Millennial Socialists

Ralph's picture
Ralph started the topic in Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 at 5:33pm

Following is an interesting article from the Economist.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the 20th century’s ideological contest seemed over. Capitalism had won and socialism became a byword for economic failure and political oppression. It limped on in fringe meetings, failing states and the turgid liturgy of the Chinese Communist Party. Today, 30 years on, socialism is back in fashion. In America Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman who calls herself a democratic socialist, has become a sensation even as the growing field of Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 veers left. In Britain Jeremy Corbyn, the hardline leader of the Labour Party, could yet win the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia, the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites (see article). Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses.

Socialism’s renewed vitality is remarkable. In the 1990s left-leaning parties shifted to the centre. As leaders of Britain and America, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton claimed to have found a “third way”, an accommodation between state and market. “This is my socialism,” Mr Blair declared in 1994 while abolishing Labour’s commitment to the state ownership of firms. Nobody was fooled, especially not socialists.

The left today sees the third way as a dead end. Many of the new socialists are millennials. Some 51% of Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of socialism, says Gallup. In the primaries in 2016 more young folk voted for Bernie Sanders than for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined. Almost a third of French voters under 24 in the presidential election in 2017 voted for the hard-left candidate. But millennial socialists do not have to be young. Many of Mr Corbyn’s keenest fans are as old as he is.

Not all millennial socialist goals are especially radical. In America one policy is universal health care, which is normal elsewhere in the rich world, and desirable. Radicals on the left say they want to preserve the advantages of the market economy. And in both Europe and America the left is a broad, fluid coalition, as movements with a ferment of ideas usually are.

Nonetheless there are common themes. The millennial socialists think that inequality has spiralled out of control and that the economy is rigged in favour of vested interests. They believe that the public yearns for income and power to be redistributed by the state to balance the scales. They think that myopia and lobbying have led governments to ignore the increasing likelihood of climate catastrophe. And they believe that the hierarchies which govern society and the economy—regulators, bureaucracies and companies—no longer serve the interests of ordinary folk and must be “democratised”.

Some of this is beyond dispute, including the curse of lobbying and neglect of the environment. Inequality in the West has indeed soared over the past 40 years. In America the average income of the top 1% has risen by 242%, about six times the rise for middle-earners. But the new new left also gets important bits of its diagnosis wrong, and most of its prescriptions, too.

Start with the diagnosis. It is wrong to think that inequality must go on rising inexorably. American income inequality fell between 2005 and 2015, after adjusting for taxes and transfers. Median household income rose by 10% in real terms in the three years to 2017. A common refrain is that jobs are precarious. But in 2017 there were 97 traditional full-time employees for every 100 Americans aged 25-54, compared with only 89 in 2005. The biggest source of precariousness is not a lack of steady jobs but the economic risk of another downturn.

Millennial socialists also misdiagnose public opinion. They are right that people feel they have lost control over their lives and that opportunities have shrivelled. The public also resents inequality. Taxes on the rich are more popular than taxes on everybody. Nonetheless there is not a widespread desire for radical redistribution. Americans’ support for redistribution is no higher than it was in 1990, and the country recently elected a billionaire promising corporate-tax cuts. By some measures Britons are more relaxed about the rich than Americans are.

If the left’s diagnosis is too pessimistic, the real problem lies with its prescriptions, which are profligate and politically dangerous. Take fiscal policy. Some on the left peddle the myth that vast expansions of government services can be paid for primarily by higher taxes on the rich. In reality, as populations age it will be hard to maintain existing services without raising taxes on middle-earners. Ms Ocasio-Cortez has floated a tax rate of 70% on the highest incomes, but one plausible estimate puts the extra revenue at just $12bn, or 0.3% of the total tax take. Some radicals go further, supporting “modern monetary theory” which says that governments can borrow freely to fund new spending while keeping interest rates low. Even if governments have recently been able to borrow more than many policymakers expected, the notion that unlimited borrowing does not eventually catch up with an economy is a form of quackery.

A mistrust of markets leads millennial socialists to the wrong conclusions about the environment, too. They reject revenue-neutral carbon taxes as the single best way to stimulate private-sector innovation and combat climate change. They prefer central planning and massive public spending on green energy.

