Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Progressive Mind: Tactics

Why Are Progressives So Successful? Why Do Governments Collapse?
By David F. Delorey, Jr.
Political patronage is defined as the use of state resources to reward individuals for their electoral support. Progressives (American Socialists) use this approach, culling people by race, sex, religion, income, class and/or political affiliation, and then appealing to each group’s specific wants and desires, with the overall goal to cobble together a majority vote to get their Progressive politicians elected. In process, they promote and inculcate the need to band together with other Progressives and rebel against the “enemy” — the dastardly politicians, the rich, and the greedy corporations, who by no mere coincidence collectively represent a minority of the voting pool.

In practice, Progressives put forth the need for hasty “emergency” measures to combat the “enemy”, and justify these “temporary” needs for setting aside the requirements of the Republic’s Constitution and laws, presumably for the “greater good”. Fiscal restraint is a foreign concept to Progressives — there is rarely a mention of how the cost of their agenda bears upon government’s capacity to fund it. Often times their process oriented “emergency” measures have lofty goals and promises for results, delayed long into the future. Most of these measures lack clear implementation details, especially the negative elements, before such is enacted. This gives the Progressive the initial opportunity to claim a measure of success with “change”, then blame any failures on the “enemy”, which gives rise to the need for even more “emergency” measures to sustain combat with the “enemy”.

Claims by the “enemy” are often met with personal attacks against them when the “enemy” puts forth logical, sound and compelling evidence against the Progressive measures. Progressives prefer to focus on selecting “victims” to justify the expansion of the welfare state, rather than resolve issues using the traditional nature of people to provide charity. They achieve the goal of producing an expanded government by promoting the confiscation of wealth from one group to benefit another group in order to curry political favor. They rely heavily on redistribution of wealth as the key to success. However, the recipients of wealth redistribution often go not to the “victims”, but to the expansion of Progressive machinery creating more and more government control over the people. The economy worsens. No matter, the Progressive presses on -– such is the fault of the “enemy”, world events or political opponents — not them.

Progressives have powerful tools in their toolbox — they foster hatred, envy, blame, grievance and demands for entitlements to “victims.” Lost by them, is the American spirit embodied in the Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that encourages initiative, personal responsibility and the right to be free from an unlimited federal government. TEA Party patriots are the newest group of conservative “extremists” as defined by Progressives. This is entirely logical because Progressives oppose our Republic’s fundamental founding principles and ignore the Constitutional requirements which are inconsistent with the Progressive agenda. Their philosophy is a paradox of values -– it represents a body of political elements that collectively contradicts itself. One need look no further than our history books to learn that the Progressive march toward a utopian socialist state, facilitated by an expanded federal government, finds little respect for such as those, more or less fortunate, who lie outside of their political critical mass of potential voters, or for human life for such as the unborn.

The plain fact is that government is the actual “enemy” of the engine of growth and prosperity because it does not create wealth — it consumes it. Applying the Progressive’s goal to expand government results in incrementally punishing achievement and rewarding failure. Interference into business by a government that would confiscate business profits, enslaves producers of goods and services. Liberty and freedom become casualties. Plainly, jobs are reduced when government makes it more difficult for employers to earn success in a diminished level of free market opportunities. Big government has a compelling and sustained historical record of inefficiency in using resources and producing politically driven regulations.

These factors stand to undercut the tenets that the country was founded upon: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. And so it is that the more an economy is centrally planned by government, the further we move away from our founding principles which have kept us safe, free and economically stable. And there we have it -– the Progressive movement in America today is a quest to affect broader governmental powers over the individual; it is based on an insidious and
deceptive process which constantly seeks out “victims”, then divides the “victims” into discrete groups of voters, with focused promises to each group of their “fair share” level of largesse from the public treasury, or from such wealth confiscated from the “enemy”, in exchange for their vote for Progressive politicians.

The cycle continues with Progressives promising more largesse and blaming all promised failures on the dastardly “enemy” which accordingly justifies the need to vote for more Progressives. The cycle ends in bankruptcy – that is, when the treasury of the government can no longer support the levels of largesse demanded by the Progressives and their “victims.”

Conclusion: A politician who is committed to telling the truth in an election campaign will usually be defeated by a clever and resourceful purveyor of deception. That is why Progressives are so successful and that is why governments collapse.

– Copyright © September 25, 2012 – David F. Delorey, Jr.

The Progressive Mind: Socialist Planning for America

By Corliss Lamont

In this segment Mr. Lamont presents a hypothetical plan for the establishment of a central planning system for the entire nation. While this was written in 1939 and obviously did not materialize as he planned, the Lamont plan is only one of many that have been produced, over the years, by different socialist organizations like the Socialist Party USA, The Communist Party USA, The Democratic Socialist of America, and others. None of these plans have been realized in their entirety. The ones coming closest are Education and now Health Care. Tentative steps toward banking and manufacturing control were made with TARP and the GM bailout. You will notice, however, that the vast bureaucratic shadow government that manages our economy has many of the same characteristics as those foreseen by Lamont.

If Barack Obama is reelected to another four-year term, there is no doubt he will keep moving the nation in a direction similar to that advocated by Lamont.  The process of transitioning from capitalism to socialism will not be as smooth or as peaceful as that pictured by Lamont but in the end will be just as thorough, unless the trend is reversed by the American people. The hypothetical election date of 1952 chosen by Lamont could very well turn out to be 2012, with the first four-year plan ready to go into operation by 2016 or 2020. The two assumptions mentioned by Lamont, Congress and the Supreme Court do not look nearly as farfetched today as they did a few years ago. Think about that as you read the article.

Socialist Planning for America
To make the picture of Socialist planning more concrete, let us visualize how it would work out in a definite country. And let us take as an example our own U. S. A. Suppose that in the elections of 1952 or sometime thereafter the American people elect a President and a substantial majority in Congress [2008] pledged to establish Socialist planning throughout the country. Let us assume, furthermore, that the Supreme Court declares the legislative measures of the planning Party constitutional [Obamacare] or that they are promptly made so through amendment of the Constitution at [FOAVC] special state conventions. Leaving aside for the moment a discussion of the necessary transitional steps and without pretending to any finality, let us see what the pattern of American Socialist planning would in general be like.

