First published 2-17-2010
“It’s the economy stupid!” Bill Clinton in a campaign memo to himself, 1992.
Jobs, housing stability, money flow, and confidence: that’s what it will take to get Mesquite and all of America back on the high road to prosperity. But, during debate about how to get on that high road Democratic elected officials are often called Socialists and Socialism is, in turn, equated to Communism. Get out your note pads. It’s time for Economics 101 to convene.
Socialism is an economic system just as Capitalism is an economic system. Socialism is defined as goods and services delivered by the government. Capitalism: goods and services delivered by private enterprise. It isn’t much more complicated than that. I should probably quit here while I’m ahead, but...
On a linear continuum, the extreme right is Anarchy, unregulated personal freedom eschewing ownership of property. To the left of that is Capitalism; freedom from governmental controls, but pledged to individual property acquisition. Moving farther left is Socialism; lots of government and, like Capitalism, supportive of property ownership. On the polar left is Communism; government allotment of goods and services while banning personal property.
Bend the continuum to form a curvilinear shape and Anarchy and Communism meet. Instead of polar ends, they now reside side-by-side revealing many similarities. Capitalism and Socialism are still neighbors, just as they were on the linear design.
There are no Anarchists and there aren’t any Communists in our 550–give or take a few–elected federal government officials. There are no pure (laissez-faire) Capitalists either. I don’t read of any who want a military modeled after German Hessians or taken over by Blackwater type companies. Nor are there any movements to cede the issuing of money to the private banking industry. Also, there’s no big push to take away military, government employee, or social health care programs. Those, along with Social Security and governmental regulatory agencies, are socialistic and have become integral to our economic system as it functions today.
Here comes the interesting part–the part many who are trying to be heard these days don’t seem to get. There aren’t any Socialists either. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont is about the closest we get and he is an Independent, not a Democrat and not a Socialist. He calls himself a “democratic socialist”. Your guess is as good as mine on that.
The thinking of literally all of our politicians, of any persuasion, rests in the middle ground between Capitalism and Socialism; two middle of the road economic theories–the middle of the middle. That doesn’t seem too radical or too diverse to me.
Senator Harry Reid is a not too far left thinker. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is kinda left, certainly left of President Barack Obama. None of them are anywhere close to being Socialists, let alone Communists.
It is completely senseless to invoke any reference to Communism in political commentary. Any serious discussion of American Communists in government should have flown the coop by 1960. Apparently, it hasn’t. If news seekers continue, they are either delusional or purposely fostering hate mongering and fear.
Democrats have not uttered a whisper about any Republicans tilting right of Capitalism toward Anarchy. We haven’t had any discussion of anarchists since around the turn of the twentieth century when there were some cruising around the big cities; none were ever elected.
The United States uses a blend of socialistic and capitalistic programs to serve the people of America. Social programs tend to get money directly to the poor, unemployed, and generally less privileged via the government, while capitalistic applications spread cash through trickle-down economics that help the poor and working class by laundering money through the rich and ownership class who keep as much as they want before any gets to be used by the masses. Historic economist Thorstein Veblen called it “conspicuous consumption”.
All of our politicians campaign and govern within parameters that represent a sliver of economic possibilities that are wedged in the dead center of economic theory. We cannot be so far apart as to cut off work and debate that can stimulate some congressional action that in turn may enhance our American way of life.