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Letter to the Editor: On the subject of socialism

Mr. Buettner makes an accurate point in his letter [May 15] focusing on political terminology regarding socialism. But he misses the big picture.

Yes, there’s always been some socialism in our economic system but that doesn’t make the expansion of government desirable. The Founding Fathers were reluctant to go much beyond roads, postal service and defense. That changed in the 20th century. Since the days of Woodrow Wilson lawmakers have wanted to lead us down a path toward collectivism.

In my view, collectivism better describes “democratic socialism.” It’s the opposite of individualism. 

The authors of the Constitution revered the unique person. Our ageless document was intended to emphasize his rights and her rights. The rights of groups, ethnicities and classes, while important, were not as indelibly underscored.

One cannot deny the inescapable correlation between the expansion of government and the reduction of personal liberties. Mushrooming laws restrict the individual’s freedoms.

Some laws, of course, are desirable. We’re grateful traffic lights stop other cars when we motor through an intersection. But the trend in America, and throughout the world, is toward increased centralized power and that means repressive laws that control almost everything we do.

Socialism invariably turns into communism and that, as we know, means slavery.

So it’s in our interest to limit government as best we can. Some may feel a democratic socialist republic isn’t a very scary thing. Human nature being what it is, we are usually grateful for governmental largess. But we must understand it comes at a price. It’s not free – whether it’s health care or a college education. Someone pays for it.

Eager recipients may say that’s fine – as long as it’s someone else. But that’s shortsighted and selfish. Sooner or later the bill comes due. How much debt will burden your grandchildren?

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher summed it up decades ago. “Socialism cannot last in the long run,” she said. “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

Which way should we lean today? We can shrug and say, “Hey, we’re all socialists now. Get used to it.”

We can pursue the dream of many millennials and ask government to give us what we need when we want it. That’s the route from dependency to slavery.

Or we can strive for limited government and trust capitalism, which has rewarded us with the highest standard of living in the world. We can rely on our individual talents and dreams and take full responsibility for our lives and the acquisition of material things.

We need to be concerned about the direction we’re taking. Unlike what the letter writer suggested, our schools should teach the merits of free markets, self-initiative and private endeavors. 

I beg to differ, sir. Socialism is indeed a four-letter word.

Norman Baxter

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