USFR Customer Support
See the latest reader comments and hear John explain some of agriculture’s complex topics.
Viewers React: Throwing Around "Socialism"
Aug 08, 2013
***Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of last weekend’s "Mailbag" segment from John Phipps on U.S. Farm Report, followed by a number of viewer comments…
Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag…a viewer takes exception to my comments about the Constitution last week: "Some of us do not think that the Constitution is an outdated document and believe in the freedom that it has afforded us over the first 200 years before Socialism began creeping in." Ira Crumbaugh – Slater, MO
It is currently fashionable in political conversations to inserts the Socialist charge, but I have never found such labels very useful. What we call the American way has evolved, like every other developed nation to include elements many consider socialist but which enjoy widespread popular support. Our system is a mix of Capitalist and Socialist institutions.
I expect many to disagree with my political and economic views, but always find it puzzling that the one policy I talk about the most – our farm policy – never seems to get the Socialist label it clearly deserves.
Even more curious is this income safety net for a few farmers is not considered Socialist by the ag community, while a health care safety net for all Americans is. What’s up with that?
The term is supposed to sting I know, but the cry of "Socialist" has been used so inaccurately and selectively it has been reduced to nearly meaningless. Socialism used to be defined as government ownership of the means of production. Today we toss it around like we used to fling the term "Communist". Mostly I think it has become an epithet to use that everyone thinks we all agree on, but actually don’t.
This week during testimony to Congress concerning tax reform, a small business owner urged Congressman to do away with "all the deductions that don’t affect me." In a similar way, I think Socialism is now best defined as government programs that help other people.
#1: You missed my point completely which is don't ruin a pretty good farm news program by inserting your political views. However, continuing the discussion, socialism is still socialism and communism is still communism no matter how much lipstick you put on the pig. Ira Crumbaugh - Slater, MO
#2: I just got done listening to the response to Ira Crumbaugh's letter about "socialism creeping in"....I have to say it was a Wonderful response!!!! I hope that I can find this piece on your site to upload on my Facebook for all to see and that it gets the recognition that it deserves. It was a delight to hear such a rational response in this day and age of name calling and fear infested journalism. To see and hear someone like your journalist is something that is rare and delightful. Too many of us are polarized by media. Bravo! You were rational and very matter of fact. This country needs more common sense people in the media, like your journalist, to speak up and help bring back the unity we need to make this country the great country it should be. We are in this together....Teri Schneider
#3: Sir, I am not a farmer but a born and raised city boy, however, I am a Political Scientist and a regular viewer of your show and your conversation regarding Socialism and the Constitution interested me. You are correct when you say that the farming subsidies are a form of Socialism, just like Obamacare. It is the same type of Corporate Welfare that is extended to places like J.P. Morgan and is not a part of the American system of Capitalism. Remember Capitalism? Most rural folks, a.k.a. the "flyover" states are made up of social conservatives. The Socialist label is thrown around so often, and sometimes mistakenly because of the increasingly secular influence of Liberals/Progressives a.k.a. Little Socialists in training perhaps out of frustration of the eroding of our nation’s moral values. It is a culture war that is waged on a political, cultural and economic front. It is a "battle" to transform our nation in progress that we are observing. You also mentioned that Socialism was/is defined as government control of the means of production. You are correct. However, since Bush used Socialism to bail out Capitalism in the market crash of 2008, by his own admission, and since Obama busted that door open, the Federal Government now controls more than 51% of the U.S. Economy, and with the full implementation of Obamacare coming, and the move toward a single payer system, which has been the goal all along, the Federal Government’s control will be significantly higher than it currently is. One thing you do not mention is the FABIAN Socialist movement, which is a gradual transition to Socialism from within the current political and economic system by those with a Socialist bent. The leadership of this country on the Left, is a virtual encyclopedic definition of this movement. Obama himself is a prime example. Finally, regarding your initial argument that the Constitution is a "living document" is a traditional claim of the Progressive movement. However, John Locke and Montesquieu whom Jefferson and the Founders borrowed from heavily, viewed the Constitution as a mechanization of government and NOT a Living Document. That is "Classic Liberalism", or the Conservative movement as it is called today. That is the "American way" as defined by our Founders. Although I disagree with you I respect the way in which you voice your opinion and it is refreshing in this day and age when civility seems to have abandoned the political discourse. As the old Chinese curse stated, "may you live in interesting times" seems to be true of our nation today. Thank you for hearing me out. Sincerely, Tom Greene - Aliso Viejo, CA
#4: As one of those protected by the socialist programs, I receive SSI, SNAP and Medicaid, I wanted to say thanks John. Comments from people like Ira anger me, as if only they understand the constitution. Love the show, have watched for years. Glad to hear publically from someone who gets it. Please keep up the good work. Thanks. Dean Franklin - Madison, FL