The Decline of Manufacturing & the Rise of Big Banks

The big Republican knock against Bernie Sanders - and, to some extent, the knock on Hillary Clinton and any Democrat - is that they want America to be more like Europe, in particular Northern Europe.

Bernie’s socialist policies might work fine for Scandinavia, Republicans say, but they’re pretty much DOA in the good old U. S. of A.

Marco Rubio even went so far as to joke at a recent debate that Bernie would actually be better off just running for president of Sweden.

Now, Sweden doesn’t actually have a president (it’s a constitutional monarchy with a king as its head of state and a prime minister as its head of government), but Rubio’s point here is still pretty obvious.

Basically, he’s saying that even if it were a good idea, Bernie Sanders’ Sweden-style socialism would never work in the U.S. because damnit, this is America and we don’t like pinko commies here.

Conservative columnist David Brooks gives another version of this argument in his latest op-ed for The New York Times.

He writes, “There’s nothing wrong with living in Northern Europe. I’ve lived there myself. It’s just not the homeland we’ve always known. Bernie Sanders’ America is starkly different from Alexander Hamilton’s or Alexis de Tocqueville’s America, or even Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s America.”

But is that really true?

Is Sweden-style social democracy really as alien to the American way of thinking as David Brooks says it is?

Do Americans really prefer our way of doing things to the Scandinavian way of doing things?

Well, contrary to what you might hear on Fox So-Called News, they don’t.

Americans actually really like socialism, in particular Swedish-style democratic socialism, the kind Bernie Sanders is promoting as part of his political revolution.

A couple of years ago, Harvard University business professor Michael Norton and Duke University Psychology professor Dan Ariely conducted a study in which they showed Americans three different pie charts.

The first pie chart represented how wealth is distributed here in America, with the richest 20 percent of all Americans controlling 84 percent of all wealth.

The second pie chart represented how wealth is distributed in Sweden, a much more equal society in which the richest 20 percent of the population controlling a much smaller share of all wealth -- around 18 percent.

The third chart represented an imaginary society in which wealth was distributed equally among all sectors of the population.

After showing people these three charts, Norton and Ariely then asked them which style of wealth distribution they preferred.

The responses to this question were stunning.

A full 92 percent of people said they preferred a Swedish style of wealth distribution.

77 percent, meanwhile, said they actually preferred a perfectly equal distribution of wealth.

So what’s the takeaway from all this?

Easy: Americans overwhelmingly support either pure socialism or at least the next best thing -- Swedish-style social democracy.

Which brings us back to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the generally leftward-swing that's sweeping the entire Democratic Party.

Say what you want about the feasibility of his “democratic socialism,” but the argument that it’s somehow out of step with what the American people want is just flat-out wrong.

Americans do want socialism, even if they’ve been bludgeoned by decades of Cold War era propaganda into believing that it’s an affront to our democracy.

The Republican attacks against progressive ideals will likely continue and will get even harsher as we move into the general election, but as progressives convincingly make their case to the American people that democratic socialism is the way to go, those Republican attacks will fall on deaf ears.

A specter is haunting America, the specter of the death of the middle class, and Americans increasingly believe that European-style Democratic Socialism is the cure. And genuinely progressive candidates across America - who did really well in the past few election cycles - are poised to do better than ever.


ckrob's picture
ckrob 8 years 17 weeks ago

Re: your bumper concerning "Neanderthal/Human Culture," the distinction equals 'cooperation within the human species is a superior evolutionary strategy.' Can a parallel be made with a Repubiican go-it-alone-individualism and a Democratic let's-cooperate-via-government strategy?

Marsh In Florida's picture
Marsh In Florida 8 years 17 weeks ago

I wonder why everyone - Thom included - seems to have forgotten that following WWII, just about every one of these countries became socialist democracies. Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Greece all created constitutions based almost entirely on that of our Constitution, and they developed bills of rights that not only adopted most of ours, but went even further to include the working rights, union rights, family rights, health rights, etc. that went way beyond our own.

