Category Archives: Capitalism

The Professor: What is a Socialist?

A  fictional discourse between a political science Professor and his students.

“Who has the next question? Okay, Paul, you’re up.”

“You often refer to Progressives and Socialists. Is there a difference and what is a Socialist?”

“You all know this but I like to start with basics. The agenda or mission of both the Socialist and Progressive Parties is to own and control the ‘means of production.’  In their terms the ‘means of production’ includes all economic activity.  In their very attractive messaging that is what they talk about.  The average person thinks, “What’s so bad about that? I certainly don’t control any big businesses or factories. No one works for me. The big capitalists and bankers on Wall Street control everything now. If the Socialists want to take over it won’t affect my family. Maybe getting the profit at any costs people out of the loop will be a better deal for me. That doesn’t sound dangerous or even a big problem to me.”

“What the people are never told is that to control the entire network of ‘the means of production’ someone has to be in charge. In the case of the Socialist or Progressives, the someone in charge is the elite of the Socialist Party. What was a decentralized economic system subject to market influences and the decisions of thousands of relatively independent owners, managers and financiers is now highly centralized under the control of Socialist managers. These managers removed from close contact with the various production facilities must make decisions that set production goals, distribution of goods and services, research and development areas and budgets, the work place environment, the number and skills of the workers required throughout the production cycle, the cost of goods and export and import requirements.

“From a moral standpoint the socialist managers are no worse or better than the capitalists they replaced. The Socialists claimed they would make things better for the workers and their families. I believe the majority of them really try to improve living standards for the working class. What they soon discover is that a highly centralized system where one segment is integrated with several others requires a strict application of rules. These rules in turn require some form of enforced discipline and that is the problem. People, managers or workers, must obey the rules or the production goals of the 5 and 10 year plans will fail and people will suffer.

“Once you have  centralized management of the ‘means of production’ the required rules and laws to make it work take the choices people made out of their hands. What schools your children can go to, what they study, where they work  and live is determined by the Socialist elite group of managers. The essence of freedom is the ability of individuals to make their own choices, good or bad. When the drive to follow your own choices clashes with the need for the centralized economy to meet its goals, the individual must either accept the rules or be punished. Millions of people were killed in China and Russia for resisting government rules. Socialism does not lead to freedom. It always leads to coercion, totalitarianism  and economic ruin. Socialists and Progressives are the same thing. In America Progressivism sells better than Socialism.

 

 

 

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The Professor: Realities and Challenges in the Trump era

A fictional discourse between a learned political science professor and his students.

In little over a month, I’ll be seeing some of you in my honors seminar. For those of you who have other plans and commitments, I’ll continue to send you my thoughts and analysis of current events.

I believe this next class maybe the most important one I’ve ever taught. There is too much at stake for any American who loves this country to sit on the sidelines. The realities are fundamentally frightening. We have just come thru an extraordinary period of destructive national government policies. I’m not being a pessimist when I say, we cannot survive as free democratic nation unless we can recover from the results of the last ten or so years.

First the realities as I see them. The nation is deeply divided between the people who want the welfare promises of socialism and those who believe there is no individual freedom and prosperity under any form of socialism. In a cradle to grave government, there are very few individual choices. An absence of individual choice defines the absence of freedom. President Obama knowingly presided over a transformation process that would ultimately lead to a socialist government. A process that Hillary Clinton would have continued. Remember they both made no secret of the allegiance they paid to Mr. Saul Alinsky.

It was Mr. Alinsky, a brilliant revolutionary writer, who provided the intellectual under pinning to the Progressive movement, including the name. Mr. Alinsky stressed to his followers that the terms socialism and communism would not attract wide support in America and to use the term progressive instead. He also used the terms ‘leading from behind’ and ‘the issue is never the issue.’ I will cover the political takeover of the center/left Democratic Party by the Progressives. Today the Democratic Party of the American political scene is only a misleading name for the Progressives.

The Progressives do not accept that Donald J. Trump won the national election and is now their president. They are doing, and will do anything to bring down his Presidency before it can establish itself and bring America back. They are supported and, even led, by the national media, our higher educational institutions, and the entertainment world. The deluge of misinformation and lies from our once renown media outlets, is having an effect. Without the Presidents tweets, there would be no other broadly disseminated information source. I believe that is true but am still amazed by the weirdness of that statement.

