The Case for Socialism, Revisited

A very old post withstands the test of time


Nearly eight years ago, I wrote this post: The Case for Socialism.

That was long before a self-styled Democratic Socialist launched the first of two presidential campaigns. It was before a young member of the Socialist Alternative Party, running as a Democrat, upset an entrenched, corporate-owned incumbent, then gained the largest nationwide following of any member of the House of Representatives.

And it was before a pandemic revealed bitter truths about America’s hyper-capitalism.

So I wanted to see if anything I said had relevance in the current crisis. Much was off topic, as I focused a lot on the effects of mechanization and globalization.

But there was this closing paragraph, which sums up a worldview that I suspect many readers here shared then, continued to share over the past 8 years, has withstood the test of time quite well, and is now being revealed as the most hopeful platform for the revitalization of America:

Right now, because of the relative positions of capital and labor, we need a healthy dose of socialist policy. We need policies that promote the organization of labor, perhaps even mandate it. We need a far more progressive tax code, that will, perish the thought, redistribute wealth and income away from the top. And doing away with the Bush tax cuts won‘t be enough. We need top income tax rates above 50% for those making over a million dollars per year. And the lower income tax rate on capital gains and dividends needs to go. If anything, the income Paris Hilton receives from sitting on her butt waiting for the dividend checks to roll in should be taxed at a higher rate than the income of a steelworker or a secretary. We need federal, state and local governments to create jobs through public works and infrastructure projects and the hiring of sorely needed teachers. We need a truly socialist health care system in which the government guarantees health care for all Americans. Lastly, and most importantly, we need to expand, not contract, the social safety net. It’s flat out ludicrous to cast blame on a worker who has not been able to find employment. If that worker found employment, another worker would be out of a job. So it makes no sense to discontinue unemployment benefits. Instead, we should be encouraging certain workers to leave the workforce by enhancing social security benefits, not reducing them. If we reduce the retirement age to 60, or even 55, but tax the crap out of the benefits if a recipient continues to work, we encourage soon to be geezers to hang it up earlier in life, which frees up jobs for 20 somethings who desperately need to start their careers. Similarly, if we make a quality college education available for any student who has the mind and desire to learn, we free up the jobs those students otherwise would take if the cost of college precludes them from attending. There are countless other policies to “spread the wealth” that ought to be on the table.