Four of the five front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination profess some version of social democracy. This has produced considerable excitement.

The rhetoric suggests most commentators have little idea about the origins and meaning of the term. Given they generally cannot provide a coherent definition of its precursors, capitalism and communism, they haven’t disappointed this observer.

Adam Smith, “The Father of Capitalism,” described a system where people and companies make most economic decisions and own most of the property. The means of production remain in private hands and are operated for profit.

A major advantage of capitalism is that the prices of goods and services are determined by the operation of an unconstrained market.

The system evolved naturally out of the development of movable property or capital during the early renaissance. Capitalism depends upon the ability to convert goods to means of exchange, thereby allowing trading money and promissory notes.

This became necessary when feudal systems collapsed under a variety of pressures ranging from the plague to the extravagance of empires.

Because capitalism requires the concentration of wealth, inequality among individuals becomes inevitable. This concentration of wealth ultimately undermines the state, either indirectly by private quasi-legal structures or explicit corruption.

The erosion of state power and impoverishment of laborers led Karl Marx and Joseph Engels to advocate an alternative system, which became known as communism. This system argued for the sharing of wealth by individuals in accordance with their needs.

The idea is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian traditions: Acts 2:44-45 says “All the believers were together and held everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Unfortunately, even then, not everyone willingly participated.

Luke reports that Ananias and Sapphira held back property, which resulted in fatal smitings. Two thousand years later, Kulaks in Soviet Russia refused to turn over grain to the state. Joseph Stalin executed millions and seized their property. Eventually, the Soviet Union collapsed under the inefficiency of central planning and a corrupt bureaucracy.

Clearly, neither unfettered capitalism nor communism provides a viable mechanism for governance. Social democracy blends the systems through an interaction of a democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy.

The system works to create a society where the economy is predominantly capitalist, but with state regulation providing for the general welfare. The state guarantees services such as health care, education, and retirement programs.

A re-distribution of wealth through equitable taxation pays for the programs, in the name of social justice.

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are all variants of social Democrats. They contrast with Joseph Biden, a moderate Democrat, who appears to place party loyalty above social justice.

Donald Trump re-incarnated himself as a Republican in 2012. His views are difficult to ascertain beyond a belief that “I am your voice. I alone can fix it,” whatever “it” is. He egotistically insists that his ideas are the best. This fascistic claim shouldn’t be tolerated by Americans.

Dan Freeman is an occasional columnist for The Daily News.

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(77) comments

Carlos Ponce

"His views are difficult to ascertain beyond a belief that 'I am your voice. I alone can fix it,' whatever 'it' is. He egotistically insists that his ideas are the best."- This sounds more like the view of President Barack Hussein Obama, “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.” January 2014

Dan Freeman, you were alive in January 2014. How did you miss this? Over FIVE years late if this idea bothers you. However, Obama was more blatant about his actions to "fix it" whatever "it" is. Dan Freeman must have thought this was a GREAT idea in 2014 - he didn't complain.

Emile Pope

Comparing President Obama to the incompetent charlatan occupying the White House is like comparing a Ferrari to a Yugo with torn seats...

Carlos Ponce

We shall consider your post for what it's worth - not much.

Gary Miller

Comparing Obama to a yugo with torn seats? Yugo's were better than Obama.

Michael Byrd

Don't forget he's your president too!

Mike Zeller

We shall consider your post for what it's worth - not much.

Jim Forsythe

These are just the ones that Trump said in 2015 and 2016.

