by James J. Devine
The specter of socialism has been used a lot lately by Tea Party Republicans who seem to have little or no idea what that term actually means, because most people are not giving up any freedom every time the government helps them.
Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes provided as a gift from the government in a tradition that dates back to 1938, and some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
The maternity package contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
Designed to give all children in Finland an equal start in life, no matter what background they’re from, the baby boxes are a clear example of socialism. There is a report from BBC News posted on this website describing the successful maternity program.
While Europe’s fascination with socialism may appear alien to Americans, liberty has survived in this nation despite the emergence of welfare state policies.
Americans are most accustomed to socialism in the form of Social Security, Medicare and free public education.
When government plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens, socialism is a distinctive combination of democracy, welfare, and capitalism.
It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life.
Since the ‘Reagan Revolution’ in 1980, America has moved away from some socialist ideals, such as progressive taxes that helped to reduce the income gap between the rich and poor and buisness regulation that protected people from pollution or fraud.
The results of that shift away from socialism, still strongly advocated by Republicans, has been growing disparity among the rich and poor, a weakened economy, and political divisions that have left the nation more deeply polarized than any time since the Civil War.
Meanwhile, the power and influence of the richest people in the world — and the corporations they control — grow at an alarming rate, posing the kind of severe threats to liberty that American democracy was designed to prevent.
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