Apart from the political field, the key organization in the American planning system, as in any other, would be the National Planning Commission, with headquarters at Washington, D. C. The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, chooses the eighteen members of the Executive Council of this Commission, including its Chairman, who sits as a member of the Government Cabinet. The appointments are non-political and are made from among experts especially qualified by wisdom and experience to deal with broad social and economic problems. The Commissioners are to regard themselves as trustees of the public interest. They will each receive salaries of $15,000 a year, except the Chairman, who will draw $20,000. [in 1939 dollars]

Each of the Commissioners heads one of the eighteen different Divisions into which the Commission is organized. These Divisions, together with some of their more prominent Sections, are as follows:

Heavy Industry,
Steel
Machinery
Housing
Timber, Etc.
Light Industry
Clothing
Footwear
Furniture
Motor Vehicles
Finance
Banking and Currency
Capital Investment
The Budget
Taxation
Transportation
Railroads
Motor Transport
Air Transport
Shipping (Domestic)
Communications
Telephone
Telegraph
Radio [TV, Internet]
Post Office
Distribution
Retail Trade
Storage
Co-operatives
Consumers’ Needs
Social Welfare
Unemployment Insurance
Pensions
Public Health
Recreation
Education
Primary Schools
Secondary Schools
Technical Institutes
Colleges and Universities
Culture
The Arts
Motion Pictures
Science and Invention
The Press
Fuel and Power
Coal
Oil
Electricity
Gas [add bio, solar, nuclear, wind, etc.]
Agriculture
Cotton
Wheat
Dairy
Livestock
Conservation & Reclamation
Forests
Soil
Sub-soil Deposits
Flood Control
Foreign Trade
Exports
Imports
Merchant Marine
Foreign Exchange
Defense
Army
Navy
Air Force
Munitions
Labor
Wages and Hours
Workers’ Safety
Employment Exchange
Women Workers
Statistics & Research
Industrial
Agricultural
Population
Social Trends
Organization
Education of Planning Experts
Personnel
Coordination
Inter-Divisional Problems
Public Relations

The functions of all but the last two of the Divisions are clear enough from their names. The Organization Division has charge of managing and selecting the personnel of the Commission, which employs as trained statisticians or technical experts at least a thousand persons, as well as thousands of ordinary clerical workers. Appointment to a responsible position on the Planning Commission or the numerous subordinate commissions throughout the country is on a civil service basis. Only men and women who have fulfilled certain definite requirements are eligible for appointment. And one of the chief tasks of the Organization Division is to ensure the proper training of planning experts in a special Government institution or in already existing colleges and universities, which will establish special courses or graduate work for those who are aiming to enter the profession of planning.

The Co-ordination Division, the head of which is always the Chairman of the entire Commission, has the crucial task of constructing and synthesizing the final National Plan from the figures and projects submitted by the other Divisions and by the various sub-commissions throughout the country. It also oversees the relations between the National Commission and the Government, and through its Public Relations Section takes care of all publicity work for the Commission.

The Plans drawn up by the National Planning Commission and its subordinate commissions, while tremendously important and influential, are by no means final. Bills embodying the National Plans must be passed by Congress and signed by the President. They are subject to debate, criticism, and amendment like all other measures brought before the Senate and the House of Representatives*. Since, moreover, the Commission is not an administrative body, its different Divisions, except those of Statistics & Research and Organization, must be matched in the national Government by corresponding administrative Departments, each of which has a planning board within it as one of its Bureaus. This naturally entails a considerable amount of reorganization in the structure of the Federal Government. The Departments of State and of Justice alone will retain their present set-up. *[Ed. Note: We know by our experience with the bureaucracies and the President’s tzars how this will work]

Each of the forty-eight states in the Union has its own Planning Commission, of which the ten members are appointed by the Governor. Each of the territories and dependencies, such as Alaska and Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and the Canal Zone, also has its separate Planning Commission; and in addition there is a special Regional Commission with responsibility for them all. There are also nine regional Planning Commissions covering various states as groups according to the following arrangement:

New England Region
The six New England states; Headquarters at Boston
Middle Atlantic Region
New York down through West Virginia; Headquarters at New York City
South Atlantic Region
Maryland to Georgia, including Kentucky and Tennessee; Headquarters at
Atlanta
Gulf Region
Florida west to Louisiana and Arkansas; Headquarters at New Orleans
Great Lakes Region
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan; Headquarters at Chicago
Great Plains Region
Wisconsin in the east to the Dakotas in the west and Missouri and Kansas in the south; Headquarters at Des Moines
Southwest Region
Texas to Arizona Headquarters at Dallas
Rocky Mountain Region
Six mountain states with Montana in the north, Colorado in the south and Nevada in the West; Headquarters at Denver
Pacific Region
California, Oregon and Washington; Headquarters at San Francisco

Within the states each county and each city has its own Planning Commission. And in the more sparsely settled agricultural districts every unit of population amounting to 10,000 or more has a commission.

There are also Planning Commissions for each industry as a whole and for each sub-division of each industry. For instance, the entire steel industry as a unit has its Planning Commission; the various regional steel trusts, of course publicly owned and operated, likewise have their separate commissions; as does each substantial producing unit within each trust. Finally there exist planning committees in each factory and even in each shop of each factory.

Thus, all of the workers [unions] in a steel factory combine to put through a plan for that unit; all the factories in a certain district combine to put through a central plan for the steel trust of which they are part; all the trusts combine to put through a plan for the steel industry as a whole; and then the steel industry itself, the coordinating centers of which are a Division of the Planning Commission and a Department of the Government, combines with every other industry and economic activity to put through a balanced Plan for the entire country. The geographical planning bodies operate on the same principle, that is, from the smaller up through the larger. The cities’ plans fit into that of the county, the counties’ into that of the state, the states’ into that of the region, and the regions’ into that of the entire country.

