Government

The Friday Podcast: We Found A Socialist!

Socialist

hide captionDefine your terms, please.

Whitney Curtis/AP

Despite what you may have heard, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats aren't socialists. And the top Republicans in Washington aren't free-market libertarians.

But given how freely everybody's throwing those terms around these days, we're wading in to get a deeper understanding of what they really mean.

On today's Planet Money, we talk to an actual socialist — Richard Wolff, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts — about socialism. Coming next week: Libertarianism.

For more on our conversation with Wolff, read our post from yesterday. For further reading, see Wolff's web site.

Special socialism bonus:

We asked Wolff whether the health-care overhaul passed by the Democrats is a socialist plan. Here's his answer:

What was passed has nothing remotely to do with a socialist plan.

You might call it a socialist plan ... if doctors were public employees hired as a kind of public service, a little bit like groundskeepers in a park or policemen. ... We don't have that.

... The second way you might imagine an old-style socialist health program is if the government took over the basic job of insuring our health. So it might leave the doctors private but it would be a government insurance program paid for out of public funds to provide everyone with a guarantee of access to health care. And nothing like that was proposed or passed by the Obama administration.

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