Saturday, May 07, 2005

Responses to 'A Little Respect, Please!'

Yakov: “North Korea is starving its people. North Korea is putting its own people in concentration camps. North Korea does not give its people freedom of movement. North Korea reportedly can put a nuclear warhead on missles. North Korea reportedly test fired said missle this past weekend into the Sea of Japan. North Korea supports terrorism. And yet, America is the bad guy? “
Paul isn't saying that North Korea is a great socialist haven, but rather that their leaders say very valid things about us just as our leaders say very valid things about them. Further, we support or do all the things you cite, as you practically concede (you say that we're not on a 'moral high ground' dealing with Uzbekistan... but, of course, we're just making a mistake, while the North Koreans are bastards). And, even more importantly, not only do our leaders not care about these things, but even people hundreds of miles to my right can recognize that the attempts to isolate North Korea have CAUSED them to intensify their oppression and nuclear proliferation desires.

Yakov: “ believe in an egalitarian society that must be forced, how is North Korea any different than the society that you advocate?”
So many silly assumptions.
A) In the past, libertarian societies like, I dunno, the United States, had to be 'forced' by revolutionary action.
B) North Korea is hardly “egalitarian”, as you'd recognize if you weren't uttering ideological pap. If they're starving their people but they're drinking Dom Perignon and watching action movies, how could that be egalitarian even according to your feverish delusions about what that word means?
C) Paul doesn't advocate a society that simply has absolute equality, but that some desire for equality is highly reasonable both independently and as a way to insure liberty.

Yakov: “That being the case, who decides WHAT gets produced? The collective? “
There are a number of anti-capitalist formulations: green bioregionalism, libertarian municipalism, primitivism, democratic 'mindful markets' socialism, democratic centrally planned socialism, parecon etc. Many of them don't have collectives at all, primitivism being the most obvious. But parecon would have the relevant council help decide that. After all, the Chicago council would actually be composed of who knows how many consumer and worker's councils, so that's probably a third-level council (federated).

Yakov: “Taken to their logical extensions, from and to can mean to the points right before death.”
Taken to its logical extension, the death penalty, police, the state, any military, and capitalism gets there a lot faster than socialism. You're showing that you're flailing. Why not actually argue with someone's advocacies, not what their advocacy eventually may 'logically' create?

Yakov: “The U.S. is a colonial power in Uzbekistan? Does the government have plantations and mineral mines and lumber companies in central Asia that we don't know about?”
Apparently, Yakov also has missed practically everything in international politics since the '60s. Even the USSR and South Africa claimed its colonial dominions were 'independent'; no one took it seriously. Modern colonialism has token autonomy built into it.

RealPC: “Paul, do you really believe non-leftists are against these things? I mean, except "equality" (which can only be achieved by force and can never be maintained) these are values shared by everyone except criminals.”
The question is, how important are these things? Where are these things ranked? In 90% of the discussions I have with libertarian capitalists, the first thing is exactly what you and Yakov have been ranting about: It won't produce, it'll micromanage, etc. In other words, they don't really care about the fact that parecon is infinitely more libertarian (they make some token replies about a day into the discussion), they just care about da money. I support parecon because I think it is, in descending order of importance, 1) libertarian, 2) egalitarian and equalitarian, 3) just, 4) solidaritous and 5) efficient and effective.
Your aside about equality is also highly telling, because not only is it not necessarily the case that equality could 'only' be achived by force (at the least, it'd require this thing you seem loathe to touch: evidence), but the same exact thing could be and was said about liberty. We only got liberty by violence; it can only be maintained by force; etc. Further, what's wrong with equality as a value, putting aside its feasibility? After all, you don't say that 'Liberty is a great idea, but [insert reason why it can't be achieved]', you recognizethat liberty is good ceterus paribus. So why do you want to attack equality?
Is it an interesting slip that shows that capitalists are scared of the idea of equality because capitalism can't ever reach it?
To defend equality, even though your attack is silly: Not only would it be good, ceterus paribus, if everyone was doing roughly as good as each other, but such a state of affairs would be necessary because without it liberty will be threatened by amassed inequity.