Planning under Socialism is, then, a complex process embodying three different but intimately related aspects. All of the plans are, in the first place, plans over a definite period of time. Taking the presidential term in America as an appropriate time-span, our Commission adopts for the nation a First Four-Year Plan, a Second Four-Year Plan, a Third Four-Year Plan and so on. Inside these Four-Year Plans there are one-year, quarterly and even one-month plans.

In the second place, there is the geographic aspect of the plans. Besides the country as a whole, each region, state, county and city has its own four-year and one-year plan. In the third place, there is the functional aspect of the plans as applied to each industry and its sub-divisions. These three fundamental aspects of planning the temporal, the geographic and the functional are thoroughly integrated by the National Planning Commission in each big Four-Year Plan.

It is this Commission that welds together in one vast, integrated, long-range Plan all the minor plans and reports of all the various regions, states, counties, cities, industries, factories, distribution units, and cultural organizations throughout the entire United States. It is this Commission which takes the thousand and one estimates pouring in from all parts of the country and correlates them into the considered and rational whole which constitutes a National Plan.

It is this Commission at Washington which from week to week, from month to month, from year to year, casts its all-seeing eye over the economic activities of the nation and shifts the schedules within the Plan to keep pace with new and unforeseen developments. America’s First Four-Year Plan will need careful and extensive preparation before it can be put into effect. If our planning Party is victorious in the national elections of November, 1952, it will have two months of leeway before the new President and Congress come into office in the first week of January, 1953. Accordingly, it can be expected to have ready for action by Congress bills empowering the Government to take over at once a few key enterprises such as the railroads, communications, fuel and power, and most important of all the banks. Provision will be made for appropriate compensation of the owners over what must necessarily be a long period of years. The planning Party will also submit bills establishing the general structure of the planning system and giving very general estimates of what is to be accomplished during the First Four-Year Plan. I expect that the complete functional activation of existing capacity will be the main productive goal of this period.

Eight months later, September 1, 1953, the National Planning Commission will be ready with a preliminary draft, giving detailed figures and measures for the First Four-Year Plan. During the next three months this draft will be published abroad throughout the land and given the widest kind of publicity in newspapers, magazines, radio programs, public meetings, educational institutions, scientific institutes and other organs of public opinion. At the same time the Planning Commission will send out to all subordinate planning organizations the provisional quotas to be fulfilled in the geographical or
functional sectors for which they are responsible. Thus, the preliminary Plan will be discussed and criticized from one end of the country to another both by the public in general and by the specific planning, economic, and cultural agencies concerned in translating it into actuality. “How can we improve the Plan?” will become a nation-wide slogan.

By December 1, the various planning units, after careful consideration and in light of whatever suggestions have been made, will return revised drafts to the Planning Commission. During the next six weeks the Commission will proceed, after receiving all available information and criticism from its sub-commissions and other sources, to draw up a final Plan for presentation to Congress in the middle of January, 1954. Congress will then thoroughly discuss the Plan according to its regular procedures and will undoubtedly amend it to some degree. We can probably count on having the President’s signature on the final congressional planning bill by May 1, 1954, so that it can become definitely operative at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1.

This means that the First Four-Year Plan (ending June 30, 1957) will be in operation as a completed and functional whole for only three years out of the full period. There is no way of avoiding this, however, for the first National Plan ; but the second will overcome any time-lag and will go into effect July I, 1957. All of the Plans will begin and end with the regular fiscal year. The Planning Commission will release its preliminary draft of the Second Four-Year Plan (1957-1961) on July 1, 1956, to run the gamut of public opinion. Its final version it will have ready promptly on January 1, 1957, for submission to Congress. The Commission will not wait for the formal completion of one Four-Year Plan before starting to draw up estimates for the next; and this preparatory work will ordinarily begin a full year before each Plan is due for presentation to Congress.

The standard-of-living goal for each family of four at the end of the First Four-Year Plan will be an annual minimum of $5,000 [1939$] in consumers’ values, including those made available by the extension of free government services. This goal will be achievable through the full utilization of our present labor supply, taking in the able-bodied unemployed but totally ruling out child labor, on the basis of a seven-hour day, a five-day week and a yearly holiday of three weeks. The minimum mentioned would be even higher if the new regime were able to eliminate America’s soaring defense and armament expenditures.

In any case, my $5,000 estimate by no means adequately represents the advantages which the American people will enjoy under Socialist planning. For it is impossible to evaluate in financial terms even the physical gains which will, for instance, accrue to the urban masses when they all live in houses or apartments which have plenty of room, good light and fresh air. And it is also out of the question to put a definite money value on the immense psychological boons which Socialism will bring, especially through insuring everyone a job and eliminating the chief economic worries of the present.

One of the most important problems that our planning experts will have to face is that of procuring trustworthy data on the capacities and needs of the various areas and of the country as a whole. It is not possible even to start planning without some such data; yet it is not possible to obtain complete and reliable data until planning is well under way. For only an organization like the National Planning Commission, with its hundreds of subordinate agencies in different localities and economic enterprises throughout America, is equipped to gather in and organize all the necessary statistics. The Commission’s own Division of Statistics & Research plays a central role here. Thus as planning makes headway, we shall see a steady improvement and enlargement of the statistical base, making the intricate network of economic forces more and more measurable and bringing about what has aptly been called by economists complete economic visibility.

In regard to this important matter of statistics, Socialist planning in America will not, as in Soviet Russia, have to start almost from scratch. For there already exist here a number of agencies, both public and private, which are constantly building up the kind of statistical knowledge that planning demands as a foundation. In the public field the most useful of these is the National Resources Planning Board, formerly called the National Resources Committee, which has published a number of volumes particularly pertinent to the subject of planning. Then we have the reports of the numerous local planning organizations, there being in the U. S. A. at present [1939] no less than 42 state planning boards, 400 county and over 1,100 municipal all with very limited powers, of course.

