2010-11-24 14:04:09 UTC
Monday 12 April 2010
by: Bill Quigley
truthout.org - Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are
claiming that the US is hot on the path toward socialism. Part of their
claim is that the US is much more generous and supportive of our working
and poor people than other countries. People may wish it was so, but it is
As Sen. Patrick Moynihan used to say "Everyone is entitled to their own
opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts."
The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and
poor people compared to other countries.
Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join
the US in making up the OECD - the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development. These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable
European countries, but also include some struggling countries like Czech
Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic and
When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air
myths about the US government going all out toward socialism sort of
disappear into thin air. Here are some examples of myths that do not hold
Myth No. 1: The US Government Is Involved in Class Warfare, Attacking the
Rich to Lift Up the Poor.
There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the
rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone
else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In
fact, the top 10 percent in the US have a higher annual income than any
other country. And the poorest 10 percent in the US are below the average
of the other OECD countries. The rich in the US have been rapidly leaving
the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.
Myth No. 2: The US Already Has the Greatest Health Care System in the
Infant mortality in the US is fourth worst among OECD countries - better
only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.
Myth No. 3: There Is Less Poverty in the US Than Anywhere.
Child poverty in the US, at over 20 percent or one out of every five kids,
is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.
Myth No. 4: The US Is Generous in Its Treatment of Families With Children.
The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial
benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries
pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the
family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay
additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is
Myth No. 5: The US Is Very Supportive of Its Workers.
The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every
single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The
US ranks dead last in this. Over two-thirds of the countries give some
form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers.
In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid
leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of
eight paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a
minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.
Myth No. 6: Poor People Have More Chance of Becoming Rich in the US Than
Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in
comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to
be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway
and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and
more of the poor stay poor here in the US.
Myth No. 7: The US Spends Generously on Public Education.
In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average
among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US
children, however, is seventh worst in the OECD. On public spending for
childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.
Myth No. 8: The US Government Is Redistributing Income From the Rich to
There is little redistribution of income by government in the US in part
because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits
is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of
governmental spending lower.
Myth No. 9: The US Generously Gives Foreign Aid to Countries Across the
The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed
countries in the OECD. In 2007, the US was tied for last with Greece. In
2008, we were tied for last with Japan.
Despite the opinions of right-wing folks, the facts say the US is not on
the path toward socialism.
But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more
generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant
mothers and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could
all appreciate it.
Socialism is alive and well in America and even those right wing folks
are socialists regardless of what they say..
Americans have been Socialist since our first Revolution. Socialism is
our gift to the World.
Facing Socialism in America
Why do you think so many people are freaked out by the concept of
Wikipedia: Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of
social organization advocating public or state ownership and
administration of the means of production and distribution of goods,
and a society characterized by equality for all individuals, with a
fair or egalitarian method of compensation. Whats wrong with that?
Most Americans have a problem with their own language. They use words
all the time that they do not understand.
Which brings us back to Socialism in America.
Many Americans think Socialism is some totalitarian horror found in
foreign countries, to be resisted at any cost. Socialism is not only
alive and well in America, but our lives would be far less productive
and enjoyable without it.
Any program that calls for the redistribution of wealth can be
considered socialist. For example, the tax that the United States
imposes on citizens to support the welfare system, which provides aid
to financially unstable citizens, can be considered a socialist
program. Healthcare systems like Medicare and Medicaid fall in the
same category. If someone objects to Medicare and Medicade, I guess
that they can refuse to take advantage of it and decide to pay for
private medical service and other services.
Most American stadiums are municipal, that is to say, they're owned by
the cities. ...If that's socialism, then the US is a socialist
country. Should we close these stadiums because they are socialist
With GwB and Hank Paulson socializing private banking in America,
perhaps it's time to revisit the definition. During the Presidential
Campaign and especially after Obama was elected, the words
"socialist!" and even "communist!" have been flying into computer
Inboxes all across our Nation, often preceded by a string of
Some that are most astounding are from folks who work for local
governmental agencies. Clearly, they have a warped notion about what
Socialism is. Somehow, they've developed a screwball disconnect with
reality. If they object to socialism, they can quit their jobs and go
to work for some private operation.
