The U.S. branch of the Socialist International recently held a convention in New York City. Under the chairmanship of Bayard Rustin, the Socialists mapped ambitious plans to work through the Democratic Party and the unions in order to achieve the goal of a Government takeover of our economy. Carl Gershman said the organization sought “to transform the Democratic Party into the Social Democratic Party.”
Two days after the convention dispersed, the Lou Harris Poll reported that 83 percent of the American people oppose Socialism, and that there is virtually no demand from the American people for “the Federal Government to take over and run most big business.”
When the oil crisis hit last winter, a number of politicians tried to capitalize on the inconvenience and inflated costs we all suffered, by floating proposals for stringent Federal regulation of the oil industry, for placing a Government representative on company boards of directors, and even for actual Government takeover. The Harris Poll shows that Americans oppose all these ideas by overwhelming majorities.
The most interesting sidelight on U.S. public opinion revealed in this particular survey is that American voters reject any suggestion that the Federal Government take over big companies that have gone broke, such as Lockheed or Penn Central, for the reason that, “as badly as Penn Central has been run, it would be even worse if the Federal Government took it over.”
Ever since the New Deal, universities have been training aspiring bureaucrats filled with the faith that they had the knowledge and the know how to run our economy better than it can run itself. Now we find that, after 40 years of the most stridently anti-business propaganda that big business is “greedy,” “selfish,” eager to make “profits at the expense of the public,” and “badly run,” (and these are all words taken from the Lou Harris survey), the American voters have concluded that the Federal Government would do an “even worse” Job.
It may be that this fervently anti-Socialist conclusion by the big majority of Americans is an unexpected and happy residual of Watergate, which simply turned people off as to the integrity and the competence of the Federal bureaucracy. The Socialists ought to disband and apply their energies to more popular pursuits than promoting a Government takeover of the economy. Unfortunately, history shows that they make up in persistence what they lack in logic, common sense, and empathy with the American voters.
America has been able to give more good things to more people than any nation in the history of the world — NOT because government solved our problems, but because government stayed out of the way and let the initiative and inventiveness of man solve our problems ourselves. This is the lesson that needs to be retold to each generation.