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You Can’t Cherry Pick Socialism, That’s the Problem

The Scots have a thing they call the “screeching stone,” where a man who is frustrated goes to let off steam. My father had such a spot about 200 yards behind the house, an outcrop amidst some rhododendrons. My mother, who was as ditzie as Dagwood’s Blondie, drove him there regularly. I’ve been using mine lately, too, but that’s another story.

I say this, for there is nothing more forlorn than a man debating a rock, and thus it has ever been with youth, especially college-aged youth. But I have found that even in my age group there are perpetual adolescents (I count Bill Clinton among them) who believe that socialism can be cherry picked; that you can take this aspect and apply it here, and that aspect and apply it there, and with skill and managerial insight it can be managed. This is not so.

I know many out-and-out communists, and some are friends. They are a kindly sort, overall, rarely mean-spirited or quick to temper. Theirs is a socialism of ideas, a communism of four walls, a den, an office, a classroom. A communism of the intellect. It is a thing they believe, but cannot begin to build or develop, for they know nothing of brick and mortar, in any of the ways you might use the term.

So, socialism isn’t so much a cancer as it requires masonry skills to become real. One must build and operate it…in the end either succumbing to it (the USSR) or melding with it until it metastasizes a generation or so later (western Europe).

The Constitution is at eternal odds with socialism because at the soul of its precepts about human liberty is small government. Even in 1787, with only the British Empire, the East India Company and a few Persian satraps to use as guides, the Founders realized that big government could only go in one direction, under its own inertia, and that was down.

And that was bad.

Even today, in small business, a bureaucracy is a drag on the dynamic of carrying on one’s business affairs, a necessary evil at best, a cyst on the backside of a good idea. There are beneficial or useful bureaucracies, but no such thing as a good one.

Moreover, like all cancers, a bureaucracy at its very nature requires more and more people to be transferred over to its dominion, away from the more dynamic world of private commerce. Bureaucratic work is tedious and boring, but also steady, and most often carried on indoors, where, even in 1787, it was more comfortable than trimming logs, or greasing axles. In other words, bureaucracy was custom-made for some peoples’ temperaments.

Even one little socialist tumor requires sustenance, so there is always some transfer of labor from the private sector to the public sector to feed this beast. This may appear small at first. But in order for the tumor to survive it must also create what appears to be new work, which always begins with public works. Today we say “infrastructure.” Well, there’s plenty of that laying around, for city and state engineers have been asking for help since the first talk of a peace dividend in 1992. And Congress certainly shelled out the dough, only, as we found with the money for levees in New Orleans, and much worse, the 2009 Stimulus, the money never quite found its way to where it was needed.

Multiply these numbers by billions more that have had no Katrina-like-event to expose the bottomless pit and you can see how bureaucracy and political patronage thrives as common-law partners. The original civil union. The state of Virginia has looked for every loop hole it can to raise highways taxes without ever appearing to raise highway taxes, instead of lopping off that 10%-20% of dead weight in their highway front offices (they have more than one tier of highway bureaucracy). That’s how quid pro quo works.

But at some point, infrastructure needs be damned, the bureaucrats will simply take away the bulldozers and graders and pass out trucks filled with gravel, some rakes and shovels. They will never voluntarily reduce the number of cubicles on the 2nd Floor of the state highway department. I’ve watched county road gangs in ten different states, Canada, Russia and east Europe. Swapped snorts of Old Crow at 8 AM with a few. America is by far the best and most efficient, for it usually only requires four workers, two rakes, one shovel, a clipboard and one first cousin of the county supervisor’s wife standing around smoking a cigarette to get that job done. In Canada it takes seven. In the old USSR, twelve.

So, socialism eventually requires that work (the “public service” Michelle Obama urged one audience to choose over the private sector) become menial and trivial.

But socialism also requires its own security. I’ve traveled around the world and was always struck by the fact that the US was the only nation without a national police force. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy…until the FBI took on SWAT teams, and the ATF became an enforcement arm of Bill Clinton’s “keep sport shooting out of the hands of anyone earning less than $100,000” policy in the early 90s.

Again, I’m not talking about the Cheka…yet…but Clinton had a remarkable facsimile going there, and Obama has built on it, with the purpose so far to extort and frighten, not break legs and carry you off to Lyubyanka. Besides, socialists, even the Soviets, never operate outside the law, and there has not yet been any empowering legislation, an American Order No 00447, to authorize it. But we’re getting close.

So tell me again why “spreading the wealth” is a good thing. You either take the full Monty, or you keep your clothes on.

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