After reading and reviewing a book by a socialism critic, I then did a book by an advocate. Then some told me “No, here is the advocate book you should have read.” I tried one of them: Nathan Robinson’s
Democratic socialism was first defined by Eduard Bernstein. A serious debate about Democratic socialism should start with a critic of Bernstein.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
Please consider an example:
Consider winter heating in the North. This makes people warmer and happier. The government could subsidise heating oil - giving those people have more heating and more happiness. Individual benefit - no positive externalities. Northern voters will likely vote for government subsidies of heating oil. Taxpayers in the South might vote against it.
Why did the people in the North not just buy more of the unsubsidized heating oil in the first place? Resource limitation can easily explain that.
In this example, the only associated externalities are negative (in the form of taxes), but the government can reasonably be expected to subsidise - assuming that the northern voters care enough and are sufficiently numerous, etc. The subsidies could easily be a force for good overall.
Subsidies and taxes can be used to compensate for externalities, but I would deny that that is their only possible function. Subsidies can promote desirable ends by making them more attainable. This is in fact the standard reason given for fossil fuel subsidies: they promote industry, production and growth.
Chairman Mao didn't have to hide the fact that he was doing very well materially. Any time someone tries do unlink "democratic socialism" from the soviet union, N Korea, Maoist China you know that they're trying to sell you a bill of goods (which has usually been taken at gunpoint from the workers who created them).
Because the assumption is that the consumer (and the producer) takes into account the good and bad affecting himself but not those affecting third parties. Taxing/subsidizing externalities internalizes them.
This is completely standard economics. Nothing puzzling about it.
You should review David Schweikart's books. I've heard they influenced the more economic-y side of Sunkara's Manifesto.
Whenever you make a case for/ consider the benefits of democratic socialism, and someone brings up NK /USSR/ Maoist China, you know they're not seriously addressing your points. Whether you find it accurate or not, when left-leaning Americans or Brits talk about democratic socialism, they're almost always referring to a Nordic model (vibrant market economy with high taxes and a large state sector). However, it's also generally true that if conspicuous consumption is taboo, as it was in Maoist China, there is less material one-upmanship; quite the opposite, you'd often have to hide the fact that you were eating/ living better than others.
Do you honestly believe that there was no social one-upmanship in Soviet Russia, Post-Mao China, North Korea? The only thing that changed was that under Capitalism, one's ability to generate a good or service for VOLUNTARY TRADE is rewarded, as opposed to one's ability to barter for influence to socialist overlords.
I think so, yes; I get the impression that the whole package creates a culture of mutual support, rather than one overconcerned with profit and status. But I don't have any good evidence of causality.
If you'd rather have the cash in each case, but prefer the whole package to cash, I guess you see synergies in having the whole package of no-having-to-worry?
I read this guy's (Nathan Robinson) posts on intelligence... It was the most annoying example of woke motivated reasoning I've seen in a long time and I've strongly disliked the guy ever since. Having said that, anyone who's spent time in the US vs. Denmark can see the appeal of a dem-soc system. As many European visitors to the US will tell you (the long-termers move permanently because they prefer it), there is just something unpleasant about pervasive US capitalism, even to the well-off. From a Hansonian perspective, living in dem-soc European countries you're saved a lot of the worries resulting from status signalling and keeping up with the Joneses. In fact, I read much of 'The Elephant in the Brain' thinking: "We don't really have x signalling issue here (esp. medical care/ education)." Also, almost anything involving public goods is just way easier and more pleasant in dem-soc Europe. With the 'cash-gift' test, I'd usually rather have the cash in a given circumstance, but there are advantages to living in societies full of these pleasant inefficiencies.
Thanks!! I am a Star Trek fan----but it is a massive paradox----I don't believe the interstellar space travel----certainly not by 2250--:-). Also, the morality is loaded with contradictions---and the implied economics as written by Robin is funny. By the way--I believe Marcuse kind of was a Trekonomic kind of guy---he was Marx with tech fantasy!
Hanson has directly discussed the economics of Star Trek here:https://www.overcomingbias....
And delved more deeply into the problems with implicitly relying on merely prestige for everyone's motivation in Star Trek here:https://www.overcomingbias....
How many times have you gone to a library? How many times do you think the "average American" (or the "average citizen of the world") has gone to a library? The "library reference" is just a pedantic argument coming from the "gauche divine" and it exemplified pretty well the tendency of pedantic central planners to expend others people's money on their dreams of an aesthetically idealized world that does not make any sense to the suckers paying for it.
People avoid the European "free clinics" Robinson refers to, because the service is awful. If they can afford it, they very much prefer to go to the private ones.
Robinson believes their "preferences" are "universal preferences" which gives him the right to force other people to finance his stylized view of the world. They are not, and this is a fatal mistake. Finance your preference with your own money, buddy!
Sure a coordination failure could be the market failure that justifies spending. But if so, such spending won't fail my cash gift test.
This "cash gift" argument does not seem very specific to socialism. It cuts against many government-provided services. Cash could be spent on health care, schools, roads, post, police or garbage collection. Part of the reply would be that "free riders" would not pay for some services - such as roads and police, due to a "tragedy of the commons" situation. In practice, the government forces everyone to pay something, and then the "tragedy of the commons" situation is avoided.
If anyone has watched any of the many Star Trek shows, they skip over how they accomplish what is discussed by Nathan Robinson---as he appears to want to live in this Star Trek world---which really is undefined. We know "hunger and poverty" has been eliminated. But we don't know how. We have no idea how people on Earth not in the Federation actually live day to day. I believe there is no money. What do houses look like? Are there rich people? Do people have jobs? Does everyone get to do anything they want because technology solves all problems? Can people get "free" anything they want? The image is that everyone gets to do anything they want without poverty and hunger. Robinson's ideas and this discussion remind me of that. Except this critique draws out all the optimization problems (because people like choice) which a Robinson/Star Trek world ignores. What other economists thought the same thing? Karl Marx--and 120 years later Herbert Marcuse.