"I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I'm the one who can truly fix them," Donald Trump

"I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth." — April 2016

"I understand social media. I understand the power of Twitter. I understand the power of Facebook maybe better than almost anybody, based on my results, right?" — November 2015

"Nobody knows more about debt. I'm like the king. I love debt." — May 2016

"Nobody knows more about taxes than I do -- and income than I do.” -- May 2016

"Nobody knows banking better than I do" — February 2016

"I think nobody knows the system better than I do." — August 2016

"I am a person that used to be establishment when I'd give them hundreds of thousands of dollars. But when I decided to run, I became very anti-establishment, because I understand the system than anybody else." — July 2016

"Nobody knows the system better than I do." — April 2016

"Nobody knows politicians better than Donald Trump." — February 2016

If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself. Jul 2016

"I hope all workers demand that their @Teamsters reps endorse Donald J. Trump. Nobody knows jobs like I do! Don’t let them sell you out!"

The visa system : "Because nobody knows the system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me." -- March 2016

“I love construction, I love the whole thing. I can tell you more about Caterpillar tractors than the people that work there.” May 2016

Carlos Ponce

Jim, the rest of us have learned to use the new forum posting without so much BLANK SPACE. Try eliminating the BLANK SPACE on your posts. It doesn't look good.

Mike Zeller

The content looks excellent! [beam]

Jim Forsythe

This is the Mayo Clinic's diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Donald Trump fits these criteria perfectly:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people

Requiring constant admiration

Having a sense of entitlement

Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations

Taking advantage of others to get what you want

Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

Being envious of others and believing others envy you

Randy Chapman

Uh, Jim, sorry, but these are the qualities that make up all politicians, especially presidents. Without these traits, they couldn't do anything right, ergo Jimmy Carter among others.

Emile Pope

Totally false.

Gary Scoggin

Randy, maybe so, but nowhere have I seen these traits expressed more vividly than in our current President.

Paula Flinn

You can call it “blatant,” but I call it “explanatory.” President Obama was trying to help people, students, small businesses, etc. to find jobs.

President Trump is trying to “fix it.” There is a huge difference between the two, and not just in vocabulary.

Carlos Ponce

Paula posts, "President Obama was trying to help people, students, small businesses, etc. to find jobs."

Did he help or hinder? College costs were going up before Obama. So he made it so only the government could give college loans. As a result, college costs have skyrocketed.

Small businesses had trouble with over-regulation before Obama so decides to add more regulations creating more problems for the small businessman.

Emile Pope

What you wrote is totally false...

Carlos Ponce

Emile, what I wrote can be verified. Try doing some research.

Emile Pope

Not my job to prove your point...

Carlos Ponce

"Not my job to prove your point..." They say ignorance is bliss. You must be very happy.

Michelle Davis

Dan Freeman, if you completely discount the fact that our founders never intended we have a democracy but instead a republic that protects the rights of the individual from majority (mob), you can spew such nonsense. They gave us a fantastic system for citizens to produce goods, services, etc to pursue happiness. The founders never intended that the central government provide healthcare, disability income, etc. I prefer the country that they intended us to "keep." No socialism, no communism, no democracy, no oligarchy, etc.

Melody Oelze

Dan-well done!

Diane Turski

Dan, thank you for a clear explanation of social democracy vs other economic models. Only those who choose to remain willfully ignorant will not benefit from this educational clarification. My hope is that there will be more people willing to learn about social democracy and then to vote for the economic model that will actually benefit them as well as others in their communities.

Gary Miller

Diane> What the majority of Democrat candidates propose is not social democracy> They propose democratic socialism. Completely different policy. Capitalism does not require concentration of wealth by the rich. Capitalism works best when all can use it to live on the profits from providing goods and services other people need and want. The greatest profit from capitalism is for the people needing or wanting the goods or services provided by capitalist commerce. When a farmer trades his surplus grain for tools or clothes that is the starting point for capitalism.

David Hardee

Mr. Freeman – This is a democratic republic – no other form of government or philosophy is better for the preservation of equality for all. History has proven all the other experiments at governance failed.

Mr. Pope – the operational techniques of executing the power of a president between Obama and Trump are the same. The difference is the socialism of Obama (community organizer) and the realism of Trump (business owner). ADDITIONALLY

Mr. Pope your derogatory comments reveal a black soul where animus has overwhelmed intellect.

