Ok Thanks for your patience Skip et al. As you may have noticed, I endorsed Hillary Clinton for President this week. That has kept me occupied on the blogosphere. That plus building and preparing for winter is keeping me in "catch up" mode. I do think this is a great project though and one that I will commit to. So let me start with a short opening statement.
In my endorsement of Senator Clinton I called healthcare my number one domestic issue. No matter your vantage point, its a big one that isn’t going away. I think we all agree on that, correct me if I’m wrong. Health care is of course a huge economic issue. Industries in the western world have a capital advantage over us because of either universal or single payer systems. All you have to do is watch what is happening in our auto industry to see how crucial the difference is.
Our hodgepodge system began when I was born shortly after World War two. Employers at that time were able to sustain health care premiums for its steady workers. That system became outdated thirty years ago, but we still use it. Lose your job, lose your healthcare. If you don’t work for a major corporation chances are you won’t have ANY healthcare. Most self-employed people can’t afford it, or if they are paying it their operating costs become so thin that its hard to stay motivated. These are just a few of the problems, but from where most Americans sit, this is a broken antiquated system that needs fundamental change.
I also believe that the American people, through the American government should be able to use the most powerful capitalistic tools available to bring down the cost of health care. In other words I don’t see "buying in bulk to drive down costs" as anything remotely socialistic. I’m happy to go into any of this in detail when the time comes. End of intro.
Let’s start with the question of whether I am a socialist.
Let’s deal with me personally ( some people think I’m a liar, but I’m not) and then deal with the definition of socialism Personally, I know I’m not a socialist. I love capitalism and think its the engine that drives the western world to great achievements.
Every time I get on one of my motorcycles I marvel at the development, history and engineering that allows me to fire the things up and ride. I admire the people who were the driving forces behind all this. One of my bikes is a Norton a company with a hundred year history of winning races. Norton was originally the dream of one man. My other bike is a BMW. BMW is also a company with a storied history including the darkest days of Germany. It is an industrial giant, and I love their machines. So I’m a capitalst, but I’m a capitalist that believes that every great engine is worthless without a steering system, brakes and a suspension. So in that regard I am NOT a Lassaiz Faire capitalist.
From all of the history I remember (I’m 58) and have read, unfettered capitalism ends up in exploitation–the predators win out. From the Gilded age to the present day all you have to do is read history. ( I keep asking my libertarian friends to name a country or culture where unfettered capitalism has delivered the kind of society they think we are missing out on, but I am yet to hear of a concrete example. Not one, unless we want to examine Milton Friedman, the Chicago School and Agusto Pinochet. Certainly no one brings that up. So I’ll rely on history as these debates develop.
Now for definitions. Here’s how Dictionary.com defines socialism: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This so·cial·ism /?so????l?z?m/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[soh-shuh-liz-uhm] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation –noun
a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
(in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
I don’t think you can make the case that universal healthcare, especially Hillary Clinton’s or John Edward’s plans are socialistic without broadening the definition. I notice that Doug printed his own definition, but that is so broad that everyone who votes Democrat becomes a pinko. (sorry Doug; had to take a shot a it. we can look at that too later.) So sticking with the definition above and Wikipedia neither of the plans being discusses are socialist because neither invest the control of the "means of production". Both plans will also leave private insurers intact. I wish more people would read these plans so I didn’t have to continue repeating that fact. In both plans you keep your doctor and go to the same hospital. essentially the government plan would compete with private plans. This competition is why I argue that the people, through government, should be able to chose. So.by definition I am not a socialist.
And as for the second step towards communism. You’ll just have to trust me when I say once more that I am a capitalist who believes controls are necessary, as opposed to a capitalist who sees creeping socialism as a stepping stone to communism. In my view communism was one of the biggest disasters of the twentieth century. I agree, actually that many European Countries are too far along that path. Actually, let me adjust that. Some things that work in Europe would never work here.
But what is undeniable is that we lag behind most industrialized country in providing high quality health care to all our citizens. So I think that’s enough from me right now. Let me sum up:
Personally I don’t think of myself as a socialist.
By definition, I am not a socialist and universal healthcare is not a socialist system
What’s in a word anyway? Well in this case I think that the word socialist is simply a scare tactic.