Socialism, Capitalism, Normalcy Bias And Pencils

The Republican establishment has now gone over the deep end in their criticism of Mitt Romney’s recent remarks about how so much of the electorate is made up of takers. Sure, he wasn’t exactly eloquent in his comments, but when you have the federal government welcoming new immigrants by instructing them on how to get on the public dole you have to admit he had a point. Others argue that he didn’t make a strong enough case for conservative ideals. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe he needed to make a stronger case for capitalism. I recall the GOP primary when some of his rivals were attacking him from the left and the only one who refused to join in was Rick Santorum. What does that say for the Republican Party as a whole?

Maybe we should re-frame the debate from conservative vs. liberal to capitalist vs. socialist. We’ve all seen the polls showing that a good number of Americans think socialism is a-okay. The problem is that it’s been decades since anyone was taught that socialism/communism is not only a failed ideology, but one that has brought about immense human pain, suffering and death. If not for my dear father and my own research I may never had learned that, I certainly didn’t learn it in school. Just yesterday we learned that US companies have significantly scaled back investment in this new economy of ours. As Captain Capitalism pointed it, capital fright is a feature of socialism, not a bug. How many people know this? How many people even know what “capital” means?

Anyway, perhaps Mitt Romney could have been a stronger defender of capitalism. He, more than anyone, should know that capitalism, with all of its flaws, is the best economic system for producing a thriving economy and new technologies and innovations that prolong our lives and make them better.

I think the Republicans in general have done a terrible job of warning about the dangers of socialism. Maybe we can blame it on normalcy bias. The term is normally used to describe the reasons people ignore evacuation warnings, or why the Jews didn’t see what was coming when Hitler thought it would be a good idea to wipe out their race. People just don’t believe “it can ever happen here,” even when the writing is on the wall. We get so used to life as it is, and can’t imagine it any other way. The irony is that capitalism brought about the comfortable lives most Americans enjoy, but so many are so ignorant that they’re willing to scrap capitalism because they believe life will always be this way. They’ve failed to heed the warning of Margaret Thatcher – eventually you run out of other people’s money. Then what? Think Greece.

The thing that started this little rant of mine was a post by Jazz Shaw at Hot Air about how humans always find a way to screw things up.

It’s as if we’ve been living a millennial cycle resembling an early version of Groundhog Day. Societies struggle to rise up, they achieve sweeping domination, and then fall rapidly into gout infested decay. This is strictly anecdotal – I’m neither an historian nor an anthropologist – but we seem to be pre-programmed to be victims of our own success. When times were hard, the wolves or barbarians were at the door and you knew that there wouldn’t be anyone there to bail you out aside from your own family, community or church. People understand there is nothing for it at a time such as that but to fight like hell, work like madmen and discover a way to feed themselves, protect their own and survive. But as a group, we work to build societies where everything is safer, easier, and – just perhaps – a bit less precious to us.

And when there is an easy path to comfort available, we seem to produce a series of generations more than willing to eschew the hard scrabble grind to advance and settle for whatever may be easily obtained, even if the resulting lifestyle is nothing to brag about. Humans do indeed seem to fall into the “Type A” and “Type B” personalities which Friedman and Rosenman postulated back in the fifties, but it extends deeply into our roots. Any given moment in time will produce some who are driven to succeed and others who are willing to do what is needed to get along, willing to be led as long as their baseline level of acceptable comfort is maintained. But on the longer scale, the analogy appears to carry forward, generating sufficient individuals willing to keep on keeping on to sap the drive which built the cornucopia feeding the crowds at the arena. (Read More)

It just doesn’t have to be this way. We need leaders who will stand up for capitalism. We need to teach our children that capitalism and the hard work associated with it is what produced all of the material comforts they enjoy today. (I know, this is the time of year we all focus on family, which is about all we’ll have left when the left is done with us.) A thriving economy is what lifts people out of poverty, not more welfare programs. How many billions or trillions have we taken out of the economy to fight poverty in the past four or five decades, only to have the poverty rate remain stagnant? Even after the last four years of government intervention in the economy that produced the worst recovery ever wasn’t enough to convince people to change course. Now that so many of the policies implemented stand little chance of being repealed the next four years are sure to be worse.

Watch this video adaptation of the 1958 story “I Pencil” and then tell me how a centrally-planned economy could come up with something so simple, yet so complex.

I love these online videos, but I think it’s a lot of “preaching to the choir.” Maybe those conservative Super PACs could start airing videos like this one on national television. It could be like a 21st Century version of “School House Rock” – turn them into cartoons to capture the imagination of children and undo some of the anti-capitalist, socialist crap they’re being force-fed in the schools we fund with our tax dollars. (How sick is that, by the way?)

Oh, and to all of you union members who think that voting for communism is a good idea, get a clue. Where in history have you seen that communism helped the average worker? It only helps the apparatchiks, the rest of you are the useful idiots who will be beaten into submission. Either that, or in this semi-free socialist society we have now your jobs are going to be outsourced to other countries because your “leaders” didn’t know when to blink.

One last thing – the GOP really needs to fire all of its consultants. They stink.