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Yellowdog's avatar

What happens to the billionaires and multi-millionaires on the left, in a social democracy?

Asked by Yellowdog (12216points) March 2nd, 2019
37 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

This is not intended to be a smarty-assed question. It is a legitimate one, as most of the wealth, glitz and glamour I see is from the Left, especially in Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, New England, and the Ivy League colleges. Are these folks really going to give up their dough?

Shortly after the Oscars, some late-night comedian was boasting that the right / conservatives, Republicans or whoever, did not hate them (the Left, the red-carpet celebrities) , that they wanted to BE them. And went on about what THEY have (upper class things) compared to what the RIGHT have (lower class things). That the conservatives wanted to be “invited to the party.”

In his song, “Imagine”, John Lennon says, “Imagine no possessions. I wonder if YOU can.” I always thought that was a little weird, because I know if I put my mitts on HIS private yacht I would get arrested for criminal trespass.

Yeah, I know there are some wealthy Republicans in the Suburbs. But the elite in this country are mostly on the Left.

Most of the better known politicians on both sides, including and perhaps especially on the Left, have hundreds of millions of dollars. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, even Maxine Waters. And think of all the actors, musicians, and celebrities who have made their fortunes. Virtually every upper class societal person I know favors the Social left

But does that mean they give up their wealth, too—and become part of the struggling middle class?

I am really NOT asking this to be accusative. I just can’t see Paul McCartney and John Lennon and the Obamas giving up their wealth and taking the bus with the rest of us.

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elbanditoroso's avatar

@Yellowdog – you just gave your game away. You wrote “But the elite in this country are mostly on the Left.” You tried to sneak it in as if it were true.

Which simply isn’t true. Maybe the intellectual elite are on the left, but the financial elite are heavily on the right.

janbb's avatar

They’ll still be rich just not as absurdly rich.

SavoirFaire's avatar

You are conflating a lot of things that are not all the same. Communism ≠ socialism ≠ social democracy. Any one of these could be the subject of a very long explanation, but here are some quick and dirty guidelines:

• Social democracy involves a combination of interventionist capitalism and participatory democracy. It is both a system of economics and a system of government.
• Socialism involves collective ownership of the means of production. It is primarily a system of economics.
• Communism involves the collective ownership of the means of production, but also the elimination of private property, the social class structure, and the state. It is both a system of economics and a system of government.

Your question is about social democracy, but it mistakenly assumes that such a system would require the elimination of luxury goods and social classes. It also assumes that class struggle would continue even after the elimination of the social class structure. But no version of capitalism, even highly interventionist capitalism, seeks to eliminate either of these things. Instead, it seeks to narrow the difference between the lowest class and the highest class, primarily through redistribution programs and changes to labor laws. Under such a system, the wealthiest people would remain wealthy. They just wouldn’t be quite as wealthy as they are now.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Propaganda again by you @Yellowdog !

Yellowdog's avatar

Well, we got a couple of good answers.

For the other two of you, no game or propaganda intended. I just know that there are a lot of wealthy people on the left, I can’t really judge their pride regarding their wealth, but they DO seem in my opinion to believe they are better than the lower classes.

Over all, this question received some very satisfactory answers, and a hint or two at how I am perceived.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Your POV / opinion / vision / fantasies do not make it reality!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Scoring the answers as to whether they support your POV / opinion / vision / fantasies just adds to the PROPAGANDA !

gorillapaws's avatar

Instead of owning 50 yachts, they’ll own 30 and pay their workers a living wage, so the taxpayers don’t have to subsidize their employees incomes via social programs.

Yellowdog's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I give points based on whether someone answers the question, explains something, or represents a point of view. I don’t agree with about 66% of the answers on Fluther but ask to get explanations of the other side’s position.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

An old saying is that liberals and socialist governments eventually run out of other people money.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

So @Yellowdog propaganda !!!

Just like Randy “I only want nice people to answer !!”

Pinguidchance's avatar

Millionaires and billionaires on either side of the political spectrum just go about their business.

@Yellowdog In his song, “Imagine”, John Lennon says, “Imagine no possessions. I wonder if YOU can.” I always thought that was a little weird, because I know if I put my mitts on HIS private yacht I would get arrested for criminal trespass.”

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Lennon and Ono made many decisions based on astrology and the reading of tarot cards. These divinations told them that Lennon should make a long journey in a south-easterly direction. Bermuda lies south-east of New York, so that became the destination.

