An American Socialist 0 comments on My Primer on American Socialism

My Primer on American Socialism


They’ll go to the moon
                   and beyond,
to places even telescopes can’t see.
But when will no one go hungry
                                                               on earth
                    or fear others
                    or push them around,
                    shun them
                    or steal their hope?
Because I responded to this question
                                    I’m called a Communist.

Nazim Hikmet (1958) 

A combination of factors over the last 18 months – my lack of enthusiasm for Hilary Clinton as a candidate, the election of Donald Trump as President, the rapid growth in wealth disparity in America, and the ever increasing prospect of a high growth, jobless future economy –  has jump started my search for a new political and economic identity. 

So I did some reading.

Polyani’s book forced me to ask myself why I thought we lived in an economic model that was a tide which lifted all boats, and I realized – very quickly – that we don’t. His clear – yet dense – treatise on the imperfections of our economic & political system helped me start to build a framework and a new political identity built around Socialism.

But Socialism is a bad word in American politics. I think this comes from misinformation, and charged rhetoric. So – I wanted to start a different conversation where we can share in this framework together, and have a better informed conversation about the America we want to build in the 21st Century.

What is Socialism?

American Socialism is a theory that proposes that, at the same time, we maximize wealth and minimize poverty. American Socialism is a system that says that American citizens should bear the cost of minimizing poverty while guaranteeing the integrity of free and dynamic markets that make Americans rich. With Socialism, a business, corporation, or market that can only exist by maintaining, or expanding, poverty, will fail (primarily because it cannot support basic costs that a Socialist society would demand). A recent example –

  • A local bookstore shuts down because it cannot afford to pay its workers a livable wage – This is the right outcome for a Socialist because the bookstore can only exist if the people who work there are willing to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

What is Socialism NOT?

  • Socialism and Communism are not the same – Communism removes the ability to accrue wealth by ensuring that all wealth is redistributed  to the maximum ability of the state. Communists believe less in the power of the market, and instead focus on the power of the commune. Much of the Left in Europe is Communist. The Left of Nancy Pelosi politicians in America are not communists – they are Socialists. 
  • Nor is Socialism and a Centrally Planned economy the same – Socialists in America do not seek central planning of the economy. They believe in the power of the Market. They also believe that the Government unfairly favors Corporations at the expense of workers, and wish to see that imbalance right-sized.

What would be different if America were more Socialist?

  • Creative destruction wouldn’t destroy local communities at the expense of innovation – Today when we have innovation – let’s say a new trade agreement that allows less expensive t-shirts to come into America from Mexico – there are winners and losers as discrete groups. In a Socialist society, the winners in that scenario are no longer discrete and disconnected from the losers. Instead, they are responsible, through taxes on their innovation and a government who is committed to retraining, retooling, and reinvesting in the losing community, for ensuring that their innovation IS a tide that lifts all boats.
  • People wouldn’t die because they were too poor to live – 40% of Americans can’t find $400 in the event of an emergency. 1/3 of the fundraisers on GoFundMe are for healthcare costs. A huge portion of Americans are too poor to live, and a parking ticket, a malfunctioning car, a missed bus, or a sick child is the difference between a roof over their head and living on the streets. The wealthiest nation in the world shouldn’t have such a huge part of its population living at such a precipice.
  • Citizens United would be overturned – And with it, the impact of corporations, unions, lobbyists, and PACs in our government at all levels would be reduced. We the People would once again be the influential force behind the politicians who we elect. This comes from both a belief that the individual citizen must be as powerful as the Corporation as well as a belief that protecting the ballot box is a key function of a successful democracy.

Why does 21st Century America need an American brand of Socialism?

One key thing above all else pushed me in this direction – if we are going to reap the benefits of more technology and automation to build a wealthier society at the expense of jobs (which means at the expense of healthcare, housing, and education for almost all Americans), then we need a political system that will catch the disenfranchised, and give them the opportunity to stand back up.

And as we continue to increase the ability of machinery and technology to accomplish our jobs, we increasingly build a society that is wealthier (everyday things cost less), but in which fewer can participate (no jobs).

A more Socialist America would support the market movement towards innovation while ensuring that there was a path to dignity for those who are now replaced by technology (which will increasingly be white collar workers, and not just their manufacturing and construction counterparts)

New Year Resolutions, Uncategorized 0 comments on 2018 Goals – July Update

2018 Goals – July Update

;tldr Some wonderful new patterns are emerging, and I think I’m more sustainably finding a path towards health. Also shoutout to John Holland and all the other folks who always have my back on these goals.

Get to 175 lbs
July weight chart

July weight chart

The last month has been an exercise in teaching myself how to fit health into the life I live today, and not comparing it to what health looked like when I was younger. The constant need to catch up to where I was in college and high school has killed me – mainly mentally due to an inevitable feeling of constant failure. As I’ve found a way to reframe my own expectations, I’ve also found myself much more satisfied with one pick up soccer game per week, or one rock climb date with Amelia.

It won’t get me where I want quickly, but I can now see a way to actually get there, and be happier along the way.

1 book per month

I kept the fiction genre going for another month with The Early Short Stories of Truman Capote. It’s a great combination of seeing how genius develops with seeing the process of how creativity works. Some of the stories were just brilliant. Others – were just eh. But I’d definitely recommend it.

2 date nights with Micky

We only pulled off one date night in July, but it was AWESOME.

We went out with a group of Luka’s classmates parents, and did Korean BBQ and karaoke. The food was good. The singing was awful. But the night was great. In August we’ll make up for some lost time with Geoff and Wendy in town to save the day!

1 date per child per quarter

Amelia and her friend M have decided to try out for the local rock climbing gym competitive team. I told her she could only do it if she practiced, and listened to instruction while practicing. And she said sure! It’s been a blast doing this together. She’s getting really good, and it’s awesome to see her practice something methodically and get better at it. A fun activity that we can do together for a while yet. Very excited to support her in this.

The big kids left at 7:15am for three weeks to hop on a bus, and go to camp. One of those weeks, Micky was out of town, and so sleepy head Theo had to wake up and take them to the bus stop with me. We’d drop them off, and have the most fun morning together. We made kofte. We chased Pokémon. We hung out at Starbucks. He’s so magical, and it’s amazing to have this time with him.