The millennial socialist vision of a “democratised” economy spreads regulatory power around rather than concentrating it. That holds some appeal to localists like this newspaper, but localism needs transparency and accountability, not the easily manipulated committees favoured by the British left. If England’s water utilities were renationalised as Mr Corbyn intends, they would be unlikely to be shining examples of local democracy. In America, too, local control often leads to capture. Witness the power of licensing boards to lock outsiders out of jobs or of Nimbys to stop housing developments. Bureaucracy at any level provides opportunities for special interests to capture influence. The purest delegation of power is to individuals in a free market.

The urge to democratise extends to business. The millennial left want more workers on boards and, in Labour’s case, to seize shares in companies and hand them to workers. Countries such as Germany have a tradition of employee participation. But the socialists’ urge for greater control of the firm is rooted in a suspicion of the remote forces unleashed by globalisation. Empowering workers to resist change would ossify the economy. Less dynamism is the opposite of what is needed for the revival of economic opportunity.

Rather than shield firms and jobs from change, the state should ensure markets are efficient and that workers, not jobs, are the focus of policy. Rather than obsess about redistribution, governments would do better to reduce rent-seeking, improve education and boost competition. Climate change can be fought with a mix of market instruments and public investment. Millennial socialism has a refreshing willingness to challenge the status quo. But like the socialism of old, it suffers from a faith in the incorruptibility of collective action and an unwarranted suspicion of individual vim. Liberals should oppose it.

Ralph's picture
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Ralph commented Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 at 5:33pm

article from the Economist

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 at 7:04pm

"But like the socialism of old, it suffers from...an unwarranted suspicion of individual vim. "

Unwarranted? How wrong can a writer be?

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 at 7:14pm

Reducing rent seeking?

The whole of the modern technological economy is based on it.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 at 9:18pm

So we know the problems, but...? How's the usual diversions about two thirds in.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Sunday, 17 Feb 2019 at 8:09am

"The purest delegation of power is to individuals in a free market."

Not in the modern Big Data techno-market.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Sunday, 17 Feb 2019 at 9:34am

Never go full socialist.

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kieron_h commented Sunday, 17 Feb 2019 at 9:21pm

The Economist knows there is a big difference between "a social democracy" - i.e., mixed-market economy, social safety net, progressive taxation, government regulations to prevent market failure - and "socialism" - i.e., common ownership of the means of production... but of course that wouldn't get the pulses of their "centre-right and beyond" audience racing like this article aspires to do.

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factotum commented Sunday, 17 Feb 2019 at 9:36pm
Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 5:57am

Did you just use a spectacularly cutthroat and lucrative business where many participants are unfathomably well remunerated as an example of successful socialism , comrade Facto.?

Never go full socialist.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 9:34am

You gotta actually know what 'socialism' is. Blowipedia ain't cutting it...again...and again...and again...ad infinitum.

Ad nauseum.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 9:44am

I don’t want to know what socialism is ....and neither do the poor people who’ve had to live through it over the years.

It’s only the fake left , faux working class like yourself who romanticise the grim existence of socialism.

Go fix some dings for tax free cash , comrade.

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 9:58am

Any society with a public police force is incorporating socialism.

Same goes a fire department, ambulance and paramedics, state schooling, and any regulatory body too. Basically anything that shaves the hard edges off a Hobbesian nightmare where only the rich and ruthless survive.

But yeah, socialism is bad.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 10:06am

Big difference between social democracy and pure socialism .

I’m all for social democracy.

Capitalism is a necessary ingredient in the political mix , we’ve just got to temper the recent experiment in extreme capitalism. I think old mate Comrade Facto wants us all living the pure socialist dream .

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yocal commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 11:07am

I don't think the article is challenging public services including health, emergency and education Stunet. What do you make of the claim in the article that a downside of localising power is that it would be much harder to monitor and prevent localised smaller scale corruption?
In my view, what proponents of pure socialism fail to recognise is that there are many people in our society (on the left and right) who are prone to engaging in corruption.

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 11:29am

Wasn't really commenting on the article, Yocal, more indulging in some below-the-line musing. In this instance motivated by the constant overreach of a past commenter who equated every person on the left with a deep state socialist. I hadn't really thought about local powers having a propensity to corruption.