The reason these very same countries have lost a lot of this is pretty much for the same reason we have lost our "big government" protections. Big Greedy Industrialists and Bankers. We were doing great up to and through Eisenhower's administration. In fact, it was Eisenhower who made sure his returning soldiers had jobs by demanding the building of a super highway system to cross all corners of the country. And to build that super highway system he increased taxes on the super rich to 90% of everything over the first million. Yeah, they bitched about it, but they did it and they still earned more millions.

Now look where we are with Nixon's trade deals with China, Clinton's trade deals with Mexico, and on and on. We had to adopt an austerity program in this country for what? So that the rich could get richer, of course. Well, of course, the Europeans all looked at us and decided they needed something similar, and up popped the European Union. Well, how's that template for greed working for them? Just about as badly as it is working for us, and in the case of Greece, much, much worse.

Just like you can't turn all those states included in the European Union into a "United States," our candidates can't keep making one kind of promise to the people, and another kind of promise to their billionaire benefactors who are keeping them in office. You can't keep drilling and fracking and not destroy the planet. These are things We the People can't keep allowing to happen. We need a party we can trust, and it's "none of the above" when speaking of either the Democratic or Republican Party. We need a Progressive Democratic Party, and we need to take our democracy back from big everything.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 8 years 17 weeks ago

Socialism is DOA in the USA because you cannot and must not try to marry a social system with a capitalist platform, you will only bankrupt yourselves.

Every socialist program has rigorously defined and enforced parameters that allow costs to be controlled and contained and each part meshes or fits into the other to assure a seamless interaction between a free and government controlled marketplace and social growth/welfare.

Americans biggest problem is the tendency to borrow ideas from other orthodoxies without fleshing out or considering all the potential ramifications.

In the end, the programs that could have worked and were the most idealistic will do the most harm. What happens when an industry has access to mandated customers with a seemingly bottomless pocketbook?

You get a free for all with unnecessary surgeries, and unscrupulous solicitations, increased infections and death with no accountablity and a public that gets sicker and sicker as drs have no qualms about medicating fantasy illnesses or even creating illness by the wrong use of drugs.

For Instance, 2 personal examples. A good friend of mine, from Africa who is not an American citizen but has some sort of insurance scheme is constantly contacted by a hospital employee to "just come in for discounted tests" well she did and now has bills in the thousands which she is assured she does not have to pay for because Obamacare will pick up the tab (something about indigents.

The young lady had no clue that a dr or medical professional cold calling for her to come in for MRIs and other tests is probably unethical if not illegal. Another case: I had heartburn in 1999. The dr asked me my history. I had a case of heartburn in 1986 and then this case in 1999. Her verdict? Prevacid.

I did not present with chronic gas reflux but instead with an acute case and it did not justify a program of meds whose very use would make me not only dependent but could cause my body to continue to attempt to breach the meds.. which meant if I ever got off of them, then what was a fake illness would become a real one--and don't get anyone started on all the drs pushing post menopausal women to have hysterectomies after all they don't need their uteruses anymore not to mention a lifelong dependency on HRT.

I worked for big Pharm and am very familiar with the game so no dice here, but millions of Americans who have felt shut off from health care have NO IDEA that their rush to be "included" is actually pushing for a place in a death line.

There are so many scams now and Obama has made participation mandatory in some fashion--similar to mandated car insurance and home owners insurance so that people no longer have a say on what they do or do not want to spend their own paychecks on.

Meanwhile the health complex is getting richer and richer and care is becoming worse and worse and what did Obama do? apply a socialist idea to a capitalistic plan--perfect storm for disaster and bankruptcy.

Now the new scheme of free education. Paid for with what? Don't forget the debt and the medical complex--what is left over for free health care and how does that work when universities can charge what the market will bear or in the case of free--what the government will let them gouge to get?

What is a degree worth under such a system? What is healthcare worth under such a system?

America has not really had truly socialistic programs and has no clue what they are about and Congress is equally clueless. Those of us from actual countries with social policies can only shake our heads at the idiocy and myopia of a public who wants a lot and who still supports a system based on greed--they are mutually exclusive--you cannot meet or anticipate the needs of the masses while pandering to the pockets of the private sector, it is a sure recipe for mayhem, a failed system, chaos and a broken and bankrupt government .

