Fein: In defense of government: conservative propaganda comes to NU

Jordan Fein

Last spring, some foreign fliers began appearing on Northwestern’s campus. Their primary message was clear: “Socialism sucks.” In addition to these words, the fliers featured a bastardized version of the Obama campaign’s symbol emblazoned with workers wielding hammers and sickles. They cited “Animal Farm,” “A Brave New World” and other tales of totalitarianism as “support” for their central claim. A full-page advertisement of the same nature graced The Daily’s pages on May 26, 2009.

Health insurance companies and their think-tank and Congressional cronies have been delivering similar propaganda messages throughout the country. They have succeeded in eliminating a public option and other measures that would contain costs and provide coverage to millions from the health care reform legislation being debated in Congress. But more importantly, these campaigns represent another battle in the war against government long waged by free-market ideologues like Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan. In health care, as in greater American society, unregulated private industry has proven itself unable to provide basic services to those who need them the most.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute fired the anti-government advertisement barrage at NU last spring and have been followed by friendly chaps contending President Barack Obama is a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.

A strong public option wouldn’t “suck” for the tens of millions of Americans to whom it would provide affordable, secure coverage or for the country’s finances, as the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would reduce the deficit by $104 billion over 10 years. However, it might suck for Wellpoint, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and other monopolistic health care companies, which would be forced to minimize their monstrous profits in order to stay competitive with a public plan.

The central idea behind the “socialism sucks” slogan, that government is the problem instead of the solution, is simply ludicrous. We drive our cars on government-maintained roads, eat FDA-approved food, mail letters with the USPS, can come home after a government-mandated maximum 40-hour workweek and unconsciously reap the benefits of a chronically under-appreciated federal government in myriad other ways.

Conservatives played the socialism card during the debate over Medicare, and now these programs are so popular they have forgotten their old opposition and have anointed themselves the saintly defenders of government-supported health care for the elderly. If passed, a public option will be similarly vindicated, and conservatives will once again have to conveniently forget the apocalyptic promises made in years past.

Weinberg junior Jordan Fein can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s Note: The original version of this story contained an error regarding Michelle Easton’s previous titles and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. The errors have been removed.