‘Socialism’ for real

shutterstock_66506893As the presidential election day approached in 2008 people were moaning about the evils of socialism, and that a vote for then Democratic candidate Barack Obama was selling out the country to socialists. There were many other things said back then, but I just want to hold the discussion to this word, because people’s biases are blinding them to their own socialist attitudes.

So eight years later Bernie Sanders, who over the years doesn’t seem to have changed his positions on how he feels the tax dollar should be spent, is yet another in a long line of “antichrists” leading the country into “socialism.” The thing is, we’re already there, and we have been for over a century.

People on the “Red Right” are just as socialist as the folks they’re busy demonizing, hissing at, and crossing themselves over. Those who identify as right wing, red state, conservative, Republican, or whatever other label you want to use also want to redistribute wealth, just not in the same way as someone like Sanders. They don’t mind a $1,000,000,000,000 in taxes here or there as long as it’s going to bomb countries they think are the baddies.

It’s one dollar. It can feed someone, fix something, or kill someone. The choice is in how it’s used, and it only stretches so far. If you want to see people fed, clothed, taught, roads and bridges built and repaired, vote that way. If you want to trample on the sovereignty of other nations, march more young people past roadside bombs that wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t been on an interventionist crusade, vote that way. Just know that it’s socialism, regardless of whether the taxes go to promote life or death.

The problem is what’s behind the symptom

narcos640I watched the first season of Narcos on Netflix, which is about the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar and his empire. In a scene where then Colombian President Gaviria and his associates were discussing the extradition issue with the American Ambassador and her people, the American position was that the drug problem was the fault of the traffickers from Colombia, and the Colombian position was that the problem was the consumption of drugs by Americans.

Both are right, but they don’t go far enough. The problem is multifaceted and cannot be laid at the feet of any one country or person. Why does life suck so much that people turn to drugs for momentary escapes? Why does life suck so much that people turn to manufacturing and selling drugs to make a living? I say life sucks because of the poverty, the economic malaise, and the general state of affairs for most people all over the world. These kinds of things push people to desperation.

Horse and Sparrow

horses-assI recently heard supply-side or trickle-down economics compared to a horse and sparrow analogy where if you feed the horse enough oats, some falls to the ground to feed the sparrow.

It doesn’t work.

It was a cute idea in 1980 when Ronald Reagan presented it to a nation coming out of the 1970s malaise of inflation that Nixon left to Ford who handed it off to Carter. But they didn’t talk about the effects of that inflation longterm.

The money that trickles down loses its purchasing power because of inflation and other taxes and issues. If we put a $100 bill in an envelope in 1980 and allowed inflation to act on it, today when we went to get our cash we would only find $33.60. That is a 66% loss in purchasing power. We just cannot purchase the same amount of goods and services today that we could in 1980. Just fill up a grocery bag and see how fast it adds up.

So if you feed the horse enough oats eventually he shits on the sparrow.

One step out of the pit is a mile in the right direction

I worked three weeks of nearly 20hrs of overtime. Yesterday I paid off the smallest of my debts. It was a store credit card with a limit of $250. I started to pay part of it and since I had enough cash on hand, I paid the balance and closed the account.

According to the pernicious counsel out there I should not have closed the account but just let it sit with a zero balance. I guess it has something to do with how my FICO score looks to potential lenders or something. The thing is, I know me. And I know that if I have an account open, I’ll use it. But also, being debt free to me means not having any relationship with the debt machine.

One thing I noticed about store credit accounts is that you end up paying a lot more for the merchandise. A $5 pack of razor blades and a $5 pack of razor blades financed are two different things. You get the blades and pay $5 plus tax and if it’s cash, you’re done. If you charge it, max out your card and pay the minimum, a portion of that $5 gets paid off every month and you are handing the store interest on top of it. Maybe it’s a few pennies but they ad up. I’d rather pay cash.