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Political Turning Points

by Bill McGaughey


Both Obama and McCain agree that we need to change Washington. But what kind of change is it? Big political change or little change? I’m in favor of big change.

First let me address the question of socialism vs. the free market. The socialist state was brought down by its totalitarian nature. What we have now in our country is the fusion of politics and big money which might be called “business totalitarianism”. This the worst of both worlds. It has to change.

When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989-90, the end of history was predicted. Capitalism had won. Government had only a limited role in the economy. Some of its functions were privatized. Businesses, including the financial sector, were widely deregulated. Now we can see the result of that failed policy: more than a trillion dollars of taxpayer subsidies to bail out financial institutions.

Pure capitalism can be hell. The pendulum needs now to swing in the other direction. Some enterprises need to be managed by government.

I’m in favor of socialized medicine, for instance. For the cost of the Prescription Drug benefit to seniors, we could have a new system of free service for all U.S. residents paid for by the federal government. My proposal is presented at

There is a corrupt relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies in which doctors are given financial incentives to prescribe certain brands of drugs. Doctors increase their incomes by prescribing unneeded drugs. This is failed medicine. The delivery system needs to be changed.

Free market principles do not govern medicine. Health care is a state-sanctioned monopoly. We do not have an adversarial relationship between buyer and seller but a system where the seller - the doctor - makes buying decisions and a third party - insurance companies - pay for it. It is a failed economic system. Socialized medicine, run by the government, could do better.

Now I suppose it will seem strange that someone who heads a Property Rights organization in Minneapolis would say these kinds of things. However, privately owned rental housing is governed by principles of the free market. Our concerns have to do with competition from subsidized housing, excessive regulation by city government, and lack of protection from crime. We are not supported by government (except in Section 8 vouchers) but treated by it as a lower species on the food chain.

Now let me discuss another turning point: the death of Civil Rights-style politics. This kind of politics leads to a politics of hate. It leads to conclusions that American society - presumably, your society as well as mine - is evil. White people are evil. Males are evil. There is “institutional racism” where it does not matter how a white person personally interacts with black people - he is inherently racist and evil, subject to a political version of Original Sin. His "racism" is on auto-pilot. He had better not think the wrong way.

There is also the stigma of anti-Semitism if someone criticizes Israel. So our foreign policy is all messed up. In this area, too, we’re into demonization and hate.

Barack Obama sounded the death knell of this kind of politics when he said that there was not a black America or white America but a United States of America. Obama hated neither his white mother nor his black father. His was an identity of racial inclusion. This was a major contribution to our political culture. It marked, I think, a political turning point.

I don’t know if Minnesota is ready for this type of politics. I sense that
most political activists are too deeply committed to the old system or are
gripped by fear. We still haven’t had a meaningful and authentic discussion of race; and, if we had one, the newspapers wouldn’t cover it.

With respect to the immigration question, there are two camps seeking political victory. One camp says the illegal immigrants are lawbreakers who should be rounded up and sent home. The other says that critics of unrestricted immigration are bigots akin to the southern segregationists who were crushed in the '60s. It’s a matter of amassing enough enough political power to roll your opponent. That's how the old politics works. You present yourself, real or imagined, as "David" and club "Goliath" over the head.

I think, however, that the "bigots" have a legitimate beef in the taxpayer-financed services that are extended to illegal immigrants and their families while their employers benefit from dirt-cheap labor. If employers picked up more of this cost, maybe the idea of amnesty - an end to the threat of deportation if not full citizenship - would become politically feasible. Maybe compromise is possible.

Right now, we’re facing an economic crisis. Attention should fall upon a better matching of costs and benefits rather than of the benefits always going to the politically strong while unorganized taxpayers pay for them. That’s a turning point that I would welcome. See my philosophy of government.

Bill McGaughey

Independence Party candidate for Congress
5th district of Minnesota


(Note: A version of this was posted on the Minneapolis e-democracy forum on September 19, 2008.)

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