Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Limbaugh Endorses Socialist Paradise, Bolivia, A Beacon of Hope

Limbaugh Endorses Socialist Paradise

By Sara Robinson
Campaign for America's Future: March 9, 2010

So Rush Limbaugh has threatened to move to Costa Rica if health care reform
passes. ("In Costa Rica, they've got constitutionally-guaranteed
cradle-to-grave socialized medicine")

As Brian Docksteader wrote, the irony of this is almost too rich to believe.
Given Rush's well-known proclivities, you have to wonder: Why Costa Rica? If
he's looking for beaches, palm trees, and warm weather, why not head off to
Somalia -- that free-market paradise that's implemented every aspect of the
conservative political agenda Rush promotes, and in the process given the
whole world such a shining example of why there's no government like no

Rush would fit in so well there. No taxes, no pesky regulations, no
government interference. He'd be free to set up his own roads, his own water
supplies, even his own courts and currency -- and hire his own private army
to defend it all. And think of the statement it would make about his
deep-seated commitment to conservative principles! Nobody could ever accuse
him again of not walking his talk.

But Costa Rica? Really?

This is a country where the American-style health care reform that Rush
would be so desperately fleeing is considered nothing short of criminally
inadequate. In Costa Rica, they've got constitutionally-guaranteed
cradle-to-grave socialized medicine. Not just single-payer, mind you; I'm
talking real British-style socialized health care, the kind where your
doctor works directly for the government.

It's interesting, too, that Rush seems to suffer from the delusion that --
despite his oxycontin-induced deafness, excess poundage, and history of
annoying butt pimples -- he's going to somehow escape the clutches of those
Costa Rican death panels. (There must be death panels. After all: he's
assured us, loudly and often, that wherever there's socialized medicine,
there are death panels.) There's only one reason a guy like Rush would
subject himself to this kind of existential threat: Since they don't speak
English down there, they're probably stupid enough that he can either trick
them or bribe them into keeping his sorry carcass alive.

Unfortunately for him, that's not the case. Costa Ricans have a 97% literacy
rate -- the highest in the world. College is free at the state-run
universities, which are some of the best in Latin America. Any kid who gets
the grades gets to go, regardless of whether or not her family can afford
it. You can get a PhD entirely on the government dime. The upshot of this is
that Rush would find himself surrounded by a whole lot of people who are at
least as smart as he is -- including a high percentage of people with
advanced degrees. For the first time in his life, he'd have to keep up. If
bloviates at them, those sassy Ticos might even fire right back at him,
facts at the ready. I know he's not accustomed to that, and it would take
some getting used to.

Not to mention that, even though the average Costa Rican speaks passable
English, they'd probably choose rebut Rush Spanish, which he'd have to
learn. What would his anti-immigrant, anti-Spanish language listeners say if
they found out that El Rushbo had picked up the lingo of those dirty brown
people he's taught them to hate so much?

And it gets worse. Costa Rica does not have a military. (OK, it's got a
plane and a handful of Jeeps and a couple of dozen guys in green uniforms
who patrol the airport in San Jose. In other words: a single unit of the
capitol city's police department probably has more firepower than the whole
Costa Rican military does.) For Rush, this is nothing short of a manhood
issue. What kind of red-blooded American male affiliates himself with any
country that doesn't have any penetrative capability whatsoever? That's
never invaded anybody -- in fact, never wanted to invade anybody? And worse:
one that was so wussy that it actually put a "no military" clause into its

I mean: what would his listeners say?

Then there's the economy, which includes lots and lots of co-ops: coffee and
fruit growers' co-ops, arts co-ops that get generous government subsidies,
tourism co-ops that run rustic lodges in the jungles, educational co-ops
that run schools, women's co-ops that market crafts, local food co-ops that
furnish the grocery stores in the outback. And, as we all know, "co-op" is
just another word for "socialism." The only way around this is for Rush to
fly in pretty much everything he consumes from somewhere that isn't
communist, like Nicaragua or Colombia.

And then there's the greenie thing. The New Economics Foundation ranked
Costa Rica as the greenest country in the world. It's also on track to
become the world's first carbon neutral country by 2021. The country also
ranked third in the world, and first in the Americas, in the 2010
Environmental Performance Index. A full 25% of Costa Rica's territory is
locked up in national parks, out of the clutches of Rush's developer
friends. The country's commitment to sustainability is so bone-deep that
global warming deniers like Rush have a very rough time finding people to
talk to at dinner parties. Hope he's not planning to hobnob much with the
local gentry.

Finally, Costa Rica has a unicameral legislature and well over a dozen
political parties, including several that have the word "socialist" or
"communist" in the title. Yes, that's right: Rush is talking about moving to
a country where avowed socialists and communists are actually allowed to
participate freely in the political process -- a choice that we can only
conclude must make him some kind of commie sympathizer.

