All I Needed To Know About Socialism I Learned In A Grocery Parking Lot
The receipt was on the floor of an Angeli’s County Market parking lot, located in the greater Denver area of Colorado. An alert fan of this columnist passed it along. This particular item got the desired attention. It speaks volumes about today’s cavalier attitude toward “public assistance,” what we used to call simply welfare — not only for the extravagances bought with other people’s tax dollars, but for the sheer arrogance of allowing such a blatant illustration of inappropriateness to slip through a customer’s fingers: six cold-water lobsters, two porterhouse steaks, and five cases of Mountain Dew, the only purchases on the ticket, are shown paid for in food stamps.
Irrespective of party affiliation, most Americans today simply accept welfare. Many families are so addicted to government handouts, they scarcely are aware how much largesse comes to them from the labor of their fellow citizens. Somewhere along the line, “government money” lost its logical connection to “the people’s money.”
Programs originally conceived as a safety nets for individuals in crisis soon become must-haves. Rules surrounding “eligibility” are stretched, ignored or waived as increasing numbers of citizens (and noncitizens) avail themselves of entitlement programs. The grocery receipt in question is hardly unusual, exemplifying once again how seductive socialistic programs have become — not only for those who use them, but for the businesses that accommodate them.
Angeli’s County Market would have been helpless to question the customer’s selection of foods items, as would have any of the larger grocery chains. Any challenge would be met with a public relations disaster; a confrontation of unimaginable negative publicity. Today, all manner of left-leaning activist organizations — most thinly disguised as pro-bono, legal aid firms, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or charitable institutes, and sometimes “non-partisan educational” groups — are on high alert for any local dust-up that can be exploited in the name of furthering socialism and/or tearing down traditional values.
The ACLU, for example, a leftist front organization from its inception, can be found on the scene of nearly every contentious incident. A boy sent home for wearing his pants so low his buttocks show? The ACLU rushes forth to protect his “free expression rights.” Christian prayers in schools, or even moments of silence in a public place? Not a proper forum for religious freedom. But a prayer-rug for Muslim federal and state convicts, or feathers and quills for Wiccan prisoners? These somehow do not violate the so-called Establishment Clause. The ACLU is right there flapping an amicus brief.
Artistic license also comes under freedom of expression. Thus, the free pass for the grossly ugly, disgusting images of Robert Mapplethorpe’s perverted imagination, no matter how many families, with children in tow, chafe at being forced to brave the obstacle course of his shock-jock displays on their way to worthier fare in a museum. But long-standing Christian crosses in Farmington, Utah, honoring fallen police troopers, and another atop a mountain of rocks in the Mojave Desert memorializing World War I veterans, both privately funded, are under fire for using “bogus religious symbols,” according to American Atheists, an entity protected from taxes as a “nonpolitical” 501(c)(3) organization. The ACLU concurred, in both instances, insisting the crosses do not constitute protected “expression.”
How the ACLU manages to send its emissaries to every hot spot pro bono throughout the nation has stumped many citizens, but one has to look no further than the ACLU’s own website. Its legitimacy is such that it works with colleges and universities to assure that young graduates serve internships with the ACLU chapter in their state through its Pro Bono Coordination Program. Doing so assures budding attorneys a place in the field. Refusing sets young law grads apart, making it harder for them to break in. Most law students incur large college debts, so many grit their teeth and sign on to the Coordination Program, hoping to prove themselves as assistants in a difficult, high-profile case.
But allowing known Marxist front organizations like this to take root and thrive has spawned a whole network of left-leaning organizations that do not support the Founders' vision of America. They use concepts like free expression, freedom of assembly, speech and press to impose the censorship of totalitarian regimes, mostly by waging a massive campaign of political correctness that is now nearly impossible to dislodge. Having all but taken over the American education system and the press, they are now in a position to impose socialism via a war of attrition — essentially a slugfest in which the Left pulls together more factions to further its agenda than traditionalists and loyal Americans can assemble to protect theirs.
That is why, then, American businesses and individuals can no longer contain programs like food stamps, which was largely an offshoot of the greatly abused and now-defunct (at least in name) Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC). AFDC started out in 1935 as simply Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) to help widowed or abandoned mothers stay home with their children. Then, in the 1960s, a leftist campaign reconfigured the program in so many ways that it actually pushed mothers into the labor force. In King v. Smith (1968) the Court opined that existing provisions punished a woman for engaging in sexual relations, which was unrelated to Congress’s intent to provide aid to needy children — a decision that, notably, rested on statutory, not constitutional, grounds.
This is how the Left works. A little snip here, an add-on there, with the goal of garnering support from disparate factions on issues ranging from religious skeptics to minimum-wage advocates to prurient “art” affectionados — and even pro-family activists.
Say what? How did pro-family activists get on the list?
Take Dandridge v. Williams (1970): The Court upheld a Maryland regulation, capping AFDC aid at $250 regardless of family size. Predictably, pro-family activists howled that couples have a God-given directive to “be fruitful and multiply,” and berated government for capping aid at $250.
To which the Left collectively sputtered its morning coffee, burst out laughing, gave each other high-fives and cheered: “Gotcha!”
A door opened: Left-leaning legislators ensured changes got added to AFDC, until states began accommodating “cohabitation,” including casual relationships, leading to a spike in unwed births that would cost society a fortune in medical costs, basic supports like food, subsidized housing, special education, crime prevention and more. Pro-family, especially Christian, leaders balked at this state of affairs as unstable and immoral, which allowed the Left to paint pro-family groups as hypocrites, inasmuch as they had already gone on record as having condemned capping AFDC to reduce family size. In citing immorality, as opposed to misuse of the taxpayers’ largesse, Christianity itself became the pariah, and pro-family Christians were attacked as mean-spirited, too. Left-leaning members of the U.S. Supreme Court seized the moment and reinterpreted the old federal statutory definitions of “parent,” laying the groundwork for a broader definition of “civil union.” Sex education was expanded by state lawmakers to include pro-homosexual texts, and mandatory sexual harassment/orientation lectures became the norm in workplaces and schools.
So, to review the tactical sequence: Once varied groups, previously not heard from (e.g., pro-family groups), are handed a microphone, they can be brought into an eclectic sort of coalition that is never actually given a label. The Left learned as far back as the Stalinist era how to “play” diverse interest groups so they become a majority that serves socialist, even totalitarian, aims.
So-called “big-tent Republicans” tried a similar gambit to expand its ranks, but never quite got the hang of the game, probably because it involves a level of deception and subtlety quite foreign to most Americans, including the recent rash of high-profile Ponzi schemers.
All of which is a round-about way of explaining how the Left’s ever-changing — and ever-selective — double standards took hold, and why no grocery chain in America today would dare cry “foul” over the food stamp purchases on the Angeli’s County Market receipt.
But every time we dither, or fail to call their bluff, the Left edges that much closer to pulling off the greatest coup of all time: a Socialist America.
About the Author
Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a scientific writer for a NASA contractor. She went on to serve as a former speechwriter for the Voice of America and for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. She was an editor and writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice before retiring from federal government. Her first book in 1991 blew the whistle on misrepresented standardized testing of schoolchildren. She is now author of seven books covering education policy, mental-health fraud, data-trafficking, privacy and political strategy, with dozens of keynote speeches, feature articles and op-eds to her credit. Her most recent work is Agenda Games: How Today’s High-Stakes Political Combat Works (Midnight Whistler Publishers, 2012). Mrs. Eakman can be reached through her website: BeverlyE.com.
Copyright © Beverly K. Eakman. Used with permission.