Friday, October 17, 2014

The Socialism Canard

Every time Democrats propose having the government provide assistance to those in need or regulate business, the Republicans scream, with their throat veins bulging, “This is Socialism.”  And a large segment of the public, like a hypnotized subject, nods their head and agrees that this is terrible.  It’s only one step away from Communism.  It is against what makes America great.

To listen to the Republicans, one would think that they were against any government spending or action that helps others or in any way interferes with the market place.  That, however, is not the case.

Republicans are very supportive of the billions of dollars that the government spends, either in the form of direct payments or beneficial tax laws, that provide American corporations, especially big business, with government subsidies.  They are also very supportive of government regulation/interference that supports corporations, such as elements of the farm bill.  NOTE: Almost all government farm subsidies go to large corporate farms.  The embattled family farmer benefits hardly at all.

The only difference between the spending and regulation they support and the ones they don’t support is that the former benefit big business while the latter either benefit the average American or protects him by restricting the unfettered ability of big business to act as it wills.

This is hypocrisy.  But the immorality of their stance is even worse. To argue against measures that protect the average American or helps those in need while supporting spending and other measures that help those who are not in need is to take a stand which is immoral.

“Ah,” they say, “but cutting back on such spending or measures will harm American business on which the economy depends and will result in the loss of jobs.”  Any attempts to cut back on these items, or imposing new costs on business, are labeled, “job killers,” by Republicans.

But that is not true.  What is true is that if such subsidies are cut back or new costs imposed, corporate profits will be reduced (unless they raise prices) and thus shareholders will be impacted by lower stock market prices for their shares. 

I am not against corporations making a profit and benefitting their shareholders.  But many of these companies have profits at such high levels that the benefit to the larger society of cutbacks or new regulation/costs far outweighs the reduced profits to industry.  For example, many of our largest, most profitable corporations pay almost no taxes through the loopholes that they enjoy.

The cost to the American taxpayer of these corporate subsidies is unconscionable, especially at a time when the American middle class and the poor are being asked to make sacrifices in order to reduce the government deficit.  It is obscene that our middle class and poor are asked to shoulder the costs of providing subsidies to those who typically already have more money than they know what to do with, other than spend it on more luxury.

The American social contract has traditionally (since the early 20th century) required all aspects of our society to support the greater good, each to its ability.  That concept of fairness and the greater good has been so denigrated over the course of the last few decades by the Republican Party that Republicans in government should hang their heads in shame.

Government and business both have their place in American society and in our economy.  It is past time, however, to correct the balance between the two.