[FoRK] Notable moments in jbone / FoRK history

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Sat Aug 30 12:19:26 PDT 2008

Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Aug 30, 2008, at 8:50 AM, Russell Turpin wrote:
>> On Sat, Aug 30, 2008 at 12:27 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
>>> "We are all our brothers' keepers."
>>> "Mutual responsibility."
>>> "A matter of economic fairness."
>>> "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
>>> Not a lot of ideological distance between these statements.
>> Yeah, yeah. I'm not particularly interested in parsing the semantics
>> between those.
> Well, then, you're willfully ignoring the point.
> Is he a "Socialist" cap-S?  Probably not, though I'll note that if you 
> look at the rare votes that he's cast in his tenure as a US Senator 
> that were not just "present" you'll find that he's the only US Senator 
> left of Bernie Sanders, the only self-proclaimed
Either he has a Socialist track record or he doesn't.  You claim that he 
has "clearly *intentionally* tried to avoid what you are saying here he 
has done, modulo vague "about several issues".  Which is it?  You are 
seeing shadows here and sticking to one interpretation without giving 
any weight to alternatives.
> cap-S Socialist in the US Senate.  Is he a little-s socialist?  Well, 
> I agree that the difference between e.g. 39% and 35% top tax rates, or 
> even 15% and 28% cap gains rates, doesn't qualify.  By that metric, 
> Clinton would be a socialist, and you've never heard me say anything 
> other than generally positive things about Clinton, have you?  You 
> certainly haven't heard me call him a socialist.
> No, the problem is that Obama has clearly *intentionally* done as much 
> as possible to avoid establishing a track record about several 
> issues.  But if you *do* parse e.g. his statements carefully, you see 
> a clear sentiment peeking through that can only be
If you "do parse his statements carefully"?  You mean with particularly 
biased view of their meaning?  To fit your theory of his subterranean 
socialistic tendencies?

I dislike the "We are all our brothers' keepers." phrase on a number of 
levels.  However, employing an optimistic and modernist bias, and 
knowing that he is highly educated, I could interpret that repeating of 
an age-old statement in a much more positive light than it has often 
been used.  For instance, it could indicate investment in education, 
fostering small and startup businesses, lowering taxes on those with no 
marginal income, pushing people out of welfare into jobs, rather than 
the other way around.  Among other things, whether you feel that we are 
in a zero sum game or not colors your willingness to make those "below" 
you more competitive.  Clearly, we are not, certainly not in any sense 
when considering the world stage as the pie.  And, I will posit again, 
the economy can become completely different and more vibrant with enough 
investment in technology.  Solving the energy issue is a good first 
step, but only a preliminary one on the journey toward total robot 
factories (which takes humans out of nearly all menial or factory labor, 
which also leads to cheap housing), cheap flight and space travel, and more.

So my interest is in immanentizing the technotron.  (Technoton or 
technotron, opposite of the eschaton, distant antecedent of the 
> described as little-s socialist in general sympathies and direction, 
> if not in practice.  Is he a Marxist per se?  Clearly not.  Is he that 
> peculiarly American strain of redistributionist who's deeply concerned 
> about wealth disparity and believes there's no harm in getting the 
> government deeply involved in resolving that sort of thing?  
> Absolutely, he's the template for the new wave of that.  You want to 
> quibble about what to call that, fine.  My world is "socialist."  
> What's yours?
Having redistributionist desires does not make you anything.  Starting 
out as a young entrepreneur, I was certainly redistributionist: I wanted 
to create a service to compete for people's dollars better than the 
"rich" that I was competing with.  It is how you think that the 
redistribution should occur that determines what ism is involved.  As 
another example, advocating education so that workers generally can 
accomplish more, earn more, and compete better on the world stage, is 
hardly socialist.

There are things that government can do that may not get done 
otherwise.  Due to stupidity at AT&T and elsewhere, the Internet turned 
out to be one of them.  Defense, Blackwater aside, is similar, as most 
will agree.  Clearly, Walmart (and many others) could have done a better 
job responding to Katrina.  Government is often crap and we need to 
strongly call them out on it and have a way to fire the government from 
a particular function.  This does not mean to give an in to religious 
groups trying to inject religion into public function (schools et al), 
but it does mean making functions more efficient and better.

Set up programs and allow government agencies and commercial interests 
compete to solve the problems.  The government acts as an investor in 
many ways.  Each tax break, infrastructure investment, or other 
allowance is an investment from all of us.  Rather than boondoggles, we 
should measure the ROI of these and get smarter about it.  At the same 
time, we shouldn't shy away from certain high risk goals.  Space, 
renewable energy, etc.

Argue the individual investments, not that change is bad.  I'm sure we 
could reclaim quite a bit of cash flow already in place if we gave more 

> jb

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