The CEO of Whole Foods – yes, you read that right, Whole Foods – recently referred to Obamacare as fascism.
It was an appropriate application of the term. “Traditionally socialism means that the means of production are run by the government and in fascism the means of production are still owned by private individuals but they’re controlled by the government,” John Mackley told CNN when called out on his use of the term. “Our health care system is moving away from free enterprise capitalism towards greater governmental control.”
I’m not sure I would agree that our pre-Obamacare status quo could accurately be described as “free enterprise capitalism.” Health insurance in America hasn’t been a truly free enterprise for some time. But Mackley is right, our governance of health insurance in this country is descending into fascism.
The problem, according to CNN host Carol Costello? Why, you can’t just say that sort of thing.
“You realize when you say ‘fascism,’ it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things,” says Costello. “And we really want that kind language out of our public forum at the moment, don’t we?”
If something is fascism, shouldn’t we be calling it fascism? Note that Costello isn’t questioning the accuracy of Mackley’s comments, but rather their propriety.
We’re all aware of the ugly history associated with that term, but we should remember that Hitler wasn’t a fascist because he was a war monger and murderous tyrant. He was a fascist because of his economic policies, which were more or less as Mackley describes. Government managing privately-owned businesses, as opposed to capitalism where government owns the businesses or free enterprise where businesses are both privately owned and managed.
In fact, Benito Mussolini was fond of describing fascism as a “third way” between capitalism and socialism. “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state,” he said during a speech in 1921.
When our President pushes, and our Congress approves, laws which manage what insurance companies can sell and at what price (not to mention which companies Americans can patronize for insurance services) that is, in fact, fascism.
If that term makes us uncomfortable, perhaps it should. We ought not shy away from uncomfortable truths.