Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bernie Sanders, the Socialist

I was really happy to see Bernie Sanders enter the race for president in 2016.  He's a very straight-talking, fearless guy who stands up for rank-and-file citizens against the moneyed interests that currently own our government, thanks to Citizen's United.

But everyone knows he does not stand a chance.  Why?  Because he is a socialist.  You know what?  So are you.

If you support the military, you are a socialist.  We pay for our national defense collectively, not in some capitalist, entrepreneurial way.  The same goes for the police and fire departments.  We don't hire our own individual cops and firemen on the open market, we pool tax dollars to pay for these services.  Same with sewage processing, and clean water delivered to our homes.  We built the power grid collectively, and the interstate highway system, and if we ever get around to fixing our roads and bridges before they all collapse, we'll do that collectively too.

The term "socialism" has become a bad word in this country because people think it means the same thing as "communism", which is untrue.  In communism everything is collectively owned and centrally controlled.  Socialism is simply people active collectively... for example, auto insurance.  We all pay premiums and those of us who get into car accidents are taken care of from the pool of money we all created.  Socialism.

Some things are better done through capitalism, some are better done through socialism, and this has always been true.  Our society is, and has always been, a mix of these two approaches.  The right, unfortunately, has turned the idea of socialism into a political football that they can trot out every time there is an election or political debate.  Very much like the term "liberal."

We need to get over this.

Should the government run shopping malls, restaurants, and auto dealerships?  No.  The private sector is much better at such things.  The same is true for science and research.  All of the great innovations we have produced have come from pioneers and entrepreneurs.  Those who tout the "free market" have a point.  They just overstate its power.

The free market produced the financial collapse of 2008 and almost destroyed the world economy.  It was the government that rescued it, like it or not.  It was the repealing of governmental regulations (like Glass-Steagall) that allowed the private sector to play roulette with our future. We need it back.

And what about health care?  Should the government run our hospitals and train our doctors and nurses, and tell them what to do?  Of course not.  Health care should be done through the private sector.  But health insurance is another matter.  Health insurance should be socialistic.  We should have single-payer:  public funding for to pay for our health care, the health care itself provided by for-profit hospitals.

Think of it this way:  People should profit from making you healthy.  That is an incentive that benefits us all.  People should not profit from finding ways to deny you care.  The latter is what private health insurance is all about; the more they take in and the less they pay out the more money they make.  That's the core of the health care dilemma in this country.

Oh, and by the way, no one should profit from putting you in jail.  We need to end this for-profit prison nonsense as soon as possible.  It's a nightmare.  But that's for another posting...