The Industrial Workers of the World poster “Pyramid of Capitalist System” (1911) (from here)

Most of the members of the Democratic Party probably view Capitalism as shown in the poster above. So it is that I cracked up when Hillary Clinton announced yet another excuse for her election loss.

Hillary Clinton agreed Wednesday that being a capitalist likely damaged her 2016 campaign because nearly half of Democrats say they are socialists.

“Probably,” Clinton said at the Shared Values Leadership Summit in New York City, after being asked whether support for capitalism hurt her at the polls.

“It’s hard to know, but if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists, or self-described socialists, and I’m asked, ‘Are you a capitalist?’ And I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability,’ you know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist.'” (continued here)

If you find it difficult to believe Clinton said that, listen to the video.

Because so many think she is crooked, I suspect H. Clinton’s credibility hurt her more than anything else. Sadly, what Clinton’s record shows is that she believes in any economic system that puts her on top. When we have Capitalism with H. Clinton’s idea of what constitutes “appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability”, we have a form of Socialism that looks like that poster above. Because people inevitably abuse great power, that is what Socialism in the United States looks like.

Anyway, this is the second post in a series. POORLY TAUGHT — PART 1 was the first. Here we will begin dealing with a question.

So how specifically does support Socialism?

Is this post really about ? No. The point is to examine some of his ideas, which I think are common misunderstandings propagated by the public school system and the news media. Note that I once believe the same. I believe the solution for this problem is some independent study.

In POORLY TAUGHT — PART 1 we observed two problems.


  • The lack of coherent ideology that explains government’s role in our economy. (Will cover this issue in this post.)
  • Acceptance of the plain fact that mankind is deeply flawed. (Will cover this issue in POORLY TAUGHT — PART 3.)


The Lack Of A Coherent Ideology

What is the problem here? Understanding. What does Capitalism involve? Capitalism is a economic system that allows people to negotiate their own deals with each other. Instead of some mastermind telling us what we must do, we just advertise our products and services, and we shop for we want to buy. We allow supply and demand determine prices. That way everyone pays appropriately for what they get, and that way those who provide products and services have a huge incentive to satisfy their customers.

Does really understand Capitalism? No, and unless understands Capitalism he really cannot appreciate what a disaster Socialism must be. Consider how he responded when I pointed out he has not established any hard limits (or criteria) that would limit his application of Socialism.

Certain moral and practical considerations require that we work together as a community, and make every person responsible for contributing to toward the public goods and services that he/she enjoys as a member of that community. For example, the business that pays no taxes for roads and highways but enjoys the benefit of those roads is committing an immoral theft of public good and also the practical economic inefficiency of literally being a “free rider”. (from here)

What  describes is the typical Socialist justification for “freeways”. What this is is an excuse for making everyone pay taxes for transportation infrastructure whether they receive a benefit or not.This Socialist solution puts politicians absolutely in charge. Taxpayers pay no matter what is built, where it is built, or whether it is used.

In the past Americans paid for roads and bridges with user fees. The government financed transportation infrastructure with bonds, and users paid off the bonds by paying tolls if and when they used that infrastructure. The bonds sold if the buyers thought the project worth the investment.

Did anyone receive a benefit from transportation infrastructure without paying for it? No. When the producers of goods and services determine what is necessary to make a profit, they have to include the cost of paying tolls for the use of transportation infrastructure. To make a profit, the producers of goods and services must pass on the cost for their use of transportation infrastructure to their customers. Hence, many of us pay tolls without ever realizing it, and paying tolls is much more fair than paying taxes for transportation infrastructure we never use in any way shape or form.

Here is another example. Here justifies using Socialism.

“— You have very little effort to justify using government.”

That’s because the moral and practical arguments for when and how much government to use, as I said, is situational, dynamic, complex and defies such closed loop absolutism. By way of example, let’s take my efforts to replace the windows in my home.

Industries used lead in a number of products, including paint, because it was effective and cheap. What we found was that lead was poisoning us and our children to the point of causing brain damage. Industries were externalizing a real cost (lead poisoning of children) so that it was not part of the true price of their products. The EPA therefore banned lead in these products and thus internalized the true cost of the product into the price. This was both a moral good and a practical economic efficiency. Now to my windows. (from here)

Does environmental regulation equate to Socialism? Well, if government starts using regulations to tell business people how to run their businesses, any kind of regulation can effectively become government ownership. However, government’s proper role is to protect the rights of the People.  When business people dump pollutants on their neighbors or jeopardized the safety of workers, those business people violate the rights of others. Just to make a buck, no one has the right to poison anyone. Hence government must enforce certain prohibitions, but so long as the practices of business people don’t violate our rights, it is not government’s job to tell them how to run their businesses. Does anyone believe those government bureaucrats would know what they are doing? Of course not. How could they? Yet the Socialist would insist upon giving the bureaucrats control.

To Be Continued


26 thoughts on “POORLY TAUGHT — PART 2

    1. That kind of thing is supposed to be regulated at the state level. The Department of Education did not exist until the 1970’s, and it has no reason to exist. Our Federal Government should not even be operating a student loan program. Easy money just drives up tuition costs for the people who would actually benefit from a college degree.

      1. Is that why you put people, who headed institutions accused of fraud, at the top of the remanents of the unit that was intended to investigate the suspected fraud?

        1. @marmoewp

          Let’s look at an old joke. Imagine I asked you this question.

          Are you still beating your wife?

          Are you even married? Does it make any difference? It was a joke, but you now stand accused. According to your logic, I now have no business appointing you to run anything.

          If we want to limit the amount of fraud, then we want wary buyers. The most wary buyers are people spending their own money on themselves. Since government spends other people’s money on other people, it is kind of dumb to put government in charge of educating us. Who else but politicians would think it is a great idea to fund schools with a lottery (which originated as the numbers racket and was run by criminals)?

          1. The difference is, I did not settle the wifebeating allegation for a few million bucks.

            From the article:
            In 2016 DeVry paid $100 million to settle a federal lawsuit charging the school lied or misled authorities about its graduates’ employment rates and status – charges covering activities that took place while Schmoke worked for DeVry.

          2. This was known BEFORE the lady’s confirmation, and the Senate did confirm her. I see nothing to gain by rehashing that process. I prefer to spend more time considering current events.

            Since I would like to see the Department of Education, which has no basis in our Constitution, disbanded, I have a difficult time objecting when tasks that belong at the State level are left to the states.

          3. DeVos herself is a billionaire with ties to a major for-profit college operator and firms that own for-profit colleges, as well as investments in a debt collection giant that pursues students who have defaulted on their loans, according to the Center for American Progress. A CAP report noted that senators did not get a chance to grill DeVos on her ties to the for-profit college industry during her confirmation hearings because – in an unprecedented move – the administration did not require the paperwork from the Office of Government Ethics to be finished before the hearing.

            What the people who wrote the article are trying to do is rehash the nomination process.

            I don’t think the Department of Education (DoE) should exist. I also don’t think the Federal Government should buying votes with student loans. DeVos is there to make much of that go away, and that is what she has been doing.

            State governments have all the power they need to regulate private universities. To the extent it is an issue, the DoE is not required to regulate interstate commerce. That’s overkill.

      1. Good thing she isn’t in a position to run our foreign policy and approve arms transfers eh? But she might be very good at weeding out the chaff in the education industry with that background….especially if she does something about the student loan scam. That would single-handedly fix most problems in both profits and non-profits (for-profit colleges receive an average of three quarters of their revenue from federal grants and loans).

