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Socialists or Capitalists

Oct 1, 2010

I have a great friend; he is provocative, insightful, and funny. He is the kind of guy that you never know what he is going to do next. He voted for President Obama then showed up at the Courage and Valor Fun Run this year wearing a T-shirt with former President George W. Bush’s picture on it and the caption “Miss Me Yet?” He is not afraid to change his mind or speak it; he has courage in his convictions, and he loves a good debate.

He is a straightforward guy, so when he asked me, “Aren’t you glad that the country is moving in a national socialist direction under President Obama?” I was shocked. I asked him why he would think that I would like the country to move toward socialism and why he thought it was doing so. He responded that he felt it was clear, primarily because of nationalized health care and all the power and influence the unions were getting under this administration, among other points. And since I was such a strong union supporter and lifetime firefighter, he assumed I and my fellow firefighters must support socialism.

I don’t support socialism. American firefighters and our union would never support socialism—ever.

To me, socialism refers to a socioeconomic system in which, economically, the ownership of industry and the distribution of wealth are determined by the state or by agents of the state. I think of National Socialism in Germany and Russia under Hitler and Lenin, totalitarian states that denied personal freedom to their citizens.

American firefighters—career, volunteer, paid on call, union and nonunion, Democrat and Republican—are first and foremost Americans. We place our trust and fidelity in God, family, and country, in that order. We affirm that our freedoms come from God—not man and certainly not from the government. We agree with Thomas Paine that society and all its good come from our wants, and government comes from our evils. We do what we do because we choose to do so, not because anyone tells us we have to. We are American capitalists; we swore to protect and defend the constitution, and we are proud of that fact.

The reason we need to clear up this misperception is twofold: First, we will defend our personal liberties granted us by God and expressed in our constitution with our lives; and second, union membership does not make you a socialist. We choose to join our unions; if the union does something we don’t like, we can vote to change it or quit. Being a union member is a choice, and the union works hard to maintain our trust.

American firefighters from the beginning have been active in protecting American freedoms. There is nothing more fundamental to our American way of life than free speech and free association—they are fundamental to preserving liberty. The fire service has a responsibility to defend the constitution as much as we have the right to associate freely with our unions. We have an effective and powerful service, mainly because we are free to criticize our government, our union, and our leaders. We can and do speak our minds.

Many firefighters don’t know whom to thank for this freedom, but his name was Benny Bache. Benny’s grandfather died in 1790, leaving Benny a printing press as his inheritance. Benny decided to start his own newspaper in Philadelphia, calling it the Aurora. Luckily for Benny, in 1791 the Bill of Rights was officially adopted, and its first provision was that Congress should make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press. Lucky, because Benny really disliked old George Washington. He accused Washington of wasting public funds, nepotism, and treating the office of the presidency more like a monarchy. Lots of folks thought Washington didn’t run for a third term because of Benny.

After Washington came John Adams. Benny disliked Adams, too. Benny called Adams old, querulous, bald, and toothless because Benny believed strongly that the press had a duty to inform the citizenry if the government was not acting in accordance with the constitution. Benny wrote about Adams’s secret plan to have close presidential races decided in private, without voters’ knowledge or consent, and his passion for being treated in a manner befitting the king of America. This infuriated Adams.

Those who supported Adams wrote horrible things about Benny, including Abigail Adams, wife of the president. She wrote that Bache was a lying wretch, adding that his abuse leveled against her husband’s administration could plunge America into civil war. Because of all the bad written about Benny, he was attacked and seriously beaten. In very poor fashion, John Adams gave the attacker a diplomatic job in France.

But Mrs. Adams still wasn’t satisfied. She pushed her husband to stop the bad press he was getting, and in 1798 the Sedition Act was passed, violating the First Amendment by restricting the press. Benny Bache was arrested before the Act even became law; his bail was set at a phenomenal $4,000. Other publishers who had dared print any opposition to Adams were also arrested and imprisoned.

But Adams underestimated the American public. Restricting free speech made them very angry, and they rallied by the hundreds to support Benny by subscribing to the Aurora. Americans came to Benny’s aid solely because they realized that the government was trying to shut down private citizens’ freedom of speech. Adams had made a serious mistake, forgetting that the American public would demand the truth.