RealPC: “No. Read some history. Why are Vietnam and China becoming capitalist? Command economies cannot be made to work in the long run.”
What a good blowoff. What history? I've cited history, to resounding silence on your part. Vietnam and China are becoming capitalist because of the selfish decisions of their elites; even you should be able to recognize this.
Your claim that 'command economies' can't be made to work is also eminently silly because you, and the entirety of the mainstream, cite at best a few examples: The USSR and China. Yet 'central planning', i.e. state plans, are as old as history, indeed far older than markets. That's putting aside how much 'central planning' we have. Add up all the socialized assets America holds; it's larger than the stock market (see Greg Palast).
Even if one laughably believes that Russia 'failed' and that Russia is now going to a better place (which is laughable even given the mainstream knowledge of how corrupt and poor Russia is), that only shows that Russia failed, it doesn't mean that central planning always must fail, even if you can isolate flaws in central planning, the same flaws I isolate in advocating a decentralized non-market economy.

“Can you really "design" an economy?
You can cook up different variants of local alternative models and see how they evolve.Some may survive with appropiate adaptations and fine tuning and some won't.”
One can consider institutions that one would like to see in a new society very broadly, certain values, and then test their exact application through the means you cite. And the people advocating the various alternatives typically do so based on their understanding of historical examples and their own experience in alternative institutions.

“I think Albert is too utopian. If I understand him correctly parecon requires an unrealistic amount of micromanagement and coercions (See Monbiot's debate with Albert on Znet)”
I think Monbiot lost that debate.
Putting that aside: It's not as if capitalism is bereft of meeting times. Just look at the average corporation: they're filled with long and boring meetings, bureaucratic ineptitude, backstabbing and iniquity, favoritism and nepotism, attempts to make plans for production based on the way the market will do, advertising to change people's perceptions.... Simply HUGE central planning organizations. Many people actually critique parecon for having TOO little micromanagement, in that Albert tends to think in terms of yearly plans (which aren't meant to be binding but rather to be guidelines). I think parecon would lower planning and meeting times by making decision-making more organic, with more levels of decision-making, with built-in complex information about consumption and production decisions with instant feedback, because of so much less waste production, etc.
The type of coercion parecon has is at worst NEGATIVE: that is, it says “You can't do X, Y or Z thing, but you can do anything but that.”. But markets have POSITIVE limits in addition to negative ones: “You can't do X, Y or Z.” Parecon allows incredible freedom and civil liberties in exchange for a few limits. Every economy, after all, has rules. There is a group of shared resources (in our world, typically confined within the bounds of a nation), and to get access to those resources, one must play by the rules. (This to real and Yakov): Don't throw the 'Markets allow any non-coercive relationship' crap. What about fraud restrictions? Fraud has no coercion whatsoever, yet when people lie about their qualifications, people rightfully get pissed.

“There is a really important difference between a society with a market, and the capitalist utopian where the society itself becomes an appendage of the market.”
True, and I think Albert has shown that a market will still be negative, though far less so, in the first.

“I don't have a problem with "the market" as long as market priciples do not ursurp other social priorities. “
The problem is, it overwhelmingly does. And let me say that the market advocates I know of like Korten truly are advocating something very down-to-earth, progressive and revolutionary... I just think parecon is a better decentralized system.

"The idea that the US economy succeeds by preying on poor nations has not been supported by evidence. The left must believe it because, according to Marx, capitalism cannot be good for everyone. If the US has a healthy middle class, others must be suffering for it."

