I continue to hear accusations that President Barack Obama is making our great country a socialist country. I would like to explore this debate.
Many times over the past 6 months I've heard the argument that Big Government is the precursor to socialism and ultimately communism. This is certainly un-American!
Those making the argument typically take the position that if socialism and communism are on one end of the spectrum, then we who love God and country should run as fast and as far as we can to the other end of the spectrum. In my crude, text-graphic format, this is what the spectrum looks like:
Let me be clear, I am not making the case for communism nor for socialism, but I believe that clear thinking individuals need to understand the complete argument.
The facts are that there are opposites of communism and socialism, and I propose to you that the opposites are class oppression and slavery.
Class oppression, or classism, is defined as mistreatment on the basis of socioeconomic class. Slavery is blatant abuse and oppression to the benefit of the master.
Understanding this, the spectrum is more accurately represented as:
When this is understood, the question is no longer how far do we as Americans want to get away from Communism, but rather where is the proper balance? I believe this is the heart of the intelligent debate.
I often hear arguments that free markets are the key to prosperity. It has been shown over and over again that some people, when given the tools to succeed, have created wealth for themselves and those around them. But what happens when this is taken to the extreme?
The problem with all-out free markets is that this inevitably leads to bullying, tyranny, and the absolute dominance of the strongest.
You may wonder what is wrong with this. It is after all the survival of the fittest and the most deserving. Or is it the survival of the greediest and most corrupt?
I suggest that it is the later. Without laws preventing all-out free market, we would have forced child labor, monopolies, price fixing, racketeering, extortion, bribery, price gouging, and human slavery. These are all capitalist endeavors, and all have legal restrictions in the United States. Indeed we should stay away from this end of the spectrum as well.
Abraham Lincoln was considered a proponent of Big Government as the Civil War was technically over the Federal Government's right to control individual states’ ability to secede. Outlawing slavery was merely the issue that brought about the desire for the South to secede from the North. I suspect if Abraham Lincoln was President of America today, this conservative President would be accused by Conservatives of moving our country toward socialism.
In the same way, I don’t believe the case has been made that President Obama is trying to make the United States of America a socialist country. He is merely trying to move our country away from the classism and slavery end of the spectrum.
To further this point, it occurs to me that the ones making the most noise about President Obama moving the country toward Socialism are the same ones who constantly argue that our country needs to return to the values of our Founding Fathers. While a great deal of respect is due to this country’s Founding Fathers, many of them regarded slavery as an acceptable practice. Is this what we want to return to?
Personally I believe the proper balance in the spectrum which we need to work for would be for our country to be a place where individuals are likely to succeed if they work hard, where individuals are allowed to fail miserably if they are lazy and choose not to work, and if they work hard and experience hardships that make them fail, they don’t have to worry about losing everything for the rest of their lives. This is not where America is today.
The United States of American going socialist would be a terrible thing, but I believe the angst of this happening today is unsupportable. The likely instigators of such accusations are political wonks, bent on using fear and hatred as a means to political gain.
» left by Tex Norman(64) (4 years 39 days ago.)
Powerful and well done article. I would prefer a government that works, that addresses the needs of its citizens, over one that goes too far in either a right or left wing direction. I loved the way you showed a scale. There is a continuum always there, and while one act or another might be labeled socialism at the end of that continuum, when you are closer to the middle you are not socialistic you are pragmatic, and pragmatism solves problems. Thanks for writing and please keep writing. We need to hear from you.tex normanRespond to this comment
» left by Maxwell Smart(2) (4 years 39 days ago.)
I understand why some are afraid of Obama's stimulus plan. If you hear socialist and communist enough times and if you are a low information voter/citizen, then it just seems logical, I guess, to believe IF they say it on TV it must be true. Your writing here calls us all to stop, think, to really think, and if we really look we don't see communists, or socialists, or liberals, or conservative, or fascists, we see people jumping into the muck of their assumptions. We need to stop and think, and you have just given me, and all of us, a lot to think about.MaxRespond to this comment
» left by dalehendon from N. California (2 years 29 days ago.)
The Talking heads on TV support Obama and his programs so if you watch the tube you are most likely going to support his socialistic concepts and programs.
If I really look at the stimulus programs, the health care programs the take over of GM and the bail-outs I really can take a pause and say with a certainty that I do see communists, socialist and liberals running the Administration and the Senate.
You are the one who is posing assumption and seem to be wallowing in the muck of some unfounded attributes that you really haven't stopped to think about. It is vacuous superfical liberals such as yourself that give our way of life little change, little chance of being taken off "life support" anytime soon.
I hope you don't vote.
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» left by robert melaccio sr (4 years 13 days ago.)
Yes Guys all correct, it was called for the common good and general welfare but that was long ago on another planet. Yes Put them both in a bag, shake them up and spillt hem out and what do you have. The same. Check their works and it says it all.Respond to this comment
» left by william from ny (3 years 245 days ago.)
Since 1980 under Presidents Reagan, HW Bush and GW Bush the country has run up a massive debt in order to distrubute wealth (tax cuts) to the rich. The only President to balance the budget since 1980 was Clinton. Maybe we don't have to ask what is the opposite of socialism we have been living with it since 1980. I think we should have a capitalist system in which the goverment does not run up the National Debt we all will eventually pay for in order to provide only the wealthy class with tax cuts.Respond to this comment
» left by Dave from NH (3 years 147 days ago.)
