Bernie Sanders has been trying tirelessly to set the record straight on what exactly a Democratic Socialist is and trying to break down for America why this as well as the Nordic model are a good idea. However, the word Socialism is feared by most. One thing I know for sure is that people will fear what they do not understand. I am just as guilty of being slightly thrown off by Bernie Sanders saying he was a socialist at first. I had to do some research to find out exactly what different types of socialism there are out there.
What Democratic Socialist believe
Democratic socialist believe that both the economy and our society should be run democratically – to meet the needs of the public, not just to make profits for the few. They feel that if our country can be transformed by democracy then ordinary Americans can participate in the decisions that ultimately affect our lives. The misconception is that they want an all-powerful government but that is false. Also, they do not want big corporations to control society either (like they do now). They believe in this crazy idea that decisions should be made by those whom they affect.
The scary “S” word
There is nothing to fear about democratic socialism. It is looked at as “radical” and further dismissed as “communist” but this is all false. When socialism is brought up it seems to conjure up thoughts of a big brother government that tell us what to eat, wear, buy and what to think. Many conservatives feel that democrats just want an all powerful government because they want to give money to poor people but those same people don’t see an issue in giving money to billion dollar corporations.
So this may come as a surprise. Socialism is alive and well in the United States, and its been here for decades. I bet you love socialism and use it every day. You are a closet socialist. The scary “S” word is responsible for all of this:
- Military, Defense, & War: is single handily the largest most funded socialist program and is completely ran off of taxpayer dollars.
- Highways, Roadways, Bridges, Public Parks, Sewer system, and State construction: what you drive on every day is completely taxpayer funded. Your tax dollars are used to maintain, expand, and preserve highways and roadways for everyone.
- Public libraries: also taxpayer funded.
- Police: they protect and serve us as a community, its socialism on a state level but still socialism.
- Fire Department: taxpayer funded fire departments put out fires.
- Postal Service: we pay next to nothing to use this service and it is all made possible by socialism.
- Student Loans and grants: those who cannot pay for school upfront take out loans, so the taxpayers lent you the money with slight interest. Socialism got you through school.
- Landfills: taxpayer dollars pay to dump our trash.
- Farm subsidies: taxpayer money is used to pay farmers to keep growing food.
- CIA and FBI: completely taxpayer funded.
- Congressional Healthcare: As Republicans in congress warn us of the evils of government-run health care, most of them are covered by taxpayer-funded government-run health care. You literally pay for their health care while they tell you that paying for your neighbors health care through a public option or single-payer system is socialism. They are 100% correct, it is socialism. They’re just not telling you that they like their socialist health care, they just don’t think you should have it. They are afraid you might like it better than the private insurance you have now that funds their campaigns and gives them money to push what is best for them and not for you. Members of congress are free to opt out of their evil government health care, but most of them don’t because deep down, they like socialism too.
- EPA: tells corporations that they have to follow rules and regulations for the greater good of Earth and the people. I don’t want to breathe in mercury or drink dirty water- this is taxpayer funded.
- Social Security: this program makes sure the elderly have money to live off of when they can no longer work. This helps prevent our seniors from sinking into poverty and starving death.
- Museums: many are private owned by organizations but also there are taxpayer funded state, national, and federal museums.
- Public Schools: another program completely taxpayer funded.
- Jail and Prison system: federal and state ran jails and prisons are taxpayer funded and seem like a better option to me than for-profit prisons.
- Corporate and Business subsidies: This is the type of socialism that is acceptable in the Republican party. You tax dollars are given to big corporations to do things they should be doing anyway out of morals and ethics. Like not sending jobs overseas and hiring people. Wouldn’t you like a nice big check just for not breaking the law? To be fair though, many businesses do earn their subsidies by advancing green technology and practice, donating to charity, helping communities, etc. They aren’t all bad. People just get mad when big billionaire oil companies get billions of their taxpayer dollars while they’re paying $4 at the pump. For the corporations that don’t earn their subsidies other than donating to their very own political party, it’s merely welfare. Though however you look at it, it is socialism.
