Donald Trump’s economic advisers released a bizarre report attacking socialism yesterday. Socialists can only take one lesson from it: we’re winning.
by Miles Kampf-Lassin
Part 5 - A Flawed Critique
Accidental arguments for single-payer aside, the entire premise of the CEA critique of socialism misses the mark. After pointing to the failures of farming and food production under Stalin and Mao — models which, as far as I’m aware, no socialist politicians or Democratic Socialists of America organizers are advocating for — the authors claim that “the lessons from socialized agriculture carry over to government takeovers of oil, health insurance, and other modern industries: They produce less rather than more.”
The implication is that socialist policies would result in scarcity — bread lines, famine, and rationed care. For socialists, however, the goal is not to eliminate production, but to shift it from boosting corporate profits to serving human needs. As Meagan Day explains, “Our goal is not to rein in the excesses of capitalism for a few decades at a time — we want to end our society’s subservience to the market.”
Medicare for All would replace the current system of private health insurance, which would spell the end of the industry. But it would do so in service of making health care a human right that all people have access to regardless of their ability to pay, and base our care provision on that proposition. Current plans for instituting Medicare for All — including Sanders’s — also incorporate job training for health insurance workers to gain employment in other fields that would be more productive for society.
When it comes to the oil industry, socialists are clear that avoiding the worst effects of climate change — spelled out in detail in the recent IPCC report — requires leaving current fossil fuel reserves in the ground and immediately transitioning to renewable energy. That would mean stunting the oil industry’s growth, but it would be in service of the continued existence of our civilization. And energy production would massively increase in solar, wind, and other renewable sources instead of fossil fuels.
Another bizarre claim made in the report is that “Nordic taxation overall is surprisingly less progressive than US taxes.” That statement may come as a surprise to Amazon CEO and US resident Jeff Bezos, the richest man on Earth whose company paid zero in federal income taxes last year and has avoided $20.4 billion in state taxes since its founding in 1994. Also, because he lives in Washington State which has a notoriously regressive tax system, Bezos personally pays no state income taxes.
This type of tax avoidance is commonplace among US-based corporate behemoths and the super rich — including President Trump himself who has boasted about it. If such a system is considered “progressive” by CEA standards, the bar has been set to a new low.