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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Slaves to Socialism

Socialism deadens the human spirit, literally making slaves of its subjects.

———
Nina L. Khrushcheva is the great-granddaughter of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  Her op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Vova the Dread, describes the by now instinctively servile reactions of Russians after seventy-five years of socialist collectivism:

“After the freedoms of perestroika and the anarchy of post-socialism, it turns out that without control from above, we don’t like our poor, dishonest selves. [Putin’s] new autocracy has discovered it doesn’t need a mausoleum to protect itself from the people: The fear of freedom makes us good volunteers, wanting a ruler who provides a sense of orderly life.”

Her testimony reinforces the same point made in Social(ist) Security: the purpose of socialistic collectivism is to replace individual initiative and political liberty with the steely embrace of Big Brother.  It describes the dominant preference among Americans today, after seventy-two years of socialist collectivism here.

Every socialist regime, beginning with the French Revolution in 1789 and continuing through President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, to the present cultural, judicial, and educational hegemony of American liberal-socialists, is, or tends to be, autocratic.  Sometimes the fist of steel is cushioned in a velvet glove, but collectivized compulsion is always there to some degree.  The welfare state is not an option; you must pay taxes and participate in it. 

Once they have surrendered to the welfare state, people discover, as did George Orwell’s “1984” protagonist, they “love Big Brother.”  After several generations of socialist collectivism, almost no one understands why our colonial forebears fought for independence in 1776.  All knowledge of, and desire for, political liberty have vanished from public consciousness.  People living for generations under liberal-socialism are like long-term convicts completing their sentences and emerging, after twenty or thirty years, into an unregimented world, unable to find employment or provide for themselves.  Their souls have shriveled, they know little of virtue, and they seek solace in hedonism.

President Roosevelt didn’t describe it so bluntly. In his State of the Union address to Congress in January, 1944, he spoke instead of replacing our original Bill of Rights with what he termed a Second Bill of Rights.  That Second Bill of Rights was the government’s guarantee of Security.  The adventurous self-reliance of the founding decades was no longer appropriate, he declared.  Under liberal-socialism the people had a right to expect the government to provide jobs, housing, education, clothing, and medical care, all at public expense. 

Keynesian economics championed by the New Deal taught that people needed to stop saving and start spending.  Harvard economist Alvin Hansen, one of the main American advocates of Keynes, declared that private business had fully matured and would never again be capable of fully employing American workers.  Only government, he said, could fill the gap.  It would be necessary to tax the rich and employ everyone else in Federal jobs, without regard to whether those jobs produced goods and services that the general public would buy of its own free will.  As Keynes put it, how the government spends its money is of no consequence.  Men could be hired to dig holes one day, fill them the next day, re-dig them the day after, then re-fill them on the fourth day, ad infinitum.  The only important thing was to put money into circulation and get people buying things.  Inflation was to be the engine driving the economy.

It is hardly surprising then that government employment never slows down, taking an ever larger percentage of total employment.  It is hardly surprising, given the indifference to whether government spending produces useful goods, that our educational system spending continually outpaces other economic indicators, that the ranks of administrators grow unchecked, while the educational performance of students continues to decline.

The Keynesian hole-digging approach is exactly what liberals advocate to the present day.  A perfect example is Boston’s Big Dig in Teddy Kennedy’s backyard.  The Big Dig is a mostly-underground highway running through downtown Boston.  It began thirty six years ago, in 1969.  Construction dragged along, decade after decade, plagued with design mistakes and poor workmanship that cost reportedly more than $11 billion, roughly $1.4 billion for each of its 7.8 miles.  Granted that we are talking about an underground highway and bridges and tunnels for the Charles River, but that’s still a magnificent piece of political patronage delivered by Senator Kennedy.  Think of how many jobs politicians have been able to dole out, for a whole generation.  Nursing heavily on the government teat, Massachusetts’s citizens are one of the most socialistic single population groups in the United States.

Against the Big Dig standard, you can see why Senator Kennedy is so impatient with President Bush, demanding instant success and an immediate exit from Iraq. Three years is entirely too long a time to overthrow dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq, fight terrorists, rebuild an infrastructure neglected for thirty years by Saddam Hussein, and create self-government in an area that, for all of recorded history, has never before had it.

And, by the way, there’s more Big Dig taxing and spending to come.  Testifying to the efficiency and competence of liberal-socialism, the Boston Globe reported on March 4, 2005:

“Water leaks in the Big Dig have damaged fireproofing material in at least 40 areas along the tunnel’s ceiling, according to Big Dig officials, who launched a survey of the roadway after a chunk of the material fell onto the Interstate 93 breakdown lane during Monday evening’s commute.”

Reducing taxes and other measures to make business more profitable and to encourage more production of useful goods and creation of more jobs is denounced by liberal-socialists as “tax breaks for the rich,” or “a big wet kiss for Wall Street.”  Liberals’ relentless push for nationalizing the health care system and imposing price controls on pharmaceutical companies, as well as their fierce refusal to acknowledge impending bankruptcy of the Social Security system, are simply continuing efforts to implement President Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.  Judicial activism that “discovers” formerly unknown “Constitutional rights” is cut from the same cloth.

One thing Keynes did get right:  some people in every generation, without realizing it, are the captives of outmoded ideas propounded by dead thinkers.  The liberal-socialists haven’t had an new idea since 1937.  They are still using a playbook in which private business is bad and dead, individuals can’t provide for themselves, and only government can create jobs.