Thursday, May 21, 2009

Socialist Ghosts

By Glenn Melancon
2008 Democratic candidate
U.S. House of Representatives,
TX 4th Congressional District
[ "Resolved, that we the members of the Republican National Committee recognize that the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals," reads the resolution.]

Clever politicians have turned socialism into a frightening ghost. It has replaced terrorism as the catchall phrase. Should we get our pitch forks and kill this really scary monster? Maybe, but be careful what you kill. You might just kill a friend.

Socialism simply means public ownership of property. No more. No less. Governments turned to socialism when capitalism, privately owned businesses, couldn’t deliver a necessary product or service at an affordable cost.

For example, the Federal government used socialism to electrify the rural south. Projects like the Denison dam or the Tennessee Valley Authority absorbed the huge upfront costs of bringing affordable energy to sparsely populated regions of America. Capitalists preferred the customer rich cities. Socialism not only brought economic diversity to the South but also improved our quality of life.

Closer to home, we use socialism to deliver public education. Just a few years ago Sherman tried capitalism in one school. The Edison Project was all the rage at the time. After a couple of years, the project failed, and it cost the tax payers about $1 million to clean up the mess.

Socialism also provides a valuable safety net for our senior citizens. Social Security and Medicare are public institutions, not private, and most seniors are pleased with the services. Even though they are not perfect, Social Security and Medicare has provided peace of mind. In 1959 the poverty rate for Americans over 65 was approximately 35%. Today it has dropped to 10%. That is a success.

Capitalists have also benefited from socialism. Farmers, some of the most independent minded Americans, would struggle even more if all tax payers didn’t provide Farm to Market and county roads. Before governments took over road building, farmers had to make and maintain the roads themselves. We know that private road building stunts economic growth and publicly owned roads benefit us all.

Socialism appears in unexpected places. Every community bank and depositor relies on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to protect their investments. The FDIC sells affordable insurance as well as making sure bankers are conservative with our money. Where would we be today if AIG had provided this service?

We also rely on socialism for our Fire, Police and Defense Departments. The brave men and women who protect and serve us in times of crisis don’t work in a for-profit enterprise. They do, however, ensure that capitalists enjoy the freedom and security necessary for growth.

So, where is this scary ghost that politicians call “socialism”? Not in America. Not even in America’s past. You have to look across the oceans. The ghost’s name was Joseph Stalin, a communist dictator who terrorized and murdered millions. The Soviet Union lacked both a constitutional and democratic process to keep Stalin in check. Instead, he used torture, internal spies and lies as tools to increase his personal power. There is no “Stalin” in America’s future. With all our flaws, America is still strong.

Who are the scary American socialists then? Well, do you support public schools? Do you think we need to keep Social Security and Medicare? Do you believe we are safer with publicly operated Fire, Police and Defense Departments? Do you want to keep roads in the hands of state, county and federal government instead of private corporations? If you do, then you should look in the mirror. You might be a socialist. Are you scared yet?

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