Monday, April 12, 2010

"The Road to Serfdom"

One of the best examples of how Glenn Beck and Fox News mangle and distort their facts and why they are so dangerous is in this quote from one of Mr. Beck's recent shows:

"We will resist the total transformation of our country but we will do it peacefully. Yes. People did it under [Woodrow Wilson] and people did that here. Well, not so much because the people who are in [President Obama's] administration hated [Richard Nixon] and they didn't resist peacefully; they were setting bombs off. But we will resist peacefully."

How is giving the private insurance industry 30 million new customers, somehow a total transformation of our country? Where is the socialism? Where is the communism? There is none. The health care bill was really a health insurance bill that imposed much needed regulation on an industry that makes money by denying coverage to as many people as possible. And in the name of free-markets, that industry has made our country less competitive while our citizens have worse health outcomes than nearly every country with socialized medicine.

Beck uses the fear of Communism in exactly the same way Senator McCarthy did -- as a way to implement conformity and control -- and ultimately to incite people to violence, despite his non-violent rhetoric. Here's another quote from Mr. Beck's 4/8/10 show:

"Is it a coincidence that all of the above are or were advisers to the president? By the way, [Van Jones] was an adviser to the president and now he's with George Soros' group. Is it possible that maybe, by pointing out every night that there are radicals, Marxists and communists in the White House, maybe that struck a nerve?"

Sounds like something straight out of a House Committee on Un-American Activities meeting from 1950. Beck and his viewers are the shoeshine boys of the ruling elite and they don't even know it. By reducing every argument to a battle between Libertarianism and Communism, they eliminate the possibility of having a discussion that includes complexity or the reality of our hybrid government that combines democracy with a primarily capitalist, market-based economy and adds in a few social programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. This is hardly a centrally planned economy now that the health insurance reform bill has passed. Mr. Beck, please tell me: where is there a movement by Democrats or any other group to impose a centrally planned economy in the U.S.? Where is there an attempt by the current administration to roll-back constitutional rights?

George Orwell perhaps summarized it best in his critique of Friedrich Hayek's 1944 best-seller, The Road to Serfdom:

"in the negative part of Professor Hayek's thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often — at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough — that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of". Yet he also warned, "[A] return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state."

Hayek believed central planning and state control would inevitably lead to tyranny and totalitarianism, like it had in the Soviet Union. And that is what Beck and the Tea Partiers are worried is going to happen under Obama. Yet, the past 30 years of conservative dominance of U.S. politics and the stripping out of most New Deal financial regulation has led to exactly the kind of tyranny that Orwell warned against. And that was the tyranny against truth, justice and fairness in our governance and in our markets, which reached its pinnacle under the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And it is that tyranny, which Mr. Beck continues and enables through his Tea Party movement.

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