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s U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

German guy

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You are correct that it is disrespectful to vilify supporters of welfare with the Hitler/Stalin comparison, but increasing government control does create the environment conducive to socialism/communism or fascism by making the case that government can and should meet one’s needs. During Hitler’s rise to power, based on what I’ve read, many Austrians bought into Hitler’s propaganda promising health care and monetary security for everyone, because economic conditions were bad.

I understand where you are coming from, but I draw an opposite conclusion from that. Of course many were baited by Hitler's promises for social welfare programs. But this could lead to the exact opposite conclusion:

When a capitalistic system results in extreme hardship and poverty for a significant number of people due to extreme distribution inequality, then democratic, freedom loving parties need to address these shortcomings of capitalism, before authoritarian populists use this discontentment for their sinister purposes.

And that's what happened in Weimar: Many people were baited by Hitler, because they associated extreme inequality and hardship not only with the capitalistic economic system, but with a free, democratic political system as well. The free, democratic parties failed to offer the people proof that such a system can provide sufficient equality and curb hardship, thus Hitler gained popularity.

But when supporters of freedom and democracy are blind for hardship and the bad side effects of capitalism, the people will no longer support the ideas of freedom and democracy, and instead turn to fascists, communists or other kinds of authoritarians who promise a solution.

Maybe the idea of correcting the bad side effects of capitalism by social safety nets is even what saved the capitalistic system and republican model of government in general: Many critics today blame FDR's New Deal. But many forget that without it, capitalism may have lost any kind of public support entirely, if FDR had not proven that we don't need to give up capitalism, but that it can be balanced without skipping it.

Many people would likely have turned to socialism or fascism, if social democrats, liberals and thinkers like Keynes had not found ways to reform capitalism, reducing its bad side effects. If post-war Western Europe had not created welfare states, it's likely it would have fallen to the communist side.

The authoritarian communists had a good point: Capitalism results in inequality and pushes many into poverty. That's why capitalism would not have had a realistic chance of winning the competition with socialism, if it had not reformed itself, balanced its bad sides with limited redistribution. And it were democractic supporters of limited social safety nets that made sure capitalism was saved, by taming it -- liberals and social democrats.

It all sounded like a great idea in theory, but they were pressured by their own desire for security and stability. The problem with communism (imo) is that it sounds great taken at face value, but it fails to take human nature and the wide spectrum of individual tendencies/ character flaws into account, thus requires tight government control of human behaviors. In a society comprised of benevolent and industrious people, it would work. Working with humans at their current level of emotional and psychological evolution, it won’t.

I absolutely agree. A free market is the most efficient system to allocate resources, goods and services, and thus creates a maximum of general welfare.

Full-fledged socialism is obviously no reasonable alternative. It's extremely inefficient, necessarily authoritarian and not encouraging people to contribute.

But I also believe capitalism is flawed: It creates extreme inequality, and as many economists have found and history has proven, the financial market is very volatile, ups and downs have extreme repercussions for many people, it regularly creates crisis with horrible social effects. But there is no freedom when inequality is too extreme, or when there is no sufficient security. Pure capitalism is not a system worth supporting.

The best system is a tamed capitalism. Ideally, the best of both worlds can be combined: The efficiency of a free market, and the equality of socialism. A certain amount of inequality is fine and necessary, but it must be made sure it doesn't grow too extreme, or that many people suffer hardship. Social safety nets must make sure there is no genuine poverty. And the financial market must be regulated, for that it doesn't pull the entire society down into chaos when it fails.

I personally prefer an atmosphere of freedom to succeed or fail, based on one’s own merits. This encourages what I consider to be the more positive hum
an attributes.

I agree, the individual's efforts must have consequences, hard work and effort should pay off, and a industrious person should have more than a lazy person. There must be incentives for effort and hard work.

But I don't think this is the case in a pure capitalism. In a pure capitalism, the social conditions you are born into will determine your success in life, and poor people would be trapped in vicious circles of poverty -- while those who have much already, have an easy time even making more. And then think of the financial market -- many people make hilarious sums, not by working hard, but merely by betting and gambling, and they don't produce anything at all.

