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Is socialism now desirable?

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Is socialism now desirable?

Post by Cornfed » September 6th, 2019, 10:57 pm

By socialism I mean government ownership of the means of production. If we get past the lolbertarian bullshit, the argument for markets is incentives, innovation and Darwinism. But does that really apply any more?

Consider the case of natural monopolies. These are desirable in many cases. Take the roads. You only want one network rather than taking up the entire surface of the country with competing networks, you want the entire network to link up and you want everyone to be able to use the network. While the roads could in principle be owned by a private company regulated in a certain way, what would be the point? If would have no competition so none of the benefits of the market would apply and there would be the possibility of regulatory capture. It would be better for the government to continue to own the roads.

Now consider that on the current trajectory lots of things will become a natural monopoly. For example, Amazon may dominate all regular shopping. This is obviously desirable in any number of ways. But then shouldn’t the government run it for the same reasons as the roads. Same with Google etc.

There are other desirabilities to socialism. The extreme gap between rich and poor, essentially arising because some are in a position to take advantage of our shared technological heritage of hundreds of years while others are shut out, could be mitigated. The people made unemployable due to automation could be employed by the government to do stuff that is useful on a societal basis but not useful on a transactional basis.

This is not to say that people would be disallowed from starting private businesses and making lots of profits, but once those businesses had reached a size where a natural monopoly was desirable the government would take them over and generously compensate their founders.


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