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Letter: We need to understand what socialism really is

SHARE Letter: We need to understand what socialism really is
Letters to the Editor

Deseret News

We need facts. Ken Coombs’ recent editorial letter typifies one of the widest traps of political misunderstanding that Americans generally fall into (“Letter: This year’s presidential election is between democracy and socialism,” June 23). Largely, we are deathly afraid of this thing called “socialism” as if it’s a deadly pandemic of its own while shouting that democracy will die if we give in to socialism. Some definitions and examples are in order. 

First, “socialism” is not a form of government, but an economic model between citizens and government. There are many countries who have democratic-republic governments (which is what the U.S. really is) and socialized programs, because that’s what their citizens voted for. Socialism is not the antithesis of democracy. Dictatorship is the antithesis of democracy. As long as we vote for our representatives and leaders in local and national governments, we have a democracy. As long as our elected representatives vote on laws and programs for our benefit, we have a republic. 

Socialism is essentially government provided programs and services for the basic, general, fundamental needs of all citizens, such as K-12 education, Social Security, unemployment, and Medicaid/Medicare help. Further, when our federal government grants funding for major projects such as commuter-rail, or an airport expansion, that is a socialized initiative, as the government pays for something that benefits regional citizens. Libraries, police and fire departments are socialized aspects of what we demand from local governments. Whether or not we ultimately decide that we will accept higher taxes to provide for “free” college or technical certifications (which we have done previously: think “GI Bill”), and/or universal health care, and/or basic shelter for all, will most certainly be determined by democratic and republic processes. An examination of other country governments throughout the world clearly shows a balanced coexistence is possible between democracy and socialized programs and services. It is not a choice between one or the other. 

Socialism is not communism. Justifiably, we fear “communism” for its real-world lack of democracy and consistent nonsupport of human rights. Our November vote should be concerned with curbing abused presidential powers and a runaway debt economy that cannot be sustained.

Paul Maloy