I got into an online discussion the other day, slammed someone down hard, felt first smug, then kind of bad.


Well I guess I started it. Vis-ŗ-vis Bernie Sanders presidential campaign I said, ďSocialists hate corporations so much they want to turn the whole country into one big corporation.Ē


Someone replied that though some socialists favor central planning, not all do.


Then he said, ďLook it up, I know research is hard.Ē


So I let him have it.


ďI lived in several countries in Eastern Europe 1991-2004. I was elected Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights in 1997. Iíve smuggled cash to support families of imprisoned dissidents in Belarus. I know what jackboots and rubber truncheons applied to tender places feels like. I donít know how much more research I can stand.Ē


I was expecting a huffing and puffing reply, and prepared to uplift the virtual finger, when to my surprise he apologized for the snark and said he sincerely appreciated the good Iíd done.


ďWe American socialistsĒ want nice stuff for everybody without all the nasty stuff thatís been associated with some socialist regimes abroad he said.


OK, point taken. Iíve been preaching and trying real hard to practice civility in public discourse. Because I think weíre getting dangerously uncivil. As in nearing the point of ďthe heck with it just shoot ĎemĒ uncivil.


ďPlease forgive me if I seem impatient,Ē I replied. ďBut do you imagine Iíve never heard this before? Do you think nobody in the old Soviet Union ever said, ĎWhy canít we have socialism but free speech and be nice to people too?í Socialism doesnít work and canít be made to work. The best socialism is like a big corporation, the worst is hell on earth.Ē


Iíve had this conversation so many times over my adult life and it just seems to go round in circles. Whatís wrong with this noble sounding ideal?


Because it does sound good. Take care of everybody. Make sure everybody has a good job, a decent place to live, health care, and a comfortable retirement.


Donít we all want that?


Sure do, but how to go about it?


The simplest solution seems to be to let the government take care of everything. Take our taxes and do all that nice stuff. After all, the body has a brain that makes decisions. Isnít the government the brain of society?


For people who donít find that analogy creepy, let me point out something.


This thing we call ďthe marketĒ is not a real thing. Itís the name we give to the uncountable number of decisions we all make every day.


Am I going to get up and go to work or slack off? Am I going to brush my teeth and shave? What tooth paste, shaving cream and razor do I want to buy?


And thatís just the first five minutes after waking up.


Iíve heard socialists like Bernie Sanders argue; sure we need soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, etc. But do we need so many companies making so many brands? Isnít that wasteful?


Economists can explain why itís not. But to me socialism, whether itís the mild kind that tries to make the economy jump through hoops to the not-so-nice kind that made National Socialist Germany or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics so unpleasant, is all about taking those choices and concentrating them in fewer and fewer hands.


Lately itís been about health insurance. ďWe donít like your plan, hereís another.Ē


Maybe theirs is better, maybe not. Point is, itís not your decision anymore.


Obviously some things canít be left to your decision. You donít get to make up your mind which side of the road to drive.


And obviously people make lots of bad choices. Thatís why thereís a liquor and heroin industry.


So do you think itís better a few people make the important choices for everybody else?


Now that socialism is respectable again, thatís the question they need to answer.

I got into an online discussion the other day, slammed someone down hard, felt first smug, then kind of bad.

Well I guess I started it. Vis-ŗ-vis Bernie Sanders presidential campaign I said, ďSocialists hate corporations so much they want to turn the whole country into one big corporation.Ē

Someone replied that though some socialists favor central planning, not all do.

Then he said, ďLook it up, I know research is hard.Ē

So I let him have it.

ďI lived in several countries in Eastern Europe 1991-2004. I was elected Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights in 1997. Iíve smuggled cash to support families of imprisoned dissidents in Belarus. I know what jackboots and rubber truncheons applied to tender places feels like. I donít know how much more research I can stand.Ē

I was expecting a huffing and puffing reply, and prepared to uplift the virtual finger, when to my surprise he apologized for the snark and said he sincerely appreciated the good Iíd done.

ďWe American socialistsĒ want nice stuff for everybody without all the nasty stuff thatís been associated with some socialist regimes abroad he said.

OK, point taken. Iíve been preaching and trying real hard to practice civility in public discourse. Because I think weíre getting dangerously uncivil. As in nearing the point of ďthe heck with it just shoot ĎemĒ uncivil.

ďPlease forgive me if I seem impatient,Ē I replied. ďBut do you imagine Iíve never heard this before? Do you think nobody in the old Soviet Union ever said, ĎWhy canít we have socialism but free speech and be nice to people too?í Socialism doesnít work and canít be made to work. The best socialism is like a big corporation, the worst is hell on earth.Ē

Iíve had this conversation so many times over my adult life and it just seems to go round in circles. Whatís wrong with this noble sounding ideal?

Because it does sound good. Take care of everybody. Make sure everybody has a good job, a decent place to live, health care, and a comfortable retirement.

Donít we all want that?

Sure do, but how to go about it?

The simplest solution seems to be to let the government take care of everything. Take our taxes and do all that nice stuff. After all, the body has a brain that makes decisions. Isnít the government the brain of society?

For people who donít find that analogy creepy, let me point out something.

This thing we call ďthe marketĒ is not a real thing. Itís the name we give to the uncountable number of decisions we all make every day.

Am I going to get up and go to work or slack off? Am I going to brush my teeth and shave? What tooth paste, shaving cream and razor do I want to buy?

And thatís just the first five minutes after waking up.

Iíve heard socialists like Bernie Sanders argue; sure we need soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, etc. But do we need so many companies making so many brands? Isnít that wasteful?

Economists can explain why itís not. But to me socialism, whether itís the mild kind that tries to make the economy jump through hoops to the not-so-nice kind that made National Socialist Germany or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics so unpleasant, is all about taking those choices and concentrating them in fewer and fewer hands.

Lately itís been about health insurance. ďWe donít like your plan, hereís another.Ē

Maybe theirs is better, maybe not. Point is, itís not your decision anymore.

Obviously some things canít be left to your decision. You donít get to make up your mind which side of the road to drive.

And obviously people make lots of bad choices. Thatís why thereís a liquor and heroin industry.

So do you think itís better a few people make the important choices for everybody else?

Now that socialism is respectable again, thatís the question they need to answer.