All, I am off to the the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Conference in Chicago, so am reposting this blog first published in 2021. In today’s political climate, thinking about our country and what we want for our future, its good to take some time to examine our past.
Sharing thoughts on socialism is important. To start, defining systems is helpful. Merriam Webster says:
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
1a: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
b: a theory advocating elimination of private property
: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
Social Democracy is:
1 : a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means
2 : a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices
THOUGHTS ON SOCIALISM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
A look back at the history of the Soviet Union and Cuba, demonstrates that pure communism does not work. However, neither does total capitalism, called laissez-faire (a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights (Merriam-Webster). In fact, as early as 1890, the federal government began to reign in private businesses outlawing unfair methods of competition such as price fixing, trusts, and monopolies.
The reality is, we have always been a social democracy, incorporating both capitalist and socialist practices. The founding fathers added the phrase in the preamble to the constitution “promote the general welfare” indicating that they did not intend the government to operate strictly on laissez-faire capitalism.
The following systems are socialist (the means of production are owned and controlled by the state):
- Free public education. In the 1830s, Massachusetts established the first public high school and free public school to all grades as well as a state board of education. The first public school opened in 1635.
- Social Security and Unemployment benefits (1935), Medicare (1965). In fact, the Social Security Administration states that the development of Medicare was stimulated by the fact that, before its passage, the situation was dire. “…health costs increase greatly in old age when, at the same time, income almost always declines. The cost of adequate private health insurance, if paid for in old age, is more than most older persons can afford. Prior to Medicare, only a little over one-half of those aged 65 and over had some type of hospital insurance; few among the insured group had insurance covering any part of their surgical and out-of-hospital physicians’ costs. Also, there were numerous instances where private insurance companies were terminating health policies for aged persons in the high risk (sic) category.”
- Roads and bridges The federal government began to work on road construction in 1806 with the passage of the Cumberland Road Act signed by Thomas Jefferson.
THOUGHTS ON SOCIALISM ELIMINATING SOCIALISM ENTIRELY
To me, social democracy makes the most sense. It means taking the best of both worlds to fulfill the vision of our founding fathers. I don’t want pure socialism nor do I want pure capitalism. Paying a toll every time I wanted to go somewhere would drive me crazy. Moreover, I love my Medicare. You will have to take it away over my dead body. At the same time, I want a choice of what I buy at the store, not just what the government decrees. I love choices. If I didn’t have this right, I’d be up in arms.
The bottom line is we need to put away the labels, look at what our citizens need and want, and level the playing field so all Americans have the ability to pursue the unalienable right of happiness.