Democratic socialism already part of American life

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Imagine you went into a coma in 1986. It was morning in America, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and the Evil Empire was only a few years from collapse with the end of the Soviet Union.

Now that you've miraculously regained consciousness, someone named Barack Hussein Obama is ready to complete his second term as president of the United States and the leading candidates to replace him are a boastful billionaire and a 74-year-old man who proudly describes himself as a democratic socialist.

The latter label would have been political suicide in the 1950s and '60s, and on into the 1990s when most voters still remembered those days, but Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign is gaining traction.

That's probably due, in large part, to the scandals dogging Hillary Clinton, but due to his basic honesty about his socialist leanings, a position that doesn't carry the stigma it once did.

Truth be told, America is already a democratic socialist country to a large extent.

That should be apparent to residents of McCook, home of Sen. George W. Norris, the father public power. His efforts led to some of the largest publicly-owned efforts in history, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Rural Electrification Administration, and Nebraska's entirely publicly-owned power system.

When it comes down to it, any program where voters, either directly or through their elected officials, choose to take money from taxpayers and spend it for specific purposes, is democratic socialism.

Some examples?

On the national level, Obamacare, supposedly universal health care, is the latest manifestation of democratic socialism.

But that's only the most recent. Most government programs are democratic socialist in nature -- national defense, roads and highways, postal service, student loans and grants, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security, school lunch programs and large public works projects come to mind.

We've determined that it's in the national interest to have a strong agricultural industry and abundant food supply, so Nebraska farmers receive billions in subsidies -- $16.4 billion from 1995 to 2012.

There are many more examples at the state and local level.

Jails, prisons, law enforcement and the criminal justice system, child protective services and human services, health departments, public schools, snow removal, garbage collection, sewer and water can also be considered democratic socialism.

It would be a mistake to think that all of Bernie Sanders' supporters favor moving the United States farther down the road to complete democratic socialism.

It would also be a mistake the assume that his opponents favor expansion of the oligarchy where big business exerts undue influence on elected officials.

Let's hope leadership appears that can guide our ship of state safely through the rocky straits dividing the two extremes.

View 7 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • 16.4 BILLION to Nebraska farmers???

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, Feb 11, 2016, at 2:32 PM
  • you're just jealous Denny! (smile) You didn't get your hands on that money for your pet projects! (big smile)

    -- Posted by allstar69 on Thu, Feb 11, 2016, at 9:05 PM
  • If you want to throw some numbers around that are equally impressive, how about some figures that reflect increases in political donations since the citizen's united decision? I would be interested in knowing where the additional money is spent. And then, depending on what you find, a follow up opinion piece about why the American press is silent about how money has corrupted our system.

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Fri, Feb 12, 2016, at 5:27 AM
  • -- Posted by president obama on Sat, Feb 13, 2016, at 7:16 AM
  • Dennis, why are you so anti agriculture? Its as if you believe McCook and the surrounding areas did not benefit from the government subsidies during the time of low (below the cost of production)crop prices. I can tell you right now if those subsidies were not in place, McCook would now be a ghost town. 95% of those subsidies were spent locally. I repeat 95% of those subsidies were spent LOCALLY!!!! Another issue I have is you may have noticed that your "facts" ended in the year 2012. This is because all direct government subsidies (payments directly to farmers) were discontinued in 2012. Luckily, crop prices doubled or more during the years after 2012. (for you who want to worry about local economics, prices are now approaching a pre 2012 level) I know that if those subsidies were not in place, the great depression would have looked like a minor traffic accident.

    Oh and by the way "president obummer" the farm subsidy database is skewed because it also includes cost sharing for environmental projects (such as waterway erosion control, runoff control, habitat establishment, and many many others) and the "farmer" who owned the land received "credit" for moneys he never received. He/She most likely had to write a check for their share, in an amount greater than what the government "helped".

    Also in the 2016 USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) budget, farm and commodities only received 13% of the total. Nutrition assistance was 73%!!!! So please don't hold up the farmer as the biggest abuser of government assistance.

    Anyone and everyone reading this has benefited from those subsidies. Ask any farmer and they will tell you the same thing. Please be aware of what kind of house you live in before throwing stones.

    Also be aware that the only reason that McCook exists is because of the farms and ranches that surround it.

    -- Posted by quick13 on Sat, Feb 13, 2016, at 11:52 AM
  • Q13, your supposition of my non-existent unfavorable position on Ag is not correct. Quite the contrary. Without farmers and ranchers there would be no produce to to "give" to the nutrition programs you mentioned. Each in their own way - from those completely dependent on welfare to those who work the land- --meet the jest of the editorial on democratic socialism. In my world I wish that no individual or group would need such assistance, but that is not the world we live in.

    -- Posted by dennis on Sat, Feb 13, 2016, at 2:49 PM
  • wow, I just posted a link. Sorry

    -- Posted by president obama on Sun, Feb 14, 2016, at 6:41 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: