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Muda69

Venezuela: Poster Child for Socialism

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1 hour ago, Muda69 said:

The government asserts a coercive monopoly over many of the services in this country. For instance, the United States Government prohibits any other party from delivering mail. So, if libertarians make use of the U.S. postal service (which is financed by everyone), it isn't dishonest of them, because they have no choice. (E.g., See what happens when libertarians try to opt out and create their own services: American Letter Mail Company. The government shuts them down.)

That said, will the new levels of socialism imposed by the Green New Deal allow me to own my own wind and/or solar farm so I no longer have to use government owned utilities, aka "go off the grid"? How about my own small nuclear reactor?

 

 

Are you nothing more than a talking straw man?

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8 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

Are you nothing more than a talking straw man?

I learned it from you, Dante.

 

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Alabama is probably one of the top five states when it comes to relying on the federal government for dough.

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2 hours ago, BARRYOSAMA said:

Alabama is probably one of the top five states when it comes to relying on the federal government for dough.

Here's a list according to WalletHub https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/ which is based on data collected from the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Census Bureau, USAspending.gov, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Governing.com.  You can also go to the link and sort by the state residents' dependency as well as by the state government's dependency.   They also have plenty of other comparisons such as red-state/blue-state and other items like top 5/bottom 5 states getting grant funding or federal contracts received or GDP.

From this data, while not next-door neighbors, it does look like Indiana's in the same neighborhood.  Indiana's residents rank 7th in fed government dependency while the state is kind of in the middle around 22.  South Carolina and North Dakota have a similar disparity between what the state relies on and how dependent its residents are.  North Dakota's government can brag that it doesn't rely on the federal government for anything ... it just leaves that up to its residents to take the top mark.

 

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Here's the part obscured by the black bar ... not sure where it came from on the screen shot ...

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Government Pensions, Incentives, and Our Everlasting Welfare State: https://mises.org/wire/government-pensions-incentives-and-our-everlasting-welfare-state

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Welfare programs are a cornerstone of an interventionist state, which, despite its demonstrable failures, is rising in popularity, especially among  millennials. However, socialism’s adherents are largely unaware of the negative effects of the ideology they so enthusiastically embrace. For example, these advocates should ask themselves why welfare programs persist even when the government is aware of their negative effects on economic growth, especially when the government claims to be a champion of economic growth.

Three years ago, Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance, established the Advisory Council on Economic Growth (Council) “to develop advice on concrete policy actions to help create the conditions for strong and sustained long-term economic growth.” In its report "Tapping Economic Potential Through Broader Workforce Participation,"  the Council noted:

The workforce-participation rate of older workers is 62 percent in the top-performing OECD countries — Sweden, Norway, the United States, Japan, and New Zealand. But in Canada, it is only 54 percent. Closing the gap could add $56 billion to GDP, or 2.8 percent to GDP per capita.

 Pension systems should not discourage working. Older Canadians willing to remain in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age should not face disincentives. [Emphasis added]

… we believe that the ages of eligibility for the Old Age Security (OAS) program and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) should be recalibrated and increased to meet the Canadian reality of an ageing society and a considerably longer life expectancy than we had just a few decades ago. Increasing the age of eligibility for the OAS — and by association the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), which has the same eligibility age — and the CPP would follow a trend in many other OECD countries, which have extended the age of eligibility in recent years to make their public pension systems more fiscally sustainable.

Disincentives

The Council’s recommendation is based on a concept which is equally applicable to other government welfare programs such as unemployment insurance, child benefits, etc. These programs are a disincentive to employment because government handouts trigger the entitlement mindset, “Why should I get a job when the government is willing to force other people to support me?” Thus, by discouraging productive work, the government’s policies promote the growth of problems they are supposedly trying to solve, namely the alleviation of poverty. As Thomas DiLorenzo wrote :

… the government has, for many welfare families, made getting a job an irrational decision. So it should be no surprise that after spending more than $4 trillion on welfare programs since 1965, the United States has seen poverty increase. [emphasis in original]

… Welfare programs have become an alternative to work. A 1992 study by economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway found that only 18 percent of welfare recipients moved out of poverty, compared to 45 percent of poor people who did not receive welfare.

The welfare state has done an excellent job of crippling an important cornerstone of an enterprising, free market, capitalist society: the incentive to work.

