Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obama's "Socialism"

It seems that recently the health care debate has devolved into an one-way screaming match about socialism. I recently saw a picture of a protester, holding a sign that read simply "Socialism Sucks". Of course, the protester is correct. Socialism does suck. Unfortunately, neither he nor 90% of the people in this country know what socialism really means.

No can can accuse me of being a socialist. At least, not with a straight face. I'm an entrepreneur, which could only exist and thrive in a capitalistic economy. I employ workers; I invest my capital; I reap my reward. I am the very evil Marx fought with his pen. Perhaps this gives me a little credibility when I say: Obama is no Socialist.

At the core, Obama is a student of liberalism and perhaps of egalitarianism. We should never forget that this country is founded upon the foundation of egalitarianism. That "All men are created equal". But how equal are the 50 million people without health insurance? How equal are the people who could not marry because of their sexual orientation? How equal are the poor who are left to the mercy of the public education system?

We have deviated from the principles of our founding. This was not the first time, as you may recall from our American history class. America is unique in the world in that we have the best universities in the world, yet produce some of the lowest test scores among our students. We have the best doctors and medical technology in the world, yet have the lowest life expectancy out of developed nations. Why is that?

The answer is simply that wealth concentrated in the hands of a few does not benefit society as a whole. This is not an argument for socialism. Too often we suffer from the fallacy of false dilemma. No, this is an argument for government to do more for those needing the most help. Alas, this help isn't free. Some of that cost must be borne by those who could afford it.

I don't believe that we could pay for universal health care from cost savings alone. I recognize that when it comes to taxes, I'll be in the percentile that will be affected the most. Am I willing to sacrifice a few percent of my wealth if it means we could raise the average well being of this country? Absolutely. But only if this plan has a reasonable chance of working. Otherwise it would be a waste. A waste of my money and everyone's time.

But our debate has been hijacked. We are bitching about socialism and death panels instead of what is really important... the meat and potatoes of reform. The wealthy (or the right, if you prefer) wanting to scuttle the entire process by misleading and fear-mongering the masses. And more dishearteningly, Obama seems to be wavering in the face of this challenge. If he couldn't do this, the rest of us don't stand a chance.

Perhaps this is the time for Obama to take a stand... and the rest of us to have a little faith.

1 comment:

  1. All good points... but lets not allow either side to hijack the debate (or lack thereof). Whole Foods boycott? wtf... cause the CEO wrote a half decent article about ObamaCare!

    None of the solutions that have worked (or worked reasonably well) have been discussed nationally... take SF or MA.... both have achieved near-universal healthcare. The $3-4 we pay at SF restaurants is the best $3-4 I spend.