Really, then? The only reason the 'US economy' even exists as an entity is because we killed the Native Americans, took their land, then enslaved millions of black people and forced them to produce productive capital. Now, even if one thinks those crimes have been redressed, any reasonable person would have to concede that none of those were free market actions and all of them were predatory and violent. Even now, the white middle class is largely defined by the privilege it has received. This is putting aside the incomprehensibly large toll that we inflict on other societies the world over by funneling their productivity to us.

“Whether globalization is helpful or harmful in the long run is debated and no one really knows. US policies have certainly caused harm, but may also have been beneficial, depending on various factors.”
So we should go ahead and do it? That sounds highly prudent. Everyone from Amy Chua (World on Fire) to Chomsky to Pat Buchanan to Greg Palast to Ross Perot can see the writing on the wall. Growth rates are dropping except in countries that tell the IMF to blow off; Botswana, for example, has 9-15% growth rates.

“The question is whether the US feeds its upper and middle classes by bleeding other nations dry. That is the story told by contemporary Marxists, because there is no other way they can explain capitalism's apparent success.”
Really? Because that's not the question for Street or anyone serious, even Marxists, who also note that the upper class here preys upon its lower class. After all, other capitalist countries, such as European and Asian countries, have far lower levels of inequity. You think those inequity rates came out of nowhere, real? Or is it because we have a monetary policy that demands a certain level of unemployment, another policy that cuts social benefits to the poor, yet another policy that funnels tax money to the rich (and even Cato recognizes this) to the tune of at least $450 billion a year according to egregiously conservative estimates, etc.?

“After reading PARECON, the bottom line is socialism does not, cannot, and will not work. You cannot have a leaderless world where every decision is made by the collective.“
This is answered in the introduction to Parecon, so forgive me for thinking you didn't read very carefully. First of all, Parecon doesn't constitute 'every' or even a majority of the decisions in a society; it is simply an economic viewpoint. Gender, political and racial/cultural decisions will need separate institutions.
Second, 'leadership' isn't absent from Parecon, consistent positions that give some unfair and prolonged institutional advantage is.

“Anyone who has ever worked knows that 1. endless meetings suck,”
So you concede this is a problem with markets? Okay, so then if we can make an economy with less meetings, we'll do that?

“It takes a leader, something egalitarians oppose, to make the decisions not hammered out in the meetings”
Really? And who chooses this leader? What qualifications does this leader have? Are these leader's decisions binding? What checks are there on the leader?
Have you ever worked in or even tried to look at non-hierarchical workplaces? Somehow, I doubt it.
I also find it funny that you say only 'egalitarians' oppose 'leaders' as you so laughably define them, because in fact any serious LIBERTARIAN, even those who are as strident as you are against 'egalitarianism', will be opposed to this.

“Otherwise the collective micromanages - something Paracon claims not to do. “
This is getting stupid. The 'collective' does not make every decision everywhere. A global parecon would not decide whether or not your boombox was too loud at work. If you actually read Parecon, you'd probably have seen the 'right to influence decisions insofar as one is impacted' rule a few dozen times. This rule establishes federation by a very simple derivation.

“If you don't want to work hard and are jealous that other people have more or better than you, just say so. “
But that's as far from the values as parecon as possible; hell, it's DIAMETRICALLY opposed to remuneration for effort and sacrifice.

“Your time would be much better spent getting involved in your local representative democracy - school board, zoning board, etc. Do that and see how you like going to meetings. “
I do go to meetings and I appreciate these things, but they need to be far more complex with far more delegation.

“Also, why don't you start a "free-state" movement for lefties like theh libertarians have done. To use a capitalist phrase, put your money where your mouth is. “
Well, gee, why don't you read one word Chomsky or Albert has said about opposing statism... And frankly, the libertarians' “movement' is about as laughable as you can find. They run the gamut from local businessmen trying to run as an 'alternative' in local elections to the Cato Institutes' huge corporate endowment, employing ivory tower scholars who viciously opposed the scraps of the welfare state and occasionally concede that there's something else.
Of course, I support and in fact spend a lot of time facilitating discussion among libertarians of all ilks, so this is also just the most ad hom driveby imaginable.