In pure capitalism, it's often not your work or effort that pays off, but it's your possessions that pay off: Assume you have $1 million. You can let this money work for you then, and based on an interest rate of 3%, that would bring you $30,000 within the year -- without you having invested any work or effort whatsoever into it! If you are poor, though, and have no money to "work" for you, you need to work very hard for these $30,000.

It's obviously absurd to claim that in capitalism, only hard work and effort pay off. Because it pays off even more in capitalism to own a lot. Possession is rewarded much more than effort, in capitalism, and there is no equality of opportunities. Those who have a lot already have to work much less to get even more, than those who have few.
 
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lizzie

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But when supporters of freedom and democracy are blind for hardship and the bad side effects of capitalism, the people will no longer support the ideas of freedom and democracy, and instead turn to fascists, communists or other kinds of authoritarians who promise a solution.
Which is self-correcting, because it cannot be sustained with the current population of humans on this planet.
 
 
The authoritarian communists had a good point: Capitalism results in inequality and pushes many into poverty. That's why capitalism would not have had a realistic chance of winning the competition with socialism, if it had not reformed itself, balanced its bad sides with limited redistribution.
The inequality is already inherent in the human race, both by birthright and by inequalities in intellect, energy, and creativity. Capitalism doesn’t result in inequality, although it may make what’s already there apparent.

 
But there is no freedom when inequality is too extreme, or when there is no sufficient security.
Why is there no freedom? Freedom isn’t created by economic factors, it’s created by the political atmosphere and laws or restrictions in a society.
 
The best system is a tamed capitalism. Ideally, the best of both worlds can be combined: The efficiency of a free market, and the equality of socialism. A certain amount of inequality is fine and necessary, but it must be made sure it doesn't grow too extreme, or that many people suffer hardship. Social safety nets must make sure there is no genuine poverty.
Socialism cannot create equality. Inequality is inherent in the species of humans, just as it is in the rest of the natural living world. Social safety nets can be necessary in certain circumstances, but they tend to encourage passiveness and dependence.
 
 
And then think of the financial market -- many people make hilarious sums, not by working hard, but merely by betting and gambling, and they don't produce anything at all.
 
In pure capitalism, it's often not your work or effort that pays off, but it's your possessions that pay off:
If someone is born into wealth, it does not make them superior in any manner, just lucky, if you will. These are often the people who invest money into job and income-generating endeavors that benefit regular people like me. This does pay off for those who don’t have the ingenuity or desire to be business owners and entrepreneurs. If one wants to improve his lot in life, and wasn’t born into money, he/she can either get an education (easily accessible for anyone in this country due to government grants and loans) or start a small business from the ground up and grow it, and some people are just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with the right skills or luck. I hold that against no one, and wish everyone who values monetary gain all the successes possible. An environment and a government which encourages industriousness and success, by offering incentives for growth, creates wealth. What we currently seem to have in this country is a government who wants to create “equality” for all, without creating the atmosphere to generate income to pay for it.
 

jujuman13

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you know, hitler had a pet dog, and so does obama, is that just a coincidence, i think not!

So co-incidentally did Churchill, Patton, Trueman, Queen Elizabeth 11, now do tell what does that fact have to do with the price of Fish?
 

German guy

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Thank you, lizzie, for your interesting reply. I'll try to do my best to respond.

Which is self-correcting, because it cannot be sustained with the current population of humans on this planet.
 
What do you mean by that?

I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but I don't think people turning to fascism or communism is self-correcting. These ideologies have caused way too much trouble to be considered a simple self-correction phenomenon.

The inequality is already inherent in the human race, both by birthright and by inequalities in intellect, energy, and creativity. Capitalism doesn’t result in inequality, although it may make what’s already there apparent.

It's true, humans are not equal.

But I don't think we should confuse descriptive with normative claims here. Just because something is like it is by nature, it doesn't mean it should or must be so.

The Nazis made the same kind of mistake: They saw that in nature, animal populations survive best when they kill off ill or handicapped individuals within their population, instead of wasting resources to support them. And that an animal breeding becomes stronger, when they single out outsiders and breed individuals with certain advanced features. The Nazis transferred this to humans, and thus started euthanasia programs and laws for "racial purity".

