Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The "S" Word

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

This came to me in a daze. 

During a long afternoon with fellow Maryland residents at a mobbed Loveville MVA last week, my mind drifted.  I needed water.  Food.  Space.  Fresh air with normal oxygen to carbon dioxide ratios.  An open highway and loud rock ‘n roll.  Where was the USS Enterprise?  Scotty…come in Scotty…beam me up.  Battling Klingons I can handle; this I cannot. 

There was no escape.  I was shackled to this experience like everyone else.  Have mercy on us, MVA.  Fortunately the patrons were patient and the staff did its best.  Human volume was the enemy.  The equivalent of four lanes of traffic were cramming down a single-lane road.  Freedom would come eventually for all; for me it would arrive only after securing the primary objective - my daughter’s learner’s permit.

After accepting the reality of the situation, my mind sought a diversion and wandered to this week’s “View”.  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, it occurred to me that this wouldn’t just be any “View” would be the 300th edition (truly humbling).  “Have to do something special”, I thought, while holding piles of personal information substantiating my daughter as a human, an American and a Marylander and the all-important MVA ticket with our call number.

F4 was my MVA-issued Wonka golden ticket to the vehicular promise land.  I clutched it as a Bingo-hall-worthy amount of other letters and numbers were broadcast over the intercom.  Then it hit me: This is confluence of socialism and capitalism.  Must write about the great debate.  Why not?  Away we go.  Let’s whip this into a sports-and-politics-and-economics-infused frenzy. 

With under 18 months to the 2020 presidential election and a crowded field of Democrats, one that resembles the 2016 list of Republican candidates, vying to tangle with (presumably) Donald Trump, the political season is, for good or ill, upon us.  Among the rhetoric slung from both sides, a popular early right-winged initiative is to label all Democrats “socialists”, an increasingly inflammatory and misunderstood term.  No word yet if the FCC, a government entity (oh, the irony), is going to add “socialist” to its infamous “Seven-dirty-word” list.

Fact: The left isn’t arguing for complete state economic control (this would be counter to American entrepreneurship).  Fact: The right isn’t seeking to dissolve all government economic presence (unrestrained capitalism lacks conscience).  More facts: We are all socialists and capitalists.  Americans of all political persuasions correctly celebrate and benefit from capitalism and a free market economy while a host of federal, state and local government (socialist) programs simultaneously provide essential services (including an ability to address wealth concentration).  Socialism and capitalism are on an economic continuum (both are needed) and are separate from our precious democratic political system - and the representative government it promises – that is a universally supported pillar of our shared American identity. 

As with most things in life, the world of sports mirrors society’s coexistence of socialism and capitalism.  From a socialist perspective, public parks provide soccer fields, tennis courts and baseball diamonds.  Recreation and Parks and public schools offer youth access to a variety of sports.  Further, at the federal level, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments required federally funded institutions to provide all students, regardless of sex, equal access to athletic opportunities and athletic scholarships proportional to participation rates.

From a capitalist’s perspective, there are few freer “markets” than high-level, competitive athletics.  Performance rules in this realm.  Execute or the bench will become well-acquainted with the curvature of your derriere.  Race, religion and economic status are transcended; performance is paramount.  Moreover, regardless of level, competition extracts the best out of individuals and teams.  It is all a beautiful thing.     

As for my trip to the MVA, F4 was eventually called and, like many of my fellow Marylanders, I exited with the primary objective accomplished and enabled, by this state-run, “socialist” entity, to go forth and contribute in some small way to Maryland’s and America’s free market.  To call that a beautiful thing too would be overstated, but the effective collaboration of government and private citizen suggested a broader context worthy of a column and personal contemplation.  

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