The other evening I listened to Lawrence O’Donald talk about socialism. I think it was the best explanation of our current political state that I have heard ever. Lawrence O’Donald made the point that all of us are part socialist. Many of the programs that we so heavily rely on are social programs. Two of the biggest are Medicare and social security. I have not heard too many people, especially the elderly, complain about these programs and I doubt that very many seniors would give them up or refuse to be covered by them. Before these programs existed, when one was too old to work, there was no place for him in an industrial society. Many seniors worked until they died or spent the remainder of their lives living on the street. The point Lawrence made was this: there are many capitalist societies in today’s world, but very few are practicing pure capitalism. Most practice a hybrid of capitalism and socialism creating safety nets for the financially challenged folks struggling to make ends meet.
What other programs are run by the government? How about the mail system? We all complain about the price of stamps, but think about what you get; you can send an envelope anywhere in the USA for under 50 cents. I think that is quite a deal. Who do you think controls the price of electricity? If you are not sure what happens when no one controls the utilities, ask someone from California. Imagine what the price would be if left uncontrolled. I do not believe capitalists build our highways and bridges. The army is a government-run program. What if the government did not control such things as air and water quality; just think of all the interesting diseases you might have!
I am tired of groups who use the word socialist as if it is a poison dart. They all rely on the same programs we all do and would be among the first to complain if they were discontinued! Capitalism is a powerful force and like most powerful forces, left unchecked, will run amuck. The key word here is balance. We must balance the needs of the people, both rich and poor, with the needs of industry so that both may have a decent level of success. I personally have no problem with people who make more than $250,000/year paying a little more tax. I still have not figured out how the republicans are going to balance the budget, stay in two wars, fund a larger military and reduce taxes. I think they used to call that voodoo economics when people knew how to add and subtract. Take one quick guess, who is going to suffer…you and me, the little folks.
So the next time you hear someone complain about our society becoming too socialist, ask them if they plan to use Medicare when they are older or draw from social security. Ask them if they have driven their car on a PUBLIC road lately. Sure we pay taxes and sure the government could be more efficient. Here is a chart of how much tax we pay in comparison to other countries.
Sorry, the image quality was so poor I will just give you the link. I think you will be surprised when you see where we stand in relation to other countries.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!