Fear of government?

Of late, in conversations with my conservative leaning friends, I have detected a greater frequency of the use of the term “socialism.” From our extensive conversations, I am somewhat skeptical as to whether some of these friends really know the true definition of socialism. Webster, Wikipedia and others simply describe socialism as a method of government by which the government controls the means of production and distribution of wealth. As to distribution of wealth, the current tax system that favors the rich over the middle class is clearly a method of distributing wealth. While conservatives espouse hard work as a great way of life, none seem to be concerned about the fact we tax citizens’ labors more than we tax rich folks’ investments.

The bugaboo of creeping socialism has been around since “when the mind of man runneth not to the contrary,” as the old saying goes. Social Security, which few, with the exception of Rick Perry, would dare advocate abolishing today, is no doubt a social program. If submitted to the vote of the people, I would place my money with people voting to retain Social Security as opposed to those for its abolition. Medicare is in the same category and has been a true blessing to older folks. The naysayers at the time Social Security was established in this country claimed it was “the camel’s head in the tent” and we would soon be relegated to a socialistic or communistic form of government.

It has always been a mystery to me as to why politicians who espouse hatred of government are so anxious to join in and be a part of it. It’s my belief that too often Americans, having listened too much to the Fox network, have forgotten many of the benefits of government. Who among us would want to repeal government control of our airwaves, allowing anyone with enough money to begin broadcasting on any frequency he or she chose to use, thereby abolishing any guarantee that people could receive a clear signal broadcast by the rightwing owner of Fox News? How about airline or private airplane travel? What if we did away with government rules about when and where you might traverse the skies? It would certainly make flying more thrilling, but in all probability not nearly as safe.

Too many of my fellow citizens forget they themselves are beneficiaries of social programs established by government. In a recent conversation with some of my friends, we were discussing the benefits of a college education. Two of these were associated with spouses who had enjoyed the benefits of having a first-class medical education. Each proceeded to tell me how their spouses had put themselves through college, paid for their education, thereby earning a license issued by the state allowing them to ply their trade on their fellow citizens. What if there was no licensing of medical professionals? Is this not government controlling business? While both of my friends wax very eloquently on the merits of working one’s way through college, both seemed completely oblivious to the fact that working taxpayers, many of whom will never darken the door of a college, let alone a medical school, paid the lion’s share of costs for each student traversing this wonderful process. At last estimate, medical students in Texas pay about 20 percent or less of the cost of providing them with such an education.

The current rant about government intrusion is the rightwing battle cry to “repeal Obamacare.” The part currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States is whether or not the commerce clause of our constitution allows Congress to mandate that citizens acquire certain kinds of insurance coverage. I’ve yet to hear anyone advocate doing away with financial responsibility requirements of drivers who use our highways. The theory with mandatory liability coverage for drivers is that each driver should show responsibility for the havoc he or she might wreak on our public byways. Why is the same not true when it comes to those who believing themselves to be impervious to sickness or tragic accident who thrust themselves on the taxpayers of the country by lingering in some cases for years in a vegetative state because of serious injuries befalling them when they have made absolutely no provision for such happenstance?

Because of many of my Republican friends’ concern over socialism, I am reminded of the scripture in the Bible that suggests many of us strain gnats and swallow camels. I’ve yet to hear one of my Republican friends be critical of things such as the so-called Patriot Act, which robs many American citizens of freedom from government oversight, control and even possible imprisonment without due process. It is one of the few areas in which I find myself agreeing with Rep. Ron Paul.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas.