Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No, we're NOT on the Road to Communism

The Smirking Chimp carried this commentary by Mary Shaw recently:

I was talking with an old friend recently, a self-described "conservative, but not a Republican". Eventually, of course, politics and current events found their way into the conversation. This included the economic crisis and government bailouts. And my friend shared his two cents' worth on the subject.

"It's not just the banks," my friend explained. "The Democrats think all businesses are evil, and they'll try to take them all over."

That assertion is, of course, ridiculous. The Democrats do not think all business are evil. And the Democrats don't want the government to take over all businesses. We just see this current recession as an example of the problems that can result from unregulated business run amok.

You wouldn't want a toddler to run free around the house without rules -- for his own protection and to protect the house and its other residents. Likewise, we don't want to allow businesses to pursue their self-centered agendas without some protections in place in the form of rules and accountability.

But there is a big difference between setting some rules and adopting the whole child.

And, while we have had to "adopt" some financial institutions that are allegedly "too big to fail", that doesn't mean that the government is going to take control of all businesses. Such a thing would likely never happen in this democratic republic. That rumor is the result of a ridiculous stretch of the imagination. Such is the power of the right wing's newest fright word: Socialism (which they wrongly equate with Communism).

It reminds me of the time my editor at the Philadelphia Daily News showed me a letter that he had received in response to one of my columns a few years ago. My column had called for some corporate accountability, so the letter accused me of hating capitalism. In response, I informed my editor that this was not the case, and that I would therefore still expect to receive payment for my columns.

These are two examples of the kinds of wild-eyed stereotyping and disinformation that can fire up the right-wing base and embolden right-wing lawmakers to stand in the way of any real social or economic progress.

And, as long as progressive Democrats still hold less than the 60 Senate seats needed to avert a filibuster, those on the right will continue to use every trick possible to undermine any attempt to bring about an economy that benefits the workers and the middle class, not just big business.


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