Free Markets, Free People

Robert Reich’s attempt to redefine Capitalism

I’ve often said that what the left attempts to do is redefine words to blunt the impact (and fool the people) of what they’re trying to accomplish.

On the occasion of a Socialist winning France’s Presidential election, Robert Reich, of all people, is out to reassure the masses in America that Socialism is not the answer, Capitalism is.

However, upon closer reading, well it’s not the Capitalism we’d recognize.  Here are his opening paragraphs:

Francois Hollande’s victory doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a movement toward socialism in Europe or elsewhere. Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations.

The answer is to reform capitalism. The world’s productivity revolution is outpacing the political will of rich societies to fairly distribute its benefits. The result is widening inequality coupled with slow growth and stubbornly high unemployment.

Note the focus – ‘“fair” distribution of its benefits’.  Anyone – what about Capitalism calls for the “fair distribution of benefits.”

And if you change laws and require such a thing, can what you end up with be fairly called “Capitalism”?

Back to Reich.  He claims that workers are being replaced by “computers, software and the Internet (damn that Al Gore).  Consequently, jobs are at a premium and, well, that’s just not fair.  Besides (prepare for tired old song):

In the United States, almost all the gains from productivity growth have been going to the top 1 percent, and the percent of the working-age population with jobs is now lower than it’s been in more than thirty years (before the vast majority of women moved into paid work).

Inequality is also growing in Europe, along with chronic joblessness. Europe is finding it can no longer afford generous safety nets to catch everyone who has fallen out of the working economy.

And, apparently, the top 1% a) bury the money in cans in the back yard and b) don’t pay 37% of all income taxes collected (the top 5% pay 59%).  That’s just not sufficient anymore to keep the bottom 50%, who essentially pay no income taxes, in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.  And Reich thinks that’s wrong. However, and this is the whole point of his pitch, that’s not Socialism.Obama_Socialists_01_250px

Really?  A “fair distribution of benefits” so neatly defines Socialism, I’m not sure what’s left to say.  Except Reich wants us to somehow swallow the premise that it is also a principle part of Capitalism (it’s not) and we must reform Capitalism to conform to this newly discovered, er, inserted principle.

So what does Capitalism do?  Well, you’ve heard it said many times that the tide of Capitalism “lifts all boats”.  I.e. the “benefits” are distributed by a system that makes life better for all.  It does that by rewarding innovators, risk takers and entrepreneurs.  And those rewards can be very rich.  But:

Consumers in rich nations are reaping some of the benefits of the productivity revolution in the form of lower prices or more value for the money — consider the cost of color TVs, international phone calls, or cross-country flights compared to what they were before.

Indeed, we live better now than we did 30 years ago because of what?  The “benefits” of Capitalism as they’re traditionally defined.  Even Reich has to admit that.

However, that’s not good enough for the left.   Those not in the 1% are apparently “victims” and due much more simply because they exist.  And those who do take risks and succeed are those that owe the victims this “fairness” by giving up what they’ve earned.

You see the left’s forte is class warfare and that, frankly, is the cornerstone of Socialism.  Their traditional enemy is,  you guessed it, Capitalism and Capitalists. 

What Reich is offering is a new sort of a smoke and mirrors approach.  It’s hard to fight their traditional enemy on the basis of performance – we are a very rich nation and even our poor live better than most nation’s middle class.  So that won’t work.

Instead, it’s the politics of envy that has been employed and the siren song of “fairness” or “equality” as the required (not desired) outcome.  Oh, and that there is only one entity that can enforce either or both – government (mostly through punitive taxation).

That’s Reich’s pitch.  That’s the snake oil he’s trying to peddle.  Reassure everyone that he’s a big Capitalist (he’s not).  Pretend the problem with our system right now is it is unfair because Capitalism has gone wrong (it hasn’t).  But, with a few tweaks and reforms via government we can fix that (and end up just like Europe).

Of course we can certainly do all of that, can’t we?  And when we do, it will be called “Socialism”, won’t it?


Twitter: @McQandO

10 Responses to Robert Reich’s attempt to redefine Capitalism

  • Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations.
    First, define “rich.”  Most of these “rich” nations aren’t rich at all.  That is the problem.

  • What people like Reich are too stupid to get is that no “brights” need to “reform capitalism”.  Capitalism will do that all by itself, every day, in ways the boobs of the Collective cannot imagine and can barely manage to observe fast enough, let alone get in front of.
    I seriously think sometimes this little man just writes this kind of crap to see his name in print.

  • Yeah, don’t you just know the socialist is going to suggest less socialism in France…right?  heh.   There’s still plenty of time for it to come apart at the seems to give us a peek into our future before November.  If someone has to suffer, it might as well be people who VOTED to suffer, right now it’s the French and the Greeks.  And if we re-elect Fido’s Bane in November, we’ll be such a people.

  • In what world can one forcibly take that which what they have not earned, and somehow be viewed as “Fair”?

    • Whatever world the current occupant of the Oval Office mentally lives in.

  • I’d like these guys to come up with fixed numbers. How much should be re-distributed? To who?
    I think if they came up with a reasonable number for a minimum income, they might be surprised to get support, if it wasn’t going to be ever-increasing and they would then forever shut up about the poor people.

  • What Robert B Reeeeeeeeeeich-uh is describing, private ownership of capital but government ownership and public distribution of profit is called fascism (or corporatism/Progressivism). The so called 3rd way. The Elizabeth Warren ‘you created a business, good for you! Be a shame if something happened to it’-style, Italian model Fascism. With #Julia-approved cradle-to-grave totalitarian benefits and 1%er/union/academic/politician run command economy.

    • Yep.  Tassa fact.  Obama’s favorite economic model, and far more dangerous in America than socialism.

  • Thanks for pointing that out.
    Oh, that’s clever. That’s slippery. Socialism has a bad name, so we won’t SAY we want to replace capitalism with socialism, we will just… “reform capitalism”. How many people will be fooled by that?

    Jonah Goldberg has been getting attention for “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas” lately.
    I think this is an excellent example of “How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas”.