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Monday, July 2, 2012

SOCIALISM


For A Dancer

"Keep a fire for the human race
  Let your prayers go drifting into space
  You never know what will be coming down
  Perhaps a better world is drawing near
  And just as easily it could all disappear
  Along with whatever meaning you might have found
  Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
  (the world keeps turning around and around)
  Go on and make a joyful sound."            


Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know.                                     For A Dancer- Jackson Browne




SOCIALISM


In my youth I sought religion, mainly a sense of belonging to a community. We are programmed to belong to tribes. I thought that was captured brilliantly in the early part of the movie 2001. l also found that there were folks who reached out to me to attend their religious group's service in the hope that I would join.


Anyway, through those early years, including Bible School, I was impressed with the teachings of Jesus. He talked about helping the poor, about tearing down the Temple because the Priests (Rabbis) were corrupt, and about the rich having so little chance of getting into heaven, and...well you get the idea. Forward 2000 some years and we are kind of in the same situation. 


If the US is a "Christian" nation, as we generally think of ourselves, why isn't there a cry for socialism rather than the anti-socialist capitalism? I was taught that being Christian meant following the teachings of Christ. Seems to me, Christ, at least Christ in the early stages would have had issues with what passes for organized Christianity today. I'm not suggesting that there aren't a lot of sincere, dedicated people following Christ's teachings. But somehow The Vatican, as an example, hardly seems to fit into the philosophy as attributed to Christ. There sure seem to be a lot of pretty comfortable religious professionals of every denomination and sect. Even the small churches usually provide a free home in addition to some form of payment. And the hours are pretty good.


More than anything, the reaction in the US to the idea of socialism, like the reaction to communism and liberalism is a product of brainwashing, of constant propaganda which has been reinforced by laws (in the case of communism). After all, these are theoretical ideas on how to govern. I mean, what is the actual harm in belonging to the communist party? 


I'm not suggesting that the US should try either socialism or communism, but like most large concepts in our country, we might all gain if we had some serious discussion on the different forms of government. People might even learn that capitalism and socialism are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There are wealthy people in Sweden. It's more a question of whether you think that there ought to be a reasonable minimum standard of living for everyone in the country, and what it would take for that to happen.


The reality is that we already have a lot of government programs just like in socialism...Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and of course, The Fed, to name a few examples (bailing out the banksters certainly is not a capitalist move).


Offering some form of universal healthcare would be a great way to begin to raise the standard of living for the bottom 30-40% of people in the country. I would argue that some type of universal healthcare over what we have now would be be cheaper, and would be safer for all.


Vermont appears to be a pretty good example of what is possible. They have a very involved electorate the way a democracy was meant to be, and they have managed to establish a form of healthcare that is available for all Vermonters. It is not only doable, but it will become necessary if the US is to continue to see itself as offering a good standard of living. 


The explosion of boomers into the ranks of the elderly will be a major catalyst. Boomers still represent a major voting group, and they are used to getting their way.


The wealthiest 400 families have more wealth that the bottom 50% of our total population. That's a stat that you would expect to see in the Middle East, Central or South America. How long will it be tolerated in the US? It's hard to preach capitalism to 150 million people living in that kind of environment, when most have thought of themselves as "middle class", without some type of blowback. You can argue that most aren't or weren't really middle class, but I'd bet a small percentage would call themselves poor. That's been part of the propaganda as well. 


Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders calls himself a Socialist. Too bad we don't have 60 more like him.






ALBUM UPDATE


I am adding the great and under-appreciated John Hiatt's album "Going Home"


http://tinyurl.com/6mmef96


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