Coneys chartered the Megan Jaye, a 43ft sloop based in Newport, Rhode Island, and skippered by Hank Halsted.

JLeslie's avatar

The worst thing democrats did was start using the term social democracy and democratic socialist. Ugh. Just like global warming was a crappy term.

We aren’t going to be giving up all of our possessions to the government, nor will they be confiscated. It isn’t Cuba or Venezuela.

The rich will be a little less rich, but still rich. It is isn’t going to level everyone to the same salaries and same level of wealth.

kritiper's avatar

Any particular social democracy wouldn’t have to be as strict as others. Even socialism has it’s variations. So I don’t see a need to frighten multi millionaires with any preconceived paranoia of a one and only definition of “social democracy.”

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll remind you the top 400 earners in the country make over $200 million a year. Probably most of it is passive income.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You are confusing celebrity with wealth. But it is very good that you ponder these things. That tirade you threw the other day about America waking up and getting behind Trump left me thinking “Hopeless”.

But you bring up a VERY interesting point about the quandry facing successful liberals. All of those successful liberals concentrated in the blue lands for whom the system is working rather well, while the redlands slowly parch. There are people in the bluelands who look around and understand that their success is based on the fact that the system is rigged in their favor because they are effectively drafting in the wake of those who own the country. It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative, if you’re moderately well off or above the game is rigged in your favor. But here is the great irony in America. There are rich people with leftist leanings fully aware that their success is at the expense of those losing the race. But the system has been engineered such that you dare not refuse to play the game, because you must move either up or down. In other words success is about compulsory greed. There are those with a conscience as well as those frightened for the future who see the inequity and strive to give substantial piles of their wealth away. Meanwhile the losers grow ever more conservative as their numbers increase and they concentrate in the fallows. And these conservatives are peculiarly susceptible to silly and vacuous explanations for their plight. It’s the Mexicans, it’s the government, it’s the liberals, while the billionaires swallow an ever growing percentage of the available wealth. Personally, I salve my conscience here by prattling endlessly on capitalism, knowing full well that I’m safe cause you conservative dummies will never catch on. But I ask you this: if greed is the problem, what’s the defense? Might it be sharing? Define socialism.

Stache's avatar

The same thing that happens to the people on the right.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

The billionaires and multi-millionaires on the left will become Republican to protect what wealth they have.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a new answer after reading @stanleybmanly’s answer.

Liberals who are doing very well financially in the current system probably won’t mind making a little less if they see the whole country benefitting. If poverty numbers go way down, if K-12 education is very equal around the country, of healthcare is affordable, equal, good, and available. If roads are in good condition, parks are maintained, and if there is no budget deficit. I do think they would balk if anything was taken away from them that they already own, but no one is talking about that.

See, no one wants to be the only one giving money to try to make it better. No one is going to write an extra check to the government at tax time on their own. However, if the system has everyone doing it, and it makes a huge difference, then they will feel better about going along.

What if all the ghettos became safe and beautiful and were no longer ghettos. What if work was as attractive as dealing drugs? What if parents didn’t have to work two jobs and could be with their kids.

The America that was “great” in the minds of conservatives I think was a two parent family with two kids and a calm in the household. They were middle class and could afford a nice house on a nice street and ate dinner together usually prepared by their mom. If you think that is important for rearing kids than you have to make it financially feasible.

Both parents can work, but they have to get home for dinner at a reasonable time. A single parent can do it too, but the neighborhood needs to be safe for their children to walk home from school. The way the system is set up now, we are destroying couples and families with terrible stress. There is money stress, lack of time stress, safety stress, fighting over who takes out the garbage stress, medical care stress, there’s more.

Think about the factors that created the new suburban middle class in the 20th century during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. One really big factor was unions became stronger, and many many more workers belonged to unions, and in turn income went up for the blue collar worker. They could now afford more. I’ve never been fond of unions, but they are a necessary evil if companies aren’t going to pay reasonable wages.

The unions also negotiated in benefits like healthcare and pensions. I’d really prefer the government just take care of that for everyone so companies can just worry about wages and make the whole thing less complicated and make the worker free to change jobs without sacrificing a pension or healthcare.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I haven’t heard Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos complaiing . They are using a good portion of their wealth to help the less fortunate. Face it. The wealthy will always be wealthy – unless they do something really stupid.

