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EPIC Fail 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post EPIC Fail
Heh, I get to use a catchphrase.

I'm reading T.H. Watkins' "The Great Depression" (for pointers to the next five years) and on p. 237 he has some detail about End Poverty In California, which we know of course RAH was involved in. The description is useful for its succinctness and interesting for its Holy Mackerel socialism. A snippet:

Quote:
The overarching theme was "production for use," not profit, and... it had a seductive simplicity. To raise revenue, the general sales tax would be replaced by a graduated income tax and heavy taxes on corporations, banks, and insurance companies. Unused land - land assumed to be held for speculative purposes - would be taxed at 10 percent. The money raised from these taxes would be used to purchase idle land and establish agricultural colonies made up of unemployed laborers and bankrupt farm families. The colonies would grow everything they needed and trade their excess production for goods manufactured in state-owned factories. The whole program would be bound together by an internal system of credits and script to give it economic autonomy within the capitalistic system around it - said capitalism, of course, ultimately to be overwhelmed by this new creation.


Also interesting is the fairly narrow margin of his loss, given the massive Republican firepower mustered against him: 1,138,000 (for Merriam) to 879,000. And then:

Quote:
What remains intriguing is what the outcome might have been had not Progressive candidate Raymond Height been running against both Sinclair and Merriam; Haight received 302,000 votes.


Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:27 am
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Post Re: EPIC Fail
Peter Scott wrote:
Also interesting is the fairly narrow margin of his loss, given the massive Republican firepower mustered against him: 1,138,000 (for Merriam) to 879,000.

Vell, his system vorked vell in Russia, vy should it not vork here? :mrgreen:

That's 57/43%. I'm not sure I'd count that as a narrow margin; few major elections exceed the 60-40 ratio. Many stay within 55-45. It's large considering the power that Socialist politics had in that era; especially in California, a Republican win by anything but scant points is evidence of just how hard and dirty the fight was.

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Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:47 am
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Post Re: EPIC Fail
I'm amazed by how socialist EPIC's proposals were. I mean, I know that's how they were described in, say, the Journal, but honestly, I figured "socialist" in this sense meant more like "Canadian". The reality was closer to "Communist". It's remarkable that Heinlein espoused that view and then transitioned to the other end of the scale. I just had no idea how long that scale was.

I also thought I had a good idea of what went on in the Depression. Reading more about it, I see I was underinformed. The country came perilously close to revolution, for instance. I also didn't know that the riots were as widespread, large, and violent. It's not going to get that bad now, but comparatively speaking, it might feel like it in a few years.


Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:24 pm
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Post Re: EPIC Fail
Peter Scott wrote:
I'm amazed by how socialist EPIC's proposals were. I mean, I know that's how they were described in, say, the Journal, but honestly, I figured "socialist" in this sense meant more like "Canadian". The reality was closer to "Communist". It's remarkable that Heinlein espoused that view and then transitioned to the other end of the scale. I just had no idea how long that scale was.

I also thought I had a good idea of what went on in the Depression. Reading more about it, I see I was underinformed. The country came perilously close to revolution, for instance. I also didn't know that the riots were as widespread, large, and violent. It's not going to get that bad now, but comparatively speaking, it might feel like it in a few years.


There was a huge flirtation with Communism (both small and large "c") in the US during the Depression. There was never any realistic danger of armed revolution, however, because the extreme left was split into so many relatively small groups. FDR came along just in time, IMO, to prevent a slide down into serious Socialism. He was just Socialist enough to appease some of the less-extreme groups.

The EPIC movement reminds me a lot of Huey Long's "Share the Wealth" platform. Now, there was a dangerous demagogue. Had he not been assassinated, Huey might have posed a threat to Roosevelt's re-election in 1936 by draining left-wing support and throwing the election to the isolationist Republicans. History might have been much different if he'd survived, but probably not better.

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Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:59 pm
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Post Re: EPIC Fail
Not just in the US. England, too, had a strong C/c/ommunist leaning in the 1920s and 30s - which is what led to the various spy rings two decades later.

And all of it contributed to the McCarthy hysteria, since so many people really did attend a few pink gatherings or even carry a pinkish-red card of some sort... for a time.

But yes, Sinclair and EPIC and the other big movements of the time were REALLY Socialist, very extreme by today's gentle notions of Canadian and Scandanavian "socialism."

(And light-years from what right-wing hysterics call socialist here and now. Those would be the righties who want government to pay for important things, like those that affect them, their companies and their investments... but not that commie-socialist welfare crap for everyone else.)


Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:57 pm
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Post Re: EPIC Fail
Peter Scott wrote:
Heh, I get to use a catchphrase.

I'm reading T.H. Watkins' "The Great Depression" (for pointers to the next five years) and on p. 237 he has some detail about End Poverty In California, which we know of course RAH was involved in. The description is useful for its succinctness and interesting for its Holy Mackerel socialism. A snippet:

Quote:
The overarching theme was "production for use," not profit, and... it had a seductive simplicity. To raise revenue, the general sales tax would be replaced by a graduated income tax and heavy taxes on corporations, banks, and insurance companies. Unused land - land assumed to be held for speculative purposes - would be taxed at 10 percent. The money raised from these taxes would be used to purchase idle land and establish agricultural colonies made up of unemployed laborers and bankrupt farm families. The colonies would grow everything they needed and trade their excess production for goods manufactured in state-owned factories. The whole program would be bound together by an internal system of credits and script to give it economic autonomy within the capitalistic system around it - said capitalism, of course, ultimately to be overwhelmed by this new creation.


Also interesting is the fairly narrow margin of his loss, given the massive Republican firepower mustered against him: 1,138,000 (for Merriam) to 879,000. And then:

Quote:
What remains intriguing is what the outcome might have been had not Progressive candidate Raymond Height been running against both Sinclair and Merriam; Haight received 302,000 votes.

He's got it not-quite right. The EPIC program was to use the state's borrowing power (which would be backed by taxation and/or bonds -- but not quite the same thing) to make the initial acquisitions of foreclosed properties which would then become colonies of unemployed and run to become self-sustaining. Sinclair wrote campaign literature explaining this stuff -- I think EPIC QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS is the one he wants to review.

There's also one very important element to the picture that he's left out, explaining why it was seductive to the people of the 1930's. As the drought in the midwest went into its fourth year (the Oklahoma dust-bowl, remember -- Grapes of Wrath stuff was not fiction, just fictionalized), there were something like 2 million refugees heading into California at a time when the entire state's population was only 6 million, and there were only something like 200,000 agriculture jobs (loosely defined). Relief expenses for 1935 were projected at one-third of the Los Angeles County budget for 1935. Sinclair proposed to make relief (i.e., "welfare") self-liquidating, using mostly existing resources.

And one final comment -- Sinclair's problem was not the Republican opposition -- it was the enormous and organized opposition within his own party -- the Democrats for Merriam movement was extraordinarily active and destructive.

Of course, it didn't help that Uppie had a big mouth and had written too many overtly socialist books up to that time. When the LA Times began running quotes from Sinclair's writings as daily front page black boxed material, Sinclair said "it is impossible that the people would vote for anyone who wrote that."


Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:33 am
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