Monday, February 15, 2016

Millennials Pick Socialism Over Capitalism

A new survey from YouGov finds that millennials have more favorable views of socialism than of capitalism.

As Santayana said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Less than two decades after socialism seemed to have been confined to the dust-heap of history, another generation may have to learn hard lessons.

The survey, taken at the end of January, found that 43 percent of Americans under 30 had a favorable view of socialism. Less than a third of millennials had a favorable view of capitalism. No other age or ethnic demographic preferred socialism over capitalism.

Seniors, unsurprisingly, had the most favorable view of capitalism. Just 23 percent of Americans older than 65 had a positive view of socialism. Sixty-three percent of seniors, though, had a favorable view of capitalism.

Seniors, after all, experienced the long-standing intellectual battle between capitalism and socialism played out in real life. They witnessed a post-war economic euphoria grind down into a socialist malaise, only to be reinvigorated by a global embrace of disruptive technology, deregulation, and global trade.

In the past 20 years, the number of people living in poverty worldwide has fallen by half. In 1990, 43 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. In 2013, the United Nations estimated that just 22 percent of the world’s population continued to live in extreme poverty.

“Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast,” the UN Human Development report said.

Even if millenials aren’t swayed by the dramatic improvement in worldwide living standards, one would hope they would see the benefits of capitalism in the products and services that inhabit their world.

They live, and thrive, in a consumer-driven, on-demand society. They have immediate access, at their fingertips, to more knowledge, art, music, and communication than the wealthiest oligarch just a few decades ago.

Each and every one of the products and services they use every day was developed by someone chasing profit and market-share. It is a cliche to say that capitalism has powered the technological and scientific innovations that have improved all our lives. Apparently, however, it is a cliche that bears repeating.

On a postive note, every other demographic block in America still prefers capitalism over socialism. Well, Democrats, perhaps naturally, are evenly split between the two economic systems. At least Democrats, though, have slightly higher unfavorable ratings of socialism than capitalism.

The danger, of course, is that the demographic in America that does prefer socialism is also the future of the country. Of course, they have the luxury of looking positively on socialism, since any impact on their lives is restricted to dusty history books.

The finding also presents something of an existential dilema for the conservative and libertarian movement. Since the 1980s, the institutional infrastructure of the conservative and libertarian movement has grown exponentially.

Aside from dozens of national think tanks and advocacy organizations devoted to propogating conservative and free market views, there are more than a hundred free-market think tanks in states across the country.

It is safe to say that billions of dollars have been spent over the past two decades promoting and educating the public on the benefits of capitalism and free markets. There are publishing imprints, media companies and new conservative news sites everywhere. Yet, something has gone horribly wrong.

Many in the commentariat have watched the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
with a certain touch of condescending nostalgia. “Oh, look a socialist is running for President, isn’t that cute,” you can almost hear them type.

For many, Bernie’s label as a socialist was something he would have to overcome to make a serious run for the White House. It may now be, however, something he needs to more warmly embrace.



The Other Black History

    The irony is that black history in the first half of the 20th century is a history of tremendous progress despite overwhelming odds. During a period of legal discrimination and violent hostility to their advancement, blacks managed to make unprecedented gains that have never been repeated. Black poverty fell to 47% from 87% between 1940 and 1960 — before the implementation of Great Society programs that receive so much credit for poverty reduction. The percentage of black white-collar workers quadrupled between 1940 and 1970—before the implementation of affirmative-action policies that supposedly produced today’s black middle class.

    In New York City, the earnings of black workers tripled between 1940 and 1950, and over the next decade the city saw a 55% increase in the number of black lawyers, a 56% increase in the number of black doctors and a 125% increase in the number of black teachers, according to political scientist Michael Javen Fortner’s new book, “Black Silent Majority.” The number of black nurses, accountants and engineers grew at an even faster clip over the same period. “There are signs that the Negro has begun to develop a large, strong middle class,” wrote Time magazine in 1953.

    You don’t hear much about this black history during Black History Month (or any other month, for that matter) because it undercuts the dominant narrative pushed by the political left and accepted uncritically by the media. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP have no use for empirical evidence of significant black socioeconomic gains during the Jim Crow era, because they have spent decades insisting that blacks can’t advance until racism has been eliminated. If racism is no longer a significant barrier to black upward mobility and doesn’t explain today’s racial disparities, then blacks may have no use for Mr. Sharpton and the NAACP. The main priority of civil-rights leaders today is self-preservation.



US elections follow cyclical pattern

Do you see a partisan pattern to our elections, mainly at the national level but also at the state and local ones as well?

Let’s take the recent presidential elections. I will start with the Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who were followed by Republican Dwight Eisenhower and then by Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Johnson was followed by Republicans Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, then Democrat Jimmy Carter, then Republican Ronald Reagan, followed by his vice president, George H.W. Bush. Then came Democrat Bill Clinton, succeeded by Republican George W. Bush and finally Democrat Barack Obama.

Notice that the two parties alternate, although former vice presidents Truman, Johnson and the first Bush carried on their party’s hold on the White House. That does not change the alternating pattern.

What accounts for this?

Some would say that Americans like to change the party of the person holding the top job because their democratic views do not favor a one-party monopoly on power. “Time for a change” has defined lots of elections. But why?

Here is my take on the issue.

In the time of the Democrats FDR and Truman, voters got the New Deal and the Fair Deal, with lots of progressive reforms, such as Social Security, pro-labor programs, the GI Bill, the integration of the military and an activist foreign policy, with two big wars. Taxes were high. Regulations on businesses appeared excessive.

