Why is talk of socialism, which is on the rise today, feared and despised by a large segment of the American population?

Opponents use scare tactics to demean liberals and any left-leaning ideology; politicians conflate communism with socialism, pretending that they are the same; and the corporate media typically defends the current system and promotes a perception that socialism discourages individual effort.

Socialism can be defined as using taxpayer funds to benefit society as a whole, despite one’s income, contribution or ability.

The United States has many examples of nonprofit, social or government programs that can be included under that definition, e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, to mention a few. In fact, we could add military/defense spending, public schools, FEMA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA and, of course, corporate bailouts.

The truth is that we don’t live in a purely capitalist or free-market system, but rather a hybrid of capitalism and socialism. When the private sector is incapable of or unwilling to provide a service vital to the well-being of all Americans, then government has a role to play.

No one advocating a larger social safety net or democratic socialism is suggesting that socialism replace capitalism. On the contrary, the goal is to strike a balance between capitalism and social programs that together meet the needs of Americans.

Robert J. Prahl

Old Glory Lane

Summerville