Your Letters: Socialism an economic system, not a political system
One of the most misunderstood concepts bantered around in today's political discussions is the mixing of political and economic terms. Monarchy, dictatorship, democracy and communism are some examples of POLITICAL SYSTEMS. Barter, socialism and capitalism are some examples of ECONOMIC SYSTEMS.
Today there are no political or economic systems that are totally only one form. Every country has their own unique political and economic combinations. These systems reflect each country's history and cultural development. The United States has developed a democratic representative government with a capitalistic economy. But like all systems developed in the world, American capitalism is not pure capitalism. There are many aspects of socialism mixed in our version of capitalism.
There are multiple examples of programs that would be considered socialism in our American capitalism. These have developed over our history from 1789 to our present as the result of the desire of its citizens to make America a better place for everyone to live. Some examples include:
1. Social Security, SSI: financial benefits to individuals either upon retirement or because of disability or survivorship
2. Medicare, Medicaid, GAMC: medical benefits based on age or to low income individuals
3. Public education: free education available to all children K-12
4. Special education programs: extra help and individualized instruction based on level of need
5. School lunch program: Reduced price or free lunches for children based on family income
6. Title 9 programs: programs to equalized education curriculum and extra curricular activities for male and female students
7. College financial grants: financial aid to students in college who have parents with low income.
8. Community Crisis Fund: financial help to the needy for housing, food, and job training
9. Meals on Wheels: providing nutritious meals to those in need
10. Heating Assistance: financial assistance for help with heating costs to those who cannot afford to heat their homes in the winter
11. Housing Subsidies: Rental assistance to help provide affordable housing -- rent based on income
12. Disaster relief: financial, medical and housing assistance for those in need as a result of natural disasters
13. Unemployment benefits: financial payments to individuals to help with expenses after the loss of a job
14. WIC: nutritious food and screenings for low income mothers and infants and children
15. Legal Aid: providing legal defense for those who cannot afford an attorney to represent them
16. New health law: allowing more citizens access to affordable health care.
There are some people today that say they don't want America to have any socialist aspects in our economy. But if they support all, some, or even one of the examples of our economic-political institutions, they are in support of socialistic functions within our capitalism today. Each of the above programs, and many more, has been developed to help American citizens live a better life. This is the kind of America that helps their neighbor in time of need and strives to make sure every citizen has their basic needs addressed. The question that needs to be asked is, "is that the kind of American you want?"