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Those who unwisely choose to spend a lot of time around me know that one of my pet theories is that people believe a lot of nonsense not because they are stupid, necessarily, or because they are ignorant, but because they are lazy and don’t take the time to think things through.

Here is an example, in the form of a bumper sticker found on no less than three cars in the parking lot of my office:

“SOCIALISM IS FINE...UNTIL YOU RUN OUT OF OTHER PEOPLES’ MONEY!”

The corollary of this, of course, is “CAPITALISM IS FINE...UNTIL YOU RUN OUT OF YOUR OWN MONEY!”. Which is a lot more likely to happen than running out of the aggregate taxable wealth of an entire nation. And therein, you might say, lies our current problem. But my guess is that none of those bumper sticker dudes (although, to be fair, they could be women) have taken that fairly simple logical step. Just...just think, people. Just for a minute.

Comments

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archaica
Sep. 3rd, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
the above quote was actually from Margaret Thatcher, patron Baroness of hard-assed people who don't give a fuck about whether people have healthcare or not.
ludickid
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Shit, you're right...I had forgotten that.
happinesstogo
Sep. 3rd, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
Maybe you should print up a little flyer to leave on these folks' windshields containing the information in that last paragraph. I agree with your theory that people are lazy and don't think. I witness it every day.
roseyv
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Not to nitpick, but ...
I don’t think that’s the corollary at all. I think the corollary would be “Capitalism is fine, until everyone else runs out of money.” I mean, in all seriousness, I’m virtually knowledge-free on the subject of economics, but that feels a bit closer to the truth, and much closer to capturing the sense of the bumper-sticker statement.

The problem with being a multibillionaire isn't that one day you might run out of billions. The problem is that your billions come from other people giving you their money in exchange for products and/or services. When they can no longer afford to do that, you may not exactly be hurting, but eventually those billions may be whittled down to mere hundreds of millions.
ludickid
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Not to nitpick, but ...
Yeah, but ultimately the problem is that YOU don't have any money to pay for things, regardless of the source of your income. Right now, most people don't have any money, but you don't see Angela Braly going "Well, fuck, how am I going to pay my medical bills now?" It is quite possible -- easy, even -- to be a thriving plutocrat in a time of national poverty.

Here is how the logic of the construction goes:

"(Economic model) is (functional)...until (social actor who funds model) runs out of money."

In the socialist model, the system breaks down when your tax base runs out of money, and in this country the tax base, theoretically, is the very wealthy. (I say theoretically, because in fact, they are the most likely to evade taxes.) This is pretty unlikely to happen, since most socialist countries tax the productive rich most heavily -- that is, the social actors most likely to be able to recoup public losses through private profit. In a capitalist model, the system breaks down when your private citizens run out of money, which happens all the time, because most people are not wealthy but have a wide range of social needs.
roseyv
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Not to nitpick, but ...
When you explain it that way, yes, absolutely your version makes more sense. The problem I saw was that the way the original "socialism is fine" nonsense is constructed, it makes it sound like the "other people" are somehow being victimized. Which is in itself inherently untrue and silly, because the other people are, in fact, "us," in which case my version makes more emotional sense. Whereas yours makes more intellectual sense.

It's almost as if we view the world through ENTIRELY different prisms, ain't it?
anne_jumps
Sep. 3rd, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
My favorite nonsense bumpersticker is ANNOY A LIBERAL, GET A JOB! There's certainly nothing that annoys me more than people having jobs. I dream of a day when everyone just collects Welfare!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 4th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
I had a co-worker with that sticker. One morning I printed out a new one, and then taped it right below hers: ANNOY A CONSERVATIVE, HELP THE POOR.
flying_blind
Sep. 3rd, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
A true statement would be "Capitalism is fine... until you run out of credit." Which is what a lot of people recently did.
thaitea
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:17 am (UTC)
Capitalism is fine... until you run out of foreign child laborers
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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