Emile Pope

Actually Barack Obama was a US senator before he became president. Donald was a reality show host known for his failed businesses and sham university. Also known for his dealings with Russia...and I’m not putting kids in cages....

Gary Miller

Emile> You still don't understand it was Obama that put babies in cages, shame on you and him.

Carlos Ponce

I'll never understand why otherwise intelligent (or so they claim) individuals refuse to believe children were put into cyclone fence enclosures now known as "cages". The pictures were taken by Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar. The website is dated June 12, 2014 - a year before Trump announced his candidacy. Here's the link:

Why a UK not US website? The Liberal press would not show anything that would show the Obama administration in a negative light.

Randy Chapman

"Mr. Pope your derogatory comments reveal a black soul where animus has overwhelmed intellect."

Bingo! We have a winner![thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Emile Pope

Theoretically since I am Black then I’m reasonably sure my soul would be also. Are you implying that it’s a bad thing?

Randy Chapman

Again Emile, you miss the point and take that left turn tangent.

Gary Miller

Emile> It is the way you use it that ruins it's value, Not bad until you use it.

Bailey Jones

Labels are useless, only policy matters. Luckily we have centuries of history and dozens of national experiments to go by when evaluating policy. We know the result of state ownership - disaster for the working people. One need only look at Venezuela or Russia. We know the result of unrestrained capitalism - disaster for the working people. One need only read Dickens.

Conservatives love to demonize communism and unions (often ascribing then literally to Satan) but they forget their history. Marxism didn't arise from the depths of hell, but from the depths of human misery caused by the working conditions of the industrial revolution. Same with labor unions - no working man stands against armed militia and hired thugs without being desperate to improve the lot of his family.

"Socialism", the bug-a-boo du jour, brought us the 40 hour week, and end to child labor, sick leave and vacation, overtime pay, and the right for an employee to petition their boss for grievances without being fired. In short - everything that has made being a middle class American great.

Capitalism, restrained with common sense regulations, gives us great things - smart phones, automobiles, cheap Chinese goods and plentiful food - all the things that make Americans fat and happy. It doesn't work well when the buyer is coerced - as in healthcare. It's not great for the development of infrastructure - our highway system was a tremendous boon to business, but business would never have been able to build it. It's no good for police, fire, education, or national defense, or mitigating the ravages of the "business cycle".

People cling to their "isms" as though they are moral goods in and of themselves - as if labeling something magically brings it to life - like gods and goddesses in pagan times. It's nonsense. Whatever works, works. Whatever doesn't work, doesn't work. When I hear an idea being judged by its -ism, I know a lazy mind is at work (or someone has let themselves become the tool of a diabolical demagoguery - straight from the depths of hell.)

Wayne D Holt

I wish more people could look at things objectively like you have Bailey; analyze, critique and base their judgements on the balance of positives for most people. It would force the kind of changes we truly need rather than allowing Left and Right ideologues and demagogues to hide behind meaningless terms.

I don't believe most conservatives object to the INTENT of socialism, which was as mentioned, the lessening of human exploitation and suffering. What is objected to is how that plays out as forced conditioning, a technocratic elite that slices up the pie and hands working Americans the bill for their grand ideas, and a continual encroachment on the idea of personal responsibility and sovereignty.

Capitalism, meanwhile, is not really the correct term for what we have, which is a mercantile system with many government-enforced monopolies. It concentrates wealth, power and influence and is the antithesis of free market dynamics.

Americans root for political parties the way small towns root for home teams. They don't have to be good, they don't have to play clean and the coach can be a drunk...but they're still your guys. The sooner we can approach every idea with a clear understanding of what it is, what it likely will do, who gets to pay for it and who benefits for pushing it, the sooner we will have good government and not government selling us a bill of goods.

