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Want ‘Hope and Change’? Buy a Goat

As an old joke suggests, inviting socialism into our homes might help us better appreciate the blessings of freedom.

by
Oleg Atbashian

Bio

February 18, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Although the mainstream media won’t report it as such, Obama’s approval numbers are shrinking. Which means that elsewhere, certain numbers are growing — the unreported-by-the-MSM growing numbers of Americans who are kicking themselves for not having bothered to read the small print underneath the word “change.”

The small print was kind of blurry, while “change” was spelled in huge, pleasing letters on the signs they held at the rallies. The fierce urgency of now was in the air. Everybody was in such a hurry to bring about change; there was no time to ask “why” or “what kind of change.” As objectivity faded into the sunset, their individual brains melted into a euphoric collective mush, swirling around the only remaining absolute — change. In the absence of other standards, the truth became a mere matter of taste, subject to change without notice. If it didn’t change, it wasn’t the truth.

So they won the election; now what? Three months later and almost a month into Obama’s presidency, as the nation is beginning to rub its sore, swollen eyelids and finally trying to focus on reality, it looks in the mirror and, with a shock, notices a gigantic hammer and sickle tattooed on its forehead, which clearly wasn’t there before. The bubbling euphoric pulp has solidified into a depressing pile of unpaid bills and warrants. The computer has turned into a shovel and the big-screen TV into a 1930s-style radio, with the disciplined voice of Dear Leader calling for unity and sacrifice in the face of mounting economic hardships. The only thing left unchanged is the Obama t-shirt with the magic word “change” on the chest.

Being an immigrant from the former USSR — the land of equally redistributed misery — I used to cringe when Americans complained to me about the perceived misery and lack of opportunity under capitalism. I laughed at American homegrown agitators who were carping on behalf of “communities” about the lack of “economic justice.” They sounded like ignorant, spoiled brats who hated their rich parents for giving them the car of the wrong color. The whiners either didn’t realize how good they had it or they were being deliberately misleading. Either way their message was a fraud.

I had witnessed the stagnation and the collapse of a centralized command economy that, in the absence of the markets, was fueled by the carrot and stick of coercion and stale motivational slogans. I had lived through the hyperinflation, when I had to pay a million rubles to a guy who fixed the rusty refrigerator in my kitchen. I had seen the old country plunge into the chaos of mass unemployment and crime, while it was being robbed to the bone by crooked unelected officials who profited from the corrupt scheme to merge socialism and capitalism — a half-baked brainchild of Clinton’s economists who are now advising Obama.

In other words, I had been at the end of this road and I didn’t want to take it again.

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