        I almost got bit by the for-profit education industry myself (not Devry, a medical one). I was in a hurry to get my RN and of course with my husband’s rate of moves I couldn’t seem to be in one place more than a year and a half. But oh boy! Here’s a college where you can get an accredited nursing degree in only 12 months! It’s hard work and a lot of money of course….
        What got me was the over-zelousness of the “academic counselor”/salesman. I could tell I was being played. It was really really expensive, so I was very careful. Turns out it was accredited (many credentials) but not NLNAC-accredited, which is the only organization that matters. I’d be paying 30,000 for a totally worthless degree….I wouldn’t even be able to get a job as a phlebotomist (which pays slightly above minimum) with it. So, I had to wait until we moved somewhere we could stay put a little longer (2 whole years!).

        Those stupid diploma mills do have their uses, though. For example, when the military promotion process required an advanced degree to make Lt Colonel, it was nice to have the option to take an easy online substitute for a real education. My spouse got an MBA while also working 16 hour days, deploying, going to National War College online (another advanced degree), and writing the Operations and Tactics manual for the F22. Fortunately, most of the leadership that high valued advanced degrees for the promotion process (to the point not having one was disqualifying even for the best candidates) are not in power anymore. Thank you Trump.

        1. @anon

          Thanks for a very thoughtful comment.

          I have worked for the government as a military officer and as a contractor for decades. Having that degree, just because the government thinks it important, is a big deal. Yet military officers learn most of the skills they need on the job, not in any school.

          What is the point of pressuring people to spend a large amount of time and treasure getting a degree that they will never actually use? It looks good on paper? Yep!

          1. I have a very low regard for most higher education these days (with some exceptions).
            Degrees are really becoming a nickel a dozen (in 2018 adjusted for inflation dollars).
            Even PhDs are becoming superfluous. There are simply too many of them. My sister in law has a PhD in history (she’s a sim instructor). She did her thesis on some French tapestry….took her about five or six years to complete. Think there had already been about 5000+ other theses written on this tapestry.
            One of my sons (19 years old), is a prodigy at history. He scored the second highest in the state at age 15 on some world history state test. He was stumping my PhD sister in law with history questions when he was only eight years old. There was a British pilot who came to visit (my son was about eight at the time, if memory serves) and he was able to cite every British warplane that had ever been made, along with its capabilities (including weapons load), and historical significance. The pilot told us we needed to get that kid on Jeopardy, he was smartest child he’d ever spoken to.

            A couple of weeks back, when volunteering at the thrift store, my son was over at the book area and I heard him gasp audibly and grab a dusty book.
            He said he never thought he’d be able to own a copy of (forgot the name…something in Latin, though the book was written in english). Can’t even remember the author but I think it might’ve been Voltaire, some author from the 1700s or thereabouts. It was about the size of war and peace, and juxtaposed the different leadership styles of famous military men throughout history. He set about reading it from cover to cover, like a normal kid his age might read a comic book. He’s that gifted.
            You’d think he’d be studying history at college, but no. He’s an engineering major.
            The reason? His words: “I don’t want to be surrounded by imbeciles”

          2. It’s worth adding that the loan debt for these degrees is now in the trillions.
            There was a time (before the government loan madness) degrees were actually valuable AND affordable.

  1. Do you even realize that you have misrepresented what I have written? For example, you quote what I wrote about the EPA and lead poisoning and then conveniently leave out what I wrote about government overreach regarding my windows. You force your readers to go back to read the full narrative and inflate half of what I said without recognizing that I have never argued the either/or, Socialism verses capitalism, that you present. Instead, what I have argued is that this either/or argument is nonsense – it is committing the fallacy of the false choice.

    Capitalism, feral and unfettered by government is the anarchy of the failed state. It simply does not work either from a practical or a moral standpoint. The economic model of the collective state based on socialism or communism also simply does not work, and does not actually exist because, as you alluded previously, such collectivist ideologies always turn totalitarian and oligarchic. Because they they stifle positive individual incentives and ambitions, such collectivist states also struggle to creat enough wealth to even survive.

    Instead, if you actually take a look around the world to see what has succeeded both economically to creat and distribute the most prosperity for the most people and to enhance individual freedom, it is never some either/or, but instead a dynamic balance between government provided goods and services, and vibrant markets that are effiently and fairly regulated. That is the simple reality around the world, and if you think that an either/or scenario successful exists, please provide examples, because prosperous freedom loving examples of the balance that I actually have advocated are ubiquitous.

