Tag Archives: socialism

Bring it to the middle, candidates

I dislike radicals on both ends of the vast political spectrum.

Yes, that includes the far lefties who at the moment seem to be dictating the direction the Democratic Party appears to be heading. I guess it’s understood that I harbor an intense loathing of those on the far right; no need to elaborate there.

The 2020 presidential campaign is taking shape.

You’ve got the incumbent on side, Donald Trump. Where he stands on that spectrum remains a mystery to me. He is a Republican In Name Only, the RINO in chief. He’s also a serial liar, a self-proclaimed genius and also a self-proclaimed self-made zillionaire; now that I think of it, the latter two items are related directly to the first one. He is an amoral narcissist who possesses zero empathy for the plights of others. He spent his entire pre-political life enriching himself and looks to me as if he governs in the same manner.

I want the president out of office, but you know that already.

As for the Democrats, I tend to tack toward the centrists. I don’t like the far-left rhetoric that comes from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke . . . and many among the rest of horde of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. That leaves, oh, Amy Klobuchar. Then we have a one-issue hopeful: Jay Inslee.

I remain a devoted centrist. I am a deficit hawk. I want us to remain vigilant in the war against international terror. I favor strong border security (although I do not want to build Trump’s Wall along our southern border). I want to retain the Electoral College system for electing presidents.

On the flip side, I want stronger — not weaker — environmental regulations. I believe Earth’s climate is changing and we need to tackle the crisis head on. I believe transgender Americans deserve to serve in the military if they wish. I support the Affordable Care Act and believe the U.S. Constitution gives women the right to choose whether to terminate their pregnancy and whether same-sex couples have the right to be married.

My hope over time is that we can move the dialogue from the fringe and toward the center.

I am not confused. I once was a radical lefty. The older I get the more shades of gray I see on many issues.

It starts, too, with electing someone who appreciates the majesty of the office to which he or she will be elected. The guy we’ve got now needs to go.

Socialism is a serious straw man

Donald J. Trump stood before a joint congressional session and received his share of cheers — mostly from Republicans sitting in front of him — during his State of the Union speech.

One applause line deserves a brief comment here. He declared, without an ounce of equivocation, that the United States is never going to become a “socialist nation.”

GOP lawmakers stood and cheered. So did a handful of Democrats.

Why mention this here? Because the president of the United States only revealed his acute command of the obvious.

He was taking a direct shot at one member of the Senate, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders. He also was targeting a handful of House Democrats, too, namely the rookie lawmaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a media superstar while serving for an entire month in the House of Representatives.

Is the president’s declaration actually intended to stave off some hidden stampede toward socialism? He clearly intends with that statement to stoke some kind of made-up fear that there is enough support in Congress to allow for a government takeover of heavy industry. He is breeding panic among those who believe that the United States of America is going to forgo capitalism in favor of socialism.

Let’s catch our breath. There is no way in the world that the United States of America is going to adopt a socialistic economy.

The issues that some congressional progressives can be resolved without converting our economy from one that produces individual wealth to something that distributes wealth evenly among all 300 million-plus Americans.

“Medicare For All” is no more of a socialistic solution than, say, the original Medicare was when it was enacted in 1965. Or when Social Security became law in 1935. Yet lawmakers and, yes, the president insist that the Affordable Care Act — President Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative — marches the nation down the road toward socialism.

There remains a tremendous amount of individual wealth in this country. I happen to believe firmly that individual wealth will continue to flourish likely until the end of time — whenever that occurs! Socialism, as I understand the meaning of the concept, seeks to redistribute wealth through some nefarious government grab of individual assets.

Does anyone seriously believe that is going to happen? Ever?

If you believe it, then you likely have swilled the Kool-Aid dispensed by demagogues who flourish in a climate of fear.

Why, indeed, is she ‘the thing’?

I have to agree with lame-duck Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who wonders about the meteoric rise to super-political stardom of a young member of Congress — who hasn’t even taken office yet!