- Veterans VA Healthcare: Our soldiers bravely go to foreign countries and risk their lives at the request of their government and the American people. For those who survive, we as a country feel committed and obligated to ensure that they have everything they need for the rest of their lives for their service to us in which we could never fully repay. So we the taxpayers fund their health care in a government-run single-payer system for veterans. Many soldiers return with mental and/or physical health issues that would cost them thousands in a private health care plan. Socialism funds the military, the overall war, and also takes care of our troops when they return home.
- Elected government officials: from the Supreme Court, to the President of the United States and all the way down to the County Dog Catcher, taxpayers pay their salary and provide the funding for them to do their job. We pay for every aspect of their job. So in a sense, I guess you could say our whole country is run on socialism
- Foodstamps: Republicans fill with bitter contempt knowing that our government at the expense of the taxpayer is giving poor people money to buy food they couldn’t otherwise afford. Just like corporate welfare, welfare is socialism. I have been down and out in periods of my life and sought assistance via food stamps. Even though I was what anyone would consider poor, I was not poor enough to get food stamps. Which means people who do get them, must really, really need them. As far as my personal experience, they weren’t thrown around like candy the way the right would have you believe.
- Medicare: Medicare is one of the most liked socialist programs in America. Most of us don’t mind paying taxes to provide our senior citizens with health care and hope the next generation will do the same for us. If you don’t believe me, just look at almost any poll. Most seniors would not be able to afford private health care. So this form of socialism is a life saver for this nation’s grandparents and senior citizens.
- GI Bill: The G.I. bill allows veterans to pursue an education by using taxpayer dollars to help them pay for most of their schooling. It also helps them with loans, savings, and unemployment benefits.
- Hoover dam: Our government built the Hoover Dam using taxpayer funds. It is now a vital source of power for the west coast.
- City/State Zoos: A place where kids and adults can have fun seeing creatures and animals from all over the world and learn at the same time. Many zoos are ran by the state and/or city, using taxpayer funds to operate and even bring the animals to the zoo.
- IRS: The IRS is the reason that we have anything. The IRS collects taxpayer funds for the federal government. The government then dispenses these funds to our military, states, and social programs. If there is no one collecting taxes, no one will pay them. If no one pays taxes, our country shuts down. Without money to operate, nothing operates. This may sound like a good thing to some radical republicans, but for those of us with sense, we know this means anarchy in the USA. The IRS gets a bad rap because if you don’t pay your taxes or owe them money, they can be ruthless. Like everything else, the IRS is not perfect, but without them we literally have no country or no means to run it.
- Free lunch program: Some children are living in poverty by no fault of their own. I’m not saying it is even their parents fault, but you surely cannot blame a child for the situation they are born into. In most if not all states, there are programs where children who live in poor households can receive school lunch for free. The taxpayers of the state pay for this. Sounds like socialism to me, and also the moral thing to do.
- Pentagon: Our defense system in America is a socialist system from top to bottom. We as taxpayers fund the pentagon completely.
- Medicaid: Our government uses taxpayer funds to provide health care for low-income people. Republicans, the compassionate Christians that they are, absolutely hate this program. What they fail to understand is that when people can’t afford to pay their outrageous medical bills, they don’t. This bill does not disappear. The loss that the insurance company, doctor’s office, or hospital takes gets passed down to everyone else. So covering people and giving them a low-income option reduces costs for them and everyone else. This is the main argument behind a health care mandate. It’s not to force you to buy health care out of cruelty. If everyone is covered, costs drop for everyone. If you have no compassion for the uninsured, you can at least understand the rational in a selfish sense.
- FDA: The Food and Drug Administration is far from perfect. It is infested with corporate corruption and they have been wrong many, many times. Countless times they have approved things that they later have to apologize for and have banned things that would have helped people. However, they have also stopped many harmful foods and products from being sold to the public and protect us everyday from poisons being disguised as products. While not perfect, they are needed to prevent harmful food and drugs from being sold to you and you family. Without them, corporations can send whatever they want to your supermarkets and drug stores without any testing or evaluation. I don’t mind my taxes going towards a middle man to inspect the safety of the products we are being sold everyday.
