Face it, the US economy is socialist
The real debate is not whether the US economy has socialist attributes, but choosing which form of socialism to employ.
Two things happened to suggest the Republican Party had finally gone over the deep end. One was Republican Congressman Allen West's claim that around 80 Democrats are members of the Communist Party. The other was the GOP's indifference to his claim, as if West were pointing out the obvious. Water is wet, sky is blue, and the Dems are communists.
This inspired two long-time political observers, a liberal and a conservative, to write in the Washington Post that, since the 2008 crisis, many of our most pressing problems can be traced to one place: the radicalisation of the GOP. Both sides are not to blame for partisan gridlock, they wrote, and journalists should stop distorting reality with false equivalency.
I agree: Republicans are the new radicals. I agree, too, that journalistic balance can be problematic when one side is extremist. But I'd go one step further and suggest the importance of perspective outside the presumed rhetorical framework. It would help if journalists actually knew what "socialism" was and could challenge radical Republicans with the fact that "socialism" is already here. The real debate, therefore, isn't about "socialism" but rather the kind of "socialism" we want.
Let's start with "socialism", as understood by libertarians like Allen West, who has views so far to the right he can see no difference between liberals, progressives, Marxists, socialists and communists. These can overlap a lot, of course, but you can't say they are the same. But to West, they are.
"There is a very thin line [between them]. It's about nationalising production, it's about creating and expanding the welfare state. It's about this idea of social and economic justice," he told Reuters, expounding on his earlier remarks.
That's a narrow view of the political left but a typical one for a libertarian. Whenever the government gets involved in a free-market economy, a little bit more individual liberty is lost.
By this standard, the US is a socialist country, because to some degree or another, the government has always got involved in the economy: the railroads, the Homestead Act, the power grid, the interstate highway system, and the internet. These are products of the government creating markets or meeting demand, and then getting out of the way to allow capitalism to work. Most in the US wouldn't call this socialism, however. They would call it good governance. [continue]