- Dec 2013
- Beware of watermelons
SCARY, SCARY SOCIALISM
Paul Krugman on how Republicans are dusting off the socialist boogeyman.
New York Times
In 1961, America faced what conservatives considered a mortal threat: calls for a national health insurance program covering senior citizens. In an attempt to avert this awful fate, the American Medical Association launched what it called Operation Coffee Cup, a pioneering attempt at viral marketing.
Here’s how it worked: Doctors’ wives (hey, it was 1961) were asked to invite their friends over and play them a recording in which Ronald Reagan explained that socialized medicine would destroy American freedom. The housewives, in turn, were supposed to write letters to Congress denouncing the menace of Medicare.Those Ronald Reagan recordings, if you haven’t heard them, are kind of amazing—in a sort of Joe McCarthy, holy s#!t way.
Over the course of several years in the late 50s and 60s, Reagan did a kind of extended road show, working on what amounted to a stage act for conservatism. He tried it out at factories, and at civic organizations, and at county fairs. And by the time he was ready to run for governor of California, he had the patter down well enough to make giving someone a dime for cup of coffee sound like high treason. When you think that Republicans today couldn’t go any lower, look up Reagan’s recordings and see where they started.
Obviously the strategy didn’t work; Medicare not only came into existence, but it became so popular that these days Republicans routinely (and falsely) accuse Democrats of planning to cut the program’s funding. But the strategy — claiming that any attempt to strengthen the social safety net or limit inequality will put us on a slippery slope to totalitarianism — endures.And so it was that Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address, briefly turned from his usual warnings about scary brown people to warnings about the threat from socialism.What do Trump’s people, or conservatives in general, mean by “socialism”? The answer is, it depends.Krugman gives a good baseline definition of what Republicans consider socialism now — which isn’t much different from the rant Reagan was selling fifty-some years ago. But don’t worry, by 2020 socialism will encompass breathing. Hey! Did you pay for that air, commie?
Socialism is the state controlling the means of production.
Socialized medicine is compulsory, state controlled healthcare. This is what thinking people dissagree w.