Socialism and the United States

Several men with whom I correspond have suggested that Biden will lead the country into socialism. When I asked them for a definition of socialism, they couldn’t come up with one but gave examples: the Soviet Union and North Korea. So I did research to determine what the word actually means .

Amalgamating all the definitions I found, I define socialism as a system which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. In other words, socialists believe that the means of making, moving, and trading wealth should be owned or controlled by the workers. To me, that sounds like economic democracy.

The U.S. is a capitalist country. It’s a long way from being socialist, but it has several very popular socialist programs: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I don’t know anyone who objects to those programs on the grounds that they are socialist. In fact, I don’t know anyone who objects to them period.

I have long believed that the U.S. overstresses rugged individualism and personal achievement and gives too little attention to what we can achieve by working together. As a result, for example, unlike most other advanced democracies, we lack a national health care system. Health care in the U.S. is a way to make money rather than a natural right.

Despite what Trump and his supporters say, Biden offered no socialist programs as part of his platform nor has he mentioned any since his election. My hope is that under Biden we will see national progress toward equality. That will mean providing government services for those who would otherwise go wanting. I hope we are wise enough not to condemn those provisions under the rubric of socialism.

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