Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Is Our System Socialist?

Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership and/or control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy, and a political philosophy advocating such a system. It is a term that Republicans seek to attach to Democrats.

Conservatives constantly claim that Obama has taken over the health care system. In what way is the Affordable Healthcare Act socialist? Which hospitals, labs, clinics, insurance companies, or medical device companies have been nationalized? How many price controls are the pharmaceutical companies subject to? How is our system of health care in any way similar to any of the universal health care systems that most other industrialized western countries have?

Maybe Medicare itself is socialist, but remember all the cries of "Keep the government's hands off of my Medicare!"?

Reagan raised taxes (8 times) when he saw deficits ballooning after major tax cuts were tried. Bush took a surplus and turned it into trillion dollar deficits. Radical conservatives have prevented a return to sane fiscal policies, preferring to blame social spending rather than slashed revenues, a trashed economy and Bush's unfunded wars for continued deficits. Those radicals have opposed almost all measures to get the economy out of first gear, while blaming social spending and socialist policies. Our economy has become a Republican economy with mostly Republican fiscal policies, yet in the face of disasterous consequences the GOP cries out for even more deregulation and even less oversight, crying all the while, "It's Obama's fault!"

Grover Norquist advocates a two step solution, lowering revenues and lowering expenses, yet the GOP is pledged only to the first step. Fair trade is ignored for free trade. Fraud and unfairness characterize the financial and commodities markets. All of the gains in income go to the top, and people who would create the demand for goods and services needed by businesses have wages frozen or cut or have their jobs eliminated. Companies that would benefit by having health care decoupled from employment are forced to continue paying directly for their employees' health plans.

Wall Street is doing fine, yet Main Street continues to suffer. The conditions leading up to Bush's Great Recession have not been corrected, and will not be corrected under the radical conservatives' policies. The GOP-led House continues to pursue their misguided vision of unfettered and unregulated capitalism (environment, public and national interest, and consumer protections be damned) and Darwinian social policies. While seeking to over-regulate the behavior of individuals under their concept of morality, they pursue a vision of capitalism in which all behaviors are regarded as inherently moral, with unworkable "market forces" to be the only restraint on their pursuit of money.

Calling our economy socialist is laughable. What is not laughable is for radical conservatives to demand that we double-down on the disasterous policies that got us into the current mess. Look past their cries of freedom, morality and patriotism, and learn to recognize the politics of selfishness and greed. Don't believe the lies.

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