Jim Crawford: Redefining socialism and capitalism

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 20, 2020

What word could carry more negative content in the political world than socialism? What other word could Republicans use more frequently to define Democrats as anti-American? Socialism has gained a reputation as evil, while capitalism has gained an American following that is almost reverent.

But is socialism really so bad? Is capitalism really so good?

When we look at the happiest nations on the planet, they are almost all nations that practice more socialism than does the United States. Republicans tell us to look away, those nations are not really happy, and their people pay higher taxes too.

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But we do have some socialism here in the U.S., most famously Social Security and Medicare, two evil programs that American love. How can that be?

Let us re-define socialism and capitalism, words encrusted with misleading meanings intending to distract us from their true content. Socialism is comprised of programs for the benefit of people. Capitalism is comprised of programs for business, largely big business.

What has capitalism done for us lately? Well, in 2017, we gave big business a permanent huge tax cut in exchange for one quarter of GDP increase and an annual deficit of a trillion dollars for taxpayers. We made the business tax cuts permanent and the personal tax cuts expire in seven years.

And, capitalism has given us corporate welfare at the federal and state levels, to the tune of nearly $200 billion dollars annually. We have subsidized little businesses like Boeing and General Electric.

Soon we will have to re-build our infrastructure, largely used by business, at the expense of taxpayers. That should cost us another trillion dollars in debt.

Meanwhile, our Republican friends have been busy protecting us from socialism by actions like trying to end the Affordable Care Act and throw 23 million Americans into an insurance-free zone during an international pandemic.

Our Republican friends have also saved us from paid family leave, like most developed nations provide, and from free or subsidized childcare that most nations offer. In spending on families and children, ranked by OECD, the U.S. ranks 31 of 33 nations, above only Mexico, and Turkey.

And our Republican friends have embraced healthcare for profit successfully, so much so that our outcomes are notable if not successful. In percent of citizens insured we are the lowest, with 90.8 percent. But we are first in the cost of insurance, first in out-of-pocket costs, and first in percent of GDP cost, 17.7 percent The U.S. also ranks first in infant mortality among developed nations. We are, as a whole, the most poorly protected healthcare nation among all developed nations. Why? Because capitalism drives our outcomes.

The coronavirus will force us to change. The nation must ensure everyone, we can no longer afford the luxury of denying care or bankrupting our citizens for little more than their poverty, for the profit of business.

The virus is also killing our for-profit daycare providers, with as many as 50 percent going out of business altogether. We must subsidize these services, protecting our families from impossible work and care challenges.

We must urgently find a way to protect our restaurants and mom-and-pop stores, the lifeblood of small business, from the ravages on the economy that are not their fault.

America must stop ignoring that our essential workers are all-too-often our lowest-paid workers. We must create a national living wage coming out of coronavirus. It can no longer be acceptable that these workers qualify for welfare while fully employed. It can no longer be that these workers cannot find affordable housing where they work, or health care that is affordable.

And we can no longer subsidize energy sources that kill people and ignore energy sources safe for tomorrow and safe for our planet.

The coronavirus is taking a terrible toll in America, but from its ashes may we re-build a better nation, a place where people mean more than profit.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.