The economic problem we have is vast and frightening. No one can definitively say where it came from, how it started, what the best way to deal with it is, etc., but nearly everyone seems to agree that it’s potentially as severe as the Great Depression, or worse. We’ve all heard too many analyses and theories trying to explain this; indeed, since I was a kid, my father has correctly said that if you gather 30 economists in a room, you’ll get 30 different answers to any economic question (I know he didn’t originate this idea, but he’s the first I heard present it).

However, most of these theories and opinions agree that the “credit crisis” is a main culprit, possibly the main culprit. Most say that the credit crisis itself results from reckless management by big money institutions of investments having to do with subprime mortgages, and from individual borrowers who were duped into these loans and/or foolish enough to seek them deliberately. There are dissenting points of view and numerous variations on this theme, of course, but, again, no one really knows for sure. In short, however, it seems that bad judgment married greed, at both the top and the bottom of the prosperity scale, and they begat a very sick economy. Go figure.

President Obama joins former-President Bush and many, many others in arguing that some kind of massive “economic stimulus” is at least part of the essential medicine we need to treat this sick economy. In fact, last year, when Dubya couldn’t get the predominantly Democratic Congress to dole out what he thought was enough money to enough big businesses fast enough, he used the Treasury to make this happen himself. True to form, the Bush Administration simply gave many billions of dollars to Big Business without substantive stipulations or accountability, a sort of odd combination of the GOP “no regulation” mantra and corporate socialism.

Ironically, this was going on while the McCain Campaign and many of its supporters tried hard to paint Barak Obama as a socialist, largely supporting this claim with a casual comment Obama made about “spreading the wealth” to “Joe the Plumber,” who elicited Obama’s comment with a question cloaked in a spurious scenario, and flagrantly misrepresented himself while doing so. Yes, while the McCain ticket was trying hard to frighten voters with claims that Obama is a socialist (Goody Palin especially, who herself is after more federal money now), former-President Bush was making another of his administration’s big socialist moves (remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?) — again favoring the interests of Big Business over those of average citizens, and in clear opposition to the free market economic philosophy and so-called “fiscal responsibility” ostensibly endorsed by most of his supporters. This was another betrayal of the American People, as well as of his own party, and it wasn’t even effective. It merely lined the pockets of businesses with a large gift of taxpayer money, the benefit of which has not, after all, “trickled down” to the rest of us.

There’s still a lot of talk about socialism and many accusations that Barak Obama is a socialist. I’ve learned over the past few months of this that many people clearly don’t understand what the word socialism means. But, they associate it with communism and the oppressive communist regimes we’ve seen in the 20th and 21st centuries, like Soviet Russia, China, and Cuba, and thereby with evil. As a matter of interest and contradiction, China is one of our big creditors. Anyway, I don’t much care for pure socialism, either. I think it grants the government more power than it can be trusted with, and too much direct control of our daily lives. On the other hand, we’ve seen what happens when corporations are allowed to grow without bounds or oversight. It isn’t pretty. Oppression of workers in sweat shops, for example, is no better in terms of those workers’ quality of life than governmental oppression of citizens is in the lives of the vast numbers of poor people in China.

To my mind, un-policed power and wealth above a certain level poses a threat to all the rest of us, regardless of where the power and wealth are concentrated. What we call the centers of excessive wealth and power is really a matter of semantics, in terms of the dangers it represents to average citizens. Democrats traditionally fear the destructive and oppressive influence of Big Business, and Republicans traditionally fear the destructive and oppressive influence of Big Government. I fear both, and both occur under both parties. Further, especially given the intimate and intricate relationship between Big Business and Government, I don’t see a useful distinction. Whether we call the strings powerful people use to puppeteer our lives “law” or “business,” for example, doesn’t matter to me. Both potentially compromise my freedom, safety, and well-being, and with both, we as citizens have a choice about how much power to grant the string-pullers — if we keep our eyes open and choose to exercise this power.

In terms of whether President Obama will “introduce” or “experiment” with socialism, we’re already there. I don’t mean that the President is philosophically a socialist (I don’t believe he is), or that he’ll introduce socialist tendencies into our government for the first time. I mean that we’ve already had a significant component of socialism in our government for a long time. Moreover, few of us would likely want to dispose of the socialist institutions we do have: national parks, roads, the postal service, public schools, the police force, the fire-fighting force, water sanitation and sewage utilities, and, perhaps most significantly (in terms of dollars), the military. The military is where the self-described anti-socialist Republicans would prefer to spend the lion’s share of our budget, while education, health care, and entitlement programs are where Democrats would prefer to spend it.

