Obama’s “socialist agenda”…

The GOP’s sour-grapes set has started to develop theories on why it lost the election, theories that still use all the code words and hidden innuendoes that made the 2012 election one of the most polarized ones in U.S. history.  Mr. Romney has been focusing on “all the gifts” that Mr. Obama made to his constituency of Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, women, and young people.  Mr. Ryan has said that the election was won in urban America.

Fox News pundits are busy spinning the results, trying to pin Petraeus’ hanky-panky on Mr. Obama somehow (although McCain, Graham, and King seemed more chagrin after the hearings), and unfairly blaming Ms. Rice, the U.N. ambassador, for talking about protests when she was just acting on info from the CIA (again, no apologies to Ms. Rice after the hearings).  I thought that maybe the ex-General would clear that all up in his appearance before Congress, but I guess not.  (And what’s an FBI agent doing passing information to just Republicans?)

At least Mr. Romney explicitly mentioned Blacks.  Mr. Ryan’s use of the code word “urban” is just an euphemism for Blacks, of course.  The GOP is still exhibiting its biting Southern charm (as John Stuart put it, the GOP after all won the Confederacy).  Both Romney and Ryan are showing that the former’s 47% remarks are really GOP policy mantras.  No wonder the GOP wants to end “entitlement programs”!

Do they really believe that the electorate is so stupid that they can’t see through the GOP’s historical hatred for any government program that protects the poor and elderly?  Never mind the fact that those poor and elderly and the rest of the middle class spent years of labor putting money into those programs!  On the other hand, that 1% hasn’t contributed anything to Social Security or Medicare because they’re not on anyone’s payroll.

Perhaps Dubya’s significant other Barbara said it best; to paraphrase:  “You [the GOP] lost the election.  Get over it!”  People do not want to return to a feudal society where the Sheriff of Nottingham and his deputies, Paul Ryan and friends, steal from the poor to give to the rich, including that illustrious sore-loser Prince John, aka Mitt Romney.  That’s what this election was about.  The majority of people, whether you count the Electoral College or popular vote, came to their senses and said, “Enough of this widening gap between the rich elites and the rest of us.”  The American public rejected Reagan’s trickle-down economics hogwash yet again.  How many times do we have to do it?  How long do we have to wait until Congress does our bidding and dances to the tune of fairness?  Representative democracy?  Where?  Not in America!

More depressing is that the S-word has made a resurgence, winning a new popularity with the sore losers.  This goes beyond sour grapes.  Mr. Obama is NOT a socialist!  He is left-of-center on domestic issues and right-of-center on foreign affairs and defense.  You can debate how I’ve split hairs there, but he’s definitely not a socialist.  He is a throwback to the great wartime presidents, fighting the hard battles both domestically and around the world.

If he were a socialist, the auto industry would no longer exist and Wall Street bankers would be strung up by their thumbs rotting in jail where they deserve to be.  I would be willing to wager (not $10000, of course, which only Romney can carry in his pocket) that Mr. Obama’s second term will be more centrist than the first, especially if he tries to play nice with Republicans in Congress who don’t deserve it because they’re bent on payback for Obama’s winning the election.  Their mantra:  “Damn what the American population thinks!  We know best.  And we’re out to get Obama.”  Remember Clinton’s second term?  That started out with some shenanigans about Japanese trade and progressed to Lewinsky and a near impeachment.  The GOP would just love to find a scandal for Obama—hence the bloviating Benghazi speeches.

I for one see nothing wrong with socialism.  Take education.  Most European countries long ago recognized that their economic future depends on an educated population.  China also recognizes it.  Both areas perform better in math and science than our students.  Education depends on a student’s intelligence and work ethic, not who his daddy is.  Europe doesn’t saddle their students with student loans.  I’m not sure Chinese students know what they are.  The important colleges and universities are government-sponsored.  The right to an education is on a par with the right to vote—not so much in China, where voting is a sham, but certainly in Europe.

If you point your finger and ask, “So why are the European economies failing?” you don’t understand history.  In the long run, economies fail because there is no highly skilled and adaptable working class to meet the challenges uncertain economic futures present.  Socialism in education in this country is too limited.  Sure, you’re paying for those public schools with property and/or sales taxes, depending on the state, both regressive taxes.  Change them to progressive taxes that truly recognize that it’s our responsibility as a society to educate our young, but don’t call it socialism and discard it in favor of education only for the rich elites.

Consider public transportation.  Here in the Northeast, after Sandy’s attack, we have really felt how fragile it is.  If you’ve ever ridden on the NYC subway, the DC metro, or taken a city bus, that’s socialism.  Here in NJ we also have private bus lines.  They do a good job of taking up the slack.  But they must keep their costs in line because they have to compete with public transportation.  If there were only private bus lines, the price of a bus ticket would be astronomical.  This shows that private and public services can and must work well together.

Here’s one people don’t often think of—the military.  Maintaining a government-sponsored military is socialism.  People who flaunt the S-word don’t often think that the good old U S of A would not even exist without these socialistic institutions.  That we carry this too far sometimes, wasting billions of dollars on new weapons systems and platforms to carry them, many of them not even wanted by the Pentagon, points out that the partnership between a socialistic government program and private industry can become corporate welfare (hence Eisenhower’s warning).  If you think the bailout of the auto industry was corporate welfare, you should be enraged by the yearly bailout of the defense industry—your Raytheons and Lockheed-Martins—present in our defense budgets.  Too often it’s not socialism that’s out of control—it’s capitalism.

