Letters to the Editor

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SOCIALISM: Please consult the dictionary

Letter by John P. Maier, University Place on Dec. 6, 2010 at 6:22 pm with 48 Comments »
December 7, 2010 9:24 am

Re: “ECONOMY: Socialism has failed state, nation” (letter, 12-3).

The disjointed and illogical attempt to attribute the Great Recession to some failed American experiment with “socialism” was a real head-scratcher.

In contemporary discourse it seems that a person’s propensity for the word “socialism” is inversely proportional to his actual understanding of the term. Ground zero for the Great Recession was Wall Street – the center of the capitalist universe. I don’t know how much further one can get from socialism than the unregulated free-for-all feeding frenzy that was Wall Street in 2008, where brokerage houses were allowed to do as they please.

In the fall of 2008, our financial markets were frozen and we were headed off an economic cliff, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. The tools used by both the Bush and Obama administrations to bring us back from this abyss (TARP, stimulus bill, tax cuts, etc,) are standard short term fixes for a capitalist economic meltdown, and have nothing in the world to do with “socialism.”

The letter then goes on to praise the tea partiers for striving to save our country from bankruptcy by calling for more tax cuts! Bankruptcy, whether at the national or personal level is a very simple concept; it simply means that one does not have the requisite revenue stream to satisfy one’s debts. Cuts to the revenue stream will only exacerbate the debt problem.

Leave a comment Comments → 48
  1. JudasEscargot says:

    John – you are expecting accuracy and execution of the English language?

  2. A bit of an oversimplification, John. The question is at what point taxes themselves diminish the revenue stream. Obviously, 100 percent taxation would kill all motivation to make money and thus diminish revenue to the government. On the other hand, zero percent taxation would clearly not pay the bills. So where is the optimum balance? That’s what the argument is about. There is evidence that neither raising or lowering taxes within reason affects revenue appreciably. So, would you you rather spend your money or would you prefer to give it to the government and let it spend it? I think I can spend my money more wisely than the government, but then I’m a conservative. Liberals need help spending theirs.

  3. velmak, congratulations. I would never have pegged you for making more than $200,000 per year. I agree that we are arguing about optimum balance. Do we want to place $700 more on our national debt and borrow from the Chinese by printing more money and letting them buy bonds to cover it so that the top 1-2% can keep, on average about $1,500 per year per each milliion they make in income?

    We have past-due bills caused by teh two wars we are fighting. We have bills due for the possible overspending we have made to keep our economy from total collapse (I say “possible” because the signs keep pointing to a good recovery because of the bailouts and stimulus, but we still have to pay for it in the short term).

    I, for one, feel that Republicans have lost all sight of patriotism and sacrifice for the country by selling our nation to the Chinese and making future generations pay so the top 1-2% can indulge themselfes a little more. If you say everyone should get the same cuts, no matter their income, then I am willing to give up a little more of my tax cuts for the sake of saving our economy from further harm.

  4. aislander says:

    Nice sleight of hand, John!

    John P. Maier writes: “…[bankruptcy] simply means that one does not have the requisite revenue stream to satisfy one’s debts.”

    But, nations don’t go bankrupt (unless we turn the government over to a receiver, such as the IMF or the UN), they default or debase their currencies, as we are in the process of doing. So bankruptcy is not the issue.

    It is accurate to say that we don’t have the revenue stream to “satisfy” our spending habits, and, since there has NOT been a precipitous fall-off of revenue directly attributable to the Bush tax rates, it is obvious that SPENDING is the problem, not revenue…

    And, of course, the entire discourse on “socialism, not socialism” is misleading and disingenuous in the extreme…

  5. sumner402 says:

    John, you are beating your head against the wall if you expect those that over use and mis-use the new right wing scare word, ‘socialism’ to understand how silly they and how misguided.
    In todays media over load they have chosen to hear the news they agree with and not the news of the real world right outside their doors.

  6. elmer fudd says:

    I love it when socialists run out of other peoples money to spend. The cuts they are a coming and they ain’t gonna stop anytime soon.

    When you add up the debt and promises like SS and Medicare it becomes obvious that they have dug themselves a hole and there are only three ways out. 1) The government could default. 2) They could print more money. 3) They could cut spending radically.

    My guess is option 2. In reality however, it’s not that different from option 3. People will still get their checks from the government, but due to inflation they won’t be worth as much, in effect an across the board spending cut without any of the hard choices that go along with cutting spending.

    The fourth way, raising taxes, is a myth. Rich people write the tax codes and virtually every last representative in congress is rich. They have wealth to protect, so they make sure there are loopholes to protect it. They’re also being constantly lobbied by even richer corporations. Finally, when all is said and done and all the shells rearranged, they go out and pay the best accountants they can find to make sure they exploit those loopholes to their full extent. As a result the government won’t take in more than a fraction of what it forecasts, the tax code becomes more byzantine and growth is either stifled or shipped overseas.

    That’s not to say government won’t try raising taxes, just that doing so won’t accomplish anything.

