All Socialism’s Not Bad?

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As an add on to my article, Is the Two-Party poltical system doomed?,

Ironically, I got this TIMELY inspiration from a fellow retired military officer, Colonel Colin Charet , who expressed his shared belief that the benefits military retirees (and to a degree Veterans) receive is putting it mildly SOCIALISM.

Colonel  Charet does not mention it, but I believe one reason that opponents of health care reform EXPLOITED Veterans and Military Retirees with the mythological threat posed by health care reform to our VA and Military government subsidized health care programs, which WE earned, was because they know our VA and Military Medical systems and benefits are “socialized medicine.”

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, VT News

All Socialism’s Not Bad?

I  am retired military. My security is protected with programs socialistic in nature.

In spending 31 years on active duty, I receive retirement pay for as long as I live. If I had died the day I retired…nothing. Had I worked to 65, paying withholding taxes for Social Security and Medicare with dying the day I retired…nothing.

Married, if my wife and I died the day I retired, no military retirement pay, the same is true on Social Security and Medicare benefits.

For my wife to have an annuity if I die, I had to buy into the Military Survival Benefit Program (SBP) when I retired, I paid into it for 32 years. However, if my wife dies before me or we die together… nothing.

Every one of the programs I mentioned are Socialistic in nature, pooling our resources for survivors. I AGREE WITH ALL THESE “SOCIALIZED” PROGRAMS.

I question those saying, “NO SOCIALISM” in our society right now. Do they understand?

If so, are they willing to give up their “socialistic share” when eligible?

Are they willing to help the less fortunate with a “Public Option Health Plan?”

Saying “NO” to both questions, makes them “Hypocrites”– probably with an attitude of “I got mine, to hell with the rest of you!”

Colonel Colin J. N. Chauret, USAF-Retired, Universal City, TX 78148

VETERANS TODAY EDITORIAL COMMENT:

The decline of popular socialism

“When the [nineteen] twenties began… the [American] Socialist party [was] falling apart. The [labor] strikes were beaten down by force, and the [U.S.] economy was doing just well enough for just enough people to prevent mass rebellion”.

One reason, among many, that the U.S. Congress and President unleashed the U.S. military on the Veterans Bonus March on Washington D.C. circa 1932 was the claim that Communist and Socialist had infiltrated the Veterans March and took over leadership.

A secret Army intelligence report issued by Conrad H. Lanza, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, to the intelligence Officer of the second Corps Area. The report was dated July 5, 1932, “Word has been passed around in Syracuse (New York) that the first blood shed by the Bonus Army at Washington, is to be a signal for a communist uprising in all large cities thus initiating a revolution. The entire movement is stated to be under communist control, with branches being rapidly developed in commercial centers.”

In a Letter from Herbert S. Ward, a well-known Washington attorney, to then Secretary of Defense, reprinted in the New Republic, November 9, 1932.

My dear Mr. Secretary,

Some time ago I was surprised by General [Douglas] McArthur’s (sic) published statements that the Bonus Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.), under command of Walter W. Waters, was a national menace; that it was composed of men a majority of whom were not veterans, but were in fact Communists; that [President Herbert Hoover’s] declaration of war averted a national catastrophe, and that Camp Marks (on Anacostia Flats) was fired by the B.E.F. and not by [federal] soldiers under his command.

Later, I was staggered to see that you had also repeated these statements; and now that [the] Assistant Secretary  has had the temerity to use them in his campaign, in an attempt to vilify the B.E.F., I feel fully justified in recalling to you the following from our interview of Tuesday, July 26, preceding the battle of Pennsylvania Avenue, in order that you may, for the benefit of all concerned, square these facts with the published statements emanating from your Department.

You will recall, Mr. Secretary, that this interview took place in your office and extended over a period of more than three hours; that there were present yourself, Major General Douglas McArthur (sic), B.E.F. Commander Walter W. Waters, Captain Doak E. Carter, Lieutenant Johnson and myself; that during this interview the (John T.) Pace Communist group of about two hundred men was constantly referred to as entirely separate from the B.E.F.–that Commander Waters stated he would evacuate the three congested areas in Washington as soon as he could find shelter for some 250 women and children; that Waters had advised all veterans with homes to return to them and that the men still in Washington had no homes; except the temporary quarters which they occupied, many with their families and all their worldly goods; that Waters was at the time working on a Florida colonization scheme and had other projects for dispersing these men into productive industries; that temporary shelters were planned at Camp Bartlett, on the extreme outskirts of the District of Columbia, which would clear the congested area within a week; and lastly, that Captain Carter tendered to you the loyal support and cooperation of every man in the B.E.F. to carry our any order or wish which you might, official, or otherwise, express.

I do not forget, Mr. Secretary, that you called General Frank T. Hines of the Veterans’ Administration and urged him to allow these women and children to be moved to Fort Hunt for a few days. Also that you asked General McArthur if he would supply the necessary tentage for a temporary period. I admired and commended this cooperative spirit on your part. I clearly recall, however, your reply to Captain Carter’s tender of the loyal cooperation of the B.E.F.to the effect that there was no condition which would lead you to call upon the B. E. F., or any of its members for any service, as well as Captain Carter’s rejoinder that you did not feel that way about it in 1917. I also clearly recall your observation that the B. E. F. had been a problem to the [Hoover] administration because these men had been absolutely law abiding and orderly; that had they violated the law, or been disorderly, they could have been evicted from the District of Columbia by the civil or military authorities and that the President of the United States, by a scratch of his pen, could declare martial law and use the entire military forces of the United States for that purpose…

From an editorial in the New Republic, August 10, 1932.

