An Interesting Appendix

04/30/21

I came across an interesting appendix in Friedman’s Free to Choose, A Personal Statement. These were the planks of the 1928 Socialist Party of America. It takes little effort to think of contemporary examples of almost every one of these tenets enacted on a state or federal level (parenthesis after each plank contain examples). This begs the question, what goals would be drafted next if the Socialist Party of America (1897-1946) were around today? At the very least, reading the planks below offer some unique perspective to our current economic and social positioning.

1928 Planks of the Socialist Party of America [1]

1. “Nationalization of our natural resources, beginning with the coal mines and water sites, particularly at Boulder Dam and Muscle Shoals.” (Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam, and Muscle Shoals, solar subsidies.)

 

2. “A publicly owned giant power system under which the federal government shall cooperate with the states and municipalities in the distribution of electrical energy to the people at cost.” (Tennessee Valley Authority, California flirting with taking over power grid post-2019 fire season)

3. “National ownership and democratic management of railroads and other means of transportation and communication.” (Amtrak, Conrail, Caltrans. FCC controlling communications by phone/internet/satellite, FCC control/regulation of aircraft including drones. U.S. Navy creating Tor.) 

4. “An adequate national program for flood control, flood relief, reforestation, irrigation, and reclamation.” (Government expenditures for these purposes are currently in the many billions of dollars.)

5. “Immediate government relief of the unemployed by the

extension of all public works and a program of long range planning of public works . All persons thus employed to be engaged at hours and wages fixed by bona-fide labor unions.” (The Davis-Bacon and Walsh-Healey Acts required contractors with government contracts to pay “prevailing wages”. Take any of the COVID 19 relief acts, like the CARE Act, for example)

6. “Loans to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works and the taking of such other measures as will lessen widespread misery.” (Federal grants in aid to states and local municipalities currently total billions of dollars a year.)

7. “A system of unemployment insurance.” (Social Security, any COVID Relief Act.)

8. “The nation-wide extension of public employment agencies in cooperation with city federations of labor.” (Look at growth of any state or federal bureaucratic organization, growth of administration in higher eduction, etc.) [2]

9. “A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance.” (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.)

10. “Shortening the workday” and “Securing to every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week.” (Legislated by wages and hours laws that require overtime for more than forty hours of work per week.)

11. “Enacting of an adequate federal anti-child labor amendment.” (Not achieved as amendment, but essence incorporated in various legislative acts.)

12. “Abolition of the brutal exploitation of convicts under the contract system and substitution of a cooperative organization of industries in penitentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their dependents.” (Party achieved.)

13. “Increase of taxation on high income levels, of corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, the proceeds to be used for old age pensions and other forms of social insurance.” (In 1928, highest personal income tax rate, 25 percent; in 1978, 70 percent; in 1928, corporate tax rate, 12 percent; in 1978, 48 percent; in 1928, top federal estate tax rate, 20 percent; in 1978, 70 percent, from Friedman.)

14. “Appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation.” (Achieved in various forms, property tax rates drastically increased.)

Notes

[1]  For some history of the party, check this out: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/eam/spa/socialistparty.html

[2]  One of many      examples: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED029585.pdf