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Socialist Correa and American Statists

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In my blog post yesterday, I pointed out how Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, provides a good insight into the mindsets of liberals and conservatives here in the United States. Correa, of course, is an ardent socialist. Everyone agrees on that. Correa is in a clique consisting of such self-avowed Latin American socialist rulers as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Daniel Ortega. Socialist Correa is an economist who earned his doctorate right here in the United States at the University of Illinois.

What’s fascinating about this situation is that while U.S. officials hate Correa, the fact is that his economic philosophy is the same as that of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and of American liberals and conservatives generally.

Now, that’s not to say that liberals and conservatives would ever acknowledge that. Being branded a socialist is the last thing they want. It’s critically important to American statists that they be perceived as red-blooded, flag-waving proponents of “free enterprise.”

It’s that “life of the lie” that American statists have lived ever since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal revolutionized America’s economic system, transforming it into a welfare-state, state-managed system.

When Roosevelt seized upon the economic emergency of the Great Depression to effect his revolutionary change, it was vitally important for him and his cohorts that the American people be made to feel good about the transformation. Most Americans didn’t like socialism, and so the worst thing that FDR could have done is to try to convince them of the merits of socialism.

Instead, in a brilliantly clever move, Roosevelt convinced Americans that the New Deal wasn’t changing America’s free-enterprise system at all. Instead, he said, it was simply reforming the system in order to save it.

Thus, generation after generation, Americans have grown up convinced that the welfare-state, managed-economy way of life is “free enterprise.” American public schools and state-licensed private schools have played an invaluable role in the indoctrination, owing to the control they have over people during their most formative years. After they’ve been properly indoctrinated in grade school, middle school, high school, and some state-supported college or university, most Americans will spend the rest of their lives convinced that they are “free enterprise” kind of people and opposed to socialism.

People like Correa, Castro, Chavez, Morales, and Ortega help bring a dose of reality to Americans. Yesterday, I pointed out that among Correa’s principal programs is having the government build roads, schools, and other grandiose public-works projects. Isn’t that what American liberals and conservatives believe in also, in the name of “free enterprise”?

Take a guess at the two most important socialist programs in Cuba — the ones that Fidel Castro is most proud of. They are: free government-provided health care and free public (i.e., government) schooling. Ask yourself: What American liberal or conservative doesn’t embrace Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, and state-supported higher education here in the United States?

Don’t forget also that Social Security is found not only here in the United States but is also a core program in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The only difference is that most Americans are convinced that Social Security is a free-enterprise program while the citizens of those countries understand that it is a socialist program. Indeed, FDR got the idea of Social Security from socialists in Germany, where the program got started.

You’ll never guess what Correa is now saying in his campaign for reelection. He’s blaming Ecuador’s economic woes on the bankers! I kid you not! Don’t forget that this man is U.S.-educated. Isn’t that what we have heard from U.S. statists for the past 5 years about the cause of America’s economic woes? Haven’t they repeatedly told us that the big recession here at home is not owing to the failures of the welfare-state, managed-economic way of life but instead owing to those greedy banksters? All we have to do is go after them and happy days will be here again. That’s what Correa is saying too.

So, you should be able to figure out what Correa’s solution is. He wants to tax the rich, e.g., the bankers, and give more to the poor! Didn’t we hear that one repeatedly during the past year of the U.S. presidential race? Aren’t we still hearing it? Correa is promising to levy heavy taxes on the bankers and to raise the monthly welfare benefit to the poor. Needless to say, the people who are receiving the welfare are eating it up. He is sure to be reelected.

Fortunately, there is one group of people who have a grip on reality. That’s us libertarians. We know that the economic problems in Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, and the United States are rooted in socialism. It’s the welfare state and the managed economy that have caused—and are causing—people so much suffering. We understand that the key to economic prosperity lies not in socialism but rather in individual liberty, enterprise that is totally free of government control, free markets, unlimited accumulation of wealth, voluntary charity, and freedom of choice.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.