By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
“SOCIALISM”—With a Personal Twist
In the past few weeks, I have heard more than a few American ex-pats voice concern that the United States seems to have now entered into a serious flirtation with Socialism—but the truth is that the United States has had a long history of enacting “socialistic” programs.
The crash of the American economy in 1929 brought on the worst economic depression in its entire history but also brought about some of the most sweeping national relief programs ever enacted. Today those programs are highly valued but back then many of them were considered the first stepping stones to Communism, national initiatives like Social Security, federal aid to Education, Medicine and the Arts, and on and on . . .
Later, the end of World War Two saw the passing of the GI Bill, geared up to help the millions of returning servicemen find their post-war footing as they returned to the country they had done nothing less than save. Later came the War on Poverty, FHA, Workers Compensation, the Public Parks Service, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, national scholarship funds and many other programs to aid the less fortunate among the American population.
Much later were the Federally Guaranteed Loans, one of which was for the building of a hundred million dollar golf course in New York City. Strangely enough, the federal government stood behind the loan but did not participate in any share of the profits. The recipient of such a “socialist” deal was none other than the current president of the United States.
But at its best, the American system is one of the finest ever devised, thanks in part to two of the framers of the U.S. Constitution: James Monroe and Alexander Hamilton. Monroe was of the opinion that the one true test of the greatness of any country is how humanely it treats the least fortunate of its citizens, while Hamilton championed the entrepreneurial spirit that is primarily responsible for the financial vitality of the country itself.
I’ll close on a personal note: Once long ago, seemingly in another lifetime and while still a relatively young man, I reached a dead-end professionally, but was able to stay alive (literally!) thanks to the Federal Food Stamp Program.
Luckily, within the next few months my luck did a 180-turn and I was soon able to set up a California corporation for the making of a motion picture whose production would eventually hire more than seventy people and keep many of them employed for more than six months.
God bless the United States of America.
Column: Editor’s Page
Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only Once in a Lifetime-- Recently purchased with another film of his, No Return Address, by Turner Classic Movies. Lifetime premiered at the Kennedy Center in Wash., D.C. —1979. Awarded Governor’s (California) Commendation—1980. Special Award of Appreciation from the National Association of Mexican-American Educators—1981. Wrote 23 film scripts, nine of which were either sold or optioned, some repeatedly.
Established Ajijic Writers Group in 1988. Wrote seven novels, three of which were at one time in 1400 libraries in the U.S., Canada, England and Ireland. Best Screenplay Award—Mexican International Film Festival—1999. Award of Appreciation from Ninos Incapacitados—2007. Biography appeared in Who’s Who in Mexico—2007. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 —Lakeside Community Awards Committee. Winner of IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award in 2014 for historical novel The Dark Side of the Dream. Editor-in-Chief of El Ojo del Lago for past 25 years.
Grattan’s seven novels, as well as his collection of articles, short stories and film/ literary/political commentaries are all in the Local Author’s Section of the LCS Library.
The last motion picture Grattan wrote and directed, Only Once in a Lifetime, is now in the LCS Video Library.