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Est. April 5, 2002
September 06, 2018 - Issue 754

Right-Wing Pundit Says
"Spoiled Children"
Drawn to Socialism


"The younger generation has seen what the
'free market' has done to their parents within
the general structure of capitalism and they
don't like what they see and the 'free market'
has passed its “benefits” to them.

It will probably be news to Cal Thomas, the longtime syndicated right-wing pundit who has been around for decades to know that the “spoiled children” of affluent America who are drawn to socialism are a bit smarter than his generation of lovers of predatory capitalism.

In an attempt at humor, Thomas opened up his column earlier this summer with: “For the current generation, it appears one thing is more seductive than sex — and that's socialism.” Then he goes on to say that socialism, the concept of shared wealth (in his view), is nothing more than “handing out free stuff to just about everyone.”

As has been the case for so many on the right, Thomas has been an apologist for everything that so-called “conservatives” in government or those who are even further out on the right of the political spectrum. Generally, he has been the town crier for more corporate control, in that those who agree with him seem to believe that government should just get out of the way and let the “free market” do its thing and everything will be alright. The free market has had its way with the American people and the picture is not pretty, especially in the age of Donald Trump in the White House.

The younger generation has seen what the “free market” has done to their parents within the general structure of capitalism and they don't like what they see and the “free market” has passed its “benefits” to them. Aside from the usual generational complaints about younger folks that Thomas apparently feels about them in his dotage, he truly is not likely ever to see the forest for the trees.

Let's go through some of the things young people see in their nation and society: staggering student debt, which they've been told they must bear if they are ever going to be gainfully employed; a health care crisis that, under capitalism, amounts to “if you can pay, you get health care;” a sizable percentage of Americans go to bed hungry every night and even more are “food insecure;” there is a homeless crisis, rooted in a lack of a coherent federal housing program, with no program in sight; there is an environmental crisis, rooted in the free fall of regulations that protect humans and the earth, especially rampant in this current administration's “exploit everything for profit” philosophy of governing; and, for those who are paying attention, perpetual war has been the goal of recent administrations, but has been ramped up by the erratic ruminations in foreign policy of Trump, whose means of communicating with the nation and much of the world is by his ungrammatical tweets, which also seem endless.

So much for a few things that young Americans see as the result of capitalism run wild. The general chaos of the Trump Administration is enough to give seasoned politicians and political junkies the scare of their lives. No one knows where berserk administration policy will go next, and, if this government runs true to form, it could end up in more war or wars. They know, the young people do, that when a war is started by their government, it won't be Trump or his children or family and it won't be the children of the rich and powerful, it will be them, struggling to pay off insurmountable student loans on a private's pay. That kind of life is not going to work for them. And, don't try to tell them about the great free market that, left alone, will even out the rough spots and make things more equal. They're tired of that myth. They know that the 1 percent and their minions in the next-lower 9 percent (their buffer from the masses) have saved most of the nation's wealth for themselves.

As for Cal Thomas' charge that young people just want “free stuff,” for the last 40 years, he should have been paying closer attention to where the “free stuff” goes. It may be that he doesn't understand socialism or really very much about capitalism. The “free stuff “has gone largely to the top in the modern manifestation of capitalism, to corporations (who are now people), and to the very rich. That is not likely to change in the near future, because Trump is in the White House to make sure that the money and wealth keep flowing toward the top of the economic scale.

This condition has been described as “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest.” That includes 90 percent of the American people. Young men and women are aware of this and are not taken in by the pronouncements of right-wing politicians, pundits, and economists. If they are not fully aware that the gap between the few rich and the rest resembles the gap that existed just before the Great Depression of 1929, they can sense that the rapacious capitalism of today is taking us down the same road as that fateful time. They're not buying the idea that capitalism is the ticket to a fulfilling life, in which there is some equity and equality and justice. That's why they are leaning toward socialism.

