How About A Nice Tall Glass Of Socialism?

21 Feb

People like to pretend socialism is like being a werewolf or a leper or something, as if just brushing up against the concept would mean that we’d plunge into some kind of Stalinist nightmare world and never come back.

Of course really, we have lots of socialist programs, and lots of socialist concepts at work here in our perfectly free country – Medicare, Social Security, etc – and yes, we’re still a capitalist society and we’re still a representative democracy. 

Socialism is one end of a political spectrum, and at the other end of the spectrum is fascism, and what we generally agree on in this country is we want to be neither of those things.  We want to be in the middle of them.

And so then a common thing for either political party to do is to note which direction any given program takes us and then declare is to be socialism/fascism, as is appropriate, and then that’s pretty much the end of it.

Bush is a fascist.  Obama is a socialist.  That kind of thing.

In fact, we need to realize that every single thing we do as a nation takes us one direction or the other, and so we’re always taking steps toward or away from fascism, toward or away from socialism.

In other words, if you were screaming “socialism!” at the Health Care Bill, then I hope you were screaming “fascism!” at the Patriot Act.  And yes, vice versa.

Swap out the operative words in that example for a moment, and replace them with “freezing point” and “boiling point.”  That’s another example of a spectrum, a much more easily quantifiable spectrum, too.

Now take a glass of water and place it roughly in the center, say 50 degrees Celsius.  That’s us, politically. 

Now reduce the temperature of that glass of water by three degrees, and you can see that although the temperature of the glass has moved toward the freezing point, it is not, in fact, frozen.  It’s not even close.

So if you staunchly object to frozen liquids, and the House passes a bill which reduces the temperature of the glass of water to 47 degrees Celsius, and you start screaming “That’s ice!  old-fashioned ice!”

Well, you can see how you’d be wrong, yes? 

Now put the words back.  The House passes a bill that moves the country toward socialism, as opposed to moving it toward fascism or refraining from moving it at all.  So if you then scream “That’s socialism!”

Then you can see how you’re wrong again, yes?  Since the exact same logical operation occurred?

Now perhaps your objection is something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t want my country moved toward socialism at all!”

And I mean, this part’s really important – I need you to get three points here:

  1. It doesn’t matter what you want, if more people want something else.  That’s the democracy you selectively value.  In action, yes sir – right there.  Democracy means you don’t always get your way. 
  2. If we never moved toward socialism, then we’d eventually be fascist – unless we didn’t move at all.  Anybody feeling like this is a stable political and ideological place we’re in right now?  Anybody else feeling we ought to stay just like this forever?   Anybody feeling like fascism would be groovy?
  3. We already have some socialist programs, so there’s no need to act like any of this is crazy.  You might want to get rid of them, but again, that’s what elections are for.  The fact that we already have them means it isn’t much of a change.  That’s why I used three degrees in our example, instead of 49.

The reason that I am outlining all of this is that it is incomprehensible to me, how we just extended tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and then shortly afterward said, holy crap we’re so broke we have to go ahead and give those selfish, entitled teachers a pay cut.  Because God knows the wealthy have suffered enough.

Well, they would have, if we hadn’t extended those tax cuts.

It seems to me that when we get to the point that we don’t have much of a middle class anymore, and we’re cutting benefits to our teachers, cops, and firefighters, that’s the point when we need to tap the wealthy and get them to pay up.  Yet so many people act like that’s crazy.

I don’t know how we turned into this sycophantic, wealth-worshiping society, but it’s terrifying and sad.  So many people trot around the feet of the richest in the nation, just absolutely blubbering about how awesome they are and how wrong it would be to tax the shit out of them.

It reminds me of the little cartoon dog that hangs out with the big cartoon dog in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

What are we going to do today, Spike?  We going to chase the cat, Spike?

And then Spike smacks the little dog to the ground, and that only makes him kiss Spike’s ass more.

I really wish that more wealthy people were like Les Wexner, who recently gave $100 million to OSU – but I’m afraid he’s not the rule.  He’s the exception.  No, by and large, when we want to take a chunk of wealth from the wealthy, and redistribute it – well, we have to take it from them.  It’s called “taxation,” not “socialism,” but you can call it whatever you like, as long as we get to it.  Now.

That’s how we do it here in America, that’s how we’ve done it before, that’s what our capitalist system allows for, and yet the people who represent us just told these billionaire CEOs, no, don’t worry it.  We’ll just get it from the teachers – they can stay out of the country clubs from now on, won’t kill ’em.

How do you feel about someone elected to represent the people, who votes in this manner?  Please, if you’re not ready to throw up, then please explain to me how your mind works.  I would be creeped out and fascinated at the same time, like if Jeffrey Dahmer were talking to me. 

I’d like a nice, heaping plateful of Wealth Redistribution, right about now, with a tall glass of socialism to wash it down, if that’s what you want to call it.  On down the road, you can bet that I’ll be looking to paddle on the other side of the boat, so we don’t keep spinning around in a circle.  But right now, all the money is in one place.  I vote we redistribute the hell out of it. 

You of course vote how you please – the next election is frighteningly far away.  All I can say is, please use the time you have until then, to watch what your politicians appear to value.  They’re talking loud and clear about that topic, right now.  And please pay attention to the people in the streets, the teachers, the cops, the firefighters, and whoever else is next.

Pay attention to them, because they’re talking to us, too.  

I wonder, how much it will take for us to listen?


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8 responses to “How About A Nice Tall Glass Of Socialism?

  1. JohnMoonlord

    February 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm


    Thank you.

    Just… thank you!

    Thank you for showing me that there are still people in this world able and willing to THINK on such matters; that understand that good ideas are more important than political alignment; and who don’t press the panic button everytime such ideas come up.

    Nowadays, I avoid reading too much comments on Websites when I see that political convictions are taking over: it just drains me and I lose a little more faith in humanity each time.

    So reading your post has a true rejuvenating effect on yours truly!

    Now I only hope others will follow your heed.

    • Tom Chalfant

      February 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Well I really appreciate the comment, John, the feeling’s mutual. I mean both that I feel drained over the state of political discourse, and relieved to hear that there are others out there who feel the same. So, you’re welcome!

  2. Brian

    February 22, 2011 at 2:24 am


  3. bex

    February 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    excellent post Tom. very sane.

    • Tom Chalfant

      February 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Bex, I’m frequently neither of those things!


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