Confusion about “socialism”.

Apparently there is great confusion on Wall Street about just exactly what is “socialism” and “capitalism”.  For example, several papers are reporting (ex: NYTimes), that many Wall St executives and employees are complaining that their bonuses are being criticized.  For example, this from the NYTimes Friday:

“I think President Obama painted everyone with a broad stroke,” said Brian McCaffrey, 55, a Wall Street lawyer who was on his way to see a client. “The way we pay our taxes is bonuses. The only way that we’ll get any of our bailout money back is from taxes on bonuses. I think bonuses should be looked at on a case by case basis, or you turn into a socialist.”

That, indeed, was a recurring equation: Broad strokes + bonuses = socialist.

“It’s a very slippery slope to go down,” said another insurance broker as he waited to be seated for lunch at Cipriani Downtown. “A blanket statement like that borders on” — you guessed it — “socialism.”

Umm, guys, “capitalism” does not mean “I am entitled to a large bonus because I work hard”. If it did, we would have lots of rich garbage collectors. Nor is it “socialism” to be criticized for a bonus – especially when taxpayers had to rescue your employer. Continue reading