- Apr 29, 2020
Even with social democracy you have a lot of people exploiting the system. You can make certain things cheaper or facilitate public responsibilities but giving people money is almost never a good idea. There is also the question of mutual reciprocity. 'Free' college education is nice but how is it fair for example that it needs to be facilitated by the taxes of an assembly line worker. Welfare is the same where it is often difficult to determine who really needs it and who is taking advantage of the situation. 'Free' healthcare also sounds nice but how is it fair that someone who watches their diet, exercises etc. needs to facilitate with their taxes the lifestyle of an obese 50-year old with high blood pressure, diabetes and an extended ICU stay for covid complications.I have no great objection to democratic socialism, such as represented by most of the European left, although I'm more precisely a social liberal.
I am really not very ideological economically; I think a lot of it is "horses for courses": what gets the job done of delivering for a society. Broadly, I'd take a well-regulated capitalist economy. Providing certain sufficiently egalitarian conditions I'd accept anarcho-capitalism, but I suspect emergent proprties would rapidly render it societally dangerous. If you take a country labouring under a self-interested business class where the lot of the people stagnates, I'm quite happy for a socialist to step in and fix things that the usual capitalist exploiters won't. If you need Stalinist Communism to take over and save your people from extermination by militaristic racists, Stalinism it is (but hopefully we don't ever end up in that situation).
I oppose the idea of socialism as a generic boogeyman, because the vast majority of people raging against it can't draw the difference between anarchism, Communism and democratic socialism, despite there being a vast gulf in practice and conditions between the three.
There is also the serious problem that the situation is aggrevated by extensive bureaucracies and interest groups in social democracies that paralyzes the amount of decision making. You end up with public services that are so overloaded by demand that supply actually creates more demand. Like with healthcare, no matter how many collective billions they put into it, it will never be enough. Bureaucracies also lead to a christmas tree of exceptions and entitlements delegated between institutions in the public sector where no one is reponsible and where legitimacy is compensated for by infinite amounts of forms and paperwork. Ofcourse this isn't unique to social democracies but it demonstrates that juridification of official discourse isn't exclusive to more laissez fair capitalist societies. You still end up with either nothing because you can't find a way in the bureaucracy or drown in a swamp of litigation.
You also have to consider the long term implications. I remember with Blair and the 'third way' in 1997 that it was seen as a modernized form of social democracy but the more lasting effects were that more vulnerable people were simply left to their own devices with entire generations being on the dole. The underclass of tattoos, drinking, felonies and asocial behavior was still there but now facilitated by the government and with serious entitlement issues. Not to mention it also didn't prevent the crime and gang violence in east London.