But humans are not animals. We manipulate biological nature and we know morals and ethics, which means the needs of biological evolution have been replaced by cultural evolution.

Nazism and capitalism are two models for society which claim nature is like that, so we must follow this example -- but other, less extreme ideologies claim that morals and ethics should have influence on how we organize society.

Why is there no freedom? Freedom isn’t created by economic factors, it’s created by the political atmosphere and laws or restrictions in a society.

Freedom is a merely abstract thing when it means that you are legally allowed to do something, but when factual structures keep you from ever making use of this freedom. And when these structural factors are systematic and when there is an alternative to it, it's legitimate to ask for alternatives.

For example, how can you make use of your freedom to engage politically, to do civil work and so on, when you have to work 12 hours per day, 6 days a week in McJobs, and maybe even a few kids to feed as a single mom? Obviously, those people will not be appropriately represented in a political process that relies on voluntary work.

Of course this is an extreme example, but I think the connection between economic hardship and freedom to participation is obvious.
 
Socialism cannot create equality. Inequality is inherent in the species of humans, just as it is in the rest of the natural living world.

Agreed. Genuine socialism has been proven to be an illusion, because there will always be some people who are "more equal" than others.

But as I said, I think combining the best of both worlds is the best way. Socialism is blind for factors that make inequality visible, like corruption or laziness, while capitalism does not make use of the potential of unfortunate people, by condemning them to their social status and class they are born into, by trapping them in vicious circles.

Equality is an important value. Even very capitalistic societies averse to redistribution believe in equality: Equality in front of the law, as voters, and so on. That was revolutionary and new in the American Constitution: Law applied to all people equally, so did their right to cast a vote. In Europe back then, it was still common that another kind of law applied to nobles than to common people, and that the right to vote depended on the amount of taxes an individual paid.

So isn't flattening inequality the next logical step?

First, poor and oppressed fought for the same legal rights as nobles, today, they fight for the same opportunity as rich people enjoy?

Social safety nets can be necessary in certain circumstances, but they tend to encourage passiveness and dependence.

I agree, that's definitely a problem. But it's also true that many just can't make a living and still live in dignity, or offer their children a better prospect, without additional aid.

Often, it's a vicious circle too: Some have an illness, and without treatment, they cannot work and make money. But without money, they can't treat the illness.

What about handicapped? Those who cannot ever work enough to pay for their treatment? Should they end in the gutter? All they have to sell is their workforce. And when that's less than what they need to live, they have bad luck in capitalism -- they are determined to die, just like in Nazism. They are just worth less on the labor market than they cost -- and it's not the state that destroys them (like in Nazism), but it's the invisible hand of the market.

But regardless of this, I agree that any law in favor of redistribution should be designed to minimize abuse, for that the support only benefits people who really need it. It should always be more profitable to work, than to get handouts. Incentives must be placed in a manner that encourages engagement, while making sure really needy people are supported.
 
If someone is born into wealth, it does not make them superior in any manner, just lucky, if you will. These are often the people who invest money into job and income-generating endeavors that benefit regular people like me. This does pay off for those who don’t have the ingenuity or desire to be business owners and entrepreneurs. If one wants to improve his lot in life, and wasn’t born into money, he/she can either get an education (easily accessible for anyone in this country due to government grants and loans) or start a small business from the ground up and grow it, and some people are just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with the right skills or luck. I hold that against no one, and wish everyone who values monetary gain all the successes possible. An environment and a government which encourages industriousness and success, by offering incentives for growth, creates wealth. What we currently seem to have in this country is a government who wants to create “equality” for all, without creating the atmosphere to generate income to pay for it.

Generally, I agree with you. Industriousness should be encouraged.

And this is all nice and fine when it comes to the producing or service sectors. But I have headaches when it comes to the financial market. Taking interest on money is certainly an important tool in a free economy, but it also comes with many questionable side effects. It seems there are often incentives given for more than hazardrous behavior, and much of what makes the difference between rich and poor is not effort, skill or hard work, than just talent for gambling. The financial sector creates its own logics, compared to producing or service sectors. Some make even 15 times as much money per year there, than any other person in another business would ever make, and even if they blatantly fail, they still get hilarious sums of compensation.