- City/Metro Buses: If you lack transportation, you can catch a city bus. Taxpayer funds and the fee you pay to take the bus make it possible for millions of people to go to work.
- WIC: a federally funded program to assist women, infants, and children. WIC helps low-income families by providing funding for nutrition, education, and health care for children.
- State Snow removal: Even though sometimes it may take them longer than you like to get to your street, do you like having snow plow service to clear our roads and highways in the winter? This is a state socialist taxpayer-funded service
- PBS: PBS operates on donations and government funding. The provide non-partisan news and information to the public. They are the home of Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theater, and The Antiques Roadshow. Surveys show that they are literally the most trusted name in news.
- CDC: The CDC helps promote and enact the health and safety of the public along with helping to prevent and control illness and disease. The CDC is a government program that operates on taxpayer funding.
- Public street lights: Like being able to see at night when you walk or drive? Thank Socialism.
- FEMA: If Disaster strikes, FEMA is there to help pick up the pieces. As a part of homeland security and an agency of the federal government, they use taxpayer dollars to help cities, states, and towns recover and rebuild. I don’t know to many private companies that could assist in disaster relief and ask nothing in return.
- Public Defenders: Ever been in trouble and couldn’t afford a lawyer? Well the taxpayers and the government make sure you still get representation.
- CHIP Healthcare: (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) – S-CHIP is a program that matches funds to states for health insurance for children in families that cannot afford insurance but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Your tax dollars go towards covering uninsured children, is that so wrong?
- Amtrak: Amtrak transports tens of millions of passengers a year in 46 states and three Canadian Providences. It is owned by the federal government and your tax dollars are used to fund it.
- Sept 11 Rescue workers Healthcare: A bill was passed that allowed the government to help 9/11 rescue worker’s with their health care after many came down with horrible lung diseases from the toxins they breathed in rescuing people from smoldering buildings. These brave citizens risked their lives and health to help complete strangers. They deserve more, but covering their health care is a good start.
- SSDI (disability): For those who are disabled and cannot work, our government provides an income for them via taxpayer dollars as opposed to the other option of letting them starve to death.
- Corporate bailouts: The whole point of this post is to prove that we ALL use, benefit from, and like socialism. This example is a form of socialism that the republicans not only like, but fight tooth and nail for. They don’t like it when socialism is used for working/poor people, but when it’s for millionaires and their corporate donors, socialism becomes as American as apple pie. The middle/working class who are the majority of taxpayers pay for welfare for corporations and people who have more money than all of us combined. When our government bails out a bank or gives a subsidy to a billion dollar corporation, you are paying for it.
- Unemployment insurance: All your working life, you pay payroll taxes. Some of these taxes go toward a program that temporarily provides for people who lost their jobs until they can find another one. You pay for others, others pay for you. Especially these days, you never know when you might lose your job. You may need temporary assistance until you get back on your feet. The government recognizes this. UI also keeps the economy moving in times of recession because people still have some money in their pockets to buy goods and promote demand.
- National Weather Service: Like knowing when a storm, tornado, earthquake, or snow is coming? Socialism makes this possible and available to everyone.
- Homeland Security: Created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, this heavily federally funded department of the U.S. government helps protect us from future terrorist attacks. This is the third largest department within the United States government.
- OSHA: Do you have a safe and healthy workplace that provides training, outreach, education, and assistance? Thank OSHA! Brought to you by the taxpayers of America and socialism.
- State and National monuments: The Lincoln Memorial. Mount Rushmore. The D.C. National Mall. All brought to you and maintained with your tax dollars. Socialism is patriotic?
- USDA: The USDA enforces regulations on the farming, agriculture, and food industries to ensure food safety, natural resources, and hunger worldwide and in the United States. Your tax dollars are used to help keep what you are eating safe and even feed those who are not eating.
