Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It

One of the hottest tickets in New York City this weekend was a discussion on whether to overthrow capitalism.

The first run of tickets to “Capitalism: A Debate” sold out in a day. So the organizers, a pair of magazines with clear ideological affiliations, socialist and libertarian , found a larger venue: Cooper Union’s 960-capacity Great Hall, the site of an 1860 antislavery speech by Abraham Lincoln. The event sold out once again, this time in eight hours.

The crowd waiting in a long line to get inside on Friday night was mostly young and mostly male. Asher Kaplan and Gabriel Gutierrez, both 24, hoped the event would be a real-life version of the humorous, anarchic political debates on social media. “So much of this stuff is a battle that’s waged online,” said Gutierrez, who identifies, along with Kaplan, as a “leftist,” if not quite a socialist.

These days, among young people, socialism is “both a political identity and a culture,” Kaplan said. And it looks increasingly attractive.

Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism.

A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.

“I’ve seen the failings of modern-day capitalism,” said Grayson SussmanSquires, an 18-year-old student at Wesleyan University who had turned up for the capitalism debate. To him and many of his peers, he said, the notion of well-functioning capitalist order is something recounted only by older people. He was 10 when the financial crisis hit, old to enough to watch his older siblings struggle to get jobs out of college. In high school, SussmanSquires said, he volunteered for the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist. “It spoke to me in a way nothing had before,” he said.

Although debate attendees leaned left, several expressed the desire to have their views challenged by the pro-capitalist side. “It’s very easy to exist in a social group where everyone has the same political vibe,” Kaplan said.

“I’m immersed in one side of the debate,” said Thomas Doscher, 26, a labor organizer who is studying for his LSATs. “I want to hear the other side.”

The debate pitted two socialist stalwarts, Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara and New York University professor Vivek Chibber, against the defenders of capitalism, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason’s editor in chief, and Nick Gillespie, the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV.

And it was the attempt to rebuff criticism of capitalism that mostly riled up the crowd.

Chibber argued that the problem with capitalism is the power it has over workers. With the weakening of U.S. labor unions, “we have a complete despotism of the employers,” he said, leading to stagnant wages. When Mangu-Ward countered that Americans aren’t coerced on the job, the crowd erupted in laughter. “Every morning you wake up and you have a decision about whether or not you’re going to go to work,” she insisted, and the audience laughed again.

Sunkara summed up his argument for socialism as a society that helped people tackle the necessities of life—food, housing, education, health care, childcare. “Wherever we end up, it won’t be a utopia,” he said. “It will still be a place where you might get your heart broken,” or feel lonely, or get indigestion.

Mangu-Ward replied: “Capitalism kind of [fixes] those things, actually.” There’s the app Tinder to find dates, and Pepto Bismol to cure your upset stomach. “Those are the gifts of capitalism,” she said.

The arguments stayed mostly abstract. Sunkara and Chibber insisted their idea of democratic socialism shouldn’t be confused with the communist dictatorships that killed millions of people in the 20th century. Mangu-Ward and Gillespie likewise insisted on defending a capitalist ideal, not the current, corrupt reality. “Neither Nick nor I are fans of big business,” she said. “We’re not fans of crony capitalism.”

Talking theory left little time to wrestle with concrete problems, such as inequality or climate change. That frustrated Nathaniel Granor, a 31-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was worried about millions of people being put out of work by automation such as driverless vehicles.

“It didn't touch on what I feel is the heart of the matter,” Granor said. Both capitalism and socialism might ideally be ways to improve the world, he concluded, but both can fall short when applied in the real world. 

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/get-rid-of-capitalism-millennials-are-ready-to-talk-about-it

    Bernie Sanders observes Independence Day weekend by celebrating government dependence

    It’s difficult to know what to do with Bernie Sanders sometimes. He’s not a Democrat, and yet he has a devoted following among them. He was the featured attraction of the so-called 2017 “unity tour” with new DNC chair Tom Perez and took the opportunity to bash Democrats for their failing policies and inability to win elections. Add to that he’s a democratic socialist who has three houses and was endorsed by the president of oil-rich Venezuela, where the government is opening fire on rioters protesting food shortages.

    One thing of which there’s never a shortage is Sanders spouting cliches about the rich and the poor; if only we could tax him on every tweet completely lacking in self-awareness.