As much as I like the general idea of free market principles (like "hard work and effort should pay off" and "everybody has to take responsibility for their bad decisions"), I am skeptical if the financial sector has been working according to these ideas in the past two decades.

In fact, I think the financial sector has had more in common with a poker gambling match, than with a free market.
 
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lizzie

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Germanguy- I'll have to get back to this thread when I have more time to devote to your points in the above post. I'm multi-tasking right at the moment, so it will likely be tomorrow.:)
 

Dezaad

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The Republicans activated their useful idiots with the rise of Rush Limbaugh, the rest of the rabid right wing political entertainers, and Faux News. If Obama and the Democrats activated some useful idiots in the recent election, well it just evened things up a bit.
 

samsmart

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You know, with regards to all this talk concerning "welfare," I would like to remind everyone that, in the U.S., most welfare programs are designed to be temporary to the individual.

We have Social Security and Medicare, which are available only to the elderly. We also have unemployment benefits, which are available only to those who have been recently unemployed, and even then only under specific circumstances, and then for a limited amount of time. There are also disability benefits which goes to help those who are physically or mentally handicapped so they can maintain a standard of living despite being disabled. Those are the social welfare programs that are very specific.

The other welfare programs that are not limited is Medicaid, which is health insurance for the poor, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which helps provide housing to the poor, and food stamps, which helps provide food for the poor.

Now the former programs, I don't see how anyone can compare them to socialism. There's a difference between socialism and social safety nets. After all, even someone who is wealthy receives Social Security, and Medicare should be available to anyone over the age of retirement regardless of wealth. Disability programs apply to the handicapped from wealthy families just as much as it does to the handicapped from poor families. Unemployment benefits aren't socialistic in nature either because a guy who has been making six figures and laid off is just as much entitled to those benefits as someone who has been making minimum wage and gets laid off. Because of this, I don't see these programs as government take over of any industry but rather the government creating social safety net for the retired, the handicapped, and the unemployed.

Medicaid, housing programs, and food stamps are somewhat different. Currently, those programs could be called socialistic in nature because they are programs that call for the re-distribution of wealth. On the other hand, they are put in place to ensure that the poor receive basic needed services - food, shelter, and health care - that would be denied to them in a pure capitalistic, free market system.

The most criticism I have towards these programs is the housing programs. The government tried to help the poor get housing by giving government-sponsored mortgages for houses that are affordable by the middle class. Personally, I feel this was a mistake. Instead, I'd rather the government starts forcing construction companies to build houses that the poor can afford. I'm talking about one- or two-story houses that has small square footage and provides basic shelter. This way, while the government doesn't give out mortgages the poor can't pay, the government can ensure that the needs of the poor don't go ignored as a market for the housing industry.

Then we come to food stamps. Right now, we have many people, Democrats and Republicans both, who are relying on food stamps in order to feed themselves and their kids. The reason why is because there just aren't enough jobs available to all the people who have kids in order to earn an income to pay for kids. Also, these food stamps are geared more towards families with children. It's not the children's fault that their parents lost their jobs and can't find work. They are also too young to take care of themselves and their parents don't have the ability to take care of them for the moment. And the argument "well, poor people shouldn't be having kids" doesn't hold water - a parent has to take care of their kid for 18 years, and a lot of things can happen to a parent's financial ability in 18 years. Also, there are more people who use food stamps temporarily than those who use food stamps and then get off them.

With regards to Medicaid, the poor often cannot afford the services of most private practices. If the poor cannot get adequate health care, there is no way for them to get adequate work to break out of the cycle and stop being a "parasite" on public services. Also, there are many health effects that afflict the poor that they have no control over, such as those that result from pollution from industries. If businesses want to lower costs by decreasing environmental standards, then those businesses should pay for the health care of those suffering afflictions from the pollution of those lower standards. It just makes sense - if businesses pump out carcinogens that affect people then those businesses should pay for the cancer treatments that result.

