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Socialism Is Evil! (Unless You Need A Corporate Bail-Out)

July 16th, 2008 | by Ken Grandlund |

“Ours is a system of corporate socialism, where companies capitalize their profits and socialize their losses…in effect, they tax you for their accidents, bungling, boondoggles, and mismanagement, just like a government. We should be able to dis-elect them.”
- Ralph Nader

Conservatives hate socialism. We know this is true because they tell us how evil socialism really is every chance they get. According to many conservatives, socialist public policies are to blame for everything from the destruction of the American family (think welfare) to the crumbling of American manufacturing (think labor unions) to the financial straits of the American government (think Social Security, Medicare, and any non-defense related government spending). If there is a problem in America, odds are that some socialist policy is behind it, or so a conservative might assert.

Many conservatives insist that socialism will destroy America, that Democrats are really just socialists at heart, and therefore that Democrats destroy America. Even more, they confuse socialism and communism, and insist that Democrats are just communists bent on destroying the wonders of American capitalism by taking “our money” and giving it to the “worthless, lazy slobs” who are too stupid to grab a real chunk of the “American dream.” Conservatives are loathe to approve public policies that spend taxpayer money on healthcare or childcare or food assistance or anything that diverts tax money away from corporations and towards the citizens.

For conservatives, the notion of Capitalist Socialism is an oxymoron, an impossibility, an evil force of perveted economics. Unless you’re talking about the kind of socialism whereby the public has to bail out private corporations who have managed their affairs so badly that their collapse might have widespread economic implications. In that case, socialism is not only okay, it’s the only way to go.

The general public actually embraces some forms of Capitalist Socialism, like the ever popular Social Security program. Truth be told, most of our “public” institutions are funded through a form of socialism. When our taxes are spent on hospitals or schools or police departments, this is a form of socialism. We all pay for the services that we all receive. Our system of capitalism depends upon socialism in this form, as does any democratic country and government. But the conservatives ignore the fact of this kind of socialism because it provides them with billions of dollars to dispense annually, and they like to give our tax money to fat cat corporations by way of no-bid contracts or public bail-outs.

It is a hypocrisy that is lost on most people though, because of the demonized reputation the word “socialism” has gotten at the hands of the conservative political machine. Ask your average citizen how they feel about socialism and you’ll probably get an earful of criticism. But try to explain that we already live under a form of socialism and you’ll be speaking to deaf ears. We can’t be socialist! We’re a damn democracy, and we’re capitalists to boot.

Uh, yeah. Right.

I’m not against socialist programs per se. Our social safety net programs have helped millions of Americans over the years to avoid abject poverty. And to be fair, many of our socialist programs have not lived up to their potential, although I would insist that any failures lie at the hands of greedy politicians and political special interest groups more than in the design of the programs themselves. Social Security, one of the biggest socialist programs we have (in terms of overall cost) is nearing insolvency as much because of politicians raiding the fund as the rising population of retirees. But when it comes to corporate bail-outs where the failure lies in lax oversight or outright fraud, I have to say I’m not all that keen on corporate socialism. Especially when those individuals at the top of the corporate heap, who laugh all the way to their off-shore banks, are never held responsible in any meaningful way for their corrupt practices that result in massive financial loss to average working folks and end up costing us all when the government steps in to bail them out.

The current financial crisis in the mortgage industry is a direct result of the Bush administration’s laissez-faire attitude towards financial regulation and oversight. You’d have thought that the Enron collapse (and other corporate meltdowns over the last 7 years) would have opened the publics eyes, and maybe it did for a few minutes. But put a sweet, juicy apple in front of a horse and he may well forget that the last apple you  gave him was really just a piece of rotton fruit. When Bush proclaimed his desire to create “The Ownership Society” he was handing us an apple. It did taste pretty good for a few chews, but as we reach the core, we can see how rotton it really was. And the taste seems to be lingering far longer than it ever should.

By creating an atmosphere of lax enforcement and by stripping away funding for regulation and any sort of oversight, the mortgage industry called open season on America. They played fast and furious to get anyone into a home regardless of the financial realities such moves required. They got paid when the made the loan, then they sold the loan and got paid again. They didn’t give a crap about the people at the end of the trail though, those who would ultimately be left holding worthless loan notes because the original borrower would never be able to pay the full rates when the juicy apple revealed itself to be rotton.

And by and large, as the banking system is brought to its knees by its own greed, none of those folks who fueled the boom will be held responsible. Much like the German Army of the 19030’s and 1940’s, these fine folks were just following orders. They didn’t make the rules after all. Why should they be held responsible?

Socialism has some good qualities- like the collective payments for public institutions and infrastructure or social safety nets that promote work while offering a hand in hard times. But socialism also has an evil side, just like the conservatives tell us it does. It’s called corporate socialism. Isn’t it funny how it’s the only aspect of socialism that the conservatives really seem to love?

(cross posted at Common Sense)

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  1. 2 Responses to “Socialism Is Evil! (Unless You Need A Corporate Bail-Out)”

  2. By rube cretin on Jul 16, 2008 | Reply

    ken,
    gave your article a quick read and i agree. However, until we have a series of public hangings of some of these bastards nothing is going to improve. Sorry, things are not going to improve. we are in a fucking mess. Suggest we begin making up a list of those qualifing for a public hanging. I will start the list.
    1. bush
    2.cheaney
    3. Kudlow
    4. Phil Gramm
    5. Alberto gonzo
    6. rummy
    7. condi
    8. lewis libby
    9. mary madline
    10. rush
    11. etc.

  3. By steve on Jul 16, 2008 | Reply

    But Ken… isn’t it government’s fault the economy is shit? The Democrats control the House and Senate and I see they are doing a great job at ending the war, getting gas back down to under 2 bucks a gallon and helping the US get off of foreign oil while ending poverty, creating the best schools in the world, getting every illegal alien free medical care, banning guns everywhere, abolishing Christianity and making friends with Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Aminejihad or whatever his name is? While giving our jobs to Mexico?

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