From the established order, there are ominous warnings that socialism would lead us to some dark world, in which all of the trappings of democracy and economic largesse would disappear and the U.S. would be in the same straits as, say, Venezuela. But, these critics don't mention European countries that have either a socialist system in general, or a combination of socialism and capitalism, in which the worst elements of rapacious capitalism are mitigated. For example, there are few countries in which CEOs are paid 300 or 400 times what their company's workers earn, as it occurs in the U.S. In that gap in income and wealth lies the eventual breakdown of a society and, eventually, a nation. Again, socialism for the rich...

The juvenile belligerence of President Trump in what passes as foreign policy in his White House is nothing new. Rather, it is a continuation of policies that transfer wealth from the people to the wealthy and Corporate America, through continual war. Where there is no enemy, U.S. administrations will create one. This is not lost on young people and some can connect massive war and “defense” spending with their inability to rent or buy housing and, worse, inability to find work that will allow them to pay off $30,000 to $70,000 or more in student loans. It's loan sharking on a national scale (see Trump University for starters). They are making connections that were not seen or were ignored by previous generations.

Thomas is, like so many of his contemporaries, of an older generation, and may not have thought this through and can not fairly compare socialism to capitalism. He has been steeped in the propaganda (including his education) that capitalism is vital to the existence of democracy. That's not true, but he is not capable of changing his mind, that is, opening it.

A current example of the frenzy of criticism of any political candidate who mentions socialism is a recent segment on the Fox “News” business show, anchored by Trish Regan, the business reader. Here's what she said, according to “In a segment hashtagged #TrishIntel, Regan takes Denmark to task for providing free education and using taxes to provide its citizens with affordable programs. From here Regan blabbers about the high taxes in Denmark and how 'everyone is working for the government.' Also, there’s a '180 percent tax' on cars that you buy!...Most importantly, according to Regan, because no one has to work, nobody wants to work.”

In a display of ignorance, she compared the situation of socialist Venezuela with that of Denmark, which has a form of socialism, ignoring that Venezuala's problems stem largely from depending on one exportable commodity, oil, and the broad set of issues that stem from that.

In a nutshell, Denmark's Finance Minister, Kristian Jensen, pointed out just a few facts to Regan, again according to Daily Kos: “So Danes don’t wants to work? 11 places better than U.S. in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with 36 member contries) statistics! We are working much more than Americans and at the same time ranking as the worlds best in Work-Life-Balance. You should come to Denmark if you dare be confronted with facts...”

Such is the constant drumbeat of U.S. rulers, that socialism is bad, capitalism is good. What the young people of the nation see in front of them is the collapse of a nation that has forgotten the working people who, ultimately, pay the bills. They see that the nation is structured so that power and money rise to the top of the wealth-income scale and that the bulk of the people are on the road to penury and the young people find themselves at the head of the line toward that pathetic end. Simply, they see that capitalism has not worked for them and they are willing to try something else. It makes sense to them. They are more tolerant in many ways than their parents' and grandparents' generations and are not easily fooled by those generations' telling them that what they see with their own eyes is not real.

No one is suggesting that the top-heavy economic and political systems that exist in the U.S. will be changed overnight, or that it would be easy to do so, without some cataclysmic event to spur the change. Rather, the right-wing elements and fringe elements are viewing even the discussion of the value of socialism or some combination of socialism and capitalism with unhinged fright. Even gradual acceptance of some changes toward socialism is a deadly threat to such people and that's why we're seeing the ramped-up hysteria against “socialism,” a prospect as frightening as the red scare of the 1950s, when communism was the enemy needed to push capitalism to its predatory state.

Cal Thomas is one of those oldtime fear-mongers and it should surprise no one. He comes by it honestly, having been associated with Fox News in recent years and, in slightly less hysterical moments, he was a columnist for USA Today and other publications. But, he also served as vice president of the Moral Majority from 1980-1985, whose politics could only be described as right-wing (if religious groups ever should be as deeply involved in politics as that organization).

Politically and intellectually active American young people who are still able to think for themselves largely do not agree with either Thomas or the Moral Majority. Thomas' libel against the young that they just want “free stuff” is a lie that he (and others of his ilk, right on up to the White House) uses to cover up the free ride, tax breaks, and outright gifts to Corporate America and the rich 1 percent, at their expense. They're willing to try socialism. In the immortal words of the current president, “What have you got to lose?” Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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