Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Socialist Sunday

My wife is 9 months pregnant with our first child, so we've been taking it pretty slow with our last few weekends.

On Saturday we were busy running errands, but I had Sunday off too, thanks to the labor movement, the folks who brought us the weekend. So on Sunday, the taxpayer-funded National Weather Service told us the weather was going to be nice, so we decided to hit the road. We took off on public highways built and maintained with Department of Transportation funding, buckled into seat belts which come standard now on all cars (Thanks Ralph Nader!). I should mention we were driving a car we bought during the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program, which helped us trade in our gas guzzling SUV for a fuel-efficient coupe, more than doubling our gas mileage. Our navigation was aided by a constellation of satellites developed, launched, and operated by the US Air Force.

We arrived at our destination in mid-afternoon: a large wilderness area owned and operated by the federal government with the help of local volunteers. It's the most beautiful scenery for miles around, and it hasn't been bought up and filled with McMansions like the land surrounding it. Everyone is welcome to enjoy it. This National Park was dedicated in 1936 by a president who would be called a socialist by mainstream commentators today, who said that every American had a right to a decent job with a living wage. Its roads, campgrounds, and picnic areas were built by newly employed young men in the government's Civilian Conservation Corps, supervised by the US Army, in one of the country's greatest public works projects ever. It was an era when a lot of people needed work and a lot of work needed to be done, so the government put two and two together and made it happen.

We headed over to one of the picnic areas to grill steaks, which we were confident were safe to eat, thanks to regulations enforced by the US Department of Agriculture. As it got dark, the clearing we were in was filled with thousands of fireflies, which are still around thanks to the EPA's enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

Now I'm back at home, on the Internet that was developed with Department of Defense money and research.

I guess what got me thinking about how "socialist" the whole day had been was our conversation during our walk on one of the trails. We talked a little about the debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and the Republicans. Despite all the spending cuts offered by Obama, including Social Security cuts which Republicans themselves had not even suggested, Republicans will agree to no deal that includes raising any taxes. Never mind that the wealthy are currently enjoying the lowest tax rates in 80 years. Never mind that corporate profits are soaring while unemployment remains above 9%.

To today's Republicans, all taxes are bad and government can do nothing right. Laissez-faire has become a religion. Greed is good. If you're rich, it's because you earned it. If you're poor, it's because you're lazy. All that is holy in the world is the product of competition within "free markets." They say, "Privatize everything," which is code for, "All power to the big corporations." Anything that gets in the way, anything that puts the interests of people before the interests of corporate power, is called socialism.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take out the trash before the Department of Public Works trucks come by to pick it up.