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Conversation with a Libertarian Industrialist

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Headlined to H3 11/17/08

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Good to hear from you again.  My comments are inserted in your reply to my Article: Facing Socialism in America.
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I’m going to have to disagree and agree with you at the same time.  You are correct in you statement that America is already socialist.  However it seems you are not considering the fact that our government is really the problem in all of this and not the solution.  I suggest you consider reading the works of Milton Friedman and specifically look for his “free to choose” series. 

I'm quite familiar with Friedman and his U of Chicago Economic philosophy.  And true enough, rich folks are "free to choose".  Since he died, they're trying to build a Milton Friedman Institute, to be headquartered, ironically enough, in a decommissioned huge high spired Cathedral on campus. You can join their Institute for a contribution of a million dollars.  For that, you get access to "inside" economic information. There is considerable organized opposition from the Faculty on campus, saying it corrupts the concept of higher education. If you fully read my Socialism article, I mentioned "Uncle Miltie".
 
Our government is the most inefficient machine in the US.  We should be looking to make it as small as possible.  Only competition and privatizing government functions will create the efficiencies we need to growth economically. 

There are things that Government cannot do well, and should not. But there are also things that private enterprise cannot do well, and should not. Finding a workable balance is what our 2nd American Revolution is going to be about.
 
When people try to scare us away from privatizing what they really want to do is keep their monopoly on your money.  Take public schools for instance.  As a tax payer I’m sure you are aware that the typical largest expense for any town is their school system.  Yet, why is it that the education level of the children of the US is going lower and lower. 

Our public school system, of which I am a product, is one of the finest ways to keep local folks involved in their children's education. I know, and have known, many fine teachers, who do great work. The claim that education level is going down derives from two causes: 1) Teachers must now spend an inordinate amount of time "teaching to the test" instead of educating students. This is directly caused by GwB's Leave Children Behind interference. Go talk to some teachers. You'll come to understand how much damage GwB and his NeoCON masters have caused trying to turn public education into profit centers.  2) There are so many distractions provided by private enterprise outside the classroom -- TV, cell phones (with cameras), text messaging, teen fashions, portable music devices -- that teachers are struggling to hold students' attention, constantly. A teacher told me recently he noticed a student with her head down, and realized she was working a cell phone, which are forbidden in classrooms. When he took her to the front office, they discovered she had been watching live sex on her phone. If you want to improve public and private education, reduce the private enterprise clutter.
 
Towns have a monopoly on education.  Only through breaking this monopoly and creating competition will our education system improve. 

I know of no evidence to support that this claim is true. Competition is not the answer.
 
Further teacher’s unions also inflame the problem.  Government employee’s have disproportionately better benefits than those they are supposed to be serving.  How is that fair. 

As an industrialist, I understand your abhorrence for Unions. I've never belonged to one, but I do know folks who do. As a non-union theatre technical director, I could not pick up a screwdriver in a Union house, could not do what I was perfectly capable of doing in my own non-union house.  Conversely, I've witnessed first hand where I had to work 22 hours a day, and Union personnel did not.
 
I’m sorry but when Bush suggested his item for creating a schools voucher system he was right.  Democrats are tied to the teachers unions politically.  That’s why they pushed so hard against it.  Bush was not getting money from the private schools system because there hasn’t been one created yet. 

Teacher's Unions are attracted to Democrats to protect them from the mistake of privatizing public schools. It's the Republicans, trying to sneak in with vouchers, hoping to start down a slippery slope, who are causing the distraction from excellence. You are implying teachers are lazy free-loaders. Teachers I know are dedicated to the profession of teaching. Do you actually know any? Do you know what they do? Do you know how much of their time is wasted filling out federally mandated paperwork, when all they want to do is teach?
 
Democrats are also tied to the social security which should also be privatized.  Wouldn’t you rather control you own savings and investments. 

Absolutely not. What do I know about investing? You're from the monied class. I'm at the other end, on the bottom. If it were not for Social Security benefits paying my rent and utilities each month, I'd be living under a bridge right now. If at all. Each month $85 is deducted for Medicare, which I cannot use, because I cannot afford the copay. I treat myself with good nutrition, and over the counter medicines, because I cannot afford the monthly fee for Medicare part D.  