Bailey Jones

"Capitalism, meanwhile, is not really the correct term for what we have, which is a mercantile system with many government-enforced monopolies. It concentrates wealth, power and influence and is the antithesis of free market dynamics." I agree. It also has created its own mythos that portrays itself as "the home team", to use your analogy, even at the expense of those who so doggedly support it.

Gary makes the point above that "Capitalism does not require concentration of wealth by the rich. Capitalism works best when all can use it to live on the profits from providing goods and services other people need and want. " I also agree with this. But what mechanism is available to make this happen, except for government regulation? Concentration of wealth is the natural progression of capitalism.

When I was a young engineer, companies threw stock at their employees - it made for loyal and invested (literally) workers. That's gone now, rewards are reserved for the stockholders - the capitalists - people who profit from investment yet produce nothing of value. Workers are just an expense to be acquired at the lowest cost. Company founders who took pride in the workers that made them successful are gone; professional managers, answerable to stockholders have replaced them. There is no moral code in business except that which is enforced by government regulation. I'd like to see changes to our tax laws that reward the corporations that reward employees and the corporations that help develop the communities that create their wealth in the first place. I think a lot of conservatives would go along with that, at least with respect to moving profits and jobs offshore.

Gary Scoggin

Bailey, Wayne... your last several posts sum this whole debate up nicely. Thanks.

Gary Miller

Jobs are the profit for the community when corporate profits are invested in new production. Every job where there was none is a profit.

Gary Scoggin

"Americans root for political parties the way small towns root for home teams. They don't have to be good, they don't have to play clean and the coach can be a drunk...but they're still your guys. " The best explanation I have seen in a long, long time. I'm stealing this.

Ray Taft

We shall consider the Democrats’ so-called social-democracy for what it really means to America - destructive to our God-given rights at so many levels.

Gary Miller

Ray> the clearer description of social democracy is "COMMUNISM"

Gary Scoggin

Gary -- Did you read the article? Dan explained how a social democracy is different from communism.

Carlos Ponce

"social democracy is different from communism." Liker a spirit is different from a ghost, a pail is different from a bucket, a janitor is different from a custodian.

Note these "official names": Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR - was a Communist country, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) - another communist country, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, etc.

Gary Scoggin

That old saw again, Carlos? In those cases, the name was part of the deception. They could call it, Kim Il Un’s Traveling Road Show but that wouldn’t make it a circus. The fact is that a social democracy is much different than communism. Please accept this and move on.

Carlos Ponce

As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” The fact is social democracy is plain and simply socialism. Socialism leads to Communism. Please accept this and move on. Social Democrats in this country are being led by those who were poor history students and they are revising what little history they do know.

Gary Scoggin

Carlos -- here's a good essay on the topic you might want to read...

Carlos Ponce

No Gary Scoggin, the author has questionable opinions.

Patricia Smothers

Thank you Mr. Freeman for a considered discussion of the origins of these two economic systems. Aspects of both combine to make a humane system that works for the majority of citizens. The stock market did very we'll under Obama, he brought us out of a deep recession following a Republican administration. Describing Trump

as a successful businessman is quite a stretch. His numerous bankruptcies and questionable sources of financing disqualify him from being seen as example of a successful defender of capitalism.

Bailey Jones

Trump got rich - that's the definition of a successful capitalist. Whatever moral compromises or collateral damage he made in the process is irrelevant. There is no "we" in capitalism. Just "I's".

Don Schlessinger

You're right BJ, there are a lot of I's in capitalism----I accept responsibility for myself and my family. And there are lots of we's in socialism-----We get everything for free with OPM.

Bailey Jones

Don, I also accept responsibility for myself and my family. I guess if I believed that my responsibility ended there I'd be a Republican. Capitalism is a survival of the fittest competition. The question that seems to divide the right from the left is what do we do with the losers?