In addition, each of the main Departments of the Federal Government carries on vital fact-finding activities, outstanding in this respect being the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Standards, both under the Department of Commerce; the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the U. S. Public Health Service, both under the Treasury Department; the Bureau of Labor Statistics, under the Department of Labor; the Bureau of Home Economics, under the Department of Agriculture; and the Geological Survey, under the Department of the Interior. There has also been established recently at Washington a Central Statistical Board to render information and advice in the working out of inter-departmental problems. Under private auspices we find the substantial studies issued by the Brookings Institution and the Russell Sage Foundation, the reports of well-known research bodies such as the National Bureau of Economic Research and the National Industrial Conference Board, and the regular publications of organizations for the protection of the consumer such as the Consumers Union.

A huge aggregate of carefully organized and up-to-date statistics is as essential for the carrying out of a Four-Year Plan as for its preparation. For the National Planning Commission must keep informed on the progress or lack of progress that is being made throughout the country. For this reason the vast network of sub-commissions send into it frequent reports, at least once every two weeks. And the Commission has the duty, which is also an opportunity, of constantly revising the Four-Year Plans in the light of the specific situation at the beginning of each year, each quarter and each month. Whatever changes the Commission recommends to the Government Departments empowered to put them into effect, must of course fit in with the general perspectives laid down by the original Four-Year Plan, but need not conform exactly to the original figures.

These periodic readjustments are essential because in large-scale and long-range planning there are sure to occur both under-fulfillments and over-fulfillments. Then, too, it is perfectly obvious that a Planning Commission, even if composed of the wisest men in the world, is bound to make some miscalculations. Moreover, there exist certain factors which the most flawless technique of planning can hardly anticipate: weather conditions, for example, affecting the fortunes of crops throughout the country; new inventions and new discoveries of mineral wealth, affecting the progress of industry and agriculture; the movement of world prices, affecting payments for needed imports; and the whole international situation, affecting the day-to-day psychology of the people and the proportion of the industrial plant which has to be geared to defense. All of these reasons combine to make intelligent flexibility a natural and fundamental principle of social-economic planning in the dynamic and ever-changing society of today; the notion that Socialist planning implies some sort of strait-jacket thrown over the life of the people is very wide of the mark.

It is most important to note that the planning procedures which I have in mind make ample allowance for local initiative. The idea behind Socialism is not to set up a group of dictatorial supermen who sit in Washington and hand down orders to the rest of the country, but to provide for continuous and democratic interaction between the local planning units and the ones higher up, between the organizations on the circumference and those at the center. Within the framework of the National Plan it is possible and indeed highly desirable to give a good deal of leeway to the lower planning and administrative agencies in working out the details for their own particular sectors and in making final decisions on matters of primarily local significance. The National Planning Commission or the Federal Government steps in only if decisions seem to violate or disturb in some way the objectives and schedules of the National Plan.

Naturally enough, our Socialist planners are going to take full advantage of that bigness and concentration which is so marked a characteristic of American industry; and of the collectivism which objectively exists today in the form of mass concentration of workers in the factories, of extensive trade-union organization, and of the far-flung collective controls of corporate enterprise. A Socialist regime would find many problems solved in advance if it proceeded, for example, to take over the steel industry. For steel in the U.S.A., with a handful of monopolies ruling the roost, is already unified to such an extent that the step to total unification required by Socialist planning would be comparatively easy. And the same point holds true for a number of other basic industries. Indeed, if the present managements of these industries could be trusted to administer them faithfully on behalf of a Socialist commonwealth (and this is a very big if), they could be left substantially in charge.

Undoubtedly, in some cases concentration has already gone too far for the highest efficiency. There is such a thing as administrative breakdown from sheer bulk. But the unification intended by Socialism does not rule out decentralization in production. The over-concentration of industries in urban areas, resulting in crowded living conditions, bad air and lack of decent recreational facilities, is one of the first things which Socialist planning aims to rectify. The principle to be followed throughout is that of the greatest possible degree of decentralization and autonomy consistent with nation-wide co-ordination.

The final guarantee that local initiative will flourish under Socialism is that in the last analysis the drawing up and execution of any social-economic plan depends on individuals. The extent to which the beautiful blueprint of a Four-Year Plan is written into concrete material and cultural achievement rests upon the initiative and intelligence and energy of the workers and farmers, the technicians and professional people, throughout the length and breadth of America. Without their unceasing co-operation and support every Plan must fail. Hence the Public Relations Section of the National Commission has the vital task of educating every category of the population on the fundamentals of planning and of arousing their enthusiasm concerning the objectives and possibilities of the Four-Year Plans.

It must bring to every individual an understanding of his part in the total planning set-up and the connection between his own function and that of others. And this in itself constitutes one of the outstanding benefits of Socialist planning, since everyone in the community becomes able to see how and why his job fits into the larger scheme of things and to feel a significance and dignity in his work that was seldom present before. In this way central planning for the whole nation brings central planning into the activity of each person, pulling together the conflicting strands of his nature and making of them a
potent unity.

Socialist planning, carried out in America in the American way, will present to the citizens of this country the greatest challenge they have ever had. Limited as war planning was in the U. S. and destructive as was its objective, it did show that the theory and practice of nation-wide planning is not something entirely alien to the American genius. It is my firm opinion that under Socialism all the idealism and practical engineering technique for which America is so noted, freed at last from the shackles of the profit system, will have unprecedented opportunity for fulfillment in projects of almost unlimited scope and grandeur. There will be no lack of tasks to appeal to the imagination and ambition of new generations. And the American people in their boundless energy will sweep forward to conquer new heights of economic and cultural achievement.

Also See
Introduction to the Progressive Mind
The Progressive Mind, Part 1: Social Planning for Abundance

Introduction to the Progressive Mind

For more than a hundred years, American Socialists, known today as Progressives, have been moving doggedly and single-mindedly toward the goal of establishing a socialist utopia in America. There are a number of reasons why they have been steadily expanding their influence and their base of support among the American people for so long, with as little opposition as they seem to have engendered. One is that the average person is so busy with their families, careers, and leisure activities they do not have the time to follow the course of socialism’s progress.