I have not seen equal actions from the right, conservative side. After all you can’t say “Conservative” with out saying “conserve”.

seawulf575's avatar

I think most people that rave about people having to give stuff up are hypocrites. They don’t really mean themselves. Look at all the idiots that rant and rave about global warming and then hop on their private planes to jet around the world to their next rant and rave. Look at politicians as a whole. They want everyone to play by the rules, but they break them all the time. They even try changing the rules to where their actions are legal whereas if a “civilian” did them they would be illegal. Look at Hollywood celebs that have come out chanting for gun control and gun removal but then turn around and make another couple million on a movie where they win by using guns illegally. Pick a topic where people get really wound up and you will find those yelling the loudest are usually offenders.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@seawulf575: “I think most people that rave about people having to give stuff up are hypocrites.”

You ok?

Jaxk's avatar

It’s really not complicated. Those that are rich will remain so but socialism will make it impossible for anyone else to climb that mountain. It’s like climbing to the top then pulling the ladder up behind you. Socialism does not create a middle class but rather destroys it. Look around, socialism creates the political elite and the dirt poor. Guess which group you’ll be joining.

kritiper's avatar

@Jaxk Please specify exactly which type of socialism you mean. There are at least 20 types. But it may be too complicated!

Jaxk's avatar

@kritiper – They all lead down the same road. Government consumes one industry after another until it collapses. Government provides more and more entitlements and raises more and more taxes. The uber rich either join the political elite to shield their wealth or move it out of the country. This leaves the working class with the burden of higher taxes to pay for it all until there is nothing left to finance this utopia. Exactly like what happened in Venezuela. It’s a nightmare scenario that once started is almost impossible to stop. I weep for our future.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

“It’s really not complicated. Those that are rich will remain so but socialism will make it impossible for anyone else to climb that mountain. It’s like climbing to the top then pulling the ladder up behind you. Socialism does not create a middle class but rather destroys it. Look around, socialism creates the political elite and the dirt poor. Guess which group you’ll be joining.”

Spot on my friend. I’ll add that laissez-faire does the exact same thing. Two opposite ends of the spectrum with similar results.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Socialism will increase because there’s no other choice. A declining standard of living is just another way of saying more of us are headed for the poor house and thus qualify for the social programs. It also means there are fewer to pay the income taxes which means the government borrows and the debt grows. So when you look at it what you see is an America where the reality is that the rich who should carry their share of the load, not only duck that responsibility. They don’t pay their fair share. They lend the money they SHOULD pay in taxes to the government, then profit on the interest. It’s a great theft steering the wealth in only one direction.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk is right, but for the wrong reasons. He is right about the certain doom of the current setup. But he is wrong about government handouts and something for nothing freeloaders as the primary cause. It always puzzles me that conservatives can’t recognize from the outset that such arguments are equivalent to “destitution resulsts from the fact that people want to eat”

seawulf575's avatar

@stanleybmanly you are one to rave about Sweden and how great the socialism is there. You do realize they took many of the suggestions you have made and they failed miserably, right? They taxed the rich to death. It didn’t work. Many of the “rich” just left or stopped working and closed businesses. They had gotten to a point where they were taxing the “rich” more than they made. The author of the Pippi Longstocking books started getting taxed 102% on the profit she made from every book that sold. In other words, every book that sold cost her money. The founder of IKEA likewise found himself paying upwards of 137% taxes on his profits. She stopped writing and he moved the company.
What Sweden found, that you are still missing, is that we are all in this together. It isn’t up to the rich to make the lives of the poor better. It is up to everyone. They instituted a “Value Added Tax” on goods and services purchased. What they found was that the poor and middle class are paying most of the taxes using this, but it helps fund their entitlements.
What actually needs to happen in this country is that the federal government needs to step back and give up 90% of their powers back to the states. The elected “leaders” need to put politics aside and start actually dealing with reality and make the tough choices. The people need to understand that nothing is free…if you are getting something for “free” you are paying for it somehow. Corporations need to start looking at the loyalty and well being of their employees as a good thing instead of treating them like tools to be used and thrown away. There are lots of things that need to change, but very few of them involve raping the rich.

