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A citizen at a McCain mob rally yesterday exploded in anger. “I’m really angry,” he shouted, “and it’s not about the economy. We have got to stop this before ‘they’ turn our country into a socialist state.” Well, it brought a chuckle, since this buffoon obviously doesn’t know a thing about economics or what is going on presently in this country. Worse yet, he hasn’t a clue what is going on in his own party.

Now let me preface all by saying, I know little about economics. I don’t say that with any sense of pride. To the contrary, it is a deeply shameful thing to me at this point. I am more than willing to mea culpa myself to death. I owe myself and my fellow citizens more. I, as a functional adult in the US of A have a responsibility to understand at least the basics of all this stuff.

But it seems to me, given my limitations, that the bailout and others that have preceeded it over the decades (remember Chrysler back in the 80’s or 90’s?), are governmental assumption of bad debt. It seems to me, and please tell me if I am wrong, that the government is now in the business of banking. I’m told that the Bush administration is now considering buying actual shares in these failing banking institutions as a way to control and stabilize them.

Now I may be a tad rusty here folks, but last time I recall reading a definition of socialism, it included “government ownership of the means of production.” Does that not include financial institutions? I mean they are the ones who finance the actual means of production, such as steel and oil and other such tangible touchable industry.

If that is so, then government, thanks to the Republican party is engaged in socialism all ready. And I submit, it appears that the government has been doing this for some time, across more than one administration, Republican or Democratic.

Now our mobster at the rally, seems either not to know this (shame on him) or he only means socialism as it pertains to social programs such as health care and social security (gosh was that socialism?) medicare, Veterans health and education benefits, food stamps and on and on.

In any event, it seems that with regulation or not, the “private sector” seems intent on greed as its central mantra to the exclusion of morals, common sense, or any of the regular expectations that we as humans expect of institutions run by humans. Thus, periodically, the government seems called upon to step in and take on burdens and clean up messes caused by over-reaching humans bent on acquiring until they burst at the seams from their gluttony. The bursting of course spews sewer bilge across this fair land and we have to pay a hefty price as taxpayers to clean ourselves up.

It begins to beg the question. While every politician continues to spout that “free markets are good” much as Gecko spouted that “greed was good,” maybe it ain’t so. If free markets are incapable of maintaining their addiction at a level they can control, and frequently overdose, requiring heroic medical help in the form of bailouts, then perhaps, just perhaps, the rehab approach isn’t working.

Once upon a time, most markets were pretty much confined to the USA. If we sent goods overseas, as I recall, it was pretty much a one way street. There was plenty of competition at home. No more. Today’s markets are global, competition is pretty much gone, having been supplanted by ginormous mega-corporations which sell fertilizer alongside medical supplies, along side dog food, in addition to 5,000 other goods and services.

Big business is not big, its merging into ever greater and greater conglomerates. The recent demise of so many banking institutions will only increase the size of the remaining players. These institutions are now global, having their fingers in more pies than little Jack Horner.

Worse, regulation fails I suspect, to dent their practices. After all, for the most part they are in full control of the “regulatory” agencies. That’s just for starters. They operate, and often headquarter, in places that protect them from regulation and taxation. They buy and sell congress persons at will.

In the end, they behave like the typical toddler who is obedient as long as you are there supervising their every move, but leave the room for five minutes and they are back at doing exacting the opposite of what they were instructed to do. If we are going to have to stay on top of the typical corporation so that it doesn’t start playing with matches, then perhaps it’s just better to own the things outright and protect the other residents of the house from conflagration.

What we have now witnessed, is a group of smart little asses, who figured a way to make a lot of money by playing some game with mortgages. It is all a lot of hocus pocus with risky investments that now every major CEO claims nobody really understood in the first place. And the upshot of all this teenage exuberance, is that the finances of the entire freaking world are toppling into the abyss of hell.

So, I say, maybe it’s time to re-examine this whole socialism thing. Maybe we need to own those industries that are directly tied to the very success or utter failure of a society. The nuts and bolts of what it takes to make a civilization operate. Things like energy and banking, and the raw materials of production.

Maybe the world needs to exhibit a little tough love. “Son you can’t be trusted with the keys, you keep wrecking the car.” Maybe we need to restrict “business” to making golf clubs and cheerios. I dunno, I’m just like you, looking for an explanation and a solution.

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