Howard Bashinski: Finding a better way


Socialism already is a fact of life in 21st-century America. We pool our resources to pay for fire and police protection; this avoids us having to have our fire or police account number ready when we dial 911. We pool our resources to help our senior citizens with medical care. We pool our resources to pay for our children’s education. As a recent letter to the editor pointed out, many businesses and industries receive tax breaks or subsidies from pooled taxpayer resources. Call this what you might, but William Shakespeare eloquently made the point that a rose by any other name still is a rose. 

Both of our major political parties actively have supported some or all of these programs at one point or another. The largest “new” social program of the century is the senior prescription drug benefit program legislated by the Bush administration.

I do not see Republicans as misguided or evil. We have wide differences of opinions in this country on a variety of issues, and I respect that. I do have issues with what seems to be an almost mindless characterization of socialism as something we should avoid at all costs. In truth, many who argue against social programs see “their” programs as somehow right and fair. The argument appears to be that we need to stop all government social programs and subsidies “except the ones that help me.”

In my view, the main issue with social programs in the United States is that we manage them very poorly. For example, we won’t spend the money needed to reduce Medicare fraud substantially because it would cost more than the fraud itself. Many of our largest social programs seem based on the assumption that recipients won’t cheat, at least not very much. We keep hoping that people eventually will reveal the “better angels of (their) nature.” We need to acknowledge that we have waited long enough and find creative ways to resolve such issues. 

The answer to the cost of social programs is not to eliminate them but to figure out how to manage them better. Effectively managed programs would go a long way toward revealing the positive effects of pooling our resources and help us feel good about helping each other. Isn’t that what a civilization is all about?


mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago

Seriously Howard??? Socialism would work great if it were "managed" better???

"Pooling our resources [to] help us "feel good... "???


If "we" don't manage them well, then how do "we" start managing them better, Howard??? My God,that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard... ever. It's like saying "The trouble with water is that it's wet; if it were not so wet it would be dry..."


Howard Bashinski 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Mark,

Nice to see passionate opinions!

I think you missed my point, though. I was saying that the problem with social programs is not their existence, but in how we manage them. I'm arguing that rather than spending so much time and energy debating them, I would like to see us look for more effective and creative ways to use them. I don't personally have any experience managing social programs, but there are many people who do, and many programs across the country that are exceptionally well-managed.

I think trying to bring new perspectives and approaches to our important social programs - such as Medicare - is where we should be putting our energy.



mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago

Howard, Socialism fails because it is, in the end, a race tom the bottom. Who wants to toil over a garden when the fruits will go to another? How many milkshakes would you make if I constantly showed up and drank them right when you finished mixing them???

Study the Jamestown colony. They almost went extinct trying socialism. Then, they tried INDIVIDUALISM. Guess what...? It worked.

When people have a chance to retain the fruits of their labor they work harder. When their toil is siphoned off to others they stop producing.

Everything that you assert MIGHT happen falls flat when one considers there IS NO production when there is no reward for said production.

Management has NOTHING to do with it. If the people whos labor funds such programs sit down and cross their arms, something history and common-sense tells us will happen EVERY SINGLE TIME, then the funding engine for your utopia becomes nothing more than a vapor...

Name for me if you can, one time, one place, one nation in history, which has had a sustained, prosperous run (like the free enterprise system of America) using socialism.


Howard Bashinski 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Mark,

I'm not sure we are talking about the same things. One of my points was that we already have successful socialism in the US. It doesn't have to be all one way or the other, and I think many opponents of "socialism" would throw the baby out with the bath water.

My other main point was that some people who are staunchly against social programs tend to turn a blind eye to the ones that benefit THEM.

One final note, about free enterprise. I don't think we have had anything near a free enterprise system in the US since right after the Civil War. It's like calling the ex-Soviet Union a "communist" state. The USSR employed a system that was only similar to classical communism at the most topical level. Similarly, I believe that free enterprise has slowly been eroded by those who have experienced success doing almost anything they can to make sure it continues. This includes using their influence to support laws and regulations that make it more difficult for their competitors. To me, this is a form of "cheating," and it seriously weakens the main precepts of free enterprise. If everyone doesn't compete on the same footing, then we aren't practicing free enterprise, but something that just looks like it on its face.

Thanx for the insights and observations!



mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago

Howard, We do not have succesful socialism. Not by a long shot. We are running annual deficits north of $1,000,000,000,000 and have incurred total national debt approaching $ 50,000,000,000,000 to fund all the things we buy but can not afford. Our "success" is borrowed, and it has been increasingly so as we have crept ever closer to socialism. Perhaps your banker, the chineese, would call that a success...

You are correct that many who oppose social programs such as welfare, etc, are quite comfortable with farm subsidies, etc. ALL of it needs to go. It is all hurting this nation.

The USSR was communist. You are quite mistaken to assert otherwise. The level at which you think it was most sincere in that communism can be debated. What can not be debated is that, although it contained and controlled some of the most productive farm land on earth, IT COULD NOT KEEP BREAD ON THE SHELVES FOR ITS PEOPLE. That, Howard, is the end result of socialism.

You are correct that there have been and still are too many schemers in capitalist systems, but there are as many or more in other systems.

