I am absolutely thrilled about this next step at America’s Right. Almost exactly a year ago, when this Web site was in its infancy, I asked a friend of mine to write a piece on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill authored by Sen. Ted Kennedy and eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. And write he did — the piece was so comprehensive and so well-done that we ran it as a three-part series.
The series was entitled “An Immigrant Looks at Immigration,” because Samuel Fain came here to the United States from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Just as I wanted his perspective as an immigrant on that particular one of John McCain’s three legislative abominations–the other two being the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 written with Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (campaign finance reform) written with Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold–I’ve been looking to him for insight as Barack Obama and the Democrats help America down the slippery slope into socialism.
So much as I’ve asked him to provide targeted perspective along with anything else he sees fit, Sam will have his own little niche here at America’s Right. Tentatively, I’m calling it “Socialism on our Doorstep.” I am absolutely delighted to have Sam back here at America’s Right, and I greatly look forward to more contributions whenever he can fit them into his intensely busy schedule. I get the feeling that, over the next four years under this current regime, his unique perspective will be needed much more than many of us would like. Without further ado . . . Samuel Fain.
By Samuel Fain
As I was sitting at home, getting depressed by the news of our country going down the socialist drain, I tried to cheer myself up by remembering old episodes of my favorite comedy shows. Something from Monty Python, I thought. It was smart (okay, it was smart most of the time), it was British when Britain had still been a worthwhile country and, frankly, it was just funny.
So, in the spirit of Dennis Moore and his lupin redistribution scheme gone sour, I present to you a fun game: “Spot the Commie.”
The rules are simple: I set up the scene from my Soviet past or American present, and you need to guess which country I am talking about at the moment, USSR/Russia, or modern-day U.S.A. Easy, right? Well, let’s begin with the categories, shall we, Alex[ei]?
- Nationalized banks
- Government dictating salaries
- Nationalized health care
- Government using GPS to track everyday citizens
- “Spreading the wealth”
- Leader of a Country warning against too much government intervention in economy
That wasn’t too hard, was it? Let’s see how we did with this little quiz:
Question No. 1: Which country argued fiercely the merits of nationalizing banks?
Answer: Both the United States and the USSR are guilty of this!
Of course, the Soviet Union, being a socialist country, actually went ahead and nationalized the banks with a single State Bank which dealt with all of its citizens. The government set interest rates for savings, for loans, and for pretty much everything else. The government knew how much money you had, and which branches you used. The government decided to whom a loan could be given, and for how much. No surprise, right?
What is surprising–and extremely frustrating and disappointing–is that the United States is moving in the same direction. A year ago, political support for this would have been unthinkable, but the collapse of our financial system, coupled with successful fear-mongering at the highest levels of government from the president down, created a climate when nationalizing banks is now presented as a necessity. Even worse, both congressional Democrats and Republicans alike are advocating for this, most notably with non-conservative Republicans like South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham providing their support for the scheme.
Question No. 2: Which government dictated salaries for citizens?
Answer: Again, both are guilty.
In a socialist country, the government owns all enterprises and, as the sole owner, it controls all aspects of their activities — including, of course, setting wages. In the Soviet Union, everybody across the country had the same pay for the same job. An engineer at a certain level was paid the same amount of money in Moscow and Kiev, Leningrad and Ryazan. Merit did not enter into this, and neither did the needs of a particular company. For instance, a factory could be desperately short of a certain type of workers, but it could not entice candidates with higher wages.
We are not quite at that stage yet, but even with the facially innocuous idea of minimum wages we have been on that road for some time now. Even scarier is a provision in the so-called “stimulus” legislation signed into law a week ago which sets caps on compensation for executives of enterprises that accepted or were forced to accept the bailout money. While, at face value, it seems fair and consequently plays really well to the populist mood of the masses, it ensures that top talent will not be accessible to the very banks and organization which need top talent most, the very banks and organizations we are supposedly trying to save by throwing billions of dollars at them.
Of course, once we start on this road, we will never stop. A matter of hours after the provision was first discovered, a number of congressmen including but not limited to Massachusetts’ own Barney Frank suggested that the government set compensation ceilings for executives regardless of whether the company in question took government bailout money or not. So, already, there are demands that the government set caps on other executive positions, and with its radical roots and socialist leanings, the Obama administration will likely only be happy to oblige.
Question No. 3: Which country nationalized the health care system?
Answer: USSR (so far).
Long lines to doctors, no modern medications, techniques or equipment, no concept of a second opinion, the same pitiful standard of care for all but the elite few . . . such was the reality of the Soviet health system. Of course, if you knew somebody who knew somebody, and you could “thank” those two somebodies with money, food packages or maybe returned favors, then you could get something more than an impersonal, production line style “care.” Better yet, if you were a foreigner or a member of the ruling “servants of the people.” Then, if you were lucky to live in Moscow, you could potentially get an almost-Western quality of healthcare, or at least as close to it as those exclusive, closed-to-the-public clinics could provide.
Otherwise, sorry, you were out of luck.