I went to a local pharmacy where I'd been buying a flu shot for cash the past two years, since I had to drop my health insurance. I asked the price. It had gone up $4 to $27. The assistant asked if I had insurance.  I showed her my Medicare card. She asked if it would cover. The pharmacist was kind enough to say Part B would cover it, but they were not set up for it. He told me to go to Kroger or CVS. I did, got my shot for free, and spent part of the $31 I had in my pocket on food. That's what it's like down here on the bottom.
 
Social Security is failing because people are living much long then expected.  My grandparents are a prime example.  They are living well into there 80’s.  The SS payments remain flat along with their pension.  If you took that same amount of money that you paid into SS and invested it in the stock market you would have been a millionaire.  Even with the current economic climate you would still be better off. 

Social Security is not failing because people live longer. It's got a questionable prognosis because Congress, both Dems and Repubs, have been pumping money out of the revenue rich SS Fund for years, to cover deficits in the General Budget, which they can't seem to keep from over spending. Put back what they stole from SS, and it will never run out of money.
 
In every decision in life there is risk.  Don’t be lured into thinking the SS is risk less.  In my opinion it is far more risky to let the government control my retirement and savings.  If you’re social security payments won’t cover you’re basic living expenses, where are you then?  Sounds pretty risky to me. 

Well, obviously my SS, which will increase by almost 10% in January, is what I live on, plus the diminishing income from my tiny business because of the Economic Meltdown. My IRAs which I had counted on, are depleting rapidly. One was actually cashed out. So which has the greater risk?  
 
Greed drives growth.  Just look at the size of the US govt.  That’s greed for you.  The American people need to say enough is enough and stop giving the government out money.  We are not getting a return on our investment. 

Greed drives greed, not growth. I have no problem reducing the size of government. Actually, most non-military aspects of government are shrinking because of GwB's damned wars for oil, and enriching military contractors directly out of the pockets of American taxpayers. They learned in WWII that war profiteering is the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest. That's why if we don't have a war going, they look around frantically to find a reason for one, even if they have to lie to cause it to happen. Ike warned us on his way out of Office, and he beyond anyone else should know: "Beware the military-industrial complex."
 
Just google Friedman under google videos.  He was much better at explaining these concepts than I am. 

Friedman is thoroughly discredited, based on the collapse of Wall Street. Alan Greenspan testified before Congress that he had no idea this could happen, tho many tried to warn him. His unregulated free-market heroine, Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead) and her Objectivism has proven to be a great Fiction. Trickle-down never did. If America is to survive the 21st century, we must bury these failed, pathetic 20th century dinosaurs.

I close by copying the Social Security paragraph from my Facing Socialism in America article, to which you responded:

Imagine, just for a moment, what America would look like today if GwB HAD privatized Social Security. Picture the national disaster we'd be in now if Social Security had been moved to Wall $treet.  With the subsequent Meltdown of Wall $treetSocial Security would have all but vanished from America, swaddled in derivatives, buried under a pile of rubble that would rival the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11. There are reasons why Socialism keeps America running.

As I said, always good to hear from you. You provide me with good reasons to keep writing and publishing. Hope you are doing well.  Cordially, Gene

As my 10th grade public school English teacher was fond of quoting: "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise!"

 

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For 17 years Gene Messick studied and taught Design at NC State University and Cornell. Co-founding the Visual Design Program at NCSU, he established the Photography Program at Cornell, where he taught in the Architecture Department, most interested (more...)
 
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"Alan Greenspan testified before Congress tha... by John W. Bales on Monday, Nov 17, 2008 at 10:37:53 PM
While Libertarians like to think Alan Greenspan th... by Gene Messick on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 11:05:59 AM
Rand's philosophy is is truly needed. Now more... by Antony Reed on Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008 at 10:15:12 AM
I am a registered Libertarian and a long term subs... by WML on Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008 at 1:56:29 PM
First, Antony, let me apologize for misspelling yo... by Gene Messick on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 11:24:56 AM
Your article is all sophistry. What has failed is ... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008 at 1:39:32 PM
From mylief in John Lennon's Imagine song and ... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Nov 25, 2008 at 8:30:51 PM