Paul Jacob

Socialism has always rested on fantasy. There’s no more persistent folly than the fantasy that you can borrow and borrow forever and forever, living off of others’ savings and “the future,” world without end. And that this is, of all things, progress. You know, “progressive.”

By drawing a line against “socialist Obamacare,” Republicans are only being responsible. Republican leaders may not be wholly honest with the American people — probably on the mistaken belief that Americans “can’t handle the truth” — but at least Republicans have a hunch that now is the time to stop. And “socialist” Stewart doesn’t. No joke.

But, on the other hand, Mises may have been right. Accepting the premises and the programs of redistribution and central control is socialistic. It’s not merely dangerous in the dose, it’s dangerous at bottom. It can only lead to bad consequences that politicians and demagogues then (almost inevitably) identify as problems for government to solve, thus making the march towards total government all the more certain. Once you accept the premise of socialism in one sphere, you are bound to see it increase elsewhere.

And that makes the major Republican politicians — save, perhaps, for Ron Paul — what Mises would have said they were, just a bunch of socialists. Witless ones, at that. Easy prey for a wittier communard, like Stewart.

By mocking Republican hypocrisy, Stewart avoids the big question, the one that makes this issue more than just another argument about labels. And what is that? The insolvency of these half-socialist programs. Their fraudulent nature; their pitting of one group of people against another: that is, their part in making politics as ugly — and as laughable — as Jon Stewart sees it.

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.