Much as I have found when discussing the best role for government during this recession, cries of "socialist" immediately clog the communications channels. I was relieved to find I was not alone in puzzling what this charge meant.
The hot-pink portion of this pie chart is the percentage of listed American business assets that have recently been nationalized by the American government (ie, General Motors). Obama's version of socialism is so sneaky you can hardly see it!
(And there is some reason to think this actually overstates the portion of the corporate landscape that's been nationalized, but more on that at the end of the post.*)
There is a serious discussion to be had here, and I think Jon Henke is having it: Socialism, like farenheit, comes in degrees. Sure, a government that nationalizes GM is "more socialist" than one that does not, even if it doesn't mean we're living "under socialism." But differences of degree shouldn't obscure differences of kind, and as Tim Fernholz says, "it's clear that putting the government in charge of private production is not the Obama administration's guiding philosophy."
If it were, 99.79% of the American corporate assets that existed at the start of the Obama administration would not remain in private hands. The differences of degree are so small that they aren't worth mentioning. And yet, somehow, they keep getting mentioned. [More]
Anyhoo, as I have become convinced, critics who automatically blurt "socialist" to answer any policy question seem to be remarkably deficit when asked for an alternative. Not always, but often.
With apologies to JFK, we're all socialists now. At least in some eyes.
And certainly fans of current farm policy.