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Friday, March 22, 2019


Doom. DOOM! they say

by Tom Sullivan

President "NO COLLUSION" has been tossing around the term "socialism" lately. Not like collusion maybe, but frequently enough. With the unflappable freshman Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y., a.k.a. AOC) identifying as a democratic socialist as well as presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Donald Trump believes attacking this straw man will make Democrats' brand toxic in 2020.

The press took Trump's bait, as it will, and asks Democrats running for president if they are "capitalists" or "socialists," as if the question is at all illuminating. I'm waiting for Democrats to reply if by making the charge Republicans are committed to eliminating "Socialist Security."

Modern countries are a blend of the two systems. Capitalism may be king on Wall Street, but the traffic lights at the intersections, the roads and schools are public, as is law enforcement, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and all those farm and industrial subsidies. No market fundamentalist insists true capitalists save for their own carrier strike group.

Catherine Rampell notes we still have private property and "government does not control the means of production." Trump's attempt to red bait Democrats with the socialist label is falling flat. Most Americans don't even know what the term means:

In fact, in a Gallup poll last year that asked Americans to explain their understanding of the term “socialism,” responses were all over the map. The most common answer, volunteered by about a quarter of respondents, was that it had something to do with “equality” — “equal standing for everybody, all equal in rights, equal in distribution,” something to that effect. Smaller percentages mentioned communism, government control of utilities or even “talking to people, being social, social media, getting along with people.”
The term might trigger Cold Warriors who haven't died off, Rampell writes, but Trump already had that vote locked up:
Whether it will scare younger people is a separate question. A majority of adults under age 30 already view the term “socialism” positively; about 40 percent of those ages 30 to 49 say the same.

That might be because of dissatisfaction with the results of the existing (predominantly capitalist) economic system. But it might perversely also be because Republicans have been so relentless in their alarmist attacks on socialism — or, rather, “socialism.”
People's dissatisfaction stems from the fact the country's capitalist side is no longer functioning as one. In our resurgent Gilded Age, "Checks and balances such as antitrust enforcement, regulation of major industries, progressive taxation and unions have been gutted since the 1980s," wrote in the Seattle Times. Capitalism, like our democracy, is broken. The question at hand is what to do about our slide into oligarchy.

AOC's proposal for a 70 percent top tax bracket and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's for a wealth tax hark back to days when the John Birch Society tried to brand the former WWII supreme commander of Allied forces in Western Europe, President Dwight Eisenhower, a communist. The top federal tax bracket then was over 90 percent.

Attacks on Democrats as socialists (and Democratic policies as socialism) are even older. So is AOC's getting right back in the faces of critics:
For the last 17 years [Republicans] have called every new Democratic measure "socialism" or "communism," and they have made constant predictions of doom and disaster. The plans and proposals that we have advanced for improving the conditions of the people of this country have been greeted by these same old scare tactics during all these years.


For the past 17 years, the same outcry has greeted every proposal advanced by the Democratic Party--whether it has been for better housing, social security, rural electrification, farm price supports, minimum wages, or any other program for the general welfare of the people.


The Democratic Party is going right ahead to meet the needs and carry out the aspirations of the American people.
"For the past 17 years" refers to 1933. President Harry S. Truman said that in 1950. Two years later, he was even more in-your-face:
"Creeping socialization"--or "creeping socialism"--those are the words that give the game away. Socialism--sometimes "creeping" and sometimes "galloping"--is the slogan and patented trademark of the special interest lobbies. Socialism is the epithet they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Now listen to this:

Socialism is what they called public power.

Socialism is what they called social security.

Socialism is what they called farm price supports.

Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance.

Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations.

Socialism is their name for anything that helps all the people.
What Republicans really mean, Truman said, is "Down with Progress."

Warren proposes reforming the un-capitalism decades of bad policy has created. She wants to make capitalism work for everyone again, not just for the rich. Naturally, the conservative Heritage Foundation brands her proposal, say it with me....