Monday, June 11, 2012

The Ethical Atheist Politician: Republican Communists

It is surprising how many communists you find in the Republican Party.

Clearly, they are not ideological communists. They claim to detest communism as an obviously flawed way to organize society. It would be more accurate to say that their beliefs are inconsistent such that, in some policy areas, they end up being fierce defenders of communism - though they are largely ignorant of the fact.

Pure communism holds that the best way to manage the use of a resource is to put it in a "commons" or the closest approximation to a communal warehouse. The communal warehouse is not subject to any form of control or regulation. Instead, people are free to enter and leave as they wish, contributing to the warehouse according to their ability, and taking what they wish according to their perceived need.

At least, that is how it works in theory.

In practice there tends to be very little adding and a great deal of taking. Consequently, that resource is squandered and destroyed. The warehouse stands empty and, though the resource is vital to the community, the community ends up with little or nothing. The results can be catastrophic.

For example, in cases where the warehouse holds the community food stores, communities have faced massive starvation.

In some cases where a society faces the problem of an empty communal warehouse, a strong leader will come along to force people to make contributions. This helps a little. Unfortunately, those who work just so that the product of their labor can be taken from them by others tend not to work very hard. Nor do they come up with many new inventions or new techniques to increase efficiency. They put in the least effort they can get away with, and the warehouse continues to be poorly stocked.

Markets, on the other hand, provide a system that corrects these problems.

In a market system, those who contribute are paid. As a result, they contribute more, and they discover ways to work more efficiently.

In a market system, takers must pay for what they take. This gives them an incentive to take only what they really need and leave the rest behind for others. It gives them an incentive to look for substitutes that are less costly.

In the vast majority of cases, there seems to be a price at which the volume being contributed is equal to the volume being taken by the takers. This is known as the market clearing price – and I have just described in basic terms the principles behind the law of supply (contributors) and demand (takers).

Capitalists like this system and hate the community warehouse (communist) system.

Yet, there are policy areas where Republicans are demanding that we use the communist system.

They do not call it that. But this is what it is.

One set of policy areas concern the use of the oceans and the atmosphere as a dumping ground for pollution - including the dumping of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. They insist on no rules of any kind - that people be permitted to "take" these resources (dump their pollutants) as they please, paying no price for doing so. And they strongly oppose any plan to offer a price as payment to those who contribute to this resource - e.g., by finding other ways to store the pollutant or to clean up the mess.

Free-market economics tells us that, if we let this situation continue, we will end up utterly destroying these resources. Recall the communities that faced widespread starvation when their food was kept in a communal warehouse. We are aiming for the same type of results when it comes to "emptying" the ocean and the atmosphere of its capacity to hold pollutants.

When we do, the whole of humanity (except very few with vast sums of money that will allow them to escape these consequences) will be made to suffer.

How do we avoid this outcome?

We introduce capitalism.

We introduce a price for dumping these pollutants.

The problem is, the Republican Party is dominated by people who absolutely refuse to consider this option. They demand on holding on to the community warehouse (communist) system of managing these resources - allowing people to take as they please and contribute as they please without regard to any sort of price.

How is it the case that, in this area, the so many Republicans became communists?

In the case of the communal warehouse for the dumping of pollution, some people are in a better position to take from the communal warehouse than others. That is, they are in a position to dump huge amounts of pollutants. These people became wealthy - in part because of what they took out of the communal warehouse for dumping pollutants.

These wealthy pollution-dumpers could then use their wealth to hire masters of rhetoric - and give them a very loud microphone. Today, they use corporate sponsorship to give these masters of rhetoric spots on talk radio and certain faux news cable channels.

These masters of rhetoric earn their pay by telling the rest of us that this unregulated warehouse where people are allowed to contribute as they please and take what they please is "freedom". In fact, they call this unregulated warehouse "capitalism" - when nothing, literally, can be further from the truth.

Communism, in its purist form, allows for perfect freedom. There is absolutely no regulation on what people may contribute to or take from the communal warehouse. They contribute what they wish to contribute, and take what they wish to take. The only regulation is that they cannot keep anybody else out of the warehouse, and must contribute all they have to it.

Capitalism, on the other hand, uses price to draw contributions into the warehouse and limit what is taken out of the warehouse.

The masters of rhetoric mix the message that the unregulated warehouse is "freedom" with the message that the price-regulation of the free market is "regulation". From this, they claim to be champions of freedom over regulation when, in fact, they are champions of the communal warehouse over economic activities regulated by price.

It turns out to be true that the free market is a set of regulations. It comes with all sorts of rules - rules that govern the ownership of property and rules that govern the transfer of property. It contains rules against acquiring property through fraud and deception, rules against acquiring property through violence, rules about what counts as violence and what does not. It prohibits destroying the property of others without compensation as a way of promoting individual responsibility.

So, what we have is a set of wealthy people - those who were in the best position to enrich themselves in part by taking from the communal warehouse - spending their money on demagogues whose job it is to tell the public that a person who wants to replace the communal warehouse with a system of private property and free markets are anti-freedom and pro-regulation.

Communism does not work. Communism does not make good things happen.

The ultimate consequences of keeping this communist system will be the destruction of our atmosphere and our oceans as a dumping ground for these pollutions. To solve this problem and to avoid these consequences we need to replace the communal system we have now - the love of many in the Republican party - with a system of private property and market pricing.

I am not ignoring the problems with this option. However, those problems will still be better than the problems we are heading for if we continue to support the communist system embraced by a substantial portion of the Republican Party.


Emu Sam said...

As usual, I love your reasoning, but this post particularly appealed to my schadenfreude, and as such I am already working on an elevator speech version. I want to praise your dedication to truth and validity because I really do think that has the most value. It's sad that what inspires me to post praise is when you make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Very good and truthful. The Republicans are proving not to recognize nor accept Government law, our Supreme Court or Congress. Affordable Health Care Act has passed through our Government, passed through our Supreme Court and passed through Congress and the Republican Party shuts down our Government in hopes of DESTROYING A LAW? Yes, that proves the Republican Party believes in Communism. Republican, in my opinion, should move to North Korea and do it right now.