A second and, perhaps more important reason is that the average American cannot allow themselves to believe that some of our foremost political, academic and social leaders would deliberately set out to harm the freest and most successful nation on earth at the expense of their own future descendants. In this, they are correct. In the mind of the progressive socialist, his goal is to liberate America from the forces holding it back, and preventing it  from realizing its true potential for greatness; the greed and selfishness of capitalism and the stifling restraints of God and Christian morality. To do this they first have to break free of what they consider to be the antiquated and unrealistic documents that have governed our nation for the past two hundred plus years; the Bible, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The 2012 election, more so than any other in our history, has put before the American People stark choices as to which course they will  follow. On the left there is a life planned and controlled by the federal government; a cocoon in which everyone is equal, enjoying or enduring the same standard of living, with little individual responsibility for their own or their family’s welfare, little or no opportunity to improve one’s station in life, and little incentive for attempting to do so. On the right is a life of individual liberty and responsibility, with unlimited opportunity for personal planning and fulfillment of one’s own goals and desires for themselves and their families. Of course, along with the opportunity for personal fulfillment there is also the possibility of personal failure with the consequences failure entails. It is important that each of us understands the choices we are making as we plan for the future.

Over the next few weeks we will be posting a series of articles to help readers understand these choices better.  Some of the articles will be written by socialists outlining and describing their aspirations and goals for this country. Others will be written from the viewpoint of the Conservative Christian. At the end of the series, everyone should have a better understanding of how our progressive leaders think, what their plans are for America’s future, and the consequences if their plans should succeed. Everyone should fully realize that whatever type of country our children and grandchildren enjoy or endure will be the one that we have bequeathed to them.

Part One: Moral Values

The Progressive Mind: Socialist Planning for Abundance

Socialist Planning for Abundance
By Corliss Lamont

Corliss Lamont (1902 – 1995) was born into one of America’s wealthiest families. His Father was Thomas Lamont, partner and later chairman of J.P. Morgan & Co. He was educated at some of the most prestigious schools in America and England, Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia. Later he became one of the foremost apologists and philosophers of socialism during the twentieth century. The following article is reprinted from one of his better known books, “You Might Like Socialism”1 published in 1939.

1. Everyone Can Live Well
Like anyone else, I want to live well, and I want my wife and three children to live well. I believe in the wholehearted affirmation and enjoyment of life. There are surely few mortals who appreciate more than myself the simple material things that both sustain human existence and can bring to it such delight. I enjoy good food, comfortable living quarters and surroundings that are pleasant and healthful. I am very fond of sports, especially tennis, skating and swimming. I like to dance. And I enjoy, too, the pleasures of culture: the leisured reading of books and poetry, stimulating wit and conversation, evenings at theater and concert and motion picture, the opportunity to write.

Some of my conservative upper-class friends occasionally banter me on the exuberant way in which I relish the sweets of existence, as if such relish showed that I could not really believe in Socialism. But they miss the point. For it is precisely the destiny of Socialism to bring to the whole community those felicities of living that up to now only a small minority have had the chance to enjoy. I want everyone to live well. And I am convinced that Socialist planning could quickly assure to every American family not merely economic security, but also a fair degree of comfort. For this reason, the idea of a Socialist society ought to attract profoundly not just the more poorly paid workers and farmers, but most of the middle class and many members of the upper class as well.

If we attain Socialism in the United States during my lifetime, I fully expect that I and other persons who are at present economically privileged will be able, if we work loyally under the new system, to maintain a very decent standard of living, though not one that is luxurious or extravagant. This Socialist promise of general prosperity is one of the chief reasons why I consider so infinitely shortsighted and unintelligent those members of the upper class who oppose with such bitter-end stubbornness the passing of Capitalism. For they themselves can share to a substantial extent in the abundance which Socialism will make actual. And so long as they prevent this abundance from coming to fruition, they are playing the invidious role of dogs-in-the-manger. They are saying in effect to the people: “It is true that we cannot ourselves unlock the untold possibilities of this modern economy, but just the same we don’t intend to let you do it.”

Suppose the American people woke up some fine morning and read in the newspapers that every factory and farm in the country was operating at full blast, that all the millions of unemployed had been able to find jobs, that sweeping increases in wages would shortly go into effect and that for the first time in years federal, state and municipal governments saw the sure prospect of balancing their budgets. One can imagine the sense of relief, the happiness, the positive thrill that would be felt from one end of the country to the other; one can picture the rejoicing that would be called forth in every American home, in every place of business, in every public gathering. It would be like the end of the Great War (2); indeed, it would be the end of a Great War, the war on poverty, on unemployment, on depression and the thousand ills that accompany these major maladies of the capitalist system.

All this I have been depicting is no mere word-mirage. It is a close approximation of what would actually take place under full-fledged Socialism. For Socialist planning means that the American economic system would in fact be kept going at 100 per cent capacity, that its potential plenty would at long last be released, its productive resources and distributive techniques utilized and developed to the maximum for the people and by the people. The almost immediate outcome would be that $5,000 (3) income for every American family that I mentioned earlier. And as time went on, this figure would steadily rise. These considerations spell out why Socialism means wealth,  fabulous wealth, and eventually tenfold, yes a hundredfold, more wealth than Capitalism has ever been able to bring mankind.

2. The Principles of Planning
The fundamental principle that lies behind planning is fairly simple and one which we encounter in some form in many different realms of human behavior. It consists of coordinating our activities in the light of our capacities and of the objective external environment, especially its economic aspects. As individuals we all plan to some extent, whether it be for a day or a month, a year or a decade, always keeping a weather eye on the state of our finances.

If we have a family, then planning becomes more complex and essential. The intelligent family looks into the future so far as is possible and plans, according to its resources, for the needs of its various members. If it is wise and has any sort of dependable income, it will make an annual budget, allocating definite sums to food, housing, clothing, recreation, baby carriages and the like. It will also probably try to set aside certain amounts as savings; and the most prudent heads of families will plan years and years ahead for the particular needs and vicissitudes of old age. Thoughtful people will take an even further step and, through the process of wills, lay careful plans for friends and family long after they are dead.