Eisenhower promised a moderate domestic police, stable taxes and an end to the latest war, in Korea. But he didn’t repeal the New Deal – he even expanded it in such areas civil rights and major public works programs, such as the Interstate Highway System.

Then, according to Kennedy, it was “time to get the country moving again.” His election, while fraudulent – electoral votes were illegally delivered from Illinoisand Texas – produced the New Frontier and Johnson’s Great Society. New programs and regulations arose, as did the Vietnam War.

Nixon, like Ike, promised moderation and a plan to end a war. He didn’t promise dirty tricks, but he produced them. Carter, righteous – or self-righteous – promised honesty and clean government, but his incompetence, in both foreign policy, especially with the Soviet Union, and the economy with stagflation, ushered in Reagan.

The Gipper called for a stronger America, economic renewal, and victory in the Cold War. His vice president, Bush, presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union, got a half-victory over Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War and raised taxes, but became fuddled in managing the economy.

This left an opening for Clinton, who promised economic reform, a measured foreign policy, and reforms in health care and education. He also left a bad taste in the mouths of many voters with his personal conduct. Then, in one of the country’s strangest and most disputed elections, the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to George W. Bush. Like his father, Bush mismanaged a dormant economy while fighting a necessary war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and, breaking new ground, a crusading, expensive war of choice in Iraq. Bad.

Enter Obama pledging to end American-run wars, revive the economy and provide health care for all (or most) Americans. These he did, but the wars still rage, the Islamic State spread its tentacles, and the world is a mess, with the U.S. no longer able to be the “leader of the free world.”

So, what’s next?

Hillary Clinton was not Obama’s vice president, but she was close to that as secretary of state. Clearly, she is another VP legacy candidate. Bernie Sanders is a cause, not a likely nominee. The Republican field is in great disarray, with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, etc. They all want to be another Reagan, only a more militant one who reduces taxes even more and eliminates Obamacare. There is not much there but anger.

Clinton is clearly the odds-on favorite, and rightly so.



A new Cold War?

Tensions may be rising, but Russia is not to blame

Earlier this month, James Clapper, US national intelligence chief, announced that US intelligence agencies would be conducting a major review of alleged Russian funding of opposition parties in Europe. Russia, a senior unnamed British government official claims, is trying to destroy European unity on several political, social and military matters.

Now, it may well be the case that Russia has given money to Front National or Golden Dawn or UKIP or Jeremy Corbyn for all we know. After all, funding other nations’ opposition parties has always been bread-and-butter work for foreign powers, including the US secret service – it funnelled money into the so-called Colour Revolutions and armed groups in Ukraine and the Middle East. I’ve no doubt Russia does it, too.

However, the idea that Putin is behind the current refugee crisis and the longer-term political problems in the Eurozone is simply ludicrous. Not even the flimsiest understanding of the history of the past decade could support such a proposition. From the financial crisis to the crushing of the Greek economy to Angela Merkel’s unilateral decision to allow a million refugees into Germany, these developments can’t be put down to the actions of Russia.

Perhaps Russia is also behind the EU’s current headache, Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party, which is currently subject to an unprecedented inquiry into whether new Polish laws break EU law.

The only problem is the Law and Justice Party is one of the most rabidly anti-Moscow parties out there. Perhaps Cameron has also been receiving Moscow gold in exchange for pushing the UK towards a Brexit? I doubt it. It’s a fantasy that we are in some kind of Cold War situation, with Moscow funnelling gold into various groups with the aim of toppling the EU and creating discord. If only it were that simple. Thanks, Putin, but save your money for the crashing Russian economy. The EU is managing to disintegrate entirely on its own.

These overblown claims are part of a trend. It has become common for politicians and the media to discredit Putin with tales of corruption and murder. The Litvinenko farce and Clapper’s comments show that the Western propaganda mill is once again cranking into action. Why is this happening?

For several years now, military and political tensions between Russia and the West have been growing. The Ukraine crisis, rather than being the cause of worsening tensions, actually represents the emergence of these tensions. But these tensions are not the result of Russian revanchism or aggression. Much of the blame lies with Western foreign policy.

Over the past 20 years, several developments have worried Moscow – particularly the rise of Western military intervention. The intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was a decisive moment: NATO acted outside of its mandate, becoming a kind of free-floating Western military force. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were also catastrophic: the US, UK and other allies destroyed two countries without fully understanding what they were doing. The intervention in Libya, although originally supported by Russia, soon tipped over into incoherent regime change, the consequences of which are still unfolding. If anyone is to blame for overturning the postwar international order, it is the West.

NATO has expanded relentlessly, first taking in the Baltic republics, then Albania and Croatia in 2009. Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia are now in the waiting room. A strategic alliance should be just that: strategic. Would the West seriously want to go to war over any of these states?

The idea that we have divergent interests from Russia simply cannot be sustained. At least in principle there were different ways of organising society at stake during the Cold War. This is not the case today. We have no divergence in interests with Russia; in fact, we have common interests – tackling ISIS, ensuring European security, maintaining oil prices, and so on. Russia doesn’t want to invade Lithuania or Poland or Latvia. Russia does not want to invade Ukraine. Russia does, however, have legitimate interests, and we need to take these seriously. We need to accept that Russia is a real country with real interests, just like our own, and not the pantomime villain the media are presenting it as at the moment.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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