On The Last Word Tuesday night, while discussing how Cuba is attempting to avoid economic catastrophe by dismantling central planning and letting private entrepreneurship thrive, MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell suggested that all Americans are socialists because they support public education, health care and pensions.
The self-declared socialist newsmaker made a similar assertion about a month ago when he told Americans that they aren’t the “rugged individualists” they like to be.
After getting an education paid for by the government, if we live long enough, we all get retirement income from the government and health care paid for by the government. That is a very healthy dose of good old-fashioned socialism but we remain the country that pretends to hate socialism.
Homeowners and the entire real estate industry float on a massive government subsidy written into the tax code called the mortgage deduction. The federal government gives millionaires and billionaires tens of thousands of dollars a year to pay — $50,000 — to pay for their housing, a subsidy that none of them need and yet our rugged individualist self-image continues.
He is right. America is not a capitalist country. It is a welfare state. There are probably plenty of American “rugged individualists” left but a majority of the population indeed supports public funding of education and health care and opposes the privatization of entitlement programs including Medicaid and Medicare.
The difference between Mr O’Donnell and this blog is obviously that he thinks that’s a good thing. There is in fact nothing “healthy” about a government that swallows up more than a third of the economy and continues to infringe on individual liberties with each expansion of entitlement it undertakes. “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety,” said Benjamin Franklin and he was right.