Most people don’t realize that when they board a public bus or subway that a form of socialism is carrying them to their destination. The city government owns the means of travel for no-profit but to help build the infrastructure of the city and thus to make it prosper. No armbands, flags, lapel pins, buttons or streamers are necessary to herald the state as you ride to your destination. You pay your fare, you get your ride … //
… Eisenhower spent 25 billion dollars for the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System over a 20-year period, creating thousands of jobs to further strengthen the post-war economy. Today, that socialized infrastructure needs reworking, including work on our national rail service. It could prop up a consumer economy with jobs of all kinds. Eisenhower also warned us in his parting address about the dangers of the military-industrial complex and its excesses. Nobody listened. We’re in three wars and debt up to our necks because of them.
Think too, when you wake up, that glass of clear fresh water put in front of you, most likely was delivered by linkages of pipe from faraway reservoirs, all public works, as with New York City, socialized to civilize us, albeit with a portion of our taxes. Your alternative is to buy a plastic bottle of privatized water for a dollar or two, slug it down, and toss the bottle where — into the infinite plastic wasteland sitting in a distant corner between Hawaii and Japan in the Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas, a hundred feet deep in spots, a wasteland for sea life.
Other forms of socialization provide Social Security, a modest pension for senior citizens. It is paid for by the total of 6.2 percent of your previous wages matched by your employer, which earns interest in a trust (when its pocket isn’t picked by one president or another). There’s Medicare that you qualify for with your Social Security. So, for a reasonable monthly fee, you have a health plan without some corporation taking a cut, unless you need a supplemental plan as well, which can cost twice what your basic socialized Medicare costs, and will cost even more for part D for supplemental drug plan (thanks to George W. Bush). In fact, if we weren’t spending so much of our tax money blowing up other countries, those for-profit-supplemental health or drug plans might not be needed. A non-profit, Single payer, all-embracing, health plan can replace it at a lower cost. I can hear the screams and moans of “Socialism” from here, from people who take advantage of both systems and vote against their own interests because of a buzzword, socialism.
These people will tell you we’re knocking on Karl Marx’s door, but that’s baloney. The World Health Organization ranks US health care as 37th. Unfortunately, our system is also the highest in cost. Could there be a relationship with for-profit health care to the lower quality and higher costs?
So, aspects of socialism, government working for common good, the sharing of expenses via taxes, are not dirty words. They are part of our financial infrastructure that holds this country together. But that infrastructure is decaying, from roadways and bridges, education to transportation, because they are underfunded due to overfunding defense. Private defense corporations are producing arms like this cancer-producing DIME bomb. We are using mercenary armies. We are committed to an endless series of Democrat and Republican-passed wars fought by an army of “volunteers,” likely looking for a job or an education the larger society can’t provide. Ignoring Eisenhower’s warnings were not without consequences.
But, have a nice day if you can. And try not to think of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s printing press running round the clock to throw extra national debt money into the present money supply to keep us afloat. This is considered all-American yet deflates our present dollar’s value in so doing. Something called the “free-market” is supposed to lend “an invisible hand” to make it all work. Somehow, folks, they haven’t worked. The free-market and its invisible hand are broken, frozen in a cast, crippled.
Maybe we could lend a helping hand and put some real regulation into that free-market, because it comes with incredibly large price tags: for wars, bankruptcies, bailouts, neglected infrastructure, closing schools, hydro-fracking for natural gas burning up trillions of gallons of fresh water, etc. And everywhere there is loss, damage to our system, we see the real hand of privatization. From union-busting to the massive giveaway of U.S. jobs, leaving millions of people unemployed.
It will take a mass action to turn this around and get the US on a solvent track. Some people will try to demonize that common action as a socialist revolution. Others will put forth the hateful Tea Party, noxious as it is ignorant, to bully true reformers. But in fact, as the Bill of Rights and Constitution tell us, a true movement towards saving our economy and nation from private plundering is as American as apple pie, precious as life itself. (full text).
(Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him by e-mail. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock” is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on American and world politics as an Associate Editor of Online Journal).