Also, there are the children. Children can't help being children and "can't raise themselves up from their bootstraps." They have no control over their parents' finances. Therefore, I have no problem with children getting government health care. There are many social reasons for this as there are practical. One practical reason is that these children are going to be the future workforce of America that American businesses will hire from. By maintaining their health, my business will have more productive employees, which increase my profit margin in the long term. Therefore, I should pay taxes to support them until such a time as they can support themselves.

This is why I believe in a mixed economy and why I consider myself a progressive. I believe that in some situations, the government can provide better services for some than a private business can provide. That does not make me a socialist, as socialists want the government to provide all services and outlaw private businesses. I don't want to outlaw private businesses - I just want the government to have the ability to provide services to people that private businesses would otherwise ignore.

And while I support such programs, that does not mean I'm not critical of how our current programs operate. With regards to housing for the poor, as I stated earlier I would rather the government force the house industry to build a certain number of homes that the poor can afford rather than the government provide mortgages to homes the poor can't afford. I also think that all monies collected for the purpose of Social Security should be used only for Social Security and saved for that purpose and not spent for other programs nor saved in any other fashion but money and not borrowed against. I think that medical professionals should be able to work off their student loans for medical school by working for public hospitals. I think that there should be a minimum income tax that all people in this country should pay and those who are too poor to pay it should instead have to donate their time in the form of local volunteer work.

Government programs are not a slippery slope to tyranny. Many people believe in government programs because they do not trust private businesses to provide services. After all, the only purpose of a private business is to earn a profit. There is a danger that they would do so at the cost of quality of service in order to maximize profits. So one could argue that without such government programs as an alternative, the U.S. would have to suffer the tyranny of private businesses who seek only to suck the most money from the people while providing the least services.

Tyranny from businesses is just as bad as tyranny from governments.
 
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Erod

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I'm not saying everything Obama does is necessarily ok or compatible with your Constitution (in fact, since I am not American, I don't know the exact details and think this is ultimately a question Americans should find answers to), but as a European, I feel rather relaxed when it comes to redistribution of wealth. I understand Americans have a different attitude to redistribution and a welfare state, but over here in Europe, it's common, and has been ever since WW2 at least, yet our societies are still free, open, democratic societies with a very high degree of both individual and economic freedom.

And that's why once-great Europe is what it has become. A mere shadow of its former self and completely reliant on the United States.

No thanks.
 

German guy

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And that's why once-great Europe is what it has become. A mere shadow of its former self and completely reliant on the United States.

No thanks.

Ah, another brilliant contribution from the nationalistic dick size competition camp, which is not at all completely full of itself.

Do you have anything meaningful to contribute?
 

MaggieD

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We're on a "Slippery Slope" to Socialism. There isn't one government subsidy program out there that has adequate controls to avoid abuse. Not one. Public assistance programs have travelled from "let's help those less fortunate" to "let's see how many votes THIS'LL get us." U.S. citizens have a greater sense of entitlement than ever before in our history. These programs sap self-reliance, self-respect and ambition from our populace. Our government, Dems and Reps alike, is so corrupt that we live in a Third World Political Climate....and we don't even know it. And worst of all, very few of us care.

Social programs, helping those less fortunate, are the obligations of any self-respecting country. Using those social programs to buy votes and entrap millions is well on its way to destroying us.

Edit: @ ERod...I love your signature.
 
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Erod

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Ah, another brilliant contribution from the nationalistic dick size competition camp, which is not at all completely full of itself.

Do you have anything meaningful to contribute?

Just saying the last advice America should listen to is anything Europe. Socialism and redistribution has castrated your once great nations, and now you're being overrun from within by the very people who seek to destroy you, and you do absolutely nothing about it but pacify them.

I will say this. This sudden indication of calling socialism a failed experiment from many European countries in encouraging, though I'll believe it if it takes root.

America seems headed to socialism, while some European countries seem to want to embrace capitalism.
 
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lizzie

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What do you mean by that?