stanleybmanly's avatar

But that’s just my point. Nothing is free. I’m not saying we must rob the rich. The Swedes may have made mistakes, but they are obviously correcting them. And you must admit that they are both better off and willing to shoulder their tax burden for the benefits they receive. And it is YOU who are missing that we are all in this together. That is EXACTLY what socialism means. There are certain aspects of life which should NEVER hinge on how wealthy you are. It should not be every man for himself when it comes to health care, or which children will have a roof over their heads if their parents can afford one. The way things work now, nothing is free, and I am indeed aware of it. It is YOU who fails to understand that it matters less that we horribly saddle our grandchildren with the debt required to prop up those who cannot afford to live in their own country. The true disgrace is that the only people to profit from that debt are EXACTLY the people responsible for it. Screw your head on and think about this: If you have a full time job and don’t earn enough to feed yourself, you qualify for what amounts to (usually) pitiful assistance from the state. Now what that means is that your boss is not only starving YOU. His corporation through diverting what should be your salary to the corporate pockets (for which HE receives a substantial bonus to hide offshore), your salary shortfall means that WE ALL are deprived of the taxes you would have paid on a decent wage. This is what it means when the stock market is at record highs, and yet teachers are on strike because there’s no money for schools. Cities are broke while the rich get richer. As for handing responsibilities back to the states—have you lost your mind? I want you to imagine for a second what would happen in Mississippi if the Federal government declared that Mississippi residents would no longer be subject to Federal taxation, and the state would be granted the freedom to tax the population and provide all former Federal services from the revenues realized. And if you think the Federal government screwed up and inept, have a look at the antics in the state houses of our enlightened red states.

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly A long time ago I suggested that on fluther. An experiment, where a state goes it on their own, a state that thinks throwing it all out to the private sector is the way to go, and let’s see what happens. If it works well other states can do it, if it’s terrible, we let them back into the ongoing federal taxation again. Give it a 5 year try maybe. Possibly, the fed still protects in that state for some safety things, and to enforce basic civil rights if necessary. The state will still be part of the US, we wouldn’t be revoking citizenship and passports.

stanleybmanly's avatar

All you have to do is look at the basket case states, with the fools claiming their problems have nothing to do with their own inbred illiterate legislators.

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly But, they don’t see it, they blame the fed, so let them learn the hard way. I know it will never happen, it’s just an exercise in what if.

seawulf575's avatar

Sorry, @stanleybmanly Socialism does NOT mean we are all in this together. It means that production and distribution is controlled by the government. No you screw your head on and think about this for a second. What has our government ever done effectively and cost efficiently? Our government is peopled by some of the biggest crooks in the country,. And you want to put all the power in their hands.
Your rants are full of anger and spite, but very little actual constructive recommendations other than “let the government take care of us”.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What is the opposite of greed? OWe’ve had this argument before. And you remind me very much of our buffoon of a President standing in the pulpit inanely quoting the Czar “this will never be a socialist country”. This is in very many respects ALREADY a socialist country. And it MUST either become MORE socialist as long as the illusion of a democracy is to persist or descend into tevolution. Let’s go through this again. Yes, the sociaist state is about the government owning the resources, and controlling the distribution of those resources for the public good. But what is our state about? Here’s the setup. Just as with the socialist system the state owns the resources, only the capitalists are allowed to freely exploit said resources, and are in the business of distributing those resources FOR A PROFIT. You claim that I want to put “all the power” in the hands of the government. So I ask you: who has the power now? And why are you so terrified of a government supposedly of the people, by the people, for the people? As you just stated any government can be corrupted? This one is being forced to ever more socialist measures because frankly ours is a nation of enormous wealth. The point will come, when the country will be compelled to choose either dictatorship—ALWAYS the capitalist choice or the socialist alternative. There is no other choice in a land of great wealth with an ever growing uneven distribution of such wealth.

seawulf575's avatar

@stanleybmanly Unfortunately for you, you start with a false assumption. You start with the idea that the government is not greedy. But you do it in a way that is fascinating to me. You first argue they are greedy but then make this mystic swap to where, if we give them more power, they won’t be. Greed is indeed the problem. Greed for money and greed for power. The Marxist-Leninist model shows Socialism to the be intermediary step between Democracy and Communism.
I have stated already what is needed. I don’t have a lot of hope for our country. Alexander Tytler put it best, I think:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage.”

I see us on the apathy to dependence step.

noitall's avatar

You mean in a “Democratic Socialist” democracy a la AOC? Not worried about it, as it’s going happen very gradually. (E.g., by the time we reach the ‘star date’ of Star Trek mythology.)

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