Let Us Now Praise "Full Communism"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 7 2014 10:16 AM

Let Us Now Praise "Full Communism"

The conservative blogosphere/thinkosphere has a new favorite punching bag: an op-ed in Rolling Stone, by Jesse Myerson, endorsing "five economic reforms milennials should be fighting for." Among them: "A job guarantee that paid a living wage," a "universal basic income," buying up bonds to undo the "top 10 percent's ownership of the means of production." Jonah Goldberg's response to the fooferah is pretty nihilistic and pretty true.

Sometimes it is hard for people to accept that there really aren't many new ideas. Sure, there are new policy innovations and new possibilities created by technology. But the really big ideas about how we should organize society vary between being merely antique and downright ancient. 
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But the best proof of this comes to us from Dylan Matthews. Watch what he does—if you notice it, you're smarter than most of the people reading the headline then tweeting through blind rage. Where Myerson describes a nationalization of bonds as a quasi-communist reform, Matthews brands it as "having Social Security invest in the private sector." Where Myerson makes "public banks" sound like something out of the New Economic Plan, Matthews points out that "North Dakota has far more small business lending by its community banks than neighboring states, such as South Dakota or Montana, that lack a public bank."

The point is that none of the ideas are especially crazy. The outrage is one part economic thinking, 10 parts ideological retrenchment. Happy New Year!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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