Government Hypocrisy

Since the labour market was one of the areas on which the government asked the Council to focus , it is noteworthy that their advice was rejected out of hand . Noteworthy, but not surprising. Seniors are a large voting bloc, which means economic growth will be sacrificed as the Liberals pander to the desires of pensioners.

Rejection of Council’s advice by Canada’s Liberal government reflects the mindset of the vast majority of politicians, which is to say or do whatever is required to get elected, and re-elected. That is why, when we study the government’s various policies, we see that hypocrisy is the common thread. The government says it wants economic growth, yet it continues to maintain various welfare programs which inhibit economic growth. These are conflicting policies, which means the government’s actions are hypocritical.

Council members were hand picked by the government, and the government did not dispute their advice. They simply ignored it, and have continued to ignore it for two years. Moreover, governments have likely been aware of the counterproductive effects of government welfare programs for decades, just as economists have been aware.

Therefore, it is NOT true that “slower economic growth” is an “unintended consequence” of government welfare programs. In fact, slower economic growth, which reduces overall prosperity, was, and is, the government’s intended outcome. The outcome is “intended” because the government “intentionally” maintains its welfare programs with full knowledge of their negative economic effects. This doesn’t mean politicians like the negative economic effects. It simply means that votes from various welfare constituencies are more important to them than increased prosperity for all groups.

That may sound counterintuitive, but not if you understand the mindset of politicians and bureaucrats. Governments do not usually favor increased prosperity for all groups unless they can claim that their policies deserve credit for this outcome. Thus, increased prosperity for all groups due to the elimination of government welfare programs makes the government look bad.

Guaranteed Minimum Income Theory

Another socialist program which is gaining new adherents is the Universal Basic Income , or some other form of guaranteed minimum income. Many promoters of a ‘no strings attached government-guaranteed-income’ believe such programs will alleviate poverty by increasing employment. They say this is likely because unemployed people will not lose any portion of their government-guaranteed-income if they become employed. In other words, there is no disincentive to work. That’s their theory.

Council’s report blows that theory out of the water. Asserting a causal effect on the workforce-participation rate, Council recommended increasing the age of eligibility for CPP, which is unconditional, and OAS, which is unconditional for people whose incomes do not exceed a specified threshold ($75,910 in 2018). Thus, Council’s position is clear: Unconditional welfare handouts are a disincentive to work. Again, these are the experts hand picked by the leftist government.

Conclusion

Eliminating welfare handouts will incentivize older people to work, an effect likely to be even more pronounced with the younger generations, as they tend to be healthier and more energetic.

Even though a majority of people do NOT trust their government , it is difficult to convince welfare recipients they can prosper by giving up free money. Therefore, the elimination of economically counterproductive government welfare programs may well hinge on voters’ ability to grasp basic economic concepts and dispense with their misconceptions about the ideology of socialism. To borrow a sentiment from Ludwig von Mises , we need to rid ourselves of the idea “that the State or the Government is the embodiment of all that is good and beneficial.”

 

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Why Are We Still Debating the 'Merits' of Socialism?: http://reason.com/archives/2019/03/08/why-are-we-still-debating-the-merits-of

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In the 1970s, my Dad flew from his home in Pennsylvania to a medical center in Houston to have a then-innovative bypass surgery that extended his life by more than three decades. At the same time, my wife's family was sending bottles of aspirin to their relatives in the Polish socialist paradise. That dichotomy—Americans receiving cutting-edge medical care even as Eastern Europeans were lacking the rudimentary medicines—always stuck in my mind as I've written about political systems.

To understand socialism, one needn't fixate on its most-horrifying elements—gulags, executions and endless repression. Think about the simple stuff.

After Boris Yeltsin joined the Soviet Politburo in 1989, he visited Johnson Space Center and stopped in a typical Texas grocery store. "When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people," he later wrote. At the time, Russians waited in line for whatever crumbs the bureaucrats would sell them.

Why are pundits and politicians talking about socialism again, 28 years after the fall of the Soviet Union? Donald Trump's vow that the United States would never become a socialist country got people talking. Good for him, even if he should stop praising and excusing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who runs a communist dystopia often described as the "the world's biggest open prison camp."