- Government scholarships: if you work hard in school and show true potential, our government will give you a scholarship towards college so you can advance your education. Your tax dollars have been used to send future doctors, lawyers, scientists, and even presidents of the United States to college.
- Department of Health and Human Services: The overall goal of HHS is to promote, implement, and ensure the health of the American people. Your tax dollars are used to do this. Government looking out for the well being of it’s people, imagine that!
- Census Bureau: Every ten years, our government collects data about our people and economy, to better serve and represent us. From the forms that are sent to your home for you to fill out and send back in and to the census worker who shows up and kindly asks you to fill out the form if you don’t send it in, all taxpayer funded socialism. The information collected is used to better understand the economic situation and population in your area. Not to enslave you in a FEMA camp.
- Department of Energy: This taxpayer funded cabinet of the federal government oversees nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, energy conservation, radioactive waste disposal, and energy production. To those of you who care about our environment and would rather not witness a nuclear holocaust might consider this money well spent.
- Customs and Borders: the largest law enforcement agency in America. This is big government that republicans actually do like because they don’t like Mexicans immigrating to our country like our ancestors did. However, this taxpayer funded, socialist agency of the federal government regulates trade, imports, and immigration.
- Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the government that helps people outside of the US to understand our culture as well as helping us learn about other cultures. However they are more well known for their work with economic and social development in less-fortunate countries.
- Government: Like it or not, our country would not be a country without a government. Every single day, government on state and local levels serve us in ways we simply take for granted. Government as an entity operates and functions on our tax dollars through a socialist structured funding system. From the military down to the county dog catcher, socialism turns the wheels that make our society function
No matter who you are in some way you benefit from at least one of these government run taxpayer funded socialist programs. A completely socialist government will not work, but neither will a capitalist nation either. I believe in freedom and I do not want a government take over, I just want options.
Anything that is progressive and trying to bring about reform is quickly discredited due to the fear stigma attached to the word “socialism”. Without reform politics in America has continued to remain stifled and our options still limited.
The Nordic Model a.k.a “The Third Way”
I admire the Nordic model, of course there must be a reason that these countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark) have been ranked some of the best places to live. I truly believe they are a role model for economic opportunity and equality.
The Nordic model is a combination of free market capitalism and social benefits so that their society enjoys a host of top quality services, including free education, free health care, and guaranteed pension payments for retirees. This is funded by the taxpayers but administered by the government. The people of these countries have a high trust for their government. The mixed economic system that reduces the gap between the rich and the poor while still preserving the benefits of capitalism.
The Nordic models tax structure is based on the individual not household income and it’s a flat tax. This system treats all equally and the citizens choose to pay higher tax in exchange for benefits them and their family members to enjoy. Health care and education are publicly funded but of such high quality no private enterprise has a reason to offer alternate services to improve them.
Wealth inequality in America
I feel this model would reform the unchecked capitalism that has created income inequality and disparity between the rich and poor in the United States. Income inequality is a major issue that no one seems to want to talk about but the stats are disturbing.
- The top 1% owns 42.7% of assets.
- The top 20% of the wealthiest possess 80% of assets (2007)
- The gap between the top 1% and the rest of the country is now the greatest it has ever been since 1920.
- Tax cuts for top earners have steadily redistrubted wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.
- Between 1979-2011 wages grew by 37% for those in the top 5%, 113% for those in the top 1%, and only 6% for median workers.
- More then half of congress are millionaires. The rich have both the motives and the means to corrupt the system on their behalf.
- Approximately $59 billion is spent on social welfare programs, while $92 billion is spent on corporate subsides. ( Is this country in more debt because of taking care of the poor or the rich?)
No one wants to talk about major issues like child poverty or wealth inequality. To talk about it “class warfare” is brought up and when you talk about doing something about it then thats “socialism”. Democracy that dosen’t benefits the people to whom it should serve, serves no purpose because they are looking out for the few and not the many.
The government should govern, and prove they are there to serve the people and not the corporate lobbies that pay them. Something has to change and democratic socialism and the nordic model are a good start.
Lets stop the madness and start a serious discussion about ways things can be better in America.