Sheldon: What do you consider socialism? (column)
A disturbing trend in our polarized country these days seems to be labeling any left or progressive-leaning ideology as socialism.
Here is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines socialism: “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods or a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.”
So I will ask: What do you consider socialism? Should a government provide or oversee affordable health care for citizens so that an illness doesn’t cause them to go bankrupt? Should we make college and education more affordable? Should the CEOs of publicly-traded companies be allowed to make obscene amounts while their workers are paid at poverty level? Should women and men be allowed to spend time with their newborn babies like they are in European countries? Should we try to curb fossil fuel use/emissions for the betterment of our planet? Should the government lead the way toward greener energy? Should the government help protect our environment? Our food safety? Our travel safety? Our public lands? Or are these entities best left to the free market system and have the chips fall where they may.
So, I ask again, is wanting our government to provide basic human necessities for its citizens socialism? Not in my book. That is the very definition of government. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
Here is a fun fact. American workers work more hours and are paid less than most other industrialized nations in the world. We also receive less vacation pay, are able to save less for our retirement and receive less government sponsored benefits than other rich, industrialized nations. But any attempt to level the playing field or rally for workers’ rights is labeled socialism.
I do not consider myself a socialist in any way, shape or form. I believe in capitalism and that the American Dream is a goal that all Americans should be able to realize with hard work. Unfortunately, I feel the table is not currently set equally. The 1 percent have all the silverware while most of us are left to eat with our hands.
Money will always be able to buy an advantage, and I am OK with that. But good common working folk need a chance and if that requires some level of government assistance on their behalf, I’m OK with that too. Assistance does not mean handouts, let’s be clear about that. But in my opinion, it is flat out un-American not to take care of our workers.
Labels are dangerous and they are a dime a dozen. I don’t believe the right wants a fascist state any more than I believe the left wants a socialist one.
Calling any progressive agenda socialist is wrong and is a poor attempt at alarmism. Nobody in this country deserves something for nothing, I’m sure we all agree on that.
Steve Sheldon is an Eagle resident.