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Not that anything about the current “socialism” rhetoric is meant to be taken seriously, but isn’t the closest thing to socialism on the American policy agenda the status quo situation in . . . Sarah Palin’s Alaska? You have collective ownership of valuable natural resources that generates lots of revenue for the state, and then the government makes “spreading the wealth around” through the Permanent Fund, etc. its main priority. It’s actually, for all the flaws of Alaska politics and public policy, a pretty good system. But I think the best way to think about it is that it’s an example of a somewhat special case in which socialism is a good idea.

Of course another time where you need a dose of socialism is if, for example, there’s a financial system emergency and the government needs to partially nationalize large banks in order to recapitalize them. But that’s been brought to us by George W. Bush with the support of John McCain.