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Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

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Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Ivan on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:43 pm

First topic message reminder :

Andrew Koppelman, professor of law and political science at Northwestern University, has written: “Barack Obama properly belongs in a specific anti-socialist movement on the left, social democracy, which accepts a capitalist economy but demands a strong state to moderate its failures and excesses.”

The concept of social democracy was originally developed by the German politician Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932), who attacked Marxism's emphasis on revolution and claimed that socialism could evolve through parliamentary democracy. Bernstein claimed that a mixed economy of public, co-operative and private enterprise would be necessary for a long period of time under social democratic direction before private enterprise would evolve into co-operative enterprise. (Little did he know about globalisation and multinational corporations!) By the post-World War II period, most social democrats in Europe had abandoned all remaining ideological connection to Marxism.

Social democracy aims to use the state for two central purposes. One is to correct capitalism’s operational failures, where capitalism wastes wealth instead of producing it. The recent global credit crunch is an example: many well-functioning businesses that were competently producing goods and services have been destroyed, in a spreading cycle of depression. Barack Obama introduced stimulus measures and bank bailouts with the aim of stopping this downward spiral.

The second aim of social democracy is for the state to ameliorate the market’s distributive consequences by spreading around the wealth that capitalism produces. This aim is the more controversial, and once provoked Thatcher into describing social democracy as “slow motion socialism”. In the USA, both Bush and McCain showed willingness to act to keep a recession from becoming a depression, but neither had any interest in redistributing wealth.

The right-wing alternative to social democracy is a government that gives the market free rein and does not intervene to ameliorate its systemic or distributive consequences. Under this concept of minimal government, whatever an unregulated market produces is appropriate and acceptable. Those who take this position understand that an unregulated market will produce booms and busts, and will leave some people impoverished. They can live with that, but it’s a heartless view.

Inequality created by free-market capitalism comes at a price. That has to be paid by those who have to take the low paid and very limiting jobs, those who despite hard work will never have enough money to be able to 'choose' anything other than the cheapest and most essential. Those who can never buy the toys and clothes for their children that their friends can who are better off, those who for economic reasons have to squeeze into a small apartment and never have the money to travel anywhere.

That price is also paid by society, and in the end it affects those who believed they have prospered from the inequality. Economic and social inequalities create bitterness, friction and confrontation; people who feel that they are badly treated by society have no reason to be loyal to a society that does not show them any respect. When the Tories had 18 years in power in the UK, crime doubled and Thatcher boasted “there is no such thing as society, only individuals”. The need to constantly compete with others to ensure one’s own welfare creates distrust between people, and the requirement to constantly perform at one’s best to prove one’s value wears down the individual. It’s hard to see that increased market thinking, and all that it has meant with changes in living conditions, has led to greater happiness and satisfaction. On the contrary, reports on worry, stress and psychological problems are increasing, not least among young people.

Social democracy supports a social welfare state based upon publicly funded social welfare. It supports legal entitlements for citizens to universal access to public services such as workers' compensation, universal health care and universal education, and other services such as child care and care for the elderly. Social democracy supports collective bargaining rights for workers and advocates freedom from discrimination based on differences of ability/disability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Research has shown that those societies which are the most equal are the least violent. Many of the problems facing the world today, in and between nations, are due to inequality and the tensions this breeds. Upholding the policy of equality and fairness is not just a question of ideology, it is about the necessity to create a more peaceful and stable world. But does social democracy just make capitalism appear more acceptable and a little less unfair than when it’s unrestrained by right-wing governments? Rather than evolving society towards socialism, are social democrats preventing that development by smoothing off the harsher edges of capitalism?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:54 am

Shirina wrote:
Taken from your link:

“Average household income can be used as an indicator for the monetary well-being of a country's citizens. Mean or median net household income, after taxes and mandatory contributions, are good indicators of standard of living, because they include only disposable income and acknowledge people sharing accommodation benefit from pooling at least some of their living costs” (text italicized by Rock).

In this case the $26k is only the money left over after taxes and mandatory contributions, NOT after all basic living expenses have been paid.
 

“…household income…”

RockOnBrother wrote:
Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable
by RockOnBrother on 19 Apr 2012 - 20:59

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: disposable income

Disposable income may be used for consumption or saving.

Full article: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/165882/disposable-income
 

“… Disposable income…”

RockOnBrother wrote:
Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?
by RockOnBrother on 19 Apr 2012 - 19:54

Median equivalized disposable household income (PPP) $

Rank, Country, Median Income (PPP)
1.  United States $26,672
--------------------------------
7.  United Kingdom $21,408

Full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_household_income
 

“Median equivalized disposable household income (PPP) $”

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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:49 am

Statistics usually get a bad press, because they are so easily interpreted to suit the desired outcome.

A firm figure for something like disposable income disregards human nature, which is to afford the things we want to afford.

Similarly, comparative figures between national economies ignore the "cost of living". Scandinavians earn more because everything costs more, and current experience within the Eurozone underlines the effect of tax-avoidance in order to have a higher quality of life within the family unit.

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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by trevorw2539 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:24 am

Excuse my quick foray into the discussion. For all the fine words and dictionary definitions, 'disposable' income for some is almost zilch. Just to live we are obliged to pay Income Taxes, Council Tax, Rent, Utilities (water,sewerage, gas, electric etc.). Food,clothing we have a choice on how much we spend as long as we stay alive.

In real terms what is 'disposable income'?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Papaumau on Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:35 pm


Hi again Trevorw.

That is a very good question and right to the point I fear.

"Disposable income" to me is the money that is left in the home finances after all of the compulsory and unavoidable needs for spending have been made, like TAX ( both direct and indirect, or more commonly known as stealth taxation ), food, housing, heating, ( especially in Scotland ), or cooling ( as in the sun-drenched countries ), and other energy-expenses like fuel for our cars, ( now sitting at an average of £1.40 per LITRE in Britain ), buying clothing, a once a year holiday, ( "vacation" for our American friends ). In other words, "disposable income" is what is left that we CHOOSE to spend after we have spent all that we have little or no choice in spending.

For the average middle-class and lower-class people - in Britain at least - we are now finding that once the spending has been done that we cannot choose not to spend, nothing is left over that we might choose to spend on luxuries or that we might choose to save.

( Unlike in the Eastern countries, our saving ethic has gone by the board and now we are living off money we simply don't have while the Chinese people - for example - always lay a quarter of their gross income - on average - away for savings as the very first expense even before they start to pay for the compulsory costs of living there ).

One expense that I have not yet covered is the expense of borrowing in the West, as that too is now a way that we finance many of the things that we can no longer afford to pay for with our non-existent "disposable income".

Regards....

Papa.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by astradt1 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:52 pm

With the interest, paid by banks, to savers of around 1% and an inflation rate of 3.5% there is no incentive to save money........

Are posters including food in the essential cost of living alongside all the taxes being deducted or are they counting that in the 'disposable' income?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by trevorw2539 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:27 pm

astradt1 wrote:With the interest, paid by banks, to savers of around 1% and an inflation rate of 3.5% there is no incentive to save money........

Are posters including food in the essential cost of living alongside all the taxes being deducted or are they counting that in the 'disposable' income?

Food is included in disposal income only on the sense that you can decide what to buy ie caviar or fish paste. Clothing in the sense that you can buy a pair of high class/priced jeans (Levi) or a cheaper brand. Or a lift-up Bra as opposed to a hold-up Bra. Though I suppose that depends on one's necessity, not choice.Embarassed

Incidentally, having lived on my own for nearly 20 years - What is a Bra for? scratch
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:03 pm


Motor vehicles are purchased with disposable/discretionary income.

__________________________________________________________________________________________


List of countries by vehicles per capita
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is a list of countries by the number of motor vehicles per 1000 people. All figures include automobiles, SUVs, vans, and commercial vehicles; and exclude motorcycles and other motorized two-wheelers.

Rank, Country, Motor Vehicles per 1000 people[1]
1.   Monaco, 863
2.   United States, 808
3.   Liechtenstein, 796
4.   Luxembourg, 749
5.   New Zealand, 733
5.   Malta, 743
6.   Australia, 730
-------------------------
7.   Iceland, 724
-------------------------
9.   Italy, 690
-------------------------
12.  Canada, 620
13.  Spain, 608
14.  Japan, 593
15.  Finland, 591
16.  France, 575
17.  Norway, 574
-------------------------
18.  Switzerland, 562
19.  Austria, 561
20.  Belgium, 558
21.  Denmark, 549
-------------------------
24.  Germany, 534
25.  United Kingdom, 525
26.  Netherlands, 523
27.  Sweden, 522
-------------------------
34.  Greece, 451
-------------------------
49.  Belarus, 282
-------------------------
51.  Russia, 263
-------------------------
55.  Romania, 219
-------------------------
69.  Singapore, 158
-------------------------
76.  Ukraine, 140
-------------------------
83.  Georgia, 116
-------------------------
94.  Hong Kong, 83
-------------------------
115. China, 37
-------------------------
127. India, 15
-------------------------
128. Vietnam, 13
-------------------------


Reference


  1. "Motor vehicles statistics - countries compared". NationMaster. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tra_mot_veh-transportation-motor-vehicles. Retrieved 2009-09-20.


Full article: http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/post?t=431&mode=reply

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Last edited by RockOnBrother on Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by astradt1 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:17 pm

I wonder how many more pointless Wiki-lists will be posted on this thread?

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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Ivan on Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:21 pm

Just a reminder......

Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Shirina on Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:44 pm

Automobiles are bought by going into debt, and that decreases disposable income for a number of years (usually 3 to 4 years). Once a purchase becomes a monthly bill, it is no longer considered "discretionary" spending. It becomes mandatory. The same holds true for any debt including mortgages, student loans, and credit cards.

The more technologically advanced a nation becomes, the more society expects you to have. To assume that food, clothing, and shelter are the only things one "needs" in a modern society is forgetting where we live. In the United States, going through life without a cell phone, internet access, a reliable vehicle, and some form of debt will be extremely difficult. Everyone, including employers, will assume you have all of these things. I mention debt because that insidious "number of the beast" known as a credit score can influence whether you can rent an apartment, be hired for a job, your insurance rates, and a range of other things that credit scores shouldn't play a factor in, but does anyhow. So not only do you need to have money to spend on certain modern necessities, you also need enough left over to afford taking out and repaying (on time) loans to maintain credit worthiness.

In addition, once some of these modern necessities are owned, they begin incurring mandatory costs, as well. For instance, owning a car in most states requires you to pay for car insurance. Of course you also need to afford the fuel that goes into it, as well as routine maintenance. You also need to have enough disposable income to deal with unexpected car repairs, many of which can be somewhat pricey. This equates to being able to shell out $300 to $500 with only a few days notice - at all times. In addition, many cell phone and internet plans require a 2 to 3 year contract which is, in essence, akin to taking out a loan. If you break that contract, you can suffer massive fees as well as a big hit to that all important credit score.

There's really no way to get an accurate measure of disposable income since raw numbers does not factor in the price of living in a modern society as opposed to one lesser advanced. It doesn't factor in interest rates on loans, varying real estate prices and property values, the widely disparate cost of living in different localities and how much a dollar is worth in each place. For instance, you can live quite well on $50k per year in a place like Erie, Pennsylvania, but you would struggle on that salary in San Francisco or Manhattan. In the small town where I spent my adolescence, a house known as the Faulkner Mansion (and it really was a smallish mansion) went on the market for a paltry $175,000. If you moved that house 80 miles south to Pittsburgh, it would probably fetch half a million.

Disposable income really doesn't indicate how wealthy a nation's people actually is. What matters most is spending power. What can you actually buy with that disposable income? After you're done paying for all of the miscellany required (in a de facto sense) of a modern lifestyle, how much is really left over? In the USA ... not very much.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:16 pm

Shirina wrote:
Automobiles are bought by going into debt, and that decreases disposable income for a number of years (usually 3 to 4 years).1 Once a purchase becomes a monthly bill, it is no longer considered "discretionary" spending. It becomes mandatory.2 The same holds true for any debt including mortgages, student loans, and credit cards.
 

Two interesting points (marked “1” and “2”). As points of comparison, consumer goods like motor vehicles may be at least roughly correlated with real life per capita disposable income. As a non-economist, I emphasize “may” because there are always complicating factors not immediately apparent to the untrained observer.

Nonetheless, as an admittedly casual observer, several things interest me about this list. On topic, insofar as I can determine the nature of the so far vaguely defined “social democracy” is concerned, the countries that, on a preliminary basis, I would tend to think fall into this category seem not to have an advantage in real life disposable income per capita, again assuming a correlational link between that number and motor vehicles per capita.

Monaco, a monarchy (princedom?) is #1, but Monaco is a special case, perhaps the only modern day example of a benevolent absolute ruler whose people “don’t want to fix it because it ain’t broke.”

Of the rest, I would assume that Sweden is a model of what is called social democracy. Even with two of the world’s leading car manufacturers “in-house”, Sweden comes in at only #27, with 522 motor vehicles per 1,000, far behind Australia (730) and New Zealand (733), neither of which “owns” a car manufacturer, although I understand foreign companies have subsidiaries owned by Aussies and Kiwis.

Off topic, I would have though that residents of tiny countries such as Monaco (863), Liechtenstein (796), Luxembourg (749), Malta (743), and Iceland (724) would have little need for motor vehicles.

India is at near bottom of the totem pole. Why?

Four ex-Marxist socialist states of the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist States Belarus (282), Russia (263), Ukraine (140), and Georgia (116) compare poorly with capitalist Western countries. The most populous Marxist (or ex-Marxist country, China (37). the oft-touted “successor” to the US as a world economic power, compares even more poorly.

On first inspection (for me), it seems that socialism doesn’t put motor vehicles into the peoples’ possession.