The key is that both parties want to spend a lot of public money on some socialist institution or other. There are, of course, Libertarian purists (and their ideological cousins, Objectivists and the like) who would prefer to see all of these institutions privatized, and I laud them for being true to the paradigm they believe allows for the greatest individual liberty. I’m all about liberty. But, these folks are in the minority. There are also purists of one form of collectivism or other who would prefer to see more institutions under government control, functioning as utilities, including the banking system. They, too, deserve praise for supporting a pure form of what they think promotes the best quality of life for the most people. They, too, however, are in the minority.

The point is that we are already partially a socialist country, and the majority in both parties strongly supports at least some of the large-scale socialist institutions we already have in place. In other words, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are functionally socialistic, in part, whether they explicitly embrace socialist ideology or not. We need to come real with this fact if we want to have any hope of effectively redressing our economic and social problems for the long term.

-EAB

42 Responses to “A Word on Socialism”

  1. maji oignampo says:

    A lot of silliness in the Republican pres primary — but and his message of money and corruption needs to be heard.

  2. God damn I love the and God damn do I hate that racist and asinine Tea Long live the true

  3. vostanelle lomasaaroj says:

    Hate on Paul if you want, but how dense do you have to be to think he WANTS your civil taken away? –

  4. howeryaru raft says:

    all i do is eat eat eat no matter what, got twinkies in my pocket i an never get enough, and when i step up in the HEB, everbodys twinkies go UP, and i take them and i take them, prices prices

  5. No, they just get to take stuff from hardworking entrepenures and are leagally protected to do stupid stuff. In america, you have to own up to lewd behavior in public.

  6. dorimahlke stemanner says:

    … Liberal is not a bad word. only sneered at in the United States by far right Conservatives, but you have to remember that the Right in the U.S. is a bunch of goose stepping Canada needs to really watch them, because I think Conservatives in America are going to lead the country right into a nuclear war, and the radiation fallout will hit Canada. Our Conservatives are not like yours. Stephen Harper is a good man. Our Conservatives are dangerous hate-filled nuts.

  7. gwendon slawmillic says:

    The MSM is focusing on the drama like a soap opera. I thought we needed to focus on the economy?

  8. nur gougam says:

    />
    Given the age of this matter,

    What allows you audacity for such disregard concerning anything remotely resembling truthfulness, yet still, in your mind, allows you to (boldly) state in the video this one is referring to, “President truthful statement,” and much of the like in your others? Or have you such delay that the concept of honesty in your approach to breadth of content does not compute?

    How many intellectual new-ones need be ripped before you pipe yourself down?

  9. peill westellene says:

    Of COURSE Nascar fans booed Michelle Obama. She’s black, a Democrat and female. If she was gay, they would’ve hit Bigot Bingo.

  10. mer marline says:

    I think that even the most strident would agree that the US founders never envisioned the unchecked powers of the Girl Scouts. –

  11. neiden spivannerm says:

    Republican House Leadership as Doctor: “If I treat you, I’ll end up saving you, and I can’t let that happen”. POLITICS MORE IMP THAN COUNTRY

  12. “You see, when you take a gander at the history of humans, this tiny, silly little thing we do where we…

  13. lencherfer says:

    Ron Paul Is Not Bought And Paid For, He’s A For Limited Government, The Constitution, Sound Money, Large Cuts To Wasteful Federal Spending, End Of Military Adventurism… –

  14. muldsmande delong says:

    jeez, i love how gavin delivers the “mental armor…like your mouth” verse, one of the underrated voices of 90s grunge

  15. The against me argument is only supposed to point out the gun in the room, I like it as a valid response to all topics.

  16. At the SiTP Toronto – it only took 10 minutes for the Ayn Randian to call me a faciast – twice

  17. Makes me happy when one gladly defines himself by labels: I am an objectivist centrist Christian ethicist. hand club membership ids.

  18. Hey im a Floridian and proud. Im weird but just my personality :S go pick on Alabama or something -.- FL FOREVER 😀

  19. Demi Lovato eating pizza while Justin Bieber is biting her butt and there is also other famous people like…
    Shane Dawson
    Adele
    Miley Cyrus ,,, doing the disco eating cheese 🙂

  20. There is only one problem with your staement

    “the only reason they are saying scrap this bill is because thats what the american people want (fox news said 73%)”

    when polling is done its usually less then 10,000 people with a smapling error from 3-5%

    im sorry but you can;t say “most of the American people” and use that claim with a source of a poll whom don;t even surcey 1% of the total population and think that counts as a point

  21. brungmeier says:

    You can pick em by there tin foil hats usually! Socialism wtf it didnt even take over Russia in the long run.

