Last November, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell admitted on air to being a socialist.
In a segment on "The Last Word" Tuesday addressing how Cuba - a country nearing economic ruin - is moving towards capitalism, O'Donnell said, "We are all socialists in this country who support public education, state funded universities, government-run hospitals, Medicare, Social Security, classic socialistic programs that have sensibly found their way into the American economy" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: The Communist Party of Cuba continues its relentless march toward capitalism, of course. But the Castro brothers can never admit that their revolutionary ideal of a pure socialistic economy is impossible to maintain, and the more Cuba clings to it, the more Cuba suffers.
Fidel actually hinted at this as far back as the first party congress when, after the first 15 years of strict Cuban socialism, he said, on December 17th, 1975, "there is no doubt that in the organization of our economy we have erred on the side of idealism and sometimes even ignored the reality of the objective economic laws we should comply with."
Interesting that an avowed socialist understands that over 35 years ago even Fidel Castro realized his country's economic structure couldn't survive:
Yesterday, the Cuban government issued hundreds of new guidelines intended to open the Cuban economy to more capitalism. Of course, the word capitalism never appears in the guidelines and never appears in current Cuban President Raul Castro’s official explanation of what the guidelines are intended to do.
In a speech about the new guidelines a few weeks ago, Raul Castro said, "I can assure you that the guidelines are an expression of our people’s will contained in the policy of the party, the government and the state to update the economic and social model in order to secure the continuity and irreversibility of socialism, as well as the economic development of the country and the improvement of the living standard of our people."
O'Donnell chose to hide from his viewers the reason for these changes: the economy in Cuba continues to stagnate, and the government can't afford all the services it's providing. But I digress:
So when the Castro brothers are forced to accept the irreversibility of more capitalism in the Cuban economy, it must be described as in Raul’s words, "securing the continuity and irreversibility of socialism."
Cuba is as hung up on refusing to admit that its economy includes some capitalism as the United States is hung up on the refusal to admit that our economy includes some socialism. No other countries in the world are so fixated on the refusal to acknowledge the inevitable mix of socialism and capitalism in their economies.
Under the new Cuban guidelines, Cubans will be allowed to legally buy and sell homes for the first time, as well as automobiles. Some private farming will be allowed. There will be an expansion of legally allowed self employment.
The new guidelines will, as if following Paul Ryan’s lead, shrink the social safety net. The ration book which all Cubans get and provides them with government subsidized food and other items will be trimmed. Raul Castro sounded downright Republican in criticizing the ration system.
He said, "since the ration book is designed to provide equal coverage to 11 million Cubans, there are more than a few examples of absurdities, such as allocating a quota of coffee to the newborn."
You don’t have to read between the lines to know that the ration book is on its way to becoming Cuba’s version of our food stamp program. Instead of providing government subsidized food for everyone, Cuba will eventually be providing it for those only who need it, just like we do.
That's debatable. How many able-bodied people in our nation receive food stamps because they choose to and just know how to manipulate the system?
Raul Castro said, quote, "the social welfare system is being reorganized to ensure a rational and deferential support to those who really need it. Instead of massively subsidizing products as we do now, we shall gradually provide for those people lacking other support."
In other words, we have started the process of scaling back Cuban socialism to something much closer to American socialism.
Fascinating. So, an avowed American socialist recognizes that our socialist neighbor to the south is scaling back its own socialism in order to improve its economy and therefore standard of living for its people. Isn't this an indictment against socialism? Not to O'Donnell:
I have explained in this space before how "Newsweek" reached the logical conclusion, expressed on its February 16th, 2009 cover "We Are All Socialists Now." We are all socialists in this country who support public education, state funded universities, government-run hospitals, Medicare, Social Security, classic socialistic programs that have sensibly found their way into the American economy.
The truth is in this country, we’re all socialists to varying degrees and we’re all capitalists. If the Castro Brothers allowed "Newsweek" to publish a Cuban edition, which they never will, its cover this week would surely be "We’re All Capitalists Now."
Indeed, but if socialism is failing so badly in Cuba that a brother of Fidel Castro's is beginning to dismantle it, why would an American be pushing for more socialism here?
The Soviet Union crumbled under the weight of socialism, European nations like Greece are beginning to do so, and the brother of Fidel Castro's is moving away from it to save his nation.
Yet, here in America, Lawrence O'Donnell along with vast numbers of other prominent media members go on television or write articles every day telling citizens that additional socialism will solve all our economic problems.
This is akin to a man with herpes surrounded by dying AIDS victims thinking he needs a little HIV to remove the painful blisters from his genitals.
The reality is for most Americans and all Cubans, socialism wasn't a choice. If you were born after 1965, virtually all of the social programs you've been forced to pay into were already in existence.
As the cost of such programs is what is indeed exploding our debt while causing massive deficits as far as the eye can see, the solution can't possibly be creating more social programs and/or expanding the ones that currently exist.
As amazing as it might seem, Fidel Castro's brother - whether he wants to admit it or not - gets this.
Even more amazing, people like O'Donnell - with all their schooling and accessibility to information - don't.