Paul Jacob

“Nothing is impossible,” says Hugo Chavéz.

Venezuelan President Chavéz is wrong, of course. Not only are some imagined things not possible, his dream of socialism is one of them.

That is, the idea that government can run everything and that the people will remain happy and free . . . that’s an impossible notion. Socialism kicks out all the mechanisms we have to calculate economic value. That’s why socialism, after umpteen tries, has consistently proven it cannot deliver the goods in a large consumer economy — not without reintroducing markets by the back door, like Lenin did. And then faking it.

Chavéz said this in a context. He was entreating our president to join him “on the road to socialism.”

But if you ask increasing numbers of critics and conservatives and just plain ordinary folks, President Obama has already embarked on the path to socialism. So Hugo Rafael Chavéz Frías’s beseeching of Barack Hussein Obama seems like making icing for a cake already in the mouth.

I’m going out on a limb here. I don’t think Obama wants to go all the way.

Sure, Obama wants more government: more spending, more programs, more regulation. He is certainly willing to risk more debt to “get us out” of the current calamity (of, amusingly, too much bad debt). And he plans to fiddle with the tax code, to make it “more equitable.” But does this show a high-mindedness, or is he merely trying to buy off a different (and larger) sector of the electorate than George Walker Bush was buying off with his tax code fiddlings?

Policy, schmolicy. It’s the special interests, stupid.

Barack Obama is a politician. He thinks like one. He is always aware of how governments can reward special blocs of voters and donors.

But, many say, our beloved president was once a Marxist. He was a campus radical. His father was a Marxist. Blah blah, and more blah. This all may be true. But people do grow up. Politicians are rewarded in America; Marxists are not (except, of course, on college campuses). So I’m not going to pretend that Barack Obama’s any more of a socialist than FDR was.

And FDR was no socialist. He was merely the worst corporatist in American history.

I could be wrong. Chavéz could be right. It is not impossible that Obama is a closet socialist.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.