The real reason for the renewed discussion, however, comes from politicians on the other side of the spectrum. It's apparently hip to be a socialist now, even among contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. A year before Yeltsin's U.S. visit, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took a strange trip to the Soviet Union. A video of the shirtless then-Burlington, Vt., mayor singing with his Soviet hosts as part of a sister-city event has gone viral. That was ages ago. What bothers me is what he—and others on the Democratic Left—have said more recently.

In an article headlined, "Sanders could face more scrutiny for socialist leanings," The Washington Post referred to the 2016 primary debate between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders was asked by the moderator in Miami—a city filled with people who fled Cuban communism—about seemingly positive things he had said about Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's socialist strongman Daniel Ortega. "The key issue here was whether the United States should go around overthrowing small Latin American countries," Sanders said. That was a transparent dodge. One can oppose American military intervention without having a soft spot for dictators.

These days, some progressives describe themselves as "democratic socialists," which makes the idea sound kinder and gentler. They aren't thinking about crumbling buildings in Cuba, starving children in Venezuela and genocide in Cambodia, but might be envisioning a facsimile of Portland, Ore.,—a place with cool, fair-trade, vegan restaurants and hip bars, but without all that private ownership stuff. Yet socialistic policies could turn the nicest cities into wastelands.

Apparently, the leaders in those bad socialist places didn't do socialism right. As a former Barack Obama national security adviser told the Post, "I think the challenge for Bernie is just going to be differentiating his brand of social democratic policies from the corrupt turn—and authoritarian turn—socialism took in parts of Latin America."

A turn? Authoritarianism is the inevitable outcome—a feature of socialistic systems, not a bug, because those systems empower government at the expense of individuals.

On its website, the Democratic Socialists of America say they "believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few." They don't offer many specifics, but perhaps your tenants will vote on the rent until you decide to leave the apartment business. These "new" socialists seem as utopian as the old ones. DSA notes that, "a long-term goal of socialism is to eliminate all but the most enjoyable kinds of labor." Until work is fun, though, someone must divvy up unpleasant tasks on a more equitable basis. You've been warned.

Despite air-conditioned homes, full bellies and consumer gadgets courtesy of capitalism, some Americans yearn for a socialist paradise. We can cross one off the list. In 2013, Salon published a piece about the Venezuelan leader's "full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism" titled, "Hugo Chavez's Economic Miracle."

Four years later (with a different strongman but same policies), the BBC described that miracle: "Despite being an oil-rich country, Venezuela is facing record levels of child malnutrition as it experiences severe shortages of food and an inflation rate of over 700 percent."

Maybe Venezuelans didn't do it right. Nor did the Russians, or anybody else. Or maybe socialism is a fundamentally flawed idea that always leads to misery by design. We shouldn't need this discussion in 2019, given mounds of evidence and victims, but here we are again.

 

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Cuba Rations Food As Its Socialist Economy Enters Crisis Mode: https://mises.org/wire/cuba-rations-food-its-socialist-economy-enters-crisis-mode

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While it is fashionable to talk about Venezuela and its notoriousshortage of basic goods such as toilet paper, flour, and milk Cuba is now implementing a rationing program to combat its very own shortages of basic goods. A CBC report indicates this program would cover basic items such as chicken, eggs, rice, beans, and soap.

What has caused these shortages has been a subject of debate. Cuban Minister of Commerce Betsy Diaz Velazquez blames the Trump administration’s stiffening of the trade embargo with the island nation. Others contend that decreasing aid from Venezuela has contributed to Cuba’s newly emerging rationing dilemma. Over the past few years, Venezuela has provided Cuba with subsidized fuel and other forms of aid in order to keep its basic infrastructure intact.

Although these explanations do have validity and will be touched upon later, there is another factor that is not being considered. The lowest common denominator in the Cuban economy during the past five decades is excessive government control.

....

When Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, the Cuban state maintained an iron grip on the economy. For decades, the country has been a communist garrison state with very little respect for property rights and civil liberties such as free speech. More than 140,000 Cubans perished under the Castro regime, according to certain estimates, while millions of Cubans fled to the United States to start a new life.

During this timespan, economic stability was never really an option in Cuba. Because of the economic dislocations caused by state control of many industries, the government has had to provide citizens with Libretas de Abastecimiento (supply booklets) to ration out basic goods like rice, sugar, and matches. This system was established in 1962, in response to the economic sanctions the American government placed on Cuba which caused shortages of food, medicines, and supplies. From a free-market perspective, these sanctions should be condemned. They not only infringe on the rights of Americans who wish to do commerce and travel to Cuba, but they also do very little to topple tyrannical regimes.

