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Peter Riva

View from the Edge

Peter Riva of Gila has offered his many years of columns for this online newspaper. His writings have been published in East Coast newspapers, and he decided to share them with me and you, our readers.

Don’t Be Afraid: Socialized Programs Are Already In Place

by Peter Riva - Sept. 20, 2012

Subsidized, socialized, taxpayer funded programs already over-populate the government budget. In the next few months, you will hear those damning words “socialized medicine” as a way to frighten you away from dastardly pinko, pseudo-communist, health proposals which supposedly can only make the government more intrusive into our daily lives, provide tons of government jobs and bureaucracy, and lead us into the spoon-fed failure that is Europe… well, perhaps that is no longer the terrible example it was ten years ago (seeing as the Euro of now 20% more valuable than the dollar and six countries there have a balanced budget). Well, never mind, hmmm… socialized anything is evil, right?

And so today came the announcement that the next generation Air Force bomber has been secretly funded by your tax dollar to the tune of $2,000,000,000. The NGB demonstrator by Northrop Grumman is probably a twin-engine aircraft resembling an X-47B. Oh, and by the way, the X-47B only cost $1,500,000,000 to develop. That’s $3,500,000,000 so far. Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with socialized subsidized government?

What, you thought that Boeing designed the 707 as a civilian aircraft? Nope. It was technology developed for the Air Force with your tax dollar: engines, aluminum, wiring, controls, avionics and a whole host of radar, transponders, in-flight systems and tires, landing gear, and so forth. Even the concrete for the runways was designed to Air Force specs. You fly? You are sitting in a subsidized, taxpayer funded, socialized (for the benefit of all) program. And when it came to the 747… you guessed it, we paid for these planes’ technology all over again.

If you read the acts of Congress to fund these programs, they all have, at their core, the benefits, the justification, for these war programs as: jobs, industrial strength (good for national security and financial advantage), new business (jobs, again, and economic advantage) and, not least but almost always last – “an advantage over the enemy or enemies to come.” Enemies remain undefined.

You want Congress to pay for the development of something? Make your system or program fit a public need, a public benefit, hammer away at job opportunities and stability, hammer away at long-term benefits to the general economy, and you’ll score. Think that nuclear submarines designed in the midst of the Cold War are still necessary? We have an excess of them according to some experts. Yet, Liberman was able to secure the Electric Boat company’s continuation based on local jobs and national economic benefits to supporting industries. Not once should he, nor did he really (if you read what he actually said), pretend there was an enemy out there we were building them for. “Just in case,” doesn’t work in Congress, a Congress used to socialized benefits and spending. You have got to have a hook – and any benefit to all Americans usually does the trick.

Now along comes the electioneering argument for a national medical policy, one in which all Americans can have medical coverage. Evil “Socialized medicine,” the anti-pundits scream, yet stay silent when it comes to airplanes and a whole host of other programs (GPS, Lasers, Nano-technology, electronics, chips, WiFi… the list of government paid-for “inventions” is endless). And yet, these same people are perfectly prepared to have a CAT scan (a perfect example of socialized medicine – a free hand-me down to industry, developed at NASA to scan the Apollo capsule), an MRI, and most of your modern medicines (partly funded with tax incentives, tax breaks and, let’s not forget, testing programs underwritten by the FDA and hospitals receiving billions of dollars in Medicaid and Medicare).

I am not against our tax dollars being spent this way. Personally, I love to fly and I’m alive because of an MRI and a CAT scan, not to mention modern medicines. I just wish people would be honest and see that these investments, investments which later trickle-down into the public arena for business benefit are what have always made this country great. The trans-American railroad was another example. Where would we be without the AT&T cables connecting the country? What, you thought that was only private enterprise? Guess again. Besides land-grab eminent domain issues (another form of subsidy), the cables were laid across land as designed by the government, connecting centers of strategic importance.

So, when you hear people screaming against any national health plan, remember that the beneficiary will be you and this great nation. The economy of scale will be a bureaucratic nightmare, to be sure (just as the Defense budget is), but we can manage it. And who knows what the benefit will be in decades to come? Meanwhile, that child next to you at the supermarket will have a better chance of living, longer. Not a bad reason to see “socialized” as being sociable, friendly and caring.

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