Upon reading some of the opinions of concerned citizens about where our country is headed on an economic and social level, I felt it necessary to respond. Particularly so, I felt like some clarification was needed after reading Mr. Stotler's letter to the editor dated May 4, 2010.
The majority of the people who go spastic whenever some talking head alleges socialism in the United States have absolutely no idea what socialism is.
Anyone familiar with the doctrine knows that true socialism can only occur as a progression from a capitalist state. We have never seen genuine socialism or communism (none of the communist nations had an established market system prior to their revolutions).
Industrialized Europe, to some degree, seems to be following the inevitable progression that Marx spoke of-when the proletariat in a capitalist society, who are inevitably going to be miserable in a capitalist system, end up having a greater degree of influence on the shape of society through their organizing efforts. The only thing, thus far, that has prevented this from occurring in the United States is the ridiculous power that capitalism (as an ideology, not as a process) has upon those who benefit from it the least, and the long-dead but still-eulogized American Dream that has people convinced (despite the fact that it creeps closer to impossible with each passing generation) they're all going to be rich one day.
I don't agree with either system, as I think they're both outdated and inadequate for the modern world, but as far as the progression of capitalism-socialism-communism goes, I'd say it's still in the realm of possibility though the furthest stage that process has reached in the world is a rather mild socialism.
For those who clamor for a genuinely-free market (as if such a thing could exist in the modern day), I'd point out that over the course of the 19th century in the U.S. the system was at, or very close to, being completely unfettered by restrictions and actually, in most cases, received help from state power. There was rampant exploitation and a great deal of corruption, but it did help build the United States into a world power.
Now, we've reached the point where capitalism (even with the supposed restrictions and safeguards in place) has the opposite effect: the corruption and lop-sided distribution of capital/power is now detrimental to the United States in both a local and global sense.
It's out-of-date, and does more damage to more people than good. Now it simply perpetuates the power of those who already have the greatest access to capital, and in the past decade we've seen how that effects the well-being of the country as a whole.
Every time someone says capitalism they should say regulated capitalism because without governmental regulation of business we would all owe our souls to the company store. Unregulated capitalism would ultimately result in one monopoly owning everything just the same as unfettered communism would kill risk, effort and innovation. So, once you've accepted that commerce must be regulated it's merely a matter of to what degree of socialism you want to accept. And with our private money dependent elections system that is always going to be limited.
And, regarding the comment that Mr. Stotler made regarding how Romanians are terrified for us-having lived in Romania for several years, I wholeheartedly question this as prevailing thought. If you could find 100 Romanians that wouldn't trade Romania's system of economics and government for that which we currently enjoy, I would be heartily surprised. Attempting to draw a connection between our current administration (and the supposedly terrifying path we are traversing) and that of Ceausescu's dictatorial regime is an enormous stretch at best, and wholly ignorant at worst.