John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Are you a closet Socialist?

Amid all the cries of “Socialism!” as the Congress has grappled with the problems of reshaping the nation’s health care system, I thought that it would be helpful to get a clearer idea of what the nation is up against. This would be particularly useful in identifying what used to be called “creeping socialism,” the insidious practices catching the citizenry unaware.

Accordingly, I took a look at the Socialist Party platform for 1912, the year Woodrow Wilson, nominated in sweaty Baltimore, defeated William Howard Taft. Amid a lot of boilerplate about workers and collective ownership, there were these platform planks:

[S]ecuring for every worker a rest period of not less than a day and a half in each week.

[F]orbidding the employment of children under sixteen years of age.

[A]bolishing official charity and substituting a non-contributary system of old age pensions, a general system of insurance by the State of all its members against unemployment and invalidism and a system of compulsory insurance by employers of their workers, without cost to the latter, against industrial diseases, accidents and death.

The adoption of a graduated income tax and the extension of inheritance taxes, graduated in proportion to the value of the estate and to nearness of kin-the proceeds of these taxes to be employed in the socialization of industry.

Unrestricted and equal suffrage for men and women.

The adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall and of proportional representation, nationally as well as locally.

The granting of the right of suffrage in the District of Columbia with representation in Congress and a democratic form of municipal government for purely local affairs.

The enactment of further measures for general education and particularly for vocational education in useful pursuits. The Bureau of Education to be made a department.


Citizens, be alert!

13 comments:

  1. At least that nutso idea about granting me representation along with my taxation never came to pass.

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  2. No, now the motto in Washington (at least with respect to the U.N.) is representation without taxation.

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  3. John -- I scanned this post in vain for what I assumed would be the punchline -- this cx from Wednesday:

    r n BC-NY--BrookeAstor 3rdLd-Writethru 09-23 0403

    NYC jury asks for nurses’ notes in Astor trial

    Eds: CORRECTS graf 3 to ’socialite’ sted ’socialist.’.

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  4. I thought McIntyre's entire post was a punchline. We're taken almost all of the horrible actions that the dreaded socialists called for, and the nation would be a far less liveable place if we hadn't. With democratic socialism, the most important decisions are made by people we elect. With capitalism, those decisions are made by the people with the most money and influence. Often in the U.S. we unfortunately combine the worst of socialism with the worst of capitalism, as government power succors the powerful and stacks the economic deck against us lackeys. But I just got a new kitty (it's on my lap), so life's OK. I got it at one of those public-supported -- yes socialist -- shelters. Also, my stomach is full, thanks to Social Security, another socialist program. And we have a writer in the White House.

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  5. "1912, the year Woodrow Wilson, nominated in sweaty Baltimore, defeated William Howard Taft."

    My father, a Baltmore native who was then 15, served as a page boy at the 1912 Democratic convention. Usually he was tight-lipped about his earlier years, but on one occasion he offered his recollections of that event. The strongest impression he retained was the liberality of the delegates with cash, many if not most of them having imbibed copiously beforehand and continuing to do so as the night wore on. Some tipped him as much as a dollar!

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  6. Ah yes - The Bureau of Education must be made a department. For which blessings/many thanks. Odd there's no mention of an Education Czar. Although given the Bolshies in Russia,perhaps that accounts for the lapse.

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  7. The right wingers have managed to demonize the word "socialism" but the fact is; socialism is good. It's for 99% of the people. And it's really even good for that top 1% of people in the long run, because wouldn't they rather be rich in a rich society than in a disgusting run down society?

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  8. Great post. I've saved it and am going to haul it out the next time one of my whackaloon teabagger neighbors starts screaming "Socialism" at me.

    (Odd that none of them find collecting unemployment or worker's comp, or sending their kids to the county health dept's low-cost clinic to be at all socialist).

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  9. What writer is now in the White House? Julian Barnes, Martin Amis? The shade of Robertson Davies?

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  10. To answer Patrcia the Terse's question of what writer is in the White House, Obama. His first book is a terrific read.

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  11. Okay, let me see if I have this right:

    No "official" charity........ just what is that supposed to mean? If I read this with a certain mindset, you have just outlawed donating to your church, or donating to an animal shelter, or library, or museum, or nature preserve, or university, or project to feed the homeless or starving in foreign countries, or even the Red Cross...........

    But let's take this to its logical extreme: No welfare of any kind, either, be it corporate or personal. Is that what they mean?

    Hell, no, they just mean outlawing what THEY view as "official" welfare to big corporations and the like. You can coddle any and every proposal in positive terms if you choose, just as you can cast them negatively. Basically, everything in that screed above could have been said of the government of the USSR, save for that bit about DC. And we saw how well the USSR and its allies turned out.

    Come on. I see this manifesto for what it really is: justification for "robbing from the rich to give to the poor." The right to be free and to enrich oneself by free and consensual means comes from God/nature, and this screed flies in the face of personal liberty and freedom. We have NOT empowered the government to make such broad-ranging and personal economic decisions on our behalf and enforce them with the threat of imprisonment, and we should resist every effort to do so.

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  12. Having written a book doesn't make a man a writer. This was one step along the path to get elected to the Presidency, which we now know was long (in political terms) in the making. If his writing is as bad as his ex-tempore speaking, I'll pass. And many politicians - current and former - have produced books. This doesn't make them writers, either. I'd rather read books by real writers. (Former Senator Cohen did write a good detective story, set in Washington, a few years ago, and he's written other books which have nothing to do with politics or even himself. He's clearly an exception.)

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  13. Some 15 years ago (and I regret that I cannot readily cite the source or produce a quote), Dwayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, told a reporter the United States is basically a socialist country. He should know: he was, at the time, collecting federal subsidies to help his corn syrup business compete with sugar -- and collecting other federal subsidies to help his sugar business compete with corn syrup.

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