December 3, 2010

If you hate socialism, you also hate...

Public Schools
The childless, parents with children beyond school age, parents who home school, and parents who send their children to private schools must all pay taxes to fund public schools.
Medicare and Medicaid
People not receiving Medicare and Medicaid must pay taxes for these programs. The taxes of those who die before receiving any benefit of these programs also go to their funding. The individual must be responsible for obtaining personal health care.
Minimum Wage
Minimum wage laws prevent employers from paying labor at the current market rate.
Food Stamps
The taxes of those not receiving food stamps goes to their funding. The individual must be responsible for obtaining food.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) and Public Housing
The taxes of those not receiving either goes to their funding. The individual must be responsible for obtaining housing.
Fire Departments
The individual must be responsible for his/her medical needs and property.
The Grand Canyon
Public land ownership prevents private land ownership and development.
Water Authorities and Inexpensive Public Water
Water Authorities prevent private land owners from managing their water as they see fit. Individuals must be responsible for obtaining safe water.
Social Security
People not receiving Social Security must pay taxes for these programs. The taxes of those who die before receiving any benefit of these programs also go to their funding. The individual must be responsible for obtaining financial security in the event of disability or fragility.
Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws
Anti-Discrimination Laws prevent employers from hiring employees the employer finds desirable and forces employers to hire employees the employer finds undesirable.
Public Transportation and I-75
The taxes of those who do not use public transportation or I-75 go to their funding. The individual must be responsible for transportation.
FEMA
The individual must be responsible for obtaining funds in the event of an emergency.
FDA
The consumer must be responsible for making decisions regarding his/her health.
EPA
Private land owners and manufacturers are prevented from using their space as they see fit.
Anti-Drug Laws
These laws prevent private enterprise and consumers from obtaining a product they desire.
State Requirements for Driver's Insurance
Individuals must be responsible for any financial burden in the event of an accident.
Democracy
Social Welfare Programs, Government Agencies, and Laws were enacted at the request of the people.


Basically, if you hate socialism, you hate anything that serves the health and well-being of the public, removes any degree of individual responsibility and governance, or forces individuals to act in a way contrary to their own desires and preferences. It also helps if you are in the top 0.1% income bracket and can afford guards, doctors, nurses, armored vehicles, lawyers, and a moat, just in case.

You may not like everything listed. More than likely you at least dislike certain aspects of some. However, you have benefited at least to some degree from each whether psychologically (e.g., less guilt) or physically (e.g., clean water from the faucet) unless you're one of those rare mountain-dwelling, sociopathological hermits who are incredibly healthy and independently wealthy.

"Socialist" is more of a description of something than a reason to hate it unless you are a staunch capitalist and have a moat. People attach "socialist" as a scare tactic, and it's quite effective in the US particularly in rural areas. During my trip to Tennessee, I saw a number of anti-socialist bumper stickers, and it's no wonder because self-reliance is embedded into the culture. What's not to love about self-reliance? It's part of the hearty stock of Appalachia and the West. You have to be strong if you're going to make it. Still, Tennesseans have benefited from socialist programs. The TVA is probably one of the best known and most appreciated where I grew up.

TVA stands for Tennessee Valley Authority and is still around today. During the Great Depression, the federal government created the TVA to improve unemployment rates, to decrease flooding in low-lying areas, and to bring electricity to the area. There are still people working there. There is very little flooding. TVA still provides electricity. And employment opportunities have greatly improved since its inception and continue to improve. However, the creation of Chickamauga Dam destroyed homes. People living at the bottom of what's now Chickamauga Lake were forced to leave their homes despite generations having been raised there, and they weren't paid exactly well for their land although they were compensated. I don't think there are many people who wish TVA had never been created and call it "socialist" even though that's exactly what it is and continues to be. I wonder what people would think if the dam was sold to a private company and their electricity was being sold at market value.

There are many benefits to socialist programs, laws, and government agencies whether directly or indirectly, but many of the benefits are often overlooked, taken for granted, or so indirect that they're hard to see.