“On Parecon: I guess Zanon ceramics and Burkman(sp?) textiles do offer some good examples of what a co-op can do”
Other examples of successful libertarian institutions include the soviets of the pre-Bolshevik domination era, the Native American societies, the current Chinese co-op institutions, Mondragon, South End Press, Z, other highly democratic tribal societies, etc.

“I think it's safe to assume that NK made much more progress developing warheads and delivery vehicles during the 6 1/2 years that Kim Jong Il shared head of state status with Bill Clinton than it did in the two years that passed before Bush pulled their covers and labled them part of the "axis of evil".”
I don't know, and neither do the intelligence agencies. North Korea's nuclear capacities are largely phantasmal as of now, but isn't it a bit early to say Dubbya hasn't done damage? It's only the first year of his second term. I think Kerry's arguments about North Korea's new success at prolif and the broader IR consensus about the fact that the Iraq war and the North Korean diplomacy shows rather well that states should acquire deterrents to fight off the US or expect attack is very plausible. Further, Bush's policy is in essence a continuation and worsening of Clinton's policy...
Virtually no one here is a liberal. Critique Clinton all you want, we'll applaud you. Clinton was a war criminal.

“NK developed these capabilities on Clintons watch, long before they were a member of the "Axis of evil" club, which of course begs the question; If they weren't a member in 1999, why were they developing nukes?? “
Why do you keep mentioning the 'Axis of Evil'? No one serious thought that the Axis was anything but a laundry list of American rivals. Iran and Iraq hated each other, and North Korea was probably thrown in to make people think that Dubbya wasn't just picking on the Middle East.
Why were they developing nukes? Because without those nukes they may or may not have, they would almost undoubtedly be a victim of either Clinton or Bush.

“As to the 100,000 Iraqi civilians, that number was based on second hand accounts (aka hearasy) and fails to account for Iraqi civilians...”
That'd be “hearsay”, and that is the consensus of most reputable human rights associations. Yes, it is difficult to find a number given the chaos factors, but I don't see you saying that the Indonesian tsunami or Saddam atrocities numbers were overblown, despite the fact that those numbers were about as good. The 100,000 number, by the way, doesn't take into account the millions dead thanks to the US sanctions, Depleted Uranium victims, and the people Saddam killed with our erstwhile support, so the number is a massive understatement.

“Also the same report found that; "household interview data do not show evidence of widespread wrongdoing on the part of individual soldiers on the ground" “
And the Nazis probably didn't have a lot of wrongdoing on the ground either. Let's take a hypothetical: China invades Los Angeles and kills millions of people, one of whom is your sister. Would you be comforted by a statement by a Chinese apologist that their soldiers weren't committing 'wrongdoing'? Putting that aside, the wrongdoing may not have been 'widespread', but if it was 5% of the cases, that's 5000 deaths that are direct war crimes.
Also see Iraq Body Count.

“Beat the damn prisnors, if they don't cooperate, torture 'em as much as you can without raising the ire of the selfhating pansies on that occupy the seat to my left.”
Yes, let's beat those innocents and put leashes on 'em. Make em roll in their own shit. I wonder how much good evidence we'll get? Answer: We'll get scared people telling interrogators what they want to hear causing another Iraq-sized debacle. Even very mainstream terrorologists can recognize that Guantanamo Bay-style mistreatment doesn't do much, because either the victims are innocent or they have every reason to lie to interrogators and get the US to commit another 100,000+ death faux pas, thus raising al Qaeda recruitment.
I'm glad that you take the position of the Nazis. It makes it a lot easier to ignore you and be glad that when the revolution comes people like you will probably be 'accidental' casualties.

