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The Tentacle


November 6, 2013

Educating Right-Wingers on Socialism

Patrick W. Allen

To a Democratic Socialist, sharing the wealth means pooling tax money together to design social programs that benefit all citizens of that country, city, state, etc.

 

Invariably, any time a Democrat has a conversation with a Republican, the dreaded word "socialism" surfaces. To see a Republican go into fits and animate their side of the discussion, simply say to them, "All socialism isn't bad."

 

Typically, a Republican’s first retort is: "So you want to take money away from the rich and give it to the poor?" The best response to this nonsensical way of thinking is to smile (as Democrats do when they talk to Republicans) and say, "No, not at all. Why do you think socialism means taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor?" And once again, invariably, you will get the standard Republican response: "Well it is, isn't it?"

 

Rather than using the term "socialism," the better term to use is "Democratic Socialism," often used by Sen. Bernie Sanders, talk show host Thom Hartman, and many others. Democratic Socialism consists of a democratic form of government with a balanced mix of socialism and capitalism. To understand this requires an open mind and a remedial reference to the actual meaning of terms "democracy" and "socialism."

 

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens take part. It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

 

Socialism is where we all put our resources together and work for the common good of us all and not just for our own benefit. In this sense, we are sharing the wealth within society.

 

Of course, when people hear that term, “Share the wealth” they start screaming, “OMG you want to rob from the rich and give it all to the poor!” But that is not what Democratic Socialism means.

 

To a Democratic Socialist, sharing the wealth means pooling tax money together to design social programs that benefit all citizens of that country, city, state, etc.

 

The fire and police departments are both excellent examples of Democratic Socialism in America. Rather than leaving each individual responsible for protecting their own home from fire, everyone pools their money together, through taxes, to maintain a fire and police department. It’s operated under a non-profit status, and yes, your tax dollars pay for putting out other people’s fires. It would almost seem absurd to think of some corporation profiting from putting out fires. But it’s more efficient and far less expensive to have government run fire departments funded by tax dollars.

 

Similarly, public education is another social program in the USA. It benefits all of us to have a taxpayer supported, publicly run education system. Unfortunately, in America, the public education system ends with high school. Most of Europe now provides low cost or free college education for their citizens. This is because their citizens understand that an educated society is a safer, more productive and more prosperous society. Living in such a society, everyone benefits from public education.

 

When an American graduates from college, they usually hold burdensome debt in the form of student loans that may take 10 to even 30 years to pay off. Instead of being able to start a business or invest in their career, the college graduate has to send off monthly payments for years on end.

 

On the other hand, a new college graduate from a European country begins without the burdensome debt that an American is forced to take on. The young man or woman has a distinct advantage over their American counterpart to start up businesses, take an economic risk on a new venture, or invest more of their money in the economy, instead of spending their money paying off student loans to for-profit financial institutions.

 

Of course, this does not benefit wealthy corporations, but it does greatly benefit everyone in that society.

 

Example One – American-style capitalistic program for college: If you pay (average) $20,000 annually for four years of college, that will total $80,000 + interest for student loans. The interest you would owe could easily total or exceed the $80,000 you originally borrowed, which means your degree could cost in excess of $100,000.

 

Example Two – European- style social program for college: Your college classes are paid for through government taxes. When you graduate from that college and begin your career, you also start paying an extra tax for fellow citizens to attend college.

 

Question – You might be thinking how is that fair? If you’re no longer attending college, why would you want to help everyone else pay for their college degree?

 

Answer – Every working citizen pays a tax that is equivalent to say, $20 monthly. If you work for 40 years and then retire, you will have paid $9,600 into the social college program. So you could say that your degree ends up costing only $9,600. When everyone pools their money together and the program is non-profit, the price goes down tremendously. This allows you to keep more of your hard-earned cash!

 

So, next time you hear the word “socialism” and “spreading the wealth” in the same breath, understand that this is a serious misconception.

 

Social programs require tax money and your taxes may be higher. But as you can see everyone benefits because other costs go down and, in the long run, you get to keep more of your hard-earned cash!

 

Democratic Socialism does not mean taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It works to benefit everyone so the rich can no longer take advantage of the poor and middle class.

 

patrickwilliamallen@comcast.net

 



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