Is there such a thing as Democratic Socialism?

There are only two types of socialists: those who believe socialism will come by revolution––the uprising of the working class––and those who believe socialism can be voted in. The problem comes after socialism arrives. Then little distinguishes the policies that are advanced and the means by which they are implemented.

In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party implemented its policies by force, using the police and military to get people to do the party’s bidding. There were no individual rights in the Soviet Union, except for the Party’s top leaders of course. In Argentina, where socialism was voted in, the police and military have become the means by which a socialist dictatorship remains in power. Today people have numbers written on their arms to show their place in the food lines. Echoes of the Holocaust.

So, is there such a thing as democratic socialism? The answer is no. There are European countries that have adopted some socialistic policies, but none are truly socialist societies. Private ownership of wealth and property cannot be allowed to exist under socialism. Corporations and small businesses may operate under severe restrictions in Europe, but they exist in all European countries. In a truly socialist society any attempt to restore capitalism even by electoral means has to be crushed by force. Take Cuba as another example where the people do not have political liberty and where private ownership is extremely limited.

What would “democratic socialism” mean in America? Loss of individual liberties in the name of the society as a whole. Loss of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion. Those losses would not be labeled as such. They would be announced as great accomplishments for the “working class,” but they are inevitable.

Declining newspaper circulation in a divided society

Despite the early, national interest to the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the circulation and advertising revenues of daily newspapers in the U.S. continued to drop precipitously over the past year according to the Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media 2016” report. The question is what’s causing the accelerating circulation decline and will owners do anything about it?

Let’s look at the numbers first: Weekday circulation fell 7% in 2015 while Sunday circulation dipped 4%. Further bad news is a decline in advertising revenue of 8% between 2014 and 2015. Even digital ad revenue declined, although only by 2%.

These numbers contrast with world media data, which show booming circulation, especially online. Print circulation worldwide grew just under 5% in 2015, confirming a trend that shows 21.6% increase in print circulation over the past five years. The majority of that increase comes from China and India. Print circulation for North America declined 10.9 percent during the same time period.

I doubt anyone has the data, but I suspect the percent of print and online newspaper readership among supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is much lower than the national average. Both groups are disaffected with the mainstream narrative as demonstrated by their support for candidates who challenged that narrative. If they do subscribe to a mainstream newspaper, my guess is the majority access that publication online and few receive the print edition.

One can’t blame these citizens from giving up on large daily newspapers. Much of the news they are interested in can be obtained faster and cheaper online or from the TV. Further, the editorial pages of most daily newspapers largely ignore the issues Trump and Sanders supporters feel important or present positions that contrast with their own. Further many editorials and columnists disparaged dissident voters as racists, homophobes, and worse.

Will owners make course corrections in light of the above data or tweak their current game plans? I’m convinced we won’t see any major changes. Why? The newspaper industry has already responded to projections of declining circulation by seeking revenue from its online product, by consolidating operations, and by generating revenue from other sources. Hence, they have no incentive to change their papers’ editorial focus, which today makes many columns and editorials appear as if they were written by the Democratic National Committee, if not by White House staff.

Buying into the Democrat/Liberal national narrative is the safest bet for media owners. They don’t need a crystal ball to see that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive winner and that little will change in Washington. Therefore to listen to dissidents or challenge the national narrative would only invite unwanted scrutiny and probably alienate their current readers, most of whom agree with their editorial outlook.

Media owners are probably correct in assuming being more critical of Washington would not result in disaffected citizens taking out subscriptions. All they need to do is print the occasional column by a conservative or an elected Republican, and they can maintain the appearance of neutrality.

There is an unfortunate consequence of the world of today’s newspaper industry, which is that they are playing a major role in dividing our nation in two. On one side with the newspaper industry is what we can call the Washington elite. These people are committed to increasing government’s reach into every aspect of daily life. On the other side are the average citizens whose views are not taken into account––people who resent Washington’s intrusion into every aspect of their lives, including which bathroom their children use at school. These are the people who lost their jobs or had them reduced from full to part-time by Obamacare, the war on coal and other environmental dictates, and by overregulation of every aspect of business practice. These are the people whose taxes provide more in cash and services to illegal immigrants than they can bring home from a $50,000/year salary.

From today’s divided society we got Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Many Sanders supporters feel he was robbed by undemocratic provisions of the Democratic Party’s primary system. They will stay home in 2016, but they will be looking for the next Bernie to run in 2020. Trump’s ego may have prevented him from having a realistic chance to win in November. I’ve talked to people who hate the Democrats, but will not vote for The Donald due to his failure to stay on message, but those people will also be around in 2020 looking for someone to challenge the mainstream narrative. All bets would be off if those two groups ever teamed up. Meanwhile, newspaper editors might do themselves a favor by listening to disaffected Americans instead of dissing them.

Empty Phrases, Empty Promises: A Review of the First Democratic Presidential Debate

Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination Wednesday night by being the only adult on the stage. She was calm and rational. Jim Webb is in the wrong party based on his foreign policy positions; Lincoln Chafee should go live in Tibet; Martin O’Malley won’t even win the Maryland primary that’s how little the Democrats who know him think of him; and Bernie Sanders doesn’t live in the real world, but I have to give him style points for his theatrics. Let’s examine the issues.


  • Free Public College Education: How do you think the country’s hundreds of private colleges and universities feel about that concept? It will put most of them out of business as well as cause enormous problems because why would anyone even apply to a private college? The public institutions couldn’t handle the load, but even trying would double or triple whatever cost Sanders and O’Malley think they can cover by raising taxes on the rich.
  • $15 minimum wage: How can you complain about the high unemployment of blacks and Hispanics and then favor a policy that will guarantee even fewer will find jobs in the future?
  • Reforming the Criminal Justice System: May I point out incarceration rates have been on the decline, but the notion that anyone is in prison for smoking marijuana is total fiction. You can be sent to prison for selling very large quantities of marijuana, not for smoking a joint at a frat party or even on a street corner.
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Let’s begin by admitting that 11 million or so illegals are here because our policies of the past fifty years virtually invited them to attempt the journey. Now we’re going to increase their benefits and people living in poverty in Mexico are going to stop trying to come here? Really!
  • Climate Change: The thing that always gets me about this issue is that the environmental organization spokespeople tell us it’s already too late to prevent things like the flooding of Manhattan. All that makes me want to do is not buy property in Manhattan.
  • Reign in Wall Street: Wall Street is a shortcut term for whomever the candidates want to blame for something bad. Sometimes it means corporations. Do they include Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc.––the MAJOR source of job growth in the economy over the past two decades? If not, they can’t attack Goldman Sachs and the other financial institutions. Why? If they didn’t exist to finance those high tech companies, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would never have been able to leave their garages. Wall Street must mean big banks, but banking is one of the most highly regulated part of our economy. That doesn’t mean an occasional rogue individual doesn’t take advantage of a loophole, but most of what big banks do is both legal and necessary. Banking allows individuals and businesses to function, which benefits society and by the way results in more taxes to finance the federal government.
  • Reign in Insurance Companies and Pharmaceuticals: Without health insurance, our society would be hampered by tens of thousands of families each year going into debt to pay medical bills; without pharmaceuticals we’d be suffering more and dying sooner. That’s awful. Let’s crush them.
  • Lobbyists Control Congress: That’s correct. Here are the worst offenders: AFL-CIO, AARP, and NEA.
  • Gun Control and holding manufacturers responsible: We hold auto companies responsible for manufacturing defects, not if I drive my car into a ditch because I was texting. That’s the only standard that can work. Holding gun manufacturers responsible for how their products are use is absurd. In terms of reforms that would make it more difficult for people with mental illness and criminal intent to obtain weapons, I’d be in favor if it can be done without violating the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Decline of the Middle Class: For half of Sanders’ 40 years of decline we’ve had Democratic presidents: Carter (4), Clinton (8), and Obama nee Barry Soetoro (7). But beyond that what is the cure? Sanders would tax the “rich” to pay for public works jobs. How did that work with TARP? Shovel ready jobs weren’t and make-work projects were invented so that individual states got their share of the money. O’Malley would increase education spending, but college grads are already having trouble finding jobs. Clinton would do a little of this and a little of that, but nothing that adds up to the simple truth that businesses, not presidents, produce jobs.


Here’s what we need: Teach entrepreneurship in high school, provide internships for young people to see how businesses work, and clear the regulatory climate to enable people to start and expand businesses. Right now, going over 50 employees is not worth it. College and community-based incubators, technical assistance and other programs can help young companies get over the initial hurdle, although not all will succeed. One thing we cannot do is pretend the best way to grow the economy is to expand the public sector.

The Democrats offered empty phrases that can’t stand up to scrutiny and they offered empty promises that they cannot deliver on. What’s their plan B? Blame the Republicans.