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It is a source of constant amazement that those who sing socialism's praises cannot grasp the simple definition of the word, or, seemingly, of capitalism. Is it possible that support for socialism and its universal failure requires being oblivious to what it actually is?

Duncan Thomas, like Chris Foulke before him, lists numerous aspects of society he calls socialist, but which exist under every form of governance and economic philosophy. Public lands and post offices share this with parakeets and ponds: They have nothing whatsoever to do with the ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods. They are neither socialist nor capitalist, neither conservative nor liberal. They are universal, existing under all economic models and governments.

Wherever it has been practiced, capitalism has worked more beneficially for more people than any economic model in history. Conversely, socialism has failed more people more dramatically than any other, and has done so in all places and at all times it has been attempted.

So, whither goeth thou, Mr. Thomas? Would you have us reject American capitalism and start down the path to Venezuela or Cuba? Logic would dictate that a rational society would strive to seek even more benefit for more of its citizens from the capitalist horn of plenty, and would categorically reject sending all on a forced march into the quagmire of socialist misery. Which will you choose for your children?

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Unless one finds rationality eternally elusive, it seems a simple choice.

John Brenan

Corvallis (Oct. 13)

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