Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Socialist Approach

What the heck is this anyway?  I mean in America, land of the free.  I am not a socialist, let me be clear about that.  I am way too much in favor of descent, have often mentioned here that I wouldn't join a group that had such low standards as to accept me in their membership.  I like a thousand ideas on the table and after sifting through them I make up my own mind.  I think all ideas need to be expressed without labels which only raise the hairs and befuddle the issues at hand.
     Historically a government has two main jobs and in our country it has further tasks that we give it. These jobs are to protect us and to redistribute the wealth.  That's right.  That is why we have commerce laws and taxes and certain rules and regulations.  You can't rob a bank; you have to actually get a job and earn your money.  That's the law. In a real socialist society the "people" might actually rob this bank.  It has happened and it just never seems to work.  We are really robbing this bank right now, stealing from future depositors, our very children.  Our National Debt has grown to over $40,000 for each man, woman and child living in the United States.   If you want true freedom and responsibility this debt could be transferred to each of us personally, just added to our Visa cards!
   I fear the word, socialism, we all do and that is why it is used.  We imagine it with a police state and Stalinist tactics of oppression.  But let me tell you things we have now and see how you feel about them.
Economic Socialism is nothing but shared responsibility.  We share the benefits and we share the risks.
Have you been in a store recently where the employees are wearing badges that say something to the effect:
"I am an owner of this employee owned store"?  We have grocery stores, hardware stores and even variety stores in my town where they wear these badges.  That is socialism.
    If you don't use that emotional word and just think about the shared responsibility around you, you will see we have socialism everywhere.  Unemployment, Food cards, and any public assistance is a method of redistributing the wealth.  It is nice to think we do this from the kindness of our hearts, that it is the right thing to do when someone is down on their luck.  Historically that is garbage.  We do it to prevent riots,  as an alternative to robbing banks. Go back to the Great Depression in the twenties when we didn't have these "safety nets" and read what happened, or in the 1890's when cities were burnt to the ground.  Desperate people do desperate things.
    We have National Health Care, and a lot of it, just not everyone.  Our military has it with the Veteran's
Administration.  It is not self supporting, it is funded by taxes.  We pay for it.  Personally I think we do it out of guilt for what we have asked our servicemen and women to do in our name.  And, if you can make it to 65 in one piece we have Medicare and once there, probably the best system of Health Care in the World.
That is Socialism.
     Libraries are socialist.  We can't even imagine a time when if you wanted to read a book you had to buy it, but it used to be that way, before, as a society, we valued reading.  Our system of medical care has very little to do with capitalism and free enterprise. I think, however this idea should be included for discussion!
You can't just build a hospital or set up an MRI in a corner store and go into business for yourself.  We have laws to prevent that.  We have a lot of laws to prevent free competition in the medical business.  Pharmacies are heavily subsidized.  Most of the research money is generated from taxes, the government, us. We pay for it.
     I am not saying any of this is good or bad.  I am only saying it should be discussed, put on the table without emotional labels, no one wearing any political hats, and see what the ideas are, see if we can come to a kind of agreement.  Besides a particular vocabulary, what makes this very difficult is it is all expensive.
Nothing is free.  I don't need any kind of National Health at all, in any form.  I had (past tense, thank you!)
Cancer and it cost $130,000 to cure me and all but $1,000 was covered by insurance.  I have a "Cadillac"
policy, which means, basically, someone else paid for it.
    Some of these issues should be really easy to discuss.  Would National Health be less expensive? That is just math and someone should be able to explain this to us.  Why are we paying, as an average, $7,000 per year for medical costs and other countries pay half of this and live longer? and there are a lot of other real questions and concerns we have that, maybe, without emotional catch phrases we could get to the bottom.
In California some insurance companies raised their premiums by 50% just last month!  Businesses can't afford this; we can't afford this.  How much worse does it have to get before we are willing to make changes?
     One other issue makes this complicated.  Do we vote for ourselves or do we vote for our children?
I wouldn't mind a true Capitalist System.  Pay for it or die.  I would live.  I have been a businessman all my life and I have and pay for good insurance.  What happens more often than you would like to think is a guy has a good job with good insurance and he gets cancer.  Halfway through his treatment he is too sick to work and loses his job...And his insurance.  Happens all the time.  Maybe this is an opportunity to discuss  what kind of society do we want to live in?  Could we dare to not just think about our personal selves?
     I refuse to believe that this is not a discussable issue. There is an Art to discussion, we just have to find it.
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Maundering mutterer said...

