Can Socialism work?



mehran that has forwarded an email from some right winger down in Miami by the name of Chris who says what a great way to explain socialism and this is not the first time I've seen this I've seen it probably a hundred times in the last four or five years in variations it is it is one of the most common I think if the viral emails running around on the right and I just wanted to share it with you and rebut it I guess for lack of a better word the headline is what a great way to explain socialism and here's the the email it's it's quite short an economics professor at a local college make us made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but at once failed an entire class that class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich a great equalizer so the professor said alright well have an experiment in this class on socialism all grades will be averaged everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one is going to get an aid and and after the professor proposed this the class agreed being good socialists the email goes on after the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B the students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy as the second tech now remember that phrase because I'm gonna come back to that as the second test rolled around the students who studied little had studied even less than the ones that studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little the second test average was a D no one was happy when the third test rolled around the average was an F the scores never increased his bickering blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else all of the kids in the class failed to their great surprise and the professor told them the socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great the effort to succeed is great and when the government takes all the reward and shares it with those not earning it no one will try or want to succeed and a v-mail now this is where small truths make big lies I've been reading a lot of literature lately I'm working on a chapter from my next part the nature of equality in societies Galit Arianism in societies and it's absolutely amazing in fact there was an article in there Spiegel yesterday fact I'm pretty sure I saved the thing I can I can go back to it but there was an article in der Spiegel that talked about how East Germans now today are saying you know life was better back then in fact here's the articles by Julia bond steam glorification of the German Democratic Republic at the East Germany is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell young people and the better offer among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an illegitimate state and then you poll more than half of former Eastern Germans defend the GDR now what's really interesting is when you look at the statistics and by the way I am NOT an advocate of Marxism which is what this professor was sort of trying out in his class I'm not an advocate of it however when you look at the statistics of quality of life that is everything from infant mortality to longevity to the incidence of mental health and suicides to the job satisfaction the length of survival of marriages there's always different criteria you can look at probably the most the easiest most easily measured absolute criteria is simply lifespan what you find is that in those societies first of all there's a big difference in societies where people make less than $5,000 a year in those societies people make less than $5,000 a year there regardless of whether it's an equal or unequal Society life spans are short life is tough in those societies however that make more than $5,000 a year and remember we average around 40,000 in the United States and the former Soviet Union was averaging around ten or eleven thousand in the 1960s and 70s what they found was that the Soviet Union was beating us in most of those indexes now by the 80s they had fallen way behind us why because they started introducing market policies in the Soviet Union oddly enough now again I'm not saying that we should go to the Soviet Union it's not a form of government that I want it's not a form of economy that I want but it's an extreme example of what these researchers found and we'll be going into a lot more detail with this over the next few weeks as as I'm if I start writing this book and I've pulled together all this research and I'm gonna be writing about it in some of my op eds as well what you find is that in those cultures in those societies where there is vast inequality between the the richest and the poorest like the United States and the United Kingdom we are the two most unequal of all the industrialized societies in the world now there are some countries you know Saudi Arabia Dubai you know where the divide between rich and poor is even greater than it is here and they suffer many of the same problems but among the industrialized country were at the top we're the worst and we have the highest homicide rate the highest rate of people in prison the highest rate of divorce we have were the shortest lifespan of all the industrialized countries in the world we have the highest infant mortality rate of all industrialized countries in the world in Bowling for Columbine Michael Michael Moore asked the question why is it the Canada which has more guns per capita than than the United States has a fraction of the homicide rate well what you find is that Canada is a very equal society the top tax rate in Canada is almost 50% whereas here it's only 36% so there are fewer Canadian billionaires and there's there are fewer Canadian poor people there are many more people in Canada who fall right in the middle class and everybody has health care and everybody has good you know in their their good pensions they have a good social security program they got all these things that we don't have and so it's about inequality so back to this this email about you know this class this isn't actually the way it would play out there have been you know as somebody who's written seven books on education I've been on the board of a private school for three decades and still am hunter school.org you can find as a school for learning learning disabled kids with ADHD somebody who worked for years as a consultant to school districts from great big ones like Atlanta Georgia to little ones like Muskegon Michigan from coast to cup well actually in several different countries I've worked with different school districts in on three continents in Europe and Australia in the United States I can tell you that the experiments that have been done with CLAT grade gradeless classes either pass/fail classes or everybody passes classes show that yeah there's always going to be a few slackers it's the same thing in society in general there's always going to be a few slackers you know you we're always going to have 5% more or less among us it may and and depending on the culture in the society maybe even smaller than that it may be as small as one or two percent who actually do want to be homeless poor and and you know don't want to have any money don't want to deal with this stuff but but the there's there's always going to be a few who are like that but the the the vast majority of the kids in schools will study because they love learning the the if the school is function at all well I mean if this professor was a decent professor and he said okay we're just gonna average everyone's grade that's great everyone's gonna get probably everybody would end up getting B's because that would be you know or C's depending on kind of what kind of Kirby great son because that's pretty much what's gonna be the average not everybody is going to school just to get grades in fact a minority of people are going to school just to get grades and people do look out for each other and they do care about the common good the assumption of this story and it's just a story because this couldn't have possibly happened the assumption of this story is the libertarian assumption that people only do things because it's in their best interest period to hell with everybody else and that in fact is not how humans actually work the question of the hour is socialism the evil empire or not what are your thoughts disagreements rants 866 987 time




Comments
  1. Something you economist don't seem to include in your conversations. Humanitarian aid. I would call that socialism on a grand scale. There are two reasons why the economy of America are in a shambles. But over. Time we will bounce back. I know the whole has been dug so far that it's hard to see the light at the top of the tunnel. But we will bounce back. These two opticals are war and humanitarian aid. United States of America has somehow found itself to be the police of the world. We contribute 75% to NATO. Ask yourself why does America give so much a humanitarian aid and why they are the police of the world. Because we can . do to a thriving economy. Don't kick us when were down we are the greatest nation in the world. And our economics has worked just fine. We do not need pushed any farther into socialism then we already are. For cry many sakes do you want us to feed it to them too. Or perhaps you'll be happy when the Americans are slaves to the rest of the world because that's where were heading if you show up anymore socialism up her ass.

