Letters to the Editor
Readers write about whether or not Barack Obama is really a socialist.
Debating the charge that Obama is really a socialistSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Regarding the Oct. 30 Opinion piece, "Is Barack Obama really a socialist?": Author Donald J. Boudreaux, in answering his question, moves from an initial "no" to an implied "yes." His generalizations border on untruths.
First, the Soviet Union system, although socialist in name, was generally considered to be "communist," not socialist. Actually, it was neither. It was something like "state capitalism," a system in which everything is under the control of a central authority. This is not a characteristic of socialism.
Second, I don't think Barack Obama spoke glibly of "spreading the wealth around." He simply said that someone who has greatly benefited from the system, like himself, ought to pay more taxes than one who has not been so fortunate.
Far from being some insidious form of socialism, Obama's tax policy would be a shot in the arm to the free enterprise system simply because it focuses on helping the middle class thrive, grow, and consume the goods that our economy produces.
As the middle class shrinks, so shrinks the base of consumers that helps keep our economy afloat. Without those consumers, the very reason for entrepreneurship declines.
The question is how to strike a balance between the extremes of too much versus too little government regulation.
This analysis is exactly right. Obama and his political allies don't want to yoke America to full-fledged, Marxist socialism. What they want is the socializing of our economy in the pursuit of "fairness." That philosophy has an enormous, but mostly hidden downside – the slow strangulation of economic vitality.
Ironically, the people who are most zealous for Senator Obama's plan are the very ones who would benefit most from economic growth. The enervated and highly regulated economy that results from the socialistic approach traps poorer people. It offers them handouts but impedes upward mobility.
For too long, we in America have been told that each person is solely responsible for his or her success (this being the theory behind "supply side" economics and regressive taxation).
The fact is that no person is entirely responsible for what happens to him or her. Neither success nor hardship is entirely under the control of any individual.
Capitalism and socialism, interwoven in America's economic fabric, are both vital parts of our society's makeup. Capitalism creates wealth and jobs, but what kind of society would we be if we didn't have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?
We play the socialism card when the economy tanks, as the recent $700 billion bailout by taxpayers shows.
Matthew Rothschild, editor of "The Progressive," recently wrote, "If there are no atheists in a foxhole, there certainly aren't any capitalists in a financial crisis."
John McCain and the Republican Party show they are really desperate when they begin to spread fear that socialism will dominate and decimate our way of life if Barack Obama is elected president.
It takes both capitalism and socialism to keep America running effectively.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.