Socialism vs. Freedom

Top: Romania in 1980 — people waiting in line for bread out of necessity.
Bottom: Romania in 2017 — people waiting in line for Apples out of choice.

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It’s About Control

My father-in-law, born and raised in Communist Romania, always said that everything done by the Communists — while ostensibly for the people — was ultimately about control of the people. Walter Williams shows how the Communists’ ideological brethren here are doing the same:

Some statements and arguments are so asinine that you’d have to be an academic or a leftist to take them seriously. Take the accusation that Republicans and conservatives are conducting a war on women. Does that mean they’re waging war on their daughters, wives, mothers and other female members of their families? If so, do they abide by the Geneva Conventions’ bans on torture, or do they engage in enhanced interrogation and intimidation methods, such as waterboarding, with female family members? You might say that leftists don’t mean actual war. Then why do they say it?

What would you think of a white conservative mayor’s trying to defund charter schools where blacks are succeeding? While most of New York’s black students could not pass a citywide math proficiency exam, there was a charter school where 82 percent of its students passed. New York’s left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, is trying to shut it down, and so far, I’ve heard not one peep from the Big Apple’s civil rights hustlers, including Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel. According to columnist Thomas Sowell, the attack on successful charter schools is happening in other cities, too (http://tinyurl.com/nxulxc).

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated that we must revisit the laws that ban convicted felons from voting. Why? According to a recent study by two professors, Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Morse of Stanford, published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (http://tinyurl.com/pgolu8x), three-fourths of America’s convicted murderers, rapists and thieves are Democrats. Many states restrict felons from voting; however, there’s a movement afoot to eliminate any restriction on their voting. If successful, we might see Democratic candidates campaigning in prisons, seeking the support of some of America’s worst people.

Decades ago, I warned my fellow Americans that the tobacco zealots’ agenda was not about the supposed health hazards of secondhand smoke. It was really about control. The fact that tobacco smoke is unpleasant gained them the support of most Americans. By the way, to reach its secondhand smoke conclusions, the Environmental Protection Agency employed statistical techniques that were grossly dishonest. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to ask a Food and Drug Administration official whether his agency would accept pharmaceutical companies using similar statistical techniques in their drug approval procedures. He just looked at me.

Seeing as Americans are timid and compliant, why not dictate other aspects of our lives — such as the size of soda we may buy, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried in New York? Former U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman John Webster said: “Right now, this anti-obesity campaign is in its infancy. … We want to turn people around and give them assistance in eating nutritious foods.” The city of Calabasas, Calif., adopted an ordinance that bans smoking in virtually all outdoor areas. The stated justification is not the desire to fight against secondhand smoke but the desire to protect children from bad influences — seeing adults smoking. Most Americans don’t know that years ago, if someone tried to stop a person from smoking on a beach or sidewalk or buying a 16-ounce cup of soda or tried to throw away his kid’s homemade lunch, it might have led to a severe beating. On a very famous radio talk show, I suggested to an anti-obesity busybody who was calling for laws to restrict restaurants’ serving sizes that he not be a coward and rely on government. He should just come up, I told him, and take the food he thought I shouldn’t have from my plate.

The late H.L. Mencken’s description of health care professionals in his day is just as appropriate today: “A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don’t want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things.”

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Leftism Unbridled

Ever increasingly “fair” Venezuela displays again the totalitarian nature of Leftism and gives us a window onto what our hope and change leftists would do here if given the chance.

From USA Today:

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro intensified his perceived fight Monday against “bourgeois parasites” he accuses of an economic war against the socialist country by threatening to force more stores to sell their merchandise at cut-rate prices.

National guardsmen, some of whom had assault rifles, were positioned around outlets of an electronics chain that Maduro has ordered to lower prices or face prosecution. Thousands of people lined up at the Daka stores hoping for a bargain after the government forced the companies to charge “fair” prices.

“I want a Sony plasma television for the house,” said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator who waited seven hours outside a Caracas Daka store, similar to Best Buy. “It’s going to be so cheap!”

Five managers of electronic retailers including Daka are being threatened with prosecution for unjustifiable price hikes, the Venezuela government said. More stores may be at risk, as well. Government inspectors were dispatched to check prices at an array of other businesses.

“This is for the good of the nation,” Maduro said, referring to the military’s occupation of Daka. “Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses … Let nothing remain in stock!”

Maduro said his seizures are the “tip of the iceberg” and that other stores would be next if they did not comply with his orders. Maduro is expected to win decree powers in Congress in the coming days that he says will be used to take over more businesses.

More "Fairness" in Venezuela

More “Fairness” in Venezuela

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Obama: Fighting for the European Dream

From James Taranto:

European Lefties: Obama’s One of Us

Der Spiegel quotes at length from an editorial in Die Tageszeitung, a “left-leaning” German newspaper:

What is happening in Washington is nothing less than a culture war. On President Obama’s side are supporters of a national concept, like one known in Europe, namely that the state should take care of a certain amount of social equalizing, and if necessary, intervene with regulations. For his opposition, even Obama’s idea of expanding health insurance coverage equals the birth of communist totalitarianism.