But in the case of Cuba’s economic problems, there is a reason to believe they go beyond America’s embargo on the country. Jose Alvarez of the University of Florida does initially concede that “Cuba was forced to establish a rationing system for basic food and industrial products. This has brought serious limitations to consumers and their choice availability” after the initial blockade by the U.S government.

However, Alvarez adds that solely pinning the blame on sanctions is misguided:

“To blame US economic sanctions for the existence of a rationing system of basic food products is not a very sound argument to justify Cuba's socialist system. It is an admission that Cubans cannot even produce what grows very easily on Cuban soil. If one lists the food products that have been rationed since 1962, it becomes evident that almost all of them were in abundance before the 1959 revolution and were produced domestically.

Alvarez also notes that even with the Soviet Union effectively serving as Cuba’s sugar daddy, the country still had to ration goods and services:

It is interesting to recall that, when the Soviet bloc was subsidizing the Cuban economy to the tune of five billion dollars per year, food was still rationed in Cuba.

U.S. sanctions on Cuba have generally allowed exemptions for humanitarian aid and basic products. The Trade Sanction Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 permitted the sale of certain foods and medicine, albeit to a limited extent. Even with sanctions in place, Cubans have found ways to bring goods to the market, but the Cuban state has remained an obstacle. This was most clear during Cuba’s Special Period , when the country could no longer rely on Soviet Union aid to prop it up. The country began to open up its markets to a limited degree by trading with other countries and making lukewarm attempts towards privatization. However, the government still stood in the way from allowing Cuba to have a functioning market, which Alvarez also points out:

Granted, some Cubans have been unable to consume a wide variety of food products because of the high prices under the rationing system, but there have been periods in which the abundance of several products have demonstrated the feasibility of returning to a stable and ample food supply. Examples include the proliferation of FrutiCuba (a chain of government stores) which was devoted exclusively to selling fruits and vegetables in the mid-1960s, free farmers' markets in the 1980s, the free agricultural markets after 1994, and the new food outlets. These testify to the ability of Cuban farmers to produce abundant food supplies despite US economic sanctions, that could do away with the food rationing system.”

The embargo on Cuba only affects current trade relations with America and the island nation. Cuba can still trade with other countries to acquire some of the rationed products. Indeed, Cuba does have a track record of not making debt payments. And when it’s no longer receiving aid from Moscow or Caracas, Cuba’s economic flaws stick out like a sore thumb, which generally makes it an unattractive trading partner.

In the 21st Century, Cuba Insists on Central Planning

Cuba’s recent political behavior indicates that the country’s leadership still does not get basic economics. In the midst of Hurricanes Gustave and Ike in 2008, the Cuban government responded with price controls. On top of the damage that the hurricanes dealt with Cuba, these price controls created even larger shortages than expected according to Reuters.

But Cuba’s price control forays did not end there. According to Agencia EFE, Cuba enacted price controls in May 2016 with the aim of increasing the stockpile and sale of highly demanded agricultural products. Food staples such as plantains, beans, and mangos were covered under these price ceilings. Basic economics demonstrates that price controls cause shortages. When a price ceiling below the market rate is imposed, artificial demand ensues. In turn, suppliers, who look at the government-imposed price, act accordingly by not supplying as many goods to the market, which often causes shortages.

Based on its most recent actions, it’s clear that price controls are in the Cuban state’s toolbox of economic tricks and likely won’t be going away anytime soon. The Cuban people will continue to suffer as a result.

Why U.S. Sanctions Won’t Work

The Cuban’s regime despotism is well-documented and merits private condemnation. However, this does not mean that top-down regime change nor sanctions are the best means of getting Cuba on the path towards markets.

Although Cuba’s economic ills are largely self-inflicted, U.S. sanctions aren’t making things better. There are some caveats to consider. Broad-based sanctions like the ones the U.S. has imposed on Cuba provide the regime political cover. They can now scapegoat the U.S. government for all of its problems. Ryan McMaken notes in an article dealing with Venezuela, that non-interventionism, both in terms of military action and economic sanctions, is the best approach to take for enhancing freedom. The same logic applies to Cuba. More meddling will embolden radicals within the regime and give them another boogieman to scapegoat.

