Are We Really All Socialists Now? Newsweek Seems to Think So

I missed this Newsweek article, somehow: We Are All Socialists Now:

The interview was nearly over. on the Fox News Channel last Wednesday evening, Sean Hannity was coming to the end of a segment with Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, the chair of the House Republican Conference and a vociferous foe of President Obama’s nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. How, Pence had asked rhetorically, was $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts going to put people back to work in Indiana? How would $20 million for “fish passage barriers” (a provision to pay for the removal of barriers in rivers and streams so that fish could migrate freely) help create jobs? Hannity could not have agreed more. “It is … the European Socialist Act of 2009,” the host said, signing off. “We’re counting on you to stop it. Thank you, congressman.”

There it was, just before the commercial: the S word, a favorite among conservatives since John McCain began using it during the presidential campaign. (Remember Joe the Plumber? Sadly, so do we.) But it seems strangely beside the point. The U.S. government has already—under a conservative Republican administration—effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries. That seems a stronger sign of socialism than $50 million for art. Whether we want to admit it or not—and many, especially Congressman Pence and Hannity, do not—the America of 2009 is moving toward a modern European state.

We remain a center-right nation in many ways—particularly culturally, and our instinct, once the crisis passes, will be to try to revert to a more free-market style of capitalism—but it was, again, under a conservative GOP administration that we enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years: prescription drugs for the elderly. People on the right and the left want government to invest in alternative energies in order to break our addiction to foreign oil. And it is unlikely that even the reddest of states will decline federal money for infrastructural improvements.

If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate. The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.

To the writers, all I can say is, “Speak for yourself.” And as the article says, Americans don’t agree with it either:

Bush brought the Age of Reagan to a close; now Obama has gone further, reversing Bill Clinton’s end of big government. The story, as always, is complicated. Polls show that Americans don’t trust government and still don’t want big government.

But yet:

They do, however, want what government delivers, like health care and national defense and, now, protections from banking and housing failure.

I do fear that’s true, because Americans seem to be truly ignorant of the fundamental ideas that created this country, and that alone can save it. And Americans believe these kinds of things because they continue to follow the guidance of a press that has the same agenda as Obama and for whom the statement “We Are All Socialists Now” is more of a command than a mere description. And also, of course, because the press lies to them about the true nature of things like government-run healthcare systems, and because they’re too intellectually laze, it would seem, to seek out the truth.

I think this sums up what’s most frightening:

The Obama administration is caught in a paradox. It must borrow and spend to fix a crisis created by too much borrowing and spending. Having pumped the economy up with a stimulus, the president will have to cut the growth of entitlement spending by holding down health care and retirement costs and still invest in ways that will produce long-term growth. Obama talks of the need for smart government. To get the balance between America and France right, the new president will need all the smarts he can summon.

What exactly does it mean for Obama to “[hold] down health care and retirement costs,” other than rationing healthcare and, what, euthanasia? No answer’s given, except that Obama will need to be “smart.” Really smart, in fact. Which demonstrates one of the Left’s most cherished beliefs: that they’re simply smarter than the rest of us, and that their inherent intelligence can do for us what we, in our stupidity, cannot do for ourselves.

And, of course, shows them where we’re too stupid and, perhaps, obstinate, to recognize ourselves: that we’re all Socialists now, so, to mix a metaphor, we should just lie there and take it.

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