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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hillary vs Bernie: Free Enterprise Progressivism vs. Socialism

Been an active day in political commentary.  On MSNBC, Chris Matthews just said that Hillary Clinton should stress the fact that Hillary is a free-enterprise Democrat, in contrast to Bernie, who is a self-proclaimed socialist.

I agree.  The distinction is important.   FDR was a free-enterprise Democrat, not a socialist, and was the most progressive President in American history with his New Deal.   Indeed, all the great progressive developments in America - such as Medicare in the 1960s - came from Democrats who believed in improving the free enterprise system, making it more humane and responsive to human needs, setting limits on it, rather than replacing it with a system of complete governmental control of business.

That's what socialism is.  Bernie may be believe in mom-and-pop businesses, but those are not socialism.  In contrast, free enterprise capitalism has from its outset in the United States worked hand-in-hand with governmental controlled operations.  That's what the Post Office and the military are, after all.

You don't need socialism to work for universal health care.  It can be done from within the free enterprise system, just as FDR did with social security and Woodrow Wilson, another Democrat, did with with the progressive income tax.  Those programs are in need of improvement, to be sure.  I'd like to see millionaires and billionaires taxed at much higher rates than they are.  But that's not socialism - that's improving free enterprise.

But why is free enterprise so important?  Well, history has shown that it's the most reliable catalyst of invention and human progress.   The very social media that we're now using, along with the rest of world, were born in free enterprise.

Bernie Sanders's suggestions and proposals have a lot of merit.  But as Hillary should be pointing out more often, they can be better accomplished through refinement of our free enterprise system, rather than its replacement with socialism.

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