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Arnie Reisman Headshot

Socialist Sticks & Stones

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You ... you ...you, socialist, you! There, I got it off my chest. Funny, it doesn't make me feel any better. Apparently it works for some people who hurl it at President Obama as if it were synonymous with un-American or at least dirty, rotten, bullish, boorish, you-name-it.

Just throw out an epithet and hope it sticks. Even if you're lying, who's going to catch you? The media who doesn't educate? Why would they start now? The guy who is on the receiving end of the epithet? Why believe him?

An epithet becomes a millstone, an albatross, lead boots, designed to sink whomever/whatever it's slapped on. Like calling the estate tax a "death tax". Like saying there's a "death panel" in the new healthcare package.

To those who oppose him, Obama is "The Other." They try to tarnish him without playing the race card. They're too savvy for that. So they try "Kenyan-born," but that doesn't stick. Then they try "Muslim," but that doesn't stick. So they throw "Harvard," "Chicago," "Fist Bumper." What else is left? "Socialist!!!"

What do these people mean by socialist? As I understand it, socialism is a political and economic theory that advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. Also a political theory advocating state ownership of industry, or an economic system based on state ownership of capital.

So where has our executive branch shown any signs of sliding into socialism? I mean besides the continuation of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Oh, wait! What would you call the bailing out of Wall Street? But that was initiated by President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen. But then we had the bailing out of Detroit's automakers. At least that one came under Obama, but such thinking began under Bush.

Nope. The "socialist" label seems to be on the concept of national healthcare. It's one thing helping the financial market and the car industry, but paying for your neighbor's healthcare is making a giant leap toward the abyss. Apparently.

Who are these people yelling "socialist" in a crowded presidency? They are Republicans or Tea Partiers, for whom consistency is not a major concern. They quote Ayn Rand a lot. They say she would not see national healthcare as a right but rather as socialized medicine. They say she believed that an intrusive government is not a beneficial government.

Since you like to cherry-pick your ideas and only hear what you want to hear, let me speak to all you "conservatives" who have jumped on the Ayn Rand-wagon. She was a Russian Jew born Alisa Rosenbaum. She became a devout atheist, rejecting all faith and religion in favor of reason. She rejected altruism in favor of what she called rational and ethical egoism. She favored free-market capitalism and individualism over collectivism. She rejected socialism for a very personal reason: her father's pharmacy was confiscated by Bolsheviks.

She wanted government not only out of your life but out of your body. She was dead set against the pro-life movement. To boot, she was not only pro-choice, but also against the Vietnam War.

Her philosophy was biblical: I am not my brother's keeper. I do not covet my neighbor nor am I responsible for him. You are only responsible for yourself. So Ayn Rand, in my way of thinking, can be summed up in two words: Atlas Shirked.

Some point out that in Marxist theory socialism is a transitional state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism. Danger: Slippery Slope Ahead! Looks like the old slippery slope seen in the argument against same sex marriage: the next thing we'll be allowing people to marry trees!

When it comes to Obama, Tea Partiers sound like extras in The Oxbow Incident. When it comes to politics, they just sound like hypocrites.

As pointed out by a <em>New York Times front page story on February 12, 2012, government critics take advantage of the safety net by accepting subsidies for working families like the earned-income tax credit, using the free breakfast and lunch programs the feds provide for school-age children and using Medicare to take care of their parents.

Yet they do not want someone telling them what to do. So we have been the only civilized country without national healthcare. And we join only Liberia and Myanmar (which refuses to call itself Burma) in refusing to use the metric system. What? We should be labeled "European" -- another word for socialist?

What can you expect from a country of contrarians, a nation of naysayers, a republic of refudiators?