Carlos Ponce

Patricia, there is a difference between personal bankruptcy and corporate bankruptcy. Donald Trump has never declared personal bankruptcy. Six of his companies have, many more have not including his 17 golf courses, real estate companies, NYC ice rink, etc. For a full list go to his 2017 Financial Disclosure Statement :$FILE/Trump,%20Donald%20J.%20%20final278.pdf

Only 6 of the companies he was ever associated with had declared bankruptcy. There are 94 companies listed, most with NO financial problems.

Now Patricia, what's in YOUR wallet?

Stuart Crouch

Great article, Dan. Sadly, some very predictable responses.

Gary Scoggin

Carlos -- the difference between persona bankruptcy and corporate bankruptcy is that in personal bankruptcy you lose all your money. In corporate bankruptcy you lose someone else's. Corporate bankruptcy is nothing to be proud of. Successful businesspeople never have one, much less six.

Carlos Ponce

"Successful businesspeople never have one, much less six." NOT TRUE!!!!

Gary Scoggin

I guess it depends on how you define success. If success means enriching yourself with other people’s money and leaving them with nothing, then Donald Trump is one of the most successful people ever.

Carlos Ponce

I suggest Gary Scoggin you look at the portfolios of those you deem successful. In them you will find several bankruptcies not generally revealed since their lucrative companies outnumber those that went bust. Sometimes it's done for tax purposes to offset gains from their successful assets. So, oout of 94 Trump Companies, 6 did not do well. Batting .936 isn't bad.

Gary Scoggin

“Sometimes it's done for tax purposes to offset gains from their successful assets.”

May be but I don’t think it works that way very often. But that wasn’t the case for Donald Trump. He was able to escape bad deals he negotiated, leaving others to hold the bag. The very opposite of the personal responsibility many so-called Conservatives like to preach.

Pete Nanos

the only thing that really matters is that Trump came in after decades of political mumbling and stumbling and put things on the right track. He showed people it could be done.

Gary Miller

Pete> Promises made, promises kept. Profesnel politicians are angered by the idea a promise made should be kept. They are the people trying to keep Trump from teaching voters promises can be kept.

Keith Gray

Absolutely right Pete... results matter.

Charles Douglas

The author of this Op-ed seems to demonize President Trump toward the end of his article, insinuating that Trump bragged about his ability to know it all, and his ability to do it all. Did he lie about bringing jobs back without that MAGIC WANE? Did he lied about kicking ISIS behind? Did lie about jail reform? Did he lie about getting people off food stamps that Obama put them on? Did he lie about helping Israel? Oh talk back to if you can!!!!!!! So then, I ask what about all the Democrats wanting to take our trash bags, lawnmower, gas trimmers, automobiles, cattle, plastic straws, shutting down our fossil fuel jobs, facilitating open borders, letting in the HUDDLE MASSES from the four corners of the earth who are poor and yearning to get here, come in at will with no vetting, so they can suck up food stamps, welfare, and get all the free education, free healthcare, free housing, free reparations, and everything else the ANTICHRIST can think of in order to set this country up to go down into a fecal mess. In all my life I hand never heard of something so idiortic as a society where every @#& thing is free! No need to work, just vote Democrat!!! Come one come all, you might have to live in a tent, and use the streets as your restroom, but come on to the good old USA, we 'd love to have you! Don't worry about breaking the laws, we LIBERALS will protect you. Be careful what you wish for! The writer even used Acts 2:44-45 as his prop in his deceptive claim that the Word of God favored a socialist government which is ludicrous! The Word of God favors LOVE! JESUS admonished his disciples to Love one another as he had loved them, John 13:34-35. That was the new commandment he left here before he went to the cross. Notice that he was not talking to Ceasar, Pontius Pilate, Cleopatra, Herod, Obama, Clinton, or President Trump. He was talking to believers! Believers are to Love, help, the poor, widows, orphans, and make disciples of all nations that MORE LABORERS would join his cause! ( Matthew 28:18 ). Acts 2:44-45 did not favor a socialist mandate from God no more than Matthew 25: 14-29 favors capitalism where the talent was taken away from the evil steward who did not produce, and lied about it, and given to a steward who was a producer, with far more talents than the evil steward had before the master took his trip! Lastly, be careful WHAT you hear, and be careful HOW YOU HEAR IT! Say AMEN to that! Now .. I THINK instead of asking you to send an offering to GDN, I am going to give myself an offering!!!! This was good!!

