Is America Sliding Toward Socialism?
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Even after the crushing defeat of the self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the South Carolina Democratic primary, the march toward socialism in America will continue. This movement begs the question: What exactly is the federal government doing so well that warrants this push to expand its size and scope?
Socialism would make larger a government already riddled with waste and cronyism. (AP Photo)
Not long ago, America’s slide toward socialism sparked international alarm.
On January 29, 2010, at the Union League Club, Chicago, Lech Walesa — the former President of Poland, founder of Solidarity, and 1983 Noble Laureate – issued his ‘Warning for America.’ Walesa, friend of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher (all helped defeat Cold-War Soviet bloc communism) — gave a speech at an endorsement event for my campaign for Governor of Illinois:
Here are Walesa’s notable remarks: The United States is only one superpower. Today they lead the world. Nobody has doubts about it. Militarily. They also lead economically but they’re getting weak. But they don’t lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. There was the hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we lost that hope.
During this speech, Walesa gave additional context: “Yes, there are big challenges like the State of taking care of people… But when the governments are doing it, [government] basically puts a lot of money in it. And wastes it. And those are the concerns. The private entrepreneurs they are more fragile. They are wiser when managing the money. The government will waste all the money. It is better when the individual takes care and defends him or herself … [W]e would not like you (America) to build a communist museum.”
So, now in 2016, can socialism from the top-down defy history and help us all?
At OpenTheBooks.com, as we give oversight to public spending, we’ve found scant evidence of smart government. Take, for example, the federal farm subsidy program: tens of millions of dollars flow into New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. – where there are no farms. Even Rev. Minister Louis Farrakhan is a farmer and has hundreds of thousands of farm subsidies to prove it.
We also quantified $1.2 trillion in federal grants, subsidies and payments into Fortune 100 companies from 2001-2013. Interestingly, 99 out of the Fortune 100 received federal monies. The only one not receiving taxpayer assistance was Plains All-American Pipeline, a company that’s no longer in the Fortune 100.
Our oversight shows that government influence is pervasive, but not efficient. For example, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Pell grants and student loans are flowing to colleges of cosmetology across America. With the federal-aid, some of these ‘colleges’ now charge more tuition than Big Ten universities to churn-out indebted massage therapists and beauticians.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) – supposed lenders to mom and pop businesses on Main Street – gave low-interest, taxpayer subsidized loans of $9.2 billion to some of the most wealthy and successful private equity firms in the country. Also thanks to the SBA, $160 million went into private country clubs: golf clubs, beach clubs, swim clubs, and tennis clubs across America.
Recently, we studied the EPA. The EPA loves luxury, high-end furniture … $92 million worth. The EPA also spent $1.1 billion on lawyers, more than $715 million on its criminal enforcement program and millions of dollars on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. All of this during a period when the agency faced criticisms that it wasn’t taking care of its core mission (i.e., the 3 million gallon toxic waste spill into the Animus River, CO).
Most folks agree that government shouldn’t be in the business of self-promotion. Yet, in December 2015, we quantified $4.4 billion spent on public relations campaigns by federal agencies. If the feds were an ad agency, they would rank #2 in the world.
Our oversight shows that socialism in America – the government takeover of everything – has been going on for a long time. Just ask current Republican presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump. According to investigative journalists, 40 Wall Street – a building owned by Trump – qualified for a $150,000 grant from a federal program designed to assist ‘small businesses’ hurt by 9/11.
In 2005, Trump valued that building at $400 million – a wonderful small business.
Some would say the greatest moral challenge we face today is that government is too small and taxes are too low. They argue the best way to fix a government riddled with waste and cronyism is to make it larger. They call themselves socialists. Walesa might just call them communists.
Adam Andrzejewski is the founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com. Many examples used in this editorial were showcased at Forbes or in OpenTheBooks oversight reports published during 2014-2015.