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Obama has not been pushing socialism

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You can hardly open the paper these days without another rant from the right about how President Obama is taking us down the road to socialism or communism.

Let’s be clear about what socialism means: “Governmental ownership of the means of production and the distribution of goods” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). I don’t think the giant corporations that control so much of our lives are shaking in their boots about socialism.

What the ranters hate is the welfare state, begun in the Great Depression by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its goal was to see that nobody should lack for the basic human needs.

It has been adopted by every other technologically advanced nation. The right wing of the day accused FDR of socialism as their counterparts are accusing President Obama today.

When Roosevelt came out with the New Deal, a lot of folks were taking a serious look at the Russian Soviet experiment. They believed capitalism had failed (there was 25 percent unemployment).

The New Deal was the antidote. Far from socialism, it was a necessary prop to capitalism. It included Social Security, unemployment insurance and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which created jobs and built things.

These programs helped restart the economy. They did not cure the Great Depression — World War II did that — but they gave a lot of people hope.

In short, they propped up capitalism. President Roosevelt considered himself an enlightened conservative, making enough changes to save the system.

President Obama’s program is simply an extension of that welfare state already in place. Un-American? Take a history course.

Arthur L. Johnson

Potsdam

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