If you enjoy having weekends off, thank a socialist.
If you appreciate the eight-hour work day, thank a socialist.
If you approve of minimum wage, thank a socialist.
If you like living in a country where it's illegal to sell your child to a sweatshop for a dollar a week, you can be thankful that socialists, yes those are anti-capitalist, anti-free-market socialists, worked hard in the face of big business and government opposition to make that happen.
Do you like the fact that you don't have to step over sick homeless people on the way to your car? Do you feel thankful that hoards of starving orphans aren't begging you to carry your bag at the airport? Do you approve of the fact that elderly people don't have to die in the street if they run out of money?
Do you want to take a little trip to 19th century New York City and see what life was like before welfare, before labor laws, before publicly funded garbage disposal and street cleaning, before the government could tell you how to treat your children, before the government could tell you how to operate your factory safely, before the government could tell you how to wire and plumb your apartment building, before socialism?
I keep hearing, "I enjoy living in a capitalist country and I want to keep it that way! Don't you take my capitalism away from me!" Sister, you don't live in a capitalist country. Sorry. That has already been taken away from you. Along with children working in mines, tenements made out of cardboard, and unregulated air pollution. Do you miss all that? Is it just killing you that the terrible socialists with their wealth redistribution gave Medicaid to babies in poverty? After all, they didn't earn it. Their mothers couldn't afford it. In your sparkling, elegant capitalist society, they wouldn't have it. You want to be in charge of spending your own money, not giving it to the government to redistribute to the poor! Do you wish we could go back to a time when generous churches and noble private citizens were responsible for picking up the tab for those babies? Because you know what? They didn't. Read about it. It was ugly.
Do you drive on public roads? Are you glad that every child in the country has an opportunity to go to school? Do you like the fact that meat packers have to uphold certain standards in their factories to sell you a steak? You like paid vacation days? These are socialist principles, people. The USDA. The EPA. Where you see government regulating business for the benefit of the people, that's socialism. Where you see safety nets for poor people, old people, children, and sick people, that's socialism. You really want to get rid of all that?
The big businesses of this country did not suddenly one day wake up and say, "Hey, let's give those workers two days off a week. They've earned it!" They did not just announce, "You know, it's Tuesday, let's set a minimum wage!" They didn't establish a 9 to 5 work day just because 9 and 5 are good numbers for them. It goes against profit and the free market to be kind, safe, and fair, and yet those are the principles that I'm teaching my children to live by. Aren't you? Are you not teaching them to put profit first and step on whoever they have to step on to get there? Then guess what: you're not teaching them to be little capitalists. Sorry! But you're not.
I don't like to talk about religion on this blog, because for me religion is very private. But I will ask you this: What did Jesus say to Nicodemus? Did he say, "Gather up all your awesome money and all your possessions, put them in your SUV and follow me?" No, he told Nicodemus to give all his money away, then follow. Did Jesus say that heaven would be populated by fabulous capitalists who had grabbed their piece of the pie and hung on for dear life? No, he said it would be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We're deifying Joe the Plumber, who wants to hang on to his wealth, who wants to get ahead, who wants to grab his piece of the dream. Am I reading the same Bible you are? The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. What does that mean for Joe?
The latest news to go shrieking around the internet is that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party in Chicago. Before you get all lathered up about it, read about the party on Wikipedia and on their own web site. Did the New Party espouse a whole lot of socialist principles, like affordable housing and a living wage? Yes. But you know what? So do I. I don't consider myself a socialist, but I sure wouldn't want to consider myself a capitalist either.
If you want to make your mind up about Barack Obama, read his policies, study his plan, and make your decision based on what he has said he values and what he has said he will do. Getting scared about the word "socialist" is irrational. Before you run screaming into the night, look around you. Socialism has done a lot of good in your world. Are you afraid that Obama the socialist is going to make your working day shorter? Are you afraid he's going to make your food safer, give you more city parks, make your air cleaner, make your workplace safer, give more people voting rights, establish more vacation days, or something awful like that? Are you afraid he's going to keep us out of foreign wars, stop writing huge checks to big businesses, and improve our schools? Wow, yeah, that's terrifying.
I can't get excited about this socialism scare. For me, those are all good things.
Be kind. Be fair. Help people. Protect the weak.
Which of these excellent principles is capitalist again?