Look, this is pretty straightforward stuff.

I agree. Words mean something. If definitions are entirely fluid, communications breaks down.

Terms like “socialism” refer to a very specific form of governance, where the government controls/owns the means of production. That form of governance has a well-defined historical outcome.

But, to the point, that form of governance MUST have a nonfluid definition OR it cannot be discussed, debated, or taught in political science classes. If you want to make it fluid, you must qualify it. I would have no issue, for example, if people wanted to use the terms “Soviet-style Socialism” alongside “Nordic-style Socialism”. That’s fine.

Just don’t try to suggest that those two forms of economic governance are in any way alike. They are not. It’s like saying a boat is a car because they both have a steering wheel. Doesn’t work like that.

Right-wing Americans, and many other Americans, now use “socialism” to refer to redistributive policies.

Some do. If I were them, I’d ask for a refund on my educational costs. But I am fine if they want to use the qualified term (e.g., “Nordic”) above. That seems to be what Crazy Uncle Bernie and newbies like Ocasio-Cortez want, although both of them muddle around so much it’s hard to be exactly sure.

This was originally due to conservative attempts to exaggerate the seriousness of minor redistributive policies. You have it backwards: it wasn’t the left that redefined “socialism”, it was the right.

Horse-water-drink. I’ve shown you a precise example on how the left does this redefinition in the Sanders/Danish PM matter. Ignore it at your peril.

But it doesn’t matter anymore: the word is now accepted by most speakers to mean “redistributive policies”. Live with it.

Nope. If people are led to believe that marxist-style socialism is a viable system because of the success of the totally unrelated redistributive system in Denmark, then a lie has been foisted upon the citizen.

I find it disturbing that lying politicians don’t bother you.

the best we can do is to use the narrowest possible term to express our meaning, and to avoid politically controversial terms.

Well, now it seems you’re agreeing with me and becoming “prescriptive.” :-)

I suggest that you take the time to read the link I supplied earlier; it contradicts your claim. Have you any data to support your claim?

It is admittedly hard to back in to, often because state to state reporting is variant. But it is not controversial, and is commonly reported by the NIH, that people with health insurance live as much as 15% longer than people without insurance. I doubt you’d consider that surprising.

So, if you’re good with math, and you know that until the ACA, 83% of the population had health insurance (that number has risen to 90%, but there has not been enough time to tweak the stats of yet), and average longevity in the US is 78 years, you can back into the actual number for the insured population, which would be more like 80 years.

Surely you must concede that the final result of the entire economy, including taxes, greatly favors the wealthy in the USA.

Let’s close the loop on progressive tax rates first, please, before we move on.

How progressive a tax plan is can easily be graphed. I feel lazy and don’t want to draw these from scratch, so bear with me:

Let’s assume that the x axis is income, and the y is the tax rate. The graph to the far right, of course, is a “flat” tax with no progressivity at all.

The US has a very progressive system, which taxes the poorest at a marginal rate of 10% (they actually pay a negative 10%, but let’s not digress) and the highest at a rate of 39.6%. So, we look kind of like the graph to the far left.

Europe has a flatter system where taxes on not just the rich are higher, but those rates are paid all the way down into the middle class. So, they look more like the graph in the middle. The Tax Foundation (which is part of the center-left Brookings Institution) has an article on this:


Scandinavian income taxes raise a lot of revenue because they are actually rather flat. In other words, they tax most people at these high rates, not just high-income taxpayers. The top marginal tax rate of 60 percent in Denmark applies to all income over 1.2 times the average income in Denmark. From the American perspective, this means that all income over $60,000 (1.2 times the average income of about $50,000 in the United States) would be taxed at 60 percent.

And shows that progressivity (or lack thereof) by this chart:

Now, back your point, in which you demanded:

Surely you must concede that the final result of the entire economy, including taxes, greatly favors the wealthy in the USA.

Hmmmm. I concede that the final result of the economy greatly favors the wealthy in the USA. However, I must point out that concluding a cause from an effect is a logical fallacy.

The steadily increasing Gini Index proves that beyond any reasonable doubt.

The steadily increasing Gini Index proves beyond any reasonable doubt that marginal tax rates have little to do with inequality. The GINI Index has been rising at approximately the same slope since the late 1960s. Over that period of time, the highest marginal tax rates have fluctuated from 78% down to 28%, providing strong evidence that inequality is not linked to tax policy.

In fact, if you look at the Gini Index, you’ll notice that there’s a deviation from the mean slope in the beginning of the 90’s, when Bush I and Clinton were RAISING marginal rates, which is precisely the opposite of what your narrative presupposes:

Nor can you deny the historical record that changes in the tax law since the Reagan years have primarily been of benefit to the wealthy.

See above. The wealthy have been “benefiting” since 1968, which takes the Reagan tax packages out of the blame narrative. It’s worth breaking down here some inconvenient facts:

  1. As illustrated above, the Gini ratio has been rising at approximately the same slope since the late 1960’s, over a host of widely disparate top marginal rates.
  2. The Reagan packages did not accelerate nor decelerate this progressive.
  3. Mean real hourly wage in the US peaked in 1974. We haven’t been paid that well, on average, since.

So, to the logician, that begs the question: what changed in the late 1960’s to create this trend towards greater inequality?

Well, the answer to that is THIS:


In the late 1960’s, IBM and other computer manufacturers came to market with the first mass market manufacturing automation systems. The 1130, for example, could take a program printed on 80 column cards and control devices with it:

Users of the new computer will range from scientists and engineers to small manufacturing and distribution firms. Newspapers and others in the graphic arts industry, will use the 1130 for preparation of copy for automatic typesetting and photocomposition. Distribution firms such as bakeries and dairies will use the computer for control and accounting of delivery operations. Public utilities, construction firms, consultants and state and local governments are also expected to employ the 1130 for desk-side problem solving.

So, the late 1960’s were the beginning of computer automation, which has idled tens of millions over decades, and caused a marked decline in the number of middle-class jobs available to individuals outside of white-collar pursuits.

AND, the late 1960’s were the time when the “global economy”, as we have come to know it, was kicked off. The infamous Bhopal plant was built by Union Carbide in 1969, and then “Nixon Went To China”, again laying down a marker for a more global economy.

Lastly, you cannot deny that the most recent tax bill provided about $1 trillion in tax benefits to the wealthy, and only about $500 billion to everybody else. These facts are all firmly established and uncontroversial.

I have no quarrel with that. I was not in favor of the personal tax reform bill.

The logic is as follows: Corporate political contributions play a larger role in politics than they did 20 years ago.

Yes, I get all that. You started discussing Citizens United in the context of health care, implying that it was corporate interests that were the cause of the US health care mess.

In the health care space specifically, outside of pharma, that’s a hard connection to make. Our health care delivery “system” is a mess of small to medium sized businesses, which don’t have a ton of political capital to deliver.

Free markets, free minds. Question all narratives. If you think one political party is right and the other party is evil, the problem with our politics is you.

Free markets, free minds. Question all narratives. If you think one political party is right and the other party is evil, the problem with our politics is you.