I mention the US only as a footnote, since (a) General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are home-grown companies which pretty much created a major city (Detroit) and several of its surrounding cities, and (b) the US highway system, featuring the Interstate system as its core, is unrivaled on the planet. In fact, for many Americans USV, a motor vehicle is nearly as much a requirement for survival as minimal shelter.

Indeed, because of this necessity factor, there is vibrant US market in “transportation vehicles”, usually old cars with decent engines (and not much else) that folks use to go to and from work. I once had such a honey; $500 for a fourteen year old faded out “Cheby”, 350 cubic inches of Chevy V8 Detroit iron under the hood that would blow the door off of fancy right-off-the showroom floor dreamboats. Got me to and from work every day for three years. Without it, I would have had to quit my job.

Shirina wrote:
Disposable income really doesn't indicate how wealthy a nation's people actually is. What matters most is spending power.
 

I’ll look into that.


Last edited by RockOnBrother on Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by astra on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:42 pm

Sweden comes in at only #27, with 522 motor vehicles per 1,000,

Sweden is now a lighthouse of Green Technology - using it's own coal, steel and exporting BOTH!!! (unlike UK) It is the flag bearer for clean burn, reusables, and recycling. The populations of the cities are moving on bycycles, and electric vehicles - for a hilly country they are doing remarkably well in this front and showing what CAN be done.

OF COURSE, unlike US, and therefore the UK, the Swedes have been spending MASSIVELY on their public transport systems which are an example for ALL to follow. This is because being forward looking, they started YEARS AGO spending on their infrastructure - Road, Rail, and Airline connections.

Due to this public mobility, by public transport, fewer Swedes see the need to own a private car than in most other countries of a similar size/base.

Maybe the section to look at is - "how many families in a country have their own second home/Dacha/Hunting Lodge?


Edit

OR, how many abodes in the country as a percentage of the total housing stock are actually Second Homes.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by trevorw2539 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:33 pm

Astra quote.

Due to this public mobility, by public transport, fewer Swedes see the need to own a private car than in most other countries of a similar size/base.


Hardly a fair comparison. The Swedes can use skis for at least 5 months a year. Wink
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by astradt1 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:44 pm

I would have though that residents of tiny countries such as Monaco (863), Liechtenstein (796), Luxembourg (749), Malta (743), and Iceland (724) would have little need for motor vehicles.

Four out of these five are Tax Havens so will have a good few millionaire living there and who ever heard of a millionaire walking any where even just a few hundred yards.........These millionaire are also likely to have more than a couple of cars in their garages so not really a true comparison to any where else in the world......
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:00 pm

"Off topic, I would have though that residents of tiny countries such as Monaco (863), Liechtenstein (796), Luxembourg (749), Malta (743), and Iceland (724) would have little need for motor vehicles."

It's all to do with Sales Tax.

If you can buy the same car cheaper by crossing a border, you'll buy it there and ship it home. Maybe a few others for your friends too.

In the late 1960s there was a tariff barrier making it expensive to import new European cars into the US. Mercedes developed a scheme whereby US Citizens could buy a vehicle in Germany, have a nice holiday touring Europe, and then have the Manufacturer arrange for it to be shipped to their address in the US as a second-hand vehicle. The tax saving resulted in a "free" holiday.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:41 pm

oftenwrong wrote:
It's all to do with Sales Tax.  

In the late 1960s there was a tariff barrier making it expensive to import new European cars into the US.  Mercedes developed a scheme whereby US Citizens could buy a vehicle in Germany, have a nice holiday touring Europe, and then have the Manufacturer arrange for it to be shipped to their address in the US as a second-hand vehicle.  The tax saving resulted in a "free" holiday.
 

I’d forgotten about that, but now that you mention it, I remember that scheme. At least two acquaintances worked the scheme and saved almost half the new car price of an identical Mercedes sedan purchased in the US. It wasn’t just sales tax, if I remember correctly, they also saved on, what, excise tax and luxury tax? Having never purchased a Mercedes, I’m not sure of the exact “titles” of the taxes they didn’t have to pay by shipping their own used cars from the continent.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Papaumau on Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:40 pm


Ivan wrote:Just a reminder......

Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Thanks for bringing us back onto the topic Ivan.

I see the term "Social Democracy", (upper-case initials ), as a form of government that can be made to mean just about anything. The words "Socialist" and "Democratic" have been used and abused by many regimes of the past that were neither social nor democratic and if they changed the order around to read Democratic Socialism or even Nationalist Socialism this could mean a different idea altogether.

See this to highlight what I mean:

The National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei , abbreviated NSDAP), commonly known in English in short form as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party (DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920. The term Nazi is German and stems from Nationalsozialist,[7] due to the pronunciation of Latin -tion- as -tsion- in German (rather than -shon- as it is in English), with German Z being pronounced as 'ts' as well.

