Thursday, October 22, 2015

Does The Greek Economic Failure Prove Socialism Cannot Work?

Bernie Sanders has brought "socialism" into the American lexicon in a way that it has never truly existed before. If you've used social media in the last month, you're probably aware that the word socialism alone is enough to send most of the red half of America into a frothy fit of uneducated furious keyboard smashing that can only be matched by a mention of Obamacare, more shockingly large portions of "blue" voters also seem to be confused by the idea. In fact a shocking number of American's seem to have zero idea that socialism and communism are different things. If you're confused about the difference, you should start here. 

The reality is democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy exists, socialism also exists... Gasp... Did I just say that? Am I daring to suggest that America, the land of the free is socialist? I did, in fact anytime taxpayer funds are being used collectively to benefit society as a whole, despite income, contribution, or ability you are looking smack dab at socialism. 
Doesn't that just sound awful!
I hate to be the one to burt your bubble but Socialism, which you have been scared of all your life, is responsible for all of this, plus a whole lot more: (partial list from 75 Ways Socialism Has Improved Your Life)
The Military/Defense - The United States military is the largest and most funded socialist program in the world.  It operates thanks to our taxpayer dollars and protects the country as a whole. From the richest citizens to the homeless who sleep under the bridge. We are all protected by our military whether we pay taxes or not. This is complete socialism.
Highways/Roads - Those roads and highways you drive on every single day are completely taxpayer funded. Your tax dollars are used to maintain, expand, and preserve our highways and roads for every one's use. President Eisenhower was inspired by Germany's autobahn and implemented the idea right here in America. That's right, a republican president created our taxpayer funded, national highway system. This was a different time, before the republican party came down with a vicious case of rabies that never went away.
 Polio Vaccine - In the 1950's polio ravaged the United States. Until Dr. Jonas Salk invented a cure, finally ridding America of this terrible disease. Dr. Salk could have sold his vaccine in the free market and made millions and millions of dollars. Instead he gave it to the federal government to begin eradicating polio. He said that he made plenty of money as a scientist and felt it was too important to try and profit from or create a business around.
Social Security - You pay a tax to help ensure that our grandparents and senior citizens of America have money to live off of when they are retired or too elderly to work. I love hearing rich people bitch about this one because the truth is that they do not pay a social security tax, like most payroll taxes. This little piece of socialism helps prevent our senior citizens from sinking into poverty and starving to death.
Public Parks - Like going to the park on a sunny day? Just being able to walk right in, or at the worse pay a small fee? This is once again the work of socialism. If it were private, it wouldn't be a park, it would be someones back yard. That small or non-existent fee will turn into a $15 fee faster than you can say "No Trespassing".
Veteran's (VA) Health Care - Our soldiers bravely go to foreign countries and risk their lives at the request of their government and the American people. For those who survive, we as a country feel committed and obligated to ensure that they have everything they need for the rest of their lives for their service to us in which we could never fully repay. So we the taxpayers fund their health care in a government-run single-payer system for veterans. Many soldiers return with mental and/or physical health issues that would cost them thousands in a private health care plan. Socialism funds the military, the overall war, and also takes care of our troops when they return home.
FDA - The Food and Drug Administration is far from perfect. It is infested with corporate corruption and they have been wrong many, many times. Countless times they have approved things that they later have to apologize for and have banned things that would have helped people. However, they have also stopped many harmful foods and products from being sold to the public and protect us everyday from poisons being disguised as products. While not perfect, they are needed to prevent harmful food and drugs from being sold to you and you family. Without them, corporations can send whatever they want to your supermarkets and drug stores without any testing or evaluation. I don't mind my taxes going towards a middle man to inspect the safety of the products we are being sold everyday.
 Civilization - As an American citizen, you enjoy freedoms that many in other countries do not. Like anything else in this world, our government is not perfect, but you should be thankful everyday that your country has a government that feels an obligation to serve the people and protect their rights and freedoms. This is completely possible because of government, taxes, and socialism. Do you think the private sector would do a better job of governing our country? Do you think corporations would enact laws to help protect and serve you and your family or them and their profits? The reason you can read this blog and the reason I can write it whether you agree with it or not is because of the freedoms we have here in America enforced and protected through socialist means. Our entire civilization depends on us being a people united. Socialism is a glue that binds us together and makes possible the things that we could not accomplish as individuals working against each other.

Socialism is not a bad thing, its an incredible thing, its an integral part of our country, hell it is part of the foundation of our country. Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives
I've seen recently that the new attack on socialism is "Greece is an economic failure!" Which it clearly is, but is Greece a case of failed socialism, as the right wing consensus believes? Not a chance. How can that be the case?

Lets be very clear, Greece is not a socialistic country. The reality is, Greece is an incredibly average socialist country, not cracking the top ten most socialist european countries by any measure.

Greek social expenditure-to-GDP - 12thTotal General Government Expenditure 11th

France, Finland, and Belgium spend the highest social expenditure-to-GDP levels, according to the OECD, while even Germany, which has been the foremost advocate of austerity, had a higher social expenditure-to-GDP level than Greece in 2014. Furthermore, many of these high social expenditure countries, such as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, have significantly lower debt-to-GDP rates than the United States.

Simple put, the Greek social expenditure cannot be blamed for what is happening in Greece. Many countries with much more comprehensive welfare programs and much higher social expenditure, are not only fiscally healthy, but fiscally thriving. The true problem with Greece is something that it shares in common with the US, the problem of government corruption runs incredibly deep in Greece. Greece has a very long history of corruption longer even than the US history. The corruption problem in Greece dates back to its 4th century rule under the Ottoman Empire. In the end it is always corruption that ends empires, not welfare. 


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