Even though President Trump won the election and selected his cabinet and other government employees, his own Department of Justice, is at best, not engaged and at worst, actually hostile. How else can you explain the existence of a Special Consul when no crime has been identified and it is staffed and run by those openly opposed to the Trump Administration? How could this happen when the Attorney-General and his deputy were appointed by the President?

In my seminar, we will examine the past policies of President Obama and apply the America First principle to both domestic and international actions. Advanced warning, don’t sign up if you base your arguments on emotional beliefs. Just the facts, please.

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The Professor: Russia and Elections

A fictional discourse between a learned political science professor and his students.

I stress in my seminars that the modern political scientist or journalist must know how to think outside the box, have a solid understanding of history and, above all, a strong dose of logic and common sense. It seems there are very few who can check these three boxes. Look at the fervor over the alleged collusion of the Trump campaign with the Russians. According to the Progressive/Socialists, often referred to as Democrats, President Trump only won the national election because of Russian meddling in the election.

What the Progressive followers of Obama and Clinton don’t want to acknowledge and the Congressional Republicans are too timid and self-serving to say, is that the Russians have always meddled in elections, especially in the era of the Comintern organization of the Lenin/Stalin period. But the Russians have never tried to influence an election in favor of a capitalistic nationalist party. They have spent billions on hundreds of foreign political campaigns and elections to further the spread of communism and socialism.

Why would they try to help Trump when the Obama administration systematically weakened America’s military and economic power? Obama pulled missile defense systems out of eastern Europe, curtailed the American development of an ICBM defense, allowed Russia to put a strong military presence in the Middle East, including a naval base in the Mediterranean, refused Ukrainian requests for weapons to combat the Russian takeover of the Crimea and large parts of Ukraine and crippled the development and export of American oil and natural gas.

Candidate Trump made no secret of the fact, that he would rebuild America’s military and economic power. Hillary Clinton pledged to continue President Obama’s policies. The Russians are not dumb when it comes to advancing their national interests. Yes, the Russians can be counted on to meddle in elections in favor of their national interests. Candidate Trump’s campaign promises were and are not in Russia’s national interests. The only campaign and administration that have colluded with the Russians is that of the progressive regime of Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Today’s democratic/progressive messages are tied to the Alinsky strategy of using any and all issues to attack and destroy the opposition. Progressives may take any side of any issue as long as it furthers the progressive cause. Most of the national media is fully supporting progressive policies. Don’t look for truth or logic  in progressive messaging. They are not important. Sizing power is.

 

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Public Sector Unions: How Do They Work?

Professor Clark opened his political science honors class by nodding at Alison and saying, “What are your thoughts about my statement that public sector unions are and will be a problem for the Trump Administration, agree or not?”

“I was surprised to see that public-sector union membership is greater than the traditional private sector unions that have been shrinking while the teachers union and government employees have been increasing their membership. So, in that case, when you plan to shrink government and cut the costs of government personnel other than the military, there must be some serious negotiations done with the public-sector unions.”

“Okay, Alison. Good thinking. Now someone tell me who will be conducting these negotiations. But first let me provide a few ground rules. We all know that when the UAW is involved in negotiations the party across the negotiating table is not the government. The UAW is in direct talks with the major car manufacturing corporations. While the issue being negotiated can be other issues than wages, let’s limit our discussion to negotiations over wages. Now Robert, tell us with whom the UAW will be conducting its collective bargaining negotiations?”

“Professor, are you setting me up? Everyone knows of the historic negotiations that have been conducted between the UAW and the big three auto corporations.”

“Of course I am. I want to make it clear that regardless of all the charges and rumors that are floated during private sector union negotiations the issues are clear. Both parties have the power to meet the obligations accepted during the negotiations. One side gains and the other loses. If the UAW wins, they reward their members with increased pay and or changes in working conditions or benefits. The auto corporations, constantly challenged by competition, have the challenge of absorbing the increased cost per unit of production, usually by passing the costs on to the consumer, the auto buyers.