The party was founded out of the current of the far-right racist völkisch German nationalist movement and the violent anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary culture that fought against the uprisings of communist revolutionaries in post-World War I Germany.

One of the things that I highlighted further above was that now - in the West - we are too willing to extend our disposable income by taking on debt that we very often struggle to service and while one of the writers above said that the rate of interest that is paid to savers here actually discourages us from saving - while I agree with that premise - I also have to say that so long as borrowing is so easy to get many of us will continue to use this money when our disposable income runs out.

I also mentioned about how the Chinese always put their savings away even before any of the compulsory costs of living are paid for and it seems as if the low interest rates we get here excuses us for not saving our money rather than spending money we don't have.




Here is a fairly recent figure for what the Communist Chinese government are doing with their interest rates:

China Raises Interest Rates
Published on 7/6/2011 12:03:12 PM | By TradingEconomics.com, Reuters

People's Bank of China increased interest rates for the third time this year on July 6, making clear that taming inflation is a top priority even when the economy slows.

Benchmark one-year lending rates will be raised 25 basis points to 6.56 percent, and benchmark one-year deposit rates will be raised 25 basis points to 3.5 percent.

Abundant liquidity and elevated commodity prices drove China's inflation to a 34-month high of 5.5 percent in May, unsettling Beijing which worries rising prices may stir social unrest.




So... what do you want ?

Do you want a government that - like the Chinese Communist government does - keep the interest-rate paid for savers artificially high while inflation is allowed to freely rise as a result ?

Regards.....

Papa.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:58 pm

I'm not sure whether the Attlee post-war government could be described as "social-democrat", though it was certainly avancular in comparison with the Pirate coalition we have now.

One of the things they did for the poor was to make food as cheap as possible. Everyone has to eat, but the rich spend a much smaller proportion in relation to their total resources.

Of course, food subsidies died the death when we entered the Common Market with its CAP. Newspaper headlines ran riot with tales of steak that cost A POUND A POUND!
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Shirina on Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:20 pm

The party was founded out of the current of the far-right racist völkisch German nationalist movement and the violent anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary culture that fought against the uprisings of communist revolutionaries in post-World War I Germany.
In the US, some conservatives have made the ridiculous claim that the Nazis and Hitler were actually socialists on par with Stalin. All because of the National Socialist Workers Party name. The reality is that the true socialists in the Nazi party revolted against Hitler and the Nazis for not holding true to the socialist ideal. This revolt occurred shortly before the infamous Night of the Long Knives when many actual socialists (as opposed to true fascists) were summarily executed.
I also mentioned about how the Chinese always put their savings away even before any of the compulsory costs of living are paid for and it seems as if the low interest rates we get here excuses us for not saving our money rather than spending money we don't have.
Again, this goes back to what I said earlier about the costs incurred by living in a technologically advanced society. While we might make more money than someone in India, the things we must pay for to stay functional within our society is far greater. There are things we don't need to survive, but without many of those things, we become culturally isolated, disenfranchised, and dysfunctional. In fact, you run the risk of succumbing to the poverty culture - and believe me, it IS a culture all its own. This can be "deadly" as it involves a lot of hopelessness and can prevent you from really trying to get yourself out of it, even if you're capable of doing so.

The reality is that many of the things we need to stay functional in our society have simply become too expensive to maintain without going into debt. In addition, as I said previously, our economic culture requires us to take out loans and pay them back in order to maintain a high credit score. Without it, one can be denied employment, a place to live, and even your insurance rates will be higher. Few people have the disposable income to, say, buy a new refrigerator or furnace or pay for a pricey car repair without putting it on the credit card. One cannot "save up" for a new furnace while freezing in the winter nor can one "save up" for a new car if the old one dies. These are immediate concerns. It is always best to live beneath your means to give yourself some financial wriggle room, but the ever-rising cost of goods and services seem to destroy that wriggle room in just a few short years. Since wages have not kept pace with either inflation or cost of living increases, people are drowning and using credit as a life preserver. This is why capitalism is failing.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:34 pm

Ivan wrote:
Just a reminder......

Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?
 

Ivan,

There are two questions in the thread topic, “Is social democracy the best system of government?” and “Does it (social democracy) just make capitalism appear acceptable?”

Assuming from the first question that (1) a set of criteria exists that identifies a “social (adjective) democracy (noun)” system of government, and (2) real-world governments exist which meet whatever that criteria might be (assumptions the truth of which I remain unsure), identification of what makes a particular system of government the best system of government is a logical.

The second question references capitalism, an economic system; accordingly, investigation of the entire thread topic logically includes comparisons of economic performances of real-world “social democracies” with economic performances of other systems of government, a process that necessarily includes research.