    Read more: http://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2017/07/01/bernie-sanders-observes-independence-day-weekend-by-celebrating-government-dependence/

    $35,000 a plate: Donald Trump starts fundraising for 2020 re-election

    Reporters barred from hearing presidents remarks at fundraiser held in Trumps Washington hotel

    President Donald Trump was whisked a few blocks from the White House to his hotel on Wednesday night for his first re-election fundraiser. But reporters were barred from hearing his remarks.

    Security was tight at the Trump International Hotel, where guests in long gowns and sharp suits started arriving around five.

    The presidents motorcade was greeted by protesters outside hoisting signs with slogans such as Health care not tax cuts and chanting Shame! Shame!

    First-time candidate Donald Trump got a late start on fundraising in 2016, holding his first big-ticket donor event only five months before Election Day.

    Forty months before his next election, the president holds court at a $35,000 a plate donor event Wednesday night at his hotel in Washington. About 300 people are expected to attend an event that will pull in about $10 million, said Lindsay Jancek, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

    Breaking the tradition of his predecessor, Trump is not allowing reporters to hear his remarks to the group of donors despite an announcement earlier in the day that a pool of reporters would be allowed in to hear the presidents remarks.

    Its a political event and theyve chosen to keep that separate, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked why the event is closed to the media.

    After reporters complained, Sanders announced the presidents remarks would be opened to the press only to reverse herself hours later.

    Unfortunately there was some confusion with the RNC, and due to the logistical challenges bringing in the press at this late moment is not going to be possible, she said in an email.

    Sanders also said there was nothing unusual about raising political cash so early.
    Hes raising money for the party, she said. I dont think thats abnormal for any president.

    Sanders statement that Trump is raising cash for the GOP tells only part of the story, though.

    The first cut of the money raised goes to Trumps 2020 re-election campaign. The rest gets spread among the RNC and other various Republican entities. Having multiple beneficiaries is what allows Trump to ask for well above the usual $5,400 per-donor maximum for each election cycle.

    Those contribution limits are likely to change because this fundraiser is so early that new donation limits for 2020 have not been set by the Federal Election Commission.

    Trumps historically early campaigning comes with benefits and challenges.
    In the first three months of this year, the Trump campaign raised more than $7 million, through small donations and the sale of Trump-themed merchandise such as the ubiquitous, Make America Great Again ball caps.

    The RNC also is benefiting from the new presidents active campaigning, having raised about $62 million through the end of last month. The party has raised more online this year than it did in all of 2016.

    Trumps re-election money helps pay for his political rallies. He has held five so far, and campaign director Michael Glassner says those events help keep him connected to his base of voters.

    The constant politicking, however, means it is challenging for government employees to avoid inappropriately crossing ethical lines. Some watchdog groups have flagged White House employee tweets that veer into campaign territory. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says the employees work closely with lawyers to avoid pitfalls.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/29/35000-a-plate-donald-trump-starts-fundraising-for-2020-re-election

    Bernie Sanders: Trump was right, Australian healthcare is better

    Sanders also says Senate should use Australian system as model while crafting an alternative to Republicans replacement for Obamacare

    Bernie Sanders has declared President Donald Trump was right to say Australia has better healthcare than the US.

    Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, said the US Senate should use the Australian system as a model while crafting an alternative to the Republican healthcare legislation that Trump endorses.

    President Trump is right. The Australian healthcare system provides healthcare to all of its people at a fraction of the cost than we do, Sanders commented on Twitter.

    The tweet was accompanied by a short video that set out the virtues of Australias universal healthcare system, saying it guarantees better service to all Australians at about half the cost of US healthcare. The video also notes that Australians can expect to live longer than Americans on average.

    Sanderss tweet came two days after Trump told the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Trumbull in New York: You have better healthcare than we do.

    The presidents comment raised eyebrows, coming just after the US House of Representatives had approved a Trump-backed bill that would overturn much of former President Barack Obamas signature healthcare law and move the US system further away from universal coverage.

    The White House later said Trump was simply being nice to an ally and did not think the United States should adopt Australias healthcare approach.

    The healthcare legislation that Trump endorses would pare back insurance protections for the sick and, according to nonpartisan congressional researchers, would lead to 24 million more Americans being without health coverage by 2026.
    But the bills approval in the House on Thursday sent the legislation to the Senate, where it has little support.

    We will take this pathetic healthcare bill, throw it in the garbage can and do something that will work for ordinary Americans instead, Sanders said in a second tweet on Saturday.

    A Vermont independent, Sanders has become more influential in the Senate since 2016, when he took his long-shot presidential bid and turned it into a political movement against inequality.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/07/bernie-sanders-trump-was-right-australian-healthcare-is-better