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Socialism, the pitch and the purpose, Part 1

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

There is a lot of talk these days about where the United States and to some extent, other parts of the world (such as Europe) are headed government-wise. There are lots of hyperbole, lots of misconceptions (about all forms of government), a huge misunderstanding as to how economies work, all followed by a lot of yelling and screaming – and not much listening.

After the encouragement some of you gave me on my series, “How did we get here?,” I decided to up my game and discuss socialism (which means discussing communism as well) for a few weeks.

We’ll start slowly and examine many items that are in the mix today. The difference I hope to make is employing the operative word “slowly,” for I think we all tend to jump from where we are, not even bothering to unpack what we know from our own past as we hurl ourselves into arguments about the important subject of socialism.

So, I think I need to share where I come from first, for this has no doubt affected my viewpoint. Allow me to give you some background, some you have read from me before, but likely in just bits and pieces here and there.

My parents, teenagers of the Great Depression, were a combination of a very strong work ethic but also believed in lending a helping hand to those who were enfeebled or down on their luck. I was born in 1950, so I barely remember the McCarthy hearings, likely having read more about them than anything else.

If you are 65 or younger, a quick synopsis. Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin started Senate hearings to root out the communists in the government, the movies and everywhere else. He got a bit carried away and was ultimately called out for his activity. My dad always thought he was correct and should not have been stopped. This is part of my heritage, judge it as you will.

Another piece of my heritage is this. I have told you about my grade-school years and our bifurcated lifestyle – Sunday night through Friday night in our home in Troy, weekends on the McNary Farm in eastern Highland County. What I haven’t told you is this. On Sunday evenings, as we passed through Xenia on the way back to Troy, one comes to a fork in the road on the north side of Xenia where, to the left is Fairborn (on our path) and to the right is the road to Yellow Springs, the home of Antioch College. I’ll bet at least every other Sunday evening, at that point in our journey, my mother would make a comment about “that communist college in Yellow Springs.” Imagine what she would say today.

In Troy, as I mentioned before, we lived next to the New York Central main line. I am convinced our house was marked, for hoboes would regularly come to our back door asking for food. Mother always fed them.

So, these are vignettes into how I was raised. There was plenty more, but ink in the printed paper is precious these days. I think I have spilled enough here to set the scene.

I was raised a rabid capitalist, fully believing in our republic, warts and all. My rearing was not without touches of hypocrisy, though. My parents willingly accepted government payments for not raising crops on the McNary Farm. The program was called the Conservation Reserve. Likely, in that sense, I am more conservative than they were. I think I would have found another way.

I do accept Social Security and when we get to that point in the story, I’ll tell you why and you can be the judge of my degree of hypocrisy there.

We start this series with your author not knowing how long it is going to take or where it will finish. Rest assured, I have studied the Bible, the American Revolution, the British Empire, the French Revolution, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Castro and many others enough to be able to share at least a modicum of insight on the subjects at hand. I am currently reading Thomas Sowell, whom I highly recommend.

Who is Thomas Sowell? He was born in Gastonia, N.C., raised in Harlem, dropped out of high school and was a Marxist in his 20s. I think all of his books are available as audio books on YouTube for free (see my column of two weeks ago). Think about it, you don’t have to even be literate (except to read this paragraph) – others will read Sowell’s books to you for free. Isn’t this a great country?

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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