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A Long Overdue Discussion on the Stark Differences Between a Center-Left Liberal vs. a Left-WIng Radical

A Long Overdue Discussion on the Stark Differences Between a Center-Left Liberal vs. a Left-WIng Radical
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    A Long Overdue Discussion on the Stark Differences   Between a Center-Left Liberal vs. a Left-Wing Radical   By Anand Shastri March 10 th , 2013  It is quite astonishing how often people respond to me or others identifying as a Democrat on fiscal issues (although I certainly identify with the liberal wing of the DEMS on most social ones, too) by calling me a socialist or communist, etc. First off, the very fact I believe in the political process, and am a social liberal, immediately eliminates communism; but yes, it certainly does not eliminate socialism. This confusion occurs primarily on the Right, but in many cases, the Left as well. First, there is a notion amongst rightists, but leftists too, that being affluent or even upper-middle class, and being a fiscal liberal is hypocritical, which is preposterous. It is this misguided view, which maybe more than anything is what prompted me to write this article. PLEASE do not confuse a center-left fiscal liberal, and an all-out, left-wing, fiscal radical. Center-lefties like me only believe in government promoting equal opportunity, and a safety net for the disadvantaged that is temporary, with the exception of the elderly. Thus, the 3 points major differences between the Center-Left and the Left-Wing are the following: 1) equal opportunity vs. equal outcome, 2) government working to make the private sector better, and also doing things the private sector does not want to do vs. government eliminating the private sector, and lastly, 3) a welfare-state that is only cradle and grave vs. cradle-to-grave. The first point of contention between center-lefties like me in contrast to the left-wing radicals is supporting the goal of equal opportunity, as opposed to equal outcome. I actually have no problem with high levels of economic inequality in and of itself. In fact, technological advances require some level of inequality. However, the problem is that the disproportionate number of those in poverty are children, and it is in this stage of life where opportunity matters most. Growing up poor generally results in a lower quality of education, poor nutrition, and a highly unstable family unit, and in many cases, none at all, just to name a few. So, center-lefties like me believe in a progressive taxation system primarily to ensure some level of equal opportunity. But hear me out. Yes, a child of any income level should receive the best education, great healthcare and nutrition, as well as a safe environment to grow up in. Any aspiring youth should also have the opportunity to go to college.  Also, if it hadn’t been for my family working in healthcare fields, I would most likely be a corpse, while the best case scenario would almost certainly be confined to life in a wheelchair. Thus, I can empathize with a temporary safety net, be it 5 years of food welfare, or Medicaid, etc. However, if despite all of these opportunities, and a cushion, someone still wants to do nothing with his or her life, then at point the sympathy of the Center-Left has run out. Thus, I have no problem with wealth per se as one can be the richest person and the world, and still be a center-left liberal because we only believe in a progressive tax system and equal opportunity. Yet one cannot be the richest person in the world and be a socialist because this type of ideology believes in equal outcome. The second area of major discrepancy between center-left liberals and left-wing radicals our view of government and its relationship to the free market. In the case of modern liberals, we do believe in the Lockean principles this country was founded on of private property, free market, and limited government…we merely believe that there are unpreventable side effects of the free market where government must step in. We also believe that there are things government should do to help the free market function better such as prevent monopolization, allow small businesses a fighting chance to succeed in the market, and demand full disclosure of businesses to promote ethical practices. However, we center-lefties do not believe that the federal government should eliminate businesses altogether, while left-wing radicals certainly do believe in complete elimination of the market. Furthermore, there are some types of important goals in society that because they are not “money - makers” repel entrepreneurs from providing these services. Generally, helping take care of the homeless, or very vulnerable people in general is not really something most business people are interested. However, government can be, and by assisting the most vulnerable, it allows for more consumers in the marketplace to buy products and services offered by businesses.    Finally, the last point of contention between liberals and socialists is the role of and size of government, especially the welfare-state. Many European countries have welfare-states defined as “cradle to grave”, which means that from the moment one enters society, they are guaranteed governmental assistance, which although changes in form and type is a lifelong recipient. This is something that center-lefties like me are for the most part against. We do believe in a safety for the disadvantaged, which to me is the children, the elderly, and the disabled. In the case of the former, it is providing equal opportunity. In the case of our seniors, it is merely a belief in repaying people who have worked their entire lives to help America prosper in future generations. Finally, in the case of the disabled, it is also about preventing more serious, long-term costs. Providing a helping hand does not mean making them millionaires. So, next time someone says they agree with the DEMS on fiscal issues, please think twice before using terms such as socialist, commie, or radical.
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