Fortunately, we are not there yet, but I wonder how far off we truly are. Provisions for money and preparation and more were included in the same so-called “stimulus” package. Sadly, a healthcare system designed by the likes of Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton is just around the corner and, in looking back upon the Soviet system, the result here will be the same.
How could it be any different? Once your doctor is paid a fixed salary by some faceless bureaucrat in Washington regardless of what care–or quality of care–he or she provides, and once you are assigned that doctor by some other bureaucrat based upon where you live, what is that doctor’s incentive to provide better care? When the very government which already broken and inefficient in so many ways is not remotely able to compete with private enterprises in compensation, what kind of doctors will such a national system be left with? And when there is no competition between providers, what will the standard of care be? When “evil pharmaceutical companies” are forced to sell their product at fixed prices and, on the other hand, when they know that their older drugs can continue to be forever sold through the government, what is the incentive of those companies to invest billions in new research?
нуль. That’s “zero,” as in zero incentive for good care, zero incentive for ingenuity, and zero difference between the new American system and the old Soviet one.
Question No. 4: Which government advocated using GPS to track everyday citizens?
Answer: U.S.A., all the way.
No, the Soviets hadn’t done it because they couldn’t, and modern Russians don’t need it.
On the other hand, however, several states in our own country are doing or proposing doing just that, driven by fluxuations in gas prices which dig into state tax revenue. Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, for instance, intends to tax his subjects based on the number of miles they drive, a process facilitated by using GPS to track the movement of vehicles in Massachusetts through a mandatory chip installed at yearly safety inspections. Sounds too big-brotherish and paranoid to be true? Alas, that’s exactly Patrick’s plan, starting in 2014. The same concept is also being considered in a number of other states, including Oregon, though the White House has nixed the idea. Of course, the White House also said that the so-called “stimulus” package was devoid of reckless spending, and we all see how that turned out.
Question No. 5: “Spreading the wealth” is a concept associated with which country?
Answer: Both the United States and the USSR.
The basic tenet of communism is that everything belongs to everyone. No one owns any property, and the “society,” through a government, distributes things to people as they are needed.
Socialism, being an “intermediate stage” on the path to communism, accepts a limited idea of private property on personal items such as clothes, cars and, at times, even dwellings. However, means of production–as well as results of individual labor–belong to “the collective,” meaning it belongs to the government. Then, of course, the government redistributes the generated wealth as it sees fit, generally on the basis of perceived social “fairness.”
We are certainly going along that way. We have many social programs that take money involuntarily paid in taxes by one segment of the population–the “haves”–and give it in the form of possessions, services, or even cash to another segment of the population–”the have-nots”–as “fairness” or “justice” mandates. This is the redistribution of wealth, plain and simple.
Now, you can agree with this practice or you can disagree with it, but let’s be honest with ourselves — it is what it is. Our new president, according to his own well-publicized words, wants to “spread the wealth” even more. The worst thing about it? Such steps are irreversible. There are two reasons for this:
First, redistribution of wealth creates dependence. When somebody gets something for nothing, he or she has no incentive to do something else, to find work or to educate him or herself. That person now depends on the government to provide for him or her. We see this already, again, in the so-called “stimulus” bill. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is prepared to reject some of the federal money because it expands unemployment benefits to people unwilling–not merely unable–to obtain employment. And, of course, after the federal “stimulus” money runs out, the “haves” of that state would be on the hook to support, with higher taxes, the state’s willing “have-nots.”
Second, it becomes political suicide for someone to advocate abolition of any existing “entitlement.” Such politician immediately gets vilified as someone who would take the last piece of bread out of the hand of starving children, elderly or disadvantaged. Again, let’s be honest with ourselves — once these programs are in place, they are in place forever.
Question No. 6: Which nation’s leader warned the world against too much government intervention in the economy?
Answer: That country is Russia!
Amazingly, as covered here at America’s Right this weekend, it was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who recently warned the West against going the Socialist route.
(I was so amazed by this I purposely put nothing up for almost two days, just so as many people as possible could see it. And more than 25,000 people did. — Jeff)
At the very moment when our country strengthens the involvement of government in the economy and ties up private enterprises in the ever-growing web of rules and regulations, the Russian PM and president puts their faith in the markets and shows that his country has learned from the painful mistakes of their Socialist past. Putin warns against the very populist and isolationist knee-jerk reactions we are witnessing right now in Washington. It almost reads Kafkaesque, doesn’t it? Well, it’s a strange world that we now live in.
It was not long ago that the word “socialist” was a dirty word. When nationalizing banks was a taboo that even the radical left wing of the Democratic Party would not publicly advocate. When the notion of the American federal government dictating salaries for employees of private companies sounded absurd. When we were a capitalist country. When America was lecturing Russia on the fallacies of Socialism.
Where did that time go? How did we turn into what we abhorred, and how did it all happen in less than a year?
So, did you spot a Commie?
I did. It is us.
Samuel Fain is a software engineer who left socialism only to find it again, emigrating from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s only to end up in Massachusetts upon arriving in the United States. Sam has since relocated to southern New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state, where he lives with his wife. Sam wrote a few pieces for America’s Right within months of its inception, and began again in February 2009.