“Both parties have a clear choice. The union leaders can shut down production with a strike and the corporation can refuse union demands and hold out until the union is forced to renegotiate a compromise solution. The strike may impact the growth of the national economy, but it would not be a national crisis. My point is that both sides have the freedom to either authorize a strike by the workers or to cause a work strike by refusing to comprise on their respective positions. Does that same freedom of action apply to all public-sector unions? To answer that question someone needs to tell me to whom the public-sector union leadership presents its demands. Who wants to take that issue on?”

“Paul, the floor is yours. Go!”

“I’m from Wisconsin so I’ll use the Teachers’ Union case in my answer. If the Teachers’ Union wants a wage increase or a change in working conditions, they must deal with the state government officials who were appointed or elected to be the go-to point for the Union. In the case of Wisconsin, the state had designated the points of contact for the Teachers’ Union. Unlike the case of the UAW and the auto corporations, the negotiators sitting across the table from the public sector union representatives had no skin in the game. All increased costs were passed on to the states’ taxpayers who were only remotely connected to the negotiations. Since nearly all the union members and officers were also state employees, the State of Wisconsin collected union dues and passed them on to the Union. The State negotiators often depended on Union financial contributions to fund their election and re-election campaigns. The Teachers’ Union negotiated with itself until the governor stepped in. I do not believe any public sector union truly has an adversary with skin in the game at the negotiating table.”

“Thank you, Paul. The question under discussion here is, do public sector union government employees who work for all citizens have the right to strike the same as workers in the private sector? The people pay the bill but have little or no direct say in the negotiating process. How can you have a negotiating process when only one side is represented?”

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The Professor: Public Sector Unions and the President-elect

Professor Mike Clark liked to surprise his class by occasionally serving his blend of rich roasted Columbian coffee and pastries to his 11 o’clock class. He used these periods to deliver an informal discussion-style lecture to his class of political science honors students.

Today, as the coffee was being served, he said, “I want to add another problem facing the President-elect. First, let me clearly state I am not anti-union. I grew up in a coal mining and small mill town in Western Pennsylvania. My grandfather was a coal miner who died from black lung in his early ’50s.

“Without the sacrifices made by both early union leaders and their followers, I don’t think the nation could have developed into the No. 1 economic power in the world. The excesses of the early industrialists make for incredible reading today. A lot of the cruelty imposed on people living in ‘company towns,’ especially by the coal and iron capitalists, is lost in the bits and pieces of the era that makes its way into our written history that is readily available to students like you.

“A few examples that I know from listening to people I visited in the remains of the old company towns in Appalachia. This particular town was built and operated by the coal magnates of the early 20th century. It was populated by new immigrants who debarked from the long voyage across the Atlantic and were immediately loaded on railroad cars for the short journey to ‘company towns’ in the coal country of Appalachia. The houses were newly built, unpainted, and with none of today’s landscaping to soften the harshness of dirt streets lined with side-by-side hastily built houses.

“The miners were paid with company script that was only accepted in the company store. Voting in elections was controlled. The first miner to vote for Democrats was thrown down the mineshaft. The mine owners had their own law enforcement called the ‘Coal and Iron Police.’ In one mining area in West Virginia, the United States Air Force bombed a large group of miners to control a labor demonstration that the state police was not able to break up. Were unions necessary to protect the rights and lives of the workers? Is there any doubt? What is the role of unions today? Does that role extend to teachers and civil servants? I will talk about those subjects at our next coffee session. In the meantime, think how unions could possibly be a problem today for our President-elect.”

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THE PROFESSOR AND PROBLEM SOLVING

Standing in front of his large white board, the Professor said, “At our last class, I asked you all to come in with the names of people you believe President-elect Trump should appoint to his Cabinet. Just hold on to those while I set the scene for you. I know you all think you are here to study political science, whatever that is. This is not a history class, or a forum for debates, or a course that will give you insights into the arcane ways our government and others have been formed.

“The only job this class will qualify you for is problem solving. Problem solving is the reason we have government departments and agencies. I’m not interested in your ability to write analytical articles or become renowned ‘talking heads.’ When you leave here you will not have my support in landing good jobs unless I believe you are equipped to define and solve problems. Nor do I want to turn out teachers. No one should teach anything until they have proven they can perform in their chosen field.

