bad decisions on their part is a good thing? I have a fundamental problem with that. The NFL and MLB do NOT protect teams from the consequences of bad decisions. Hiring the wrong players or coaches WILL lead a team to lose games.
  17. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    It protects people from their bad decisions, but it also would make society a bit better since their bad decisions wouldn't be multiplied and start to affect society. Like those people who've abandoned their houses, you think if they were protected that they would do that? Probably not. Which would make things a bit better since we wouldn't have whole areas of a neighborhood become a ghost town. So, yes, if they were protected from their bad decisions at least until they could make-up for them I think things would be better.

    Instead, under our system bad decisions are punished severely to the point that the person would be better off with a bullet in their head. Is that right? Not really. Nobody should be punished so terribly for one bad decision that they're worthless to society. And I'm glad it's so easy to talk so glibly as if you've never screwed up even once.
  18. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    I would argue it is the lack of personal responsibility which has been an issue. And yes, I have made mistakes in the past, and have had to fix things.

    But at the same time, if people keep making the bad decisions, and mooch off of those who DO live their lives responsibly, it becomes unfair to those who have never made the bad decisions in the first place - or who fixed them without taking handouts from the government.
  19. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    That's a great argument. However, I've never actually seen someone mooch off of the system before because of anything malicious. Even my poorest friends growing up never mooched off of it. So, while just the immediate anecdotal evidence from me does not represent the whole - I have a hard time believing that it's a systemic problem that represents everyone who takes government money.
  20. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    What about bailing out the banks so that they don't fail? They made bad business decisions and failure should be a justifiable penalty for that. Instead they get bailed out with taxpayer money and continue with the stupid behaviour and bonus-paying they had before because they know they won't be allowed to fail. That only plays into their hands and makes them more untouchable.
  21. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    This is true. And they should have paid for their mistakes, I would have preferred if they bailed out the individuals who were screwed over by the banks. Anyway, as I've been very sleep deprived I'll be back to reply further.
  22. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I find nothing.
    Well... maybe your view radical.
    Or the idea of illustrating it with football teams laughable.
  23. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6

    A pair of questions for those opposing socialism.

    1) To what extent do you oppose socialism? Take health care for example. Would you be in favor of essentially abolishing all federal funding (and for that matter, state funding - it's still socialism if done on the state level) for health care, and letting people handle it themselves? It would certainly cut the budget dramatically if health care no longer drained federal coffers. Do you favor some essential services remaining under the control of the federal/state governments (vaccination comes to mind)? I'm not talking about what's currently politically viable here, but asking you would have in place if you had the ability to make Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the President go along with you.

    2) If, in the long term, socialism can be shown to produce a healthier, longer-lived, better educated, more comfortable and happier society than pure capitalism, do you believe that a switch to socialized system would be to the benefit of your nation, or do idealogical concerns outweigh the benefits of socialism?
  24. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    I've really just skimmed the thread, but here are my thoughts:

    I believe people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But I believe they should have boots first.

    All the outcry about Obama and "teh socializm!" is a disagreement on which programs should be run by the government and which should not. IOW, which programs should be part of "the commons."

    Health care and education should be part of the commons. No one should be denied access to basic health care (I'm not talking plastic surgery or massages, I'm talking about being able to see a general practitioner when you are sick, being able to go to the ER when you have an emergency without getting a bill in the thousands of dollars later, being able to stay in a hospital and have surgery if you need it, etc.) due to income level. Wealthy people should not have better access to health care than poor people.

    Also, the only qualification for getting a good education should be the student's willingness to do the work. And I taught school for 12 years, the latter can be sorely lacking. But an impoverished student who has the intelligence and the drive to get a college education should not be denied one due to income. Yes, there are scholarships, but there are not enough of them and they don't cover all expenses.

    IOW neither education nor good health care should be reserved for the elite.

    I have a lot of issues with Obamacare, but the idea of a "government takeover of health care" is not among them.

    Yes, the US government is corrupt. We are no longer a democracy, more of a corporatocracy. That would be my issue with our federal government taking over any further programs. Our elected officials would not be running the programs. A handful of industries--Big Pharma, Big Ag, etc.--would be running them.

    The problem with a total government takeover would be a lack of competition. However, a total free market would eventually result in a monopoly, and how would a market run by one industry be better than a market run by the federal government?

    Neither total socialism nor total capitalism is the answer.
  25. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
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    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    I agree, a hybrid of both is best.

    A big problem with Capitalism IMO is the inequality it promotes. There are big divides between rich and poor in a lot of western nations, particularly the UK & US. The wealthy and higher-class get the privileges and benefits while the poor and less educated are not given equal oppertunities.

    The government here has recently increased the tuition fees level for Universities in England to quite a high level, which many argue excludes the poorer students from being able to afford to go. Scotland on the other hand offers free University entry to all Scottish students.
    There was also a program on TV recently about how the private school boys run the country. The Prime Minister, the London Mayor and most of the cabinet in Parliament went to private schools like Eaton.
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