When sanctions are taken out of the equation, it becomes clear to the populace and reform-minded figures within the government that their economic malaise is home brewed. Even China, which featured one of the most heinous cases of democide under Communism, made a decent transition to a nominally capitalist economy in the 1980s under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping. However, this would have never started if it wasn’t for Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, which normalized trade and diplomatic relations between the two nations.

America can have a role to play in Cuba’s economic revival, but it will do so by removing sanctions. This will cast any doubt whether it’s the U.S.’s punitive economic policies or Cuba’s own policies that are making the island nation impoverished. Getting rid of this confounding variable is key for the country to move forward. More punitive measures, like the “highest level” sanctions that Trump promised to impose on Cuba in April, will reduce the influence of reform-minded individuals within the regime. It’s simply too easy for demagogic leaders to turn to radicals within a government who are eager to scapegoat foreign countries and stoke up the nationalistic sentiment against America.

However, the ball is still in Cuba’s court. After more than 50 years of embracing socialist governance, Cuba will have to learn that it needs to stick to the basic economic principles if it wants to break free from its long-standing cycle of poverty.

 

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America can have a role to play in Cuba’s economic revival, but it will do so by removing sanctions.

SF could provide aid to the cigar industry in Cuba if the sanctions were lifted.......

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25 minutes ago, swordfish said:

America can have a role to play in Cuba’s economic revival, but it will do so by removing sanctions.

SF could provide aid to the cigar industry in Cuba if the sanctions were lifted.......

We were recently in Jamaica and they had Cuban's on sale everywhere. I was being pressured to buy,  but steadfastly refused. The dude kept telling me it was legal, which I understood, but I refused based US sanctions, which the dude just couldn't understand. 

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Also the prices are unreal.  I try to grab a couple to give to my co-workers as gifts when I am out of the country, but I can't bring myself to smoke a 40 dollar cigar........ 

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29 minutes ago, swordfish said:

Also the prices are unreal.  I try to grab a couple to give to my co-workers as gifts when I am out of the country, but I can't bring myself to smoke a 40 dollar cigar........ 

How do you get them into the country if they are illegal?

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33 minutes ago, swordfish said:

Also the prices are unreal.  I try to grab a couple to give to my co-workers as gifts when I am out of the country, but I can't bring myself to smoke a 40 dollar cigar........ 

When I was on the Cathedral staff, one of the dads had bought Cubans for the coaching staff. They were outstanding. Maybe this perspective would help. Could you take a swig of 23 year old Elijah Craig whiskey? It's about $250 for a 5th. and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY GOD!!!!! 🙂

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19 minutes ago, Irishman said:

When I was on the Cathedral staff, one of the dads had bought Cubans for the coaching staff. They were outstanding. Maybe this perspective would help. Could you take a swig of 23 year old Elijah Craig whiskey? It's about $250 for a 5th. and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY GOD!!!!! 🙂

I find that the Cuban cigars are not that much better (IMHO) that their counterparts, but any cigar that is free always tastes better to SF.......Same of 23 y.o. whiskey - you buying?

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33 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

How do you get them into the country if they are illegal?

You may for personal use, import Cuban Cigars that were purchased in another country. Commercial importation is still prohibited. 

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/82/kw/cuban cigars

45 minutes ago, Irishman said:

When I was on the Cathedral staff, one of the dads had bought Cubans for the coaching staff. They were outstanding. Maybe this perspective would help. Could you take a swig of 23 year old Elijah Craig whiskey? It's about $250 for a 5th. and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY GOD!!!!! 🙂

I had a dad on my team who was pretty flush with cash, he offered me up some Pappy Van Winkle several times, I took a pass. 

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56 minutes ago, swordfish said:

I find that the Cuban cigars are not that much better (IMHO) that their counterparts, but any cigar that is free always tastes better to SF.......Same of 23 y.o. whiskey - you buying?

Domincans?

 

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50 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

You may for personal use, import Cuban Cigars that were purchased in another country. Commercial importation is still prohibited. 

You're a gentleman and a scholar. I'm pretty dumb, I can't even count.

 

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5 hours ago, gonzoron said:

How do you get them into the country if they are illegal?

SF didn't say anything about bringing them into the country did he?

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2 minutes ago, swordfish said:

SF didn't say anything about bringing them into the country did he?

Nope. Do you often travel with co-workers on overseas trips?

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