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Apparently, we’re all socialists now

A funny thing happens whenever you suggest reform and regulation of an industry. You’re instantly labeled a socialist.

My personal experience trying to deal with the current health care system has left me hungry for major change. I looked at the two candidates’ proposals and determined Barack Obama’s makes more sense.

It’s clearly easier to erroneously dismiss it as socialism than to actually engage in discussion about whether it would work.

I’ll admit, I’ve never read Karl Marx, so forgive me if I stick to the traditional definition of socialism. The way I remember it, it has to do with giving ownership and control of commodities, land, capital — basically all commerce — to the people.

The way I hear it these days is all about the evil Hugo Chavez.

But somehow, I never hear that word discussed with the current administration.

Maybe it made financial sense to take over Freddie and Fannie and Bear Stearns, but now it seems the entire strategy in the Bush administration is de facto socialism.

If a Democrat were in the White House, the chattering right would be screaming about the socialist take-over of AIG. Similarly, if a Democrat had been in the White House on Sept. 11, 2001, we’d never hear the end of the government’s failure to capture Osama bin Laden.

Instead we’re told we’re safer because we support torture. And that it’s safer to fight the bad guys in a place that never attacked us, so they can’t attack us.

But this election isn’t about national security. Just as taking over the nation’s largest insurance company isn’t a bail out.

And in case you still think we’re in a “downturn” or a “softening,” look at what’s on the horizon. The vast majority of investments are not regulated. There’s an estimated $5 trillion derivative “market” that no one’s been able to watch.

We’re still sweating the regulated markets.

This is largely what eight years of George Bush economics has meant to the country. This experiment clearly still isn’t working.

If you look back to the “great” conservative leader Ronald Reagan, there was nothing conservative about his economics. Sure he talked a good game, but up went the deficits. Trickle-down doesn’t trickle down. It didn’t after 12 years of Reagan-Bush and it doesn’t after eight years of Bush-Cheney.

It’s not even safe anymore to put your nest egg in a money market account.

It’s patently absurd how the administration, stoked for six years under a Republican-led Congress and its deregulation, has run up our debts and made us more dependent on energy from really scary places.

Then when the house of cards comes crumbling, the government takes over. And what great commodities does the American taxpayer now enjoy?

We’re left with collateral that wouldn’t even be good enough for me to get a mortgage. We’re holding insurance policies. That ought to help pay for the war in Iraq. By the way, the $85 billion takeover of AIG is worth about 190 days in Iraq.

Yet we can’t pay to securitize Social Security. We don’t have any money on the front end to reform the health care system and provide insurance to those who lack it.

The American taxpayer never gets a bailout.

The government is telling Wall Street to take risks — and if things go wrong we’ll take over the liability and you can keep the cash.

Maybe that’s why we took over only some of Bear Stearns and 80 percent of AIG. Imagine if your family invested that way.

There’s no system to bail you out when you go broke.

Conservatives like to freak out about Barack Obama because they say he’s going to raise taxes. The current policy cut taxes below Bill Clinton levels and created massive deficits. During Clinton, we balanced the budget, put more cops on the street and Wall Street did just fine, thanks.

Under Bush we’ve gone into hyperdeficit.

Oh yeah, we all got checks. Mine went to pay down debt.

Too bad the government doesn’t have to operate the way your average household does.

There’s no question tax cuts are unsustainable while we continue the spending in Iraq and keep telling Wall Street it’s OK to be risky, the government will bail you out.

At least Obama understands you can’t continue to spend like crazy if you’re not bringing in the revenue.

Sounds a lot like John McCain will continue all of Bush’s economic policies, including spending us into disaster in Iraq.

Obama drastically cuts back in Iraq, en route to ending the war, and increases taxes on the rich. Sorry, but down here in Middle America, we don’t define rich as someone making less than $5 million.

Obama’s proposal (www.barackobama.com/plan) certainly makes more sense in the current environment, even if it does raise taxes on 5 percent of Americans.

It’s clear the richest haven’t spent enough to lift the other 95 percent — not under Reagan and not under Bush. Don’t think it’ll happen under McCain, either.

If you believe differently, you probably have no problem with the deficits, or with the Chinese buying up Wachovia or WaMu or whatever fails next.

And you probably don’t see the current policy as socialism.

Contact Erin Neff at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at eneff@reviewjournal.com.

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