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DonCoquixote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:46 AM
Original message
Define the following terms:
I see them bandied about, but rarely agreed on. Yes, I am aware that there are dictionaries, but what I am getting it is what these terms mean in practice; i.e. in the "real world." I see these terms used, but not in a consistent manner.

First term: "Working Class"

I have seen some use it to mean farm labor, some mean manual labor, some meaning teachers. The reason I say it gets tricky is because there are many professionals that make awful wages (i.e. people who have had some specific long term training and certification, a la a diploma)

Second Term: "Socialism"

Does this mean that the government regulates the means of production (like some parts of Europe) or that it completely controls them? Where do small businesses fit in? Is the vendor running the hotdog cart an entrepreneur, or a state employee?

Third Term: "Democracy"

Does this mean the people rule directly, or merely set the rules by which government works? Is a nation that has opressive policies, but is popular with the people, a Democracy?

Fourth "Freedom":

is it Freedom to, or Freedom from? Does it mean you pursue what you want, or you can do what you should?

I would like to think that we are not yet at the point where questions like this cannot be thought about without knives beign drawn and clubs raised, if not, that might wind up being it's own answer.
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boppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 02:16 AM
Response to Original message
1. My take:
First term: "Working Class":
Those making less than $30,000 USD a year.

Second Term: "Socialism"
A system where any enterprise is government subsidized of otherwise funded.

Third Term: "Democracy"
I don't consider a Republic a democracy. I'm in favor of direct democracy, with hourly voting by all citizens.

Fourth "Freedom":
Go to Burning Man to see what's left of Freedom in the United States. Other than that, well, we gave up on freedom years ago.
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CTLawGuy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 06:37 AM
Response to Original message
2. I'll try
"working class" - people who depend heavily on their jobs (generally blue collar jobs) for their survival, that is they lack sufficient other resources, such as investments/savings, to support themselves for a long period of time if they lost their jobs. As I understand it, the term implies someone in the lower end of middle class as well as the working poor.

"socialism" - an economic system in which the government administers (i.e. runs or manages) the economy ostensibly for the benefit of the people as a whole. by contrast, capitalism is an economic system in which the economy is administered by private business interests, under regulations set by government, with the goal of maximizing their own profit.

Socialism is not government regulation of business. Even in the system of capitalism advocated by republicans the government has a regulatory role (creating and enforcing contract and property rights, for example).
Socialism is not the government providing services that could theoretically be provided by private enterprise (i.e. health insurance) Even republicans don't think police departments are socialist or that the military is socialist.

The hallmark of socialism is that the government utterly dominates the economy, deciding how much of thing X to produce, setting the wages workers get to make thing Y, deciding how much will be charged for service Z, etc.

"Democracy" - a system of government where the governing power comes from the people. "Republic" is a government run by representatives of the people (whether chosen by the people themselves or not, i guess). I consider the US a "democratic republic" because we have a representative government and we get to elect the representatives.

"freedom" - the ability to conduct your life as you see fit. a lot of Rs complain that taxes "take away their freedom." taxes are the price we pay for the services that the government provides. You live here, you benefit from the services (directly and indirectly), you pay taxes. if you don't like it, you are free to live in any country that will have you.

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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 11:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. Depends on the context, for all of them.
In Europe and some other countries, "working class" is a class that you belong to almost as a birthright. In the US, it's similarity of socio-economic status to the European working class, and goes to income/expenses. Hard to put a dollar figure on it (although the income "$30,000" popped into mind before I saw post 1, I think that's wrong for places like New York City). It gets fuzzy because SES is more than just income, but includes education and home culture; I know working class families making >$60,000 and families I'd be loath to call working class making $30k.

Socialism. Can we use metonymy, or does it have to be only full-blown, full state control of the economy and full state provisioning of rights and privileges? Can we say, "That's socialism" and mean "that practice is consistent with socialism and not traditionally consistent with laissez-faire economies," or do we decide that metonymy is one of those things that must be disallowed when it's inconvenient? (Which, of course, means that anything that isn't 100% "socialism" is automatically dubbed "free market economy," which strikes me as an absurd way of partitioning properties and attributes and labelling them.)

Democracy is rule of the people. We usually put adjectives in front of it to make clear the distinctions in types. Representative democracies are, by definition, representative. Limited democracy places, well, limits on the power of the people to govern; a constitutional democracy is limited by the constitution. Unfettered direct or "pure" democracy, preferred by some, allows 50% + 1 of the population to say that the other 50% - 1 are to be enslaved, neutered, stripped of other rights. They never admit that they mean that, of course, and usually don't mean that, but often persist on insisting on a kind of democracy that permits precisely that.

Freedom is always "freedom from". "Freedom from" entails, to some extent, "freedom to." "Freedom from" means that there aren't fetters, real or metaphorical, placed on you; freedom from laws and institutions that stipulate that government force will follow not committing time and resources as directed. Free from such governmental dicta, you're free to use whatever resources you have--your body, time, money--to do as you want. If you don't have resources, that's a limitation but not a government limitation: Freedom of the press presupposes having a press. But again, there are always requirements to do "as you should"--it's just that in most societies those aren't governmental requirements but social requirements, and the penalty doesn't involve the use of governmental force but peer pressure and social or family pressure.
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