Socialism of the Left and Right

This entry is part 7 of 47 in the series Blog1

Once the Left and Right settle down, communicate and really understand what the other is trying to say then each should understand one anothers’ point of view and concerns. The question that should be asked by the impartial observer is this:  Are the concerns of the danger of each others’ point of view correct or are they just playing politics and seeking power with no concern for the real truth?

Let us first examine the general Republican/conservative/libertarian point of view. Overall, their use of the word is fairly simplistic. They raise concerns over socialism when the State assumes more control over capitalism and free enterprise. They feel that those who are attracted toward big government and more central control will not be satisfied with the next step or the one after but will keep pushing us toward the socialist direction until we arrive at a full fledged tyrannical communist regime.

It matters not whether the next piece of legislation takes us an inch or a mile toward full socialism, many on the Right will be concerned because of the direction the country is going. They feel the end will be a disaster whether we get there in small increments or large ones. Therefore, the only solution is to stop the movement completely and reverse direction.  This is why they support smaller government, fewer regulations and fewer taxes spent on social services.

The Right is not against all services having some form of social nature.  Some, such as fire departments, police, cooperatives, schools, roads, etc., are seen as non-threatening to freedom and not a problem.  Most also accept Social Security as an overall good thing though many advocate changes such as giving citizens more power over their accounts. The majority of them also support Medicare and Medicaid though most would like to do some trimming of the budget. The majority also want some type of safety net for the poor and unemployed.

There are a handful on the Right (mostly libertarians) who want all the federal social programs eliminated but the vast majority of the Right support the above mentioned in some form. Reagan, our most conservative president in memory, actually expanded revenue for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and the vast majority of the Right supported him in this so the programs could be solvent.

On the other hand, George W, Bush created a prescription drug program that many conservatives were strongly against.  The Right indeed draws a line in the sand. Below seems to be the criteria for a social program they will accept:

(1) It has to fulfill an essential need that can be better accomplished by government than without it. For instance, there is a definite need for a Social Security program in some form that can assist our senior citizens and only government can provide it on the scale we have it today.

(2) It has to not pose a major threat to private enterprise or our freedoms.

(3) It has to be something we can afford without instituting major borrowing or tax increases.

(4) It must have majority support of the people.

If these four conditions are met then most on the Right will support the program though many will look closely at the costs.

Is the above how the Left perceives the Right to believe and act?  Not really. Here are some accusations toward the Right from the Left on the subject of socialism.

(1) They are against almost all social programs.

(2) They do not want to help the disadvantaged because they are hardhearted, uncaring and greedy.

(3) They do not care if the poor starve, are unemployed or homeless.

(4) They are more interested in assisting the rich than the poor.

(5) They have illusionary fears of socialism for the Left has no desires to take away anyone’s freedoms through socialism or any other means. The Left supports freedom more than the Right in their view.

(6) The Right worship Jesus yet reject his message of sharing the wealth.

Are these criticisms just? Not really.  Many of the people on the Left do not believe them in full but use such attacks to further their political purposes.  On the other hand, some really do accept such accusations.

The truth is that there are many sincere people on both sides of the political fence and both want prosperity and security for the greatest number.  They just have different views as to how that can be achieved. The Left tends to think that the Right is selfish and heartless because they want to achieve this through free enterprise and personal responsibility. Then the Right thinks the Left is irresponsible and mentally dull for thinking that a forced sharing of the wealth is a good permanent solution and will hurt us in the end.

This tremendous difference in the way they see each other causes both sides to overlook the good in each other and often see each other as devils rather than struggling humans doing the best they can.

To understand the position of the Left toward social programs let us now answer the same question that we posed for the Right which is: What are the criteria necessary for them to accept a social program? It is significantly different than the Right.

(1) Whereas the Right tends to support social programs that fill an essential need the Left goes much further and supports programs that feel good to them. Such programs need not be essential; instead they merely need to be seen as beneficial.

The recent controversy over the Catholic Church supplying birth control is a case in point. All can have birth control for free or for a very reasonable price so it is far from essential that the Catholic Church be required to supply them free for all employees. But because the Left sees birth control as beneficial, they vigorously support forcing the Catholics into to supplying them, even if it goes against their faith.

(2) If a social program sounds benevolent then the Left is generally unconcerned about its effect on private enterprise or personal freedom. They generally think that the concerns of the Right in this direction are not worth taking seriously.

(3) Whereas the Right is concerned about the cost of social programs the Left always seem to be unconcerned as they have faith that they can raise the money through tax increases or borrowing. One thing that gives them solace when a social program is passed is they vastly underestimate the cost. Their focus is on the social program, rarely the cost.

(4) The Left will do all in their power to advance their social ideas whether there is majority support or not.  They feel that they will garner majority support after legislation is passed.

Overall, I would say that the Right perceives the approach of the Left with greater accuracy than the Left the Right. They see how the above four points apply to the Left but the Left seem to resist seeing the previously mentioned four points concerning the Right.

The biggest concern of the Right toward the approach of the Left is there seems to be no end to their social demands.  In other words, as soon as one social program gets passed then another costly one is put forward. There is only a limited amount of public money to spend or taxes that can be collected and the Right feels that the Left does not consider this with reason.

For instance, Social security did seem to fulfill an essential need to enable the elderly to survive. Then it was enhanced so the payments increased.  Later younger people who are disabled were added. Then assistance for the poor of all ages was introduced. Also Medicare and Medicaid was added.  This was not as essential as Social Security but was seen as beneficial. Finally along comes Obamacare, which is not essential but seen as beneficial by supporters.  As of this writing the projected cost has almost doubled from the time it was introduced.

Even if Obamacare is instituted as planned will the Left be happy and think they have achieved their goals?  The Right thinks not. They fear there is always one more costly step.  They think the next step will be to eliminate all private insurance and place all coverage under total government control.  Even after that happens there will be a next step to deal with.

The Right has a point here. The drive of the Left to increase social programs seems to never end and there are only limited resources available to pay for them.

Just like a little salt is good but too much can kill you, even so, must we use judgment in the number of social programs we incorporate.  A certain amount is good for society but too many will suffocate our economy and freedom.

All the truly essential social needs concerning survival have been addressed.  The number here is limited.  On the other hand, the number of services that could be provided that are seen as beneficial are unlimited and have no end. For example, it may be essential to prevent hunger but beyond this there are unlimited benevolent things we can do. We could increase taxes to supply people with clothing, housing, cars, gas, Viagra, birth control, dating services, movies, vacations, ad infinitum.

The Right wants to draw a line based on what is practical but the Left seems to have no line.  There are always more social programs they want to add whether we can afford them or not.

Let us hope we can stay solvent enough so we can keep the social safety nets that are essential and realize that the key to solvency is to use judgment in the social services we embrace.

Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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