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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:30 pm

Whereas, and notwithstanding opinions to the contrary, any passage of prose is subject to a variety of considerations from the point of view of the Author, and from the various, possibly differing, reactions of parties interested enough to read the words complained of. In this connection, the single word "best" may have several equally valid meanings, dependent upon the context. Grammatically it is the top ranking of Positive, Comparative and Superlative - than which there can be no greater power.
Nevertheless "best" is not a unique description. Advertisers use it incontinently, but not always successfully. Indiduals will reserve the right to differ about not only that, but also the lower category of better, so all-in-all it may be safer to avoid the pejorative by using the word "good" which can mean all things to all men.

Incidentally real-world economics trump abstract concepts like "social democracy" for all practical purposes.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:39 pm


Estimating the Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth

We provide the first estimate of the level and distribution of global household wealth. Mean assets and debts within countries are measured, partly or wholly, for 38 countries using household balance sheet and survey data centred on the year 2000. Determinants of mean financial assets, non-financial assets, and liabilities are studied empirically, and the results are used to impute values to countries lacking wealth data. Household wealth per adult is US$43,494 in PPP terms, and ranges regionally from US$11,655 in Africa to US$193,147 in North America.

Full article: http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/working-papers/research-papers/2007/en_GB/rp2007-77/

__________________________________________________________________________________________


The World Distribution of Household Wealth

There has been much recent research on the world distribution of income, but also growing recognition of the importance of other contributions to well-being, including those of household wealth. Wealth is important in providing security and opportunity, particularly in poorer countries that lack full social safety nets and adequate facilities for borrowing and lending. We find, however, that it is precisely in the latter countries where household wealth is the lowest, both in absolute and relative terms.

Full article: http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/working-papers/discussion-papers/2008/en_GB/dp2008-03/
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:12 pm

Shirina wrote:
Disposable income really doesn't indicate how wealthy a nation's people actually is. What matters most is spending power.
 
RockOnBrother wrote:
I’ll look into that.
 

Shirina,

As promised, I’ve been looking into spending power per capita by nation. So far, I’ve been unable to locate a discrete comprehensive list of this index; however, another index called Quality of Life includes spending power in its calculations.

I did find a chart which tracks comparative per capita spending power 1980-2006 in Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Here’s the link:

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Charts/Report/The-Swiss-and-Dutch-Health-Insurance-Systems--Universal-Coverage-and-Regulated-Competitive-Insurance/P/Per-Capita-Spending--U-S--Dollar-Purchasing-Power-Parity--1980-2006.aspx

As a compilation of multiple indices, Quality of Life is necessarily influenced by editorial decisions of its compilers; thus, I cannot truthfully testify as to the importance assigned to spending power in the Quality of Life number.

That’s my disclaimer, and with that being said, here it is.

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Quality-of-life Index
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index is based on a unique method that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries. The index was calculated in 2005 and includes data from 111 countries and territories.

Method

The survey uses nine quality of life factors to determine a nation's score.[1] They are listed below including the indicators used to represent these factors:


  1. Healthiness: Life expectancy at birth (in years). Source: US Census Bureau

  2. Family life: Divorce rate (per 1,000 population), converted into index of 1 (lowest divorce rates) to 5 (highest). Sources: UN; Euromonitor

  3. Community life: Variable taking value 1 if country has either high rate of church attendance or trade-union membership; zero otherwise. Source: World Values Survey

  4. Material well being: GDP per person, at PPP in $. Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

  5. Political stability and security: Political stability and security ratings. Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

  6. Climate and geography: Latitude, to distinguish between warmer and colder climates. Source: CIA World Factbook

  7. Job security: Unemployment rate (%.) Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

  8. Political freedom: Average of indexes of political and civil liberties. Scale of 1 (completely free) to 7 (unfree). Source: Freedom House

  9. Gender equality: Measured using ratio of average male and female earnings. Source: UNDP Human Development Report


The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index, 2005

111 countries and territories were included in the 2005 Quality of Life Index.[1]

