Phony Capitalists and Closet Socialists

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    Until recently, whenever MSNBC bloviator Chris Matthews mentioned the name of  Bernie Sanders, he expressed astonishment that the Vermont U.S. Senator could be polling as he as well as he was because "he's a socialist." However, last week speaking to Late Night host Seth Meyers, Chris Matthews conceded that Sanders' ideas were resonated more with the  Democratic voters than Hillary Clinton. "He's where the party is headed. And the party is much more left than it was. If you had said socialist four or eight years ago, you would have been blown out of town. You can't say socialist. Now it doesn't bother anybody. Cause they don't think the system's straight, right now. And in fact, if you talked about the rich, people would say, 'Oh that's class politics. You can't do that.' Nobody said that this time because they know it's right. Because of the numbers. How bad people are getting hurt." 

English: American billionaire Sheldon Adelson ...

English: American billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Had Matthews been a serious student of European history, he would have known that Bernie Sanders' brand of democratic socialism is supported by a majority of European voters and that the kinds of proposals that Sanders advocates were enacted into law in most Western European countries more than one hundred years ago. As one example, the legislation enacted by the British Liberal party in 1912  - provisions for public labor exchanges, minimum wages, housing, town-planning and a National Insurance Program to provide protection against sickness and unemployment - far exceeded anything later proposed by Roosevelt's New Deal.

    Even if the "mainstream media" and the pundit class slowly begin to understand the reasons for Senator Sanders' appeal, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, and other courageous defenders of the1% will ensure that the GOP presidential candidates continue to denounce Senator Sanders who, in the words of Donald Trump, is a "maniac" and a "socialist-slash-communist." 

    But are the GOP's major donors credible supporters of free enterprise? Charles Koch and his brother, David, claim to be libertarians and to be unalterably opposed to corporate welfare. Yet as Joe Nocera reported in the New York Times, while Koch-funded groups have led the fight to gut the U.S. Import-Export Bank, a proposed Arkansas steel mill named Big River Steel received a $125 million dollar bond issue and $200 million in tax credits to pay for the mill's construction and to buy and install recycling equipment, but the energy credits will be given directly to the investors. In addition, the mill received an $800 million10 year loan from the German the Kfw IPEX-Bank because the mill will buy all if its steelmaking equipment from a German Company, SMS Siemag AG.The Koch Brothers have taken a 40% equity interest in the mill.

    Although the Big River Steel claims that the mill will create 525 well-paying jobs, it will have an overall adverse  effect on the U.S. steel industry. As Nocera concludes,"Thus the Koch Brothers are helping German workers while hurting Americans."

    And what about Sheldon Adelson? In a story reported by the Guardian newspaper last May, the former CEO of Adelson's highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau, Steven Jacobs,has brought s lawsuit against Adleson. Jacobs alleges that he was fired because he tried to break links to organized crime groups, the triads, and attempted to halt alleged influence peddling with Chinese officials.

    And are the GOP's presidential candidates credible in their defense of American capitalism? Senator Marco Rubio has been employed in the public sector almost his entire life, as a City Commissioner for West Miami, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, and since 2009, a member of the U.S. Senate. In a similar vein, Texas Senator and consummate demagogue Ted Cruz served as a law clerk to the U.S. Court of Appeals on 1995, worked for only two years in the private sector as a lawyer, and then renewed his career in the public sector as an associate deputy attorney general in the administration of George W. Bush, served as Solicitor General of Texas between 2003 and 2008, and was elected to the U.S.Senate in 2012.

    And  let's not forget John Kasich,another stalwart supporter of limited government and critic of public largesse to the needy and to those less fortunate.After serving eighteen years in the House of Representatives, he was somehow able to find employment at Fox News where he opined about politics between 2001 to 2007and served as a managing director for Lehman Brothers until it went bankrupt.Since 2010, he hasbeen the governor of Ohio.

    Former GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker also epitomizes the advantages of employment in the public sector. He was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in1992 at the age of 22. In 2002, he was elected Executive of Milwaukie County, and became the Governor pf Wisconsin in 2010. Although Walker has largely succeeded in emasculating the power of public sector unions in his state to improve the wages and working conditions of their members, he has been able to secure virtually lifetime employment for himself in the public sector that he professes to loathe.

    And what about the two avowed defenders of unbridled capitalism Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina?  Businesses that Trump ran successfully put the screws to legions of creditors  in four separate bankruptcies courtesy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. During her tenure as CEO, Ms.Fiorina authorized the firing of at least 18,00o Hewlett Packard employees while the corporation lost $903 million.Upon her firing, she received a severance package reported in excess of $42 million. The track records of Trump and Fiorina as well as those of the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson raise a serious question as to who, other than corporate insiders, would want to defend the kind of crony capitalism for which they are the avatars.

    All of the GOP candidates, including Jeb Bush - who now too seeks re-employment in the dreaded public sector - confirm the fact that socialism, as a set of ideas, has broad support in U.S., but that the way it is practiced here in very different than in the Western Europe: In European democracies,socialism seeks to promote equality and to provide a meaningful safety net for all citizens and their families. In the U.S., by contrast, socialism has become a system that, through the use of government subsidies, licenses, tax credits, exemptions from liability, and other forms of corporate welfare enrich the wealthy and their political surrogates, while everyone else is left of forage on his own, in a free enterprise system that threatens to reduce the 99% of us to road kill.    

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