Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So, What if it is...

socialism, that is? It’s about time we gave up this completely irrational attitude, even fear, of socialism. I’m not exactly sure how this nonsensical belief about socialism originated. I suppose it is somehow related to our previous fear of communism, but however it came about it makes no sense whatsoever. First, most of the people who rail against socialism seem to have little or no idea even what the term means. The claim that President Obama is a socialist is a good example. He has a law degree from one of our most prestigious Ivy League Universities and gets much of his financial support from Wall Street, that is about as far from being a socialist as one can get. They criticize “Obamacare” as being a socialist attempt at medical care, even though it left Insurance companies and the private sector in charge, reaping obscene profits on the misery and failing health of the insured. The same critics would like to do away with Medicare and Medicaid, along with Social Security, but wait a minute.

Yes, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are socialistic, no doubt about it. But a majority of the American public, including even many Republicans, truly approve of these programs and do not want them reduced or changed. So how does that fit with this fear of socialism? Similarly, we have free universal elementary education, the Post Office, Veterans benefits, Police and Fire Departments, etc., all funded by taxpayers, and all basically socialistic. Most citizens, as far as I know, support all of these programs. Furthermore, most of the benefits our working public enjoy came to them as a result of socialistic labor unions after years of horrible anti-unionism, strikes, and yes, a great deal of violence. But out of that emerged the 8 hour workday, the 40 hour workweek, paid vacations, sick leave, and so on, when previously the conditions of ordinary workers was truly dismal, long hours, no benefits, lives of poverty, misery, and “quiet desperation.”

Somehow the benefits of socialism that we now enjoy have been mysteriously forgotten, Management and the wealthy, mostly Republicans, have waged such a propaganda war against socialism that many people just automatically recoil even upon hearing the term. They have been successful in the past few years in breaking unions, passing right-to-work laws, and in general badmouthing socialism to the point where unions are nowhere near what they once were and attempts to improve the lot of the middle class and the poor are summarily dismissed as socialism and usually fail. This anti-union, anti-middle class, even anti-American behavior, persists to the present day as in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and elsewhere.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are termed “entitlements,” itself having become a bad word, basically a euphemism for socialism, and Republicans single-mindedly attack them constantly. Someone has suggested they should be termed “The Middle Class safety net,” rather than entitlements, as if that might make a difference in people’s attitudes. This attitude that has developed toward socialism, even the term socialism, is in my opinion no more sensible or realistic than children’s fear of the boogeyman, and has its origins in the same idle threats used to promote such fears in both cases. Our fear of socialism is absurd, without foundation, unrealistic, and harmful. I suggest we grow up and give it up just as we grow out of our fear of the boogeyman. Yes, there are socialistic elements of our society, some of which we hold dear and do not want to give up. Medicare is very popular and should be extended to all, in fact it ultimately will be, because eventually it will be the only way we can even afford health care, and also the most important factor in doing away with the deficit. If this does not happen the only people who will have health care will be the very rich, the rest of the population will have to “make do” as best they can, dying prematurely and painfully on the streets, having already lost their homes, jobs, unemployment insurance, and hope. If Republicans are serious about their aims, and if they gain the power to bring them about, this is what the future looks like for the middle class and the poor. Their motto seems clearly to be, “Let ‘em starve.” I suggest that the next time someone tells you Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are socialism, say yes, isn’t it wonderful.

Governor Rick Perry has lost no time in establishing himself as an aggressive, loud-mouthed, ignorant, arrogant, bible-thumping, loose cannon, Texas loony. I hope he gets the Republican nomination, what a ball we’ll have!

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