Freedom New Mexico
Foes and revisionists cast Ronald Reagan as an amiable dunce, or all charisma and little substance. Some give him his due backhandedly, portraying him retrospectively as much more of a centrist than, say, today’s Tea Partiers.
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the alleged dunce who faced down Soviet communism unto its demise, who spurred the greatest peacetime economic boon since World War II and reined in inflation while lowering taxes, it is worthwhile to recall what he actually was saying half a century ago.
An audio recording Reagan made in 1961 gives a clear view of the man, his principles, his intellect and, dare we say, his staunch conservatism. Not many centrists begin their talks by attacking socialism. Yet Reagan began this recording this way:
“Back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas … said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.”
Reagan was warning of the dangers of socialized medicine: “One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project; most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
Critics point out that the man who became the 40th president at that time was criticizing proposals that led to Medicare. Defenders point out he wanted government aid limited to the needy.
He quoted founder James Madison: “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
Reagan explained how encroachments would work. “First, you decide the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government, but then the doctors are equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town, and the government has to say to him he can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go … From here it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. … He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”
Have Obamacare’s mandates, regulations, price controls and diktats made prophets of Reagan and Madison? We think so, and advocate fixes based on free-market principles.
As Reagan said in 1961, under the guise of benevolence “other government programs … will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country until one day, as Norman Thomas said, we will wake to find that we have socialism.”