Democratic Socialism and Capitalism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked her establishment Democratic opponent with her victory and also disturbed the Zeitgeist by proclaiming herself a Democratic Socialist.  So far as I can tell, the Democratic Socialist program is warm, fuzzy and vague.  Some purported details:
Today, thousands of DSA members across the country are organizing for Medicare for All, rent control, abolishing ICE, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free college, free and legal abortions, a fighting labor movement, and ending police violence and mass incarceration, climate devastation, and war.
For me, some of these ideas are good (Medicare for All, tuition-free public colleges, legal abortions, addressing climate change), some are bad (rent control, abolishing ICE), some are highly problematic (federal jobs guarantee) and others hopelessly unrealistic (ending police violence and war).  I would like to see a stronger labor movement (but fighting won't help), curbs on police violence, and far less incarceration, but those issues are complex.

I am not enough of a student of socialism to know exactly which of these ideas come from socialists, but some of them have been widely tested without destroying freedom or capitalism (public education, universal health care and other welfare measures.  Rent control is an idea that has been widely tested and benefits a few at the expense of the many.

One clear focus of the DSA is anger at the excesses of capitalism.  The world has seen plenty of the disasters of socialism, especially in its authoritarian forms, but it's also seeing a lot experiments in authoritarian versions of capitalism, notably in Russia and China, but the tendency is clear in Trump's ambitions as well.

The threat I see to the US is the vast power being wielded by the immensely wealthy and corporations due to their unconstrained spending to influence Congress and elections.  I think that it might have been Warren Buffett who observed that money spent influencing political decisions could be the best investment one could make.  Just in the past year we have seen the US take on an enormous new debt mainly* to cut taxes on corporations and the super rich.

Much of the political spending is now done by tax sheltered "foundations" with alleged educational purposes but actual political purposes.  I would favor heavy taxes on all direct and indirect political spending by outside parties above a modest amount, say $5000.  I also favor heavy taxes on estates above, say, $10 million.  Put the entrepreneurial talents of the descendents back to work.  Let the Uihlein's spend their ten of millions on right wing candidates, but make them pay a comparable tens of millions into a public campaign finance pot.

* A temporary pittance was thrown to the masses as sucker's bait.


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