The object of McCaskill’s curiosity is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old self-described socialist from New York. McCaskill told CNN, “I’m a little confused why she’s the thing.” Ocasio-Cortez took umbrage at being called “the thing.” Well, she ought to settle down and get ready to take on some major challenges while representing the 14th Congressional District of New York.

McCaskill also referred to Ocasio-Cortez as some sort of “shiny object.” And yes . . . the rookie congresswoman took offense at that, too.

McCaskill, who lost her bid for re-election this past month, was speaking metaphorically. The Missouri lawmaker has been known for having a bit of a tart tongue during her years in the Senate. I am quite sure she didn’t intend to denigrate Ocasio-Cortez when describing her.

As for her “confusion” over the representative-elect’s rapid rise, I have to say I harbor some inherent suspicion of politicians who have this way of hogging the spotlight. They become media favorites — and then feed off of that favoritism for the sake of grabbing headlines and elevating their profiles. I can think of several such pols: Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas comes to mind; the guy who almost beat him this year, Democrat Beto O’Rourke does, too.

I fear that Rep.-elect Ocasio-Cortez is going to assume a dubious distinction as she takes her seat a few days from now among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. She will become the punch line in a gag that talks about the “most dangerous place in Washington is the space between a TV camera and . . . ”

Well, you get the idea.

I hope Ocasio-Cortez  does a good job representing her constituents. I only would caution the young woman to think of them first as she learns to navigate her way around Capitol Hill.

Socialism = red herring

Socialism is the newest four-letter word we can add to our political glossary of epithets.

The problem with the word, though, and the way it is tossed around is that those who oppose socialism hang the label of “socialist” on folks for the wrong reasons.

They don’t know — or choose to ignore — the true definition of the word. Yet we hear it all … the … time! It comes from those on the right and the far right. It is meant to tear down the ideas of those with whom they disagree.

Socialism defines an economic system that spreads public assets around. Government takes over private industry and distributes assets to everyone the government represents. Here is one definition I found: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

I heard Donald Trump — yet again! — toss the s-word out there during a recent campaign rally. He said Democrats are not-so-closeted socialists who want to destroy our way of life, our economic system, our prosperity. He and his allies contend — and they are largely, but not entirely correct — that socialism doesn’t work.

I have been accused of being a socialist by readers of High Plains Blogger. They make me laugh. For starters, I’ve never posted an entry on this blog that espouses the economic benefit of a socialistic society.

Why is that? I am not a socialist! I am as much of a capitalist as any of my friends who happen to oppose the views expressed in this blog.

I have not endorsed the idea of Medicare for all, or a single-payer health care system, and I damn sure haven’t endorsed the notion of the government nationalizing heavy industry.

And yet …

We hear critics of those who tilt left accuse them of being socialists, of wanting the government to do everything. They say we lefties are in favor of creating something called a Nanny State.

C’mon, folks! Let’s get real!

Socialism — and those who believe in it — have become a convenient political rallying cry at right-wing rallies. Hey, whatever works, right? It’s working for those level these accusations against those who oppose them.

It damn sure is working for the president of the United States, who got elected by stirring up fears and anxiety of voters in precisely the right states to win an Electoral College majority in 2016.

Stoking those fears and leading the cheers of those who believe this nonsense is no way to govern.

Socialist? Why, I never …

I’ve been called out by a critic of High Plains Blogger.

Some fellow who I don’t know, but who reads my blog regularly, has called me a “socialist.” He likens me to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer as a socialist in their ilk.

Hmm. I need to respond to this guy.

I’ll start with this: He doesn’t know what a socialist is. A socialist is someone who believes in, um, socialism. And what is that, precisely?

Socialism is an economic philosophy that emphasizes collective ownership of business and industry. Let’s see. Have I ever advocated taking over business and industry by the government? Have I ever said that private ownership is bad for the country? No. I haven’t.

To that end, I am as much of a capitalist as this fellow who purports to know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that I am a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool socialist.

