A distinguished scholar answered the Matthews Question about how Democrats and Socialists differ almost a century ago. Last July, when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to define the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist, she laughed and said, “The relevant debate that we'll be having this campaign is what's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican.”
Later, this January, when Matthews asked Hillary Clinton to define the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist, her answer, coming after a few, unintelligible non-words, was “I’m not one.” “I’m a progressive Democrat” she said.
Finally, Matthews stymied in two swings for a hit, asked Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer the question. A sheepishly smiling Schumer said, “Oh, I, I…it depends on how you define each one, doesn’t it?”
Now, as a public service to Mr. Matthews, and MSNBC, Irving Fisher (1867-1947) provides an answer to the Matthews’ Question in the context of his Presidential Address, “Economists in Public Service,” delivered at the Thirty-First Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (AEA) in March 1919.