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December 11, 2008

You say ‘socialist’?

As a liberal I am offended by the snide misuse of the word “socialist” by Republicans. Socialism does not equate with theft, anarchy, or evil. Despite what Sarah Palin has said, there are socialist countries that function quite nicely and are occupied by contented and productive citizens.

Since Republicans are determined to use the term “socialist” with little regard for truth, it’s time that the Democrats found a term they could shout out equally irresponsibly whenever a conservative begins barking “socialist.” I believe I have exactly the right word.

There is a term for people who are zealously nationalistic and anti-intellectual and who falsely believe they are persecuted in their own land. They insist that they must rescue their country from moral decadence. They believe critics of the state can be denied basic human rights and that government and business should be flip sides of the same coin.

These same people are rabidly anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-liberal and anti-gay. They believe government is incapable of error in wartime. They mistrust non Christians and immigrants, despise labor unions and, when not in power, claim to love their country but hate their government.

The term that best describes these folks is “fascist.”

Will FitzPatrick
Kansas City



Will - Correct. Capitalism has periods where excesses are rationalized. That's one of the natural checks and balances on power in capitalism. In such periods, power shifts from abusers to more responsible parties, if we let it.

However forcing everyone to underwrite abusers stifles the power shifting process. When we let the people who got us here keep their power, let's not be surprised when they get us here again.


Pub 17 & Will,

I'd rather live where folks like Buffett and Gates earn their so-called "power" by producing products others find valuable enough to purchase voluntarily, instead one where people take power by force and use it to make everyone serve their agendas.

Besides, did you miss this part?

"...backed by a checked and balanced government of the people with the purpose enforcing human and property rights and contracts." This is important. Mexico doesn't have this and its holding them back.

Who has the absolute power of a Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini in our society? Not Buffett or Gates. Why? Because of the previous excerpt. No, I can't afford Buffett's lawyers, but that's a far cry from having the power to send me to gulag or kill me for disagreeing with his stance on the death tax.

As much as both these gentlemen improved the quality of my life, I disagree with their desire to impose their beliefs on others. If wealth is earned fair and square, I support the freedom of the earner to decide what to do with it, even if I disagree with the decision.

Will FitzPatrick

Wild fluctuations in the economy which is always a possible consequence of unregulated markets is bad for capitalism. An economic downturn that results in high unemployment eventually contributes to political unrest and more government control, socialism if you will. Greed has never been a virtue but it is has been tolerable when tempered by rational outside controls.
Teddy Roosevelt, hardly a liberal, was the guy who first went after the monopolies, suggested universal health care, and the so called death tax. He was trying to keep socilaist and communists from getting a toehold in this country by taking away issues. He considered the death tax an important way to keep wealth and political power from being concentrated in families. Warren Buffet aguy who should have an interest in the death tax has no problem with it. He refers to it as "dynastic wealth."
Interestingly while a lot of you folks are bent about socialsim hardly anybody seems to care if America becomes fascist.

Pub 17

Capitalism GUARANTEES concentrations of power. As an individual's wealth increases he gains access to ever more effective tools to gain more wealth and to preserve the wealth he already has. You can't afford Warren Buffett's lawyers, financial advisors, access to large-denomination Treasuries, or tax advisors. And he's in a highly competitive business; he at least faces competition from other large-scale traders. Bill Gates doesn't even have competitors at his scale of operations. Note that these two are fully aware of all this, and thus oppose repeal of the "death" tax; both have publicly expressed their dislike of the anti-competitive nature of huge blocks of inherited wealth.


Will - I'm a conservative and I don't equate socialism with theft, anarchy or evil. I don't like socialism for two reasons.

First, it can lead to concentrations of power and concentrated power can lead to evils.

Second, it doesn't produce as much broad based prosperity as capitalism backed by a checked and balanced government of the people with the purpose enforcing human and property rights and contracts.

Prisons are filled with content and productive folks, but that's not a good argument for imprisoning everyone.


Pub - Thanks for providing the same link I found with Google. But, I don't put much faith in sites with disclaimers such as:

"The exact number is slippery and hard to quantify, given the myriad of programs that can be broadly characterized as subsidies when it comes to fossil fuels."

6th down the list - "Sales tax breaks - taxes on petroleum products are lower than average sales tax rates for other goods"

By my estimate, gas prices would need to rise to $4.50/gal BEFORE tax to have a rate on par with sales taxes on other goods. The current gax tax rate of 36 cpg in MO is about 25% - 30% of the bill. Besides comparing a use tax like gas tax to sales tax is grasping.

