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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/4/09

Socialism is not a Four-Letter Word

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Message Michael Fox

 Blame it on fifty years of fierce misinformation campaigns perpetrated by both the government and business interests that have supported it.  First, let’s set this straight once and for all, for those who seem to have allowed the prevailing meme to sink in: Socialism is not Communism (for the rest of us, “Duh.”).   

Strangely, due to a decades-long and highly simplistic rhetorical merger, that simple fact is not understood by most Americans.  For years, socialism was such a popular concept that the word was co-opted by the ultra right (as National Socialism) and left (Soviet Socialism).  However, when applied responsibly, Democratic Socialism is the only way to achieve some measure of equality in society.  In fact, democratic socialism is entirely compatible with capitalism, though, unfortunately, those who have the most to lose - that is to say, the vastly overpaid - are and always have been in the position to persuade those with the most to gain – that they should oppose it (without understanding it). 

In the most glaringly disingenuous argument against socialism, how many times have you heard the following argument against national healthcare reform?  “I don’t want some government bureaucrat making medical decisions for me!”   

That argument always makes me reflexively burst into laughter, because it can only come from someone who accepts some health insurance company bureaucrat’s interpretation of the increasingly narrow guidelines and formularies of their private, for-profit insurance company.  Those who make that argument are, in fact supporting an ideology that will, most certainly, one day not support them.   

The truth is that the two largest government managed healthcare providers, Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration (the latter being a truly socialized system), provide quality healthcare with a 3% administrative cost, whereas private health insurance does so with 30% of revenue going to administrative costs (see: bureaucracy) and profit:  Lots and lots and lots of profit.  Yet, until about twenty years ago, many of these same private health insurance companies were incorporated as non-profits. 

So the socialist health model, while never perfect (nothing human is), is far less imperfect than the present profit-driven system.  Furthermore, it is the right approach, the compassionate approach, the liberal approach.  And in case you the dissenter hadn’t noticed, the free-market greed-is-good system has failed completely.  It is time to take back the word Socialism, just as we have the word Liberal.  These are not four letter words.

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Michael Fox is a writer and economist based in Los Angeles. He has been a corporate controller, professor, and small business entrepreneur. After a life-altering accident, he spent five years learning more about medicine and the healthcare (more...)
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