  7. aislander says:

    elmer fudd: You are absolutely correct that the rich write the tax code (along with every other law and regulation), because the rich have influence on government and the not rich do not. THAT is so obvious, it shouldn’t even have to be stated.

    And that is precisely why big government is so bad for those who are not rich–there is more of it for the rich to influence, and it has tentacles into far more aspects of our lives…

  8. bobcat1a says:

    aislander,and yet, we still want to cut taxes for the rich. Go figure.

  9. aislander says:

    Letting people keep their own money, bobcat1a, has absolutely nothing to do with the rich’s controlling government. Not overtaxing means LESS government for the rich to influence, and is better for the victims of government, also known as the non-rich, since government will be less in their lives…

  10. the3rdpigshouse says:

    When the gov’t gets into the housing market and dictates to lending institutions who they must lend to, qualified or not, that is not “unregulated free-for-all feeding frenzy” – that is social engineering by the gov’t via the market and banks!! AKA Gov’t interference in the marketplace!!

  11. aislander says:

    You are absolutely right, the3rdpigshouse, and then government (through Fannie and Freddie) acted as a guaranteed buyer for the bad paper, essentially supporting the derivatives market, thereby inflating the bubble well beyond the point where a freer market would have burst it. But the bald-faced liars of the left deny, deny, deny that those things happened. Maddening!

  12. Aislander says
    “nations don’t go bankrupt” and I say they do and here is my proof;


    Also, given the lack of enforcement of federal financial regulations under the Weed Hopper and his NeoCon thugs our economic meltdown was DUE TO non intervention of the government.

  13. beerBoy says:

    aislander says:You are absolutely right, the3rdpigshouse

    ’nuff said about aislander…….

  14. the3rdpigshouse says:

    xring – “meltdown was DUE TO non intervention of the government.” I get it, the people who were forcing the banks to lend money and backing the bad paper would also control the financial regulations – I must be blind – why didn’t I see that! Oh Boy!!!!?

  15. aislander says:

    beerBoy writes: “…’nuff said about aislander……. ”

    So…guilt by association, is it? You always argue SO persuasively against just that…

  16. aislander says:

    So…xring: If nations CAN go bankrupt (without ceding their sovereignty to some international entity acting as a receiver), are you saying that we should just keep spending at the same levels (or higher, from what I have been reading), and just GO bankrupt? I should think we MIGHT want to avoid that…

  17. aislander says:

    …and if “going bankrupt” DOES mean ceding our sovereignty (which is what I believe it would mean), I should think we’d REALLY want to avoid THAT!

  18. drummerswidow says:

    Good letter, Mr. Maier. Don’t let those who see socialists under every rock, behind every tree, get you down.

  19. sumner402 says:

    But the bald-faced liars of the RIGHT deny, deny, deny that those things happened. Maddening!

    Fanny and freddy have little to do with the melt down and those trolls on the right have been proven wrong many times. (just think about what allowed the derivatives to be created in the first place for a clue)
    Why do they keep telling the same lies over and over when they know they are lies?
    It is a compulsion?

  20. sumner402 says:

    nuff said about aislander…….

    No kidding!

  21. sumner402 says:

    When the gov’t gets into the housing market and dictates to lending institutions who they must lend to, qualified or not, that is not “unregulated free-for-all feeding frenzy”

    Speaking of right wing lies told over and over……

  22. Kind of all-or-nothing reaction to aislander’s comment bBoy. If that’s how it works, you should guard against aligning yourself with sum people as well.

  23. sumner402 says:

    Personal attacks fro them well contented, positive outlook and happy rightwing sozo?
    I’m shocked.

  24. Here we go again with aislander and piggie repeating a falsehood over and over until they actually believe it and are hoping they can convince others to believe it too.
    The following has been known for a long time and I have put it in these pages more times than I can count. Will it ever sink in? I doubt it, because it is anathma to what the wingnuts need to believe.
    “David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall; McClatchy Newspapers
    12 October 2008

    WASHINGTON – A conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.
    Commentators say that’s what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They’ve specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial problems.
    Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren’t true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.”

  25. Oh, and, excellent letter John. The way you tell is by reading the responses from the people whose intent it is to be as imperious as possible thinking that approach wins points.

  26. aislander says:

    Well, Publico, I guess I’ll have to marshal all the citations I already went through, and then you and the other lefties are going to say “Yeah, that emperor sure has fine taste in apparel,” and then we’ll be right back where we are, but you can start with this, from Slate.com:


    “Fannie Mae’s business is at once simple and remarkably complex. It buys mortgages, then either holds onto them or packages them into sale as bonds to investors. It also buys and sells the mortgage-backed securities it produces—and derivatives based on them—as part of an effort to hedge its risks. As the market for securitized mortgages developed, it has grown into the largest financing source for home mortgages.”

    I would suggest you read the whole article, from what is NOT a right-of-center source…

  27. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Somebody has to do it – it is sooo tiresome reading the same anti-American leftist drivel from some posters – but – somebody has to counter those societal maggots!!! And its sooo much fun!

