In the 1930s, a congressman named Maury Maverick defined liberalism in three words: “Freedom plus groceries.” That’s how I define it, too. Liberalism is a both/and philosophy. There is no freedom without groceries. There are no groceries without freedom. What people call “capitalism” and “socialism” are actually one and inseparable. It’s a virtuous circle.
Consider healthcare. We all of us—libertarians, conservatives and liberals—want a growing economy. And we all agree that a growing economy requires entrepreneurial dynamism.
So ask yourself this: In a country in which health insurance isn’t guaranteed, how many millions of Americans with great ideas find it impossible to become entrepreneurs because they’re terrified to leave their job, because then they would lose their health insurance and ruin their lives if they get sick?
Now, in response to something like that, you’ll hear my fellow debaters repeat a curious fallacy, a crushing intellectual failure. They’ll act like only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.
Consider, however, a corporation like Walnart, which had $447 billion in revenue this year, bigger than the gross domestic product of all but seventeen of the world’s nations. But according to libertarianism and conservatism, Walmart can only produce liberty. It can never curtail it. Even if they fire you for no reason at all—and by law there’s nothing you can do about it.
Conservatives and libertarians somehow believe that you are freer if an entity bigger than the economies of Austria, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates is simply left alone to act against you in whatever way it wishes. Only liberals know how to make you freer on the job, which is where most of us suffer the gravest indignities in our lives.
And Bob Borosage brings us back to reality on the economy, Budget Bedlam: Common Sense in the Madhouse.
Washington is careening off the fiscal cliff smack into the debt ceiling. These mind-numbing mixed metaphors are not the currency of a well-governed nation.
Once more, Washington is fixated on what and how to cut. Once more, the media is clamoring for a deal, for “shared sacrifice.” Once more, Republicans have indicated that they are prepared to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to exact deep cuts in spending, with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid their primary targets. Once more, the president has indicated that he wants more deficit reduction, with a “balanced” program mixing spending cuts with tax hikes.
“Our government, “ wrote Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.” But in Washington’s budget bedlam, reason gets lost in the din. As we hurdle the sequester while bouncing off the debt ceiling, it’s worth remembering some basic common sense about where we are.
Digby has a great video posted of the Progressive Change Campaign Committees Adam Green’s recent appearance on C-SPAN, Progressive Talk.
Adam Green talked about the work of his Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and the organization’s agenda for the 113th Congress.*He also outlined what progressives would like to see from President Obama in his second term, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.*Topics included tax rates, Social Security and Medicare, jobs in the oil and gas industry, AIG’s potential lawsuit against the U.S. government, and President Obama’s negotiation skills.