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don’t be afraid of the ‘s’ word

May 17, 2012

I think John Stoehr makes a good point in his op-ed, “Face it, the US economy is socialist.” When talking about socio-economic issues, many Republicans (not to mention Democrats) in positions of power like to use the bogeyman of the ‘Red Menace’ to frame the debate in a way that frightens people away from talking about socialism in a meaningful and constructive way, and which conveniently obscures their own support for the privatization of gains and socialization of losses — characterized by things like the Wall Street bailout — while they simultaneously criticize anyone who truly supports social and economic justice, as well as anything even remotely resembling the socialization of opportunity. Socialism isn’t necessarily the monster it’s often made out to be, however; and until we can talk about it in a rational way, we’ll never get past the rhetoric of those who support corporate welfare over social welfare but pretend they’re really looking out for the average, working-class citizen instead of their corporate benefactors. My favourite part is where he gives the example of Medicare when talking about areas in which the profit-motive is detrimental to human need, and points out that, “The older you are, the less insurable you are. In a free market, in which government coercion is completely absent from the exchange of commodities and securities, the elderly would die sooner. That’s how markets work, and that’s why Lyndon Johnson didn’t want the elderly to be at the mercy of the markets.”

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