Last month in a speech to a Wisconsin audience, Vice President Mike Pence said that Joe Biden had aligned himself with “socialist Bernie Sanders” and the left wing of the Democratic Party. The term “socialist” is often used as a negative in political debates, but what does “socialist” or “socialism” mean?

A dictionary definition of socialism is: “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.)

According to the dictionary definition above, socialism in practice replaces private enterprise with government ownership of business, but Sanders, a self-declared “democratic socialist,” supports capitalism and promotes social services, especially better health care for all and a strong education program. Sanders’ view is that people should be willing to pay for these social programs through their taxes, and all residents should pay their fair share. To do so, the current tax system should be revised.

As Sanders has used the term “socialist,” the emphasis is on “social,” which is defined in the dictionary as “relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.” The concept of “social” is people interacting with and supporting other people. We “socialize” with people in the work place, in restaurants and bars, and in our homes. We attend a variety of social events in a variety of venues. We may characterize an outgoing person as social. We communicate with others on social media. These are all positive activities.

The world’s dominant religions focus on positive interactions of humans — people caring for each other. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all urge love toward one another. In Christianity, Jesus articulated the two greatest commandments — love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Love and care of neighbor is also found in the Preamble to the United States Constitution: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The very essence of the Preamble presumes a collective — social — responsibility for the welfare of people in our country now and for future generations.

The United States has many programs that benefit residents. Social Security is a socialist concept that was signed into law in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide retirement benefits for workers, and it was later expanded to provide income for people with disabilities.

Medicare, begun in 1966, provides health insurance to approximately 60 million Americans, most of whom are over age 65. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for the presidency this year, proposed an expansion of Medicare to all Americans.

Among the services that our federal government provides are our national defense, postal services, food support for the needy through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — often called the “Food Stamp Program”), unemployment compensation, and during the current pandemic the government spent more than two trillion dollars to bolster business as well as individuals who lost their jobs and families that needed financial support.

Other social services supported by local government include police, fire departments, public schools, roads and highways, hunting and driver licenses, trash collection, and more.

The balance required to support both private enterprise and social welfare is difficult to achieve. It is our observation that many elected leaders in state and federal government are more concerned about support of the economy and private enterprise than support of such human concerns as universal health care, addressing the needs families and individuals, and reversing the growing disparity between rich and poor in this country.

In addition, this country balances love and care for our neighbor with individual rights and freedom. Helping others in society is a choice that takes us outside ourselves; otherwise we are selfish — individual rights taken to the extreme.

This country strives to balance capitalism — private enterprise — with social/human interests and needs. Throughout the history of the United States we have seen this struggle occurring, and we see it now. We must have a strong economy in order for people to earn a living wage, for private enterprise to flourish, and for our tax system to provide needed social services.

The terms “socialist” and “socialism” are not negative terms applied in government when social needs and concerns are balanced with capitalism and free enterprise. We need to elect people who are aware of that balance.

(30) comments

KB Thomas

Review: DC Street Sorcery Hidden Occult YouTube.....This will put chills down your back.

KB Thomas

Over the years the American people have been hoodwinked by the Statr Department. They need a boogeyman. Review The Forth Floor: Stan Montieth free download........What we think we know is not true. We need to think up or down.

Ceisenh

Thank you Grover and Calvert for your research and your insight. Should be required reading for civics students.

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Gary Lukert

The Fall of the Republic is a Lie. The Fall of the Republic is happening right now, with Donnie Trump!

BigRed

So you say Bernie supports capitalism. In his latest proposed tax, Bernie wants to raise $4.35 trillion dollars by taxing the ASSETS and SAVINGS of the 180,000 richest Americans over the next 10 years. His stated purpose is to fund social programs. Also he states: "Under this plan, the wealth of billionaires would be cut in half over 15 years which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class." Yeah, he sounds like a true supporter of capitalism.

KB Thomas

Bernie has several homes and has never had a real job.

Gary Lukert

Mitch McConnell has NEVER had a REAL JOB!

