Friday, June 25, 2010

Is Strickland's Chief Economic Development Officer a Socialist?

Now before we get into this, let's make one thing perfectly clear.

These days the word "socialist" is thrown around with great frequency.

So much so that the term seems to have lost its meaning.

Let's be clear. Per Merriam-Webster, one form of socialism is "a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done."

Remembering that, let's get to the meat of the matter.

Yesterday, Mark Barbash, Governor Strickland's Chief Economic Development Officer, made a post on his facebook wall.

It was text from a speech by a famous American who promoted government control of services to weather a treacherous economic time. Barbash described the words within the speech as "an important message in these tough economic times".

Among the words included in the speech were the following:
...[I]n the field of industry and business many of those whose primary solicitude is confined to the welfare of what they call capital have failed to read the lessons of the past few years and have been moved less by calm analysis of the needs of the Nation as a whole than by a blind determination to preserve their own special stakes in the economic order.
Interesting words to support coming from someone who was caught last year for owing $146,313 in back taxes from 2000-2006.

But let's get to the juicy parts.
I believe that we are at the threshold of a fundamental change in our popular economic thought, that in the future we are going to think less about the producer and more about the consumer. Do what we may have to do to inject life into our ailing economic order, we cannot make it endure for long unless we can bring about a wiser, more equitable distribution of the national income.

So, if I'm reading this right, Mark Barbash is echoing a call for a "more equal distribution of income"? He also is calling for producers to be deemphasized in favor of the worker?

I know the Strickland Administration has been in the back pocket of Big Labor of late, but doesn't this radical change seem a bit extreme coming from the man in charge of economic development?

We continue...
. . . [O]ur basic trouble was not an insufficiency of capital. It was an insufficient distribution of buying power coupled with an over-sufficient speculation in production. While wages rose in many of our industries, they did not as a whole rise proportionately to the reward to capital, and at the same time the purchasing power of other great groups of our population was permitted to shrink.
In order to solve this perceived problem, a very clear intrusion by the government would be required in order to evenly "distribute...buying power". This hits straight to the heart of socialism.

And again...
It is well within the inventive capacity of man, who has built up this great social and economic machine capable of satisfying the wants of all, to insure that all who are willing and able to work receive from it at least the necessities of life. In such a system, the reward for a day's work will have to be greater, on the average, than it has been, and the reward to capital, especially capital which is speculative, will have to be less.
This echoes directly what Karl Marx stated in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, that the method of one's compensation should be based on the amount of labor one contributes to society. It's also the most clear example of a socialist agenda.

So who first delivered the words quoted above and supported by Mark Barbash? Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first campaign for President in 1932.

Now don't get me wrong. FDR was a magnificent President. But his economic policies, to say the least, left much to be desired.

In fact, the "experiment", as he described his ideas in 1932, turned out to be the New Deal - or the first major step into America's embrace of Keynesian economics.

And it was the New Deal that was found to have prolonged the nation's recovery by seven years, according to a well known study by economists at UCLA in 2004.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

In many ways, our society has gone much further to the left of Roosevelt's initial vision.

But by reiterating his words from 1932, Barbash seems to support the notion that our society hasn't gone anywhere near far enough in re-imagining our economic system.

Now don't get me wrong. I have no idea if Barbash really does believe the words he quoted on his facebook page. But they are extreme to the point that someone in his position has a responsibility to clarify those words publicly.

Barbash states these are "troubled economic times". Indeed.

But do we really need a further push to the left and embrace policies that have been proven to fail?

Barbash has some explaining to do.

[a screenshot of a portion of Mark Barbash's post on facebook]


  1. "I'm not saying FDR was a a Socialist..." then why would QUOTING HIM make you one?

    You're pathetic. Absolutely shameless. Now you're attacking State employees for quoting American Presidents on Facebook?

    And that 2004 UCLA study was not peer-reviewed and not accepted by most economic scholars

  2. Modern, nice job countering the points made in the orginal post


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