Anyone under the illusion that Joe Biden’s victory over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary had vanquished the threat of socialism from American shores can get a reality check by picking up the Sunday New York Times, which features four articles pressing the anti-capitalist agenda.
“Boeing’s 737 Max Is a Saga of Capitalism Gone Awry,” is the headline over one such article, by a business reporter for the Times. He complains that “in recent decades, Boeing — like many American corporations — began shoveling money to investors and executives, while shortchanging its employees and cutting costs.” He says that a Boeing chief executive “increased Boeing’s share buyback program and shareholder dividends.”
Absent from the article is any mention of how alternatives to capitalism do at building safe aircraft. Not so well, it turns out. A 2016 Telegraph dispatch was headlined “Aeroflot: From the world’s deadliest airline to one of the safest in the sky.” It reported, “barely a Cold War year went by when scores of travelers didn’t spend their final moments strapped into an Aeroflot seat. Its planes fell from the sky with unerring consistency.”
How did the Russian airline turn things around? “Soviet aircraft have been replaced by Western-built jets. The Tupolev Tu-154 was retired in 2009, and its fleet now consists almost exclusively of Airbus and Boeing aircraft,” the Telegraph reports.
Elsewhere in the Sunday Times, under the headline “What Facebook Fed the Baby Boomers,” is a long article about what the Times calls “disinformation,” “hyperpartisan fearmongering” and “conspiratorial misinformation.” It is illustrated in print with a screenshot of what the New York Times calls an “inaccurate meme,” featuring bare supermarket shelves and the words “your grocery store on socialism.”
What’s “inaccurate” about that? The Times itself used to report on how the introduction of free markets in Eastern Europe turned shortages into plenty. A front-page news article by John Kifner from Poland in 1990 reported on the move “from Communism to capitalism.”
It reported, “on Thursday afternoon hundreds of shoppers were crowding about to buy fresh meat, sausage, butter, sugar and coffee. In the not too distant past, inquiries for these goods in stores notable for their bare shelves would bring the response ‘nie ma,’ or ‘we don't have any.’”
One may chalk some of this up to the left-wing bias of the contemporary New York Times. One of the Sunday Times articles, though, comes from none other than Pope Francis himself, whose Times bio line helpfully describes him as “the head of the Catholic Church and the bishop of Rome.”
Writes the pope: “God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis.” The pontiff, at least in his Times article, is vague on the details of these new political and economic systems and on precisely how the transition from the old to new economic systems is to be accomplished. He does call for “economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor.”
Vatican aside, the real Leninist vanguard are trust fund children, at least if a news article in the Times Sunday style section is to be believed. The Times article headlined “The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism” reports on an heir who “wants to put his inheritance toward ending capitalism.” This is some sort of trend.
The inheritance angle may help explain it. People who are already rich and who are aspiring to become less so are understandably more prone to be hostile to capitalism than the larger number of people who are hoping one day eventually to become rich thanks to the opportunities that the free enterprise system provides.
Andrew Breitbart’s insight that “politics is downstream from culture” applies here. Never mind that Senator Sanders and even a socialist congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appear, at least for now, to be a safe distance away from the Biden administration-in-formation.
When the Pope and the New York Times are both prominently pushing critiques of capitalism, the risks of socialism are worth keeping top of mind. At least for those of us who prefer to avoid a return to frequent plane crashes and consistently bare supermarket shelves.