Gary Lukert

Donald Trump has never had a Real Job. He was set up in wealth by his Daddy, who also paid off a Doctor to give Crooked, Lying Donnie Bully Boy a lifetime Medical Deferment! Donnie also does NOT like any Americans who were taken Prisoner of War--through No Fault of their home. Trump said he "Likes those that weren't captured." No wonder Trump hated John McCain!

KB Thomas

Grace.

KB Thomas

The Republicans are the party of the jobs and the Dems are the party of the mobs.

Gary Lukert

WE have a MOB BOSS in the White House now, and most Republicans fear him! Most Republicans, like you, are WITHOUT Character! Character to all of you is separating children from the parents! Character of all of you is totally supporting Trump who has had numerous OUT of Marriage "encounters!"

Gary Lukert

You're repeating a Lie, but, with Trump and you Republicans, that is "your mainstay!"

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Gary Lukert

KB, You would have sided with Barabbas...and you would have volunteered to drive the First Nail in to Christ hands! You would have done it enthusiastically and celebrated it!

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Gary Lukert

This is a Total Lie! Made up excrement! But, you are so fond of that.

Gary Lukert

People need to stop worrying about Socialism. Right now, Republicans are doing everything they can to make Donald Trump Dictator. Trump and Republicans know they can only win...if they destroy the election. And, Trump,with enthusiastic help of most Republicans are doing everything they can to help him do it. There is NO evidence of Voting by Mail will be crooked. None, whatsoever. Well, now, Trump's defense is there is NO Evidence there isn't. Think of it, you could get arrested for a crime...with absolutely NO Evidence you did it. But, with Trump's "law", you would be convicted because there isn't any evidence you that you DIDN'T DO it! Therefore you MUST BE GUILTY! This is Trump's and the Republican's "page"

from the PUTIN BOOK OF LAW. Trump only likes Dictators, or those with Dictatorial powers like Putin has. Trump has said he loves the South Korean Dictator. He is in love with Putin. He actually likes the China guy, but, the China guy just won't kiss the part of his body that Trump sits on. Nearly All Republicans do Kiss the Part of Trump's Body he SITS ON.

Nehmo

"Dictator" Putin undergoes long press-conferences containing hostile reporters. He can't possibly kill all those reporters. It's a propaganda myth that pretends the US has a free press and free elections. The media is totally bought in America. Sometimes multiple media outlets will contain the same phrasing when reporting on the same story. Sure, a little person in the US can express his/her opinions, but let them compete with CNN/MSNBC/USP/CBS/etc.

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bobinberea

Dear KB Thomas,

Here goes one last try: You have now posted ten "replies" to the essay by Bob Grover and Jim Calvert, and yet you never once refer to the essay. Have you read the essay? Would you agree with me that it is well-informed and illuminating?

BobinBerea

Harvey

Excellent review about Socialism and our collective support for each other within the capitalistic system.

bobinberea

Thanks to Grover and Calvert for this informed, balanced, and insightful review of what "socialism" is and is not!

KB Thomas

Review: The Spector of Communism is Ruling Our World Epock Times.......This should be required reading in our schools.

KB Thomas

Review: None Dare Call It Conspiracy Talk by Gary Allen YouTube......You don't learn this in the public fool system.

KB Thomas

Review: None Dare Call It Conspiracy Talk by Gary Allen....This talk explains the workings behind the curtain.

Gary Lukert

Trump has, and he is putting into use!

KB Thomas

Review The Naked Communist video......

Gary Lukert

Trump is IN BED WITH THE PUTIN COMMUNISTS! RUSSIA IS STILL COMMUNIST!

Gary Lukert

Trump Loves the Communists! He is best friends with PUTIN, the world's worst Communist---Well, the worst, most evil communist: COMRADE TRUMP!

KB Thomas

Review The 45 Communist ways to take over America. 1963 Congressional Record.

bobinberea

Dear KB Thomas,

1963 Congressional Record? 57 years ago? That might be a little dated. How about something more recent, such as the opinion piece by Grover and Calvert? What did you think of that?

BobinBerea

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