The fact is, a social system takes very long term planning and discipline, not something readily seen in a system where Social security was gutted and misspent then ious not paid back and where Congress and the President fly by the seat of their pants and have no idea of what must be in place to prevent a social system from devouring itself.

None at all and many Americans lack the attention span or acumen to learn what they do not know, --but it is what they do not know which will make all of this come crashing down.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 17 weeks ago

Funny how none of the countries with things like single payer, mandatory minimum of eight paid weeks of vacation, retirement pensions one can live on, living minimum wage, widespread unionization, college education paid for, gun control, etc. ....none of these countries are saying, geeeez, wish we could do it like they do in the United States...!!!!! None are saying, maybe we should let a few aggressive and greedy individuals break the unions, set up 401K's in place of pensions, allow military style weapons to be available to anyone who wants them, get government out of the funding of higher education, and while we're at it, let's switch to "free market" insurance monopolies so they can profit off healthcare .

Why is this so David Brooks?????? .... ..because in "Merica," we just do it better???? It will trickle down???? ...yeah right! Truth is, we spend half of our god damn taxes/budget on warfare ...that's why we can't afford Democratic Socialism at the moment, while other countries can...and you damn well know that.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 17 weeks ago

Reply to #2: BRAVO, Marsh in Florida!

w1ders's picture
w1ders 8 years 17 weeks ago

The American people are sick and tired of endless war and growing poverty in the richest country on the globe. Vote for a remedy by electing Bernie Sanders for president!!

Theorbist's picture
Theorbist 8 years 17 weeks ago

Are you kidding? Birth certificates sold on the open market? C'mon.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 17 weeks ago

This idea that socialism works in Europe but can't work here is crypto racist. What they often mean - and sometimes say - is that the reason is that European countries culturally and racially homogenous and the U.S. is not and what they also ran but don't say is that European countries are predominately white and socialism couldn't work here because non white people are not capable of such a high level of coopersteand civilization as a socialist society would be.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 17 weeks ago

Queen, you might be right to think that compromises between socialism and capitalism often yield the worst of both worlds. Weztern European economies, however, are considered, by economists and political scientists "mixed economies, i.e., both capitalist and socialist and seem to work nicely.
Many socialists, however, don't accept Bernie as a socialist
They consider him a New Dealer but the spectrum has shifted so far to the right that that seems radical now.
Bernie's socialism is one of values rather than policy and he will support whatever policy best serves those values.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 17 weeks ago

Frankly Queen, I think much of what you say is unfounded. Bernie's type of social democracy is tried and proven.
The problem I see is the public which must be detoxed from consumer capitalism. They need the will power for the discipline you talk about. Much fault lies with the comsumeristic, advertiser driven media. If the people could be properly informed instead of willfully misled and eroded of their capacity for discipline then the problems would fall away.
We need a BBC or German type national broadcasting here. PBS and NPR would have done something like that but, with their establishment in the U.S., Lyndon Johnson and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Wilbur Mills made public broadcasting dependent on appropriations rather than making it truly independent with a separate tax of its own.
Public financing of election campaigns as in Europe and something like we had in Maine and Arizona until Citizens United would help a lot too. What we have now is a system of legalized bribery.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"In an age rife with media-inspired confusion and political cowardice, we yearn for a decent, caring, deeply human soul whose grasp of the problems confronting us provides a light by which we can make our way through the quagmire of lies, distortions, pandering, and hollow self-puffery that strips the American Dream of its promise. How lucky we are, then, to have access to the wit, wisdom, and willingness of Thom Hartmann, who shares with us here that very light, grown out of his own life experience."
Mike Farrell, actor, political activist, and author of Just Call Me Mike and Of Mule and Man
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"With the ever-growing influence of corporate CEOs and their right-wing allies in all aspects of American life, Hartmann’s work is more relevant than ever. Throughout his career, Hartmann has spoken compellingly about the value of people-centered democracy and the challenges that millions of ordinary Americans face today as a result of a dogma dedicated to putting profit above all else. This collection is a rousing call for Americans to work together and put people first again."
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom is a national treasure. Read him, embrace him, learn from him, and follow him as we all work for social change."
Robert Greenwald, political activist and founder and president of Brave New Films