Choosing Costa Rica as an escape hatch -- even in an off-the-cuff remark --
reveals far more about Rush's real values and priorities than he probably
wants us to see. When push comes to shove, even Mr. Talent On Loan From God
has finally admitted that personally, he'd bypass all those sorry countries
that have taken fatal doses of the free-market medicine he's spent the last
25 years promoting. Given the choice, even he would rather live in a country
where there's a strong social contract that guarantees economic opportunity,
ensures fairness, protects the environment, and invests richly in the future
of its own people.

Having done far more than his share to ensure that America can no longer be
that country, he's ready to jet off and make a new start in a place where
the progressive spirit is still alive and well and creating a strong,
prosperous, future-oriented nation. As Brian said: if Rush goes through with
this, we promise to line up at the airport to see him off, waving signs
saying "Admit it. We were right. You were wrong. Progressivism works -- or
you wouldn't be leaving."

Costa Rica: Pura vida -- home of the good life. And now also the last refuge
of the world's biggest hypocrite.


From: Sid Shniad

Bolivia, A Beacon of Hope

The inspiring example of Evo Morales's Bolivian government

by Matt Kennard
The Guardian: March 8, 2010

There's a game I've been playing recently. Any time I read the news and get
depressed about the parlous state of our world, I type "Bolivia" into Google
news and wait for the results. It's really all you need to brighten up your

In the last month things such as this have popped up: Bolivian women
spearhead Morales revolution, which describes the decision by Bolivia's
president, Evo Morales, to stock half his new cabinet with women, nearly
half of them indigenous. More recently there was this: Bolivian president
donates half pay to victims, which detailed Morales and his vice president
Alvaro García's decision to donate half their March salaries to help the
victims of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes.

What is happening in Bolivia now - and has been since MAS, or Movimiento al
Socalismo, came to power in 2005 - is truly inspiring. There has been a lot
of talk about how the left is dead and Francis Fukayama's "End of History"
means we all have to accept that a global economic system that creates
obscene inequalities and mass starvation is the highest stage of social and
economic organisation our species can attain.

That might be true for an academic at Johns Hopkins, but for everyone else
looking to the future and something to fight for, I ask them to kindly
divert their gaze to Bolivia. It is the closest thing we have to real
democratic socialism: a government, but more importantly a grassroots
movement, committed to economic and gender equality, anti-racism, free
speech and every other ideal the left should hold dear.

In December last year MAS won their second five-year term with 67% of the
public vote, more than double the percentage won by their nearest opponent,
Manfred Reyes Villa. The re-election of an incumbent was particularly
exceptional in Bolivia. A country often dismissed by regional experts as
"ungovernable" due to its bloody history of military coups and mass public
protests, it has seen only a handful of presidents complete their terms in
office. The FT now calls Morales "one of Latin America's most popular

Morales's landslide victory was a clear sign of public support for the
present administration and the extensive social reforms they have
implemented. On coming to power in 2005, Morales pledged to see through a
"democratic revolution" in an attempt to alleviate poverty in Bolivia, the
poorest country in South America. The democratic revolution had its genesis
in 2000 in what were called the "water wars", centred in the city of
Cochabamba. The water industry had just been privatised with the help of the
neoliberal government and the IMF and was run now by the US corporation

Prices soared and police were even instructed to arrest people collecting
rainwater to bypass the new prices. The indigenous community was up in arms
and Bechtel was forced out by the local communities. The indigenous
movement, which is based around small micro-democratic communities, went on
to blockade La Paz. The government shot dead a score of protesters in 2005,
before the presidential incumbent was forced out and fled to Miami.
When Morales was elected he became the country's first indigenous president
and his party embarked on a programme of "decolonising the state". For Latin
America, the election of an indigenous leader had the same poignancy as
Barack Obama's election in the US.

Throughout his mandate Morales has determinedly pursued a programme of
social change, including the part-nationalisation of the country's energy
resources and a surge in social spending that has focused on conditional
cash transfers (whereby payments have been made to poor families on the
condition that they send their children to school.) These measures have seen
Bolivia record a fiscal surplus for the first time in 30 years; the country
has been predicted a higher growth rate this year than anywhere else in the
Americas; and poverty levels have dropped continually since MAS came to
power. Even the head of the IMF's western hemisphere countries unit has
praised the Morales government for what he referred to as its "very
responsible" macroeconomic policies.

The backbone of Morales's reform programme was the creation of a new
Bolivian constitution, which was ratified by a public referendum in 2009.
Morales has signalled that he will make the implementation of the new
constitution his main legislative priority at the start of his second term.
In a country that is often compared to apartheid South Africa, as the stark
divisions of poverty and inequality are marked along racial lines, this
constitution represents Bolivia's Freedom Charter.

The texture of the modern Bolivian revolution is different to that of Hugo
Chávez's Venezuela. It is a much more bottom-up revolution, and Morales is
kept on a tight leash by the democratic movement that was behind his rise to
power in a way Chávez isn't. As you look to our election battle between a
Labour government that has been in power for 13 years and allowed inequality
to worsen and a Conservative cabinet full of reactionary Old Etonians, it's
easy to despair. But when you do, look to Bolivia. The future lies in that
small landlocked Latin American country of 9 million people.

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