    Please don’t use me as your straw man on either side of this stupid false choice fallacy. I think it is a dumb argument, and have always said so unambiguously.

    It is disingenuous of you to present only one side of my reasoning that it is a dumb argument, a false choice fallacy, in order to mislead your readers that I am some sort of ideologically rabid socialist. I have actually lived my working life participating and succeeding as a market capitalist. I have studied law, government and economics at the graduate level, the working level
    and as a hobby. And yet, I am the one who does not understand capitalism and how it works? Seriously?

    I enjoy and learn much from the discussion when it is actually a search for truth, but by misrepresenting me in this way, you obviously are more interested in propagandizing. Even when it devolves to this level, I learn something though, and I thank you for that. And no, I’m not upset, but maybe just read and lurk for a while. My love to you and yours.

    1. @tsalmon

      Did I misrepresent what you wrote? I don’t think so. I was not trying to do so. Since it is bound to irk you and not much more, I am not even happy about trying to correct your opinions, but that is all I am trying to do.

      I addressed only that portion of your remark about the EPA I thought pertinent. The only reason an agency like the EPA exists is to detect pollutants and stop us from polluting our environment. Whether we have Capitalist system or not we have to do our best to prevent environmental pollution. Socialism, because that system requires the government to regulate itself (a blatant conflict of interest), just makes controlling pollution more difficult.

      With great indignation you claim I misrepresented what you wrote, but I have pointed out what you wrote for anyone to read.

      Consider. The only reason we are talking about the EPA is you think it has something to do with this discussion. It does not. While I am pleased that you understand that government regulations often increase costs out of proportion to the benefit, that issue still has nothing to do with this debate. In fact, considering that Socialism requires government to regulate itself, such over-regulation is a relatively small problem when compared to the under-regulation that Socialism encourages.

      Has anybody suggested feral and unfettered Capitalism? No. Have Conservatives suggested we should turn a blind eye to burglary, bank robbery, assassins for hire, protection rackets, prostitution, gambling, and various other “profitable” but criminal forms of “Capitalism”? No? Then why do Liberal Democrats insist Conservatives want to pollute everyone? What idiot wants to drink polluted water and to breathe polluted air?

      Are you my straw man? No. We are just discussing the straw men Liberal Democrats use, the ones you have merely borrowed. Neither of us are inventing new ideas. Both you and I have just borrowed the ideas of others, and we are debating them. So let’s at least try keep each others moral purity out the discussion as much as possible.

      Why do Liberal Democrats put these foolish straw men up?
      — Why do Liberal Democrats equate limited government to no government?
      — Why do Liberal Democrats believe what amounts to the unjustifiable nationalization of large sectors of the economy by suggesting we require some sort “balanced” economy?
      — Why do Liberal Democrats pose as moderate and pragmatic and call Conservatives ideologues (and closed-loop absolutists)?
      — When looking around the world and copying the socialist practices of other nations is not why this nation has been so successful, why do Liberal Democrats insist that we look around the world and copy socialists?

      Such topics as those above are the subject of this series of posts. Because I aim to be as exact and truthful as I can, your comments are welcome, no matter how many times you call my arguments dumb or bigoted or some other such thing.

      1. As to your questions, why does the straw man which you have cartoonishly caricatured under the title “liberal Democrats” do all the things that you claim? I don’t know. Perhaps because you invent these overblown cartoons to debate, they will do whatever you imagine? And, of course, what you say is true about boogeymen caricatures that the opposite side of this silly argument insist on fabricating. So you will have to ask them why they do that.

        I know that you strive toward integrity and accuracy. You were trained as a scientist. You must therefore realize that when either political party must demonize the other into overblown stereotypes, then the search for truth and compromise is over, and a propaganda war is what is left.