However, in the same passage I note a negative from the writer is "NIMBY's stopping housing developments", so excuse me while I muse on. 

On Friday a mate of mine found out the development he'd fought for six months has been scuppered, all because of his local activism. The block across the road from him was going from one house to six townhouses, the developer wasn't a local but a Maserati driving fuckwit from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, and he'd pushed every single code or law to its maximum - percentage of paved ground, distance from fences, height, number of units, size of bedrooms etc etc etc.

He was brought undone when this was pointed out to the independent panel reviewing the development (council had already passed it). Mr Maserati had even pushed it so far that the requisite 25cm between wheelie bins put out for pick up had disappeared, and this formed part of his undoing.

Happily this case may set a precedent for the area where people from elsewhere come in and radically alter the built landscape without any consideration to what's currently there.

So I'm feeling good about NIMBYism today.

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Pops commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 11:44am

I wouldn't count my chickens, Stu. Pushing everything as far as it'll go & further in the first attempt seems to be par for the course, because of the upside if they get away with it. When it inevitably gets rejected, they just come back with some slightly modified plans a few months later to get DA, and then section 96 the crap out of it later to try and win back the ground they ceded.

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stunet commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 11:55am

Already been through that process, Pops. When it was going through council it was opposed and reduced in height and also number of bedrooms (three to two, yet a smaller unlabelled mystery room appeared on the plans).

I think everyone's aware some sort of development will occur there, in fact no-one's dead against development, however it's gotta be something that fits in and that works with current infrastructure.

The independent panel gave some suggestions for ideal development and also some harsh criticism for the local council. If the suggestions are ignored then the fight will continue, this time with institutional reinforcement.

Gotta think the developer has already burnt his profit on this job.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:01pm

A potential benefit of the housing downturn and the abolition of negative gearing on property could be the that some of our nice little beach towns may temporarily escape the flip ‘em while they’re hot speculative rebuilds/ renovations which destroyed the charm of many coastal towns in the last decade or so.

You know the ones , city crew have a nice little escape somewhere and spend their time cruising the real estates in town , then borrow to buy and expand / rebuild a local property in order to turn a quick profit. Usually bought by another city crew because once it’s flipped the locals can’t afford them .

Town is just as unpopulated as before the boom , but now it’s filled with empty McMansions rather than empty beach shacks. The town has lost its character and the housing is double the price.

Strange thing is that often the renovations and expenses are more expensive than the flipper had bargained for and their profit margin isn’t that high so there is no real winner.

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Pops commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:11pm

Yeah the unlabelled room is a classic. Or the two-bed, one "study".
Might find the developer sits on it for a while until prices start rising again if he can afford to. Or he'll try and cut his losses and do something cheap & nasty.

Hopefully the activism pays off and it ends up being something that suits the local area.

On that point, I get that people see NIMBYism as being a bad thing (and probably is if its just blocking things for the sake of blocking them), but surely fighting to make sure any changes do suit the vibe of the local area is a positive thing (protecting each place's unique "culture" for want of a better word, etc)?

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stunet commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:15pm

For you Blowin as you know the area. You may even recognise some of the houses Pat has drawn:

http://www.patgrantart.com/vanishcoast/vc.html

The panel that starts "There's a spot..." is drawn from the Macauleys side looking towards the point. A month after Pat drew it the builders moved in and demolished the house, the fence, and the Hills Hoist, and built the great eclipse-creating monstrosity that sits there now.

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Pops commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:30pm

That hits close to home, Stu.
The olds bought the place I grew up some 40 years ago (long before I was around), a km or two back from the beach, up the hill. Dad had grown up in the area (and a few generations before him). Back then it was pretty cheap; too far from the city to be desirable for the elites, so it was mostly tradies (dad's a carpenter).
These days, the area's become a byword for "rich snobs", new mansions are popping up every week (not bad for dad in a way - he builds his share of them!). I probably earn more than the old man could have dreamed of at my age (engineers get paid OK), and the missus is on similar coin. But I can't see any way of moving back there, even with prices dropping of late. Unlike the cartoonist above, I didn't get in before the gate shut. It's a weird kind of homesickness, feeling that you might never be able to afford to live where you grew up.

Sorry for the rambling post. Preparing for my grandfathers funeral tomorrow, I'm in a strange state of mind.