I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but I don't think people turning to fascism or communism is self-correcting. These ideologies have caused way too much trouble to be considered a simple self-correction phenomenon.
But they do self-correct. Sometimes it takes longer than is optimal, but neither is a sustainable system in today’s world. Socialism fails because it is financially unsustainable. Fascim fails because it is contrary to freedom.
 


But I don't think we should confuse descriptive with normative claims here. Just because something is like it is by nature, it doesn't mean it should or must be so.

The Nazis made the same kind of mistake: They saw that in nature, animal populations survive best when they kill off ill or handicapped individuals within their population, instead of wasting resources to support them. And that an animal breeding becomes stronger, when they single out outsiders and breed individuals with certain advanced features. The Nazis transferred this to humans, and thus started euthanasia programs and laws for "racial purity".
Nature has the final say in human affairs. The Nazis may have understood how nature works, but they tried to manipulate it just as the socially conscious do currently. Admittedly I tend to view things through the lens of the natural world, and it probably lends what seems like an unnatural hardness to my beliefs, but that’s nature.;)
But humans are not animals. We manipulate biological nature and we know morals and ethics, which means the needs of biological evolution have been replaced by cultural evolution.
They haven’t been replaced- we just believe they can be replaced.




For example, how can you make use of your freedom to engage politically, to do civil work and so on, when you have to work 12 hours per day, 6 days a week in McJobs, and maybe even a few kids to feed as a single mom? Obviously, those people will not be appropriately represented in a political process that relies on voluntary work.

Of course this is an extreme example, but I think the connection between economic hardship and freedom to participation is obvious.
I participate at the voting booth.
 
Equality is an important value. Even very capitalistic societies averse to redistribution believe in equality: Equality in front of the law, as voters, and so on. That was revolutionary and new in the American Constitution: Law applied to all people equally, so did their right to cast a vote. In Europe back then, it was still common that another kind of law applied to nobles than to common people, and that the right to vote depended on the amount of taxes an individual paid.

So isn't flattening inequality the next logical step?
Inequality can’t be flattened. Equal rights to opportunity, voting, education, and other things which improve one’s chances for success can be guaranteed, but seeking equality of individuals is futile.

Often, it's a vicious circle too: Some have an illness, and without treatment, they cannot work and make money. But without money, they can't treat the illness.

What about handicapped? Those who cannot ever work enough to pay for their treatment? Should they end in the gutter? All they have to sell is their workforce. And when that's less than what they need to live, they have bad luck in capitalism -- they are determined to die, just like in Nazism. They are just worth less on the labor market than they cost -- and it's not the state that destroys them (like in Nazism), but it's the invisible hand of the market.
There are some cases where medical care is needed, and in this country, having a crippling ailment gives one pretty much guaranteed medical care. That being said, the handicapped can be cared for primarily by their families, just as my 26 year-old niece with cerebral palsy is cared for by my sister and her husband. “Normal” people don’t just throw their handicapped children to the curb once they reach adulthood. They love that child and are willing to sacrifice themselves to make sure they have as good a life as is possible. I think that many in this type of debated tend to discount the family unit as a reasonable and loving entity.

 
As much as I like the general idea of free market principles (like "hard work and effort should pay off" and "everybody has to take responsibility for their bad decisions"), I am skeptical if the financial sector has been working according to these ideas in the past two decades.

In fact, I think the financial sector has had more in common with a poker gambling match, than with a free market.
As much as I agree with you about the legalized gambling aspect of your thoughts on the market (and I do agree with you), it’s one of the things that has enabled monetary success and innovation in the world economy. It’s kind of a double-edged sword imo.

 
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Gray_Fox_86

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You speak from a position of knowledge on everything else that we as Americans should think concerning Socialism, why not this? I assume you have the same access to internet search engines as we do, right?

the answer is that social safety nets like Welfare programs, and Medicaid are NOT covered in the constitution anywhere, and thus are only in place eroding our society as it did yours through fiat.

I have to go to work now, will check in later.


j-mac

That is something terrible. Too many people take the constitution too seriously. It was a nice document but it was hardly ever taken serious in the creation of this nation. Remember that all men are created equal? That was only true for white men only.

I suggest jmac that if we are to advanced a nation it would require a moden government.
 
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