Given all of the evidence, it still boggles the mind that North Americans can fail to grasp the simple fact that our European, Latin American, Asian, African and Australian cousins already understand as clear as day: liberalism is a right-wing ideology not altogether different from conservatism insofar as it does not care about workers. Liberalism, is not less favourable to economic élites than conservatism and if we needed any more proof on this matter [which we really didn't], we were given it on a gold plate this past Friday.
On Bill Maher’s popular HBO television series Real Time, Paul Krugman, prototypical liberal economists and author of such best sellers as The Conscience of a Liberal, gave a shining example of what exactly liberalism is and how that contrasts with what it is commonly assumed in North America to mean.
During the interview, Krugman tried to moronically suggest that Bush’s massive bailout of U.S. capitalists with generous executive compensation packages at the expense of U.S. workers was “Commissar [Henry] Paulson seizing the means of production… [and this is] the most socialistic move that we’ve seen from any U.S. administration.” This, of course, is like calling white black or saying that one plus two equals a barrel of monkeys.
Krugman should be given credit for mastering doublethink. It takes special talent to call what Bush did a socialist move considering the plain truth that it is obviously the most fascistic move that we’ve seen from any U.S. administration. Bush’s move demonstrates a collusion between the state and capital by using workers’ money to reinforce private capital WITHOUT seizing the means of production and thus is the epitome of a fascistic move.
It should be pointed out here that the background of this issue not explored by Krugman during his interview, is that U.S. Tresury Secretary Henry Paulson (whom Krugman called a “commissar”) is opposing a push by Democrats in the U.S. Congress to impose a limit on how much taxpayer money the wealthy capitalists who ran their companies into the ground can keep for themselves personally.
[U.S. Congressman Barney] Frank, who has been in phone discussions with [U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry "Hank"] Paulson, said the secretary appeared receptive to adding some foreclosure-relief language. The second Democratic proposal — to impose compensation limits on Wall Street executives [emphasis added] — is meeting more resistance.
“Hank [Paulson] says it’s a poison pill,” Frank said. “I say I don’t think it’s very patriotic for someone to not give up his golden parachute when we’re trying to save the markets.”
So there you have the difference between conservative and liberal morality in a nutshell, summarized as succinctly as could ever be wished.
Conservatives want no limit to how much taxpayer money wealthy capitalists can take for themselves while workers starve and lose their 401(k)s. Liberals, on the other hand being much more spineless than their conservative counterparts, want some (high) limits on how much taxpayer money wealthy capitalists can keep for themselves, but may in the end prove willing to negotiate to make sure that it’s not too arduous a limit that would be unsatisfactory to conservatives.
Socialists like myself, on the other hand, are the only ones presenting a unique moral and economic argument of what to do this situation. We say: the amount of taxpayer money wealthy capitalists who ran their companies into the ground should get as their reward: zero.
And to boot, we socialists will also throw in for free the ancillary benefit that the capitalists should also be forced to forfeit their right to exploit workers simply because they own the means of production.
Finally, if any capitalist objects to the socialist notion that the workers should be the primary benefactors of the distribution of taxpayer’s money, socialists like myself if we were in power, would simply invite these capitalists to take up free room and board in the nearest local penitentiary.
For those interested, you can view the entire Paul Krugman interview, in all its doublethink glory, here.