Monday, March 2, 2009

Get on the Socialist Bus

The title of this post is a joke a conservative friend of mine likes to tell, only half-kidding when he describes President Obama driving a big bus with the destination Socialism on the front and everyone jumping on for a ride. It was interesting to hear it reverberate during the campaign as Joe the Plumber and Sarah ranted about promises to "spread the wealth" around. Whenever I hear that phrase I always think about the game of Life and landing on that square where you had to give the other players $100.

The article in the NY Times about socialism, quotes several pundits detailing how socialism is 'un-American' and will be soundly rejected by the public, particularly in the area of universal health care. I think that might be the case if the country was prospering and people weren't losing their jobs left and right. Because as far as I can tell whether you're on the left or the right, almost everyone can use a little help right now. And before we start lambasting socialism let's take a moment to think about all the things we enjoy that might be just along the lines of what those Comrades in funny hats we're thinking.

1) Free public education. Now that's a handout if I ever saw one. America has always loved to believe that education is the great equalizing force. Except for the fact that even wages for college-educated workers have remained stagnant while prices continue to rise. Add to that the fact that no one making $35,000 at 22 in their first entry-level job has enough to move out of their parents' home, pay off their student loans and afford to put into their 401(k), which leaves few with the ability to pull themselves up from their proverbial bootstraps.

2) Unemployment insurance. Sure we pay into this, but the majority of us (God-willing) will never use it, which means we're "spreading the wealth" by helping out those who are less fortunate than us and are not currently gainfully employed. I guess you could say that it is always there in case you need it, but why not just take the money you pay into it and put it in your own rainy day fund. Oh, I forgot Americans hate saving, we like spending!

And while I was thinking about another one (please feel free to post your own) I came across this jewel of news. The only thing states spend more on than prisons is Medicaid! Yup, we've finally reached the point where corrections budgets are larger than education, transit and public aid. So if you're wondering what happens when you have a public school system that graduates only half of its students, you don't need to look too far. We continue to "spread the wealth" except this time instead of with books and after-school programs, it's with 3 square meals a day and a very tiny window. We tried to buy our way out of crime, but that hasn't seemed to work, unless you're a member of the prison guard union that is.

1 comment:

Nicatator said...

I'm all about public programs that improve the quality of life for our citizenry especially during hard times, but I just can't get behind socialism. I had reservations about putting 79 on my email because I didn't people associating the number with one of the many revolutions that when on that year, so please don't call me names.

What I see as a redistribution of wealth is more of a compensation of the money we give the gov't to run the show; especially if the middle class and working poor are proportionally forking over the bills. I won't get behind state sponsored tv, sorry C-Span, or rationing, or religion, sorry evangelicals, but I will get behind public housing, public transportation, public parks, public beaches, etc.

I have reaped the benefits of many of this social programs and I also know what it's like to live without them. I know what it's like for your parents to lose their professional careers, in much more dramatic fashion than getting laid off, and have to move their family into a one bedroom dwelling, work full time, and still have to go to a faith based food bank to make ends meet. So don't poo pooh social programs, you never know when you'll need them. We never saw that coming.

I hope that our POPULIST president really goes through each line item and chucks out the services that don't preform and enhances those that do. Mostly, I hope President Popular(ist) has a vision in which those programs assist our citizens through the hard times and gets them on the road to the better times.

About our prison systems, the other country that has a disproportionately number of prisoners and fails it citizens...Russia. I guess we're not so different after all, they have crazy ideologues, we have crazy ideologues, they torture, we torture, they build walls, we build walls, they invade Afghanistan, we invade Afghanistan, they over spend on their defense, we do too. Twins separated at birth?