Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,
Leave it to the progressives (i.e., liberals or leftists) to point out, indirectly, that conservatives and Republicans are as devoted to socialism as leftists are. The point is well made in an article by Tim Butterworth, a former Democratic Party legislator in New Hampshire.
The title of the article pretty much says it all: “’Socialism’ Made America Great.” That’s, of course, the standard mindset of liberals/progressives/ Democrats. But it’s also the standard mindset of conservatives/Republicans! The difference is that the left admits it, proudly, while the right denies it.
Butterworth uses several examples to buttress his point. The big example he uses is the Interstate Highway System, which, he correctly points out, was one gigantic socialist public-works project — the biggest in the history of the world. He points out that it cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, with 90 percent coming from the federal government and 10 percent coming from the states.
Butterworth, of course, has it wrong about socialism making America great, but at least he has a grip on reality. He understands that the Interstate Highway system was a giant socialist project, and he’s proud of that fact. He is also happy to be called a socialist for supporting it.
Conservatives and Republicans, on the other hand, live their lives denying reality about themselves. They favor the Interstate Highway System as much as progressives and Democrats do, but they have convinced themselves that it actually is part and parcel of America’s “free enterprise” system. Notwithstanding their support of this gigantic socialist project, right-wingers continue to hew to their old 1950s mantra “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.”
The socialism of Social Security
Butterworth also points to Social Security, which he calls “our government insurance.” It too is a socialist program. Hey, they don’t call it Social Security for nothing. It originated among German socialists in the late 1800s and later became a core element in Hitler’s National Socialist system.
Contrary to what Butterworth writes, Social Security is not an “insurance” program. Embodying the Marxian principle of “from each according to his ability to each according to his need,” Social Security plunders and loots young people and gives their money to seniors. Both the left and the right say this reflects how good and caring Americans are. In actuality, it reflects nothing of the sort. Coercion and good and caring are opposite concepts.
Butterworth also points to Medicare, Medicaid, and other forms of what he calls “socialist, government-funded health care.” Once again, he gets it. He has a grip on reality. He understands that all of this is socialism. Conservatives, on the other hand, are just as committed to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other socialist programs as liberals, but they just can’t bring themselves to embrace this reality about themselves. They steadfastly continue to maintain that they are “capitalists” and continue to decry leftists as “socialists.” Conservatives are the classic example of living what can be called “the life of the lie.”
Butterworth also points to another socialist project, one that has long been ardently supported by both conservatives and liberals — the Tennessee Valley Authority, a government-owned and -operated electricity enterprise.
What is unseen about socialism
In exclaiming the virtues of all this socialism, Butterworth makes a classic mistake, one that was pointed out in the 1800s by the French libertarian Frederic Bastiat, who wrote many essays opposing socialism in France. Bastiat observes that while socialists point to a socialist project to show people how beneficial it is, they ignore all the things that would have come into existence if people had been free to spend their money the way they wanted.
Consider those $500 billion that were spent on the Interstate Highway System. All that money was extracted from American taxpayers. They would have spent their money on things that were important to them, such as clothing, housing, transportation, food, education, vacations, or whatever, or they would have saved the money for retirement or something else. Think of all the businesses and all the jobs that failed to come into existence because people were prevented from spending that $500 billion on the things they wanted.
Butterworth also fails to note all of the businesses and people who were financially destroyed because of the Interstate Highway System. Those were the people who were running restaurants, motels, and other businesses that catered to people who were traveling through towns on the state highways that people were using before the Interstate Highway System. They got destroyed the day the Interstate Highway System opened up. Neither leftists nor conservatives cared one iota about their suffering.
Then there were the thousands of people whose neighborhoods were destroyed through the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Even though they were paid off through eminent domain, many of them were never able to recapture the feel of the neighborhood life from which they had been forcibly evicted to make room for the socialist highway system. Neither leftists nor conservatives cared one iota about their suffering.
And look at what the Interstate Highway System did to America’s transportation system. Butterworth himself acknowledges that “rail and mass transit were marginalized.” In fact, the Interstate Highway System totally skewed America’s transportation system in an adverse way. After all, what is it that leftists lament so highly? Isn’t it air pollution? Well, guess what all those cars did that the Interstate Highway System helped bring into existence. They brought pollution, the very thing that the left now laments. Isn’t that what those catalytic converters are for? If it hadn’t been for the Interstate Highway System, America’s transportation system would have developed in a much more balanced way, one that would have involved a balance of trains, automobiles, planes, busses, and other forms of transportation.
Look at what Social Security, Medicare, and other socialist programs have done to the American people. They have created a mindset of hopelessness, dependency, and despair among seniors, most of whom are convinced that not only do they have the right to other people’s money, but also that they would die in the streets if it weren’t for this socialist “safety net.” Gone are the attitudes of can-do, self-reliance, and voluntary charity that characterized our American ancestors, who lived without these socialist programs for more than 100 years. Today, American seniors cannot imagine life without their socialist dole. That’s what socialism does to people. It’s like a narcotic. Once you get on it, you don’t want to get off it.
Socialism–the great destroyer
Look around us. Every single socialist program is in crisis or chaos. Social Security. Health care. Immigration controls. The Federal Reserve. Education. The military-industrial complex. Federal spending and debt. All of them a complete mess. That’s what socialism always produces — crises, chaos, and messes.
Butterworth has it all wrong. Socialism hasn’t made America great. It has destroyed our freedom, our self-reliance, our faith in voluntary charity, and our economic well-being. There is no better time to ditch our socialist system than now, before it makes things even worse than they already are.