Opinion Columns & Blogs

American-style socialism - what are we afraid of?

“If it wasn’t for capitalism, you wouldn’t be driving this car, hypocrite.” This was a note left on a Chevy Volt sporting a Bernie Sanders and “Democracy, End Corporate Rule” bumper stickers in the parking lot at Vons.

I thought this comment was just too precious to ignore, considering the fact that if wasn’t for the 2009 “socialist” bailout of General Motors there would not have been a 2013 Chevy Volt.

In light of this, shouldn’t the note have read “If it wasn’t for socialism, you wouldn’t be driving this car?”

This is emblematic of America’s confusion and misplaced vilification of socialism. For more than 70 years, politicians have successfully used this tool to their advantage. Then, as today, they convince the American people that socialism will destroy America and capitalism makes America great.

They say socialism kills jobs. It will end prosperity. It destroys economic growth. Groucho Marx said, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” Apparently many Americans believe conservative rhetoric instead of their own eyes. But first, we must open our eyes.

When we do, what do we see? The stock market crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression. Republican President Herbert Hoover adopted standard conservative policies of letting the economy work itself out (laissez-faire capitalism) and people should fend for themselves and pick themselves up by their bootstraps. That made things worse.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, considered by many as socialist programs, gave Americans relief and jump-started an economic recovery.

In 2000, the dot.com bubble burst. Gas and electricity rates skyrocketed. The market crashed. People lost jobs. In 2008, we had a collapse in housing, financial markets imploded, the stock market crashed, and people lost their homes, life savings and jobs resulting in the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

There have been at least 10 more of these events dating back to 1837. Was socialism responsible for these economic catastrophes? No.

In every case it was unfettered capitalist excesses. In fact, every time capitalist greed broke America, socialism saved her.

We’re not talking Soviet-style socialism. We are talking about American-style socialism. What are we afraid of? It’s not like you haven’t seen American-style socialism at work. History has shown us.

Besides having pulled us out of capitalist-driven collapses, American-style socialism protects Americans, hence, the bumper sticker “Democracy, End Corporate Rule.”

In 1996, seven tobacco CEOs outright lied to Congress that tobacco doesn’t cause cancer and is not addictive. Taxpayers paid dearly for smoking-related deaths and illnesses and millions died (six million a year).

Exxon-Mobil’s internal memos revealed that they knew as far back as the 70’s that global warming is human-caused, yet they campaigned on its denial.

The 2006 Medicare Part D prescription drug law written by the pharmaceutical industry allowed pharmaceutical companies to gouge patients on their prescriptions. The law prevented the government from negotiating for lower drug prices which is why prescriptions in America cost five times more than Canada.

In 2006, the government spent $59 billion on traditional social welfare programs but spent $92 billion on corporate welfare in the form of subsidies (socialism for capitalists).

This is what happens when corporations rule our government. Bernie Sanders, a socialist democrat, seeks to end this. No one is suggesting ending capitalism, just ending how corporate rule abuses it.

A very conservative Bakersfield city council member says solar tax credits spurred local economic development, added $15 billion to the U.S. economy, and employed 54,000 Californians. “Losing these tax credits would cost jobs” said council member Bob Smith. This is a perfect example of socialist subsidies spurring capitalist growth and prosperity?

The Republican Congress wants to end solar tax credits. Why, when it does exactly what they say they want, grow the economy and create jobs.

Isn’t it apparent by now that both responsible capitalism and American-style socialism is what makes America great – not one or the other?