Saturday, September 20, 2008

"We Are All Socialists Now"

The title of this blog is a quote from Jonathan Alter, Senior Editor at Newsweek, during his appearance last night on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was referring, of course, to the reality of the so-called bailout plan for the US financial industry being crafted by the Bush government.

As I sat watching the television, Alter's words almost took my breath away. Socialists? How can that be? How could the actions of a very conservative, hard-right Republican administration make us all socialists? Has the planet turned upside down?

The answer, in a word, is yes. In many ways, the political landscape of America has been turned on its head by the unparalleled failures and stupefying incompetence of the current Republican regime in Washington. The list of this administration's calamities is all too long and far too familiar to require repeating them here. Now, on top of everything else, comes the failure of our financial industry and the imperative to bail it out lest there be even more dire consequences.

When the fine points are finally put on the federal bailout of the financial industry, it will be the largest peaceful nationalization of any private sector industry in the history of mankind. The socialization of various industries (coal, steel, rail, etc.) in 20th century Europe by numerous left-leaning, democratically elected governments pales into insignificance when compared to this trillion dollar event. Only the forcible government seizure of the entire private sector as the result of revolution (or foreign occupation), as happened in Russia, China and eastern Europe in the last century, is on a par with this nationalization scheme.

As a committed Liberal, I believe in rationally-regulated, well-managed, free-market capitalism kept on track by competent government oversight. The Republican Bush-Cheney administration, aided and abetted by mostly Republican Congresses, has - in the space of only eight years - nearly destroyed that concept. They have turned the American government into little more than an unregulated, out-of-control instrument of Wall Street greed and Washington corruption. 

Now, faced with certain ruin, these self-proclaimed proponents of free markets and small government have had to betray everything they said they believed. Incredibly, it is a Republican administration leading the charge for the largest intrusion of government power into the private sector in our history. Note, however, that their plan is very careful to assign all the risk of the free market to US taxpayers while whatever reward there was has already been given to their corporate buddies. So much for Country First.

In fact, Bush-Cheney and recent Republican Congresses have served no one but themselves and their corrupt friends. Their only hope now is that Republican John McCain can somehow save them, their rotting Party, their perverse and bankrupt ideology and their billionaire friends. They have some reason to be optimistic. In the past few months, John McCain has proven that he will say anything and do anything to get elected. And why not? After all, it is a formula that has worked for Republicans for many years.

These are indeed worrisome and dangerous times economically. These are also sad days for those of us who still believe in the political ideals of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.  I cannot imagine what those remaining real conservatives and traditional Republicans must be thinking.  I have almost always disagreed with them on every major issue, but they have consistently argued from a position of intellectual honesty and deep personal conviction.  George W. Bush and John Sidney McCain III have now denied them even that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have established a policy of privatizing wealth and socializing debt. This is the Conservative form of Socialism in which only a few can succeed but all are forced to participate in failure.