Socialism: A Four-Letter Word?

Why is the term “socialism” a non-starter? What is the phobia that prevents Americans from discussing socialist ic policy without vehement indignation?

Socialism should be part of the governmental conversation. Not because it is a specific ideology, but because it might work. It works in many other countries, resulting in less suffering for those in society who are less fortunate.

It’s not like socialistic policies aren’t clearly part of American democracy. There is Social Security and Medicare, and there is public education, to say nothing of the military. And all of that is paid for by everyone who can pay, for the overall benefit of the entire society. Isn’t that a civilized concept? It doesn’t indicate we are a socialistic society, merely that we have chosen (the majority of us) to have socialist policies because they provide the best means to meet some of our needs. We can’t do everything as individuals, so some things are best done or supported communally. Why is that something to disdain?

Having socialistic policies does not undermine our democratic principles. But not having more socialist programs, in light of such a large segment of our society being neglected, undermines the validity of our current practices.

We have recently demonstrated that U.S. society currently includes roughly 50 million people living under the poverty level and living without health insurance. The first priority of any developed nation is the basic welfare of its citizenry. It isn’t the debt and it isn’t the economy. Current policy obviously neglects too large a portion of the population, and the entire society must be healthy before a healthy economy will be meaningful. A socialist approach to some of our inequities could be advantageous.

A s one example, according to a recent editorial in USA Today, “The U.S. health care system spend $6,567 per person per year-twice as much as Canada and Germany-yet still manages to leave 50 million people uninsured.” Assuming that we can implement a system as efficient as Canada and Germany, that indicates that $3,280 per citizen–$984,000,000,000-are being misspent or wasted annually, using the current system. That expenditure, by any other name, is a tax. We are in effect spending almost a trillion dollars per year to support profit motivation in order to avoid thinking of ourselves as “socialist”.

Implementing s ocial programs regarding life necessities still leaves plenty of room for free market economics regarding non-necessities: yachts, large houses, smart phones, vacations, all the material life so prevalent in The States that make it so special for those fortunate enough to have good jobs. As laudable as private enterprise and personal profit are, their goals are too often at odds with caring for the country as a whole. Life necessities should be provided through non profit or controlled profit means, where the welfare of each individual becomes equally important and the singular priority.

And yes, social programs need to be funded…………. just like wars do, with tax revenues. But in a developed and civilized society, quality health care, a safe environment, access to a good education, and minimal lifestyle support in times of unemployment, sickness, and for retirement must be provided to ALL citizens. If a society can’t provide those things, there is no society, only self serving individuals and groups living in the same country.

By Steven Pollak,

English teacher , World traveler, and Author of “Other Peoples’ Shoes: a book about peace

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