Coming to purely economic units, we find that every kind of business concern, no matter what its size and nature, must plan. The larger and more complex it is, the more attention it has to pay to planning. Any big corporation, for instance, with its many different departments, must have central planning in order to coordinate its various activities and to function successfully as a business. This is true whether the U. S. Steel Corporation or General Motors is concerned, whether R. H. Macy and Company or American Telephone and Telegraph, whether Standard Oil of New York or the Pennsylvania Railroad. The planning necessary for the efficient management of huge businesses like these reaches out to all parts of America and in some degree abroad as well. And in certain fields where big business has come to be overwhelmingly predominant, the planning of a few large trusts or even of a single monopoly may extend over well-nigh a whole industry.

The purpose of planning in all capitalist enterprise is, of course, to make money. And this means that each business, in the process of continually establishing and re-establishing its own superiority, must plan against its rivals and win away from them more and more customers, Trusts in the same industry have to plan against each other and also, in order to capture a larger and larger share of the general consumer’s income, against trusts in other industries. Thus, in enterprise both large and small, the plans of individual businesses and businessmen tend to cancel one another out to a considerable extent. The capitalist theory is that the most efficient and intelligently managed concerns come out on top. Undeniably this is frequently true; just as often, however, it is ruthlessness and lack of moral scruple that turns the trick, as has been amply illustrated in the lives of our “robber barons.” But whether efficiency or ruthlessness or perhaps both together are operative in any particular case, the result for the community is in the end economic.

In order to mitigate or prevent the disastrous results of anarchic Capitalism in some important field, capitalist governments sometimes put into effect a species of planning for an entire industry. In most European countries the telephone and telegraph are publicly owned and operated, and in several the railways as well. Then, too, there are public planning schemes in existence over particular localities. A good example of this is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which is exploiting the power resources of the Tennessee basin on behalf of the population of the vicinity, much to the chagrin of the private utility companies. These types of piecemeal planning, however, no matter, how well they may work in the sectors allotted to them, cannot go far in solving the economic problems of a country as a whole.

It is characteristic that the most far-reaching schemes of public planning under Capitalism should be for profit, or for profit and war. The so-called planning of the New Deal during President Roosevelt’s first term was directed, especially in agriculture, toward decreasing production in order to bring back profits by making goods scarcer and prices higher. While the Great Depression was still ravaging the United States, the NRA (National Recovery Administration) and the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) nobly cooperated, through planned destruction, with the usual haphazard destruction for profit by individual capitalists. Those were the days when almost over-night a fourth of the cotton crop was ploughed under, the wheat acreage reduced by 20 per cent and five million pigs destroyed. The AAA, doing its best under the circumstances to rescue the American farmer by boosting the price level, actually paid bonuses to all the producers who participated in this wholesale sacrifice to the capricious gods of capitalist economics.

During the Great War, America, and more than half the nations of the earth as well, carried out planned destruction on an even larger scale. Not only did this war planning entail the shooting away into nothingness of billions and billions of dollars worth of goods in the form of munitions; even the food, clothing and other supplies for the military and naval forces were for the purpose of enabling millions of men to engage in the entirely unproductive function of fighting to the death millions of other men. In order to wage war more efficiently, the American Government proceeded to co-ordinate in some measure the economic life of the United States by setting up the War Industries Board, the War Trade Board, the Shipping Board, the Fuel Administration, the Food Administration and the Railroad Administration. Since the railroads under private management could not stand the added strain of war conditions, the Government took them over entirely and administered them on a unified basis. Unhappily, today again, the bulk of the planning that is going on in capitalist countries is for belligerent purposes. This is especially true of the Fascist Powers Germany, Italy and Japan in each of which the whole economy has for a number of years been on a war basis. As these Fascist states push farther and farther their present aggressions and prepare for new ones, they are forcing the democratic Capitalisms to introduce ever more extensive planning for the object of armed self-defense.

This brief review of the limited planning that takes place under Capitalism shows how far removed it is in aim and scope from Socialist planning. Planning under Socialism is for use, not profit, for increasing production, not decreasing it, for peace, not war. And it demands as an absolute prerequisite the socialization of production and distribution. For as long as private capitalists retain possession of a country’s natural resources and transportation facilities, of factories, farms, banks and all the rest, they have the power to throw out of gear the best-laid of Plans. It is common knowledge that even with the minor public controls established under Roosevelt’s NRA, the American capitalists, long before the law was declared unconstitutional, constantly sabotaged, dodged and defied the Act. But Socialist planning puts a finish to that unending tug of war, so characteristic of Capitalism, between the Government, supposedly representing the public in general, and various business interests jockeying for control of it and determined to carry out whatever profit promising policies seem most advantageous. Under Socialism, politics and economics are thoroughly integrated.

The socialization of economic activity which I have in mind, however, does not necessarily entail either nationalization by the federal government or ownership by state or city governments. Many industries, under Socialism the national government will certainly take over; many other economic concerns, less far-reaching in their ramifications, state or city governments will own and operate. But besides all this, there will be a broad sector of enterprise which is socialized yet not governmental. It will be advisable to run some industries through the instrumentality of Public Corporations, which will be subject to control by the government planning authorities, but largely independent in their administrative work. In the non-governmental class will also be collective farms and fisheries, and indeed almost the whole of agriculture; co-operative societies for production and distribution; and much of journalism, art and culture in general.

This means that there will be a sizable number, running into several millions, of independent individuals not on the pay-roll of any governmental concern. These will include a large proportion of the handicrafts-men, farmers, fishermen, inventors, teachers, authors, journalists, actors, artists and intellectuals. They will make their living by working in such organizations as I have just mentioned; or by selling their products or services to such organizations, to public agencies or to other individuals. So, in the Socialist state there will be plenty of room for freelance workers of every type.

Socialist planning differs from any sort of capitalist planning, lastly, in that it is not confined to special localities, industries or periods of time, but is continuous and nation-wide. A genuinely planned economy demands not only that all individual businesses in one industry, whether it be concerned with hats, shoes, sugar, coal or anything else, be consciously coordinated, but that each industry as a whole, including the prices of its products and the wages and working hours of its employees, be coordinated with every other industry as a whole. Think of the increase in efficiency and the decrease in waste that would result from planned coordination among America’s big energy-producing industries: coal, gas, oil and electric power. Such coordination, however, could reach its high point only when there was complete coordination also among the industries to be served. For only when we know how much energy is required throughout the whole country, and where and when, can we accurately gauge how much coal, how much gas, how much oil and how much electric power should be made available in a given period and in a particular locality.

