A little socialism can be good for capitalism
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
To too many, socialism is a dirty word. But in moderation it may not be as bad as it is so often portrayed.
Older Americans are already the beneficiaries of a couple of social programs, namely Social Security and Medicare. These programs have succeeded in alleviating the widespread poverty and lack of health care that used to afflict the elderly. What is so bad about that?
The acceptance and success of Medicare should be an example of how we might meet the crying need for a health care plan that serves everyone. In today’s economic malaise, 50 million Americans are living without any form of health care insurance. That is one-sixth of our entire population, and even more tragically, one fourth of our children.
The unemployed who had employer-paid health insurance have lost it with the loss of their jobs. The rapidly rising cost of that insurance is forcing increasing numbers of employers to drastically cut or discontinue employee coverage, and has made it unaffordable for most families.
It is hard to understand why so many recipients of Medicare cry “socialism” if anyone even suggests providing similar benefits for those who have not yet reached retirement age and their children. Obviously, some financial limitations will have to be imposed on any universal health care plan to keep it affordable, but such a plan could be formulated, patterned after Medicare, into which everyone pays and everyone derives benefits.
We cannot continue under the present system. It is broken and desperately needs fixing.
American businesses would benefit tremendously from a government-administered health care plan because it would relieve them of the major financial burden of providing health care for their employees. Their foreign competitors are free from this burden because health care for everyone in their countries is provided by government-operated systems.
It is hard to understand why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is supposed to be looking out for the interests of all American businesses, is so dead-set against government-administered health care. It would benefit hundreds of thousands of small businesses.
Could it possibly be that the Chamber is more devoted to the interests of the health insurance industry from whom they receive enormous sums of money, dwarfing what they get from small businesses?
Education is another issue we need to take a hard look at. Escalating in cost as rapidly as health care, it also is exceeding the shrinking financial ability of the middle class, and is totally out of the reach of the working poor.
If measures are not taken to rectify this inequality of opportunity, the children of the wealthy will soon be the only ones able to receive the education needed for a financially rewarding career, making it impossible for our country to keep up with the rest of the world.
Many countries, particularly China, are identifying the skills required to meet the future needs of their economies, and are making sure they are training the numbers of people needed to meet those needs.
Again, we have an example to guide us – the G.I. Bill. In 1944, Congress passed this bill, providing government-funded education for veterans who would be returning to civilian life at the end of World War II. Millions of young men who had grown up in the depression years with little hope of getting a college education were given that opportunity.
The resulting outpouring of college graduates educated in a wide variety of fields was responsible to a large degree for the tremendous economic growth and prosperity of the following decades. It paid back the cost of the program many times over.
A similar program providing education for those who show promise, regardless of their financial status, would be good for our country and our capitalist system. It would provide people with the education and skills our businesses and industry will need to remain competitive with the rest of the world. It would also boost the economy by increasing people’s earning power and discretionary spending. Families would no longer be forced to scrimp trying to meet what has become the almost insurmountable cost of educating their children.
Relieving American families of the financial concern and stress of chasing the ever-rising costs of health care and their children’s education, which their incomes are not able to keep up with, would give them peace of mind and would free them to concentrate more fully on their jobs, enhancing their productivity and strengthening our capitalist economy. What would be so bad about that?
– “As I See It” appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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