January 28, 2013

Letters to the editor: Risk of socialist rule greatly overstated

Kenneth Poirier ("Letters to the editor: Government trying to ease Americans into socialism," Jan. 17) expresses fear that President Obama is on a mission to transform our country into a socialist dictatorship. Another letter on the same page, by Richard Campbell, warns that "small dosages of socialism" over time will deliver us to communism.

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Occupy Wall Street protesters walk past the New York Stock Exchange last July 11. The real threat to “our American way of life” isn’t socialism, but “the concentration of power in a small group of people at the very top of the social pyramid,” like executives who get bonuses when their companies are restructured and many workers laid off, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

The men worry too much about threats from the far left of the political spectrum. As a nation, we distance ourselves at every opportunity from the more socialist-tolerant Europeans. Our politics are solidly center-right; socialist ideas stand little realistic chance of gaining a foothold here.

If the men are concerned about credible threats to our American way of life, they would do better to pay attention to the true menace: the concentration of power in a small group of people at the very top of the social pyramid.

Call it "plutocracy," call it "oligarchy," call it "the 1 percent," call it what you will -- it is everywhere around us.

You see it in corporations "too big to fail," you see it in corporate welfare, you see it in lobbyists pushing corporate interests in Congress, you see it in the buying of elections, you see it in a tax code that hurts the many and favors the few, you see it in "corporate restructuring" that results in firing of workers and bonuses for executives, and on and on.

You're worried about creeping socialism? You should be more worried about creeping corporatism, which is close to taking complete control of government. The American, democratic way is to take responsibility for our government by choosing our leaders through free and fair elections and holding them accountable for their actions.

Instead of tilting at socialist windmills, let's put energy where it really matters: restoring government of, by and for the people, as potentially the best protector of our freedoms.

Val C. Hart

Cumberland

Kenneth Poirier, the author of a letter published in the Jan. 17 Press Herald, states that he bought an assault weapon because he doesn't trust the government.

It's an interesting observation, given that he apparently had no problem with giving out his name for publication. Who protects his right to criticize the government in safety? The answer, of course, is that very same government.

The power of the government of the United States is almost beyond imagining. If that government really wanted to curtail his freedoms, identifying himself as a dissenter would no doubt carry heavy and immediate penalties. Holed up in a bunker with his Bushmaster, he wouldn't last long enough to reload.

In reality, the controls we have over government -- the public forum and the ballot box -- may be imperfect, but they work well, especially when we exercise them reasonably. In the United States of America in 2013, dissent is not just another word for "danger."

Peter Sampson

Portland

A letter by Richard Campbell in the Jan. 17 edition of the Press Herald warned against the insidious spread of the commies by quoting Nikita Khrushchev at length.

Once again, a zealous guardian of our country has been duped. Good ole Nikita never said those words. If you go to About.com/urban legends, all the research into the fake remarks is chronicled, complete with citations of all the archives searched.

Included in the search were the files of the U.S. Information Agency (once thought by many to be a CIA front), the U.S. State Department and the Library of Congress, among other archives. The long history of the lie is also outlined so that we can really trace it back to a probable source in 1966. Look it up.

As to the reference to American jobs being shipped by the millions to other countries, is the previous writer suggesting that companies such as Apple, Dell, H-P, Microsoft, Staples, Walmart, Boeing and the American automakers are part of a communist or socialist conspiracy? Or perhaps they are all simple-minded, useful idiots. Who can tell?

If you want to disagree with the changing face of America and want to participate in the discussion, be accurate and deal with facts, not scary stories told 'round the campfire.

Brian Holihan

Portland

Your Jan. 17 edition contained two letters bemoaning the current administration and fears that our president is driving America toward some sort of socialist utopia. To them I say: in your dreams.

For a real sign of socialism and the effects on people, let me tell you a story.

While vacationing in Key West last year, my father showed my daughter and me a wrecked boat that lay high up on the shore. It was hard to believe it was ever seaworthy, much less that it had been piloted to that beach only a few years before.

The hull was carefully patched in places and the tiller welded and hammered by hand. Its owners risked jail, torture and death to build this boat, which carried some 20 people away from Fidel Castro's Cuba, following many others that left before it.

"This is the true sign of socialism," I said to my daughter. "It makes people so desperate that they fight for a better life elsewhere."

So far I have yet to hear of any stories of Americans fleeing this country for fear of the so-called socialist agenda coming down. Many threats have been made by Rush Limbaugh, for one, to move to Costa Rica, but that particular dream of mine has yet to come true.

The only wall built around this country is to keep people out, not like the walls used to separate East and West Germany or keep people inside Nicolae Ceausescu's Romania.

So until we see the mass exodus of people from this country like the world saw in Germany and Eastern Europe after World War II, some folks ought to check the rhetoric, turn off Fox News and bone up on their history a little more. This is still America -- it's just evolving.

Charles Terhune

Portland

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