  2. No, people don't do things because it's only in their best intrest. As prooved John Nash in the 50's. It's incredible how few people are aware of this.

  3. The reason people like Thom Hartmann haven't thrown out their beliefs, is simply because you can make a connection between two things if you look hard enough. In this case, it's taxes and equality. Notice, he doesn't actually prove or argue how or why higher tax rates translate to a better quality of life; he doesn't even try. He just comes up with some numbers and decides one is directly related to the other. No mention of the wars the United States has been involved in; the criminal justice system; immigration, etc. I don't care what your beliefs are. This man's arguments cannot be believed by any thinking person. 

  4. I disagree with one comment most violently! There ARE NO LAZY PEOPLE, its rubbish. Studies on human motivation show that! And he's in education?! People feel de-motvated when forced to do work they have no interest in, no aptitude for, importantly no autonomy (even some autonomy increases productivity). Why are people are so fond of limited thinking?! Question is the definition of work. Please dont employ lazy thinking, everyone wants to do something its in our DNA, you just may not call it work

  5. I am confidently Marxist and I have a feeling thomharmann misunderstands what that means and is. I do not support the USSR(post 1924) and the professor in the email did his socialist experience all wrong. Socialism follows the general guideline of "To each according to his/her contribution" so yes you work and if you do not work(if you are lazy and not for example old) than you get very little or zilch. So the experiment is based on a huge misunderstanding.

  6. and on that note, perhaps this professor failed to realize that his class might have been an elective, in which case most students wouldn't give a crap about studying anyways because they had no real interest in the subject.

  7. the last part about people not being only motivated by self interest is absolutely true. look at wikipedia and microsoft encarta. the people working with encarta were being paid to keep the encyclopedia up to date, whereas wikipedia asked people to write their articles simply because they might be interested in the subject and could share their expertise. and last time i checked, almost nobody uses encarta anymore. wikipedia is proof that people can and will do things simply because of interest

  8. Socialism only works in a perfect society where there are none of the seven deadly sins present, greed, pride, lust, gluttony, etc, and sadly the earth is a little short on those kinds of places.

  9. I am a libertarian and I was looking to see others opinions of why socialism works. Just to have a well rounded opinion myself. I am also a student and I try to surround myself with a wide array of students from different majors, backgrounds and walks of life. I can honestly say probably 3% of the people I know go to school just to learn and don't worry about grades. That last point made this whole video very disappointing.

  10. I wonder why the people in Fance, Germany and the UK are able to live so well despite many forms of socialist policy in their government?

  11. So many people think that there's only one form of socialism and that state socialism is that form. Look up "worker-owned business" sometime for an example of collective ownership that doesn't involve the state. Fun fact: If you've ever drank a Fat Tire or Full Sail beer, or shopped at Publix, you've done business with a form of socialism.

  12. It's easier to care about the common good when its a small group, socialism can be great for less than a few hundred people, but when you get into 316,000,000, there is no incentive to produce to provide for someone you've never met, for all you know, your earned money might be going to a criminal. Also, in high school, 80-90% do care about grades (at least where I'm from) nowadays unfortunately.

  13. Children cost money, and if you don't have money to take care of them the burden falls on the state. Children easily become neglected/abused this way.

  14. You should move to Greece to fight the fascists and help spark European Revolution, which will happen if the Workers win against the Fascists in one country. Greece being the most accelerated country of capitalist social devastation makes it the most advanced country of struggle. So if you care about democracy and social justice, I recommend Greece. If you care about individual ideals, i recommend an island far away from capitalist economies as possible.

  15. Well, 25% of employed people in Germany today for a wage below the poverty line. The Social system is despicable, it doesn't even keep the unemployed or chronically ill from suffering Hunger, while the richest 10% own nearly 60% of the wealth in Germany and the bottom 50% not even 1%. East Germany was the best State on German soil ever to exist. Not one German soldier invaded another country from the GDR. People had rights to employment, housing, food, clothes and a social life. Not anymore..

  16. Yes, they do. The biggest magazine newspaper in Germany, Der Spiegel, reported that 49% of germans agreed with the statement "The good outweighed the bad in East Germany" and 8% of East Germans polled agreed with the statement "The good far outweighed the bad in East Germany". My family had it a lot better in East Germany.

  17. u idiots always go to the extreme…please tell me what percentafge of "poor" or wellfare recieptiants "lay around"blah blah blah..over 95% of welfare recps only use wellfare for emergencies,like single mother for food/health insurance.also what else u dont relaize is only a fraction of the "redistributed" moneys go to those lazypeople u speak of.a huge huge chunk goes to schools,roads,bridges,ect.ur logic then it would be up to private biz to produce roads and EVERY road would bcome a toll road

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