Archive for November, 2011

Michele Bachmann and Communism, Part II

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I’m still fascinated by Michele Bachmann commandeering a communist slogan in her stump speech. The thing is, the slogan made sense when the communists used it, but it makes no sense coming out of Bachmann’s mouth. No surprise there.

The slogan, reduced to its simplest terms is “if you don’t work, starve.” Yes, I know, it’s understood that this refers to the able bodied, not the infirm, but that’s not my point. My point is that the slogan made sense for the communists, because they were actually offering the opportunity for the able bodied to work. What the communists were saying was this: “We (“society”) have the food, and if you want some, you have to do some work. There’s lots of work to be done, you just pitch in and do your share of the work, and you will be given food.”

Capitalism, which Bachmann endorses, does no such thing. A certain level of unemployment is built into capitalism. Capitalism needs unemployment, because if employment ever reached 100 percent, the cost of labor would be prohibitively high. Most economists agree that unemployment can never fall below 4 or 5 percent in a capitalist society. At that point, the cost of labor increases to the point that employers stop hiring.

So think about what it means when a capitalist says “if you don’t work, you don’t get to eat.” It’s like musical chairs, there are more people than chairs. Same thing in a capitalist society: there are more people than jobs. So when a capitalist, like Bachmann, says: “if you don’t work, you starve,” she really means “some of you are going to starve.”

Seen in this light, it’s infinitely better to live in a communist society than a capitalist one, because at least the communists will offer you the job.

Of course, all of this assumes that Michele Bachmann is really serious and also understands what she is saying. In reality, she’s just a clownish politician. Michele Bachmann understands economics about as well as my dog understands algebra. What’s scary is not the level of Bachmann’s ignorance, but that the slogan has appeal to some of the knuckle draggers who would vote for her. There are a lot of people who would let the unemployed starve, who believe that people are in a bad way because of their own laziness or some other fault for which they now deserve punishment. That is scary, and the fact that an ostensibly mainstream politician would pander to them is a sad commentary on the state that we are in.

Closing the Circle

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Extreme right wing-ism is fascism, and extreme left wing-ism is communism, right?  Or so the common wisdom goes.  I think of it as more of a circle, and if you go far enough in one direction, you end up looping around to the other side.  It’s sort of like California is west of New York, but if you go east from New York and just keep going, eventually you will get to California.

Compare an extreme right wing state — Nazi Germany — with an extreme left wing state — The Soviet Union.  In both cases you end up with an authoritative state.  If you think about it, this makes sense.  It’s pretty hard to get a whole population to adhere to extreme principles unless you use a lot of force.

Michele Bachman is an extremist.  An extreme charlatan, an extreme buffoon, an extreme you name it.  Do we have a word for someone who will say almost anything to get attention and votes?  Oh that’s right, politician.  She’s an extreme politician, Republican flavor.  She hasn’t been doing to well in her quest for the nomination to run for President, so naturally she keeps going more extreme, looking for more attention and hopefully more votes.  The other day she came up with a doozy, saying that self reliance meant that those who do not work should not eat.

I wonder whether the uber-capitalist Bachman realizes that she shares views with extremists of a different color.  Chapter 1, Article 12 of the 1936 Soviet Union constitution stated that:   In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”