I tend to avoid getting involved in these tit-for-tat responses on social media. For starters, many of High Plains Blogger’s critics tend to suffer from last word-itis. They have to get the last word on any exchange. So, I concede the last word to them. I’ll make whatever point I want to make, let ’em respond and then I move on.

As for the socialist rap, this individual hung that label on me after a blog post that didn’t discuss economic policy at all!

I believe, therefore, many of those who hang the “socialist” tag on folks such as yours truly are using the word as  cudgel to beat others up whenever they disagree with them on any policy at all.

To call someone a “socialist” is akin to saying “your mother wears combat boots.”

When in doubt, I rely on my tattered American Heritage dictionary, which describes socialism this way: “A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community.”

Is that me? Umm. No. It isn’t. So there.

‘Democratic socialist’ sounding more, um, socialist

berniesanders-61515-1434466786

The  more I hear from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the more convinced I become that it’s time to end the qualifier when describing his economic philosophy.

The presidential candidate calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

I believe I understand the message he’s trying to convey, which is that his brand of socialism isn’t dependent entirely on the government taking care of every American’s needs.

Sanders has been using the democratic socialist label — again, in my view — to take some of the sting out of the s-word that conservatives are fond of using to describe policies such as, oh, the Affordable Care Act.

Then on Thursday night, near the end of the Democratic presidential candidate debate with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sanders launched into a lengthy riff about the two political leaders he most admired.

He ended with Winston Churchill, but only after he described Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s tenure as president.

He told us how FDR took office in 1933 while 25 percent of Americans were out of work. We were in the throes of the Great Depression.

How did FDR get us moving again? By energizing government to create jobs. The WPA and CCC were government-financed employment programs. The money to pay for them didn’t just materialize. Americans paid for them with taxes.

Social Security became law in 1935.

Gradually, the nation began to work its way out of the Great Depression.

Then came Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Everything changed after that.

But as I listened Thursday night to Sen. Sanders go on and on about FDR’s leadership, I was struck by the belief that he was talking about socialism. Not just a form of it, but the unvarnished version of it.

I happen to share Sanders’ view that 80-plus years ago, President Roosevelt faced a terrible, miserable set of circumstances when he took his seat behind the big desk in the Oval Office. He felt he had to do something dramatic to get the country going.

Sanders also said something else at the end of the debate that I found a bit curious. He seems to believe the nation is ready for another “revolution,” that the income inequality gap of today sets up a need to create some kind of massive government infusion of money to bolster working families who are suffering while the “top 1 percent of Americans” are doing fabulously.

He wants free college education. Sanders vows to bring universal health care to every American. He intends to push for a dramatic increase in the federal minimum wage.

How does he intend to pay for it? He wants to raise taxes on all Americans.

How, then, is he going to do that with Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives, where all tax legislation must originate?

He sounds like a socialist.

Not a democratic socialist.

He sounds like the real thing.

I believe I heard someone who is overreaching as he pulls the lever on the economic alarm bell.

FDR faced a grave economic crisis the likes of which will not confront the next president.

 

Is Trump … a socialist?

income tax

Let’s see how this goes.

Donald Trump wants to eliminate the tax burden for individuals who earn $25,000 or less annually, and for families that earn $50,000 a year. He would allow them to pay no federal income tax — none, zero.

He wants to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent; wealthy Americans would get a reduction in their income tax from 39.6 percent to 25 percent.

But … he vows to eliminate hundreds of loopholes that he says in effect will generate more revenue for the government and grow the economy. Trump said his plan is going to “cost me a fortune.”

Is the leading Republican presidential candidate a socialist in the mold of, say, Barack H. Obama, who also has argued for reducing the tax burden low-income Americans?

My strong hunch is that the GOP faithful are going love this plan, as it’s coming from a Republican. When something like this comes from a Democrat, well, he’s just another wealth-distributing socialist who’s intent on “destroying the American dream.”

Uh, Mr. Trump? What about that national debt?

Trump tax plan