“Ok but which part of what I said are you disputing? Oh and I merely offered up a description ("pansie") I didn't apply it to anyone, but if the shoe fits I think the wearer should probably whine about it. “
You mean, 'pansy'? Putting aside the sexist and idiotic assumptions that has, how 'pussy' is it to invade a nation that can't fight back and sexually torture and molest other men? How 'pansy' is it to do everything one can to reduce American casualties by bombing people from tens of thousands of feet in the air? The real irony is that all the soldiers I've met recognize that anti-war protesters aren't 'pansies'. It's only armchair generals and imperialists, like you.
I'm 220 pounds of muscle. My buddies are huge tough bastards. Yet we don't like beating up helpless people. We think that's something that idiots do to make themselves feel better. I have nothing against bringing people to justice, which a badass like Lenny Briscoe or Andy Sipowicz would do. I have everything against torturing people who can't fight back.
Heck, I'm probably far more progressive regarding the military than most leftists and conservatives. I think a lot of soldiers are great people who are being forced to do horrible things by bad management. I take my problems to management. I think that soldiers should be paid far more than they are, that soldiers should not be forced to accommodate each others' homophobic preferences, that soldiers should be able to run their own affairs without brainwashing and hiearchical command structures just like any other workers, etc. etc.
And, on the flipside, how is it being 'pansy' to advocate what the Left does in response to the death threats that we receive? What about people like Dave Dellinger getting bombs, Noam Chomsky being on Nixon's Enemies List and Fred Hampton getting murdered? Wow, real 'pansies'. Pansies like Che Guevara and Subcomandante Marcos, who violently resisted imperial occupation.

“First and foremost, form Spain, to German, to Crotia, to modern Serbia, fascism is nationalist SOCIALISM.”
Oh, really? Is that why Mussolini called fascism 'corporatism' and German corporations made out handsomely from the Holocaust? Is that why the Communists and the anarchists opposed fascism far earlier and more stridently than the capitalists, and in fact, the primary enemy of Nazi Germany was Soviet Russia according to Nazi ideology? Is that also why the US supported Ceaseacu, Mussolini, and Hitler?
The USSR called itself the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”; I await your fevered condemnation of republican forms of government. Oh, but wait, you provided it earlier by saying that you want leaders because they're necessary (a fact that, even if it were true, is a total irrelevancy; dictatorships should be opposed even if there's a plausible argument they're needed, if one is a serious libertarian). Like you said earlier about us, Yakov: At least the KKK says what it is.
Yes, by your ridiculous definition, all these countries, indeed EVERY country, is socialist, because all have state involvement in the economy. But I think it's a pretty easy 'No shit' derivation to say, “Wait a second, that's a really crappy definition because it by definition applies to any economy with an accompanying state”. Socialism in the actual literature means worker's control of the means of production. None of those countries have this.

“This quote is one illustration of why parecon will not work, except possibly on a small scale. Imagine a software company where individuals do not have special skills, where all workers have equal knowledge and are inter-changeable. Work that is fulfilling and creative depends on special skills and talents. “
This is possibly the worst I've ever seen you try, realpc. The key word is unequal. Albert wants not less, but more talent and special skill; he simply wants this talent and special skill for everybody, not for a privileged few. It's BETTER specialized labor, not less.

“... while labor may be physically strenous or time consuming, it is not necessarily "harder" because anyone can do it. That is precisely why low end jobs get paid less”
So a job should be paid by how many people can do it? Easy enough: Plenty of people could be Paris Hilton. Why aren't they?
Putting the matter aside of how imperfect capitalism is even at achieving its own desired norms: You've described a state of affairs, not an ethical justification.

