So this series began with the question- is President Obama a socialist or (gasp) a communist? Let me assure you, whether he is measured by the Marxist ideal or by the Soviet or Maoist reality, the president is no communist, or at least a piss-poor one. In no way can you see Obama's policies as leading the nation towards foregoing a government altogether, or as a bridge to a utopian society. Nor does he seem to be particularly interested in eliminating societal divisions; in fact, he is an expert player off of such divisions to go where he wants.
But that's only half the battle as far as socialism. So, he's not a Marxist-Leninist type socialist. But there is a difference between that and the mainstream European socialism that has led to welfare states all across Europe.
There are seven principle declared in 2011 by the Party Of European Socialists. Let's see how we match up there.
First off, they believe that the welfare state, including universal education and health care, is society's proudest achievement. And you can definitely see that in the President. Second, "A strong and just society must ensure that wealth generated by all is fairly shared AS DETERMINED BY THE STATE. Two for two.
Third, is "collective responsibility" wherein we all pay to see that no one faces poverty or "social risk". Fourth is government regulating the environmental sustainability of things. The fifth point I want to save for last, as it is the linchpin of all the rest. Sixth is that long-lasting prosperity, stability, and peace requires international cooperation "based on democracy, respect, and human rights". The seventh I shall also save as a postscript.
Number five says that the "market system is driven by greed and can only lead to deeper inequalities and more and greater crises WITHOUT GOVERNMENT CONTROL." On the surface, that is true; it's why real communism won't work, and it sticks the fork in this kind of socialism as well. For socialism to create a good and just system it requires a government that is just and untouched by greed. The Soviets couldn't develop a government that would hold power in trust without seeking power; and surely we realize that for us to have a government to dole out economic justice without it seeking economic gain is just as silly. As those in power start to siphon off that "wealth generated by all" in various ways, it has to cover the losses either by running up the debt (like we are doing), raising taxes (as Obama is trying to do), shutting off the abuses (which NOBODY is giving more than a half-hearted effort to do), or farming some of the burden off to private companies. We already have examples of that. Here in Indiana, we sold the Toll Road to a foreign concern. We've farmed out security in foreign lands to private firms. In Britain, I have read where most of the fraud in their welfare state is coming from private firms getting top dollar (excuse me, pound) to do a half-assed job that the government then has to fix on the public dime. We have something like that, too; we called it the stimulus and the bail-out.
So we can conclude two things about socialism by this. Number one, they believe that putting life in the hands of an all-powerful government is the solution to society's ills. Number two, just like in Marxism, the theory runs aground upon the lack of ethics of fallen Man.
I want to link you to an article by Dr. W.A. Beatty in the American thinker. A handful of important statistics comparing welfare states in Scandinavia and the US of A. Assuming you aren't all that interested in dry stats, I can boil it down to two points. A) Denmark, a cradle-to-grave socialist state, gets 8.6% LESS of their tax income from the richest 30% of population than the US does, and is doing relatively well in meeting obligations. B), the fact that we aren't doing near as well despite drawing 8.6% more from a much larger and richer 30% tells us that we have a bigger waste, graft, and fraud problem in the US government than Obama (or anyone else) would care to believe.
So is capitalism better? Yes and no. The same ethical problem is there. But, if that fair and just government can just manage to pass laws encouraging competition, the market will keep itself in pretty good balance. And it's a helluvalot easier to legislate competition than to legislate morality. Just ask Teddy Roosevelt.
So, is Barack Obama a socialist? At least any more than any government since the aforementioned T.R.? Well, let's take a look at principle # 7:
A strong state must preserve the public good, guarantee the common interest, promote justice and solidarity and allow people to lead lives rich beyond material wealth, so that each individual’s fulfillment is also part of a collective endeavor. (Forbes, Jan. 22, 2012)
Or in Obama's words, "You didn't build that."
Conclusions? That's up to you. Everybody gets an opinion. But think about this. American individualism and exceptionalism, the ability to rise as high as our talents and ambition can take us, has given the world everything from safe drinking water to economies of scale to men on the moon. What did the Soviet Union or Red China ever contribute to the world at large that they didn't copy from us? Oh, I know. 20 million murdered by Stalin; 30 million murdered by Mao; up to 3 million murdered (out of a population of 8 million) by Pol Pot; and 3.5 million estimated starved to death in North Korea from 1993-2008. Congratulations on your collective endeavor.