Thursday, January 22, 2009

President Obama the Socialist?

When President Obama talked about sharing the wealth with "Joe the plumber," the dreaded "S" word, or socialism, suddenly became part of the campaign rhetoric. Senator McCain and Governor Palin were quick to label Obama as a socialist which any good American knows is almost as bad as being a communist, which is the same as being the devil. Webster's dictionary defines socialism as, "any of various economic and political theory is advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." For those who weren't paying attention, while the McCain campaign was hurling the odious accusation of socialism against President Obama, the Bush administration was in the process of taking over the banking system in this country. Excuse me? A conservative president taking over the banking system? Sounds a lot like socialism to me.

Following the government takeover of the banking system was the plea from the auto industry to be bailed out by the government. More socialism? And Obama hadn't even been elected yet.

Except for "real Socialists, who are small minority in America, and a few left-wing Democrats, who are probably Socialists, the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Democrats, are just fine with capitalism and don't want the government to own, administer, or distribute goods.

What gets a fair number of people agitated is the concept of "sharing the pie." In one of his broadcasts, Glenn Beck, who tends to the conservative side, said that he didn't want to share his pie, and that America is a bakery that can produce an infinite number of pies. That's a nice theory, but the reality is some people will always be left with the crumbs, and a more than a few people will have no pie at all. This country has been sharing the pie ever since Medicare was instituted, which still sticks in the craw of many conservatives who would like to roll back everything Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented.

In President Obama's inaugural address there was no hint of socialism. In fact, Michael Medved, a conservative columnist, said the following about President Obama's inaugural address. "Meanwhile, the big speech also reassured Joe the Plumber and other nervous free-marketeers that careless campaign rhetoric about “spreading the wealth” might not, after all, constitute a major priority for the Obama administration."

To paraphrase President Obama the focus is not on whether the government is too big or too small, but whether it works.

To go back to Glenn Beck's metaphor about sharing the pie, extra slices have been given to special interests throughout the country's history. Farm subsidies are given to major corporations whether they need them or not. Municipalities give significant tax breaks to corporations to lure them to their area. So let's not pretend sharing the pie is all about socialism. If are going to share the pie lets do it more fairly.

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