        It is obvious that real people in both political parties and on what we imperfectly categorize as Left and Right around the world have historically compromised on various mixes of government regulated market capitalism and government provided goods and services. By any measure of success that most Americans could find concensus on, every successful modern democratic state has this mix, whereas those that have tried to emulate the extremes that you caricature are either nonexistent Utopian fantasies or actual failures.

        A scientist searching for truth would look at the facts instead of the phantasmagoria and ask “why?”. A scientist searching for truth would measure commonalities and differences looking to formulate theories while at the same time recognizing that the dynamic, multifarious and complex nature of governments, cultures and globalized economies defy any easy platitudes and trite formulas. That is the type of discussion that serious economists, social scientists, historians and legal scholars are having and have been having since the Enlightenment.

        Certainly, this type of forum presents difficulties in such a discusion. It is certainly not as likely to generate interest as a grievance inflating echo chamber, but it is more likely to be a place where we each discover some truth, and even more importantly, where we acknowledge to scope and breadth of our own ignorance.

        When you are ready to have that discussion, I will be ready to participate. Until then, I still learn a lot from reading the posts, if for no other purpose than a study of where all the current energy exists on the extreme religious Right of the Republican Party.

        As always, even when we disagree, you are a better gentleman than I. Thank you for your hospitality.

        1. @tsalmon

          Politics ain’t beanbag (see => http://politicaldictionary.com/words/politics-aint-beanbag/).

          Check out this post. => https://citizentom.com/2018/05/20/did-you-know-jesus-called-us-animals/

          I had almost completed writing that post before your comment appeared.

          Below is an extract. Pelosi’s own words indicate she routinely has nothing good to say about her opponents.

          Every day that you think you’ve seen it all, along comes another manifestation of why their policies are so inhumane and why we have to continue the debate, striving for bipartisanship, with openness about what is at stake and what the choices are, and to be unifying in every way possible.

          What a poor suffering soul she is!

          Pelosi is the Democrats’ leader in Congress, not someone no one has ever heard of. Yet she says stuff that is easily proven untrue. Meanwhile, more stuff keep coming out that clearly indicates that what was going on during the Obama administration makes Watergate look trifling. You don’t want to believe that? Maybe you need to research some Conservative papers and not just Liberal Democrat rags.
          => https://www.nationalreview.com/author/andrew-c-mccarthy/

          Part of the “science” of governing involves the simple fact that people are too easily corruptible. When we don’t rigorously apply methods based upon certain principles in science, we risk reaching the wrong conclusions. Similarly, we must honor the law and be as virtuous and humble as possible to make our political system work. When we use the government to get what we want from it instead of using it to protect each others rights, our behavior quick becomes unprincipled.

  2. Capitalism is just a way of distributing societal goods and in my opinion is the most efficient, equal and moral way of doing sp. Government regulation of industry is important ,but this must be kept closely in check and within the realm of Congress who are held responsible by the people and not unelected, unaccountable regulatory agencies.

    Getting lead out of paint and gasoline was unquestionably good but it’s also offers an excellent example of how government regs meant for good turned bad. Read here for more…https://www.forbes.com/2009/02/01/cpsia-congress-lead-opinions-columnists_0203_richard_epstein.html#24a3c03f2ca9

    1. @Tricia

      Interesting article. Good example of politicians trying to look good instead of doing well. Yet some people want politicians to run everything. 🙄

  3. Let me stress that I am an unashamed capitalist. But I do support a certain amount of government regulation. The key to politics and to government is balancing competing rights. So citizens give their government the right to regulate corporations. The leaded paint is a good example of the right of consumers to be protected from unfettered capitalism. The modern conversation brings up “rights” that were never considered in the 1700s and 1800s: the right to education, the right to access to health care, the right to efficient transportation. Each of these “rights” comes at a cost, covered both by taxation and by surrender of freedom (to drive where and how it pleases us, for example). Each of us has his or her own opinions about which rights should be guarded by the government and which privileges should be pursued by each citizen to the limits of his or her ability and desire. Once we frame the conversation in those terms, communication becomes somewhat easier. J.