Public highways are one of the finest examples of Socialism in
America. So are public schools, public parks and public libraries. Not
to mention Social Security and Medicare. And police departments and
town garbage collections and public health care and so on and so on.
Even benefits provided for Congress Members are a form of Socialism.
Should our police and fire departments require a privte contract with
citizens before they will answer a call for help? Right wing nuts
would agree with this idea.
If money is taken from private enterprise, and used for the public
good, that fits my definition of Socialism. Obviously, it also fits
the definition of Ronnie Reagan, Imperial NeoCONs, and most all
Republicans since Reagan. Why would Reagan argue for privatizing all
Government functions (except the Military) if they were not clear and
present definitions of Socialism?
The first thing GwB announced upon stealing the White House again in
2004, was that the primary aim of his next 4 years was to de-socialize
Social Security by privatizing it. GwB planned to reward those who
purchased his Office for him by turning Social Security over to Wall
$treet Bankers to run for profit.
Imagine, just for a moment, what America would look like today if GwB
HAD privatized Social Security. Picture the national disaster we'd be
in now if Social Security had been moved to Wall $treet. With the
subsequent Meltdown of Wall $treet, Social Security would have all but
vanished from America, swaddled in derivatives, buried under a pile of
rubble that would rival the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11. There
are reasons why Socialism keeps America running.
Government does not tax ANY of it socialized services. Government
taxes only private enterprise (Seldom) And that is why Capitalists
spend unbelievable amounts of money trying to subvert our Government.
They want to kill Socialism in America, except for the Military, by
privatizing everything else.
Former Interior Secretary James Watt had a Plan drawn up showing which
of our National Parks he would sell off first. The Ultimate Plan was
to eventually turn all of that wasted public land over to private
management, if not outright ownership, so that private enterprise
could butcher it up and build profitable condos, all with amazing
views to enhance their profits. This is no joke. It really, really was
on the Imperial NeoCON Drawing Board. Still is. If someone objects to
socialism, they should stay out of our national parks.
Senators Mitch McConnell (R) and Jim Bunning (R) introduce legislation
to dismantle and privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority. The next
time Mitch McConnell complains about socialism, ask him whether he
thinks the TVA should be privatized. These folks really want WWIII
anyway... they call it armageddon.
McConnell's been respectful to Barack Obama, but he's pure hell on
FDR, as evidenced by peroration on the stimulus:
"But one of the good things about reading history is you learn a good
deal. And, we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New
Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15%. And, it's
widely agreed among economists, that what got us out of the doldrums
that we were in during the Depression was the beginning of World War
Glenn Thrush gives McConnell credit for "intellectual honesty." I
suppose. McConnell really seems to believe what he's saying, and he
Moving too slowly to suit them, taking too many decades to accomplish,
the collapse of Wall $treet and the World Economy due to their
unregulated Greed, provided a perfect opportunity to bankrupt our
Government with endless Bailouts of private Financial Institutions.
"Too big to fail," is their slogan, meaning they must be saved, no
matter how incompetent they are, no matter what the co$t to American
taxpayers. Like all NeoCON slogans, it's sole purpose is to divert
attention away from what they are really up to.
Like all Confidence Scams, what they tell you is absolutely NOT what
You think it bothers them that Obama won? Get real! Passing their
engineered financial collapse on to him is a pure bonus. If Obama must
spend trillions upon trillions to cover for their mistakes, all the
better. It will speed them faster and closer to that glorious day when
EVERYTHING in America generates a profit.
But Socialism is an integral part of the fabric which sustains America
and Americans. Many of millions of Americans earn their taxable income
directly from Socialism.