Public Schools
The public is generally literate and can read signs, newspapers, notifications, pamphlets, and advertisements. This is a benefit socially and economically on the community, national, and global levels.
Medicare and Medicaid
If/When you become disabled or infirm, you will have a resource for your health care needs. In the meantime, there are fewer people dying horribly by your front door.
Minimum Wage
Forcing some of the social burden onto companies removes the burden from the government, and it's easier to sleep at night knowing that there are fewer people working for $1.72/hour with a household to care for.
Food Stamps
Living in a land of plenty with starving people is a bit unsettling. Food stamps help offset the cost of food (it was never intended to replace the entire cost) and keep people fed.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) and Public Housing
Homelessness is a major barrier to overcome if one is to be a productive member of society, and generally, most people don't like vagrants and prefer when others have a place to go at night.
Fire Departments
If your neighbor's house catches fire, you don't have to immediately source out enough water to prevent the fire from spreading to your roof.
The Grand Canyon
Living in a nation filled with natural beauty is a boon to national morale and good feeling.
Water Authorities and Inexpensive Water
You benefit every time someone else flushes a toilet and the effluent has somewhere to go besides your drinking water.
Social Security
It's not exactly nice to think about a 70 y/o farmer living without any source of income because he was poor all his life and can't get up and down the steps too well.
Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws
You have probably benefited unless you are a white, attractive, well-educated, upper-class, heterosexual, married man with full faculties, and there aren't too many around. The Rockefellers aren't exactly most people.
Public Transportation and I-75
You've probably at least driven or used a state highway.
FEMA
Recovering from a disaster is incredibly difficult without at least a bit of money, and it's kinda hard to not feel bad for families with young children.
FDA
If you've taken any sort of medication or eaten food grown off your property, you have benefited from the FDA.
EPA
It's a bit easier to breathe.
Anti-Drug Laws
Perhaps it's best to prevent children and teenagers from smoking crack and to send their money elsewhere.
State Requirements for Driver's Insurance
If someone crashes into you, you have some assurance that they're insured and the entire onus won't be on you.
Democracy
Occasionally, something/someone will be passed/voted into office that you approve.


The government has the largest buying power of any entity in the US, and when we pool all our money together, we can make the most difference for individuals.  There's an old saying that involves something or another about divided we fall...  Feeling of ill will counts towards divisions, and it's hard to maintain a nation of sick, disenfranchised people.  Knowing that your neighbor has your back when your guard is down goes beyond immediate needs.  Having some form of safety net leads to reduced stress, better health, improved productivity, etc.  And isn't that the goal of capitalism after all?  Better commerce and a strong work force?





Disclaimer:

There are many things I'm glossing over such as philosophical matters of the state's role, the water not really being clean, and morality.  Covering all aspects would require an encyclopedia, and this is just a blog post.  There are socialist programs, laws, and agencies that I didn't include for one reason or another, and the ones that I included aren't perfect.  Perfection is something to strive for, but we must acknowledge its unobtainability.

Socialism and capitalism roughly seek the same end but differ in their means.  I am not optimistic enough about humanity to believe in one fully, but I am probably more socialist than capitalist because of my doubts about companies looking after the best interests of society as compared to their own best interests even if the best interest of the company is to look after society.  Consequently, I am in favor of some balance between the two.  Society needs industry as much as industry needs society.  I guess I'm just tired of seeing socialism being slandered by those who benefit from it even if it only means they can sleep a little better at night.

4 comments:

  1. Bunch of garbbbbbbble

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  2. NSAR, amen and thank you. A big post for a big topic.


    a note to other commenters here, don't feed the troll.

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  3. Dear NSAR, I am so excited to read your post. Most unexpected among my gardening cyberbuddies. What you say so obviously makes sense to me. Since the free market ideology has been adopted by so - called left as well as right wing political parties, inequality has grown and grown. In this country we have reasonable public welfare, education and health programs. They could be much better, and I do not understand why the govt funds private schools and subsidizes private health insurance. Socialism as a concept isn't used much any more. Both main political parties seem very scared of the Greens and have tried to label them communist or socialist to scare people off. There's a lot of shit going on in the world but exciting hopeful stuff happening too.
    Thank you for the post, cheers, catmint

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  4. You had me scared there for a few minutes, Red. So much that I almost stopped reading... thank goodness I kept going.

    "Promote the general welfare" - it's right there in the first sentence. To me, that says enough. Another way to say it MIGHT be: love thy neighbor as thyself. Comes from a different source, but one much touted and not so often followed these days.

    You'll get a lot of flack for this post, but you are spot on. love to you, sister...webb

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