Wall Street is the poster child for out-of-control capitalism, of course.  I can’t remember one major banker who went to jail because of his shady dealings in the 2008 financial implosion.  There are still no teeth in the Dodd-Frank bill—the replacement to Glass-Steagall still languishes in congressional committee.  Another bet?  I’d be willing to bet it forever languishes there.  We are so far from socialism in this country that we don’t have a government bank.  In fact, we are so far away from it that we can’t even police our banks.  Don’t be surprised if it all goes south again.  Mr. Geithner is very smart to leave.  He doesn’t want to take the blame.

No, Mr. Obama doesn’t have a socialist agenda.  He won’t have any agenda at all.  The next four years will look like the last two.  Mr. McConnell was trumped (no apologies to the Donald)—he didn’t make Mr. Obama into a one-term president.  But he and Mr. Boehner will make Mr. Obama’s life miserable.  It’s called revenge.  Petty, snarky revenge.  Or, 21st century GOP politics.  God bless America!

And so it goes….

[Note:  There will be no post on Thursday, but there will be a "News and Notices" tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving to all U.S. readers…enjoy the company of your family and friends.]

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8 Responses to “Obama’s “socialist agenda”…”

  1. Scott Says:

    I like your comments about socialism. Government, almost by definition, is just whatever people decide it is, or so it seems to me. If we decide that the government should provide education for the citizenship, then that is a proper task of government. If we decide that it should provide medical care for its citizens, then THAT is a proper task of government.

    I know as well as anyone about government wastefulness. My dad spent almost 40 years in government jobs (retiring from the Corps of Engineers with two very bad knees from accidents at work), and he had plenty of stories about waste in his experiences. The problem isn’t government, it’s PEOPLE. It’s the same in private business, but there we call it a capitalist motive. (CEO gets a huge bonus while employees are laid off…what’s the difference between someone in the public sector wasting money to protect his budget for the following year?)

    One other comment if I may: You mention about China and Europe educating their young people; I would add that in Iran if a student shows aptitude, they go to college. Most of my wife’s young relatives over there are in college, on track to become MDs or teachers or whatever they have an aptitude for. Here it’s getting to the point where you have to be wealthy to go to college, but there anyone can go if they’re smart enough. Which is better? I think their system is far better. The poor kid who becomes an MD because he/she is smart is going to be better off and be able to help take care of his/her family down the road. Not to say that there isn’t a culture of privilege there, because there is – the children of their elite have many advantages, just as the children of our elite here do. But it is far more likely for a kid to become a physician or a dentist or an engineer or an architect or a scientist if they’re from a blue collar or poor family, at least by my observation…

  2. steve Says:

    Hi Scott,
    A belated Happy Thanksgiving!
    I observed a similar phenomena when I lived in Colombia. There were some private universities (I taught at one), but even they means tested all admissions, recognizing that motivation, initiative, and intelligence don’t correlate well with wealth and privilege. Of course, the majority of students there went to the huge national university in Bogota. Other urban centers like Medellin also had their government-sponsored universities that were almost free from our point of view.
    Another thing the Colombians do, which you might want to comment on, any new MD, whether graduate from government or private university, had to serve one year afield before opening a private practice. I should say that there is a basic care system for everyone, somewhat limited, but having it even in remote areas via this mechanism was interesting.
    Take care,
    Steve

  3. Scott Says:

    I agree that, if there is to be a public health care option in this country, there will need to be a paradigm shift on the part of medical school graduates. I know there has been discussion of something similar, a service requirement where you would be sent to an area of need for a one year period in return for some loan forgiveness and a stipend or whatever, in dentistry, but I don’t see much about it outside of editorials and letters and commentaries in journals and such. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea…I generally don’t like the idea of forcing everyone into it, because sometimes circumstances dictate things about one’s life, but I like it as something that would be highly encouraged.

    My own observation about intelligence and drive and level of success attempted/obtained is that it starts at home, and at a very early age. If the parents don’t find it to be valuable, then neither will the kids. A child could be innately intelligent but if the parents don’t place any value on it, I think it’s less likely that the kid will reach his/her potential…

    Happy belated Thanksgiving!

  4. steve Says:

    Scott,
    Here’s another MD/dentistry points for debate: Is it time for medical and dental schools to become less exclusive and graduate more generalists? (Two questions there.) There is a shortage of internists (I preferred the old GP moniker) and too many specialists. Same goes for dentistry. Maybe if we couple some monetary rewards with being a generalist? I don’t expect internists to make as much as research-oriented oncologists, for example, but we’re going to be in a bad place in the future if the trend continues.
    Take care,
    Steve

  5. Scott Says:

    Interesting question – I think in dentistry, we already graduate the great majority of us as “generalists”. A select few go on to specialize in one of our recognized specialties: Pedodontics, Endodontics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, Oral Surgery, and Orthodontics. The thing is, as GPs in dentistry, we can do everything that all of these folks can do. Personally I choose not to do very much surgery beyond the simple extractions and I choose not to do any orthodontics. And I think there are many general dentists who “limit their practices” to some specialty. (It’s different in the military – a great many of my classmates who joined the active duty services became specialists.)

  6. Scott Says:

    In medicine, it seems that specialties are where the money is. If I understand correctly, it has to do with medicare and insurance coding and reimbursement levels. If a procedure (say a routine physical exam) has a long history, it is reimbursed at a much lower rate, because it’s harder to raise up that average.

  7. Scott Says:

    If a procedure is newer or mostly limited to specialists, reimbursement can be higher. Less history, higher starting point. It’s simple math, I guess. Some general practitioners don’t make much more than us dentists. Not as much in some cases.

  8. Scott Says:

    I think that they need to establish a reimbursement rate that is consistent with the “need” for that service. If we “need” more general practitioners (I prefer that term too), then we should reimburse them a bit better. PPO’s and HMO’s are killing that part of medicine. Pretty soon they’ll ALL be specialists…

    (sorry for the multiple posts – getting the spam notification)