Today's Quiz: Are You A Socialist?

It's the Socialist Worker's quiz, so they'd like to convince you that the answer is "yes." But they had to admit that, for me, the answer is "no."

There's a weird throwaway question about the US military being a force for good in the world, which of course it is -- but that's not really a socialism issue, is it? I wondered if it might be a trick question, since some people sometimes argue that the military is the most socialist part of the United States. (It's not a very good argument.)

Partly the problem is that the quiz runs things together that don't belong together. Do I think that schools, clean water, and hospitals should never be run for profit? Well, no; but I also think that there's a huge difference between "schools," "hospitals," and "clean water." To me, that's not a category of things that should be run for the common good instead of private interest; it's an ascending scale. I don't think I'd ever be annoyed at someone for starting a private school, even if they charged a fortune for attendance. We've just seen an argument from Tex that it can make really good sense to run a private hospital business alongside a public one. Even if we agree that we should provide some sort of public access to health care, that doesn't imply that every hospital should be nonprofit.

There are several things about water that make it a stronger case for a public approach. In a city, the infrastructure concerns are going to mean that you'll almost certainly get a monopoly, and monopolies are problematic. We often address them with public regulation. Too, even in rural areas where people have wells, the nature of water means that the water table under your house is the same one your neighbor is pulling from. Let's say that you had a neighbor who came in, dug a well, and began bottling and selling the water to such a degree that everyone began having trouble getting water. Your wells might even go dry, but he can dig a deeper one with the profits from the water he sold after sucking it out of the same water table you were using. When dealing with these kinds of issues, at least some democratic controls on the market activity often make good sense.


E Hines said...

I came up Straight Reactionary. They're disappointed. I'm satisfied.

Spoiler alert. Don't read below until you've done the quiz.

Eric Hines

The public schools, water, etc question: These should be publicly owned and controlled by the people.

This is an oxymoron. The only way for the people to control anything is through a free market economy.

In fact, most of the questions are similar disconnects.

Texan99 said...

Straight Reactionary here, too. They wish I'd "rethink my priorities." I wish they'd bite me.

One of the questions stumped me; I had to settle for "I don't know." All the answers assumed I was trying to decide whether the Democrats were pretty OK or not too bad, considering the horrible alternative.

Funny how smugly they assume "everyone" agrees with this nonsense.

Texan99 said...

Similar quiz: Are you a Libertarian? It seems the answer is "yes."

Grim said...

The libertarian test is much better propaganda, I agree. The Socialist Workers are too used to talking to college sophomores at campus rallies.

douglas said...

If they want to put me in company with President Reagan, well, I'm honored.

MikeD said...

A fun game for me when I was back in college was challenging the local "Marxists" on their actual dedications to their principles. Normally, they'd lose interest the moment I asked if they'd be willing to let me drive their car. They were uncomfortable with this idea, you see, because the car was "theirs" and "they paid a lot of money for it". When I would point out that the dialectic states that property is theft and that by refusing to let just anyone have access to their car that they were stealing from the masses, they'd begin to argue that the dialectic only really applied to "businesses". It is amazing how strong of believers in property rights they would become when you start talking about "their stuff".

I quit playing this game when it became evident to me that baiting college communists was no challenge.

Gringo said...

One question:
As long as it's profitable to burn fossil fuels, corporations will keep destroying the environment. The profit system is the root problem.

I immediately classified this as a false choice question. I worked on a well in Argentina where oil-base drilling fluid [mud] was dumped into an unlined pit.That constituted definite harm to the environment. Environmental laws in the US would not have permitted this to occur. The oil company drilling the well was YPF, which was Argentina's government-owned oil company.

Back in the day, Barry Weisber'g Beyond repair;: The ecology of capitalism claimed that socialism/communism was the solution to environmental degradation. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we found out that the "get the project completed at all costs" mentality in the USSR resulted in much greater environmental degradation than in the US. The difference was that citizens in the US had a voice in environmental policy.

Gringo said...

If forced to choose between cutting funding for education or increasing taxes on the wealthy, it's always better to tax the rich more heavily.

I replied "don't know," as we don't know how much funding education is currently getting, nor at what rate people are getting taxed.

If I could create funding and taxing mechanisms which would cut the number of university administrators by 50-70 percent, I would do so. Unfortunately for my wish, a big factor in administrative bloat is from federally mandated programs.

Grim said...

That's right, Gringo.