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October 09, 2006

The Great Risk Shift

Over at The Washington Monthly, Jacob Hacker is blogging about his new book, The Great Risk Shift. I'll be mixing it up with Mr. Hacker later in the week at TAP, but for now, check out his piece and think seriously about whether, as he believes, a war against economic insecurity is really a coherent or adequate message for the Democratic Party. So much as the expansion of risk is a bad and worrying thing, and so much as Hacker is serving an important purpose by pulling together the data and suggesting solutions, calming insecurity without changing the fundamental weakness of the working class's bargaining position strikes me as, at best, an attempt at harm reduction, not an actual improvement. Moreover, government policies are wonderful and all, but without more power on the ground (through unions, say) or a government more committed to intervening on behalf of working class interests, how will better policies now sustain themselves two, three, or four Republican administrations into the future?

Further reading: I talked a bit about Hacker's idea for Universal Insurance here. Worth checking out if you're interested in what his prescriptive agenda looks like.

October 9, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

a war against economic insecurity is really a coherent or adequate message for the Democratic Party.

I know it's easy to dismiss anyone who points out comparisons of these types of goals and the goals of communism, but you are, indeed, moving dangerously close.

Between these type os goals for the Democratic party, the snuggling up to A.N.S.W.E.R and other known communist sympathizers, etc., there should no longer be any shock and dismay as to why the party has always had to fight the perception as they have.

It's a far cry from the party of John F. Kenndedy.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 9, 2006 12:19:41 PM

Oh no! Fred thinks I'm a communist (and doesn't understand what communism is)! However will I recover from this cutting and perceptive critique?

Posted by: Ezra | Oct 9, 2006 12:33:19 PM

I didn't notice Fred calling anyone a communist. "From each according their means, to each according to their needs" is an ideal that motivated and shaped socialism and communism, and is perhaps the point that most separates the left from libertarians and conservatives. Another wedge is the secondary belief that market incentives can be effectively replaced by government mandates in some respects, as in single payer health care plans. Some liberals will come straight out and acknowledge that there are socialist elements of their ideals and programs, and that this is a good thing, that American liberalism takes the best of socialism and capitalism or some such thing. But many just deny or avoid it, thus clouding the issues as much as those who accuse the left of being communist sympathizers. Not saying you usually do that, Ezra, but you are skirting the substance of the issue Fred is concerned about here.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 9, 2006 1:00:13 PM

...you are skirting the substance of the issue Fred is concerned about here.

Thank you Sanpete. However, I believe Ezra's new ability to deliberately pass over the real issue is new found. He's usually not like that.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 9, 2006 2:27:11 PM

Pass over what real issue? He talked about shifting economic risk, a concept not even exclusive to socialism, and you accused him of skirting dangerously close to communism. To which he replied you are full of shit, because, well, you are. The real issue is economic risk, not whether you or Sanpete think Ezra advocates communism. I could point out that Bush's use of signing statements skirts dangerously close to Fascism, but that wouldn't really be fair, would it?

Posted by: Adrock | Oct 9, 2006 2:42:13 PM

Adrock,

Take a laxative and chill. Ezra's dodge I and sanpete were referring to was this:

Oh no! Fred thinks I'm a communist...

It's a strawman. I did not believe, nor call him a communist. It's the ol' dodge when anyone points out the similarites of the goals of the progressives and the communists. They try to ridicule this parallel away......but it doesn't go away....it never goes away.


Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 9, 2006 3:00:42 PM

Adrock, how close to communism would be dangerously close is a matter that those with different views on economics and social policy see very differently. I don't think Ezra's policy ideas are dangerously close, but someone who feels it morally and economically wrong for government to interfere in free trade between free people and to take from one and give to another might reasonably think so. Since the solutions to risk Ezra leans toward do involve government interventions in markets and redistribution of goods, such a person might well feel him dangerously close for those reasons. And the whole idea of reducing risk through non-market means is one that the right looks on with suspicion, as one of the great errors of socialism.

You must be that liberal I heard about that hasn't yet accused Bush of moving dangerously close to fascism.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 9, 2006 3:13:53 PM

Fred, the weasel, says Ezra is "dangerously close" to communism and when Ezra calls him on it, Fred gets defensive and plays the victim. Give it up, no one buys this crap except you and the ignorant friends you surround yourself with, Fred.

"economic security" == the freedom to save up for a down payment on a house, freedom to plan to buy a car, freedom to plan for retirement. Hardly the goals of communism, or even something "dangerously close" to communism, except in the words of the ignorant and dishonest. Lack of this sort of security throws all of those goals into flux.

Posted by: Constantine | Oct 9, 2006 4:22:12 PM

Adrock, how close to communism would be dangerously close is a matter that those with different views on economics and social policy see very differently

There is a certain point at which one can say that certain claims of "dangerous closeness" are more idiotic and dishonest than others.

Posted by: Constantine | Oct 9, 2006 4:23:13 PM

There is a certain point at which one can say that certain claims of "dangerous closeness" are more idiotic and dishonest than others.

There are people who regard any substantial move in the direction of socialism dangerous. I don't think it's an idiotic or dishonest position, even though I disagree with it.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 9, 2006 7:35:51 PM

I think the difference between constantine and sane people is that sane people view others through the eyes of their philosophy. Constantine view others through the eyes of his own philosophy.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 9, 2006 10:27:46 PM

There are people who regard any substantial move in the direction of socialism dangerous. I don't think it's an idiotic or dishonest position

dangerous in general? Maybe one could make a coherent (but wrong) argument that it was, generally, dangerous. "Dangerously close to communism"? Such a statement is to be mocked, not engaged with.

Posted by: Constantine | Oct 9, 2006 10:56:10 PM

Such a statement is to be mocked, not engaged with.
---Constantine (aka Dean-O)

Exactly my predictive statement in my second post in this thread:

It's the ol' dodge when anyone points out the similarites of the goals of the progressives and the communists. They try to ridicule this parallel away......but it doesn't go away....it never goes away.

Thanks for playing, Dean!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 9, 2006 11:32:47 PM

Dangerous not generally but specifically because of moving in the direction of communism, which would imply dangerously close to communism (i.e. for those who reject any move in that direction as dangerous for that reason). I see the distinction you're making, but I'm not sure it's one everyone makes in the same words you do. Since it appears Fred was being careful, I figure he might not mean something ridiculous on its face. It happens, you know.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 9, 2006 11:36:04 PM

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