The Presidency and Socialism – A Conservative View
One of the most common charges being leveled against our President is that he is a “socialist”. Many folks dismiss this out of hand, “Of course he’s not a socialist!” But how many people have bothered to figure out exactly what a socialist is, and why folks might feel that way about our president? A conservative views that argument thru a factual lens.
What exactly IS socialism? I know some people use the word socialist as some kind of insult, but it is not. It simply describes a form of government in which the government either outright owns, or heavily controls the means of production, and it is typically paired with massive social spending. Indeed, the whole justification for socialism is that a capitalist form of government does not provide for “social justice” and allows the “greedy capitalist” to end up controlling and owning the lives of others. Part of the control the socialist government exercises over business includes mandating wages, hours etc. and also makes it very hard to fire a worker. This typically leads to high unemployment, as employers must hire very carefully, and get the maximum productivity from each employee. In socialist countries, class mobility is very limited. Because the government provides a high minimum standard of living, and government run industry is inherently inefficient, high taxes are needed to sustain the standard of living. In socialist countries 50% is the norm, with punishingly higher rates as your income climbs.
This means that while the standard of living is relatively high among the low achievers, there is very little class mobility because as you try to climb above the class into which you were born, the government takes a larger and larger cut of your income, effectively freezing you where you are for life. Even the money you manage to save cannot be effectively invested because taxes on investment are also higher, and are pushed into a higher bracket as your income climbs. Additionally, pay tends to be high for the public work force since they are the administrators of all the wealth. So a conservative views this as a form of control in which the individual must be ignored in favor of the good of the average…
America has been a capitalist country since its founding, providing more class mobility than any other country in the world. It is not a secret how we do that. By keeping taxes low, hard working people can start out poor, save and invest their money, and grow their way to the upper class. More than 80% of America’s millionaires are first generation, and a testament to the fact that you can succeed as an American no matter where on the socio-economic ladder you start. If you stop and think about it, many of the immigrants that come to our shores and go on to be successful, were not necessarily the highest trained or most successful in their home countries. So how can they come here and be so successful? Because of the class mobility that is very new to them; the excitement of realizing they can control their own destiny and fulfill whatever dreams they may have, using their own income and investments.
It is ironic that just as Europe is starting to realize their socialist “experiment” has led to unsustainable government expenditures, and they are looking for the exit, we are following their example. The problem with socialism is that sooner or later the middle class realizes that trying to be exceptional is a losing proposition, and so they accept that they will be where they are for the rest of their life. This leads to poor productivity, social unrest etc. etc…. I am sure you can imagine what the feeling of helplessness does to a society, even a comfortable one. The animal in the zoo will live much longer than one in the wild, yet they continually look for a way out. That explains why all across the world, people seek to move to the USA. At this point, we remain the exceptional place in the world where opportunity exists for EVERYONE, not just the upper classes. Anyone can succeed, because their success is not held back by supporting an inefficient government that seeks to “level the playing field” by taking from the productive to create “social justice” for the unproductive. It’s really quite simple.
Now, with the looming passage of the financial “reform” bill, which seeks to bring MORE oversight even though the oversight we had would have caught many of the problems had it been followed, the USA will have 52% of the economy either owned outright, or under the thumb of the government. Even though the government mandated loans to those who could not afford them, and precipitated the mess, we need more government to fix it? Even though the government has specifically excluded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two of the biggest offenders who billions in unfunded liabilities the American people now are on the line for, we need MORE government…Do you realize that between these two huge government controlled mortgage companies the government controls almost half of every home loan in the USA?
So the question is, how do these differing ideals about the structure of societies inform us as to the charge that our President is a socialist?
Is our President a socialist?
I don’t know his motivations and cannot guess at his endgame. But this conservative views his actions as heavily regulating larger and larger pieces of our economy. Does he first demonize, and then seek to regulate or outright destroy large segments of our economy? Whether one arrives at the conclusion our President is a socialist, or has socialist tendencies or whatever, can one simply dismiss the whole idea that he might be one as an attack without merit? This conservative thinks the charge is a reasonable one, although not as scurrilous as it sounds at first blush. Socialism is a form of government, not an insult. The question then is, what form of government do we most want for ourselves?