A taste of socialist honey 5

Bernie Sanders is out of the running for the presidency of the United States. Millions are disappointed. He stimulated a taste for socialism. The Democratic Party is more socialist now than it was before it watched him entrancing his millions of followers.

He conveyed to crowds of Americans apparently innocent of any knowledge of modern history, that socialism is a benign system for an ideal society in which all are equal, and everyone gets free education from kindergarten to college, and free health care for life.

He has managed not to notice that where the system was tried – as in Russia – it did not established unending human happiness.

Although he went to Soviet Russia himself.  He took his honeymoon there.

He got back home again safely, and has continued to the present day to consider socialism a fine thing.

Other Americans who went there – to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – were just as foolish but not as lucky.

We quote from an article by Tim Tzouliadis, published by the BBC in August 2008:

At the height of the Depression, several thousand American emigrants left New York on the decks of passenger liners waving goodbye to the Statue of Liberty, bound for Leningrad.

Over 100,000 Americans had applied for jobs working in brand new factories in Soviet Russia, ironically built for Stalin by famous American industrialists such as Henry Ford.

Those American emigrants who entered the “workers’ paradise” were certain that they were leaving the misery of unemployment and poverty behind them. They considered themselves fortunate.

Their optimism would prove to be short-lived. Most were stripped of their American passports soon after their arrival.

Considered suspect by Stalin’s paranoid totalitarian state, the foreigners were swept away in the Terror.

The American jazz clubs, the baseball teams, and the English-language schools set up in cities across the USSR, would quickly vanish with them. …

The Metropol Hotel became the weekly venue for the party of rich American journalists, businessmen and engineers who would dance around the circular fountain kept stocked with fish in the middle of the dance-floor.

Diners were encouraged to select their supper, at which point a net would be deftly flourished by the waiter, the fish caught and cooked and brought to their table.

Seventy years later the Metropol is still Moscow’s finest hotel, and the marble fountain is still present in the centre of the dining room. The city has changed radically but the key locations of the American emigration are still there.

In Gorky Park, the American baseball teams would compete against each other in the summer evenings of the early 1930s.

The American Ambassador’s residence, Spaso House, where William C. Bullitt once hosted the “party of the century” in April 1935, still has the Stars and Stripes flying in front and the diplomats still drink cocktails on the terrace.

The original American embassy on Mokhovaya Street is now the headquarters of a Russian investment bank. … At the height of the Terror, the American emigrants had besieged their embassy, begging for passports so they could leave Russia.

They were turned away only to be arrested on the pavement outside by lurking NKVD agents.

Inside, the American diplomats had known about these disappearances almost from the very beginning. But they did little to save their fellow countrymen 

The emigrants began their long journey either into the prison cells and the Gulag camps, or the shorter route to the execution grounds.

In the killing fields at Butovo, a suburb 27 kilometres south-east of Moscow, several of the American baseball players were executed during the Terror, and lie in mass graves stretching for hundreds of metres.

Thousands were killed in this quiet country backwater, surrounded by trees to muffle their screams. …

Wearing leather aprons and protective gloves, the masked NKVD guards had set about their nightly work methodically, killing young and old alike, understanding that they too would be killed if they refused.

But many also acted willingly, as the conscious and deliberate agents of the class struggle.

Stalin’s executioners had been convinced of the need to “kill and kill and kill” for the benefit of all mankind. And then they returned each morning to steady their nerves with their specifically-allotted quota of vodka, and to douse their clothes in eau-de-cologne to remove the stench of death, ready for the next night’s work.

Vladimir Putin was recently quoted as saying that Russians have nothing to be ashamed of concerning the Terror.

The iconography of totalitarianism remains firmly in place in modern Russian society. The entrance to the Lubyanka is still decorated with hammer and sickles.

 

(Hat-tip Robert Kantor)

Posted under Russia, Soviet Union, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, June 12, 2016

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The nearsighted Mr Magoos of business and industry 2

The Second Industrial Revolution, the computer revolution, occurred because its inventors, entrepreneurs, venture-capitalists, its innovators and risk-takers and visionaries of all sorts were free. They had freedom of action, could use their time and resources as they chose. What they produced has benefited uncountable millions of other people. Their country, their world, and all generations to come, the whole human race, are the beneficiaries of their ideas and labors. They have enriched us all. If ever men have deserved to grow rich themselves, they have.

No government, no social program, no redistribution of wealth, no central planning, no high-tax-high-spend economic system, can do for the general good what they have done for it. They have created wealth. Governments diminish it. And redistributing governments, run by “social justice” liberals, destroy it.

Why can’t the very men who used freedom so well understand this? Why are so many of them helping to destroy that essential freedom of which they took splendid advantage, so that in future others cannot do what they did?

In an article at Front Page on business leaders toadying to Obama, Benjamin Shapiro considers the strange phenomenon of their self-destructive behavior:

On April 5, President Obama kicked off his newly-minted presidential campaign by announcing that he would be conducting a “Facebook town hall” event streaming live via the website and via the White House website on April 20. Just to ensure that the Facebook audience recognizes that this isn’t merely another media appearance but an endorsement of Obama by the Facebook executives, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg quizzed Obama before an audience of over 1,000 Facebook employees and other internet mavens.