  28. aislander says:

    Here’s a couple more:

    The Brookings Institution’s Robert Litan …suggested that the 1990s enhancement of CRA…may have contributed to the current crisis. “If the CRA had not been so aggressively pushed,” Litan said, “it is conceivable things would not be quite as bad. People have to be honest about that.”

    The Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994, which opened the door for interstate banking and encouraged a new wave of banking M&A, made the ratings under the CRA a test for determining whether acquisitions would be allowed. That same year, the Fed refused to allow a Hartford, Connecticut bank to acquire a New Hampshire bank on fair housing and CRA grounds.

  29. aislander says:

    Here is an interesting article from 2007 that explains the process of “securitization” of sub-prime loans, but with a rather optimistic view of the impact of doing so…


  30. sozo – I tend to not align myself with anyone.

  31. Elmo – printing more money is NOT an option, unless your plan is to destroy the country. Putting more money into circulation lowers the value on the money and leads to run away, ruinous inflation.

  32. Roncella says:

    Publico, You can believe what you want but I remember my wife relating how alarmed her bosses were as the bank she worked at was going through a feds inspection visit.

    One of the hot buttons during the inspection was reviewing home loans to minorities, in the number of them etc. This happened a few years before the Mortgage meltdown, supported by Barney Frank, Chris Dodd others.

  33. sumner402 says:

    And the righties just keep repeating their worn out lies, hoping maybe this time someone other than they will swallow them.
    Hitler would be proud.

  34. aislander says:

    xring: I don’t believe Elmer Fudd was ADVOCATING just printing more money, but that is what is happening right now. What do think Quantitative Easing IS? What do think it is when the Fed buys treasury bonds through third parties? Why is gasoline over $3 when prices should be falling based on reduced demand? Why is gold heading for $1500 and beyond?

  35. Fibonacci says:

    someone has to counter the socialist/marxist maggot drivel? It certanly is not you, you don’t seem to say anything except socialist/marxist/maggot/ignorant. Try a real argument.

  36. Publico says:

    So you prefer to believe something in Slate instead of “Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren’t true.”
    What reliable data did the Slate authors use in their analysis?
    Why do you have a problem with enabling minorities to purchase a home? If anyone meets the requirements, they deserve the opportunity not just who you favor.

  37. aislander says:

    Publico writes: “Why do you have a problem with enabling minorities to purchase a home? If anyone meets the requirements, they deserve the opportunity not just who you favor.”

    Why do YOU jump to the conclusion that I have such a “problem,” Publico? I said nothing about that. The problem is that the CRA became a quota program and the “requirements,” were reduced or ignored in order to fulfill the quotas, thereby creating more unqualified borrowers….

  38. aislander says:

    …and I prefer the Slate article because it was written before the CYA began…

  39. beerBoy says:

    aislander – your insistence upon focusing upon a left/right dichotomy that demonizes all things left prevents you from seeing that there are those on the left who agree with you on some things: to wit – the absurd and obscene idea of quantitative easing

  40. aislander says:

    I believe that anything from a left perspective is fruit of the poison tree, beerBoy, but I don’t recall saying anything about left or right when I posted about quantitative easing. I was amazed that xring didn’t seem to be aware we are in the process of debasing the currency…

  41. sumner402 says:

    What do think Quantitative Easing IS?

    Glenn beck is a moron.

  42. sumner402 says:

    The problem is that the CRA became a quota program and the “requirements,” were reduced or ignored in order to fulfill the quotas, thereby creating more unqualified borrowers….

    More GOP talk radio lies.

    you have been asked, begged, pleaded with to give something that backs up your nonsense, can you do it at long last or are you really this dishonest?

  43. Islander, A bankrupt nation is similar to a bankrupt individual; the creditors can seize and sell all real property and other assets to satisfy the debt.

    And no, I do not want to see the US go down that path. And as you and have agreed on other blogs the best way to stave off bankruptcy is through a combined effort of tax, spending reductions, and renegotiating with our creditors.

    Contemplate the Golden Mean.

  44. bobcat1a says:

    Bankrupt doesn’t mean losing sovereignty but it does mean losing control of the economy and seeing economic anarchy. If you like that idea, try 100,000+% inflation. Read a little about Germany in the early 1920’s.

  45. Well bBoy, you may TRY not to align yourself with anyone, and you may HOPE that it’s so…but actually you’re not quite as elevated above the fray as you would want us to believe. Which is fine, but it’s good to be self-aware.

  46. aislander says:

    Sovereignty MEANS having control of one’s nation, bobcat1a, including the economy. If we lose control of that and have “creditors seizing assets,” we are no longer a sovereign nation. And, of course, I am not in favor of hyperinflation. The one thing that will save us is economic growth, and that REQUIRES cutting taxes and regulation…

  47. aislander – by your definition, the US lost sovereignty in 1864 and money was created through debt.

  48. aislander says:

    Bad idea then; bad idea now, beerBoy…

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