Socialist Tag: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...

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McCain/Palin and other Republican politicians running for office are throwing the 'socialist' tag at their Democratic opponents in the hopes it will stick to voter's foreheads while lining up to vote. Rather odd and illogical tactic unless they are targeting voters who have been oblivious to the socialist doubling of the national debt by Republicans these last 7 and 3/4 years.

Socialist is a word with about as many meanings as there are political parties in the U.S. (66 of them). For the sake of brevity, I shall use the definition as it applies to economies defined by Wikipedia this way: "Economically, socialism denotes an economic system of state ownership and / or worker ownership of the means of production and distribution."

This is a workable and applicable definition to what is currently taking place in part, by the U.S. government in terms of the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, popularly known as the "Bailout" of financial and bank institutions. This law was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and voted for by both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. The provisions of the Stabilization Act allow for the government to buy shares of private companies as a sort of collateral against the tax payer money issued to them. But, by the definition above, this is government taking partial ownership of these private institutions.

It is then, a bit of a stretch for Republicans to try to label Democrats as socialist, in light of the Stabilization Act being first proposed by Republicans in the White House, and then adopted by Republicans and Democrats alike in the Congress, including duopoly party candidates, Obama and McCain. Sen. McCain tries to use the term "socialist" to refer to Obama's intent to 'redistribute the wealth'. However, it was McCain's vote to collect tax dollars from regular working Americans and offer it to private corporation's shareholders and executives to rescue the value of their stock and prevent them from falling into bankruptcy, that is by definition socialist, taking ownership of private sector enterprises.

Sen. McCain is an advocate, at least on the campaign trail, for military personnel support. He advocates taking civilian tax dollars and redistributing it to military families in the form of bonuses, better housing, and medical care, after voting against such spending in some cases. Is his campaign rhetoric socialist?

In fact, the military is one of America's oldest targets for socialist spending of tax dollars, redistributing the wealth of tax payers directly to a specific group of individuals to meet their needs and wishes as they go about their job of national defense. The ancient Greeks of Athens at one time employed the services of the Spartans as a private contractor for defense. That was the non-socialist way to go about national defense.

McCain's approach to military spending is not dissimilar to politicians taking voter tax dollars as pay and compensation for themselves. Though many would argue our military provides tax payer's with better earned services than our politicians, but the military is owned by the U.S. government, not private enterprise. (Eliminate the military and we would be vulnerable, eliminate politicians and we would quickly experience the true meaning of anarchy). They are both necessary, but, could they not be contracted from the private sector for such services? This is in fact, in part what Pres. GW Bush attempted with the IRS, only to discover that the cost of collecting taxes increased with private contractors, instead of decreasing as was intended.

The government is the sole investor in some of our military private industries, and a major benefactor in others. We tried outsourcing military operations in a big way in Iraq to the likes of KBR and Halliburton. The result was taxpayers getting soaked for 10's of billions of wasted dollars, some of which electrocuted and killed some of our soldiers while taking showers, or washing a vehicle.

Such deaths would not have occurred if GI's were responsible for wiring the electrical circuits in US facilities in Iraq, instead of private contractors. Government run operations like the IRS and military actually save tax payer dollars over outsourcing to the private industry, which takes short cuts for profits and increases the cost for profits, when and where it can.

There are some things the government can do better and cheaper than the private sector. That fact does not mandate a socialist economy nor even warrant the socialist tag. Just as Communist Socialist China incorporates capitalism as part of its mixed economy because it simply works better than command control without earning the title of Capitalist, so too, must America employ government social programs like government itself, military, IRS, infrastructure management, and a host of others, which are more efficiently run and successful in meeting their intended objectives than the private sector would be, without being tagged a Socialist nation.

There isn't a single nation in the world today that is not a mixed economy of both capitalism and socialism. It works. Some work better, some worse depending on the mix, but, the mixed economy model has become the preferred choice of every nation on earth. That is no accident or coincidence of history either. It is high time Americans got over the use of terms like capitalist pig, and socialist commie as labels employed for political purposes, and got on with the debate of how much of each is most appropriate for our nation and in what sectors of our economy they can best be employed.

Unregulated capitalism is what created this financial institution bubble which burst. This bubble was built on irresponsible greed. That is not an indictment of the concept of capitalism, only on how it was employed. The same is true of the Social Security concept. If employed as intended when envisioned by the FDR administration, as an insurance against poverty, instead of entitlement to all regardless of success or wealth, the plan would not be approaching deficits as quickly as it is now positioned to.

And let's not be so quick to label parties by these labels. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who "via a 1982 Executive Order, President Reagan established the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In each year of his presidency, Reagan increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. In a 1983 speech he declared, "We support the National Endowment for the Arts to stimulate excellence and make art more available to more of our people." [Wikipedia] Did this make Reagan a socialist? Government investing in private artists and their works?

Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, established the national park and federal lands preservation ideal and system. Did this make him a socialist? Ronald Reagan protected Social Security and Medicare programs even as he attempted to remove from Medicare's rolls disabled individuals. Did this make Reagan a socialist. The corporate subsidies by Republicans were enormous and widespread. Did this 'redistribution of wealth' earn Republicans the moniker of socialist or worse, fascist? Of course, not.

Richard Nixon is responsible for Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) which is a monthly stipend provided to aged (legally deemed to be 65 or older), blind, or disabled persons based on need, paid by the United States Government. The program was to be administered by the Social Security Administration. Did this earn Nixon the moniker of a socialist? It was by definition of Sen. John McCain, wealth redistribution.

Sen. McCain's attempts to brand Obama as a socialist should only follow labeling Ronald, Reagan, G H. Bush, Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon, socialists. McCain simply doesn't want to pay for government, and his tax plan creates a trillion dollars more national debt that Barack Obama's tax plan, 4.1 trillion cost vs. 2.9 trillion. Increasing national debt is quite directly levying increased taxes on future generations to pay for the benefit of government spending for current voters. Is this not just another version of redistributing the wealth, from future citizens to present citizens?

Let's dispense with, and rebuff labels of socialist and capitalist in our political jargon. They serve no useful purpose, and do the nation harm by influencing voters to vote on the basis of irrational and false information and ideas. Republicans simply employ a different brand of socialist policies with differing recipient targets, than Democrats. It is the mix and blend of social policy and private sector policy that we should be debating. Not labels that truly have no relevant information to convey.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most socialist of them all? Is it Republicans or Democrats on socialist steps who stand more tall? It is a non-sensical question, because America is not a socialist nation, and neither are McCain or Obama socialists for campaigning on different mixes and targets for social and regulated enterprise policies. Let's move on Senators McCain and Obama to discussing policy details instead of meaningless political labels.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 29, 2008 9:31 PM.

Anti-incumbent Sentiment Opens Door of Opportunity was the previous entry in this blog.

Election: Crisis of Confidence and Judgement is the next entry in this blog.

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