LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Slanted news drives perceptions

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Letters declaring that President Obama is thirsting for the day he turns America into a communist or socialist dictatorship pop up from time to time in this forum. The writers of these letters in all probability show serious devotion to particular radio and TV personalities and to a particular news network. Along the way, they haven't picked up a real understanding of socialism and communism.

Communism is a political theory. Socialism is an economic theory. All communists are socialists but few socialist nations in the world today are communists. Socialism is strictly defined as government ownership of the major means of production and control over the distribution of goods.

The Soviet Union fit this definition. It collapsed due to inefficiency and lack of incentive. The U.S. is not socialist now nor heading toward socialism in this regard. Even Sweden isn't socialist by this definition.

What people object to are social welfare programs. Canada, the United Kingdom and a number of other countries do have socialized medicine. Obama's health-care program is not socialized medicine. The doctors will not be employees of the government, and insurance companies will remain private. A large number of older Americans crying "commies and socialists" would be impoverished without Social Security and Medicare. Fifty percent of Americans have used food stamps at one time or another. Veterans deserve healthcare.

Impartial research shows that the middle class has been in decline while the upper income levels have been taking a larger and larger share of the national pie over time, and at an increasing rate. We have creeping plutocracy, not creeping socialism.

The most amazing thing of all is that many people on the short end of the stick have been fooled into supporting wealthy Americans, banks and corporations by demanding there be no higher taxes on the rich, and few to no regulations on companies and banks. These people have been feeding the hand that bites them -- a slick trick in anyone's book.

Many wealthy Americans have increased their wealth lately with nonproductive speculation. Those American companies which have been productive have created more jobs overseas than in the U.S.

If you are locked into only viewing left- or right-wing slanted news and commentary, try to watch the PBS NewsHour for a week. You'll see a difference. We need to wake up, be able to think straight, and do things differently or "hello banana republic!"

Norm Osterman
Walla Walla

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