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Phil Rizzo: Fear tactics & the socialism monster

Full Speed to Port

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:27 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

News has it that some larger banks may soon be nationalized - saved by the government until the economy picks up. Republicans say, "That's socialism and we can't have that. Soon the government will own everything."

"Socialism" is a boogie-word, screamed loudly to keep us sheeple safely in the fold.

But truth be told, capitalism and socialism court and kiss in modern capitalist democracies every day.

Vested capitalists ring the socialist fire alarm, of course, to protect their vested interests. They preach a doctrine of "pure, untainted capitalism."

America's fascination with "pure" capitalism was born in the lore of our "frontier independent spirit" and was born again in the imagery of Goldwater and Reagan.

Theirs is an innately compelling message. "I'll take care of me and mine and you take care of you and yours." The Wild West.

Survival of the fittest.

This simplicity sounds good until you pull off dogmatic blinders revealing whole classes of underprivileged citizens needing help, lest orderly society fail and crime and homelessness overrun cherished American dreams.

The pure capitalist creed sounds good, until you, yourself, need a hand up, or a grant to get through college, or FEMA response, or a fireman or policeman or doctor to save you when you're in dire straits.

We don't choose whether we're born rich or poor, blessed or less. "Pure" capitalism turns a blind, uncaring eye and says, "So what?"
But Americans, it turns out, are communal and caring. We share and hold much of communities and public services in common.

Many may profess pure capitalism, but few choose to live it. Pure capitalism is a lonely road, full of private gates dividing the exclusive from the excluded. But most Americans don't like gates, and we certainly don't like getting locked outside - of anything.

Pure capitalists sell "trickle-down" theories to manipulate our support. Trickle-down says that if the rich flower, the poor and middle class benefit from their falling petals.

But the petals don't freely fall, and when they do, they're mostly wilted.

Since the Reagan trickle tricked us, our middle class and poor have been made mulch for the flowering rich. Never before in America have so few controlled so much.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor says CEOs now make 300 times more than average workers today. The average CEO makes in one day what a worker makes all year. Twenty-eight years of trickle down - and the rich are richer, the poor poorer and the middle class clings on with two incomes trying to save the mortgage.

Most hope that American capitalism works in such a way to improve the overall well-being of the economy for all.

The socialized policies within our system receive taxes and distribute essential services to raise efficiency and provide services for common advancement and good.

If you had no need for roads, schools, armies, hospitals, colleges, teachers, firemen, police and social security - then pure capitalism might be your choice and golden ticket.

You could keep all your money and blithely drive your armored car across potted dirt roads to walled-off private schools with private guards past begging violent masses sick with untreated infectious disease that could cut your rich, exclusive life short. Not a sound choice.

So now it's 2009 and we're in deep recession and caught up in the crucible of debate between "pure" capitalism and some vague "socialist" threat. We're whipped into manufactured fear of creeping Marxism, but equally fear further ravaging by trickle-down monsters of the right, whose elite have stolen more from us than government would ever blush to tax.

Nationalizing broken banks is the fulcrum of the battle. The capitalist elite want to manage in the same old way.

But the same old way is crashing all around.

They rant, "We ran things successfully for many years and aren't about to let the government tell us what to do."

These private jet-fliers are the reality-deniers and liars who stole your 401k and set you back a decade of saving. They depict our choice as digital; black and white - between the good of pure capitalism vs. the evil of regulated and socialized capitalism.

But if public education and police, fire and hospitals and Social Security and Medicare funded by common taxes are what we like and what we use, then we've been moderate social capitalists all along.

The choice we face isn't which way, but how much. The socialized capitalism you and I grew up with sees Americans working in common, bringing opportunity to all.

Americans lend hands up. We care for one another. We have common bonds and we pay taxes to fund our values into action.

College of the Canyons is a great local example of socialized values put into action.

In this recession, we're suffering the hardest remnant edge of trickle down.

Thank goodness our socialized FDIC insured your savings when those wheeler-dealer poorly regulated banks went down.

Thank goodness pure capitalists didn't succeed in privatizing your Social Security account into the stock market. Imagine the repercussions now.

Still, armies of the hard right line up in the dogmatic war over bank nationalization.

I can safely predict we won't be adding the hammer and sickle to Old Glory any time soon. But the acrimony of the right would have us seeing red instead of seeing clearly for ourselves.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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