Anyone who raises taxes or increases the debt ceiling, and therefore unleashes the Leviathan of “big government,” is, according to their logic, threatening the highest ideal that the American revolutionaries fought for: freedom. Those who do it will be pursued by these self-named patriots with virtually pathological hatred, even when the infrastructure or social benefits would profit from their undertakings. Illogical? Patriotism is possibly the only thing that many uncertain American citizens have left. The crisis has not only cost them their jobs; it has also threatened their country’s hegemony. And a solution for none of these problems seems apparent.”

We’d say the characterization of Obama’s opposition is somewhat overstated, but the description of Obama’s “national concept” is spot on. Remember when Chris Matthews ludicrously accused Mitt Romney of “racism” for describing Obama’s policies as “European”? These German lefties are describing a truth that their American counterparts are desperate to conceal.

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Socialist-in-Chief

From Jay Nordlinger:

Some people have called Obama a socialist, and that has other people all shaken up — even “all wee-weed up,” as the president himself might say. I have a couple cents to add to this discussion — and whether these cents are sense, I don’t know.

For some years — starting long, long before Obama — I’ve played a little game. It goes like this: “If Politician X were not an American, but a politician in some other country, what party would he belong to? If his views and outlook were exactly as they are now — if it were merely a question of nationality, or venue — what party would he belong to?”

Well, let’s play with Obama: If he were a Frenchman, what party would he belong to? What would be his natural political home? And if Italian? Why, in either case, he’d be with the Socialists, right? I mean, he certainly wouldn’t be a Conservative or a Christian Democrat. What if he were German? SDP, right?

And take the countries whose main socialist party is a Labor party: Britain, Israel, Norway, etc. (Kind of funny to think of Obama as an Israeli, isn’t it?) What party would he belong to? He’d be a Laborite, right? I mean, no doubt.

[…]

“Socialist” is a heavy charge in America, causing the wee to flow. But that’s a little weird. Most of the world’s democrats are socialists, don’t you think? I mean, free-marketeers — genuine free-economy people — are always in the minority. Some portion of the world’s people are democrats — let’s hope it’s a majority, and a big one. And most of those are surely socialist: certainly more than they are Friedmanite (as in Milton) — or Reaganite, or Goldwaterian.

In America, just about everyone on the left — just about everyone who leans toward statism — is in the Democratic party. If your inclinations are socialist, you are probably a Democrat, or vote Democratic. We are a two-party system: with two big ol’ parties. Bella Abzug was a Democrat; Ike Skelton is a Democrat. Kind of a funny system we have.

[…]

I’ve just checked out the website for the Socialist International — slogan, “Progressive Politics for a Fairer World.” Does it make me a total McCarthyite to say that sounds just like our Democrats? A partial McCarthyite? Well, doesn’t it sound like them, exactly?

And check out the names on the Presidium: The president is George Papandreou (of Greece, needless to say). (Nice job there, by the way!) Vice presidents include Bachelet (Chile), Barak (Israel), Brown (Great Britain), and Zapatero (Spain). Are those politicians so different from Obama? From Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, and scads of other Democrats? Really? Of course not. It’s just that, in America, when someone says “socialist,” we all go, “Eek, a mouse.”

Someone was saying the other day that Kerry might become secretary of state, in a second Obama term. As far as I’m concerned, that’d be pretty much exactly like Joschka Fischer becoming foreign minister. Kerry and Fischer: They are cut from the same philosophical, political, and attitudinal cloth, aren’t they?

I believe that President Obama, and his closest allies, would like the United States to be a lot more like European social democracies. Is that such an outlandish statement? I think Obama et al. probably think that Norway is fundamentally more just than the United States. Remember the Socialist International slogan: “Progressive Politics for a Fairer World.” That’s the ticket.

The Norwegians gave Obama their most precious gift, the Nobel Peace Prize. Why do I say “the Norwegians”? Well, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is composed of five men and women who were appointed by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. The committee is therefore a reflection of the country’s political culture. The chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, is a major Laborite, and a former vice president of the Socialist International. Obama is a president after his heart, and the committee’s heart. He is a soulmate of theirs. They share an outlook, a worldview.

[…]

Some years ago, just before he left the Senate, I interviewed Phil Gramm — the old econ prof. And I asked him whether the Democratic party was, in effect, socialist. (This is long before Obama, mind you.) He said it was, “if by ‘socialist’ you mean the redistribution of wealth, more decisions made by the central government — no question about it. My grandmother thought of the Democrats as the party of the people. What they are is the party of government.” Tell it, Phil.

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