I don't think the gov has any business in our works. I agree whole-heartedly with your 2nd to the last paragraph, but I also believe that gov control of health care & stimulus is very inefficient. The gov will allow too many undeserved to recieve forced charity. How can the gov complain about rewarding a handful of executives for poor performance when millions are rewarded by our welfare system for poor performance? How can people call for "freedom of choice" with something as serious as abortion and not give me the choice to pay for it or pay to support those who are undeserved. You have a point we should help good citizens it is morally and ethicaly right it, amazes me that studies show the people against forced charity are the MOST charitable and those who wish too force charity via taxation and take that power away from the people and place it in the hands of the gov are the LEAST charitable...hypocratesRespond to this comment
» left by Anonymous (2 years 64 days ago.)
Can we first agree on a couple of propositions?:
Einstein formulated that matter cannot be created or destroyed - it can only change forms.
The same theory pertains to wealth. Except in the case of the Federal Reserve printing money - there is a finite amount of natural wealth to be shared by a growing population.
Socialism/Communism is where everyone share the limited amount of wealth equally.
The opposite of Socialism/Communism is classism/slavery (Plutocracy - look it up)- where some have a lot and most have little. (The top 400 wealthiest Americans control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the population - 155 million people.)
Current conservative argument - public workers use union dues to support the election of legislators who create favorable wage/benefit packages for the Union members.
Current liberal argument - businesses use profits to support the election of legislators who create favorable tax breaks for the business owners.
Welfare - I suppose you are upset because you have chosen to believe that "all men are created equal" means that everyone has the same opportunities to earn enough money to support themselves and their families - and that if they "choose" not to - the are undeserving of "charity" - especially yours. And forgive me for reading between the lines - but you seem to believe that "welfare" is used by people who "choose to have an abortion" and that you particularly do not want to be forced to pay for it. I cannot discern who it is that you describe as "good citizens" for whom it is "morally and ethicaly(sp) right" to give charity - and I am certainly unaware of the "studies" showing that those who are against "forced charity" (an oxymoron if ever I've heard of one) are indeed the MOST charitable.
But back to a welfare system that rewards "millions" for poor performance?????? I don't know how much of your savings were depleted in the financial debaucle of 2008 - but as a former middle class wage earner I now find myself struggling to re-establish my retirement fund while - now pay attention - the very people on Wall Street who bundled and profited from bad mortgages were rewarded with $144Billion in bonuses last year - and none of them have gone to jail. That is what I call "corporate welfare" - and if you do a little research you will see that the average corporate tax rate in this country is around 18% - even though the stated rate is 35%. Must be somebody isn't paying anything for the average to be that low. If that is not rewarding people for poor performance - with devastating results, maybe even un-American and terroristic - then I can't even consider your view that we should be incensed by the undeserving abortion seeking poor in this country.
I feel that you have succumbed to the spin of those legislators who are working to re-distribute the wealth of this country - from the poor to the wealthy - and believe that the poor are the enemy of the economy. I hope you realize that in the last 10 years only the wealth of the top 1% of the country saw massive increases - while the bottom half were stagnant or lost wealth. As a country - to support a system that allows 400 individuals to control the same amount of wealth as the 155 million at bottom of the wage scale - is a country that has lost it's way - and I want my country back.
I'm not sure that we are all born equal - unless you want to eliminate birthrights and inheritances - and I don't want a system where everyone ends up equally. But I do want a Government who works to make sure that I am protected from enemies - both foreign and domestic - especially as it pertains to my financial condition and the restraints on my liberties. And I am more than willing to pay taxes to support that system - and if some woman finds herself pregnant and makes the decision not to deliver that child into her poor conditions - (and you've already said you're not willing to help her or her offspring) - then I hope my taxes will provide those opportunities for her and I am in no way contributing to the expansion of poverty and child abuse by forcing her to bear that unwanted fetus.
(And some other time - let's talk about agreeing to allow abortions to any woman who identifies the father of the child and he submits to a vasectomy at the same time!)
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» left by rekooh from Birmingham, AL (2 years 64 days ago.)
Thank you - it's a clear day and I can see forever. Here's hoping that we can all be inspired by the Wisconsin 14 to take our country back from the Plutocrats who have brainwashed the ignorant and fearful to believe they (the Plutocrats) have the working mans best interests at heart!Respond to this comment
» left by dalehendon from N. California (2 years 29 days ago.)
Your opposite of Socialism and communism= classism and slavery is propaganda without substance. You have picked the opposition to socialism based on an unfounded assumption that is yours alone without facts or validation.Communism seeks to collectivize the means of production and distrubution of goods and service to each according to his needs. Who decides what I need and what I deserve is not something I am going to allow you or any collective of "you's" to decide. "Don't tread on me".Your statements regarding Obama's motives and methods fly in the face of observable reality. I can only assume you are a mouth piece for the commie and his minions.Respond to this comment
» left by Vince Robertson(33) (2 years 29 days ago.)
Again, you're proving the point of the article.
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» left by Anonymous (2 years 25 days ago.)
I agree with you, Obama is merely striving for balance in our imperfect political system of government.Such extremes that are visible today would not exist in a perfect world where human beings are fair, and compassionate, but that is not the case:human beings have been, and still are proven to be generally too selfish, and immature, often becoming uncontrollably corrupted. This is why they cannot be wholly successful in a free market society.There are too many gray areas as well.So, we must always keep a balance, because capitalism too is imperfect, forcing political leaders to even turn another direction, oftentimes if it willRespond to this comment