Don Schlessinger


Emile Pope

Simply a bunch of made up gibberish. Nothing that you write is correct, supported, or even makes any sense. And quoting Bible scripture to try and make a competent case for your since you substitute people you are personally against without providing any evidence that it actually applies to them...

Carlos Ponce

"Simply a bunch of made up gibberish. Nothing that you write is correct" "without providing any evidence" - that describes Emile Pope!

Gary Miller

Carlos> So true. Emile proves if you try hard enough it's possible to be wrong every time.

Emile Pope

for your position...

Charles Douglas

IT makes sense to anyone who has sense, and the fact that Emile cannot make sense or understand bible scripture, says a lot about his character and the way he presents himself! I learned a lot about that thirty or thirty-five years ago. This is why I pay no attention to his ranting about other people who have different opinions than he has. He wants to make others believe he is the smartest person in the State or the Hemisphere! Note that he is the only one on this forum who calls other posters ideas, other's posts, GABARGE, WORTHLESS, or GIBBERISH!!! The man acts like he is either mad at the world, or that he was born Emile Pope if you get my drift. I use scripture because scriptures are credible and they are truth. The fact that you don't know about them nor understand them just expose the fact that you have a lot of work to do. Now, I have no more time to waste on someone who knows it all, and really knows nothing. Yes sir, that is my opinion of your offensive, childish attitude, and the way you come across publicly on this forum! Anyway, enjoy your Labor Day because everyday is a holiday for me.

Emile Pope

Scripture is not always truth. Scripture is the books of the Bible. Is the Koran truth? What about the Book of Mormon?

Carlos Ponce

Emile Pope posts, "Scripture is not always truth." As a Catholic I always heard there would be a pope that would help the anti-Christ according to the St. Malachai prophecy. We always thought it would be the Pope in the Vatican but it seems that the Pope in Galveston fits the billing.

Gary Miller

Emile> you could save space by just signing in without comment. We know what you will say when we see your name.

Charles Douglas

Amen Mr. PONCE! Amen! You said it true and you said it STRAIGHT-UP! You put it where both the squirrels and the giraffes can feed on IT!!! Many thanks!!! I cannot hear anymore of his insults and disrespect to posters on this forum, nor to his deliberate slander toward the Word of God, so I am pressing this BLACKOUT button on my I-phone blocking his posts. Don't have time for this kind of interface. Lolo

Gary Miller

Charles> Amen!

Emile Pope

Tell your friends...

Gary Scoggin

Charles -- "I am pressing this BLACKOUT button on my I-phone blocking his posts. Don't have time for this kind of interface" -- Just wondering, Is that consistent with Matthew 5:38-40?

Charles Douglas

Gary> Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14. Also Gary sometimes enough is enough and I think you know what I mean! Parts of my income goes to feeding the hungry wherever I see them, on the side of the roads at intersections or wherever! Parts of my incomes goes to missionaries in Guatemala and Honduras. This is besides what I do for the poor and the church. However, I will readily admit to you and anybody else, that I have a problem not with ignorance, but with stupidity! See an ignorant man might not know, but a stupid man has no desire to know, and will likely argue with a desert rock laying in the sand! So, hey you just have to cut me a little slack ok? Alright then ...we good. Oh and Gary, thanks for asking brother, this benefited other people who wanted to know but didn't want to ask.

Gary Scoggin

We’re good.

Emile Pope

Apparently we get to decide what scripture we’ll obey. Who knew...

Carlos Ponce

Thank God Emile is not the judge of who obeys scripture and who does not.

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