How socialism really works

I am not an expert on Brazil, but I am as close as a layman comes. I lived there a total of six years, speak the language very well and met leaders like Dilma and Lula. They represent the workers party, leftist and socialists. That is why I articles like this one are so annoying. Brazil is a wonderful country and my love for its people is second only to the U.S. But the government is always getting it in trouble with policies that are overly dirigiste and socialist. People say that it is not socialist since the rich benefit. Let me enlighten all who have not experienced it. This is how socialism REALLY works. Socialism ends up benefiting politically connected rich guys and making rich guys of the politically connected.

Indeed, I worry about Trumps dirigiste tendencies, but let's be clear, such things are not free market. I do not think America will become like Brazil. Our institutions are stronger and better able to resist. But we need to be careful.

The Brazilian system sounds more logical than ours when you read about it. Their slogan "order and progress" comes from a positivist tradition that informs progressives everywhere. There is a theoretical rule of the people, with proportional representation that ensures that all ideas and parties have a role. The poor and the minorities have a strong voice and their rights are enshrined in the constitution. In theory, everybody is well-represented and well-off.

I feel bad criticizing Brazil. The Brazilians people are great and I have gotten to know many who I call friends. I loved living there and would gladly do it again. But Brazil is also a lesson to be learned. The country should be much better off than it is. It is the dirigiste policies that keep it from reaching its potential.

The dark joke Brazilians share is that they make money and the economy grows at night when the bureaucrats are sleeping. They have done remarkably well despite active government.

If Trump is like the socialists in Brazil, we have a problem. But America is not Brazil. We can learn a lot of good things from the Brazilian people. How to run a government or an economy is not among them.

Posted by Christine & John at November 24, 2016 9:20 PM
Comment #410490

I don’t perceive Trump as being a president who wants more central government.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 3:24 PM
Comment #410492

C&J, I agree with your post in that under socialism, as we know it, the rich get richer and the rest are pretty much wards of the state.

I see globalism as a step toward socialism, giving up some degree of sovereignty for supposedly cheap goods for all. We’ve had 15 or so years of that and one can see that the rich have gotten way way richer and the rest have muddled along at best.

Venezuela might be a good example of full blown socialism. Socking it to business and giving it all the folks. Works good for about six months.

IMO, labels such as socialism, capitalism, mercantilism and so on, are not definitive except when taken to the extreme.
The US survived the Clinton, Bush, and Obama era which I would describe as a mixture of extreme capitalism ending with some moderate socialism thrown into the mix. As with most nations there is no one word ‘ism’ that clearly defines the situation.

In general we need to be a strong sovereign nation with economic policies that provide for 3-5 percent annual growth. We need sane policies that regulate trade, immigration plus others. We need social programs that work for all the people. That means people have to have jobs and be paid a living wage. That means insurance policies that are tailored to ones ability to pay. Young folks don’t necessarily need big heart or cancer policies but are usually forced into a socialistic model where the young are forced to pay for the elders.

We need a centrists gov’t that will use anti-trust law and regulate wage and health issues for those on the low end of the economic ladder.

I am hopeful Trump will govern in such a manner. But, should he fail miserably we will be way better off than with 4 more years of moderate socialism.

IMO, if Hillary had won the sheer number of new immigrants would have insured the GOP would be decades away from winning a presidential election.

Thank God for Trump. ..

Posted by: roy ellis at November 25, 2016 4:37 PM
Comment #410493

Not content with the golden eggs the goose (capitalism) lays, some on the Left desire to roast the goose and eat it.

A centrist government has contributed to our failure in education, health care, energy, and labor.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 4:51 PM
Comment #410498

Article in NYT today talks about hungry people fleeing Venezuela on foot and even in small boats.

Notice what happens. People flee countries where governments control much of the economy, i.e. those practicing socialism, and they flee to countries where free markets dominate. It is always like this. Except in the case of actual foreign invasion, I can think of no situations in the last 100 years when large numbers of desperate people have fled a mostly free country to go to a mostly socialist one.

Posted by: Christine & John at November 25, 2016 6:23 PM
Comment #410499

I can think of no situations in the last 100 years when large numbers of desperate people have fled a mostly free country to go to a mostly socialist one.
Posted by: Christine & John at November 25, 2016 6:23 PM

Neither can I John. What disturbs me about those fleeing for freedom is why in the world some would advocate to change what is so appealing in their adopted country.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 6:32 PM
Comment #410500

Even those who promise to leave don’t.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 25, 2016 6:33 PM
Comment #410501

True Weary. Overstaying a visa is unlawful and reveals the lack of honesty and character.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 6:35 PM
Comment #410502

I was talking about those crazy celebrities who claimed they would move if Trump was elected. Big talk, no action.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 25, 2016 6:54 PM
Comment #410503

Right Weary…they also lack honesty and character.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 6:57 PM
Comment #410504

Royal, a gov’t that pushes policies mandating the citizenry purchase a product is a socialist gov’t, not a centrist gov’t.

Lemme ask you this — The wealthiest 1% percent own 40% of everything. At what point would you draw the line on capitalism? When they own 50 - 80 - 95% and so on? Where is your jumping off point, and yeah, how wud u jump off?

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at November 25, 2016 7:49 PM
Comment #410505

The Lefties are in serious trouble in Europe. Their ideas on socialism and central government big “brotherism” are being rejected by a populace yearning for individual freedom and liberty.

“Across the continent, parties of the center-left that have dominated politics for decades — and that have given Europe its reputation for generous social welfare systems — now find themselves beaten, divided and directionless. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are just the latest members of a beleaguered club.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 25, 2016 7:53 PM
Comment #410506

Royal, where is competition when every opto store in your area is owned by one company?

Will the big insurers roll over when Trump tries to push cross state competition between them? It sounds good but is there any there there?

Posted by: roy ellis at November 25, 2016 8:10 PM
Comment #410507

One thing I hope Trump will be willing to take on is breaking up big monopolies. The media and banks are two industries that need anti-trust laws applied to them.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard of a corporation that controls an industry being busted up. I’ve never heard of a small number of corporations controlling an industry, like the media, being busted up.

Walmart is another big corporation that’s driving competition out of business. Walmart should consider being a wholesale warehouse for small businesses, supporting them instead of destroying them.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 25, 2016 10:28 PM
Comment #410519


I think the comparison between Donald Trump and Latin America’s socialists is quite apt. I agree that our institutions have enough inertia to weather a short term administration of his populist medicine. Personally, I am thinking the result is not going to be that different from what happened in the 1970s, which was the last time the US experimented with a centrally planned economy.

Posted by: Warren Porter at November 26, 2016 1:47 PM
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