While pundits and politicians are shrieking that the health care reform bill is socialism, they have it wrong. Or right, if you want to look at it in a mirror. That is to say, the health care reform bill is an inverted form of socialism, as is much of what the government does.
Being something of an expert on social & political philosophy, I can assure you that what I am claiming is true. Of course, perhaps I should be reluctant to claim expertise-after all, what real American believes an expert?
In any case, back to my point. Classic socialism, in it simplest form, is when the state owns and controls the means of production. In more modern terms, the state owns and controls businesses, industry and finance so that there is no private ownership of these economic entities. Yes, you can still own your own toothbrush under socialism-just not the corporation that produces, distributes and sells it.
In the case of the current government, it is not the state that owns and controls the economic entities. Rather, they seem to exert a rather strong control and ownership over the government. This might be dubbed “inverted socialism” (or “business as usual”). On obvious example is the finance sector. While people have cried out that the state has taken over GM, the finance folks are still firmly in control as shown by the fact that we bailed them out, that nothing significant is being done to fix the financial system’s flaws, and the fact that it is still business as usual.
Even the health care reform bill is inverse socialism. Many of the big players in the medical industry (hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and even the insurance companies) got on board and backed the bill. The reason was not, of course, altruism. Rather, these industries stand to make a killing under the new law. Wall Street has shown its view of the matter: health stocks are very healthy. Also, jobs in the medical fields are expected to grow significantly. Even the insurance companies will do well-after all, there is a legal mandate compelling Americans to buy their products.
So, why do the pundits and Republicans continue to scream about socialism? Perhaps they are ignorant of the facts. Maybe they have a different definition for the term. For example, they might thing that “socialism” means “getting the government to pay for things.” If so, they would be right-the government is definitely handing out major money to the “private” sector.
Perhaps they are merely playing a political game. Perhaps they are angry because they are not getting as much sweet lobbying as they would like. In any case, they are quite wrong in their charges of socialism. Unless, of course, they really mean inverted socialism.