There's a lot to be said for enlightened socialism as practiced in Denmark (one of the richest countries in the world per capita). Sure, the taxes are high, but one day when you're old or sick or unemployed, it's there for you. Of course, this demands a certain work ethic from the populace - and in Denmark 'riding the system' is definitely frowned upon socially!

Kay said...

I think the problem is the labels. Knee jerk reactions to words like socialism. You and I know that socialism can work, does work and is employed by many entities as you pointed out. Here in Utah the LDS church is a huge socialist community. But you say the word liberal, they scream socialist and run the other direction..even though that religion is based on yes..socialism. I am not an advocate of communism..different from socialism. I am not an advocate of bailing out idiots..yet at the same time..we should be concerned for our fellow citizens in a very proactive way. I don't understand the anger over making sure everyone has access to healthcare. I think there are ways of doing it that need tweaking..but it needs to happen. When we US citizens say we don't want to be like the Europeans, or the Canadians or whoever we think is elitist..maybe we need to dial that back and really see what others are doing to value their citizens. We are a selfish, capitalist bunch..Our ethics and morals are governed by unregulated capitalism. Not a great idea. Yes we should be entreprenural(sp!), but we should do so in a caring fashion..I know I am delusional!!!

AutumnLeaves said...

Well, I guess I used a word without knowing enough of what I speak. This is why I usually keep my opinions to myself. I speak from emotion more often than not. Sorry to have stepped on toes and tossed around a word lightly.

stonepost said...

Autumnleaves, Don't be sorry for anything!! I want YOUR opinion! That is why we are calling this a discussion! I don't have the answers either. If we don't learn to talk about these issues we will never solve our problems!

Constance Stanza Extravaganza Extraordinaire said...

So how about debating this: in this discussion Jerry.

Be aware however, that in the somewhat unenviable position that I find myself in, I am not free to pass any comments!

Bella said...

I have just re-read this and seen how much I have typed. Please forgive me for the hyperbole.

I live in England. A friend has her brother living in the US and he has very good health cover. It means he likes to 'get his money's worth' seeing the doctor and obtaining cure-all pills (it sounds like they are often placebos) while those without cover who are needy fall by the wayside.

It could be viewed as a stark choice, a society that distributes all and therefore has hangers on; and a possible lack of drive for the ambitious to succeed - v.s - a winner takes all scenario where the losers starve.

It was only when I visited a former eastern block country, and an African state and saw the prosaic infrastructure of a place devoid of fair taxes that I realised taxes are good. I could live like a king out there, but I don't want a palace which opens onto ugliness. I do not want to return to the days here in England, before Thomas Corum, where desperate mothers left their babies by the wayside in the hope a rich woman took pity and when whole villages lived in poverty serving grand houses with just one family.

It is tax and distribution which means we can all live in a decent society with choices and diversity. This is for a good standard of education, health care at point of need, and safety net for those who fall. Public parks, libraries and other amenities all acknowledge we are human beings and ultimately in it together. Every society has hangers on but no solution will ever be perfect and I would rather that than lose huge chunks of fresh minds with innovation, art, and technology just because the people were born into the wrong cash bracket and never had the chance. It is madness to put the value of money above all else.

The politics problem comes into being when we start arguing how much money to take and where to put it! I'm keeping out of that one.

P.S. We run our own businesses here in the UK and I consider myself a capitalist.

Bella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stonepost said...

Andrea and Bella,my new found friend from England! Thanks so much for joining this discussion. We are not necessarily talking about anything particularly American here, but rather in general terms: what is the function of society and the individual within it? and how do we get what we want? and what the heck if "fair" anyway? These are all generic ideas and International and the same issues apply to everyone all over the world.