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Viva el socialismo! at Three Roads Blog
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Viva el socialismo!

The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent. The latter is what it would be under Obama’s proposal, what it was under President Clinton, and, for that matter, what it will be after 2010 if President Bush’s tax cuts expire on schedule. –Hendrik Hertzberg

The title of this post is meant to be facetious, but the funny thing about the renewed focus (courtesy of the McCain campaign) on the issue of socialism is that the US is much more socialistic than people realize. Every macroeconomics textbook in the country will tell you that the US has what is called a “mixed economy,” an amalgam of private, market-based enterprise (aka capitalism) and public, government-based enterprise (aka socialism).

Here are just a few places where you’ll find socialism at work in the United States:

  • The VA (with its shining example of socialized health care)
  • Public works projects (highways, drinking water, etc.)
  • Your local post office
  • Alaska (taxpayer-paid pork projects, annual rebate checks taken from oil company revenues)
  • Wall Street (bailouts)

Bonus: Here’s Joe (the) Biden vs. a red-baiting TV news anchor from Florida. (Watch) The best part is at 0:54. Notice how Biden moves from surprise to shocked disbelief to disgust.

Added bonus: Here’s an excerpt of a 1908 letter to the editor that decries the socialist policies of … Teddy Roosevelt:

Moreover, most of the [Teddy] Rooseveltian policies - the arid land reclamation schemes, the National forests, the leasing of coal and mineral rights, the renting of grazing lands, the construction of the Panama Canal by direct employment, the development of water powers under public ownership and control - are in strict harmony with Socialist principles…(link)

Teddy Roosevelt is, incidentally, McCain’s favorite ex-President.

Bonus to the added bonus: Ezra Klein explains why red-baiting doesn’t work as well as it did in the past:

There was a time when socialism — and more to the point, communism — was a legitimate thing to fear. It was a living, breathing ideology. It had appeal. What we’re seeing now is that argument divorced from its substantive content. The best McCain can manage is to darkly warn that Obama will “spread the wealth.” To which a struggling electorate says: “Dude! Spread some wealth over here!” McCain has identified a thing to fear, but the failure of his message is that he can’t explain why you should be afraid.

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