Politicalmonkey2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Is Obama a Socialist?

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on August 28, 2010

Is Obama A Socialist?

Right up there with Obama is a Muslim, and Obama is not a US citizen, is the claim that Obama is a socialist.  Is he?

According to Fox News on July 13, 55% of Americans think President Obama is a socialist.

First we should define socialism, this seems to be as elusive as anything.   There are a few things we can generalize about..but most socialists believe workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own or control them.  M-W defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”  Ok.  I can accept that as a definition.

According to Billy  Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA he says  Obama isn’t a socialist. He’s not even a liberal.  “We didn’t see a great victory with the election of Barack Obama,” Wharton says, ” and we certainly didn’t see our agenda move from the streets to the White House.”

But does America already have what one could term “socialistic values”?    According to  an associate professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.  Van Gosse – the answer is yes.  Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits — all reflect socialistic values.  The professor maintains things like Pell Grants for college students are socialistic in origin, “they fit well with the socialistic premise that government should provide basic security from the cradle to the grave to all of its citizens.  We assert that education should not be left up to the private market — where those who can pay, get it and those who can’t, don’t get it. It’s a common good and in that sense it is a socialistic institution even if the U.S. remains a capitalist nation.”

I just can’t view a Pell grant, giving people a means for further education as an evil thing.   The re-organization of student lending in late March, as part of the health-care overhaul, Congress voted to force out commercial lenders. The government was guaranteeing loans made by private companies who turned a profit on the loans.  Call me crazy, but if I am guaranteeing the loan, and taking all the risk, why should I give all the profit to somebody who is just acting as a middle man?  There is something called risk and reward in capitalism.  Yes, if I were a bank I would be upset as I put nothing at risk and simply collect money,  absolutely nothing at risk, that is one hell of a deal.  The “reward” or profit should in fact go to the one who takes on the risk.   On a more serious note, education  is one of the biggest challenges facing the US.  By the year 2030 India is predicted to have the world’s most educated people.   As of 2009, according to a UN report, Georgia, not the state in the US, but the country of Georgia holds the highest literacy rate, the US for the record is #21.  So if providing a means for people to educate themselves is socialism, I am all for it.

What about Obamacare?  Is that socialism?  According to Wharton, the answer is a resounding NO!  They wanted a national “single-payer” health insurance plan with a government option, and that didn’t happen.  Wharton goes even further to say  the new health care bill only strengthens private health insurance companies. They get 32 million new customers and no incentive to change — something a socialist wouldn’t accept.   “Most of it was authored by the health care industry, I call it the corporate restructuring of health care.”

Ok, but what about Newt Gingrich’s favorite attack, the take over of GM?   The government according to GM did not exert pressure to close the 1,100 shuttered dealerships, says spokeswoman Noreen Pratscher. “The government has taken a very hands-off approach.”

According to the Economist, Aug. 19, 2010..

An apology is due to Barack Obama: his takeover of GM could have gone horribly wrong, but it has not

GM is ready to raise cash with a new stock offering.   Had the government not stepped in, GM might have restructured under normal bankruptcy procedures, without putting public money at risk. Many observers think this unlikely, however. Given the panic that gripped private purse-strings last year, it is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended.  While we are not out of the woods with GM, we are certainly in a better position than anticipated.

Newt also likes to harp on the AIG takeover…US government still owns almost 80 percent of AIG, which has received at least $182 billion in government assistance.  In his book, Gingrich implies that government officials stormed into AIG’s headquarters and took over the company. “They have taken over AIG, America’s largest insurer,” he writes.

The actual “takeover” of AIG occurred under President Bush in 2008, right after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.  The takeover of an ailing company whose collapse might ruin the US economy is not socialism, says Van Gosse. “Let’s just say AIG was profitable, and you thought it was better if it was in public hands. That would be socialistic.”  AIG was not profitable.

The “talking point” that I often hear that absolutely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pres.  Obama is a socialist is he said “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money”.  Did he say that yes…he did, but hear the entire quote..”We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.”  Read in context it is a whole other animal.

So who is a socialist?

Frank Llewellyn, the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, says he was struck by one player in the 2008 presidential elections who displayed more socialistic leanings than Obama.  This candidate raised taxes on the big oil companies, and sent the revenue to the people.  If you want to learn something about spreading the wealth, Llewellyn says, don’t look to Obama.  “To be honest, the most socialist candidate in the 2008 election was Sarah Palin.”

Let me close with a quote from the Economist:

Socialists don’t privatise

That does not mean, however, that bail-outs are always or often justified. Straightforward bankruptcy is usually the most efficient way to allow floundering firms to restructure or fail. The state should step in only when a firm’s collapse poses a systemic risk. Propping up the financial system in 2008 clearly qualified. Saving GM was a harder call, but, with the benefit of hindsight, the right one. The lesson for governments is that for a bail-out to work, it must be brutal and temporary. The lesson for American voters is that their president, for all his flaws, has no desire to own the commanding heights of industry. A gambler, yes. An interventionist, yes. A socialist, no.

Sources:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0701/Is-Obama-a-socialist-What-does-the-evidence-say

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/04/14/Obama.socialist/index.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704293604575342852339887616.html

http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/government/official-obama-socialist/

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/services/education/India-will-have-worlds-most-educated-people-by-2030-Sibal/articleshow/5701491.cms

http://www.economist.com/node/16846494

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One Response to “Is Obama a Socialist?”

  1. Jonathan townes said

    you know that socialism and the soviets were different because socialism and communism are very different I actually support it

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