“It is ridiculous to say the worker bees should be paid more than those with intellectual capital.”
Why? You provide zero evidence for this claim.
A) Rewarding someone with 'intellectual capital', as even Milton Friedman recognizes, is exactly rewarding them for something they have zero control over, so it's not just.
B) It's also not efficient, because the smarter person can slack off and still do as well. I remember so many classes in high school that I got As without working while others struggled to get Bs. I could have used that classtime to learn; I didn't because I didn't need to get an A. Isn't the point of remuneration exactly to elicit and reward what we want to see?
Now, of course, there is the question, 'Should someone who sucks get paid as much as someone who doesn't?' Here, we may or may not have a conflict between social justice and economic efficiency. Again, it's fine for you to line up with economic efficiency, but it shows how serious of a libertarian you are. However, balanced job complexes are exactly the answer to this: Someone good at cars does cars, someone good at computers does computers, etc. Within the industry, everyone is rewarded for effort.
After all, your criticism could easily apply to capitalism. In capitalism, we have specialization of labor too, precisely for the reason that it lets everyone be effective. Except capitalism does a (pardon the French) shitty job of this because most people do onerous jobs even when they obviously can do something far better.

“The mind-numbing jobs are gradually being automated, so the problem of numb minds may eventually go away.”
True, a fact that the left has used to argue for a libertarian society. However, we could have gotten here a lot earlier if there had been a priority placed on trying to design workplaces to be just. As Chomsky points out, one could design automation to empower workers or empower a class of managers. This choice under capitalism is, every time, to empower the managers, even at the cost of productivity.
Further, those mind-numbing jobs are moving, for this very reason, to service-sector jobs. They're just as boring and intellectually insulting.
Your argument is essentially “There's less work because of automation.” Far enough, and this is, ceterus paribus, a good thing. But this is a total non sequitur to the argument that, of the work that remains in the society, the work should be fairly distributed.

“It took years to learn my job and there is still a lot to learn. I get paid more because they can't just drag someone off the street and teach it to them in a week.”
Fair enough. But this isn't a problem in parecon precisely because education is socialized. Further, it doesn't make sense to pay someone better for education unless that education was a sacrifice, which it rarely is; even if it is, then the education should be paid, just like a working internship.

“Things might be more fair if we all started out financially equal at birth. If inheritance of wealth could be eliminated that might even things out somewhat. “
You know, real, I take away a lot of the shit I said about you. You're a lot more reasonable than I expected. I applaud you entirely. At the least, in our society, inheritance should be banned. I don't know about a society where inequity was far less. Here I sort of disagree with Albert.

“Teachers get paid squat. They pretty much raise our children (kids spend more time in school than with their real parents). “
Great example.

“UAW members in Detroit's auto industry get paid $30 per hour. They do not need a high school education. They can show up to work drunk without fear of job loss. Their jobs take less than 4 hours of training. In Chicago, garbage men make $24 per hour and don't need a highschool education. These are merely two examples of jobs that can be done BY ANYONE for far cheaper resulting in a lower cost of consumer goods and lower taxes.”
And here's where we get to the complex real world, Yakov, because those people are overwhelmingly white because of our discriminatory racial dynamics. Those jobs are also rapidly being exported to super-exploited workplaces.
The minimum wage should be 12-20 bucks an hour if it traced productivity. Changes the so-called exorbitant figures a bit, eh, Yakov?
I've worked crappy temp jobs. If I got paid twice as much, I'd be a lot better off now. And I'm a privileged white college student. Imagine what a sensible minimum wage would do for the poor.

“But after ten years in the system teachers often make over $60K per year with better beneifts and more days off than any other job around. “
And my dad, doing a job that he can work half of the time at home (a member of the 'coordinator class', yes, the same class I indict not because they're bad people but because class dynamics make even the best person in them do horrific things) and spend the other half driving to Sacramento to do a job he admits is far less valuable than what he'd like to be doing (teaching math, since he's a MIT math graduate), makes far more than $60K.
I know teachers who have been teaching for decades. They take jobs in the summer to support themselves. Wow, so overpaid.

“Wages are determined by various factors and are not always fair, but the free market does a better job of deciding wages than some know-it-all committee.”
Really? The market never does a good job because the market is intrinsically designed to reward bargaining power. That's why people in unions make more money: They don't get magically more qualified, they get more bargaining power.
It's also incredibly easy to fool your manager; much harder to do it with your co-employees. And if someone has a problem in a parecon, they can appeal, go to a different workplace, whatever.