A few more down the list - "Construction and protection of the nation's highway system" Yes, let's stop building highways.

Pub, I hope your paying clients get better stuff that. I'm sorry that I asked you to substantiate your position with facts. That was asking a bit too much.

Will FitzPatrick

Apologies for previous and current typos. Instant response is new to me.

A govermment of hyperbole and dogamtism is poor way to run a country of over 300 million people. When faced with a crisis a government needs to act promptly, pragamatically and effectively.

A polarized two party legsislature that engages primarily in name calling and fear mongering is either a dangerously stupid or paralyzed legislature.

My point, Michael, which I failed to make in my letter, is that its makes as much sense for a conservative to call a Democrat a "socialist" as it does for a a liberal to call a Republican a "fascist."


But if politics continues down this unseemly road I'm sure liberals and conservatives will be calling each other much worse.

Pub 17

For a start,

I get $85 an hour against an eight-hour retainer for research, Sammy.


Pub 17 - Please specify the oil subsidies that you write about. I'd like to learn more.

Pub 17

Incidentally, I await your speech to the Farm Bureau telling them why trade with Castro is such a stupid idea.

Pub 17

Since the oil and gas industry has been heavily dependent on government handouts since Day One, the hypocrisy of anyone connected with Big or Little Oil espousing a bunch of libertarian crap is as obnoxious as a bunch of spoiled little private-school trust-fund babies taking time out from their busy days to complain about cruelty to animals, always, it seems, in front of some really expensive fur store and not out at a feed lot.

You don't like government handouts, don't talk with your mouth full.

Mussolini was a fascist. Castro is a Marxist. STFW? Are you old enough to remember our boy Batista?


So what where Mussolini and Castro? Where they Fascist, Commies or Socialists?
Most Democrats like Castro, right? What Cuba had is exactly what PUB17 wants.


Will I agree about BOTH sides being ridiculoud. No balance and no moderation.
One side wants Bible this and Bible that while stealing you blind, tell you what you can and can not listen to or watch on televsiion or read, also and the other side wants government this and government that, dependency, excuse making, etnitlement, OPM, everyone except for those that mandate to live at a minimal standard, buy union or else face getting concrete shoes or having your personal property vandalized, acquiring a job based 100% on the color of your skin or gender and the list goes on for both sides. I am onoly happy I am neither and do not endorse either.


So Mr. Fitzpatrick, it's ok for you to call conservatives Fascists, but it's not ok for them to call you and liberals Socialists (or Communists if you prefer)?

Sounds kind of two faced to me.


Really Pub, apparently you fail to understand how manu UNION skilled trades work in conjunction with the oil, gas, chemical and power sector. So you are admitting they too are 1000% government fed.
You are very much incorrect. There are subsidies in many industries, just like there are sibsidies for deadbeats that do not want to work and prioritize their home budgets. This infrastructure plan Mr. O is claiming innovation of (although we already do infrastructure work) is 100% funded by governemnt, so what's the difference. Maybe you should Google "refineries", "cat cracker" "hydrocracker" "steam header" "turbine maintenance" "boilermaker" "wind farm erection". You're a dolt.

Will FitzPatrick

I never said socialism is good for America or should be the American system of government. I hoped to imply calling America's liberals is ridiculous, that socialism is not in and of itself evil and that there are indeed countries that consider themselves socialst where the majority of citizens are content and productive.

I also a provided a equally ridiculous term for for coservatives, although the definion of fascist almost perfectly describes the extreme right wing of the rapidly disintigrating Republican party.

Irony and sarcasm are exercsies in futility with the narrow minded, the dogamtic, and the willfully ignorant.

Pub 17

Why don't YOU pack up and go somewhere ruled by oil with real gun rights and no income tax, where women know their place and liberals disappear in the night from their beds?



"And since socialism didn't exist in 1776, it would be pretty damn difficult to have founded the U.S. on socialist principles, wouldn't it?"

Do you honestly think that the founders of our country, fiercely independent men who recognized the dangers of centralized power (to the point of heavily guarding states rights) would choose a socialistic system, in which A CENTRAL GOVERNMENT controls the means of production?

BTW - Socialism as a term didn't exist in 1776 because prior to the industrial revolution, the means of production were largely farms in an agriculturally-base economy.

Pub 17

Why is it that the most fervent libertarians are getting paychecks from the oil patch, which is 1000% dependent on government handouts, government preferential treatment, government tax breaks, and having a President in its pocket for its profits?


The government giveth and the government taketh away.

Suer, socialism is great for mediocrity, just ask anyone that lived in the former Soviet Union how great it was.

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