Rank Country or territory Quality of Life Score
(out of 10)
1  Ireland 8.333
2  Switzerland 8.068
3  Norway 8.051
4  Luxembourg 8.015
5  Sweden 7.937
6  Australia 7.925
7  Iceland 7.911
8  Italy 7.810
9  Denmark 7.797
10  Spain 7.727
11  Singapore 7.719
12  Finland 7.618
13  United States 7.615
14  Canada 7.599
15  New Zealand 7.436
16  Netherlands 7.433
17  Japan 7.392
18  Hong Kong 7.347
19  Portugal 7.307
20  Austria 7.268
--------------------
22  Greece 7.163
--------------------
24  Belgium 7.095
25  France 7.084
26  Germany 7.048
--------------------
29  United Kingdom 6.917
--------------------  
34  Czech Republic 6.629
--------------------
37  Hungary 6.534
--------------------
45  Slovakia 6.381
--------------------
48  Poland 6.309
49  Croatia 6.301
--------------------
57  Bulgaria 6.162
58  Romania 6.105
--------------------
60  China 6.083
--------------------
63  Lithuania 6.033
--------------------
66  Latvia 6.008
--------------------
68  Estonia 5.905
--------------------
73  India 5.759
--------------------
--------------------
87  Georgia 5.365
--------------------
98  Ukraine 5.032
--------------------
100  Belarus 4.978
--------------------  
105  Russia 4.796
--------------------
111  Zimbabwe 3.892

Countries not listed

Many countries/territories, including most of the Least Developed Countries, are omitted from this ranking as there is insufficient data to produce a viable rank. Also not included are the European microstate countries, which would presumably rank highly if included.

Notes and references


  1. “The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Quality-of-Life Index” (PDF). The Economist. http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-12.


Retrieved 25 April 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index

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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:17 pm

I feel a WikiPosting comin' on!
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Chivnail on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:08 am

"Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?"

Much as it irks me, I'll appropriate and warp the sentiment behind a quote from someone towards whom I've recently expressed a dislike, and say that yes, probably Social Democracy is the best form of government... that's been tried.

And yes to the second part of the question, with the understanding that sugar-coating Capitalism is indeed a bad thing.

My impression is that Social Democracy sugar-coats the Capitalist pill that we're all force-fed, and that's about it.

I don't have a Wikipedia quotewall to back that up, mind.

Cuba's apparent determination post-Fidel to abandon the system that's made theirs the only nation pursuing sustainable development I find depressing. Where in the world is doing things right? Scandinavia, maybe, is doing things 'less wrong' than everyone else, but can we not have one society on earth doing things right?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:32 am


Quality of Life Index scores of fourteen countries exceed 7.5 out of 10.

1 Ireland 8.333
2 Switzerland 8.068
3 Norway 8.051
4 Luxembourg 8.015
5 Sweden 7.937
6 Australia 7.925
7 Iceland 7.911
8 Italy 7.810
9 Denmark 7.797
10 Spain 7.727
11 Singapore 7.719
12 Finland 7.618
13 United States 7.615
14 Canada 7.599

Retrieved 25 April 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index

Compare these capitalist countries’ Quality of Life scores, including that of Sweden, home of two of the world’s finest capitalist enterprises, Volvo and SAAB, to these socialist and ex-socialist countries’ Quality of Life scores.

34 Czech Republic 6.629
37 Hungary 6.534
45 Slovakia 6.381
48 Poland 6.309
57 Bulgaria 6.162
58 Romania 6.105
60 China 6.083
63 Lithuania 6.033
66 Latvia 6.008
68 Estonia 5.905
87 Georgia 5.365
98 Ukraine 5.032
100 Belarus 4.978
105 Russia 4.796

Retrieved 25 April 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index

From initial examination, assuming that Quality of Life sores reflect quality of life, it appears that quality of life in capitalist countries’ is superior to quality of life in socialist and ex-socialist countries.

Chivnail wrote:
Cuba's apparent determination post-Fidel to abandon the system that's made theirs the only nation pursuing sustainable development I find depressing. Where in the world is doing things right? Scandinavia, maybe, is doing things 'less wrong' than everyone else, but can we not have one society on earth doing things right?
 

You might investigate Cuba’s quality of life. You might also investigate one of Cuba’s most impotent employers.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Shirina on Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:15 am

Quality of Life Index scores of fourteen countries exceed 7.5 out of 10.
We barely make the list. That's nothing to boast about. We've been declining since the 50's when we once had the number one quality of life on the planet. The fact that we continue to slip in the rankings suggests that our form of capitalism is no longer viable. With all that we have and all that we can do, the US of A should be much further up that list. After all, we are just as close to the Czech Republic as we are to Ireland in terms of this ranking.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:40 am


Let’s see just how barely we make the list. Who’s ahead of us?

1. Ireland (8.333), 2. Switzerland (8.068), both tiny countries with tiny populations; 3. Norway (8.051), tiny population; 4. Luxembourg (8.015), minuscule population, a refuge for the rich; 5. Sweden (7.937), tiny population, two of the top car companies, one of the top aircraft companies; 6. Australia (7.925), nearly as spacious as the continental US, small population (twenty-four million on the continent), most of those along the seacoasts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane; 7. Iceland (7.911), miniscule population; 8. Italy (7.810), art lovers’ dream; 9. Denmark (7.797), tiny population; 10. Spain (7.727), paella and other tasty food; 11. Singapore (7.719), micro-managed equatorial creation where they arrest street spitters and execute drug smugglers; 12. Finland (7.618), tiny population; 13. United States (7.615), huge population, huge mega-multi-ethnic population and the inescapable problems that accompany that phenomenon.

