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reed

Rudy Reed

In his Herald & Review op-ed piece on 2-10-19, Decaturite Robert Mooth tried to instill right wing paranoia into us via his distorted version of socialism, which he referred to as “garbage being peddled by the Democrats.” My hope today is to inject some facts into the fear-mongering of Mr. Mooth.

First off, no candidate is preaching socialism. The form of government favored by politicians like Bernie Sanders and others is properly defined as "democratic socialism." That means a combination of socialism and capitalism. This may shock Mr. Mooth, but all Americans have been living with many very good and popular democratic socialistic policies for a long, long time.

First and foremost among those is our Social Security system. In a 2013 poll by the Nat. Academy of Social Insurance, 85 percent of respondents favored keeping the system and 77 percent were even willing to pay higher taxes to pay for it. Our healthcare system is heavily socialistic, including Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare.

But we need to do — and can do — much better. In 2017, Americans spent an average of $10,224 per person on healthcare. That’s 28 percent higher than the second-most expensive country, Switzerland.

What people need to understand is that every taxpayer-funded service is socialistic. That includes schools, roads, parks, libraries, police protection and unfortunately billion dollar sports stadiums. They are not privately provided services. And although some can be wasteful, on balance, most are quite worthwhile programs.

The most important tenet in the political platform of democratic socialists is to reduce the great income disparities that exist in America. And under our archaic tax laws that inequality has been allowed to grow to what can only be described as obscene levels.

According to Forbes magazine, in 1982 the average member in their ‘top 400’ had a net worth of $590 million. By 2018, that number had risen to $7.2 billion. That’s an increase of over 10 times, after adjusting for inflation. In 2012, the average income of the top 1 percent of families was $422,000. That was 26 times as much as the bottom 1 percent. 

It’s grotesque and perhaps even immoral that three Americans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet — own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of Americans while 15.5 million U.S. children live in poverty.

It’s absurd and obscene that Oprah Winfrey owns a $90 million home while a half million Americans are homeless (2017 report from the U.S. Dept. Housing & Urban Development). It’s crazy that America, with 4.27 percent of the world’s population, accounted for 37 percent of the world’s military expenditures in 2015, while our aging and sometimes downright dangerous roadways and bridges crumble.

In closing, I must say that what I found most upsetting about Mr. Mooth’s comments was his odd emotion-tainted statement claim that "socialism depends on a central dictator." That is patently false. The Nordic socialist countries for example function under a government very similar to England’s. When Trump supporters spread such falsehoods, they discredit themselves, the Republican Party and America.

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Rudy Reed is a retired child welfare social worker, a published author and poet and a former member of the Decatur Board of Education.

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