But whatever justification there may have been for clearing our the ex-soldiers from Pennsylvania Avenue, there is absolutely none for what followed at Anacostia. The land where the main body of the [
Veterans] was encamped was not needed for any other purpose; the veterans were harming no one by staying there. The orders which sent the soldiers to Anacostia, routing men, women and children out of bed, drenching them with tear gas, ruthlessly burning their poor shelters and whatever personal property they could not carry on their backs, then driving all of them, cripples, babies, pregnant women, up a steep hill at the point of a bayonet- these were the orders of a furious child who has been thwarted and is raging for revenge. It is profoundly humiliating to every decent American that he must see his government thus persecuting and stealing from these hungry and ragged men whom, fourteen years ago, it did not hesitate to send into the trenches at the risk of death.

Mr. [Herbert] Hoover’s tin-hatted soldiers burned the homes of the veterans, but they did not in any sense solve the problem. Today the remnants of the B.E.F. are strung along many miles of highway, in even more desperate plight than before the dispersal. As we write, physical violence is threatened at Johnstown, Pennsylvania: and is possible at several other places. Meanwhile, the sinister and concealed motives in the minds of some, at least, of the “respectable” leaders of the veterans are shown by the announcement of a plan for the remnants of the B.E.F. to be made: the nucleus for an American Fascist organization, the “Khaki Shirts..”

There are just enough wealthy Americans who favor Fascism, and are willing to, spend money to aid its cause here, to make such a movement extremely dangerous. Hardly less dangerous is the peril that thousands of veterans will become permanently pauperized, will drift along the highways begging for food and shelter.

The federal government has abdicated its responsibility in the case. Mr. Hoover’s petulance and rage have first made the problem far worse, and then dumped it upon the states and cities. The way in which they carry their burden will be, in a very real sense, the answer to the charge that the old American spirit of pioneer neighborliness and response in emergency has rotted away with the years.

The decline of the Socialist Movement

Thus the decline of the Socialist movement during the early 20th century was the result of a number of constrictions and attacks from several directions:

The Socialists had lost a major ally in the Wobblies, and their free speech had been restricted, if not denied. Immigrants, a major base of the Socialist movement, were discriminated against and looked down upon. Eugene V. Debs—the charismatic leader of the Socialists—was in prison, along with hundreds of fellow dissenters.

President Woodrow Wilson’s National War Labor Board and a number of legislative acts had ameliorated the plight of the workers. Now, the Socialists were regarded as being “unnecessary”, the “lunatic fringe,” and a group of untrustworthy radicals.

The press, courts, and other establishment structures exhibited prejudice against them . After crippling schisms within the party and a change in public opinion due to the Palmer Raids, a general negative perception of the far left, and attribution to it of terrorist incidents such as the Wall Street Bombing, the Socialist party found itself unable to gather popular support.

The Party would reach its peak in 1912. At one time, it boasted 33 city mayors, many seats in state legislatures, and two members of the US House of Representatives. When running for President in 1912, Eugene V. Debs won 6% of the popular vote. But since then socialists have not even mustered 4%.

However, Bernie Sanders, current U.S. Senator from Vermont, has described himself as a democratic socialist. Sanders served as the at-large representative for the state of Vermont before being elected to the senate in 2006.

Former Congressman and current Oakland mayor, Ron Dellums, is a self-identified socialist.

Sources for the 1932 Veterans Bonus March, Communism, and Socialism are UC Davis lesson plans on History of the Veterans Bonus March

AND U.S. History.org Bonus March and the Great Depression.

Federal Troops Attack U.S. Veterans on the Daily Ron Paul Website.

In closing, we at VT wish to express our concern that history NOT repeat itself as how Veterans of WWI were spun into Communist and Socialist insurgents by a U.S. Congress and President when they simply marched on Washington to express a need for jobs (employment), and anger at a government that failed to KEEP PROMISES.

What concerns us most is that the formula that led to the Bonus March, the socio-economic pieces that drove Veterans to March on Washington in massive numbers way back in 1932 are today in 2010 converging on the political, economic, and foreign policy front.

How our government would react to another Veterans Bonus March of such magnitude as the thousands that converged on Washington DC in 1932 remains to be seen, but will we also be labeled as Socialist, Communists, or Terrorists to justify turning the U.S. military on us?

I once wrote a series of article challenging the group Oath Keepers efforts to recruit active duty members to well take their oath. It was not the premise that turning federal forces on American citizens that I had a problem with as noted above – this is a historic reality. During the Nixon administration and last months of the Viet Nam War, when our grounds forces were disintegrating or becoming part of the Sir No Sir anti-war movement from within the military, the administration also gave serious thought to the use of federal troops to put down anti-war protests when military Veterans joined the movement. It is Oath Keepers approaching active duty members that I had a problem with and still do. I see nothing wrong with Oath Keeper approaching Veterans to become well Oath Keepers – hell given our government’s track record of turning the Armed Forces on American citizens this is a real threat to the American people, I may just take their oath.

But I’d never advocate active duty members taking such an oath.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, VT News

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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.