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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:31pm

Yeeew! Now I'm a ding-fixer.

According to The Bloviator.

Wrong about everything again. And again. And again.

Ad infinitum.

Ad nauseam.

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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:39pm

That was so good , Stu. Remember this ? https://youtu.be/OcKcjpSWmm0

Let’s not forget the anti social throwbacks at Era , Garie, BP and Bulgo . Ignorant bastards wouldn’t abandon their shacks and hand them over to National parks so they can rent them out to North Sydney yuppies at the extortionate rate the yuppies gladly pay in order to exclude the crew whose relo’s built them with blood , sweat , tears and cirrhosis of the liver.

Keep up the good fight shack dwellers !

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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:38pm

Facto - I don’t know or care what you do , mate. But some things you said led me to believe that you’d fixed a ding for me one time . When I identified the place you said I should come back with beer some time ?

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stunet commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 12:45pm

One of my favourites. That video clip is the reason Jim Moginie now calls Wombarra home. I remember years ago driving along Foothills Road, up the top of Wombarra and seeing a slovenly bloke on a ride on mower doing his lawns, thinking to myself 'Fuck that bloke looks like Jim Moginie.'

The coast is going to get more crowded, we've all got kids and the population is rising, but if it's not the uber-rich knocking down perfectly good houses to build hulking bank vaults, then it's slimy developers squeezing every dollar they can from a block of land in a suburb far from their own. Let the people have a say about what happens in their town.

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blindboy commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 1:48pm

Well to some extent Stu. Given that there are mandated quotas of medium density in each council area, it makes sense to put it where the infrastructure exists or can be provided easily. NIMBYism can just push the development down the road, concentrating it in a few locations which is bad planning. Classic example was all the opposition to development along the north shore train line from Chatswood to Hornsby. We used to laugh about the people's republic of Pittwater before it was incorporated into Northern Beaches. They took your proposition to the absolute limit and wanted to totally control development. Yeh the local community is important but having watched my favourite area on the northern beaches be absolutely smashed by over-development while the yuppies further north were screaming about a few unit blocks was an eye opener. I mean where the fuck did they expect their low paid workers to live? Not in their precious part of the world, that's for sure!

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AndyM commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 2:51pm

.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 5:32pm

"I don’t know or care what you do , mate."

But you keep crapping on about it, Blowie, hey?

Your memory is the last place anyone would and should go for some facts. Just statin' the bleeding obvious.

And you don't read real good either, so Bingo! You're always wrong, and wrong-headed.

Again.

Ad infinitum.

Ad nauseam!!!!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 5:37pm

When you position yourself as an Uber socialist as you do , it’s very relevant how you make your living.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 5:43pm

Now I'm a ridesharing company driver??

And a commie??

Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 5:50pm

Well I think we can confidently say that you’re not a comedian anyway.

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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 6:40pm

Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam.

And here's some comedy. Intentional from unintentional sources.

Just like on here!!!!

And in line with this funny ol' thread.

http://loonpond.blogspot.com/2019/02/in-which-reptiles-promote-steam-age...

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 6:44pm

You genuinely find that funny ?

Honest question.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 6:50pm

You read all that?

Ha ha.

Here comes an 'honest' response!!!!

Again.

Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 7:23pm

Got maybe halfway into it and realised it was shit.

If you can’t create humour out of the raw material Trump hands you then it’s time to get a real job.

And that was utterly unfunny. Do you laugh at that stuff?

It’s not even satire it’s just......shitty . Doesn’t even deserve a colourful adjective.

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factotum commented Monday, 18 Feb 2019 at 7:53pm

Hahahaha. 'Honest' response!!!!

I don't think you read anything, Blowie, did ya?

Honestly.

(Hint: Dame Slap and the Oz reptiles are copping the most grilling here, peanut)

"And that was utterly unfunny. Do you laugh at that stuff?

It’s not even satire it’s just......shitty . Doesn’t even deserve a colourful adjective."

Hahahahaha!!!! Says you!!!! Of all people!!!!

Again!!!!!!!!

Ad infinitum!!!! Ad nauseam!!!!

Fark. Stop it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Worthy of a 21 exclamation salute for our one & only Bloviator, unintentional comedian par excellence. Long live the Moey!)