Again, it is obvious that there is so much overlapping in the field of transportation among railways, boats, buses, trucks and airplanes that the situation cries out for unified planning. But it is not possible to separate transportation from the things to be transported. A plan for coordinated transportation implies a plan for coal and steel, farm products and finished goods, just as a plan for all these things definitely implies a plan for transportation. And of course all of agriculture must be carefully correlated with all of manufacture. The flow of foodstuffs to the cities must be coordinated with the flow of manufactured goods from them. The needs, of the farmers must be estimated. Our steel plan, for example, must take into consideration the demand for tractors, combines and other agricultural machinery; and our agricultural plan the particular food requirements of the heavily laboring steel workers.

Likewise there must be a well-worked-out plan for wholesale and retail trade, linking up these two main branches of distribution all along the line with industry, transportation and agriculture. The shops in town and city, the restaurants, the warehouses, the gasoline stations and other such distributive units all come into the planning picture here.

Since the planning I envisage covers the entire socio-economic scene, it naturally extends into the fields of health and recreation, of education and culture. Socialism is particularly concerned to bountifully provide all the different activities and services in these realms with the necessary equipment and other economic prerequisites. The educational plan of the country, moreover, must be always closely interrelated with the economic plan, so that there may never be a lack of the needed technicians, scientists and other experts nor a deficiency of suitable employment opportunities for graduating students. Finally, the entire economic and cultural life of the country must be carefully correlated with finance under one vast, unitary budget that takes in all branches of industry and agriculture, of commerce and trade and extra-economic endeavor.

This completes, in outline form, the picture of the great National Plan which Socialism sets in motion, a Plan which brings into the economic and social affairs of any country that adopts it a closely knit unity, a smoothly functioning team-work, among all the myriad enterprises and individuals involved, making each one count for infinitely more and lifting the collective achievement to new and unheard-of heights.

Because of its controls over production and distribution, currency and capital investment, prices and wages and hours, Socialist planning is able to overcome totally and permanently the central capitalist difficulty of lack of purchasing power. As more and more goods come out of the factories, wages go up throughout the land or prices decrease or the working day grows shorter. To take care of the increased turnover in commodities, currency may, depending on its velocity of circulation, be expanded. Since there are no capitalists to appropriate a large proportion of the value which the people produce, the full instead of only the partial value of their labor returns to them in one form or another. Thus, the unceasing abundance of goods is matched by an unceasing abundance of purchasing power. And this results in that depression-defeating, prosperity-ensuring balance between production and consumption, supply and demand, which every orthodox economist and capitalist has fondly dreamed of seeing Capitalism itself attain.

The United States and other capitalist nations are only as rich as the amount of goods that can be sold for a profit during any given period. But Socialist planning makes a country exactly as rich as its entire productive capacity during any period. This is why I say without hesitation that Socialism, in terms of sheer economic efficiency, is sure to far outstrip Capitalism. Since finance is the most important single element in Socialist planning and more crucial, if anything, than in a capitalist economy, a fact which ought to give some slight consolation to capitalist bankers, I want to discuss the subject in more detail. In a Socialist state the banking system operates under and administers an all-embracing Financial Plan for the nation as a whole. This Financial Plan is the counterpart of the Material Plan and translates all the production and distribution schedules of the latter into dollar units. The dollar is the common denominator in which the various aspects of the National Plan can be accurately expressed and clearly related to one another. The Financial Plan and the Material Plan are, in effect, two versions of the National Plan and each serves as a check on the other.

The Government Treasury Department, together with the State Bank and its numerous branches, acts as a great central pool for the national income. This it does not only through taxation of Socialist business concerns and of individuals, but also through receiving a substantial share of whatever surpluses the different businesses, including those involved in foreign trade, succeed in accumulating. A considerable portion of such surpluses, however, are retained locally by the factory or other unit earning them and are used collectively for expansion, improvements or social benefits connected with the same enterprise. The Government also raises a certain amount of capital through savings banks and through the flotation of public loans, which continue to be necessary during the first stages of Socialism.

The surpluses or “profits” which economic enterprises build up under Socialism have a very different status and play a very different role from what we have been accustomed to expect under Capitalism. They are, in fact, mainly a book-keeping device. Socialist business is run, as I have said, not for the sake of making profits, but in order to provide goods and services to the community. The most convenient process of accounting and of distribution, however, demands the mechanism of buying and selling, of money and prices. Furthermore, identifiable “profits” are necessary so that our Socialist planners can set aside a certain proportion of the nation’s income in order to meet depreciation and obsolescence and, above all, in order to expand the means of production. Soviet Russia, for instance, put into social savings for such purposes an annual average of one-third its total income during the first two Five-Year Plans, a feat which stands out all the more owing to the fact that capitalist economists have always argued that a Socialist government would act like a reckless spendthrift and could not possibly exercise the foresight and intelligence to accumulate capital.

Whereas under Capitalism money and prices control the output of goods, under Socialism it is the output of goods that controls money and prices. Money is on a goods standard, not a gold standard. No real need exists for the latter unless to make the initial transition from Capitalism psychologically easier in the minds of the people. There can be no such thing as financial bankruptcy unless the supply of commodities proves inadequate; the value of the currency does not depend on any gold reserve, but on the quantity and quality of goods that nationwide planning has made available. Money ceases to be a commodity in itself, as under the capitalist system. It simply serves as the recognized unit of economic measurement and exchange, a function that some medium will have to perform in any future stage of society.