The reason the New Deal's social experiments were tried, and
succeeded, is the same reason they must come back again. The GREED of
unfettered Capitalism once nearly destroyed America, and may yet
succeed. All the assurances -- that we have safeguards in place to
prevent another Depression -- is a lot of wishful thinking. Obviously,
they have not worked flawlessly and automatically thus far.
Part of the reason was the intentional dismantling of safety nets
brought on by Ronnie Reagan's deregulation pipe dreams. His trickle-
down notion -- that enough crumbs will fall off rich people's plates
to sustain our Nation -- was a lot of hooey. But it was packaged to
sound good, if any Americans pulled their heads out of their TVs long
enough to glance at it.
Ronnie's ideological descendant, GwB, has been pumping money as fast
as he can out of American taxpayers and into the already bulging
pockets of his rich cronies. Rich people don't make the idle rich
richer. It's the tax-paying working Middle Class, and struggling Small
Business Owners, who make rich people rich.
GwB, Chaney & Co have been creating a constant need for Military
Spending on a gargantuan scale (pretending it has anything at all to
do with establishing democracy anywhere in the World) to force all of
us to keep our noses to the grindstone. Costs spiral ever upward, and
no one has time to breathe, much less to think.
The instant that Soviet Communism collapsed, and some starry eyed
"lib- ruls" began talking about beating swords into plowshares,
NeoCONs began looking around frantically for the next War. Who wants
to sell plowshares when the real money is in tanks, rockets, planes,
ships, and bullets, especially if the Pentagon is paying.
Which brings us back to Socialism in America. The US Military is the
greatest implementation of Socialism the World has ever seen.
Concealed from public oversight by "national security" claims, the
Military provides socialized medicine, socialized housing, socialized
uniforms, socialized transportation, socialized retirement
entitlements, and even socialized burial, far beyond the cost of
armaments. Everyone enrolled in the Military is a Socialist, as they
always have been. Should we privatize the military?
So the next time you receive anything like this over your computer:
"Don't you dare ever send me this Socialist propaganda again you
bloody communist!" -- which came from a County Employee in VA living
entirely off the largess of Socialism -- then send back a copy of this
to him. Surely he won't understand it, but you may feel better for
having done so.
A useful clarification: Socialism taxes private enterprise, and
redistributes that wealth all across America. Only agencies supported
directly by government tax funds fit the definition of Socialism. For
instance, municipal Fire Departments probably are. Most rural
volunteer Fire Departments are not. They're private corporations, with
their own controlling Boards of Directors, even IF they receive Grants
from Socialist Government. Electric utilities are private
corporations. So are Churches, Charities, Unions, PACs, Trash
Collectors you pay, local Arts Councils. Many Hospitals were
established by Socialist Government, but most have been converted to
profit-making private enterprise, and that's why Health Care Co$ts
If you pay to join, or to receive services, these are likely private
corporations, not examples of Socialism. And 'tax-deductible' or 'non-
profit' in their names is an assurance that they are private, not
Socialism. Again, Public Universities are part of our home grown
Socialism. Private Universities are not. ( When I taught at Cornell,
it was strangely part private, part State. And the tuition differences
were astounding depending which part a student was enrolled in.)
Should we close all Public schools and universities. They are
socialism at work.
America is a happy mix of both, so much so that most folks don't know
the difference. If people are publicly elected to run organizations,
like School Boards, County Commissioners, Legislatures, City Councils,
they are part of American Socialism. These are some of what Imperial
NeoCONs want to get rid of by bankrupting our Government.
And the point is this: when Right Wing-nuts couldn't scream
'communist' or 'liberal' at anyone who opposed them anymore, they
tried to turn 'socialist' into a nasty label. But it doesn't work,
because the United Socialist States of America (USSA) is hugely
socialistic, from Sea to Shining Sea.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils
[of capitalism], namely through the establishment of a socialist
economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented
toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are
owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A
planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the
community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able
to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and
child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his
own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of
responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of
power and success in our present society.