“Maybe you would prefer parecon since it tries to make things fair for everybody. Everyone gets together and decides how much everything is worth, how much each job should pay, what everybody needs, etc. Now that's hard work!”
And then do the real tasks of society. To counter your dismissive formulation: In capitalism, multiple layers of managers and owners get together and determine pricing and production levels, try to convince people to buy shit they don't want, and sit around in endless committees dicking around. The market may gravitate against this, but since this is in fact most people's work experience, apparently it does a horrendous job of doing so. Meanwhile, a parecon does the same things but better and more democratically.

“That's how the market makes decisions -- they may not always seem fair, but at least the decisions are made somewhat rationally.”
So we can't be fair and rational? Let me say it again: Why does it make sense to reward someone for something they have no control over?

“Worth is determined by scarcity but the object must first have some kind of social or biological value. A rare disease has negative value because no one wants a disease.”
Except these rare Amazonian plants, and (as another example) corals, are reasonably believed by scientists to contain a cornucopia of benefits (like feeding a billion people in Asia – that's all corals, by the way), but because the market does not in any way punish and in fact rewards those who externalize the costs of their production onto others, these things are destroyed every day.

“The market is of course made up of human beings. It is a democratic system and we vote with our dollars. It is much easier than the parecon idea.”
Except not everyone has the same amount of dollars, many people have a ton of dollars because of things they had no control over and did not earn, the producers have every interest in trying to delude us into buying things we don't want or need, and companies have to spend untold billions trying to figure out what our votes exactly mean, and they frequently fail, producing things that suck and that people don't want. Further, everyone has every interest to screw each other (adversarial roles of production) and the information flows are horrendous (commodity fetishism).
In contrast: In parecon, everyone has the same vote and everyone can concretely and immediately impact production choices. If I want something, I tell my consumer's councils. Done and done. Immediate processing about producers.
So a system that's 'easy' is somehow better? Everyone killing themselves would be mighty easy.
And actually, markets aren't 'easy' at all. Even the most basic of markets requires a fairly complex set of rules or else it doesn't work. For example: If theft is easy, markets fail. If fraud is easy so people can't rationally determine which product is best, markets fail.

“That is parody of conservative philosophy. Acceptance of the realities of nature and the limitations of human intelligence is not the same as cynicism”.
But it becomes cynicism if the claim “People are greedy” becomes used as an excuse to reward greed or apologetics for a system that does.
I thought that if greed is bad and people are greedy, we should make a system where self-interest dictates people work at fairly apportioned jobs, where behaving greedily is made difficult and greed is employed to make people behave justly. After all, conservatives may think people want to murder, but I don't see anyone giving murderers a Porsche and a grand in $20s.

But ask them what they think about prayer in schools, or even worse, about forcing a theology down someone's throats, and the poll numbers change very fast. I can phrase things abusively too, real. Anyways, what they think is largely irrelevant because it's not a majority right to have religion everywhere they see or go. And this incredible religious dominance, in my opinion, isn't that hard to challenge if the Left is very, very patient, but no matter what, I think any reasonable person (and conservatives like my grandpa say this, real) that the neo-con fundies have hijacked the Republican party and that their positions are not based in rationality. This in turn stems from the lack of meaningful social involvement that we encourage.

"criminal's rights over victim's safety..."
Again, nobody SAYS "Hey, guys, I'm here to support a criminal over victims". Ask me if I think a criminal's rights should trump over a victim's safety in the abstract and I'll say no.
And yet 60% support a moratorium on the death penalty until we determine it's being applied fairly, and 62% want fewer nonviolent offenders in jail. 76% prefer offenders making restitution to victims than being locked up and 80% support community service.
Ask SERIOUS questions, real, and you get serious and nuanced answers. Ask your ridiculous questions and you get something that makes you feel good and "American", but just shows you to be an irrational idealogue.

