Over the past year, we’ve heard a lot about “socialism.” During the presidential campaign, some Republicans and their supporters called various Democratic candidates and their proposals “socialist.”
Evidently, using this term is supposed to trigger an automatic negative reaction among the populace.
Now President Obama’s stimulus program and proposed federal budget are also being called “socialist.”
The problem is, very few of those using this term bother to define it.
In American discussions, the term is generally regarded as a synonym for “communist,” although the two economic systems are quite distinguishable.
When Americans hear the word “socialist,” they often think of countries like Cuba, China and Russia before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many are unaware that most countries in Western Europe are socialist to one degree or another.
All of the non-Communist countries of Scandinavia have practiced socialist economic policies for many years. The Christian church was a primary motivating force leading to this way of organizing economies.
One Republican congressman recently referred to President Obama’s budget as an “attempt to introduce European-style socialism in America.”
I fail to see how this would be a problem. Nearly all Western European countries have better education, health and economic systems than we do.
Twenty-five percent of our population was left out of the health system altogether and our children score dismally on all international scholastic tests.
“The Reader’s Encyclopedia” defines socialism as “the philosophy that involves the creation of a cooperative society and a more equable distribution of wealth.”
My own definition reads something like this: A society in which the people pledge to meet all of the basic needs of every citizen – food, shelter, education and health care – before allowing for competitive individual enterprise.
In short, a socialist society would be run like a family where everyone works together for the good of all.
It is time to “redistribute the wealth” from the wealthy to those in the middle and those who are poor.
There are many poor and homeless people right here in the United States, even though we are the richest nation that ever existed. The top 2 percent of our population control more than half of this wealth.
Moreover, as a nation we use more than 80 percent of the world’s natural resources even though we make up a relatively small percentage of the world’s population.
The “Great American Way” upon which this country was founded includes taking care of the less advantaged. Our Statue of Liberty proclaims, “Give me your poor, your huddled masses.”
If this be socialism, let’s make the most of it.
Gill is an adjunct instructor of humanities, philosophy and religion at Pima Community College.