Monday, November 10, 2008

Taxes and Social Democracy

I'm reading a political type book right now called The Hawke Ascendancy. It's interesting. Sometimes. The author is Paul Kelly, but not the singer guy.

There's a quote in it that I like:

In the December 1977 election campaign these tax cuts became the "Fistful of dollars" which appeared in the Famous Liberal Party television advertisements--one of the most blatant appeals to greed for many years. Stone had opposed the tax cuts as an indulgence the Government could not afford. Fraser was soon to agree--but only after his 1977 re-election on the "fistful" of dollars.

This sounds very much like what happened in the United States with Daddy Bush's promise of Read My Lips. No New Taxes. He too had to break his promise.

I thought it was funny when those who opposed Obama as president would use the socialist argument--as if this would make me change my mind about voting for him. I have nothing against socialism. I know it's not a perfect system, but neither is capitalism.

It reminds me of people who are against homeschooling and point out its shortcomings. Okay, yeah. homeschooling isn't perfect. But neither is the classroom education system. If it were a perfect system, Jack would be in school right now. Well, actually no, because as I'm writing this, it's Sunday evening.

Back to taxes: I think most of us want our cake and to eat it too. We want very low taxes; yet we want good schools, good roads, good health care, a great library, a strong military, community programs, etc.

Yes, communism can be scary. I don't know the details really, but it seems like most communist experiments didn't go so well. From the little I know, it's about a lack of freedom--where the government pretty much has all the control. And you become a slave to the system.

Capitalism can be scary too, though, because certain groups of people become too powerful; and with that power they manipulate and exploit others.

There has to be a middle ground, and even with the middle ground, things probably won't be perfect. But I think the middle is going to be better than the extremes.

I'm learning about social democracy now from Lord Wiki.

Ah, we're totally on the same page far. Lord Wiki says that social democrats want to combine capitalism and socialism. In fact, one of it's little nicknames is mixed economy.

The more I read about social democracy, the more I like it. Lord Wiki has a list of what social democrats believe, and it's all fits in well with what I believe. These are totally my people! I'd copy the list for you, but I feel weird cutting and pasting huge chunks from Lord Wiki. If you're interested in talking to Lord Wiki yourself, here's the link. Scroll towards the middle to see the list.

The Australia Labor Party is a social democratic party. The Democratic party of the United States is not. Maybe that's why I prefer Australia--one of it's main parties believes in social democracy. Lord Wiki says that some members of the Democrat party are social democrats--including Dennis Kucinich. He was my favorite candidate in the 2008 election. I really had little hope of him getting far. But if we were all in Australia, maybe things would be different. There'd be more hope for him.

Lord Wiki also has a list of individuals who are social democrats. I'll name the ones that I recognize

1. David Ben-Guriun: Israel

2. Tony Blair: UK

3. Mikhail Gorvachev: U.S.S.R

4. Bob Hawke: Australia

5. Paul Keating: Australia

6. Nelson Mandela-South Africa

7. Golda Meir-Israel

8. Ralph Nader-USA

9. Kevin Rudd-Australia

10. Gough Whitlam-Australia

I found this website which has excepts from the book Sharing the Pie by Steve Brouwer.

Brouwer talks about how the United States pushes the idea of paying low wages.

He says:

For years corporations and the investing class in the United States have been trying to convince the American people that the invisible hand of the global free market requires them to make life leaner and meaner in the workplace.

Brouwer points out though that Germany paid the highest wages and also had the highest exporting rate.

He compares the paid vacation times of Americans with France and Germany.

Germany gives 30 vacation days , 12 holidays, and 20 sick days
France Gives 25 vacation days. 11 Holidays and 19 sick days
USA gives 12 vacation days 11 holidays and 7 sick days.

This is scary. The Center for Economic and Policy Research says the United States does NOT promise it's workers vacation time. In comparison, Australians are given twenty days. I had a little bit of a hard time accepting that information, but this website says the same thing.

I know Australia was talking about changing their policy and making it possible for workers to trade in their vacation time for more money. Did they do that?

Who DOES benefit in the United States?

According to Brouwer, a study in 1995 showed that American CEO's after-tax compensation was three to five times greater than the after-tax compensation of CEO's in Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Scary stuff.

What about poverty?

This website has a chart which compares different countries and their gap between the rich and the poor. Mexico has the highest gap, followed by Turkey and the United States. Australia is much better. They're about in the middle of the chart. Sweden and Denmark have the lowest gap.

I'm curious....what's political parties are currently in power in Mexico and Turkey?

Let's see.

Mexico is being led by the National Action Party. Lord Wiki says they are a Christian conservative party. I'm confused about Poland's party. All I can find is that it's center-right.

Oh well.

I definitely prefer social democracy over capitalism.

I think sharing is more important than greed.

Although a little greed is okay. I think it's not so horrible to serve yourself a slightly larger piece of pie--especially if you worked hard for it. But if too many people around you are being left with mere crumbs, that's not good at all. Everyone should have at least enough pie that they're stomach stops rumbling.

And everyone's pie should be served with ice-cream or whip cream, unless they are Vegan. If they're vegan, they should be offered a non-dairy alternative.


  1. All politicians are bas*ards, but some get up to more bas*radry than others ;)

  2. Hi Dina,
    I couldn't agree more, the main reason John Howard was voted out was because he tried to get rid of collective bargaining agreements, and replace them with awa's which was giving more power to the employer at the cost of the employee. I think the problem with Capitalism is that it is focused too much on how much money can be made at the expense of the social implications.

  3. Matt,

    What are awa's???

    I totally agree with your view of capitalism. I think it's too much focused on greed.

    I was just reading though there is no pure capitalistic country--not even the United States.