"Anyway, you listed the supposedly "liberal" ideas that people generally agree with."
Yes, I did what I set out to do. Fantastic, real. I don't mean to say that the average person is a party-line Democrat; indeed, I hope they're not. But on almost every central issue, the public is left of center.
Oh, and yes, RealPC, the hiring and promotion process we have now is clearly free of 'big brother' computerization, nepotism, favoritism, popularity contests, office politics
I wonder, do you actually live in the real world, real? I can see criticisms of parecon, but just out of basic logic they have to do two things:
1) Be something that it does worse than capitalism (that is, if capitalism has 10 units of X 'bad stuff' in one area and parecon 11, then that's fine, but if your criticism applies to ANY economy and parecon has 2 units and capitalism 10, then you're begging the question of how serious you are)
2) In turn, be so egregious that it eclipses any advantages (so that one unit of bad stuff in one area would have to be a tiebreaker everywhere else)
I know it's hard and complex to compare economies, but come on.

"There is nothing "liberal" about being against the war in Iraq. "
No, but liberals tend to be against the war in Iraq. I'm simply referring to the way issues are defined now. Yes, I could see a very liberal or leftist person for whatever reason thinking the Iraq war is good. And I also agree that far too many issues are defined along party lines in really silly ways. People should arrive at conclusions for policies independently.

"Yes social security is a socialist idea but it has been accepted by most conservatives, and Americans want to keep it."
This is assuming that you use the definition 'Socialism is government intervention in the economy'. In that case, every society with a state has been socialist since time immemorial, whether feudalist, capitalist, or fascist. It's an eminently useless definition. In actual usage, socialism doesn't just mean reapportionment of wealth, it means worker's control of the means of production.

"Americans value freedom over state-imposed solidarity. Americans know that individuals are unique, each with their own talents, preferences and ideas."
Maybe, maybe not. Many seem to support the state-imposed of solidarity of patriotic state-worship. Many also seem to want to make a theological state. However, I agree that is the case. That is why they oppose capitalism, which does not give the majority of individuals any chance to express their preferences and utilize their talents and ideas (think of the average corporation: how many people in it do you honestly think have their ideas heard by a decision-maker?) and why the majority will support parecon or another leftist alternative.

"Therefore, the utopian vision of some will never be approved by all."
The 'utopian vision' (hardly applicable to parecon, which concedes in the first few pages that it is only a vision for the economy's guiding institutions and values, nothing more) of democracy still isn't approved by everybody, even though at one point it was mostly held by relatively small groups (vis-a-vis the world population). Do you oppose democracy?

"In my opinion, it's better to go without modern high-tech health care with all its expensive bells and whistles than hand over ever more money and power to the central state."
That's fantastic. But even that response bespeaks privilege, because I'm sure that you do not have a sick daughter, and if you do, you can afford to pay for her health care. However, a majority of Americans now do not have proper health care and many become bankrupt after paying doctor's bills. For them, socialized health care isn't a matter to troll on a leftist forum, real; it's a matter of life or death.
Further, while I oppose the state at every level, at least the state in our society is at some level democratically accountable and responsible to its citizens. Corporations are not; they are fascist economic structures. Leftist simply wish to choose an accountable bureaucracy over an unaccountable one concerned with profits over people. Suddenly, the choice doesn't seem so irrational, does it?

"But I would guess most American parents want maximun health coverage for their kids and are willing to pay higher taxes for it, within limits.
Everything is a trade-off. "
Indeed they would, and I'm glad you're not resurrecting the libertarian crap that if they didn't agree with health care it wouldn't be legitimate (though Utah Phillips does do voluntary tax, actually).
The key point, Real, is that they've wanted that for decades and they haven't gotten it. Now, no matter what you think of their decision, you should be able to recognize that a democratic society that does not obey the will of its majority is one that isn't, in a de facto sense, democratic.


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