Over the last several debates, GOP contenders use the word socialist to describe their warped view of what the Democratic Party stands for. They have leveled such attacks on "socialist" president Barack Obama, and have regularly used "socialist" in a derogatory tone against anything Democratic. Redistribution of wealth is also married to the socialist label, as with any governmental benefit. Not only do these candidates (and pundits) have little regard for the meaning of the word, they often demonstrate their ignorance in twisting its usage.
Socialistic theory encompasses government's choice to control capital. The extremist form of socialism, communism, argues for complete control of capital, eliminating all private property. Republicans follow and support many socialist platforms as a collective group and demonstrate socialistic behavior as government continued to grow at levels disproportionate to the economy. Growth of government = increased control of capital = socialism.
Let me cite some specific examples of socialist support among Republicans:
The military is the largest socialist organization in our nation. The military is not a privately run organization, nor does private capital control any equipment, technology, or weapons. The government own all military capital, and provides all services. It's quite interesting to watch Republicans discuss healthcare in the military with utmost respect, and then lash out at government controlled civilian healthcare. Veteran benefits are socialistic programs, as is all wartime activity. Think we can privatize the military? Get ready to fork out serious payments if you want protection.
Unless you are coughing up the $20k a year for private tutoring, education is a socialist program. Education is run and supported by the state and federal government, which spends roughly $7,000 a year on each enrolled student. Even if you believe private industry can operate the same program at 30% efficiency, it will still cost a family with two kids roughly $10k a year to pay for private education. In a purely capitalistic market you would pay according to the quality of the education, meaning the superior schools will cost substantially higher than average.
Medicare is another program that is entirely socialistic. With 90% of healthcare costs coming the final ten years of an individual's life, our seniors will be left out in the cold, as the payments will be unreasonable to assume. Now to be fair, the Medicare program could be privatized, which would require the 5.8% payroll tax to be saved by the individual year on year. Given the current state of our economy and the choices made by consumers, this will be a difficult challenge for the vast majority of citizens. Hospitals also are funded through governmental spending to drive consistency in quality.
I have often listened to my Republican friends complain about toll roads when traveling out east. I always found this interesting given that private controlled roads would charge per use, mimicking toll roads today. Private roads would follow market demand. If any road had continual traffic jams, the owner of the road would assume they are not charging enough, as the demand outweighs the supply. Public transportation would also be private in a purely capitalistic market, so pricing would also be owned directly by the users and not the government.
Just imagine if our society was purely capitalistic. If your house was burning down, or if someone had broken into your home, better hope you have a credit card on file with the right emergency department or no help will be coming. If your child falls off a ladder, and you have no insurance because you are one of the millions of individuals who lack coverage from your employer, there will be no emergency room visit. If you are convicted of a crime, don't look for the government to appoint a socialist lawyer if you can't afford one. If your district needs help with a specific project, don't ask the government for earmarks. If you have an innovative idea, the government will not protect you through patents.
Republicans like to look at selective measures to demonstrate Democrats are socialists. Here are a couple of facts that demonstrate socialism is not a partisan issue:
- The most money ever paid in earmarks was $56.2 billion in 2004 when Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency.
- The largest governmental subsidy is spent on fossil fuel (oil) with $72.5 billion (2002-2008) allocated through legislation signed by Republican presidents. The 2002 Farm Bill also provided expansive governmental subsidies to farmers across the US.
- In 2003 Republicans passed a $1 trillion dollar government entitlement prescription drug program to support Medicare. Part of the legislation shifted drug price negotiating power from the federal government (largest buyer of drugs) to the insurance companies (who then billed the federal government), creating a fixed pricing windfall for the Pharma industry.
- President Bush was the first president to see the annual budget cross the $2, $3, and $3.5 trillion dollar spending levels.
- Homeland Security was the largest expansion of government since the Department of Defense.
- The EPA was proposed and signed into legislation by Republican President Richard Nixon.
- Defense spending is the largest bill our government pays today, driven by Republican legislation.
- President Bush signed TARP and the first round of auto-bailouts, effectively creating social programs for the wealthy.
The most telling reason Republicans are closet socialists, is the way they vote. The only candidate campaigning on an anti-socialist platform is Ron Paul, and it is no secret how the Republican base feels about him. The other Republican candidates follow the same line of thinking as previous generations before -- lots of tax cut rhetoric, and no discussion of trimming today's socialist programs.