Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

0783 Different Political Philosophies

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 783: Different Political Philosophies.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 783. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Where else?

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there and take a look at the ESL Podcast Store, as well as our ESL Podcast Blog. You can also become a member of ESL Podcast, and get our ESL Podcast Learning Guide. Wow! All of those things on our website.

This episode is a dialogue between Carla and Adam talking about everyone’s favorite subject, politics. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Carla: Our government should do more to help people who can’t find jobs.

Adam: Be careful. You’re starting to sound like a socialist. Haven’t you always said that you’re a staunch capitalist?

Carla: Of course, I’m a capitalist, but that doesn’t mean I think the government should be completely hands-off. We pay taxes and the government has a responsibility to take care of its citizens.

Adam: Ooo, now you’re sounding like a communist. Next thing I know, you’ll be calling for a revolution.

Carla: I’m serious. I think the government should help people find jobs and pay for their living expenses until they get back on their feet.

Adam: Okay, but in a capitalistic society, you’re subject to market forces. If people aren’t buying, businesses aren’t producing or providing services. That puts people out of work. Do you think the government should intervene?

Carla: I just think the government should do more, that’s all.

Adam: Okay, but that would mean higher taxes.

Carla: Yes, we should tax the rich, the more the better.

Adam: Aren’t you among the top 10 percent of income earners?

Carla: I mean they should tax the one percent!

Adam: Pass the buck, you mean.

Carla: No, I mean we need better distribution of wealth. Are you with me or against me?

Adam: That depends on when you’re planning to start the revolution, comrade.

[end of dialogue]

Carla begins our dialogue by saying to Adam, “Our government should do more to help people who can’t find jobs (who can’t find work).” Adam says, “Be careful. You’re starting to sound like a socialist.” A “socialist” is someone who believes in “socialism,” the political philosophy that the government should own and run a large number of the businesses in a society, or should basically be in charge of the economy to a greater extent. A “capitalist” would be someone who believed that the businesses should be owned by individuals and not be interfered with by the government. Those, of course, are very broad differences, but I think you get the idea.

Adam says, “Haven’t you always said that you’re a staunch capitalist?” He’s asking Carla. Carla says, “Of course, I’m a capitalist, but that doesn’t mean I think the government should be completely hands-off.” “To be hands-off” means not to be involved. Carla is saying the government should be involved in the economy somehow, in this case to help people who don’t have jobs. Carla says, “We pay taxes and the government has a responsibility to take care of its citizens.” “Taxes,” you probably know, is money that you pay to the government, either when you buy something or when you make money at your job. Carla says, “the government has a responsibility to take care of (to watch over) its citizens.” “Citizens” are people who belong to a certain country. I’m a citizen of the United States; I have a United States passport.

Well, Adam says, “Ooo, now you’re sounding like a communist.” A “communist” would be a person who believes the government should basically run the entire economy, that everything should be in the hands of the government. A socialist would not want the government to own all of the means of production; they would not want the government to control everything. A communist, however, would want the government to be in charge of the entire economy. Once again, I know that’s not a perfect description, but it’s the general idea when we’re talking about the economic aspects of these different philosophies.

Adam says, “Next thing I know, you’ll be calling for a revolution.” The expression “next thing I know” is used to predict what might happen in the future, but usually when we say this you’re kind of joking, you’re being sarcastic. “Next thing I know, you’ll be calling for a revolution.” Adam doesn’t really think Carla will be calling for or asking for or demanding a revolution. A “revolution” is when, usually, you take over the government in order to change the government, often by using violence.

But Carla doesn’t want to joke the way Adam does. She says, “I’m serious. I think the government should help people find jobs and pay for their living expenses until they get back on their feet.” “To get back on your feet” means to become independent again, especially when we are talking about money, you are able to pay your own rent and buy your own food. We use this expression when someone has had some problems, some difficulties. Maybe they can’t afford to buy food or can’t pay their rent, so someone else helps them until they get back on their feet, until they can be independent again. That could also happen if you are injured physically.

Adam says, “Okay, but in a capitalistic society, you’re subject to market forces.” “To be subject to (something)” means to be influenced or controlled by something. The “market” refers to people buying and selling things, in general. “Market forces” would be a general description of the buying and the selling, what we would call “the laws of supply and demand,” where prices are determined by how much people want something and how much of that something there is. Adam says, “If people aren’t buying (people aren’t purchasing), businesses aren’t producing or providing services. That puts people out of work.” “To put (someone) out of work” means to make people lose their job, to do something that causes people to lose their job. Adam says, “Do you think the government should intervene?” “To intervene” (intervene) means to become involved in something, usually to try to change that something, to change the results. So, if the government intervenes in the economy, they do something to change the way the economy is working.