Benny died of yellow fever shortly after posting bail; he was 29 years old. His struggle led to Jefferson’s winning the Presidency. One of his first official acts was to pardon all the publishers arrested under the Sedition Act and affirm that a free press would always be an American institution. Oh, and one more reason firefighters should know this story? Benny’s full name was Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of America’s first firefighter, Ben Franklin.

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Comment by Bobby Halton on February 27, 2011 at 6:59pm

Answer Craig part three

The Constitution is based on the principle that the citizens of a republican nation must must be virtuous and moral. Benjamin Franklin wrote:  “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
George Washington emphasized in his Farewell Address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports

 The Constitution acknowledges that the people are the true sovereigns in a republican government. The Founders rejected the notion that a king has a “divine right” to rule. Under natural law, no man has a right to rule over another, unless the subject gives his consent.  James Madison wrote: “The ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone.” ~Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers, No. 22

 The Constitution was created on the assumption that America would function under a free-market economy, recognizing and protecting property rights. John Adams wrote: “All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.”

Sorry I had to break that up but it would not allow me to post it all in one response. Sorry if I caused you any concern or upset you in any way with my editorial it was never m

Comment by Bobby Halton on February 27, 2011 at 6:58pm

Answer to Craig part two

Please accept my explanation for my belief in the need for the understanding of the role of religion in our Republic I think the four pillars of the Constitution as outlined by the constitutional scholars noted best explain my position.Four Pillars in the foundation of the Constitution from Parry and Allison

It recognizes the existence of natural law. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson referred to “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Natural law recognizes the existence of God and acknowledges that God has established a natural order of things for this earth and the people of this earth. The concept of unalienable rights is based on an understanding of natural law, as are the three principles

Comment by Bobby Halton on February 27, 2011 at 6:55pm
Answer to Craig part one, I apologize that they only allow me 2000 words LOL

Craig, Please allow me to apologize for taking so long to respond to your thoughtful post. As they say you can't please all of the people all the time and I appreciate you taking the time to read my editorials. Which makes me somewhat confused as the editorial is called the editors opinion this is where I get to express my opinion. Nowhere in that editorial do I recall saying I was speaking on behalf of the American firefighters. My use of the word we is artistic license and of course there will always be exceptions to that we. Let me supply you with the following documentation from some constitutional scholars on the four pillars of the Constitution.  I would also highly recommend you follow this link  Calvin Coolidge's address on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence where he does a brilliant job of explaining the fundamental pillars of the Declaration of Independence being a strong sense of religiosity among the public. Here's a link to Coolidge's speech

Comment by Craig Patti on December 28, 2010 at 9:29pm


I enjoy reading most of your editorials, but had a tough time finishing this one. I don't know who gave you the authority to speak on behalf of "American Firefighters" but suspect that like America herself, our firefighters are a diverse group who have diverse thoughts and beliefs. I personally am agnostic, and do not place any diety or other being above my family. I have yet to see proof of a higher power and would assume in your career, with what you may have witnessed, would make alot of people question their faith or belief in God. The freedoms we enjoy in this country, come from a living document that 56 men signed. The belief of natural law is an American philosophy. If it were true, we would not have the North Koreas in this world.


While on the topic of the Constitution, which we swore to protect, where does it mention anywhere about capitalism? I am all for hard working people becoming successful, but it seems lately the only result of capitalism is alot of American jobs shipped overseas, workers losing pensions and benefits, unions losing clout, and politicians selling votes all the while corporate CEO's making adding a few more zeros onto their golden parachutes. That is not the "capitalist" society I want my country to have.


I do love the fact at least we live in a country where we can have this debate and thank you for the work you do on behalf of the fire service.


