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.

click image to enlarge

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.

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