Unbeknownst to most Americans listening to 2012 campaign rhetoric, what’s being pitched is “free-market socialism." An oxymoron? Not exactly. “Free-market socialism,” a version of “market socialism,” is so named because it does not involve planners, as most of us understand that word. It is, in essence, a kinder and gentler form of highly regulated enterprise that nevertheless steers a nation toward an entitlement society with an emphasis on government-supplied jobs under the guise of entrepreneurship and “open” markets.
Because “socialism,” per se, carries negative connotations for most Americans — most younger voters don’t know exactly what it means anyway — it’s fairly easy to deceive the public into believing a candidate stands for free-market principles, as in the Founders’ vision, and still accept a welfare state, complete with bailouts, federal control of production, and government-created jobs, using the private sector only as proxies (contract entities).
The term “free-market socialism” was first bandied about on American college campuses in the 1960s by political science professors capitalizing on leftist-generated student rebellions. Purportedly, it combined a functional system of entitlements with a highly regulated (and therefore “fair”) free-market.
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