    1. @Salvageable

      I agree that the key to politics and government is balancing competing rights. Unfortunately, there is no perfect balance, but people seem to have that expectation.

      Part of the goal of this post is to make sure my readers understand the terminology.

      What is the point of regulating Capitalism? When does Capitalism need fetters? When our government works to protect us from businesses that pollute, we are not putting fetters on Capitalism. Actually, we are just insisting upon ethical business practices. Part of the cost of producing a product is figuring out what to do with the waste that results. Throwing that waste over into your neighbor’s yard is not either a Capitalist solution or a Socialist solution. It is just plain wrong! However, if our government is not regulating itself (which is what results from Socialism), it is far more likely to punish polluters when they dump their wastes on us.

      So when do we regulate or put fetters on Capitalism? Sometimes the Capitalist model would fail without some rules set by the government. Here are several examples.
      — Utilities, if left alone, tend to operate as natural monopolies. So we need price controls.
      — Utilities require the use of eminent domain laws to built their networks of pipes and wires.
      — Companies that use the airwaves need government help to divvy up and regulate the use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Otherwise, cell phone companies and broadcasters would be jamming each other. Not good!

      What about this observation?

      The modern conversation brings up “rights” that were never considered in the 1700s and 1800s: the right to education, the right to access to health care, the right to efficient transportation. Each of these “rights” comes at a cost, covered both by taxation and by surrender of freedom (to drive where and how it pleases us, for example).

      Spot on!

      I think it is also important to consider this distinction. What is the difference between God-given rights and government-given rights?

      Some tend to think government gives us all our rights, and they include these new found “rights” like the ones you mentioned: the right to education, the right to access to health care, the right to efficient transportation. Proponents for these new found “rights” like to call these positive rights and refer to God-given rights (also called natural rights) as negative rights. It is a amazing how some people play games with the language.

      1. I know that you are about to write this in your next post, but I’ll say it first: there is no perfect balance of rights because there are no perfect people. That being said, all rights are God-given if they exist at all, and governments are formed to protect them, not to create them. But life, liberty, and property are better preserved when we have good education, good transportation, and the like. J.

        1. @Salvageable

          But life, liberty, and property are better preserved when we have good education, good transportation, and the like.

          I get the feeling that you think a greater government role is required than you think I prefer. Perhaps. However, I am not a big fan of huge societal changes. Because they tend to be attended by mass confusion, they tend to be too disruptive. They also tend to produce unanticipated results. Therefore, as much as I detest it, I would like to see public education, for example, slowly be replaced by private options, not just disappear.

          I favor a gradual elimination of as much government as possible. One reason is that there is this oddity I fear most miss. When we are most concerned about protecting our neighbor’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have good education, good transportation and the like. The critical thing is that we love our neighbor.

          What is important about a good education? Whatever it is, most politicians don’t seem to know. Still, they make grand enough promises.

          Whether it be education or roads, whenever possible users should allowed to decided what they want to pay for. Parents, the people most likely to love their children, should decide how and by whom they will be educated.

          Whenever we are willing to trust it, with minimal regulation (focused on protecting people’s God-given rights) the market place works quite well, and that is because it offers us a choice.

          Still, there are poor people who need additional help. Then we need to turn to volunteers (and be one if we can).

          Check out the following:
          => https://fee.org/articles/education-in-colonial-america/
          => https://www.marketplace.org/2014/07/03/education/learning-curve/what-education-was-1776
          => https://citizentom.com/2009/12/07/the-right-of-free-association/

  4. The reason why socialism will never suceed is because it stifles incentive to be rewarded for your own accomplishments in life.

    TOO many get frustrated when seeing leeches are given the same amount of blood without having to use both of there own suckers, They rather have other suckers feed them the same amount of blood with less effort on there own.

    1. Afraid so. Seems so obvious too. Yet people who should know better, who even work hard, still support Socialism. False guilt, I suppose.

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