Maher Boasts of Socialism's Supposed Virtues as ‘Capitalism Plus’

March 30th, 2019 4:38 PM

Real Time host Bill Maher closed his satirical segment “New Rules” Friday with a public service announcement for socialism that would have made Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proud. Why? It's because he favorably described socialism as “capitalism plus” before lamenting that “our system kind of sucks.”

Here was Maher's last “new rule” of the night: “Republicans have to explain if socialism is such a one-way ticket to becoming the nightmare of Venezuela, then why do all the happiest countries in the world embrace it?” He then went on to talk about how the top ten happiest countries according to the UN are “socialist-friendly places.”



According to Maher, “the right has a hard time understanding the concept that we don’t want ‘long lines for bread socialism,’ we want ‘you don’t have to win the lotto to afford brain surgery socialism.’”

In contrast, he asserted that “socialism as an economic model replacing capitalism is bad but socialism as a supplement to capitalism, good.” As supposed evidence to back that up, he fretted that United States performed worse in the “world happiness rankings” compared to other countries and particularly ones that are socialist.

The HBO host cited that all of the aforementioned countries have “some form of universal health care, all have free or almost free higher education, all have strong unions, pensions, and social safety nets.” Maher pushed back on the “canard” pushed by conservatives that “unfettered capitalism makes you more free,” arguing instead that “it’s the right kind of socialism that makes you the freest.”

Maher concocted a name for this “right kind of capitalism,” electing to refer to it as “capitalism plus.”

Out of the blue, he ended by going after Nikki Haley for calling into question the effectiveness of Finland’s healthcare: “it’s almost as if our system kind of sucks. You know why we can’t have nice things like Finland has? Because we’re ruled by corporatist nincompoops like Nikki Haley who write books with titles like ‘Can’t Is Not an Option,’ when in America, can’t is not only an option, it’s usually the only option.”



As the show came to an end, Maher asked: “Does pure, unbridled capitalism work?” He answered his own question by taking a shot at Haley’s nomination to serve on the Board of Directors at Boeing: “I guess that depends whether you’re on the board of Boeing or on board a Boeing.”

Like many liberals, Maher focused on all of the romantic aspects of socialism without taking into account their consequences. As David Limbaugh recently pointed out: “Socialism has consistently impoverished and enslaved. With its top-down control of the economy, it obliterates individual economic liberty and thus robs individuals of an essential part of their humanity.”

A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of Real Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.

HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher


10:51 p.m. Eastern

BILL MAHER: All right. And finally, new rule: Republicans have to explain, if socialism is such a one-way ticket to becoming the nightmare of Venezuela, then why do all the happiest countries in the world embrace it? The U.N. just came out with their annual world happiness rankings and the top ones are all socialist-friendly places like Finland and Norway, Denmark and Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Canada. And, of course, Wakanda. 


MAHER: The right has a hard time understanding the concept that we don’t want “long lines for bread” socialism, we want “you don’t have to win the lotto to afford brain surgery” socialism. Socialism…


MAHER: …socialism as an economic model replacing capitalism is bad. But socialism as a supplement to capitalism, good. Kind of like how…


MAHER: Kind of like how gin and tonic are terrible by themselves, but mixed together? Delightful. 


MAHER: Now, as for the United States, we should be happier than ever. Unemployment is low, crime is low, and free people can say Merry Christmas again. And yet we’ve dropped five spots on the happy list in just two years and are now at number 19, behind Belgium and the Germans, a people who don’t even look happy in their porn. 


MAHER: So it’s a conundrum. We look at the rankings of the happy nations and see that we’re getting our ass kicked by people in wooden shoes. Christ, there’s no sun half the year in a lot of these places, and they’re still in a better mood…how can that be? You mean this Norwegian guy is happier than us? His car is a bicycle and his dinner is canned fish again. The women in his country look like Tilda Swinton, and the men in his country also look like Tilda Swinton. 


MAHER: But he’s happy, he’s happy because he’s not constantly sweating a mountain of student debt or what would happen if he got sick. Happiness isn’t only about what you have. It’s also about what you don’t have to worry about. All…


MAHER: …all the top countries on the list are ones with some form of universal health care. All have free or almost free higher education. All have strong unions, pensions, and social safety nets. Turns out, freedom from the fear of ending up in a tent below the overpass is a really great freedom. It’s called peace of mind. 


MAHER: Conservatives like to push the canard that unfettered capitalism makes you more free, but actually it’s the right kind of socialism that makes you the freest. In fact, let’s not even call it “socialism.” Let’s call it “capitalism plus.”


MAHER: Because that’s what it really is. It’s a plus when you get sick and you can focus on getting better instead of not going broke. It’s a plus when you get pregnant and can think of anything besides, “what’s this little shit gonna cost me?” 


MAHER: A knowing smile. Bernie Sanders tweeted recently that in the U.S., it costs $12,000 to have a baby, while in Finland it costs $60, and supposedly smart Republican Nikki Haley responded with: “Comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their health care is. You won’t like the answer.” Actually, it’s Nikki Haley who didn’t like the answer, because it turns out they have Twitter in Finland, too, and a lot of Fins gave testimony about how much they like their health care. For example, in the U.S., the maternal death rate is almost seven times what it is in Finland, isn’t that odd? They only pay 60 bucks to have a baby, yet they don’t die. It’s almost as if our system kind of sucks. You know why we can’t have nice things like Finland has? Because we’re ruled by corporatist nincompoops like Nikki Haley who write books with titles like “Can’t Is Not an Option.” When in America, “can’t” is not only an option, it’s usually the only option. Does…


MAHER: Does pure, unbridled capitalism work? I guess that depends whether you’re on the board of Boeing or on board a Boeing.