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A MATTER OF OPINION: Instead, use the word Communism

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By Robin Bass

Words are very powerful tools used by people to motivate or manipulate others. For months now, the word socialism has been used liberally (pun intended) to describe the actions of Barack Obama during his first 100-plus days as president of our country.

During his relatively brief time in the Oval Office, President Obama has managed to partially nationalize privately-owned financial institutions, mortgage lending companies and several American car manufacturers. The way in which he accomplished this is quite simple: with money – billions of dollars were given to companies, but with each gift came just as many strings. Reports are now that some of these companies want to give the money back. They see how much influence the government wants in their business affairs and have realized the cost of taking all that cash is too much to stomach. Unfortunately, their corporate souls have already been sold and the President is not prepared to give them back.

Methods used by Obama have been described by conservative pundits as radical, liberal, anti-American and even dishonest, but the most popular word to date has been socialism. Perhaps Newsweek should get the credit for introducing the word “socialism” to the everyday American’s vocabulary. It was this news magazine that made the bold proclamation “We are all Socialists now” on the cover of their February 16 issue. But are we? And is that really how we should be defining what Obama seems to be accomplishing?

The definition of socialism according to the Encyclopedia Britannica is “a form of government where the public controls property and natural resources rather than through private ownership.” In other words, since individuals do not work or live in isolation, contributing citizens are entitled to a share of everything produced. Webster’s Dictionary describes socialism as “a system where the producers possess political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.”

This definition sounds a lot like what is going on with Chrysler/GM. Last week, the United Auto Workers union was given 55 percent ownership of the company’s stock in a deal engineered by the Obama administration. According to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, the plan is to sell the stock since it provides them no real power in the board room – only one seat on the nine-member board. While that may be true, owning 55 percent of a company has a tremendous amount of power when you’re talking about selling stock. What if rather than Fiat, the UAW found a potential buyer in Ford or some major Japanese car manufacturer. It’s unlikely that kind of automotive muscle would have the same impact on the future of Chrysler/GM products as a minor league Italian car company.

Even with so much of the private sector bowing to the President’s agenda, Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate have moved to yet another conquest and have set their sights on health insurance providers.  Health insurance companies can see the potential of government-run health insurance driving the cost of premiums down and they are already talking about making concessions, such as no longer denying individuals considered as a bad investment.

Before the end of his first year, Obama has stated he wants health care reform that will “assure high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” This goal can not be accomplished without dictating the level of  services provided by the majority of the country’s doctors, hospitals, insurance providers and drug manufacturers. This also can not be done without setting a national standard of how much these services will cost. That means that regardless of a (government-approved) doctor’s talent, knowledge or reputation, there would have to be an even pay scale.

If you were a highly-qualified heart surgeon, would you subject your talent to a government-rated pay scale? Or would you seek out more wealthier clients that could afford, and appreciate, your level of expertise? Likely, many talented health care professionals would seek the better salaries and that would leave the mediocre to adequate doctors for the rest of the population.

Somehow the word socialism no longer seems adequate.

Instead, consider this definition (Webster’s Dictionary) for the word “communism”: a system of government in which the state controls the means of production and a single, usually authoritarian, party holds power with the intention of establishing a social order in which all goods are shared equally.

Hmmm. So, communism is the government controling what private companies produce, whether that product is low interest rate mortgages or low-cost health care, so that everyone can have an equal piece of the pie.

Encyclopedia Britannica describes communism as a higher form of socialism that aims to replace a profit-based economy with communal control. Try replacing the word “communal” with “government” and read that one again. Doesn’t that sound like what’s going on?

Somehow the profit-based economy on which America was based has been transformed into something evil that deserves to be crushed. Yes, capitalism manifests greed in some, but it also serves as a fertile ground were the seeds of entreprenualism can be planted and grow for the betterment of the whole country. Imagine an America without the likes of:

• Henry Ford, inventor of the assembly line by which cars were made for the masses.

• Ray Kroc, inventor of McDonald’s and the concept of fast food.

• Sergey Brin and Larry Page, inventors of Google.

• P. T. Barnum, who invented modern advertising while promoting his “Greatest Show on Earth.”

• Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, creators of Apple Computers.

• Sam Walton, builder of the world’s largest discount retailer.

• W. K. Kellogg, the inventor of dry cereal that forever changed the way Americans eat breakfast.

And these a just a few of the hundreds of American entreprenuers that have shaped our lives and who continue to shape our future. How can you explain the tremendous growth and blesses bestowed on the United States if it wasn’t for the ability to take one’s idea and through hard work and preserverance, make a profitable living.

The American Dream is not based in everyone getting their fair share. That doctrine only leads to laziness and dependancy. The American Dream is grounded in toiling for one’s success and being able to enjoy the rewards without being made to feel guilty. And that, my friend, is what capitalism is all about.