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We are all socialists

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 30, 2008

That is, if we are take Christina Pesavento’s cookie-cutter concept of ‘socialism’ seriously (“Barack the Socialist,” Oct. 28).

According to the dictionary Pesavento consulted, you’re a socialist if you subscribe to “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” Thus Pesavento ought to agree that any Senator who voted to give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson the authority to recapitalize and buy equity stakes in the U.S. banking system -as McCain did not a month ago – is a ‘socialist’.

Similarly she should agree that any Senator who supports a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 percent rather than 39.6 percent – rather than advocating doing away with progressive income taxes, which McCain certainly doesn’t – is a socialist. Not to mention any Senator who supports the principle of tax-payer subsidized medicine for the poor and the elderly (in the guise of Medicaid and Medicare, respectively). And so on.

The problem with labeling Obama a socialist is not only, pace Pesavento, that it sounds like a scare tactic. (Which it certainly is. Labeling Democrats ‘Arabs’ and ‘terrorists’ doesn’t work any longer, I guess.) Worse, it prevents a serious public discussion of the genuine differences between the candidates. Which, as one of McCain’s own campaign aides recently admitted, is the discussion that at least one of these candidates is going to great lengths to avoid.

Alexander Skiles

grad student

off campus

Oct. 28