Capitalism Explained by a Nurse

SemanticsubjectiveWords, words, words.  Many people think that a word is a thing.  Take sex, most of us have different images of a simple three-letter word:  I don’t have space to list all of them.  If you say something is a ball you expect something spherical, but the word is not the thing.   It’s an important distinction to make. a word is just a representation of something that includes all of the characteristics we associate with a “ball.”  So it is with socialism.  Our associations with socialism come close to those we associate with pedophilia.  The word is NOT the thing.  The “thing” is different from its label.

Explaining Socialism To A Republican

Author: December 11, 2012 1:00 am
Pam is a nurse that is happily married & mother of two wonderful teenagers. She is also President and Managing Director of MedTour Services, LLC. This is a medical tourism agency that helps people uncover American quality healthcare treatment and surgery abroad, at a savings of 50% (or more) compared to prices demanded in the United States.

I was talking recently with a new friend who I’m just getting to know. She tends to be somewhat conservative, while I lean more toward the progressive side.When our conversation drifted to politics, somehow the dreaded word “socialism” came up. My friend seemed totally shocked when I said “All socialism isn’t bad”.  She became very serious and replied “So you want to take money away from the rich and give to the poor?”  I smiled and said “No, not at all.  Why do you think socialism means taking money from the rich and giving to the poor?“Well it is, isn’t it?” was her reply.

I explained to her that I rather liked something called Democratic Socialism, just as Senator Bernie Sanders, talk show host Thom Hartman, and many other people do. Democratic Socialism consists of a democratic form of government with a mix of socialism and capitalism. I proceeded to explain to her the actual meaning terms “democracy” and “socialism”.

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens take part. It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Socialism is where we all put our resources together and work for the common good of us all and not just for our own benefit. In this sense, we are sharing the wealth within society.

Of course when people hear that term, “Share the wealth” they start screaming, “OMG you want to rob from the rich and give it all to the poor!”  But that is NOT what Democratic Socialism means.

To a Democratic Socialist, sharing the wealth means pooling tax money together to design social programs that benefit ALL citizens of that country, city, state, etc.

The fire and police departments are both excellent examples of Democratic Socialism in America.  Rather than leaving each individual responsible for protecting their own home from fire, everyone pools their money together, through taxes, to maintain a fire and police department. It’s operated under a non-profit status, and yes, your tax dollars pay for putting out other people’s fires. It would almost seem absurd to think of some corporation profiting from putting out fires.  But it’s more efficient and far less expensive to have government run fire departments funded by tax dollars.

Similarly, public education is another social program in the USA. It benefits all of us to have a taxpayer supported, publicly run education system. Unfortunately, in America, the public education system ends with high school.  Most of Europe now provides low cost or free college education for their citizens. This is because their citizens understand that an educated society is a safer, more productive and more prosperous society. Living in such a society, everyone benefits from public education.

When an American graduates from college, they usually hold burdensome debt in the form of student loans that may take 10 to even 30 years to pay off. Instead of being able to start a business or invest in their career, the college graduate has to send off monthly payments for years on end.

On the other hand, a new college graduate from a European country begins without the burdensome debt that an American is forced to take on. The young man or woman is freer to start up businesses, take an economic risk on a new venture, or invest more money in the economy, instead of spending their money paying off student loans to for-profit financial institutions.  Of course this does not benefit wealthy corporations, but it does greatly benefit everyone in that society.

EXAMPLE  American style capitalistic program for college: If you pay (average) $20,000 annually for four years of college, that will total $80,000 + interest for student loans. The interest you would owe could easily total or exceed the $80,000 you originally borrowed, which means your degree could cost in excess of $100,000.

EXAMPLE  European style social program for college: Your college classes are paid for through government taxes.  When you graduate from that college and begin your career, you also start paying an extra tax for fellow citizens to attend college.

Question You might be thinking how is that fair? If you’re no longer attending college, why would you want to help everyone else pay for their college degree?

Answer Every working citizen pays a tax that is equivalent to say, $20 monthly.  If you work for 40 years and then retire, you will have paid $9,600 into the Social college program.  So you could say that your degree ends up costing only $9,600. When everyone pools their money together and the program is non-profit, the price goes down tremendously. This allows you to keep more of your hard earned cash!

Health care is another example: If your employer does not provide health insurance, you must purchase a policy independently.  The cost will be thousands of dollars annually, in addition to deductible and co-pays.

In Holland, an individual will pay around $35 monthly, period.  Everyone pays into the system and this helps reduce the price for everyone, so they get to keep more of their hard earned cash.

In the United States we are told and frequently reminded that anything run by the government is bad and that everything should be operated by for-profit companies. Of course, with for-profit entities the cost to the consumer is much higher because they have corporate executives who expect compensation packages of tens of millions of dollars and shareholders who expect to be paid dividends, and so on.

This (and more) pushes up the price of everything, with much more money going to the already rich and powerful, which in turn, leaves the middle class with less spending money and creates greater class separation.

This economic framework makes it much more difficult for average Joes to ”lift themselves up by their bootstraps” and raise themselves to a higher economic standing.

So next time you hear the word “socialism” and “spreading the wealth” in the same breath, understand that this is a serious misconception.

Social programs require tax money and your taxes may be higher. But as you can see everyone benefits because other costs go down and, in the long run, you get to keep more of your hard earned cash!

Democratic Socialism does NOT mean taking from the rich and giving to the poor.  It works to benefit everyone so the rich can no longer take advantage of the poor and middle class.