Carla says, “I just think the government should do more, that’s all.” She doesn’t have a specific idea; she just thinks the government should do something. Adam says, “Okay, but that would mean higher taxes,” meaning if the government got involved people would have to pay more money to the government. Carla says, “Yes, we should tax the rich, the more the better.” We should make rich people pay more money – pay more taxes. She says, “the more the better,” meaning the more money they pay the better things will be.

Adam says, “Aren’t you among the top 10 percent of income earners?” “Income” is money that you receive from either working or from investing your money. “Earners” are people who work and get paid for their work. So, it’s a little redundant, you could just say “earners,” but Adam says “income earners.” He’s saying that Carla is in the top 10 percent of people in the country in terms of how much money she makes. So she’s pretty, or fairly rich.

Carla says, “I mean the government should tax the one percent!” She’s saying no, no, they shouldn’t tax me, but they should tax people who have more money than I do, not the top 10 percent, but the top 1 percent. Adam says, “Pass the buck, you mean.” The phrase “to pass the buck” (buck) means to try to make someone else responsible for your actions, especially if you do something wrong, to try to blame someone else. Here, I think, Adam means more generally to have other people pay for the things that you want.

Carla says, “No, I mean we need better distribution of wealth.” “To distribute” means to give things to different people. “Wealth” is, in this case, money. So, the “distribution of wealth” is who has the money in a certain society, in a certain country. There’s another expression, “redistribution of wealth,” which means taking money from some people, usually rich people, and giving it to people who have less money. Carla says, “Are you with me or against me?” “To be with (someone)” here would mean to agree with them, to support their position. “To be against (someone)” would be to disagree. Carla is asking whether Adam agrees or disagrees with her, whether Adam will support her or not. “Are you with me or against me?”

Adam, again making a joke, says, “That depends on when you’re planning to start the revolution, comrade.” “Comrade” (comrade) means friend, but it was used traditionally to talk to fellow citizens in a communist country – in a communist society. So once again, Adam is saying that Carla is like a communist because she wants the government to raise taxes on the rich to help the poor.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Carla: Our government should do more to help people who can’t find jobs.

Adam: Be careful. You’re starting to sound like a socialist. Haven’t you always said that you’re a staunch capitalist?

Carla: Of course, I’m a capitalist, but that doesn’t mean I think the government should be completely hands-off. We pay taxes and the government has a responsibility to take care of its citizens.

Adam: Ooo, now you’re sounding like a communist. Next thing I know, you’ll be calling for a revolution.

Carla: I’m serious. I think the government should help people find jobs and pay for their living expenses until they get back on their feet.

Adam: Okay, but in a capitalistic society, you’re subject to market forces. If people aren’t buying, businesses aren’t producing or providing services. That puts people out of work. Do you think the government should intervene?

Carla: I just think the government should do more, that’s all.

Adam: Okay, but that would mean higher taxes.

Carla: Yes, we should tax the rich, the more the better.

Adam: Aren’t you among the top 10 percent of income earners?

Carla: I mean they should tax the one percent!

Adam: Pass the buck, you mean.

Carla: No, I mean we need better distribution of wealth. Are you with me or against me?

Adam: That depends on when you’re planning to start the revolution, comrade.

[end of dialogue]

If you ask me if I’m with our scriptwriter or against her, I would definitely say I’m with her!

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
socialist – a person who believes the government should own all the large businesses and taxes should be used to pass money from the rich to the poor

* Gene is a socialist who believes that it’s the government’s job to take care of all of its citizens, including supplying jobs and providing healthcare.

staunch – showing strong support for someone or something

* This award is given once a year to a staunch supporter of human rights.

capitalist – a person who believes most businesses should be owned by individuals and the government should not interfere very much

* A true capitalist thinks the market will take care of everything, so there’s little need for government action in the economy.

hands-off – without being involved

* Heather wants to try an unusual, hands-off approach to parenting her three children.

taxes – money paid to the government by individuals and companies to pay for public services

* When they bought their first home, they were shocked by how much they had to pay in property taxes.

citizen – a person who belongs to a particular country and can have a passport and other official documents from that country

* After living in the country for three years, Lia applied to become a U.S. citizen.

communist – a person who believes the government should produce all goods and services and nothing should be owned by individuals

* Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx were the first and best-known communists.

next thing I know – a phrase used to predict what might happen the future, often used sarcastically

