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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Democratic Socialism

As we head into another legislative Session and Presidential election year, many are concerned about our elected officials proposing evermore socialist policies and programs. Our nation seems to be split - some want to stop this advance, and clearly others want it to progress.

The late, great economist Milton Friedman often reminded us that throughout history there have been oppressive governments that impose totalitarian socialism on the people – causing untold tyranny, servitude, and misery. As Americans, we reject such oppression.

Yet, many of the very same Americans who regard totalitarian socialism as something evil do not seem to see a problem with democratic socialism.

If it is agreed that socialism takes away our freedom, imposes heavy taxes, and creates heaps of inefficient government bureaucracy, why then is socialism any more palatable just because a legislator votes for it through the democratic process than if a dictator imposes it?

Is it really possible to take freedom away in a kinder gentler manner? As government programs become ever more elaborate and expensive just how much will it ultimately cost to buy the compliance of America?

Today, there seems to be societal confusion over just what constitutes a "right." A constituent asked me, “Do you believe healthcare is a right?” “No, I don’t” was my reply and I went on to explain that if a so called “right” takes something from another person to provide that right to you it is not a right.

My right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness costs others nothing and yet I delight in each of those rights everyday. My right to freedom of speech, religion and my property costs others nothing as well. The government doesn’t provide rights to me – they are mine, given to me by God. The government protects my rights for me.

Socialized healthcare is not a right but a government program. All socialism, democratic or totalitarian, is born of a “Plan” by politicians that think they know better how to spend your money and pretend to care more about your children than you do.

How is it accomplished? It is a gradual process to pass laws that destroy the free market and bring us to our knees begging for government intervention.

However, such programs are destined to be laced with coercion, power struggles, turf wars and pressure from special interests that are assured to grant you less power, choice and money. Ask yourself, do you really want to pathetically beg some politician for something that you should decide for yourself?

Our free enterprise system has produced the greatest nation the world has ever known. Experience shows us that government programs don’t perform market activities as well as the free market. It is time to remind ourselves of the distinction between a "right" and a "program"; "protection" and "provision."

Socialism fosters rationing, inferior quality, poor service, stunted innovation and undermines motivation. Some politicians may have very smooth words that tempt your better judgment and buy your compliance but beware, their rhetoric costs more than we can afford.


Chris Fortner said...

Great post! I couldn't have written it any better.

Boyd R. Jones said...

Do you also feel, as Milton Friedman cogently posited, that the Military should be privatized? In this way, even fewer taxes could be levied.

Representative Susan Lynn said...

Re: Friedman

I've never read that Friedman was in favor of privatizing the military.

However, I know that he was strongly in favor of an all volunteer military as opposed to a draft.

Charlie said...

That was such a good treatise on the problem of federally-run healthcare. One person asked me if I wanted my healthcare experiences to work as 'efficient' as the DMV and public schooling.


What reasons have you heard from others that want gov't-run mandatory healthcare? Why do they feel this will work?

Anonymous said...


Susan Lynn for VP!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an imaginative definition of socialism and the role of govt. regarding rights!
First, socialism does not require or imply high taxes and reduced freedom. It is merely a philosophy that focuses on the group rather than the individual.
Second, while the govt. does not grant rights, its role as the protector of rights also gives it the responsibility to regulate rights. For example, free speech is limited -I can not shout "fire!" in a crowded movie theater, nor can a content provider show pornographic films on local cable TV. (I'm sure you as a Republican would agree with that!)
So, your argument that the rights guaranteed under the constitution are those that don't influence others or weaken others to apply is a bit weak. First, all the individual rights under the Constitution impact others. Second, healthcare plans now under consideration at the state and national levels are not plans that secure any additional rights to plan users. Healthcare is not seen as a "right" under these plans.
Finally, the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" certainly could be argued to include health care opportunity for all.
So, to summarize, a system that provides access to healthcare for all need not be "socialized medicine," it need not be seen as an "extension" of natural rights, and it certainly can be seen as an advance of the public good. Certainly we need not slip down the slope of "Democratic Socialism" to provide better healthcare in this nation.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right!

The socialism that led to the Bear Stearns bailout, for example, was outrageous.

Anonymous said...

"Our free enterprise system" has been relocated to other nations. Rationing, inferior quality, poor service, stunted innovation are the products of not a "slowing economy" as the Bushco's would have us believe, but the stalled economy we are suffering today.

My family is rationing, Rep. Lynn. We are rationing groceries, water, electricity, and gas for our car. My children are suffering an inferior quality of life due to the SOP of the Social Security Administration to deny all disability applicants at least once, usually twice, in the hopes that they will give up and put themselves at greater risk to work anyway or die before that second appeal is decided, our government is providing some of the poorest service in the world when it comes to protecting and caring for the citizens of this state and nation, and the majority are too broke, too far in debt to be innovative.

It isn't socialism that undermines motivation. It's the continued clinging to the theory of trickle down economics that has been disproven time and again, the attitude of the current administration to "blame the victim" as they laugh their way to the bank with their oil profit checks, and the lack of honesty among elected officials who have the power to stop the continued segregation of this country into two classes. The 2% that have, and the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last few posters and would add that you're tossing out cold war philosophies in an effort to create an enemy instead of creating a valid, sustainable, and workable position to address real problems in America.

For instance, why are we spending billions not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Korea and Germany and such, where our armies still are over 60 years later? We could use that money at home. And, we'd all be better off minding our own business and not worrying about what other people are thinking or doing. Mandating morality is a worse form of socialism and avoids the issues of economic progression.

Pesky said...

A $700 Billion bailout at the behest of (Republican) President George W Bush is not the government taking control of the means of production/wealth?

The "trickle down" concept may have worked 25 years ago when manufacturing was performed in the United States. Taxes were lowered, increased discretionary spending went to buy stuff made by workers who then benefitted with greater production needs, who paid more in taxes...etc, etc...except today, the CEO benefits, the goods are made in China and the Chinese worker gets the benefits...Perhaps Ms. Lynn can help us inderstand how trickle down works to our benefit--or what manufacturing opportunities she's helped in her district?

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