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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11 Responses to Capitalism Explained by a Nurse

  1. tiare75 says:

    I tend to keep my nose out of politics, but when I do stop to consider what I believe, I tend to lean rather heavily toward Democratic Socialism. It’s almost funny to admit this, because when I was younger, I was a staunchly conservative republican. Oh, how the tides have changed! I am inspired by European models, especially that of Holland. If I didn’t love Spanish so much, then perhaps I would study Dutch, then pack up the kids (and bikes, of course), and move there.

    • carlos says:

      I completely agree with you. I fell in love with Holland, its history of being a liberal refuge for those fleeing oppression. I love its canals and houses. You’ll notice that most houses have an arm projecting from the apex of the house: this is because the houses are so narrow that the only way to get furniture in is to hoist it up from the outside. I love Portuguese because it is geographically California on the Atlantic.

      Before I went into early retirement from the space/military industry I had a security clearance. They were hard to get and cost a lot and not having one was a scarlet letter. I kept my head down, fed my family, and kept quiet. So many Americans labor under a type of social censorship. In this land where “Right or wrong, it’s my country” is a neat, if mindless jingoistic sentiment that glosses over the policy mistakes we have made.

      We can forgive the indian genocide, slavery, and other mischief like the wresting Panama from Colombia. They are ever more distant in the past and we cannot look through the eyes of our ancestors with the social glasses of the time. We have progressed, we are modern, we have given women the vote. No, we are not the people of a bygone age.

      We can bear witness to our age, the 20th century, and with the wisdom of hindsight we can criticize that the US becomes more like East Germany and the NSA more like the
      STASI. There are classes who are not so well controlled: The press, academics, pundits, perhaps, but even in the land of the free some are not so free.

      Angela Davis, a communist, Jane Fonda, a traitor, Daniel Ellsberg, a traitor for exposing the Pentagon Papers. The list goes on. They are free to teach at a university that will hire her, Fonda can act wherever she can overcome the blacklist. Ellsberg can write and speak but has no future in his usual field. The rest of us, the common man/woman fear to speak about meaningful things.

      I digress from economic systems to freedom issues. Of course they are connected because in the beginning of modern society we have Hobbes who lived in an anarchic free-for-all where all men lived in a state of nature characterized by as:
      Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, he same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

      Laissez-faire capitalism has been reigned in. No longer can the Rockefellers, Wanamakers, Fords and others do as they please. Their successors have evolved into corporations (which have recently became persons).

      So democracy is a label for the oligopoly that we have become. Our government is owned by corporations.

      Social democracy has at its core a focus on the common good that limits the rapacious, inconscient, greed of international corporations that feed on resources until they are depleted, then move on leaving its waste behind.

  2. ritaroberts says:

    O.K. But its still something to think about. How are you?

    • carlos says:

      Doing well, mostly post on facebook unless the topic should be worth the time to post on wordpress. A lot of facebook is here today and gone tomorrow (except for the NSA). I’d like ‘d like to be living in Portugal or south america and enjoying retirement but I’ve had 4 relatives die in the last 4 years and there are wills and trusts that just complicate life. I’m jealous of your relative isolation.

  3. Trapper Gale says:

    I enjoyed reading this, the concepts sounds great in your explanation and on paper. The reality is sometimes quite different though and government run programs are often neither efficient nor cost effective – some of my favorites are medicare, the US Post office, and on a local level, the DMV. I tend to believe that some of our well intended social programs have had unintended and undesired negative results (i.e. our welfare system and the breakdown of families or government guaranteed student loans and outrageous tuition increases or even the recent abuse of power by the IRS). These are, of course, generalizations and the efforts and intentions of individuals are usually positive, it’s as a whole that the systems seem to fail. I can’t help but think the current economic state of many of the democratic socialist nations tend to bear this out.

    Of course, our current system of capitalism really isn’t working well either, but that is to some extent the result of big business and government interests often being one and the same. I guess this old cynic has found that often both government and the rich (sometimes one and the same) both still end up taking advantage of the poor and middle class, the big difference being that at least with business the motive is clear – it’s about the money.

    Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this and it gave me some food for thought. Cheers!

    • carlos says:

      Thank you for your comment. Certainly, government is necessary to prevent a Hobbesian war of all against all. Efficiency is a goal to be sought but impossible to attain. Cost effectiveness is quantifiable. I believe that Medicare could be more efficient if there were a single payer system eliminating the burdened overhead of multiple insurers. The Post office has it’s hands tied by congress requiring unrealistic retirement payments and not allowing the PO to act as European POs do providing minimal banking services.

  4. ritaroberts says:

    Reblogged this on Ritaroberts's Blog and commented:
    I am not usually political minded but this post interested me

    • carlos says:

      Thank you for liking my post on the Indus Valley Script. It was one of those things I post for general interest but which I had wished I had gone into in greater depth. I’m fond of the Mayan languages because I hitchhiked through Central America and even read a few books on how it was recently deciphered and have even taken a short course on how to read it.
      So the Indus Valley Script is another of those item on my two volume bucket list;-)

  5. ritaroberts says:

    Hi Carlos, I love this post. You explain politics in a nutshell and I will reblog if its O.K. with you.
    Best wishes Rita.

    • carlos says:

      I’m only responsible for the intro in italics in the beginning. The posts are written by people smarter than I am or have much more time than I do..-)

      • carlos says:

        I’m only responsible for the intro in italics in the beginning. The posts are written by people smarter than I am.

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