Stay Safe



Comment by Nick Morgan on October 23, 2010 at 10:34pm
Excellent post Bobby! Good history lesson too. "If we don't know our history, we're doomed to repeat it." Thanks for your monthly "Rants" for "The Brotherhood"!
God bless.
Comment by John K. Murphy on October 13, 2010 at 12:21pm

I find that your friend’s term “national socialist direction” connotes the extremism we have seen during the Nazi Germany and other dictatorial eras where large numbers of its citizens were slaughtered to promote an idea or political belief. As I Google this term, all of the Aryan nation web sites pop up with a protracted reason why we should accept the “national socialism” point of view. Scary stuff

When you search the term Nationalism, a concept involving a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Often, it is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood, or that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities. Are we talking Israel here?

When you search the term Socialism, it is defined as economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources, sort of in the George Orwellian viewpoint of the world.

It seems that the terms ”national socialist” is a homogenation (a new word) of ideas and concepts that can conflict within each of its concepts and ultimately destroy its creator of this system with unresolved conflict and crisis. These are two completely opposite belief systems.

Is this what we see under the current leadership of our country? What did we see prior to this election of a “change agent”? Two wars, squandering of our national reserves, economic crisis, the implementation of TARP and the alleged economic recovery that continues in a downward spiral. We have seen the near “nationalization” or "socialization" of major auto manufacturers, banks, health care and other “social” institutions to prevent the catastrophic collapse of our great nation. Our nation is not used to harsh and nearly dictatorial management of a crisis. “You’re doing a good job Brownie” was the mantra of ineffectual leadership and permissiveness and we all know how that disaster turned out.

Our forefathers in their infinite wisdom crafted a constitution that is still effective today and although some elected officials and special interest groups are trying to “re-write” history and change the direction of this country to include the erosion of our right to privacy. We have survived inept leadership, squandering of resources and just plain bad leadership and judgment.

What do we call Medicare? What do we call Social Security? What did we do during WW II to the steel mills when they went on strike? Our elected government did what they thought was right and created some “socialist” programs to protect the rights and liberties of our citizens.

We live in scary times and although not advocating socialism or nationalism, at times our government needs to grab the bull by the horns and kick some a** especially during the current crisis. There is a balance here and we are struggling to find it let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Our nation’s firefighters represent what is right with the world. If only that model could be applied to the rest of the free thinkers of our great nation.

Keep fighting the good fight – we have your back my brother.
Comment by Michael Bricault (ret) on October 12, 2010 at 6:13pm
-It was Benjamin Franklin that said, "Any government, if left unchecked will attempt to subjugate those that it governs". To that end I believe that Mr. Bache would agree with me in that, unions exist to protect the rights of the workers from the very government which they serve, be it a city, state or the all mighty federal government. This is the system of checks and balances at work in their most tangible aspect.
-Less than 30% of the American workforce is part of a labor union and yet the 70% undeniably benefit directly from organized labor. Those benefits are seen in higher competitive wages, better and safer working conditions and uniformity in standards.
-Organized labor has literally compelled the federal government to create NIOSH and OSHA to meet the demands for a safe, standardized working environment.
-And for those nay sayers that would argue that unions have outlived their usefulness I will direct your attention to the latest economic crisis in this country in which many municipal leaders would have attempted to correct the perceived crisis on the backs of the very workers that keep their community safe.
-While some irresponsible civic leaders tried to use fear tactics and the economy as an excuse to bring unions to heel they in fact actually propagated the economic crisis by laying off their work force.
-I even heard one politician say that unions caused the economic problems by insisting on higher pay and better retirements. Yet they conveniently forget the years of political mismanagement of retirement funds and pension raiding.
-Lastly, I really know in my heart that these political bastards have no clue as to what firefighters do. I know they wish we would just go away... that is until its them dialing 9-1-1. Then its, "Why didn't you get here sooner!!!"
-Shakespeare was wrong when he said, "First, kill all the lawyers".
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 12, 2010 at 2:45pm
Another HOMERUN Brother! Well Put!
Comment by Frank Ricci on October 12, 2010 at 12:51pm
Well Said!!!!!
Politics is akin to tactics when we recognize that we are off course the bravest action is correction. When we make a mistake we must own it, correct it, share it and learn from it.
Comment by Mike France on October 12, 2010 at 11:16am
Bobby , Very interesting

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