The Problem with Socialism

In the recent debate over healthcare in the USA, the proposed socialized healthcare program has been praised and demonized. It’s either the solution to just about every problem we face as a nation, or it’s a sinister plot to kill off the elderly and rob the rest of us of decent care. Whichever side of the debate you find yourself on is irrelevant to me. What I find intriguing is the concept of socialism, and specifically, social programs provided by the government.

The concept of socialism is easy to understand, same with capitalism. In my opinion, socialism is the idea that the government will take care of citizens, and capitalism is the idea that the citizens will take care of themselves. They’re not opposites- just different from one another.

What makes them incongruous is the the hypocrisy of using both- to say that some things should be controlled by the government, and others left to business. The walls of the capital echo with the shouts of angry protesters who feel that socialized healthcare will be the death of us all. Why aren’t they screaming about socialized education? Every child in this country is guaranteed an education, at the expense of taxpayers. Has it destroyed as many lives as socialized healthcare would?  Should it be up to parents to pay for their children’s education?  Or the armed forces- should we have a private militia? Given the concerns that citizens are raising over socialized healthcare, a socialist national defense program ought to be an appalling prospect.  Is it right for the government to tax us in order to protect us, or should we be responsible for protecting ourselves?

These are serious questions that everyone should consider.  How should healthcare fit in with our array of socialist programs?  How much does it chafe against our capitalist mantra? To me, that is the real problem- we have a hybrid system that is not built logically, but is the result of the last 200 years of struggle.  Struggle between state and federal government, between taxpayer and government, and struggle between citizen and business.  In turn, each struggling player has gained an advantage, abused it, and ceded it.  The resulting legislation has left us a legacy of doctrinal hypocrisy, and reconciling a sticky issue like healthcare with that hypocrisy is damn near impossible.

To take a step away from our current situation towards the abstract, my belief is that healthcare should be an inalienable right.  No one should have to fear the cost of healthcare, as is the case now for all but the most well-heeled.

I have excellent health insurance, but if I lose my job, I won’t be able to afford it anymore.  If I get sick without health insurance, an important decision will have to be made- which is worse, poverty or illness?  Curse my socialist education, for giving me these troubling thoughts!

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