The recorded result will be chopped up and distributed via Facebook and the White House website over the coming months. “We’re honored that President Obama will be visiting headquarters later this month and will be using the Facebook platform to communicate with an international audience,” Andrew Noyes, Facebook spokesman, gushed.

Obama isn’t the first politician to use Facebook as a fundraising platform. But he is the first politician to be granted the privileged insider status of visiting HQ to do so. Facebook has been one of Obama’s most important supporters over the past several years. And Facebook is hardly the only Silicon Valley organization backing Obama. Apple and Google have also become vocal supporters of the administration. Steve Jobs dined with Zuckerberg and Obama in February to discuss job creation; Google CEO Eric Schmidt was one of Obama’s earliest backers for the presidency; Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s founders, became Obama’s internet czar in 2007. In fact, prior to the election of 2008, Schmidt toured the United States with Obama’s soon-to-be FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski to stump for Obama’s net neutrality policies.

On the surface, this makes little sense. Obama’s policies have targeted businesses with remorseless cruelty, setting them up as villains in the class conflict Obama wishes to precipitate. Facebook, Apple, and Google are three of the most successful businesses of the 21st century. Yet all three seem to be mobilizing in favor of the Obama Administration.

That’s because all three must dance for their political master.

Because the federal government is so large and so powerful, and because President Obama is obviously willing and able to use government weight to press forward his agenda, major businesses in the United States must look to appease him. Obama has no problem wielding the heavy club of regulation to hurt his political enemies, or to help his political friends. Major businesses like Facebook, Google, and Apple have all felt the sour stings and warm embraces of big government. And all of them prefer the warm embraces.

President Obama has already promoted Facebook and Google openly: in his State of the Union address, for example, Obama stated, “We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.” Obama’s net neutrality policy, which may or may not be backed by Google, would lock Google into place as the leading search engine on the internet – other search engines would not be able to pay internet service providers (ISPs) to make their websites run faster. Obama has promoted Apple publicly too, particularly [Steve] Jobs.

By the same token, Obama has also targeted each and every one of these businesses, making it clear that they had better get in line. Obama’s Justice Department has cracked down on Google Books, covertly threatening antitrust lawsuits. The DOJ has also pledged to shut down Google’s acquisition of ITA, a flight data and software company. Michelle Obama has said that Facebook is no place for children, and President Obama has stated that iPads and iPods threaten the republic, making “information … a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment … it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Facebook’s, Google’s, and Apple’s flirtations with President Obama are just the latest example of how American businesses die. To be sure, Facebook, Google and Apple are a long way from death. But once they begin dancing to the tune of the government flute, it is only a matter of time before they become obsolete.

The growth of government – and the threat of government involvement in industry – has eventually crippled virtually every major industry in America over the past century and a half.  Businesses are started by entrepreneurs; when they grow successful, government intervenes to take its pound of flesh; entrepreneurs respond by parlaying with government, hamstringing their own businesses in an attempt to [appease] government wrath. Those businesses gradually become decrepit, dependent on the whims of the capricious Washington D.C. deities.  Overseas competitors begin to compete, and the now-slow-moving businesses require government subsidies to survive. This is how businesses turn from American assets into American sinkholes. …

James J. Hill, the man who built the Great Northern Railroad, derided government aid, explaining, “The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury.”  … Hill started off as a grocery clerk, then worked in a variety of industries before pooling his cash with several partners to enter the world of the railroads.  His business model was a paradigm of pure capitalism.  Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting converted the railroad industry into a shell of its former self, and converted its “robber baron” leaders into public villains. Now today, President Obama tells us that we must publicly fund rail systems so as to compete with the Chinese.

In the oil industry, the Rockefellers of the early 20th century gave way to the heavily regulated firms of today – and not coincidentally, the foreign oil dependence that now shapes our foreign and domestic politics.

In the automobile industry, Henry Ford entrepreneurialism gave way to government-supported unionization, subsidization, and finally, bankruptcy.

When President Obama praises the fact that we are “the nation that puts cars in driveways and computers in offices,” he neglects to mention that we are also the government that kills the car industry and ships the computer industry overseas; when he lionizes us as “the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers,” he ignores the fact that Edison has given way to government-sponsored GE, a company whose stock fluctuates with each presidential press conference; when he effervesces over Google and Facebook, he blithely overlooks the fact that his own intervention will help make those companies archaic before their time.

This is what liberalism does to industry.  It kills it.

How is it possible for such brilliant achievers to be played for chumps so easily?

The cartoon Mr Magoo never gets personally hurt, though he leaves wreckage behind him. The Magoos of business and industry cannot count on being so lucky. Obama wants to turn America into a socialist state. Socialism is the wrecker of freedom. Socialism is bad not only for the economy as a whole and so for all business and industry, but for every individual –

Except its ruling elite. So, you men of the great start-ups, of great ideas and great ability, maybe for you personally the way of Chris Hughes is the way to go: join the administration and help to wreck America.

And watch the admiration and gratitude of your country and the world, which you have now, change to anger, contempt, and unforgiving blame.