However, what you and many others don't seem to grasp is: To the extent that those individuals exist, thrive, and peddle their influence, it is only because they have a "dancing partner" called The State.

Were The State less powerful, less intrusive, and generally smaller, so too would be the influence, power and control of those of whom you speak.

Do not fool yourself that all the corrupt, greedy, conniving and malevolent men of this world reside in the chambers of "crony" capitalism. No Sir! Many walk the halls of the hallowed institution you would gladly allow to have power over us. To be ruled and controlled by others is no different whether they are Bill Gates or Barack Obama.

"The State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else." --F. Bastiat


mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago

PS. I'm still waiting for you to tell me the name of just one nation in history which has had a sustained, prosperous run akin to that of America using socialism.


Bob Smith 4 years, 6 months ago

but wait a minute, i like having police and fire, what, i'm a socialist mark?


rhys jones 4 years, 6 months ago

AHA!! I see the opportunity to whip out my trusty lasso and sidetrack this conversation with yet another digression, well-known forum troll that I am. But I have an excuse. Mark brought Bill Gates into it, strangely in the same sentence with Barack Obama.

I am well-known for my Federal Reserve rants in the past, how the Fed is pulling the strings of a puppet regime, so I don't need to retread that territory. But it IS funny how Gates figures into the mess, and get ready for a new level of paranoia out of myself:

Many may remember the anti-trust charges against Microsoft, resolved by many closed-door meetings with Congress and a slap on the wrist, some minor reorganization in order... then soon after Microsoft releases a new version (as they are wont to do) (was it XP? I don't follow Windows any more than I have to) which some sources say has spy software built in: We KNOW the Feds are monitoring email -- who's emailing who -- while they may not be able to decode encrypted contents, the to/from headers must be unencrypted, so all in-between links can pass it on, so it's not only possible, but they are definitely doing it -- question is, what else are they snooping out? Bank balances? Does Bill provide the Feds with a way of back-tracking your IP so as to be able to actually view your hard drive, your privatest stuff? Who knows? Windows is closed-source, all those .EXE's, indecipherable.

Combine this vast computing capacity, with the vast network of video cameras springing up all over the country -- then consider that they can read your newspaper from outer space -- and hear through your walls -- and the paranoid one such as myself becomes mighty concerned!!

But Gates isn't the Devil, he's just another Pawn.


mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago


"Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary; it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws. What, then, is the law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. If every person has the right to defend---even by force---his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right---it's reason for existing, it's lawfulness---is based on individual right." -F. Bastiat, The Law

Therefore, Bob, having police protection, and fire protection to a certain degree is not socialism.

But, Bob, "The law has gone farther than this. It has acted in direct opposition to it's own purpose... It has converted plunder into a right..." -F. Bastiat, The Law

You see, Bob, "Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property. But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder." -F. Bastiat, The Law

And finally, Bob, "It is IMPOSSIBLE to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." -F. Bastiat, The Law

This is what socialism does, Bob.

Read the Damn book, Bob.


Michelle Hale 4 years, 6 months ago

Benito Musolini said: "Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.

We should be lucky IF we could call ourselves Socialist, but in truth we are not, or are we governed as such. With the acts of the Supreme Court giving Corporations the same power as individuals, along with the the first bail out of AIG under George Bush, we are in fact a Fascist Nation. There is no idea of doing good for the whole of the people or we wouldn't being fed GMOs with the approval of the FDA. We would not have seen the passing of the NDAA that took away our First Amendment rights. This was voted in by 90 plus of our Senators that are suppose to represent the people of this great nation. They are an example of what has happened. Most of our Senators have forgotten the words "civil service" to be replaced by "self service." If we were socilist, we would see an equal effort in education and everyone would have that right. We would have a much better health care system that was focused on health, not on how much money can me made off of bad health. When the profit of 38 Billion is made off of cancer, it makes things very clear. We are feeding the 1%, and blind to truth of who we are, and where we are at.

We ARE NOT a Socialist country, we are in the clutch of something far more ugly than that.



mark hartless 4 years, 6 months ago

Corporations are made up of share-holders. They are a collection of individuals acting in unison.

Why distinguish between the "first bail-out" and the rest?

"Doing good for the whole of the people" is not the responsibility of government. Government was instituted among men to "secure the blessings of Liberty". That is, to protect INDIVIDUAL rights of life, liberty and property, not spread happiness and rainbows into everyones world.

If you are being "fed GMO's" I have a solution: Feed your own self, and eat what the hell ever you want.

NDAA is bad news but hardly any more Fascist than Socialist.

Senators are supposed to be appointed by state legislators. Were that the case their loyalty to the states and hence to the people would be stronger. Blame the 17th ammedment for that. Ratified in 1913, a wee bit before the evil GW Bush.

"If we were socialist we would see an equal effort..." I agree. Socialism promotes equal effort from everyone. The problem is that it is equal because everyone stops exerting any effort at all because someone else just makes off with the fruits of their labor so why try?

I would challenge you too, Michelle. Name for me one nation, just one, which has had a sustained, prosperous run like the United States, using socialism... You can not, because there is no such place, except in the vivid dreams of the utopians who compare this nation NOT to what else is possible here on this fallen world, but with the dreams of perfection which exist only in their minds.

Seriously, read the book. It's not that hard a read, only 80 pages.


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