Retrieved 25 April 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index

Thirteen out of one hundred eleven ain’t half bad. Who’s behind us?

14. Canada (7.599), and 15. New Zealand (7.436), fancy that (two of my three “just in case” havens); 16. Netherlands (7.433), fancy that; 17. Japan (7.392), the land of “no dogs, no Americans”; 18. Hong Kong (7.347), world’s richest island; 25. France (7.084), and 26. Germany (7.048), fancy that; 29. United Kingdom (6.917), fancy that.

Retrieved 25 April 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:58 am

Quality of life is surely affected most of all by the age of the subject. Catch a bunch of schoolboys splashing in a muddy river during hot weather and you will see a joie de vivre that would sell for £1000 an ounce if it could be bottled.

Follow one of those same boys into middle age, and speculate on what went missing.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Shirina on Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:11 am

Follow one of those same boys into middle age, and speculate on what went missing.

Innocence.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:38 am

Exactly, but why?

Cats and dogs, for example, appear to be happy with their lot until well into old-age so what renders humans disillusioned? Is intelligence actually a burden?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Adele Carlyon on Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:56 pm

I think that life is a real burden for some.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:16 pm


Cats and dogs, living “now” and “right here”, are immune to the burdens of being created into the image of YHVH Elohim, and thus being created into awareness of “then”, “yet to be”, and “over there.”
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Ivan on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:47 pm

So are they social democrats or socialists?
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by astradt1 on Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:10 pm

RockOnBrother wrote:
Cats and dogs, living “now” and “right here”, are immune to the burdens of being created into the image of YHVH Elohim, and thus being created into awareness of “then”, “yet to be”, and “over there.”

All I can say, with apologies to Tina Turner........."What's God got to do with it?"
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:06 pm


Everything. Ask Tina.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:23 pm

Ivan wrote:So are they social democrats or socialists?

Our two cats are Bolsheviks.

They only do what they choose to do.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Adele Carlyon on Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:07 pm

All cats are Bolshies! Wink
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Shirina on Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:49 pm

Is intelligence actually a burden?
It's not intelligence that is the burden but wisdom.

Adults end up becoming over-burdened with responsibilities that they never have the time to splash in a muddy river. People are too quick to "put away their childish things" and forget what fun and joy is all about. Those innocent things we used to do as children no longer apply. Instead, we become voyeurs on life, watching children at play through the kitchen window, perhaps secretly wishing we were out there with them, a child again.

To a child, the world is unexplored, the adventures of life ahead of them. There is no such thing as "routine" for a child. So many things are first time experiences. I still, to this day, remember the first time I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime. I kept looking out the window expecting something magical to happen, some monumental event that only occurred after children went to bed. Of course nothing like that happened, but it still felt ... different, mystical, exciting to be up so late. Such a simple thing, really, but it made a lasting impression.

Now ... eh ... for many adults life becomes and endless series of days that bleed into months and years. Nothing really new happens, there is little in the way of adventure or magic. We know all too well what's around the next bend or what lays beyond our back yards. We become jaded as life becomes more complicated, as responsibility for our own survival shifts from our parents shoulders to our own. We know that the bright and shiny "toys" will never work as well as we see on television, and our personal relationships become more difficult to maintain.

It's a complex and multifaceted issue ... one that I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. The lack of innocence, the jaded feeling of adulthood is something that has haunted me for a long time.
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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:34 pm

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Re: Is social democracy the best system of government, or does it just make capitalism appear acceptable?

Post by Ivan on Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:26 am

Quite a few people on Twitter have read this thread, and several of them have asked what the difference is between social democracy and democratic socialism?

Unrestrained capitalism can generate wealth, but it creates vast inequality and relatively few people get most of the wealth that is created.  I would suggest that social democracy is a mix of a market economy and state intervention with the aim of making capitalism fairer. A social democracy is likely to have some enterprises which are publicly owned while others are privately owned. It will also have a managed economy, possibly following the philosophy of Keynes that full employment and growth can be achieved by ‘reflating’ the economy when necessary. Such a system will be funded by progressive taxation, where the rich pay proportionately more in tax than the poor (usually by graduated direct taxes, such as income tax).

Social democracy is an end in itself. On the other hand, democratic socialism aims for a society to gradually evolve to a system of socialism by democratic means rather than by revolution. Socialism has a number of definitions, but most refer to full public ownership of the 'commanding heights' of the state, workers' control of the labour process and redistributive tax policies.
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