John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly

Sarah Palin is a selective socialist, and so is President George W. Bush, after a fashion.

Palin, of course, would bridle at such a suggestion, and would undoubtedly consider hopping in her helicopter and hunting down anyone who said as much.

But the plain fact is that she is the governor of a state that owns the oil and gas resources buried in Alaska’s dirt, and pays her constituents a share of the income from the income derived from that income.

And now, thanks to the unbridled excesses of the U.S. market economy, this country is dabbling in a sort of hybrid socialism in a desperate bid to keep that economy afloat. This is most evident in the form of “bailouts” that unfortunately are so far engineered to only benefit the upper tiers of our society, the bankers, brokers, corporate chiefs and the like.

All of this tumult is to the good, to my mind, despite the frenzy, pain and dislocation being experienced by the main body of U.S. citizens.

I have long believed that socialism is a better approach to certain aspects of a nation’s economy, as socialism is dedicated to the proposition that all citizens of a given country are entitled to a fair share of that country’s prosperity and benefits. It is the labor of the citizens that makes the country run, and it is the fruits of that labor that we are all entitled to.

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The “capitalist” philosophy, of course, is dedicated to the idea that a lucky few of that citizenry, thanks to luck, hard-nosed greed and piratical business practices, should be able to accumulate an unwarranted share of the nation’s wealth for themselves.

In this scheme, as so eloquently described by the late President Ronald Reagan, the wealth should be allowed to “trickle down” to the masses in a flow that keeps the rest of us minimally housed and fed.

But more importantly, capitalism banks on the hope among the many that we, too, could somehow elevate ourselves to the status of the lucky few. And that hope is fed by an entire industry devoted to cowing us into submission, an industry generically referred to as Madison Avenue but which also should be acknowledged to cover the entertainment business, meaning the movies, television and other informational outlets that keep us distracted just enough so that we fail to recognize and act on our true interests.

This system has worked very well for the 1 percent of our population that rake in 20 percent of U.S. wealth, while the rest of us struggle, grow increasingly frustrated and take out our frustration on other segments of society that, like us, do not truly share in the American pie. This leads directly to ethnic, social and racial strife that, again, keeps us distracted from what should be our true goal ” remaking the U.S. socio-economic system in a way that gives everybody their fair share.

We already have examples of socialized operations to look toward for a solution to our current financial and social malaise. Medicare, AMTRAK and the state-owned petroleum resources in Alaska come instantly to mind, but there also is the vast federal support system that buoys up, for further examples, the defense and automobile industries.

We should act now, when the weaknesses of the capitalist system are so glaringly apparent, to change things for the betterment of us all.

Barack Obama’s election to the highest office in the land is based on a yearning for these kinds of changes. We all know it, even those of us who will refuse to admit it publicly.

Make no mistake about it ” we don’t want to become another Soviet Union, a Cuba or a Red China. And anyone who claims that such is our goal is merely trying to distract us again.

A mixed capitalist-socialist state is what we have been all along, but with an unacceptable leaning toward oligarchy and plutocracy. What that tells me is that it shouldn’t take much to wrench control away from the super-rich and put it in the hands of the broad mass of working people who make this country what it is.

We are, after all, still a democracy. We’ve proved it can be made to work as it should, with Obama’s election. We’re just got to push a little harder to get where we know we should be.

jcolson@aspentimes.com

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