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Tom, I had no comment up until I saw you arguing from a label.

The label, which I guess we are supposed to recoil in horror from, is Socialism. That was the boogieman word when I was growing up on the Island, along with Commie, Pinko, Red, Fellow Traveler and the like.

The problem is that you can't very well analyze from a label, altho' it says a lot in a little, which may be why you use the term. But it doesn't mean very much in today's political discussions. Here's why.

The Communists gave the word worse baggage than it had on its own. Communists, Socialists, Democrats and Republicans all agree on the ultimate ends of organizing society into a governmental form (which could be called socialism all by itself, for the common good,to form a more perfect union, provide for the common welfare (welfare and socialism, those bad words creeping into the discussion again!). But they would go to war over the means to attain justice, or social justice, or whatever you want to call these goals of banding together.

Socialists, as advocated by Marx, Lenin, Shaw, wanted to destroy the idea of private property to attain their goals, while the capitalists (today we call it the market economy, to get away from the negative baggage the "C" word carries), prefer to maintain the system of private ownership, investment, inheritance, etc., used to harness self interest into a more or less team effort (sound like socialism?) to accomplish the same general goals, emphasis on the word general.

Today's political-economic setup in the U.S. would have yesterday's American citizens rolling over in their graves, calling us socialists for having laws restricting the rights of business to combine any way they want to (anti-trust laws), put children to work (child-labor laws), regulation of wages and hours (minimum wage law, laws regulating working conditions), right of employees to organize and strike (Taft -Hartley and other union laws guaranteeing the right to organize and fight unfair labor practices) and many more.

Used to be the post office was run by the government. Think it's now a private, for profit, corporation that's doing pretty well. We used to have socialized mail, in other words, now we don't.

We used to have market economy medicine and the AMA railed against socialized medicine. Now we have mega corporate conglomerate medicine where all the HMOs are combining and the only ones making out are the businessmen who do the mergers and acquisitions. They tell the doctors what tests they can prescribe and what procedures they can't use based on cost. This is a sin crying out for legislative reform; I expect it to be ripe for action very soon.

So, Tom, my friend, which socialized activities do you like and which would you throw overboard as "socialism?"

Is a national armed service "socialism" because it provides for the common protection? A socialized military is it?

Should the postal service go back to being gov't run? Why not?

How come the army isn't "socialized" while the postal service, or gov't funded medical care (such as Medicare) is?

In other words, isn't it really a question of where we draw the line as to which programs the government ought to run and which it shouldn't?

Isn't this based on a means to a goal, such as mail delivery, medical services delivery, national defense delivery, etc?

Would you contract out the prisons? Some states do this. Does that mean we have a "socialized prison system?"

Apparently we have a socialized justice system, although there are private judging services all over now. "Alternate dispute resolution" or ADR it's called. Very popular. Quicker, cheaper, and private.

My point is to get away from arguing from labels on the theory they conceal more than they reveal, often, and hinder clear, hard thinking, not that this is a sterling example, but you get the point.

I'm afraid we're living in what yesteryear they called socialism, and I for one, don't want to see the clock rolled back. I doubt whether many Republicans and Libertarians would want to jettison the whole social support network it's taken decades to patch together. If they do, I don't think it's too realistic, politically. Even the Republicans don't want to touch Social Security, yesterdays road to Socialistic Hell.

Why? The country doesn't want to touch it. The national attitude on such things has come a long way over the 20th Century.

I hope it goes a long way over the next century.

-rs



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