Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen
QCS correspondent 

Careful what you wish for politically


September 30, 2020

President Trump has been calling Democrats “radical socialists” and just last week, he said they might be “Communist.”

Trump knows that words like “socialist” and “Communist” are bad. But I wonder if he knows what these words mean.

There are two common meanings for “socialism.” One is moving toward economic equality among people. The other is state control of goods and services.

The U.S. is a capitalist country, we are taught to believe, so we think free markets should control just about everything in the way of goods and services.

Most economists, however, view the U.S. as mixed — a combination of socialist and capitalist components.

So, what in the U.S. is socialist?

Usually, when people denigrate socialism, they’re thinking of welfare programs like Aids to Families with Dependent Children, which is indeed a socialist idea, and other government programs that give money to people who don’t work for a living.

When Trump uses “socialist” as a pejorative, however, he doesn’t seem to realize that many of his supporters, including Baby Boomers, my generation, are receiving money from the government for not doing anything.

We who receive Social Security like to think it’s not socialist because we earned it. It’s owned and operated by the government, though.

Progressive income tax? It’s designed to take more from the rich than the poor so, yes, it’s probably socialist.

Housing programs that help more people afford their first house? Socialist. More equality.

Interstate highways are socialist, too. The toll roads in Orange County, California, are owned and operated by private business, indicating that is an option for highways.

How about subsidies for farms and ranches and industry, like the “depletion allowances” for oil companies? Yep. Socialist. They put restrictions and government controls on production of goods and services.

Excessive regulation? Socialist. It puts more control of goods and services in government hands. For that matter, non-excessive regulation is also socialist. It is just less of the same.

Public schools at all levels of control are socialistic. They offer some our most valuable services free of charge and even make them compulsory. Education is also, in theory, the great equalizer. Private school is an option, though.

Socialism can be democratic, but not Communism. Bernie Sanders and the democratic socialists in Europe can be voted out of office, and their proposals can be challenged.

Communism is a brand of socialism that puts all control for everything — planning, production, wholesale and retail trade, including food — in the hands of government in the name of “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the working people.

Karl Marx’s followers believe dictatorship is the first step toward statelessness. Trouble is, no Communist nation has ever gotten beyond totalitarian rule.

The U.S. is already more socialistic than many would like to believe, but many also believe the government programs that benefit them directly are not socialistic

I would warn those who use socialism as an epithet and vow to get rid of it to be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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