The most obvious advantage of a Socialist financial system is that it enables the public authorities to distribute and re-distribute the nation’s capital resources according to the needs of the entire economy. The surpluses acquired in one sector of business can be transferred to other less developed and less lucrative branches of economic activity. This is analogous, on a national scale, to the various allocations within the huge budgets of some of the bigger capitalist corporations. Under Socialism a number of enterprises, particularly in the sphere of education and social services, will continue to show financial loss, perhaps permanently. And there will also be deficits in the industrial field, especially when some great new project is getting under way.

Socialist financial planning requires that there be an ordered flow of capital investment all along the line in place of the slap-dash, haphazard methods prevalent in capitalist countries today. Instead of overinvestment in some directions and under-investment in others, with crisis-causing disproportions as the certain result, Socialist planning ensures a balanced and even distribution of capital resources, that is, social savings, in the directions most useful and important. It would be inconceivable, for example, for vast quantities of capital to go into the building of palatial homes, yachts and other super-luxuries for a small class of the economically privileged while millions of families lived
in houses beneath even a minimum standard of decency.

It would also be inconceivable for socialized capital to go into the production of things clearly harmful to health and well-being such as noxious drugs, patent medicines and deleterious foodstuffs for which there might be unintelligent and perverse demand. It would be impossible, too, for capital to create manufacturing plants and services that would be continually duplicating one another, ruining one another through cut-throat competition, spending huge fortunes in misleading advertising, and inundating a locality or even the entire country with a bewildering flow of practically identical goods. The huge sums of money and the very large personnel involved in speculative activities in commodities, in land, and in stocks and bonds would also become a thing of the past. And, alas for the gamblers of high finance, that symbol of Capitalism at its worst, the stock market would be no more.

The perfect synchronization between savings and capital investment that Socialist planning makes possible is one of the weightiest arguments in its favor. Since the decision of how much and where and when to save and the decision of how much and where and when to invest rests in the hands of the Planning Commission and the Government, there is no danger that these important decisions will be at odds with each other as they so often are under Capitalism. The unplanned capitalist method means that two sets of different people, frequently with conflicting interests, save and invest as they see fit, with the result that the relations between saving and investment are always becoming maladjusted. Either savings cannot find an outlet in profitable investment or needed investment cannot find sufficient savings to put it across. In either case economic troubles are the outcome.

Under the financial system I have been outlining, every producing and distributing unit in the country has an account in the central State Bank or one of its branches. And it is the duty of each bank to check up on the use of the credits, long-term, short-term or emergency, which it issues at any time. It must make certain that the automobile factory, for instance, to which it has advanced a certain amount of credit, actually produces the motorcars called for by the Plan and supposedly made possible by the credit. The factory has the obligation of giving the bank definite reports on definite dates showing how it is
fulfilling its program. If the bank discovers that the credit is being wasted or used inefficiently, it will at once stop further credits until the matter is cleared up, even instituting a special investigation if necessary.

Thus, under Socialist planning, the banks become the watchdogs of the whole economy by carrying on what amounts to a constant audit of all business enterprises. They act as the vital link between the various sets of plans drawn up on paper and the fulfillment of these plans in terms of concrete goods and services. Their vigilance means that there can be no let-down on the part of either management or workers in a concern without the whole personnel being called to task.

In this function the banks are aided by a system of accounting which penetrates into every nook and cranny of economic activity. Socialist accounting, organized on the strictest basis, aims to cut production costs and to attain the greatest possible results for the least possible expenditure. Book profits enter again into the picture here as a partial test of whether or not a plant is being operated efficiently. So the idea sometimes advanced that, under Socialism, extravagant executives will fling away heedlessly and without restraint the financial resources of the community is merely a caricature.

Furthermore, besides the checks and balances inherent in the technical set-up of Socialist planning, there is always the control exercised by the people themselves through regular democratic procedures. At established intervals they can approve or disapprove of the planning schemes in effect or proposed by electing representatives and officials committed to carrying out the popular will. And at all times they can bring pressure to bear by criticisms and suggestions through public meetings, the organs of opinion, individual or organized lobbying, and other such processes of democracy. Of paramount importance in this connection will be the role of the trade unions, to which virtually all working persons will presumably belong. There is nothing, then, in the nature of Socialist planning which prevents it from being administered in a thoroughly democratic manner.

One can easily imagine some of the big public issues which are almost certain to emerge in the natural course of collective economic planning. Since the standard of living under Socialism goes steadily up, the question will arise as to how the people can most benefit from the increasing wealth. Shall our planners put the emphasis on raising wages continually or on providing more and better free services like libraries, parks and public concerts? How much of the national income shall be saved for the purpose of new capital construction? And in this connection will the time come when the population will prefer to stabilize the standard of living at a certain point and concentrate on enjoying the consumers’ goods producible at that level rather than to continue with vast expansion programs? For under Socialist planning there is no categorical imperative, as under Capitalism, for an economy to keep on expanding indefinitely.

This particular issue might well develop in relation to the matter of the average annual working time. In order that more leisure be secured, one political party might advocate reducing the work-day by a third or augmenting the number of holidays or cutting the age of retirement to fifty; another party might call for the maintenance of existing work-time schedules and for a mighty increase in production which would lift the standard of living to even greater heights. Or another burning issue might come to the fore, once the necessities of life had been provided for everyone, over whether to stress the provision of cultural as distinct from material goods and services.

The exact planning techniques which I have been describing will certainly not be used in all stages of Socialism nor in all countries adopting the new system. For it is crystal clear that each nation will use somewhat different methods, adapting Socialism to its characteristic traditions, political institutions and degree of economic development. It would be foolish to imagine that if central planning were introduced in China at the same time as in the United States, it could be put into effect by precisely the same measures or at the same rate. Indeed, there will be plenty of differences even between two countries both as highly evolved industrially as

END NOTES: It is important to keep in mind that this was written in 1939 just before WWII.  Some adjustments were made to the socialist agenda as a consequence of the War, however, the basic goals remain the same today. I chose this for our first article on the progressive mind because I have witnessed during my lifetime many parts of its agenda being proposed or actually put in place by progressive Presidents and unconstitutional bureaucracies.

1. Corliss Lamont, You Might Like Socialism (1939) Modern Age Books, New York.

2. Great War= World War I

3. In 1939 dollars