Glenn Beck has insisted upon it and protesters have shouted it: Americans hate socialism. At least, those Americans, including the man himself, capable of believing a word Glenn Beck says, hate socialism. Beck and his cohorts at Fox News, accompanied by their hordes of followers, have recently begun to increase efforts to halt what they perceive to be America’s move toward socialism. The blame, they claim, for this nonexistent movement falls squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama.
The main reason some suspect Obama of socialist ideals is his insistence on health care reform. Conservatives see any change with potential to decrease profit margins of large companies as an affront to both capitalism and freedom. The fact that these two things are antithetical aside, it must be understood that health care reform is no threat to capitalism. The capitalist economic system is only viable when competition exists within society. It can scarcely be argued that there is adequate competition today to keep health insurance companies in check. Health care reform would bring to the field this necessary, beneficial competition.
Conservatives argue also that other regulations proposed by the Obama Administration are threats to capitalism. This includes cap-and-trade reform and other attempts at environmental regulation. It is, of course, true that setting emissions limits for companies would, in the short term, reduce the profits of those companies. However, it is also true that, over a larger space of time, these regulations could potentially increase profits. Most American companies rely on oil, natural gas, coal and other inefficient energy sources to power their factories. These sources are both damaging to the environment and relatively expensive. This means that the change from these sources to renewable energy has the potential to increase profitability of companies while having a beneficial effect on the environment.
Nonetheless, conservatives see cap-and-trade and other instances of reform as threats to capitalism. Perhaps it is so, perhaps every attempt to regulate the market is an attack on Capitalism, on the American way of life. Obviously, then, we must block all attempts at reform. But, equally obviously, we must apply the same critical eye retroactively, to all past reforms. Let us abolish the FDA, scrap minimum wage requirements, make child labor legal once again, after all, the small hands of young children are invaluable in factories. Bringing back slavery would send profits through the roof, why not try that? After all, why should we let Comrade Lincoln decide what we, as Americans, can and cannot do with our chains?
It may seem, to some, a cheap shot to compare deregulated markets to slavery. But, in truth, it was a belief in the importance of profit over human rights that led to slavery. It is this same belief that causes some to believe in the importance of the "free" market. A market conducive to freedom requires regulation. In a society governed by absolute capitalism, only the market can be free. It is the failure to grasp this idea that stirs in many Americans, and others, the fearful hatred of market reform.