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Outdated ideology drives Vail Valley column

Ted Springer
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

My my, it seems the Daily has had a plethora of right-wing contributors of late, including “Chicken Little” Butch Mazzuca and Jonah Goldberg. The latter seems intent on skewering Barack Obama (on his facility with words).

No doubt Mr. Goldberg preferred the splendid oratory of our previous garble-tongued, foot-in-mouth, cliche-ridden communicator George Bush.

Goldberg’s whine is basically sour grapes. Mazzuca, on the other hand, is worth a bit more discussion because his thoughts represent quite accurately the conservative ideology.



Simply put, the conservatives-Republicans are apoplectic over the fact that they see free-market capitalism restrained by a concerned group of economists, citizens and government employees, including Bush himself and his entourage, who feel that government can be a help at this time in finding the best way out of our plight.

Now, the Obama administration has become the brunt of Mazzuca’s fear-laden thinking as we evolute through an economic depression. Remember, Obama is a free-market capitalist. Believe it. He has professed so, claims it is the best economic system and has helped make the U.S. a great country.

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He is in favor of global trade. He is not, however, an unfettered capitalism devotee. And therein lies the rub. He, along with other thoughtful people and economists, feels there should be some restraint (read realistic regulation) on the runaway capitalism that we experienced in the recent economic crisis.

Mazzuca’s mantra, in spite of evidence to the contrary, remains that the free market will adjust via the profit motive and all will be well. We now know this isn’t so. Even Alan Greenspan, the champion of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman’s market-will-adjust-itself-by-an-unseen-hand theory, has admitted in the face of recent facts on what happened to up-end our economy that he was mistaken in his laissez faire tenets.

In fact, supply-side economics has proven quite inadequate. Over the past decade, the huge tax breaks given to the wealthiest of the wealthy believing they would invest and create jobs did not help the middle and lower classes one whit.



So, as government has taken steps to halt the egregious practices (free market run loose and its practice of bundling toxic mortgages and other mechanisms), the Mazzucas and fellow conservatives have cried foul.

Well, the fact is that the government was practically forced to enter the business-regulating world in order to save our economic fannies. And this was supported, even instigated by, Bush and his Republicans, along with much of business itself.

What is the reaction of Mazzuca? A cry of socialism! Some conservatives go further, eliciting Karl Marx and communism, even fascism!

Should Mazzuca ponder further, he would realize that the U.S. is already part socialist. Are our police forces not socialism? Is the school system not socialism? Are the highway departments not socialism? Are Medicare and Medicaid not socialism? (And how many thinking Republicans are hoping to dismantle Medicare?) More examples abound.

Consider the billions that government subsidizes the oil companies with and the farm community. How about the quasi-government utilities? Amtrak? Few are the industries that the U.S. actually has stepped in to own, but many are the industries that the government works hand in hand with.

The point is that don’t conservatives realize that we are already part socialistic, a combination of socialism and capitalism?

That is what Europe is, and the conservatives love to hate Europe and its social programs. Europe remains a social democracy with free enterprise (capitalism) at its economic base. Have its governments taken over significant numbers of private industries? Of course not.

The cry of socialism is launched by conservatives because Obama has chosen to allow government to help out businesses when they desperately needed it and for the good of the mainstream American public, with the help of taxpayers. They say that is naive and wrongheaded.

Obama has not nationalized the banks, for instance, but set the stage so that in the future, they can rid themselves of the onus of taxpayer help.

To say, “Capitalism wins,” is far too simplistic. Our capitalism has a generous mix of “socialism.”

With President Obama’s limited incursion of government and regulation at a time in our history when these represent clear possibilities to rectify the disastrous results handed us by an unfettered capitalism, one would perhaps own up to the fact that simply saying, “Capitalism wins,” is to ignore reality.

So how about less whining about socialism? It’s miscast and shows out-dated thinking, reflecting a conservative mindset that cries out for revision.

Joe the Plumber rants against socialism. He doesn’t know any better. Mr. Mazzuca, you do. I know from reading past columns of yours that you are thoughtful and assemble facts well, and I respect that.

I just think you are caught in a conservative ideology that needs to come to terms with today’s world.

Ted Springer

Avon


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