    My husband likes to point that out to people who complain that Obama is going to make us all Socialists. He points out that we already are!
    We're less so than other countries. But we do have government sponsored education, some health care, social security, libraries, etc. It's not enough though. At least I don't think so.

  4. Wow, Paul Keating and Gough Whitlam in the same list? That's some broad category!

    The Australian Labor Party doesn't hold to too many ideals any more. Don't get me wrong, they are way better than the other lot, but still a long way right of where they began. And a million miles from Gough's vision.

    I like Kevin Rudd, but I suspect that has a lot to do with who he is standing next to. As the memories of Howard era fade, so will the gloss on Rudd, I suspect.

  5. Ariane,

    I think it's the same with Obama. We see him as our saviour, but that's because he's coming after Bush.

    I think he's great, but I don't think he's as great as some people imagine he is.

  6. The irony of those who decry the 'socialism' of Obama, yet advocated for the Wall Street Bailout by the US Government does amuse me.

    I used to prefer social democracy (ie, Labor Party in Oz) when I was younger, but I've now moved to social liberalism (Australian Democrats in Oz, Democratic Party in US).

  7. AWA stands for Australian Workplace Agreement. They were individually negotiated contracts that replaced union-won agreements often to the detriment of the workers.

    Also, what Ariane said :) Rudd's orders of magnitude better than Howard but there's been a steady creep to the right in the Labor Party over the years.

  8. Stephen:

    My husband says we have capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich. I'm not sure if he made that up or saw it somewhere.

    I'm going to have to look up social liberalism.

    Mim: At least your Green party has a little power you have some left-left influence over there. Maybe it will balance out the fact that the Labor party is leaning to the right.

    It's weird how political parties change. I didn't realize this until recently, but Abe Lincoln was a Republican. I think he was the first. There were others who were called Republican, but they were really Democrats. It's confusing. And I'm getting all this off of Jack's educational placemats.

  9. Stephen,

    Now I'm all confused on whether I favor social democracy or social liberalism.

    I believe in things like the government providing assistance and opportunity, but then giving individuals the right to make their own choices.

    An example would be I believe the government should provide universal free childcare and education. And a quality one!

    Yet I believe we should all have the choice to not use the schools/childcare and have perfect freedom to homeschool.

    And Lord Wiki says the Australia Green party is Social Liberalism. I love them.

    I'm so confused.

    I guess I believe individuals should have more rights/choices in terms of their individual pursuit of happiness. But I believe there should be more restrictions in terms of stuff that might harm others.

    I know an example. My husband was on a message board and said people were complaining about how the car navigation systems weren't working while they were driving. They said that violated their personal freedom. It's their choice if they want to endanger their lives. I disagreed. I said that's not about personal safety because if they're in a car accident, they're likely to kill someone else as well.

    I guess I believe people have the right to make choices that might harm themselves. But I think the government should make laws that restrict actions that would cause us to hurt others. But that gets into a lot of sticky questions.....

  10. Yeah, it can get confusing when political ideologies start becoming so nuanced that there is just one or two things that separate them. If I understand it correctly, Social Democracy emerged out of Socialism, whereas Social Liberalism emerged out of Liberalism. Each one comes from a different, and opposing, overarching ideology, but the nuance on those ideologies actually brings them fairly close together.

    When I learnt about the history of US politics I too got a little confused about the old Republicans who would now be Democrats and the new Republicans who are now still Republicans but were a totally different Republicans from the old Republicans who are now Democrats thing. o_O

  11. Stephen,

    Now you have my brain completely scrambled!

  12. I was commenting on another blog the other day about those who really feel socialism should not be part of our country's infrastructure should seriously pause and rethink their opinion.

    If, what they want to happen, comes true then this is what a typical conversation could become if we had a "true capitalist" society.

    Man on Phone (MOP): Help! Help! My house is on FIRE and my wife and kids are trapped inside!!
    Fire Dept. (FD): I understand sir, we'll send someone out right away!
    MOP: Thank you! Thank you!
    FD: Now, how would you like to pay for that?
    MOP: Pay for what?!
    FD: For our services sir.
    MOP: Did you NOT hear me?!! My house is burning down and my wife and kids are trapped inside!!
    FD: I understand sir but as you know under the Bush Amendment, article 3, line 2 and I quote sir " it known that America now prevails under a true capitalist society. No forms of socialist or social components will be allowed to invade or deposit themselves into our great democracy - heck yeah!" [As written by Bush 43 with the help of his mom].
    MOP: This is ridiculous!! There are lives at stake!!
    FD: Sir, we accept MC, Visa, AMEX...and no, we do not accept Discover; only real credit cards.
    MOP: Well how much will this cost?
    FD: We charge a standard rate of $2,300.00 for initial arrival then there will be the water charge, along with a fuel charge, oxygen charges, any medial assistance rendered at the scene, per person drag many wives and children do you have again?
    MOP: wife and three kids.
    FD: Hey! You're in luck! We are running a special right's a pay for three, get the forth for free! Oh, wait. No, sorry. That was last weeks special. Now where was I? Oh yes...clean up fee and any other incidentals charges. You should have gotten our brochure, if you'd like I can send you another one.
    MOP: This is outrageous!!!
    FD: No sir, this is capitalism.

    For those who feel this is so over the top even in a pure capitalist society, you're right. Just as over the top of your version of a socialist society in America.


    Woman on Phone (whispering): Oh my god! There's a terrorist in the mall threatening to blow up everyone! We need help!!
    Homeland Security and Wireless Warehouse: Very good mam, we can assist with that. How would you like to pay?

  13. gun-bae,

    Stop pushing your Socialist agenda on my blog. Do you hear me??? Huh?!!!

    You evil Communist. I will find you and your family!!!!!!! (insert VERY evil laugh here)