Is President Obama a “socialist?”
During the campaign this accusation was everywhere. According to Google there are currently 4,700,000 sites on the web with the words “Obama” and “Socialist.” A couple of pre-election examples: Obama’s International Socialist Connections “Blogger Steve Bartin, who has been following Obama’s career and involvement with the Chicago socialists, has uncovered a fascinating video showing Obama campaigning for openly socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”, Is Obama a socialist? “Obama has declared that he believes every person has a “right” to health care. The Socialist Party USA believes every person has a “right” to health care.”
As silly as those pre-election accusations were, now it is Republican leaders making the claim that President Obama is a socialist,
Obama’s plans are “one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment,” asserts House minority leader John Boehner. He’s “the world’s best salesman of socialism,” says Republican Senator Jim DeMint.
Never mind that Republicans don’t even know that “socialism” means public ownership of the means of production, operated for the benefit of society and the people-at-large instead of for the profit of a select few. Of course, no one is talking about that, not even the Republicans making the direct “socialist” accusations. They mean something they call “European-style socialism,”
The five-term Republican said that he has gotten praise from his constituents for opposing the stimulus and warned that the country may succumb to “European-style socialism.”
For the second time in as many days, a prominent Republican has likened Pres. Obama’s policies to socialism.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Another prominent Republican told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the president’s spending plans are pushing the country to the brink of socialism.
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the only member of the senate to earn a perfect rating from the American Conservative Union, called President Obama “the world’s best salesman of socialism” on Friday in describing his prime time speech earlier this week.
Socialism is the new GOP meme word for the successful execution of democracy in America by the people.
The strategy is brilliant and the Dems are clueless as to how to respond, and in fact have been caught flat footed.
The GOP machine has won another important battle on another important front in the war to control the terms of the discussion.
In the post Conservative Capitalism Vs. Liberal Socialism, John Hawkins responds to my earlier post about sick pay. He writes,
It is not the job of a company to provide benefits for society or health care or sick days or anything else. It’s the job of a company to make a profit for its owners and in the process of doing so, it will create things like jobs, taxes, health care for workers, value for its customers, and other such things that are beneficial to society.
And I agree with him 100%. I’ll go even further. Wal-Mart is not “bad” because it pays low wages or skimps on providing health care. If they did that, Target could charge lower prices and customer might go to Target instead. They’re just doing their job, as WE, the people, through our government, define it through our laws.
So whose job IS it to provide for higher wages and health care? It is OUR job – the people – through OUR laws and regulations. WE are the ones who have dropped the ball on higher wages and health care. WE tell companies what to do – or the system doesn’t work. If WE, through our government, require ALL companies to pay higher wages and provide health care that levels the playing field for Wal-Mart’s competition with Target.
Here is where I differ with Hawkins. Hawkins writes,
…the government shouldn’t get involved with things like what sort of health care a company is providing, sick days, or the minimum wage…
This is the standard Libertarian view – keep the people (government) out of the decisions. But I say that is exactly where the people, through our government SHOULD get involved! We need to keep that playing field level. Companies MUST work to provide the highest profits. Therefore WE must set a playing field that provides the greatest benefit to US from this system. WE must level that playing field on which the companies compete. We MUST tell them to pay higher wages or the system doesn’t benefit us. WE have fallen down on the job, not the companies, by not doing OUR part, through our government, which is to set the minimum wages and benefits at a level that is high enough. And that is why wealth is concentrating at the top and the rest of us are working longer hours for fewer benefits.
Hawkins writes that people can always quit and get a better job elsewhere. But there is a problem with that approach, and we have seen the problem play itself out over and over throughout history. There are more people in the world than jobs, so without our intervention wages would necessarily sink to the lowest level to sustain the necessary employees – and the rest starve. Of course, in a consumer economy the companies would be drying up long before that because the consumers won’t have money to spend. We have learned from history that if we, acting through our government, “stay out of it,” it is a formula for worldwide poverty – a race to the bottom. Historically it is the periods of greatest involvement that have been the periods of greatest economic growth. This is because in a consumer economy policies that provide greater disposable income to the consumers grow the economy. Duh!
The system that Hawkins admires is ENTIRELY a creation of government – of us. We defined what a corporation IS. We give the owners limited liability so they can take risks without losing everything. (Imagine if buying a share of stock meant that you could become a defendant in a lawsuit.) We set up the infrastructure of the internet, and the roads, etc. upon which the companies conduct commerce… And now we need to give ourselves a raise and health care, and maybe longer vacations and shorter workweeks.
There is a move to require companies to pay for sick days. Conservatives say this is “Socialism.”
If basic human rights is “Socialism” then I guess I’m a Socialist! How about you?
In Europe people get several weeks paid vacation each year – by law. They get generous pensions and fully-paid health care for everyone.
What sorts of things should we, the people, require of the companies we, through the laws we pass, allow to operate? Who is our economy FOR? Discuss.
Calling people “Communists” is back in style… In this case, people who talk about “The Commons” or “Common Good” are “Socialists.” Others call them “collectivists.” (?!)
Fine with me. I believe we’re all in this together. I believe that people sticking up for each other and watching out for each other is a better approach to life than the conservative “on your own” and “everyone out for themselves” and “get what you can and screw everyone else” approach. Moral values, and all that…
Go read this silly post: GOP Bloggers :: If It Walks Like a Socialist and Quacks Like a Socialist