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Mailbag! 

One of the marvelous things about writing a weekly opinion piece is that I attract all kinds of crazy, which in turn is deliciously entertaining. For instance, ever since I mentioned presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a “Democratic Socialist,” I’ve been on frequent-letter-writer Greg Larson’s hysterical outgoing mail hit list. Most recently, The Gregster sent me a link to Alex Jones’ “TOTAL EMERGENCY ALERT Update: Global meltdown begins,” in which Jones assures listeners the end is here!

Seriously! The Richie-Riches of the world are pulling money out of the stock market (See China!), buying remotely located fortified “redoubts” in which to sequester themselves, stocking up on MREs, and then they’re going to “ride out” the collapse until they can consolidate their power and rule the world. Jones must be some kind of Nostradamus or something! Probably “something.”

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The only solution, according to Greg-O-Rama and the Tea Party to which he’s locked in goosestep, is libertarianism, which I think of as magical realism—you know, it seems remotely plausible on paper, but in reality you’d need magic to make it work. 

You see, libertarianism is when you get rid of Big Bad Government and replace it with FREEDOM. But what Gregaloonovich and his Tea Party brethren don’t seem to understand is that libertarianism is basically freedom for the rich to further fleece the poor, rig the system in their favor, and consolidate power. It’s the fastest and most direct way to oligarchy. You just need enough rubes to believe that government—not unbridled capitalism itself—is what’s keeping them from succeeding. 

In Greggie’s mind, socialism is evil, plain and simple. Never mind that effective programs such as our military, law enforcement, fire safety, and first responders are all socialism. FEMA? Socialism. NASA? Socialism. CDC? Socialism. Libertarians forget that K- through-12 public education, health care for citizens over 65, and Social Security are wildly popular social programs. I mean, how many times have we heard ignorant right-wing retirees screaming for government to “keep its hands off my Social Security?” Hey idiots, if it weren’t for government, you’d be starving in the streets. 

Sorry, but unregulated capitalism yields winners and losers. Poor Americans aren’t lazy; they’re exploited and denied opportunity. If you think a CEO making $10 million a year works harder than the immigrant working two menial jobs to send her firstborn to college, you’ve never worked two menial jobs. Sanders merely wants those two jobs to pay a living wage so that a single mom and her kid can A) live, and B) with that second job, get ahead, save for college, whatever. He wants to level the playing field and create opportunity.

Look, protecting taxpayers from having to bail out reckless banks, extending public education through college to create an educated and more productive populace, and offering medical care for all—funded through taxation—isn’t communism. It’s investment! It isn’t seizing the means of production. It isn’t the end of capitalism. It’s making life better for all those poor, confused Tea Partiers too blinded by right-wing propaganda and irrational hatred of progressive ideas to comprehend that when they vote Republican, or worse, for a Tea Party candidate, they’re voting against their own self-interest, voting to de-fund public education, to end Medicare and Social Security, and to get rid of government regulations that stop corporations from polluting and limit Wall Street’s ability to collapse our economy. Sorry, Gordon Gekko, but greed’s not good.

And then there was the video Disciple Greg sent me of ISIS slowly burning four Christians to death, cooking them over a fire, with which he included a quote by FDR-hater and conspiracy theorist John T. Flynn: “Fascism will come at the hands of perfectly authentic Americans who are convinced that the present economic system is washed up and who wish to commit this country to the rule of the bureaucratic state,” meaning that if Sanders gets his socialistic way, Christians can expect to be cooked slowly over open flames.

The thing about being crazy is you don’t know you’re crazy. In Greg-a-teg-teg’s mind, it makes perfect sense that educating our fellow citizens, giving them access to health care, and assuring they’ll be able to one day retire without falling into abject poverty is … FASCISM. Why? Because accomplishing these lofty but noble goals means sharing in the burden of funding them, which means taxes, and to Tea Party and libertarian minds, taxation is theft. 

What would Jesus do? If you’re a Tea Party Christian, he’d ignore the poor, shun same-sex couples, and force female citizens to have babies they don’t want. That’s not the Jesus I remember learning about in Sunday School. Can I get a ruling on this, Referee Jimmy Carter?

Social democratic countries have high taxation—true—and a high standard of living, extremely low unemployment, highly educated citizens, virtually no homelessness, and better health outcomes. What they don’t have is obscene income inequality. If that’s socialism, I’ll take it.

The Shredder also wants money out of politics, the pinko commie! Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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