US – The Political Spectrum – Socialism – Pragmatism – The Policy Pragmatism of Socialist Platform of 1928 – 5 April 2012

Here’s some Libertarians going on about how much the 1928 Socialist Party accomplished. I agree that this platform was largely cribbed by New Deal Democrats and made into law. I disagree that this was a bad thing.

It is jaw-dropping that today’s libertarians apparently still oppose laws preventing child labour, which is one of the accomplishments on this list.
You’ll also note that there is not one indication on this list (which has been copied by libertarian bloggers over and over again in precisely this form*) of why any of these achievements were anything less than just that – achievements.

They’re all examples of restricting the market, sure. But they’re all positive examples of restricting the market. Apparently, the authors disagree, but cannot bring themselves to say why. Maybe that’s because argumentation from facts is not their strongsuit, though.

The last comment on this web page is that the only “good” one of the platform planks is also the only unadopted plank, the rather Henry Georgish plank about taxing the “geo-rent” on unimproved land. For the record, I agree that this one is also a good plank.

* This list first appeared in Milton and Rose Friedman’s Free To Choose (p. 311 of–_A_Personal_Statement__1980_.pdf ), which accounts for why this is the form copied over and over by those libertarian bloggers. I didn’t change any of that because I have no reason to do so. None of those comments are remotely threatening. The worst of the comments basically seems to reference that billions of dollars have been spent on some of these policies. Yes, but perhaps billions of dollars should have been spent on these things. Why is that in itself proof it’s a bad policy? Maybe we’re getting billions of dollars more in returns from the policies? Maybe we should investigate that before lazily publishing screed attacks against allegedly profligate spending…Here’s the list:

* “Nationalization of our natural resources, beginning with the coal mines and water sites, particularly at Boulder Dam and Muscle Shoals.” (Boulder Dam, renamed Hoover Dam, and Muscle Shoals are now both federal government projects.)
* “A publicly owned giant power system under which the federal government shall cooperate with the states and municipalities in the distribution of electrical energy to the people at cost.” (Tennessee Valley Authority.)
* “National ownership and democratic management of railroads and other means of transportation and communication.” (Railroad passenger service is completely nationalized through Amtrak. Some freight service is nationalized through Conrail. The FCC controls communications by telephone, telegraph, radio, and television.)
* “An adequate national program for flood control, flood relief, reforestation, irrigation, and reclamation.” (Government expenditures for these purposes are currently in the many [non-adjusted] billions of dollars.)
* “Immediate government relief of the unemployed by the extension of all public works and a program of long range planning of public works …” (In the 1930s, WPA and PWA were a direct counterpart; now, a wide variety of other programs are.) “All persons thus employed to be engaged at hours and wages fixed by bona-fide labor unions.” (The Davis-Bacon and Walsh-Healey Acts required contractors with government contracts to pay “prevailing wages,” generally interpreted as highest union wages.)
* “Loans to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works and the taking of such other measures as will lessen widespread misery.” (Federal grants in aid to states and local municipalities currently total [non-adjusted] tens of billions of dollars a year.)
* “A system of unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system)
* “The nation-wide extension of public employment agencies in cooperation with city federations of labor.” (U.S. Employment Service and affiliated state employment services administer a network of about 2,500 [in 1980] local employment offices.)
* “A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system.)
* “Shortening the workday” and “Securing to every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week.” (Legislated by wages and hours laws that require overtime for more than forty hours of work per week.)
* “Enacting of an adequate federal anti-child labor amendment.” (Not achieved as amendment, but essence incorporated in various legislative acts.)
* “Abolition of the brutal exploitation of convicts under the contract system and substitution of a cooperative organization of industries in penitentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their dependents.” (Party achieved, partly not.)
* “Increase of taxation on high income levels, of corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, the proceeds to be used for old age pensions and other forms of social insurance.” (In 1928, highest personal income tax rate, 25 percent; in 1978, 70 percent; in 1928, corporate tax rate, 12 percent; in 1978, 48 percent; in 1928, top federal estate tax rate, 20 percent; in 1978, 70 percent.)
* “Appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation.” (Not achieved in this form, but property taxes have risen drastically.)

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One Response to US – The Political Spectrum – Socialism – Pragmatism – The Policy Pragmatism of Socialist Platform of 1928 – 5 April 2012

  1. worldleaderpretendblog says:

    Note, check out the Friedman book…even Milton and Rose say not one word about why anything on this list is bad. It's just taken as being self-evident, which it is anything but.

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