Yesterday, speaking on a university campus, Obama said this:
You know, the naysayers said that Social Security would lead to socialism. [Laughter.]
The audience laughed with Obama. Of course, if they were to laugh at all, they should have laughed at him. Of course Social Security has been leading to more and more socialism.
Look in any dictionary for the definition of ‘socialism’. Here, for instance is the definition from Merriam-Webster Online:
any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
Of course, every welfare-state program has led to the next, to more “governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” The acceptance of Social Security led eventually to the acceptance of Medicare. (If we should give money to the old, we should also give health care to them.) The acceptance of Medicare led to Medicaid. (If we help the old poor, we should help the rest of poor.) This led to out-of-control expenditures, which led to more and more government controls on the health-care industry, which has now led to Obamacare.
Indeed, Obama made some of this very argument in his speech yesterday:
So previous generations, those who came before us, made the decision that our seniors [through Medicare] and our poor, through Medicaid, should not be forced to go without health care just because they couldn’t afford it. Today it falls to this generation to decide whether we will make that same promise to hardworking middle-class families and small businesses all across America, and to young Americans like yourselves who are just starting out. [Applause.]
Furthermore, according to Obama himself, Obamacare will lead to a “single-payer” system. For example, Obama said this in 2007:
It is my belief that not just politically but also economically, it’s better for us to start getting a system in place—a universal health care system—signed into law by the end of my first term as president and build off that system to further—to make it more rational—by the way, Canada did not start off immediately with a single-payer system. They had a similar transition step. [See the video here.]
Who will be the “single payer,” the single decider of what to buy and for whom? The government will, of course. If this is not socialism, what is?
Some may say that even a single-payer system is not socialism—that, even in a single-payer system, the government will not own everything in health care. But the government will control everything. Individuals may own some things de jure, but the government will own everything de facto. In fact, control is ownership. The Nazis understood this fact. Former Nazi Hermann Rauschning (1940, pp. 291-293) quotes Hitler as follows:
Let them own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the Party, is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper. … It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community. …
It gives us also a special, secret pleasure to see how the people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities, such as possessions and income and rank and other outworn conceptions. As long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings. [Hermann Rauschning (1940), The Voice Of Destruction, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.]
Whether Hitler actually said these words is secondary, for these words in fact capture the essence of Nazism.
Has America reached full socialism yet? Of course not. We are a mixture of capitalism and socialism. The amount of capitalism keeps decreasing, and the amount of socialism keeps increasing. (The trend will continue unless enough individuals reject altruism and embrace the ethics of rational selfishness; read Ayn Rand.)
Some may say, “Okay, we are socializing healthcare, and education is socialized, and banking and energy and the auto industry are getting more socialized. But these are essential services. We still have capitalism for luxuries such as yachts and fancy vacations.” In short, we should have socialism for anything important, and freedom only when it doesn’t matter much anyway.
I have never heard (until today—see later) Obama offer an actual argument that his policies are not socialist. All I have ever heard him do is mock the charge. Or perhaps he is mocking his own followers, enjoying the extent to which they will follow him with blind unreason. After all, his followers were charmed by such mindless, vacuous slogans as “Hope,” Change,” “Change We Need,” and “Change We Can Believe In.”
In his speech yesterday, Obama continued as follows:
There were cynics that warned that Medicare would lead to a government takeover of our entire health care system …
He offered no argument that his plan is not a takeover of our entire health care system. Again, is Obama just mocking his gullible followers, or thrill-seeking to see how brazen he can be in fooling them?
If his plan is not a takeover of the entire system, why does he call his system “a universal health care system”? And remember, his “ universal health care system” is only a “transition step” toward what he says he really wants: a single-payer system. What part of this system is not being taken over?
Today, in his speech to the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, Obama did give a brief argument that his plan is not a total takeover: he said that you will be able to keep your doctor. But every other American, even if he “couldn’t afford it” before, will be able to have your doctor too. You will have to share your doctor with all these additional people. And what will your doctor be able to “keep”? Certainly he will not keep his freedom, or what freedom he still has left today. The government will be his ‘single payer’. The government will not pay him enough to see only you and those others who can afford him. To be able to afford to stay in practice, he will have to cut the time he spends with you in order to see those who could not afford to see him before. He will not be free to prescribe what he judges is best for you, unless the single payer agrees to pay for that. You can bet that the single payer won’t pay for what is best, because the best is too expensive to provide for everyone.
Let us address one more instance of unreason on the part of the Left. Recall Obama’s statement, quoted above:
So previous generations, those who came before us, made the decision that our seniors [through Medicare] and our poor, through Medicaid, should not be forced to go without health care just because they couldn’t afford it. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, they should not go without health care just because they have not earned it.
To Obama and his audience of university students, professors, and staff, being able to afford things, not being able to afford things—such matters are trifles. Let the rich businessmen worry about that stuff. What’s important is not what people earn, but what they need: to each according to his need. That is socialism.
But there is only so much wealth. There are only so many doctors and medical machines and supplies. There is not enough of these scarce resources to meet everyone’s full needs. There is never an end to need. Everyone ultimately dies of some ailment, of some lack of health care to cure that ailment, whether that lack is a limited supply of a doctor’s time or an existing drug, or the lack of medical research needed to have discovered a cure. If being able to afford things is irrelevant, how then are the scarce medical resources to be allocated among the citizenry? Will the resources be allocated equally, or by age, or by someone’s notion of ‘intelligence’, or genetics, or political leaning, or influence? In any event, we know who will decide: the single payer, the government.
If it no longer matters what each individual can afford, it will matter instead what society can afford, as determined by government.
But let’s not call this “a government takeover of our entire health care system.”
Obama’s tactics are those of tyrants before him: promise prosperity without limit, with the old limits removed, and impose his own limits later.
And if it no longer matters what each individual can afford, what each individual earns, who will bother to work at all?
To Obama’s followers, reality will be a cruel avenger. Reality will not serve up goods without limit or without work. Reality will not yield to laws enacted by governments.
Yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this:
As the bill comes into effect, there will no longer be caps on what you can receive, but there will be caps on what you pay in.
I grow weary, and will leave an analysis of this statement as an exercise for the reader.
Update, 3/24/2010: For much more on how the ideas of National Socialist (Nazi) Germany are taking hold in the United States, see the writings of Ayn Rand. See, for example, “The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus,” published in The Objectivist Newsletter, May and June 1965, and reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, New York: Signet (pb), 1967, pp. 202-220.
See also this book: Peikoff, Leonard (1982), The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America. New York: Stein and Day. This book cites and analyzes many writings (including the book by Rauschning quoted above) of Nazis and their philosophical progenitors.