"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The S-Word

During an interview on NBC's Today show this morning, President Obama was asked about the Tea Party movement.  He described it as an amalgam of crackpots who question his citizenship and think he is a socialist.  This is a clever dodge by the President, because questioning Obama's citizenship is pretty crazy, but is calling him a socialist really that far out there?

Merriam-Webster defines socialism as, "a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state."  Accordingly, below is a by no means exhaustive list of formerly private enterprises which are now owned and controlled by the state:
  • GM, Chrysler owned by the government and workers
  • AIG, Fannie, Freddie, owned and controlled by government
  • Massive expansion of government-run Medicare, Medicaid
  • Student Loans, eliminated all private sector lending
There is still a great stigma associated with the word "socialism" from the Cold War.  To call somebody a socialist in this country is often taken to equate him with Stalin and Mao.  However, they were more than mere socialists--Stalin and Mao were full-blown communist dictators, and while economic control may be the first step on the road to a totalitarian state, it is only just that.

Moreover, the unprecidented intrusion of the federal government into the private sector cannot be reasonably described as anything other than socialism.  In Europe, Obama's policies would only be slightly left of center.  In Europe, he would proudly call himself a socialist, but in America, socialism is still a dirty word.  Thus, the President must resort to the fallacy of personal attack by deriding honest critics as birthers and nutjobs.

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