* Wow, you’ve been here only six months and they’re already promoting you to vice-president! Next thing I know, you’ll be the CEO.

revolution – a period of time and/or action taken where people protest or fight to change the government or the political system in a country

* What were the main causes of the American Revolution?

to get back on (one’s) feet – to become independent again, especially financially independent, after a period of time when one has had to depend on other people

* When Francine lost her job last year, she had to move in with her parents and plans to live with them until she can get back on her feet again.

subject to – controlled, affected, or influenced by

* All terms of this contract are subject to the laws of the State of California.

market forces – the phenomena describing how the demand and supply of goods and services work to establish prices in an economic market

* Market forces ensure that with high supply and low demand, prices fall.

to put people out of work – to make people lose their job, usually because their work is no longer needed

* When car manufacturers moved overseas, it put people out of work in Detroit.

to intervene – to become involved in something to try to change the results

* Jared doesn’t like to intervene when his children are arguing, because he believes that they should work out their problems themselves.

income earner – someone who earns money from work

* Kimberly wants to stay home with her kids, but she and her husband aren’t sure if the family can afford to have just one income earner.

to pass the buck – to try to make someone else responsible for the consequences of one’s own actions; to blame someone else

* It’s your fault that this happened, so stop trying to pass the buck.

distribution of wealth – how money is shared among many people

* Some people believe the current distribution of wealth is unfair and the government should do more to make sure that poor people have more money.

with me or against me – a phrase used to make someone choose between agreeing or opposing oneself

* I’m going to do this whether you’re with me or against me, but I’d really like to have your help.

comrade – a friend, companion, or colleague; the term traditionally used to address other people in communist societies

* Comrade, everyone is counting on your participation.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which person wants government to have the largest role?
a) A socialist.
b) A capitalist.
c) A communist.

2. What does Carla mean when she talks about helping people until they can get back on their feet?
a) The government should help people with their medical expenses.
b) The government should help people who perform manual labor.
c) The government should help people until they can become financially independent again.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to get back on (one’s) feet

The phrase “to get back on (one’s) feet,” in this podcast, means to become independent again, especially financially independent, after a period of time when one has had to depend on other people: “The company experienced losses for several years, but finally, it’s back on its feet again.” The phrase “to put (one’s) feet up” means to relax, especially while sitting down with one’s feet on a table or footstool: “Gavin worked really hard all week and now he wants to put his feet up and watch TV.” Finally, the phrase “to put (one’s) foot in it” means to say something without thinking about it and accidentally embarrass someone: “I really put my foot in it when I asked her how her husband was. I totally forgot that they were going through a divorce.”

to pass the buck

In this podcast, the phrase “to pass the buck” means to blame someone or to try to make someone else responsible for the consequences of one’s own actions: “Tania broke the vase while running in the house and is trying to pass the buck by saying that her brother was chasing her.” A “buck” is an informal word for one U.S. dollar: “How can they charge 10 bucks for a hamburger?” The phrase “to look like a million bucks” means to look very attractive, happy, and healthy: “After a week at a spa, Linda came back looking like a million bucks.” Finally, the phrase “to get a bigger bang for (one’s) buck” means to buy something with very good value, or to get a lot for what one has paid: “We get a bigger bang for our buck by shopping at the discount clothing stores instead of the mall.”

Culture Note
Common Terms Used When Talking About Capitalism

Capitalists believe most businesses should be owned by individuals and government interference should be “minimized” (made as little or small as possible) because market forces will regulate economic transactions.

Capitalists promote “laissez faire” policies, which is the idea that government should let the economy develop naturally, without very much (or any) influence. “In practice” (in reality), most people recognize that the government needs to have at least some level of involvement, such as providing “social welfare programs” (assistance for low-income people) and “safety nets” (programs that help people who have no other options, especially after losing a job or becoming disabled).

“Free enterprise” is a concept that is similar to laissez faire, in that it means letting private businesses operate “freely” (without controls or restrictions) without being controlled by the government. Some “extremists” (people with very extreme beliefs) believe truly free enterprise is possible only “in the absence of” (without) taxes and regulations.

Capitalists believe in power of the “market economy,” or an economic system where businesses decide how much of a good or service they will provide and at what price they will sell it, and individuals decide how much of a good or service they will “consume” (buy and use) at a given price. The market economy works, because each business wants to “engage in actions” (do things) that will maximize its “profitability” (all money received minus all expenses).

Economists talk about the “invisible hand” that guides the market to the appropriate price for a given good or service depending on “supply” (how much of something is available for sale) and “demand” (how much of something people want to buy).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c