  22. Dow closed above 13,000 Nasdaq above 3000 and S&P 500 above 1400 together for first time ever. MAKE THIS AWFUL SOCIALISM STOP.

  23. Liberal media’s job from now until the election will be to paint every Republican as “lunatics” & POTUS as “brilliant”.

  24. rido vase says:

    Obama takes credit for things that happened in spite of him. Military spending under Bush equiped and trained CIA & SEALs.

  25. Todd — I’ve never heard Ron Paul discuss religion in politics. Are you saying he is in the same Christian fundamentalist camp as Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann? If so, he’s done a good job keeping a low profile on those issues.

  26. yook fabraagert says:

    “>Let those Mexicans in here and make American HVAC techs compete on a level playing field. At first I thought you were being sarcastic. Then from later posts it looks like you’re not. If so, that would mean you actually agree with the a lot of the philosophical on something.”

  27. kreir yet says:

    Democrat Legacy: Jimmy “Malaise” Bill Clinton “That depends on what the meaning of is, is.” Barack Obama: “You didn’t build that.”

  28. Finished reading the of Selfishness on rec of friend. not sure if am an objectivist, but definitely find it an appealing philosophy.

  29. this is not that surprising. During my college years I found myself downplaying my objectivist leanings to avoid undue What really does suprise me though is when he was talking about opposition at George Mason. From my understanding George Mason has a somewhat objectivist leaning – at least in the Economics (see

  30. Bank of England leaves policy on hold: LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England stuck to its current policy of gov…

  31. LEESBURG, Va. — Democrat Tim Kaine talks a lot about Republicans – the ones in his family, the ones he’s worked with and the ones he hopes will help him bridge the caustic political divide …

  32. neid moarek says:

    I don’t see how niggas have room to complain about the economy but yet you ain’t even vote to try & voice your opinion

  33. assman delharukan says:

    An OBAMA victory wld clearly indicate that we R a Nation of FOOLS! It wld mark the END of the U.S. & the Beginning of …

  34. Hugo to host TV show casting call on Oct. 29 – Durant Daily Democrat: Hugo to host TV show casting call on Oct. …

  35. leos zalet says:

    “So the question is: on election night this year, when Karl Rove was protesting the call his network had just made in Ohio, was Rove anticipating a wave of unpredicted vote totals to swing the election back to Mitt Romney after a statewide server crash, just as had happened in 2004?”

  36. A guy in the store called his son a “lazy Democrat.” I’m not kidding. I don’t think it was ironic either. What an ass.

  37. Many understand Obama, not a commie or socialist but a world government advocate. Results are same so most of his ppl are commies

  38. stroulon bossmerfri says:

    President Obama’s of leadership on entitlement reform has consequences. The Wall Street Journal : Social Security and Medicare, the two largest of the federal safety net, continued to deteriorate in the last year, with the programs’ trustees projecting the combined Social Security retirement and …
    Kam Keipe liked Jennifer Rubin: Obama’s abject failure on entitlement reform on 24 April 2012 (7 months ago).

  39. Wall Street Journal (blog)

    Exit polls: LDP projected to win Japan election
    CNN
    (CNN) — The Liberal Democrat was poised to return to power in Japan on Sunday, with exit polls projecting a sweeping victory in the general election. Exit polls from CNN affiliate NHK show that the Liberal Democrat or LDP — led by former …
    Exit polls: Conservative wins Japan electionUSA TODAY
    Conservative storms back to power in Japanese parliamentary election …Washington Post
    Japan Elections: Conservative Favored As Japanese Head To PollsHuffington Post
    Wall Street Journal (blog) -Financial Times -Xinhua
    all 919 news articles »

  40. bohleen mastizenri says:

    Hussein obama asks Dr. for a quote for a spinal surgery… doc says $595 for the operation and $475,000 to locate the spine.

  41. rachendr kariffenbi says:

    Prague – Major Czech dailies pay attention to the end of the campaign ahead of the presidential election that today and in which Czechs will be making a choice between former Social Democrat prime minister Milos Zeman (now of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) and Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg.

  42. [spam filtered] Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is insisting that Republican budget plans which drastically cut discretionary spending on programs for the sick and the poor is an instead of “austerity.” –

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