Is Democratic Socialism Just a Bunch of “Free Stuff?”

What is democratic socialism? According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it means that citizens receive “public goods.” According to Republicans, it means giving people a bunch of “free stuff.” Here’s how the debate played out on Twitter:

Public education, libraries, & infrastructure policies (which we‘ve had before in America and elsewhere in the world!) are not “free stuff.”


And they are worth investing in, protecting, & advancing for all society and future generations.

Can y’all please tell AOC, if you received something & paid ZERO for it, that means the stuff/service was given to you for FREE.
Sugarcoating the words don’t change the meaning.
It’s all still for FREE.
All it takes is FREE commonsense to figure this out. Maybe she should use it!

Which public goods do we want as a society is a much more fruitful debate than “socialism!” – so I’m very glad
@AOC brought this up.

How Do Mizrahi Jews Change the Narrative About Israel?

Many anti-Israel activists base their views on the idea that Israel is a “racist” or “colonial” state. Some think that Israel could combat these accusations by highlighting the fact that the majority of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi, which means they trace their history to the Middle East and Africa.

In recent years, Israel has invested tremendous resources in showcasing, albeit in a very partial way, the history of Middle Eastern Jews. But simultaneously, there are parallel efforts to adjust and compartmentalize this history under the umbrella of Zionist history.

Although Mizrahim make up 60% of Israel’s Jewish population today, even devoted Zionists entrenched in Israel’s policies know little about the largest demographic living there. Leaving the story of Mizrahi Jews out of pro-Israel advocacy is a mistake. Jews from the Middle East and North Africa — and our story of survival — are the greatest threat to anti-Zionism. That’s why anti-Zionist groups are so intent on harassing and silencing us.

Could the relationship between American Jews and Israel be healed, at least partially, if we stopped expecting the other to act as we would and instead learned to appreciate how different are our instincts, values and priorities? [.] Civil rights progress means not only giving people their economic due, but also taking their ideas and their culture seriously. And Mizrahi Jews, who now constitute a majority of Israel’s Jews, are in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians or to embrace liberal forms of Judaism.

Will Anything Be Accomplished at the UN’s Climate Conference?

Is the world doing enough to combat climate change? Is the world capable of doing enough to combat climate change? These questions will be asked at the UN’s COP25 Climate Conference in Madrid.

… at this COP, if we continue to stand together, the movements against the inequality and climate crises can show the powerful that we are not going anywhere. We must continue to work together to increase the public pressure until they act in the interests of the people, not the polluters and the billionaires.

The ill-fated COP25 has found a host location at the third time of asking but, just like its predecessors, the high-powered international summit looks to be big on gestures and small on reversing the direction of humankind.

The COP25 climate summit starting Monday won’t end the danger of climate change.

Rather, the summit being held in Madrid is aimed at making the rough ways smooth and preparing the ground for next year’s COP26 summit, when countries will be under pressure to boost the climate pledges they made in 2015 in Paris.

Should Federal Agencies Be Moved Out of DC?

Republican senators Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn have proposed decentralizing the Federal Government, at least from a geographical point of view. Would it be a good idea to move government agencies from Washington DC into the heartland? More at Brookings.

Before the advent of air travel and telecommunications, it made sense to cluster federal agencies in Washington. In the 21st century, however, technology enables us to do so much more—and to take advantage of a truly federal system, which seeks to disperse the power of government.

Reducing regional disparities, using tax dollars more efficiently, and creating jobs in underserved communities—all are concepts that should find widespread support. The HIRE Act is common-sense legislation that will benefit the whole country and drain the swamp in the process.

… it appears there are few sound reasons for relocating agency headquarters out of the National Capital Region. On the other hand, there are many compelling arguments to keep them where they are.

Is California Doomed?

After a year of fires, one NYT columnist (below) declared that the end is nigh for California. Is there anything to this kind of apocalyptic doomsday prophecy?

All the leaves are burned and the sky is gray. California, as it’s currently designed, will not survive the coming climate. Either we alter how we live here, or many of us won’t live here anymore.

The Golden State is not over. But a strong and secure future will depend on the state’s ability to confront the forces creating the housing crisis and worsening income inequality. These challenges will require as much political commitment and ingenuity as what California mustered in the last century to create an economy that provides opportunities for millions of newcomers.

To say that something elemental is disappearing from California, or that the fires have come to teach us some kind of lesson, doesn’t just skip over important evidence to the contrary. It elides the larger fact that a state is not a fable… the place isn’t falling into the Pacific yet.

Is Virtue Signalling a Vice?

Virtue Signalling is the act of conspicuously displaying one’s own virtuousness by the expression of certain political views. Is this everything wrong with politically correct discourse in 2019, or just a buzzword designed to discredit leftist activism.

Ironically, accusing others of virtue signalling might itself constitute virtue signalling – just signalling to a different audience. Whether it should be counted as virtue signalling or not, the accusation does exactly what it accuses others of: it moves the focus from the target of the moral claim to the person making it.

Virtue signaling, as a speech act, indicates where the signaler stands in troubled times. And though we may criticize tribalism, at a time when public debates have turned into very real violence, people may use virtue signaling to find their tribe, gaining a sense of safety.

I am that rare thing, a vice-signaller; a breed defined by the fact that unlike our virtue-signalling opposites, we delight in presenting ourselves as somewhat worse than we are… In our determined desire to show our bad side, we can be funny and original in a way no approval-seeking virtue-signaller ever could.

Today’s Hot Issues

Is Democratic Socialism Just a Bunch of “Free Stuff?” How Do Mizrahi Jews Change the Narrative About Israel? Will Anything Be Accomplished at the UN’s Climate Conference? Should Federal Agencies Be Moved Out of DC? Is California Doomed? Is Virtue Signalling a Vice?