“That may be harsh but this class is not for the ‘cupcake generation.’ I teach here because this small university does not support cry zones or safe zones for students. Nor does it encourage political correctness. Diversity by itself is meaningless as is the widespread use of sound bites or talking points to spread an ideology or solution. You should leave here smarter and tougher than when you were accepted into this course. A high percentage of the students that preceded you went on to good and challenging positions. All of them left here better able to cope with the real world.

“Now that we know we are to become first-rate problem solvers, which is how successful people and organizations are judged, let’s identify the problems facing President-elect Trump. This white board is blank and is ready for you to write the problems we will attempt to solve in the next month, starting with Barbara, come to the board one by one and write one problem on the board.”

When all eight students had posted their problem on the board, the Professor said, “Copy these eight problems and then pass the names of your two top Cabinet candidates up to me. Then form two-person teams.”

When the students finished, the Professor said, “I will give each team two problems from the board and a selection of your candidate names. You may work on the problem anyway you want. But in two weeks, each team will use the names given to them to fill the Cabinet positions relevant to the assigned problems. You may use the rest of the class time to get started.”

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The Professor and The Debate

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The first Presidential debate of 2016 had just finished and the spin rooms were already active with talking heads. Professor Clark shut off the wide-screen TV that dominated his home office. He said, “It is a pleasure to have this class in my home for this historic debate. There is no question that this is the most important election period in my lifetime. There are serious issues at stake. Many have been postponed for years. The very direction of the nation is being decided. The kind of world you will live in for the rest of your lives is being debated now throughout the nation. To verge on the sensational for a moment, I don’t think it is a stretch to say the very existence of this unique nation could be a casualty of the election.

“I know it is late and the sleep time hard-working students get is precious, but I want to go around the room and get some one-liners from you. Alison, let’s start with you.”

Alison said, “Secretary Clinton stayed on message and showed very good debate discipline, but I don’t think she scored many points. Her poll numbers will remain relatively constant.”

“Robert, you’re next.”

“It’s hard to pick a clear winner. Trump missed several opportunities to score but he did as well as he needed to. The moderator was clearly helping Hillary and that will resonate with his followers.”

“Carlos, what’s your take?”

“I agree with Alison and Robert. The debate was a draw or close to it. Secretary Clinton had the worst hand, having to run on the direction Obama put this nation on when the people are screaming for change.”

“Katrisha, comments?”

“I saw the debate nearly the same as my colleagues, but was struck by the body language. Hillary was ‘smirky,’ stiff and her voice was too high-pitched. Trump showed anger and some petulance. He couldn’t get over his ‘counter-punching’ instincts. As a result, he let his opponent direct the substance of the debate.”

The Professor nodded at Paul and said, “Go.”

“I thought at a presidential debate even a moderator from NBC would play it fairly straight. It could have been worse, but his frequent interruptions of Trump, the selective fact checking and the avoiding of any questions on e-mails, illegal servers, BenGhazi, the Clinton Foundation and many others showed a clear network biases.”

“Barbara you’re on.”

“I was struck by the fact the contestants seemed to be unconsciously addressing different audiences. Hillary’s comments, I believe, were directed to the wonks and the Washington establishment. Trump seemed to be ignoring that audience and speaking to the people outside the handpicked inside audience. His pitch should have resonated with mainstream America. Especially the working people and those who are having difficult times just feeding and housing their families.”

“Edward, comment?”

“Yes. Irrespective of the judgments coming out of the spin rooms, the wonks and talking heads have been wrong about nearly everything associated with this campaign. And they have been wrong because they dislike the Republican candidate deep in their core. Trump is not of them, he doesn’t look like them. He doesn’t share their beliefs and perhaps worst of all, he is not an ideologically pure right-wing conservative Republican. The Conservative establishment class, including those in Congress and the feckless national security crowd, are giving, at best, very tepid support to the Trump campaign. The entire Bush crowd is an example of these political correct Brahmans.”

“Not exactly a one-liner but then the one-liners have been growing with each speaker. Alice, it is up to you to wrap this up.’

“I’ve enjoyed the comments and have to admit some of them surprised me. Indicating that while we all witnessed the debate, we saw different things. This is not a traditional presidential campaign. Maybe this is closer to a revolution than an election. Maybe, just maybe, in most countries these issues would now be being fought in the streets.”

“Excellent comments. This is a remarkable class. Go get some sleep and we will pick up these threads in our next class. Thank you.”

 

 

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